The Latest: Russian capital emerges from tight lockdown
MOSCOW — Restaurants, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and kindergartens resume operation in Moscow on Tuesday as the city emerges from a tight coronavirus lockdown in place since late March.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced ending the lockdown in the Russian capital two weeks ago.
Sobyanin lifted stay-at-home orders and allowed beauty parlors to reopen first. Last week, dental clinics, museums and outdoor spaces of cafes and restaurants resumed operation.
Over the past few weeks, the officially reported daily number of new coronavirus infections in Moscow has dropped from more than 2,000 to about 1,000. On Tuesday, health officials in the city reported 1,081 new infections.
In total, Moscow has so far registered 216,095 confirmed coronavirus cases, 36% of Russia’s caseload of over 599,000 contagions.
The decision to lift the lockdown in Moscow while the infection rate remains that high has been widely criticized as politically motivated and linked to the upcoming vote on a constitutional reform that would allow President Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health experts will testify Tuesday in the U.S. House at a fraught moment for the nation’s pandemic response.
— Schools considering how and when to reopen are overwhelmed by the expenses needed to keep students and staff safe from the virus.
— One of the Arab world’s most prestigious universities has endured civil war, staff kidnappings and economic crises in its 154-year history. The American University of Beirut now confronts a triple threat simultaneously in a pandemic, a recession and the collapse of Lebanon’s currency.
— China’s decision to ban imports from a single Tyson Foods poultry plant with infected workers has raised concerns about the implications on the U.S. meat industry if the action is expanded.
— People are flocking to South Carolina’s beaches but the coronavirus is taking no vacation. South Carolina's new infection rate is the 4th highest per capita in the U.S.
— Major League Baseball plans to unilaterally issue a 60-game schedule for its shortest season since 1878.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TOKYO — Hundreds of visitors rushed to see a popular panda cub Xiang Xiang as Tokyo’s Ueno zoo reopened Tuesday for the first time since February when it closed due to the coronavirus.
An avid Xiang Xiang fan, Masumi Tsunoda, who used to visit the zoo every week to see the panda, showed up Tuesday with her handmade mask with panda prints for the occasion. “I was so happy to see Xiang Xiang got so much bigger,” she said.
Xiang Xiang is due to return to China later this year under panda exchange protocols.
Entry to the zoo is limited to 4,000 visitors per day who must book tickets in advance.
The zoo said the coronavirus shutdown was the longest closure in the facility’s history since it opened in 1882.
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Officials in Bangladesh reported 43 new virus deaths and 3,412 new infections on Tuesday.
Bangladesh’s has now seen 119,198 infections and 1,545 fatalities since the first positive case was reported on March 8.
Officials say 47,635 people have recovered from the illness.
BERLIN — The head of Germany’s disease control center says a relaxation of distancing rules in parts of the United States is to blame for the rise in cases there.
Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, noted Tuesday that case numbers in southern U.S. states have risen markedly.
“The reasons for this are a loosening of distancing rules despite the case numbers not having fallen there yet,” he said.
Germany has seen an increase in COVID-19 infections in recent days, too, linked to outbreaks at a slaughterhouse and apartment buildings.
Germany’s Lufthansa, meanwhile, says it will resume flights to Shanghai on Wednesday, offering its first regular scheduled flights to mainland China since the end of January.
Lufthansa said Tuesday that for now the flights will operate once a week.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000 as the country makes up close to one-third of all recorded infections on the African continent.
The latest daily update shows a worrying new trend as Gauteng province, home to South Africa’s economic hub of Johannesburg, has a higher number of new cases than the hotspot of Western Cape province centered on the city of Cape Town.
Virus cases in Gauteng, which also contains the capital, Pretoria, now make up more than one-fifth of South Africa’s total.
South Africa continues to loosen its lockdown despite the rise in cases because of economic pressure, with casinos and beauty parlors the latest businesses allowed to open.
Africa overall has more than 315,000 cases including more than 8,000 deaths. The true number of cases remains unknown because of the low level of testing on the continent due to a shortage of materials.
NEW DELHI — India has added nearly 15,000 new infections to its coronavirus caseload as some of the states less affected by the initial surge of the virus are considering new lockdowns to staunch growing numbers.
India’s health ministry said Tuesday that the nationwide tally had reached 440,215 cases, including 14,011 deaths. The state of Delhi, which includes the capital of New Delhi, has reported 62,655 cases with the rate of new infections rapidly expanding in recent weeks as a nationwide lockdown has eased.
States remote from the capital including Assam in the northeast that initially reported few cases have plans to reimpose stringent lockdowns in certain districts.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi lifted months-long restrictions on movement and industrial and commercial activity to restart India’s ailing economy, which has shed millions of jobs.
But Sonia Gandhi, president of the main opposition Congress party, has asked the government to extend a three-month free food distribution program for India’s poorest that is due to expire soon to address a “hunger crisis.”
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it’s testing 176 workers at the southern port of Busan following a coronavirus outbreak among crew members of a Russian cargo ship that has so far sickened 16.
Kwon Jun-wook, director of South Korea’s National Institute of Health, said Tuesday that all 21 crew members were tested after the ship arrived at Busan’s Gamcheon Port on Sunday carrying frozen seafood.
He said the ship’s captain failed to properly inform port authorities that three of the crewmembers had high fever. The 176 people being tested included cargo handlers, customs officials, repair workers and interpreters who made contact with the infected crew members. Port officials and workers earlier on Tuesday agreed to halt unloading cargo from the ship and another Russian ship at the port.
South Korea reported 46 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, including 30 linked to international arrivals. The country has been struggling to stem a resurgence of the virus in the Seoul metropolitan area, where hundreds of infections have been linked to entertainment and leisure activities, church gatherings and sales and warehouse jobs.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Coronavirus infections in Australia's Victoria state have prompted new school closings, and the state's leader said there would be “significant community transmission” among the new cases.
The Melbourne suburbs where the schools are located have been identified as hot spots in recent weeks. The two primary schools have been closed for thorough cleaning after students tested positive.
Australia’s Victoria state has recorded 17 new cases. State Premier Daniel Andrews said there would be “significant community transmission” among them.
Andrews said one of the new cases was from a person in hotel quarantine, two were from known outbreaks, three were from routine testing and 11 were under investigation.
Last weekend, Andrews said large family gatherings had been the catalyst for the virus taking off again in some areas after lockdown rules were eased.
“We have seen many families, large families, that have gathered in numbers beyond the rules,” he said. “I know and understand that all Victorians want this to be over but we simply can’t pretend the virus is gone.”
In the national capital Canberra, Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia’s borders will remain closed for “a very significant” amount of time.
Hunt says coronavirus infection rates were accelerating around the world.
“For the time being we are an island sanctuary,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
There have been 102 deaths due to COVID-19 in Australia and more than 7,400 people have been infected.
BEIJING — China has reported 22 new cases of coronavirus, including 13 in Beijing, a day after a city government spokesperson said containment measures had slowed the momentum of a new outbreak in the capital that has infected more than 200 people.
Another nine cases were brought by Chinese travelers from outside the country, seven of them on board a flight from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia that arrived in the western city of Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, according to a notice from the provincial government.
China has reported 4,634 deaths from the virus among 83,418 total cases since it was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
While the situation in Beijing is headed in the right direction, “the prevention situation remains grave and complex,” city spokesperson Xu Hejian said at a Monday news conference.