The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— WHO warns rush to ease virus rules could cause resurgence.
— Britain’s virus death toll is higher than what the government reported, according to official statistics.
— Paris police arrest nine people in unrest in suburbs.
— Sweden’s state alcohol monopoly says liquor meant for consumption doesn’t work as sanitizer.
LONDON — Official statistics show that at least 1,500 more people with the new coronavirus have died in Britain than the 16,500 whose deaths have been announced by the government.
The Office for National Statistics says that 1,043 deaths in nursing homes in England and Wales up to April 10 involved COVID-19, with 826 of those deaths recorded in the final week of that period. More than 500 other people died in hospices and private homes.
Those are not included in the U.K. government’s daily total, which only includes deaths in hospitals.
The figures show that the total number of deaths in the week to April 10 — 18,516 — was the highest weekly total in 20 years. About a third of all deaths involved the coronavirus.
The British government is under pressure to include nursing-home deaths in its daily coronavirus figures amid fears the number is being underreported.
Liz Kendall, social care spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party, said “these awful figures are only scratching the surface of the emerging crisis in social care, because they are already 11 days out of date.”
PARIS — Paris police are facing a modest uptick of unrest in the oft-troubled suburbs of the now locked-down French capital, making a small number of arrests after fires were set and fireworks lobbed to shatter the calm imposed by stay-home measures to counter the coronavirus.
A scattering of vehicle and trash-can blazes and firework explosions on successive nights on the outskirts of Paris this week have so far been far milder than previous outbreaks of violence. But the renewed tensions are also a reminder of policing difficulties that have long simmered in troubled neighborhoods of the city, before the virus lockdown forced most people indoors.
Paris police said officers arrested nine people in two suburbs overnight Tuesday. They were suspected of either possessing fireworks or gathering together to commit violence.
A possible trigger for the flare-up appears to have been a traffic accident this past weekend involving a police car and a motorcyclist who was injured. Police reported that projectiles were thrown at officers following the crash on Saturday evening.
The lockdown in place since March 17 has been particularly tough for families jammed together in small apartments in the poorer Paris suburbs. The stay-home orders and police patrols to enforce them have also disrupted underground economies centered around drug-dealing and other crime in unruly projects.
STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s state alcohol monopoly that runs a chain of liquor stores says it has put up signs in its shops to tell patrons that vodka, gin and other spirits meant for consumption doesn’t work as hand sanitizer.
A spokeswoman for Systembolaget, Therese Elmgren, told Sweden TT news agency that they had received questions from customers — both in shops and online — after which they decided to put up the signs stating that strong alcoholic beverages don’t work as sanitizer.
“It needs to have a higher percentage,” Elmgren said.
Systembolaget was created to minimize alcohol-related problems. The stores that are found throughout Sweden, sell alcoholic beverages that contain more than 3.5% alcohol by volume. One must be above the age of 20 to buy there.
MADRID — New deaths attributed to the new coronavirus in Spain are slightly up again on Tuesday, with 430 fatalities that bring the total death toll to 21,282 from a 4-week low of 399 daily deaths on Monday.
Spain is reporting nearly 4,000 new infections to a total of 204,178, a 2% day-to-day increase in line with the average for the past four days, health ministry data shows.
The government is assessing already how to roll back one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, starting from next Monday by allowing children to go out onto the streets for brief periods. Spain’s center-left Cabinet is discussing details on how the measure will be implemented during Tuesday’s weekly meeting.
An 8-week survey of 30,000 households that will be tested for the new virus is also expected to roll out on April 27, allowing authorities to gauge what’s the level of immunization beyond hospitals and nursing homes, where testing has focused during the peak of the pandemic.
Authorities are also deciding on Monday on price caps for face masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and other protective equipment that has been in short supply.
According to a government special order issued on Sunday, the aim with controlling prices is for citizens to access in “non-abusive” economic conditions to the material that experts see as key to controlling future contagion.
BERLIN — Germany’s foreign minister says it’s not yet possible to say when restrictions on travel in Europe and beyond will be loosened and a normal summer vacation season with full beach bars won’t be possible this year.
Germany is currently warning against nonessential tourist travel anywhere abroad. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas acknowledged Tuesday that the issue is becoming “increasingly pressing” because many people are asking what the situation will be in the summer. The government will consider it at the end of the month.
Maas noted that “international aviation is grounded, many countries have entry bans and bans on going out — those are not conditions under which one can have a relaxing vacation.”
He said “no one needs to be under any illusions” because efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic will continue to limit freedom of movement.
Maas said that “it won’t be possible to have a normal vacation season with full beach bars and full mountain huts this summer — that would not be responsible.”
SINGAPORE — Singapore has announced it would extend its lockdown by another four weeks after a sharp upsurge in cases in recent days.
The city-state reported 1,111 new cases earlier Tuesday to take its total to 9,125, the highest in Southeast Asia. Foreign workers staying in crowded dormitories account for nearly 80% of infections.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said most of the new cases were due to aggressive testing of workers in the dorms, including those who are asymptomatic. Lee said in a televised speech that the clusters in the dorms have remained largely contained but circuit-breaker measures, that shut down nonessential businesses and schools until May 4, will be prolonged till June 1 until infections ease.
Lee said the government would shut more workplaces so that only the most essential services will stay open. Lee said the “short-term pain” is crucial to stamp out the virus, and pledged to provide further help for businesses and workers.
MILAN — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday confirmed that Italy can start reopening on May 4, but he doused any hopes of a total loosening of some of the strictest lockdown measures in a western democracy.
“Many citizens are tired of the efforts that have been made so far and would like a significant loosening of these measures, or even their total abolition,” Conte said in a Facebook post, adding that “a decision of that kind would be irresponsible.”
Conte indicated that moves to relax the restrictions would be announced by the end of the week, and that they would take into account the different circumstances among regions.
Italy’s north, hardest-hit by the virus and the country’s economic engine, has been straining to restart industry after a shutdown of nonessential manufacturing on March 26 — even as some have received permission to reopen with a much-reduced workforce in recent days.
Veneto regional governor Luca Zaia estimates as much as 40% of companies are already working in the region. Conte pointed out that the regions still were not able to keep up with some necessities for a reopening, including masks and gloves, noting that the government had supplied 110 million masks in addition to 3,000 ventilators to hospitals. “It is too easy to say, ‘let’s open everything,” Conte said.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Any person in Denmark who has been or will be hospitalized for more than one day with or without COVID-19 symptoms, and staff and residents at retirement homes and facilities for people with mental health issues, will be tested under new guidelines released Tuesday.
“In this situation, it is very important that there is increased awareness to avoid infection in the population,” the Danish Health Authority said, saying “the spread of infection has been greatly reduced, and we have therefore started to open up the society gradually.”
On Monday, hair salons, tattoo parlors, physiotherapists, among others, were able to reopen their business after some classes were allowed to return to school last week. Zoological gardens and animal parks said they have been allowed to reopen on May 1.
Across the Baltic Sea, Lithuania has extended its lockdown until May 11 with virtually no help for business and fears that the Baltic country might see a repeat of the 2009 nosediving of the gross domestic product when there was a dip of minus 15%.
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic is launching a comprehensive study with a goal to determine the number of undetected infections with the coronavirus in its population.
Health Minister Adam Vojtech says some 27,000 people across the country will be tested in the next two weeks, starting on Thursday.
The study will be conducted in different parts of the Czech Republic where the epidemic is at different stages on people aged 18 – 89. In the capital of Prague and the second largest city of Brno, children also will be included.
The samples of the population tested will include volunteers as well a selected group suffering from chronic diseases.
A significant number of people infected with the coronavirus suffer no or only mild symptoms, but there is concern that they might unwittingly spread the virus to others. At the same time, those people are expected to be immune to COVID-19 in the future.
The results that will be known in early May should help authorities to adjust the plans to gradually relax restrictive measures imposed to contain the pandemic.
The Czech Republic has 6,914 tested positive for the coronavirus, 196 have died, according to Health Ministry figures.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s professional baseball league has decided to begin its new season on May 5, initially without fans, following a postponement over the coronavirus.
The Korea Baseball Organization made the announcement after a board meeting on Tuesday while teams began their preseason exhibition games in empty stadiums.
The league says fans will be barred from games until the risk of infections are gone.
The league plans to maintain a 144-game regular season schedule, but it has decided scrap its all-star game and shorten the first round of the playoffs from a best-of-five to best-of-three series.
The KBO says it could shorten its regular season if infections erupt. The league will advise players to wear face masks in locker rooms and require them to download smartphone apps to report their daily health status to league officials.
South Korea on Tuesday reported 9 new infections of the coronavirus and one more death, bringing its totals to 10,683 cases and 237 deaths. The country’s caseload has slowed from early March when it was reporting around 500 fresh cases a day.
YANGON, Myanmar — A car used by the World Health Organization to transport swab samples to be tested for the COVID-19 virus has been attacked in western Myanmar, killing the driver and wounding a passenger.
The Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported Tuesday that the vehicle bearing a U.N. license plate was attacked in Rakhine State en route to Yangon late Monday afternoon.
Rakhine has been the scene of bitter fighting between the government and the Arakan Army, an ethnic guerrilla group fighting for autonomy in Rakhine State. Each side blamed the other for the Monday attack.
The newspaper account said the driver and the passenger, a health worker, were taken to a nearby hospital. The father of the driver, 28-year-old Pyae Sone Win Mg, said his son died Tuesday morning.
BERLIN — This year’s Oktoberfest in Munich has been called off because of the coronavirus pandemic. The cancellation of the world-famous annual celebration of beer, which was supposed to run from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, underlines expectations that the way back to normal life will be very long.
The Oktoberfest typically draws about 6 million visitors every year to the packed festival grounds in Bavaria’s capital.
Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said after meeting Munich’s mayor Tuesday: “We agreed that the risk is simply too high.” He added that “you can neither keep your distance nor work with facial protection” at the Oktoberfest.
Soeder noted that the festival attracts visitors from around the world, raising concerns about bringing new infections to Bavaria.
Mayor Dieter Reiter said that “it is an emotionally difficult moment and of course it is also an economically difficult moment for our city.”
As it stands, major events with large audiences are banned in Germany until at least the end of August. The country has taken the first steps toward loosening its shutdown, allowing small nonessential shops to start opening this week, but it remains unclear when bars and restaurants will be able to welcome customers again.
The Oktoberfest has previously been canceled during the two world wars; at a time of hyperinflation in Germany in 1923; and because of cholera outbreaks in 1854 and 1873, German news agency dpa reported.
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