The Latest: Queen Elizabeth aims for low-key birthday
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:
— Spain reaches 20,000 deaths from virus.
— Queen Elizabeth wants low-key birthday amid virus.
— Japan surpasses 10,000 virus cases; Abe stresses social distancing.
LONDON — Britain’s Queen Elizabeth doesn’t want a gun salute for her birthday because she doesn’t think it’s appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic.
The British monarch, who turns 94 on Tuesday, decided not to publicly mark the occasion in any special way, including the artillery salute she traditionally gets on her birthday.
“Her Majesty was keen that no special measures were put in place to allow gun salutes as she did not feel it appropriate in the current circumstances,” Buckingham Palace said. She’ll also be keeping private any phone and video calls with her family.
The queen has previously stressed the importance of lockdown measures, saying in her Easter message that “by keeping apart we keep others safe.”
PARIS — The French military is dismantling a field hospital set up to relieve the pressure on overwhelmed medical centers.
The dismantling of the makeshift hospital in the eastern city of Mulhouse began Friday as the virus has receded in the region, a military official told The Associated Press.
The field hospital held 30 beds and treated dozens of patients that couldn’t fit in Mulhouse hospitals. Hospitals in nearby Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg also took in French patients from the area.
Lawmaker Olivier Bech told local broadcaster France Bleu Alsace that 15 of the field hospital’s beds are now empty.
France has more than 18,000 confirmed deaths from the virus.
ATHENS, Greece — As Orthodox Easter approaches, the Greek government is concerned about keeping the faithful from flouting quarantine measures.
Authorities are worried people will show up at churches on Saturday night to celebrate at the stroke of midnight. They also will fine those leaving their homes to celebrate Easter Sunday in the countryside.
The government decided not to distribute the Holy Light to churches across the country, as is the custom. It arrives on the eve of Easter every year from Jerusalem, having been lit there at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
ANGON, Myanmar — Authorities in Myanmar’s biggest city have ordered a six-hour curfew in a bid to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The Yangon Region Government announced the 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew will start Saturday night. Myanmar’s eastern neighbor, Thailand, has a curfew covering the same hours.
Several of the city’s neighborhoods were put under lockdown, with all people required to stay at home except for essential workers, and only one person per household allowed to buy necessary supplies. Myanmar announced Thursday a ban on gatherings of more than five people.
Public health authorities confirmed Saturday six new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 94 and five deaths.
Myanmar was among the last countries in Southeast Asia to confirm any COVID-19 cases, likely because of lack of testing. The public health infrastructure is considered one of the weakest in Asia.
MADRID — Spain has reached 20,000 deaths for the coronavirus pandemic and total infections increased to more than 190,000.
Spain’s health authorities reported 565 deaths in the last 24 hours. Only the United States and Italy have more deaths.
New infections rose by nearly 4,500. More than 74,000 people in Spain have recovered.
This week, health authorities said there were discrepancies in the statistics of virus deaths and infections reported by regional administrations. The central government has ordered regions to give more precise data and use the same parameters.
As the outbreak’s spread slows, pressure on hospitals has relaxed. Authorities have closed one part of a huge field hospital with thousands of beds set up by the military in a convention center in Madrid.
But strict confinement rules are expected to be extended beyond April 26.
ROME — Italy’s commissioner for the coronavirus is cautioning against pitting health concerns versus economic worries when deciding to ease lockdown rules.
Domenico Arcuri says, “without health, the (economic) revival will disappear in the batting of an eyelash.”
Health experts say easing must be gradual. Italy has nearly 23,000 deaths, the most in Europe, and more than 172,000 known cases.
To put the COVID-19 pandemic in perspective, Arcuri noted during World War II in Milan, bombings killed some 2,000 civilians. In Lombardy, which has the largest share of Italy’s COVID-19 cases and is a leader of the country’s industrial production, more than 11,851 people have died.
“That’s five times as many in only two months,” says Arcuri.
Authorities in Lombardy and other northern regions, but also Sicily in the south, have been pressing the central government to quickly ease restrictions on factories and many other businesses. The government decree that shut down nonessential industries and businesses runs through May 3.
PARIS — French authorities have barred a cruise ship that’s been at sea since early January from disembarking more than 1,000 passengers before its final destination in Italy.
The regional administration for the Bouches-du-Rhone in southern France cited a nationwide ban on allowing foreign cruise ships to dock, as part of France’s virus-related confinement measures.
The French administration said that the Costa Deliziosa sought to make a stop in Marseille on Friday to disembark 1,400 passengers who wanted to get out before the final stop in Venice.
The administration granted exemptions to six other cruise ships in recent weeks to allow French passengers to get off, but refused this time.
The Costa Deliziosa left on an around-the-world cruise and is expected to reach Italy in the coming days.
PARIS — France’s lower house of parliament approved an emergency budget overnight that takes into account the government’s 110 billion euro ($120 billion) plan to save the economy from virus-related collapse.
The budget includes bonuses for medical staff, funds to help struggling workers and families, and aid to businesses including strategic industries like aviation and car manufacturing.
The bill goes to the Senate on Tuesday. The government has warned that France’s economy, one of the world’s biggest, could shrink 8% this year and see its worst recession since World War II.
BERLIN — A group of thirteen countries including Britain, Brazil, Italy and Germany is calling for global cooperation to lessen the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a joint statement the group said it is committed to “work with all countries to coordinate on public health, travel, trade, economic and financial measures in order to minimize disruptions and recover stronger.”
The countries emphasized the need to maintain “air, land and marine transportation links” to ensure the continued flow of goods, including medical equipment and aid, and the return home of travelers.
They want key transport hubs around the world to remain open and for airlines to maintain major routes.
The group — also including Canada and France — stressed the critical role of the scientific community in providing guidance to governments.
SINGAPORE — Singapore has reported a daily record of 942 infections that saw its total surge to 5,992.
The sharp one-day spike in the tiny city-state of nearly six million people is the highest seen in Southeast Asia.
The number of cases more than doubled this week amid an upsurge among foreign workers staying in crowded dormitories, who constitute 60 percent of Singapore’s COVID-19 infections.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on Facebook that the vast majority of cases among migrant workers were mild as the workers are young.
Although cases in the dorms are expected to continue to rise, Lee said the government is increasing healthcare and isolation facilities to handle the load. More than 200,000 migrant workers from Bangladesh, India and other Asian countries live in dormitories housing up to 20 people a room with shared facilities.
JOHANNESBURG — Africa now has more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A total of 52 of the continent’s 54 countries have reported the virus, with the overall number of cases more than 19,800 as of Saturday morning.
The World Health Organization has noted a 51% increase in cases in Africa and a 60% jump in deaths.
But the WHO chief has warned that because of a shortage of testing “it’s likely the real numbers are higher than reported.”
The Africa CDC has said more than 1 million test kits will be rolled out starting next week.
Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak