The Latest: Virus nixes Spanish royals’ visit to Washington
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 201,00 people and killed more than 8,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 81,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.
Spain’s Foreign Ministry says the April 21 visit by Spanish King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia to the White House has been postponed to let the United States and Spain focus all of their resources and attention to the COVID-19 response. T
he Spanish monarchs had been invited by U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a state banquet, the third of the Trump administration
Kosovo’s interior minister has been fired for not being in line with the government policy on containing the virus.
Prime Minister Albin Kurti fired Interior Minister Agim Veliu who in a TV talk show said he was in favour of declaring the state of emergency to contain the virus spread and also saying “the number of (virus) cases is increasing by the hour.”
President Hashim Thaci has asked parliament to declare the state of emergency, a move apparently not supported by Kurti, who says the health emergency so far is good to contain the virus spread. Kosovo has 19 cases.
“Mr. Veliu has shown a pronounced lack of leadership and has openly undermined the government’s work,” said the statement by Kurti.
Burkina Faso’s government has confirmed its first death from COVID-19.
The West African nation’s government said a 62-year-old Burkinabe woman suffering from diabetes has died. The country has 27 cases but the government has announced no plans to close borders or stop mosque services.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government is readying further financial help for workers and measures to protect those who rent to see through the economic harm caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
During weekly questions in a sparsely attended House of Commons as lawmakers were told to keep their distance to try to slow the spread of the virus, Johnson said it is only right “whatever their circumstances, we should ensure that workers get the support that they need.”
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, has argued that the legal minimum for sick pay should be increased from the current $112 a week and extended to all types of workers.
The government has already loosened policies over sick pay and has announced a 350 billion-pound ($416 billion) support package of mainly cheap government-backed loans for businesses to support them through the inevitable economic damage caused by the crisis.
The traffic jam on the Czech-Polish border has gone from bad to worse despite the efforts from those countries’ leaders to deal with coronavirus supply chain disruptions.
The line of trucks waiting on the Czech side to enter Poland at the northern Nachod – Kudowa-Slone crossing was more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) long on Wednesday. It was 40 kilometers (25 miles) the previous days.
To ease the situation, Poland opened three more crossings on Wednesday after Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Interior Minister Jan Hamacek spoke to their Polish counterparts.
A police spokeswoman said the Polish border guards were currently able to check about 40 trucks per hour.
The miles of trucks have been also queuing at northeastern Czech Republic at another crossing to Poland and on the border with Slovakia in the east.
Officials in Russia’s presidential administration are being tested for the new coronavirus.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the announcement Wednesday after journalists who accompanied Russian President Vladimir Putin on his trip to Crimea this week were tested “as a precaution.
Testing for the new virus has so far not been widely available in Russia. On Tuesday, the country’s health officials expanded testing to everyone who returned from Europe in the last 14 days and those who traveled abroad in the past month and had flu-like symptoms.
Russia has so far reported 114 cases of the coronavirus.
Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, is restricting the entry of travelers from countries with more than 1,000 coronavirus cases and suspending visas on arrival for their citizens.
The Nigeria Center for Disease Control lists the countries as China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, the U.S., Norway, Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Nigeria, which has eight confirmed cases, urges its citizens to cancel or postpone all nonessential travel to those countries.
Spain announced 2,538 new cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the country’s total to 13,716. Nearly half of those have been hospitalized and 774 are requiring intensive care, according to national health authorities. There are 588 deaths officially recorded, 67 more than on Tuesday.
Spanish regions where clusters have been identified in elderly nursing homes are showing a higher rate of fatalities and required hospitalization, has said the head of the Spanish health emergency center, Fernando Simón. That’s the case of Madrid, where at least 17 people have died only in one nursing home and dozens more have been infected.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called for political unity to combat the new virus, saying “the worst has yet to come” with many more deaths expected and increased pressure on the country’s strained health service. “The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed everyone’s predictions,” Sánchez told a virtually empty lower house of parliament.
A Louisiana pastor says he welcomed more than 305 people to worship together, declaring that the coronavirus is politically motivated and nothing to be concerned about.
Police showed up after Tuesday night’s service at the church near Baton Rouge, WAFB-TV reported. Officers told the Rev. Tony Spell that the National Guard would break up any future services with more than 50 people gathered at Life Tabernacle Church in the city of Central.
“The virus, we believe, is politically motivated,” Spell told the Baton Rouge station. “We hold our religious rights dear and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says.”
He said Sunday services drew even more worshipers than on Tuesday night.
“I had 1,170 in attendance Sunday,” Spell said. “We have 27 buses on Sundays picking up people in a five-parish area.”
One of Britain’s biggest summer music events, the Glastonbury Festival, has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizers say the festival, due to take place June 24-28, will be postponed until 2021.
Glastonbury organizers Michael Eavis and Emily Eavis said there would “inevitably be severe financial implications” for staff, suppliers, charities supported by Glastonbury and more. But they said there was no choice in light of government advice for people to avoid contact with others.
Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, the Pet Shop Boys and Paul McCartney were among the acts announced for the 50th anniversary edition of the music extravaganza.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says China will provide testing kits, ventilators and other medical equipment to deal with the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
Qureshi told the independent Geo news channel after a visit to Beijing that China will also provide cash in grants to Pakistan to be used to set up a state-of-the-art isolation center to combat the new highly infectious disease.
He said China will also share its medical expertise to combat the coronavirus. His comments came as health officials confirmed more nine cases of coronavirus among Muslim pilgrims who recently returned from Iran.
There are 246 confirmed virus cases in Pakistan.
Russian authorities are closing all of the country’s schools for three weeks starting next Monday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Russian education officials said Wednesday it would be an extended spring break with the opportunity to continue studies remotely.
Russia has so far reported 114 confirmed cases of the new virus. Russia has closed the borders to foreigners starting from Wednesday and ordered coronavirus testing for everyone who returned from European countries in the last 14 days. Moscow officials have closed all schools and banned gatherings of more than 50 people.
South Africa says it now has 116 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, nearly double the number announced two days ago.
Fourteen of the new cases are from local transmission, a worrying development in the country, which has the most cases in sub-Saharan Africa.
South Africa is one of the world’s most unequal countries, and authorities are rushing to prevent the spread of the virus to teeming low-income neighborhoods and crowded public transport.
Kyrgyzstan has reported its first three cases of the new coronavirus.
Kyrgyz health officials said Wednesday that the three men diagnosed with the virus returned from Saudi Arabia recently.
The infected men, along with 90 people who arrived in Kyrgyzstan on the same flight, are in isolation. Kyrgyz authorities are working to establish who else the men were in contact with.
On Monday, all of Kyrgyzstan’s schools and universities were shut down for three weeks. Movie theaters, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes with more than 50 seats available are also closed for the time being. All international trains and buses have been canceled.
The mayor of the South Korean city worst-hit by the coronavirus says 87 new cases have been discovered from local nursing hospitals, raising concerns about a possible spike in infections after they waned over the past week.
Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin said Wednesday that 74 of the cases came from a single hospital and that the 57 patients who were infected would be transferred to other facilities for treatment.
The infections at nursing homes weren’t fully reflected in national figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or KCDC, which said the cases in Daegu rose by 46 in the 24 hours ending midnight Tuesday.
South Korean officials have struggled to stem infections at hospitals, nursing homes, disability institutions and other live-in facilities, which critics say have been poorly regulated for years.
The KCDC says 116 cases and 10 deaths have been linked to a hospital in Cheongdo, near Daegu, where infections surged among patients hospitalized at a psychiatric ward.
South Korea has confirmed at least 8,413 coronavirus cases, including 84 deaths.
The leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies are trying to organize a virtual meeting next week to discuss a coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Saudi Arabia, which currently leads the G-20 presidency, said it is communicating with countries to convene the virtual meeting of leaders.
The kingdom said in a statement Wednesday the Group of 20 countries will act in any way deemed necessary to alleviate the impact of the pandemic and will put forward a coordinated set of policies to protect people and safeguard the global economy.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has come under criticism by some officials around the world, including members of the U.S. Congress, over its moves to ramp up oil production to more than 11 million barrels a day after an agreement with major oil producer Russia fell apart. The Saudi decision to flood the market sent oil prices plummeting.
A Canadian government official said late Tuesday that Canada and the United States are working out the details of a mutual ban on non-essential travel between the countries.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details ahead of an announcement.
___ Contributed by AP writer Rob Gillies in Toronto.
Taiwan is banning foreigners from entering the island.
Chen Shih-zhong, Taiwan’s health minister and commander of the Central Epidemic Epidemic Command Center, announced the ban that starts Thursday. Taiwanese people returning will have to quarantine at home for 14 days.
Taiwan has 77 cases of infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
Hawaii’s governor is encouraging travelers to postpone their island vacations for at least the next 30 days as the state tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The governor is directing bars and clubs to close and for restaurants to focus on takeout, delivery and drive-through service. He called for gatherings to be limited to a maximum of 10 people.
Officials have closed schools and facilities and postponed events to prevent the disease from spreading widely in the community and overwhelming the healthcare system. Hawaii has recorded 14 cases of the new coronavirus.
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