The Latest: UN body calls for action on debt amid pandemic
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 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. ___
UNITED NATIONS — The president of the U.N. Economic and Social Council is calling for urgent action to help the growing number of countries already facing or at risk of “debt distress” because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Norway’s U.N. Ambassador Mona Juul, head of the 54-nation U.N. body, told a meeting Tuesday on financing for the coronavirus crisis and recovery that the decision by the world’s 20 major economic powers to freeze debt service payments for the world’s poorest countries through the end of the year isn’t enough.
She said the Group of 20’s suspension will free about $11 billion until the end of the year, but it’s estimated that eligible countries have an additional $20 billion in multilateral and commercial debt combined coming due this year.
Juul said that means even if the moratorium is extended to 2021, “many countries will have to make difficult choices between servicing their debt, fighting the pandemic, and investing in recovery.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Protest of police use-of-force held in Paris despite virus ban
— Mayor says Chicago will proceed with easing lockdown despite vandalism, protests
— While the World Health Organization publicly praised China in January for its speedy response to the then-new coronavirus, the U.N. health agency was frustrated behind the scenes by China’s delays in sharing information needed to fight the spread of the virus, The Associated Press has found.
— Some British lawmakers were not pleased about going back to the office as the country eased restrictions from the virus outbreak. Some in Parliament, who have largely been working from home, say the government’s decision to scrap a remote-voting system used during the pandemic will turn those who must stay home because of age, illness or family issues into second-class lawmakers.
— While companies working on a COVID-19 vaccine line up tens of thousands of people for studies this summer, scientists are testing ferrets, monkeys and other animals in search of answers leading to a successful vaccine.
Go to https://APNews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates throughout the day.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has reported 49 new cases of COVID-19, continuing a weekslong resurgence that has alarmed a nation where millions of children have begun returning to school.
The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday brought national totals to 11,590 cases and 273 deaths. All but one of the new cases were reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where hundreds of infections have been linked to entertainment venues, church gatherings and a massive e-commerce warehouse.
Mayors and governors in the greater capital area have shut thousands of nightclubs, hostess bars, karaoke rooms, churches and wedding halls to slow the spread of the virus.
But despite the spike in transmissions, the government has been pushing ahead with a phased reopening of schools, which began with high-school seniors on May 20.
Class openings were planned Wednesday for nearly 1.8 million children -- high school freshmen, middle-school juniors and third - and fourth-grade elementary school kids.
BEIJING — China on Wednesday reported reported four new confirmed coronavirus cases, one brought from abroad and three added retroactively after nucleic acid tests returned positive results.
However, the country’s overall count fell by one to 83,021 after five other cases were eliminated retroactively.
No new deaths were reported, leaving the total at 4,634 since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
Just 73 people remain in treatment and an additional 360 are in isolation and being monitored for either testing positive but showing no symptoms or for being suspected of having caught the virus.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The wife of celebrated singer-songwriter John Prine, who died from complications of COVID-19, is urging lawmakers in Tennessee to expand absentee voting so people will not to risk their health exercising their right to vote.
Fiona Whelan Prine also contracted the coronavirus but recovered. She told a state Senate panel Tuesday that allowing more people to cast absentee ballots is critical to ensuring voters remain safe and healthy during the 2020 election.
Whelan Prine spoke over a video livestream and did not attend in person. In her words: “This is not or should not be a partisan issue. This is a serious health issue. And you, as our representatives, must advocate for our health, our safety and our right to participate in our Americana political process.”
Her 73-year-old husband was revered for his wise and witty lyrics in dozens of quirky, original songs such as “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone” and “Hello in There.”hey are unconstitutional.
The High Court of Gauteng Province on Tuesday gave the government 14 days to amend and republish the regulations in a way so they do not infringe on people’s rights.
South Africa’s lockdown began on March 27 and has been gradually relaxed, but it still bans the sale of cigarettes and prevents most businesses and factories from operating at full capacity. The regulations also prohibit large public gatherings and restrict funerals to no more than 50 people.
In a statement on Tuesday, the government noted the court’s decision and said it would respond once it has studied the ruling.
South Africa currently has the highest number of confirmed virus cases in Africa with more than 34,000, including 705 deaths.
PARIS — Thousands of people are defying a virus-linked police ban in Paris and have converged on the French capital’s main courthouse for a demonstration to show solidarity with U.S. protesters and to denounce the death of a black man in French police custody.
The demonstration in Paris and similar protests in other French cities on Tuesday were organized to honor Frenchman Adama Traore, who died shortly after his arrest in 2016 and to support Americans demonstrating against the death of George Floyd’ in the U.S. state of Minnesota.
Paris police banned the gathering a few hours before it was supposed to start, citing virus restrictions forbidding gatherings of more than 10 people.
The circumstances of Traore’s death are still under investigation after four years of conflicting medical reports.
The lawyer for two of the three police officers involved says it didn’t result from the conditions of his arrest but factors such as a preexisting medical condition.
Traore’s family says he died from asphyxiation because of police tactics -- and that his last words were “I can’t breathe.”
NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s director of public prosecution has ordered the arrest and prosecution of a police officer in the death of 13-year-old Yasin Hussein Moyo.
The boy was shot dead while standing on his family’s balcony in March as police moved through his crowded neighborhood enforcing a coronavirus curfew.
Police at first said he was hit by a stray bullet. The death caused an outcry.
Also Tuesday, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, established by Parliament, said 15 deaths and 31 incidents in which people sustained injuries have been directly linked to actions of police officers during curfew enforcement.
CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicago will proceed with its next stage of reopening after coronavirus stay-at-home orders despite days of unrest and violence.
Vandalism and violent clashes have followed peaceful protests citywide after George Floyd’s death. Numerous businesses have been destroyed. City crews helped secure about 175 buildings, many in neighborhood commercial corridors.
Still, Lightfoot says the overwhelming response from business owners has been that reopening should continue Wednesday as planned. That’s when restaurants, salons and other businesses can open with restrictions.
Chicago has been under strict restrictions since March. Its reopening plan is tied declining COVID-19 infections.
BAGHDAD -- Iraq’s Health Ministry is reporting a record-breaking single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases that it says resulted from increased testing.
At least 519 new cases were confirmed Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to 7,387, according to a statement from the Health Ministry. Iraq has reported a total of 235 virus-related deaths.
The number of confirmed cases in Iraq tripled in the last two weeks as more people were tested. Thousands more are being tested on a daily basis, according to daily government reports. The Health Ministry said at least 3,000 were tested nationwide in the previous 24 hours.
Since he was sworn in last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has reinforced full-day curfews, prohibited non-essential businesses from operating and banned large crowds from gathering.
Iraq faces shortages of hospital beds and ventilators. Health professionals have warned that a flareup in cases could be catastrophic for the country’s health system.
ROME — Italy’s Lombardy region has continued to register by far the highest day-to-day increase in coronavirus cases after emerging as the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak in February.
The Health Ministry reported Tuesday evening that Lombardy accounted for 187 of Italy’s 318 new confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours. Total confirmed cases now number 233,515, although authorities say many people with mild symptoms may have had the virus but never underwent testing.
Italy also reported 55 more virus-related deaths in the same 24-hour period, raising the national death toll from the pandemic to 33,530.
Since many elderly people who died during the outbreak in nursing homes or in their own homes weren’t tested, authorities acknowledge that the actual death toll is likely much higher.
A government-ordered ban on travel between regions is set to end on Wednesday. Italy also will start allowing in tourists from most of Europe.
KARACHI, Pakistan -- Two Pakistani lawmakers have died after testing positive for the coronavirus amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Officials said Tuesday that Munir Khan Orakzai, a lawmaker in the lower house of parliament, died in northwest Pakistan. They said a minister in the southern Sindh province, Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, died at a hospital in the port city of Karachi.
Their deaths came weeks after the first virus-related death of a lawmaker in Pakistan took place in the eastern city of Lahore.
Pakistan on Tuesday reported 78 deaths in the past 24 hours from the country’s outbreak.
Critics blame Prime Minister Imran Khan for an increase in deaths and infections. THey accuse him of easing restrictions last month at a time when there was a need to enforce a stricter lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
Pakistan has recorded a total of 76,398 confirmed cases and 1,621 deaths since February.
MADRID -- Spain’s Health Ministry says it recorded no deaths from COVID-19 for a second day in a row.
The latest official data reported Tuesday showed an increase in new confirmed cases, however -- 137 in the previous 24 hours compared with an increase of 71 cases between Sunday and Monday.
Madrid accounted for over half of the new cases, with 73. The Spanish capital has been the area of the country hardest-hit by the coronavirus.
The head of Spain’s emergency response called the falling death rate “very encouraging.”
Fernando Simón added that the number of patients being treated in intensive care units has also been declining, with only nine people admitted to ICUs over the past seven days.
Spain’s official national death toll from the pandemic is 27,127, while the country has almost 240,000 confirmed cases.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai has announced that shopping malls and the private sector can operate at full capacity starting Wednesday following weeks of restrictions and curfews.
Still, people must adhere to social distancing and wear face masks in public. Some of Dubai’s largest malls have already installed thermal scanners at gates to check the temperatures of all entering.
In recent days, Dubai — known for its sprawling malls, shopping and luxury hotels — has also opened some public beaches, parks and gyms. Mosques, public pools, amusement parks, nurseries and schools remain closed.
The capital of the United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, began restricting movement in and out of the city for a week starting Tuesday. Abu Dhabi said the move is aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 there.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities have temporarily suspended flights from Qatar until June 15, after 12 people on a flight from Doha tested positive for the coronavirus.
Authorities have quarantined all 91 passengers from the flight that landed Monday.
International flights to Greece are currently only allowed into Athens, with all passengers subject to compulsory coronavirus tests.
The Civil Protection Agency said Tuesday nine of the passengers who tested positive were Pakistani nationals with residence permits in Greece, two were Greek citizens coming from Australia and one was a Japanese national from a Greek-Japanese family.
Greece currently has a very low coronavirus rate, with 179 deaths and just over 2,900 confirmed positive cases.
Health authorities announced zero deaths on Tuesday, and 19 new confirmed positive cases, including the 12 from the Doha flight.
ROME — Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered in Rome shunning masks to protest against the Italian government’s measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Members of a marginal political movement created last year by a retired Carabinieri general have emerged as a virus-denial camp in Italy, the first Western country to be hit by the global pandemic.
The leader of the so-called Orange Vests told the protest crowd assembled in the Piazza del Popolo on Tuesday that children shouldn’t be made to wear masks and he threatened to ’’slap” anyone who did.
Antonio Pappalardo added that he refuses to wear a mask himself and said: ’’These lungs mine. I will take care of my lungs. Breathing is sacred.”
The people packing the square didn’t adhere to social-distancing guidelines set by the government.
Other speakers at the protest asserted that the pandemic ’’never existed” and alleged that politicians had played it up to enhance their own powers.
TOKYO — The governor of Tokyo has issued a coronavirus alert for the Japanese capital amid worries of a resurgence of infections only a week after a state of emergency ended.
Governor Yuriko Koike issued a “Tokyo alert” on Tuesday after 34 new cases were confirmed in the city, where confirmed infections had slowed to a few per day in late May.
Koike said: “The alert is to precisely inform the people of the status of infections and to advise caution.”
Lighting on Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge will be changed from rainbow-colored to red as a sign of alert. However, the alert does not mean restrictions that just got eased will be reimposed immediately.
Under the second phase of a three-part plan for resuming business activity, Tokyo’s theaters, fitness gyms and other commercial facilities reopened. Night clubs, karaoke parlors and other highest-risk establishments are still closed. shut observing shutdown requests.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed his government to take quick steps to repair economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin reported to Putin on Tuesday that the Cabinet’s plan contains measures designed to stimulate economic growth, raise incomes and reduce unemployment. It envisages spending 5 trillion rubles (about $73 billion) until December 2021.
A partial economic shutdown that Putin ordered in late March to stem the country’s outbreak badly hurt an economy already battered by a sharp drop in oil prices.
The Russian leader says the nation is now past the peak of contagion, allowing regional officials to gradually ease the restrictions. However, some experts warned that a daily increase of about 9,000 confirmed cases makes a quick lifting of the lockdown dangerous.
LONDON — A leading epidemiologist said the coronavirus outbreak in the U.K. is unlikely to worsen during the summer but that the outlook from September was “very unclear.”
Professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London said he expects levels of coronavirus transmissions and cases to “remain relatively flat between now and September, short of very big policy changes or behavior changes in the community.”
He told a committee of lawmakers in the House of Lords on Tuesday that the “real uncertainty” will be in September.
Ferguson resigned from his position as a government adviser last month after revelations that he broke social-distancing rules.
A coronavirus lockdown is being eased across the U.K., most quickly in England, raising concerns among many health officials of a potential second spike in infections.