The Latest: Slovenia proclaims end to virus epidemic at home

May 15, 2020 GMT
CORRECTS DATE - FILE - In this April 12, 2020, file photo, Rohingya refugees walk through one of the arterial roads at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Authorities on Thursday, May 14, 2020 reported the first coronavirus case in the crowded camps for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh, where more than 1 million refugees have been sheltered, a Bangladeshi official and the United Nations said. (AP Photo/Shafiqur Rahman, File)
CORRECTS DATE - FILE - In this April 12, 2020, file photo, Rohingya refugees walk through one of the arterial roads at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Authorities on Thursday, May 14, 2020 reported the first coronavirus case in the crowded camps for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh, where more than 1 million refugees have been sheltered, a Bangladeshi official and the United Nations said. (AP Photo/Shafiqur Rahman, File)
CORRECTS DATE - FILE - In this April 12, 2020, file photo, Rohingya refugees walk through one of the arterial roads at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Authorities on Thursday, May 14, 2020 reported the first coronavirus case in the crowded camps for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh, where more than 1 million refugees have been sheltered, a Bangladeshi official and the United Nations said. (AP Photo/Shafiqur Rahman, File)
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CORRECTS DATE - FILE - In this April 12, 2020, file photo, Rohingya refugees walk through one of the arterial roads at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Authorities on Thursday, May 14, 2020 reported the first coronavirus case in the crowded camps for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh, where more than 1 million refugees have been sheltered, a Bangladeshi official and the United Nations said. (AP Photo/Shafiqur Rahman, File)
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CORRECTS DATE - FILE - In this April 12, 2020, file photo, Rohingya refugees walk through one of the arterial roads at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Authorities on Thursday, May 14, 2020 reported the first coronavirus case in the crowded camps for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh, where more than 1 million refugees have been sheltered, a Bangladeshi official and the United Nations said. (AP Photo/Shafiqur Rahman, File)

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:

Virus hot spots flare, hospitals tested as economies reopen.

— Slovenia first European country to proclaim end to coronavirus epidemic.

— World Bank approves $1 billion in aid for India.

First virus case reported in crowded camps for Rohingya refugees.

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia has become the first European country to proclaim an end to the coronavirus epidemic at home.

The European Union state’s government said Friday the COVID-19 spread is under control and there is no longer a need for extraordinary health measures.

The government says EU residents are free to cross into Slovenia from Austria, Italy and Hungary at predetermined checkpoints, while most non-EU nationals will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine in what is a major step for the small Alpine country as it accelerates the easing of restrictions.

The first coronavirus case in Slovenia was recorded on March 4, a returnee from neighboring Italy. The nationwide epidemic was proclaimed on March 12.

By May 13, there were 1,467 confirmed cases and 103 deaths in Slovenia.

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PARIS — The head of WHO’s Europe office, Dr. Hans Kluge, says the future of the pandemic will depend on everyone’s actions.

“It’s very important to remind everyone that as long as there is no vaccine and effective treatment, there is no return to normal,” he said on French radio Europe-1 on Friday. “This virus won’t simply disappear, so the personal behavior of each of us will determine the behavior of the virus.”

“Governments have done a lot (to limit the virus), and now the responsibility is on the people,” he said. “Before we said that public health is important for the economy. Now we have seen that without health there is no economy, there is no national security.”

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NEW DELHI — The World Bank has approved $1 billion in emergency response to support India’s efforts at providing social assistance to poor and vulnerable households severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A bank statement says the move will increase its total commitment to India to $2 billion. A $1 billion package was announced last month for India’s health sector.

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An immediate allocation of $750 million will help scale-up cash transfers and food benefits to provide robust social protection for essential workers involved in coronavirus relief efforts and benefit migrants and informal workers, the bank statement said late Thursday.

A second influx of $250 million will deepen the social protection package in fiscal year 2021, it said.

Half of India’s population earns less than $3 a day. More than 90 percent of India’s workforce is employed in the informal sector, without access to significant savings or workplace-based social protection benefits such as paid sick leave or social insurance, the statement said.

On Tuesday, India’s federal government announced an economic rescue package of 20 trillion rupees ($260 billion) to tide over a massive economic crisis created by the pandemic. Millions of migrant workers have fled big Indian cities to their village homes as they could find no work.

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BERLIN — Germany’s most populous state has lifted a requirement for people arriving from other European countries to self-quarantine for 14 days, and other regions are expected to follow.

The rule expired in the western region of North Rhine-Westphalia at midnight. The state government said in a statement that Germany’s states agreed with the federal government on Thursday to exempt travelers from other countries in the European Union, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Britain and that they will implement that decision over the coming days.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer recommended earlier this week that states lift the quarantine rule for travelers from Europe – but maintain it for those from elsewhere.

A court in North Rhine-Westphalia’s northern neighbor, Lower Saxony, already suspended the rule for that state earlier this week.

On Friday night, Germany plans to end two-month-old checks on its border with Luxembourg and loosen them somewhat on its borders with Austria, Switzerland and France – though it doesn’t plan to restore free travel across its borders until mid-June.

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PRAGUE — The economies in the Czech Republic and Slovakia have declined sharply in the first quarter of 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Preliminary figures from the Czech Statistics Office released Friday show that the Czech economy contracted by 3.6% in the first three months of the year compared with the previous three months and by 2.2% year-on-year.

In Slovakia, the economy declined by 5.4% compared with the previous quarter and by 3.9% year-on-year, the Slovak Statistics Office said Friday.

The economies of both countries are export-oriented and rely heavily on car production, an industry badly hit by the pandemic.

At the same time, the countries have been less affected by the outbreak than countries in Western Europe such as Italy, Spain, France and Britain. The Czech Republic has registered 293 deaths from COVID-19, while only 27 died in Slovakia.

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DHAKA, Bangladesh — Authorities have reported the first coronavirus case in the crowded camps for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh, where more than 1 million people are sheltered.

The person from the Rohingya community and a local person who lives in the Cox’s Bazar district who also tested positive have been isolated, Mahbub Alam Talukder, the country’s refugee commissioner, said Thursday.

Teams have been activated for treatment of the patients as well as tracing people they might have encountered and quarantining and testing of those contacts, Louise Donovan, a spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency, told The Associated Press.

Aid workers have been warning of the potential for a serious outbreak if the virus reached the camps. The dense crowding with plastic shacks standing side by side housing up to 12 residents each mean the refugees would be dangerously exposed to the virus.

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BEIJING — China’s foreign minister says the country has brought the coronavirus outbreak under control and he lashed out at foreign politicians he accused of having “insisted on politicizing the epidemic, labeling the virus, and smearing the World Health Organization.”

Wang Yi’s comments carried by the official Xinhua News Agency appeared directed at the United States, where President Donald Trump’s administration has repeatedly castigated China for allegedly covering up the initial outbreak and has suspended payments to the WHO over what it calls a pro-China bias and failure to effectively deal with the pandemic.

Other countries, including Australia, have also urged an independent investigation into the origin of the pandemic, calls that China has furiously rejected.

Under head of state and ruling Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s leadership, China has been able to “put the outbreak under control through arduous efforts and has been gradually resuming economic and social life while undertaking prevention and control measures on a regular basis,” Wang was quoted as saying in a phone call Thursday with the foreign ministers of Hungary, Estonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

China has “overcome its own difficulties, offered support and assistance to relevant countries, shared prevention and control experiences and treatments without reservation, and facilitated various countries’ purchase of anti-epidemic supplies in China,” Wang said.

Attempts to politicize the pandemic and smear the WHO are “a serious violation of international moral principles and undermine international anti-epidemic efforts,” Wang added.

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SYDNEY — Many cafes and restaurants opened again Friday in Sydney as some coronavirus restrictions were lifted, although rainy weather and ongoing fears appeared to keep patronage relatively low.

Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales began allowing cafes, restaurants and places of worship to reopen with up to 10 people on the condition they adhere to social distancing rules. Pubs and clubs were also permitted to open, but only for dining.

State Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned people to take personal responsibility, saying that easing restrictions in some other countries had backfired.

“Let’s please do our part in keeping everybody safe so that all of us can keep moving forward so that we never, ever go backwards,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney. “That’s really, really critical.”

Many Catholic churches across the state opened for private prayer, confession and small-scale masses.

“The celebration of mass is the highest form of Catholic worship and to not be able to physically gather these past two months has been very difficult for Catholics,” Sydney’s Archbishop Anthony Fisher said in a statement.

Many Jewish synagogues and other Christian churches decided to keep their doors closed.

New South Wales on Friday reported eight new cases of the virus, bringing the state total to a little over 3,000. Australia has reported a total of about 7,000 cases and 98 deaths.

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BERLIN — Austria’s leader is trying to calm criticism over a visit to an Alpine valley during which he was seen with a large group of people, few of them observing social distancing rules.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz visited the Kleinwalsertal valley in western Austria on Wednesday. A video showed dozens of cheering people close to a smiling Kurz. Kurz did appeal to those present “to keep a bit of distance as far as possible” as he spoke to reporters, but carried on speaking.

Kurz told ORF television Thursday night that residents of the region had been “de facto locked in for 10 weeks” and “most people kept their distance from me, but they often didn’t keep their distance from each other.”

Kurz said “it was a very unexpected situation for us and not an easy one.” He said officials are rethinking how they organize his trips outside Vienna to avoid spontaneous gatherings.

He said that in the future there will be markings on the ground at news conferences to ensure that journalists keep at a distance, and that his arrival time won’t be publicly announced so people don’t gather.

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SINGAPORE -- An American cargo pilot who admitted to “poor judgment” in breaking a quarantine order to buy medical supplies became the first foreigner imprisoned in Singapore for breaching its restrictions meant to curb the coronavirus.

Lawyer Ronnie Tan said FedEx pilot Brian Dugan Yeargan was sentenced to four weeks after he pleaded guilty to leaving his hotel room for three hours to buy masks and a thermometer.

Singapore has the largest outbreak in Southeast Asia with 26,000 cases. More than 90% of those infected are foreign workers living in crowded dormitories, while the government recently began easing restrictions for the local population.

The tiny city-state has strict penalties for those who breach quarantine rules. The lawyer said Friday he would apply for the sentence to be shortened for good behavior.

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LONDON — The British government’s scientific advisors are to meet with teachers’ unions to discuss the gradual re-opening of schools in England in the coming weeks.

Teachers are worried about the phased re-opening of classes amid concerns that the risk of infection from COVID-19 is still too great. Other parts of Britain have no plans to re-start schools.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson arranged Friday’s meeting to brief teachers’ representatives on “the scientific advice underpinning our approach.”

Williamson has tried to reassure teachers and parents that the return to classes would be “controlled and careful” and include protective measures, such as keeping class sizes small.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.