The Latest: Pakistan’s upward coronavirus spiral continues

The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD __ Pakistan’s upward spiral of new virus infections neared 145,000 Monday amid warnings from political leaders that the numbers could double by the end of June and were likely to hit a stunning 1.2 million by the end of July if Pakistan’s 220 million people continue to flout basic precautions like mask wearing.

Planning and Development Minister Asad Umer, who also heads the government’s COVID-19 command center, warned that the virus will rampage through Pakistan unless there is “a change in our attitude toward the virus,” that ends the relentless refusal of most in Pakistan to social distance and wear masks in public.

Still he defended Pakistan’s easing on lockdown restrictions saying the country’s economy would collapse under the burden of a total shutdown. Pakistan has stepped back on some easing of restrictions, closing markets on the weekend and extending closures of large wedding halls, restaurants, gymnasiums and large gatherings.

Pakistan’s doctors have pleaded for stricter lock downs saying the struggling health care system is already straining under the escalating numbers of infections. On Monday. Pakistan reached 2,729 deaths since mid March..

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Russia’s low virus death toll still raises questions in West.

— China, Korea, Egypt report rise in virus cases as curbs ease.

Europe opens its borders to Europeans, but not Americans, Asians.

Thai entrepreneur connects Michelin bistros to those in need.

— Bars are being allowed to reopen in party-loving New Orleans after a long shutdown prompted by coronavirus fears.

— Workers who agreed to live at a Georgia nursing home to keep residents safe from the coronavirus are back with loved ones.

Major League Baseball appears headed to its shortest season since the 1870s.

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Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:

HONG KONG — Hong Kong Disneyland will re-open June 18, as the city looks to gradually restart its economy amid a dwindling of coronavirus infections.

Hong Kong Disneyland, which has been closed since January due to the coronavirus pandemic, will reopen with limited visitor capacity. It will also introduce social distancing measures in restaurants, rides and other facilities, while suspending activities that require close interaction such as photo sessions with Disney characters, the park said in a press release Monday.

Visitors to the park will also be asked to wear masks, as well as fill out health declaration forms and have their temperature taken upon arrival.

It is the second Disney-branded theme park to re-open globally, following Shanghai Disneyland which opened its doors to guests last month.

Hong Kong’s social distancing measures, which prohibits gatherings of more than eight individuals and limits the capacity of restaurants and eateries, are currently in place until June 18. The city has reported 1,110 cases of coronavirus infections so far, with four deaths.

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BEIJING — China has reported 49 new confirmed coronavirus cases as the capital Beijing re-instituted measures to contain a new outbreak.

Of the new cases, 36 were reported Monday in Beijing, traced to a wholesale market that supplies much of the city’s meat and vegetables.

Ten of the other cases were brought from outside the country and three were found in Hebei province just outside Beijing. The National Health Commission reported 177 people in treatment for COVID-19, while 115 were in isolation and under monitoring for showing signs of the illness or having tested positive without giving off symptoms.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from the virus among 83,181 confirmed cases.

Beijing has closed the Xinfadi market, ordered testing of all its workers and is requiring anyone who traveled there to self-isolate for two weeks.

The new cases reported over the weekend mark China’s highest daily total of coronavirus cases in two months, prompting Beijing to suspend the restart of some classes and reverse the relaxation of some social isolation measures.

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ACCRA, Ghana — Ghana’s president has announced that Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang-Manu has contracted COVID-19 and is undergoing treatment at a hospital.

In a state broadcast Sunday night, President Nana Akufo-Addo said the health minister had “contracted the virus in his line of duty” leading the West African nation’s fight against COVID-19.

Ghana has one of highest number of confirmed cases in Africa because of its robust testing, with more than 11,400 cases. Health authorities have reported 51 deaths.

News of the health minister’s illness further fueled worries as Ghana’s universities prepared to reopen Monday so students in their final year of study can take exams.

“If the health minister is contracting the disease, what is the guarantee that my son will be safe?” said Peter Owusu, who son studies at the University of Cape Coast.

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NEW YORK -- Upset by “rampant” violations of New York’s pandemic-fighting restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is threatening to reinstate closings in areas where local governments fail to enforce the rules.

Manhattan and Long Island’s tony Hamptons were singled out Sunday as problem areas by Cuomo, who cited 25,000 complaints statewide of reopening violations. The large gatherings, social-distancing violations and lax face-covering enforcement endanger the state’s fragile progress in the fight against the coronavirus, Cuomo said, adding that many complaints involve bars and restaurants.

“We are not kidding around with this. You’re talking about jeopardizing people’s lives,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing.

The warning comes a day after the Democractic governor reacted sternly to a short Twitter video from New York City of young people enjoying a warm day packed tightly on a city street, many without masks.

New York officials are trying to avoid the fate of states seeing a surge in new cases after reopening. New York’s coronavirus-related hospitalizations are declining and the state recorded 23 deaths Saturday, the lowest one-day coronavirus death toll since the early days of the crisis.

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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country is emerging from the coronavirus crisis, but that the United States is struggling because it has a fragmented government system.

In an interview on state television Sunday, parts of which were reported before broadcast by news media, Putin said “we are working quite steadily and getting out of this situation with the coronavirus confidently, with minimal losses.”

In the U.S., “this is not happening,” he said, noting the central and regional governments work more closely in Russia. “I doubt that someone somewhere in the government or in the regions suddenly said: ‘We will not do what the government says or the president says. We consider this inappropriate,’” Putin said.

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LIMA, Peru — Archbishop Carlos Castillo on Sunday looked out over a cathedral full of faces — none of them now alive.

The cleric had his church filled with more than 5,000 portraits of those who have died in the pandemic that is burning across Peru and South America as a whole, using his broadcast homily to criticize a health system he said “is based on egotism and on business and not on mercy and solidarity with the people.”

COVID-19 has taken at least 6,400 lives in the nation of some 32 million people — a toll second only to that of Brazil within South America.

Hundred of them have died without receiving help from the health system, and many families have faced financial ruin due to the cost of trying to care for the ill. The nation as a whole faces a projected economic contraction of 12% this year, and Castillo called for solidarity with the poor.

“An even harder moment is coming,” he said. “It would be terrible if in the times to come we have thousands of these photos — but dead of hunger.”

Church workers spent days filling the pews with images of coronavirus victims, and when the 84 pews were filled, the archbishop ordered thousands of photos more attached to the base of the columns that rise to the arched ceiling.

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PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron announced that France is fully reopening its economy, including all restaurants, to accelerate the country’s recovery after virus crisis.

Macron said restaurants in the Paris region will be allowed to open indoor seating starting on Monday. Until then, only outdoor seating was permitted.

Restaurants in other French regions have already reopened.

From June 22, all nursery schools, primary schools and junior high schools will be open and mandatory for all students — instead of classes capped to small groups and many children staying at home.

Macron also confirmed that the second round of local elections that have been interrupted by the virus lockdown will take place on June 28.

“We must relaunch our economy,” Macron said.

France is reopening its borders with other European countries at midnight and will start allowing visitors from other continents on July 1st.

The country, which has reported at least 29,398 deaths from the virus in hospitals and nursing homes, has been under strict lockdown from March 17 to May 11, before gradually easing restrictions.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a review of the government’s two-meter (6.5-feet) social distancing rule, saying the falling number of coronavirus cases gives the government “more margin for manoeuvre” in easing the guideline.

Johnson said that “probably” fewer than one in 1,000 people now have the virus, and the chance of coming in contact with someone who’s infected are increasingly remote.

Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said that officials will be drawing on advice on the issue from economists as well as the government’s scientific and medical advisers.

Conservative lawmakers and businesses have been putting increasing pressure on the government to ease the two-metre rule, arguing that it will make it extremely difficult for many pubs and restaurants to operate.

They say that the government in the U.K. can follow other countries and ask people to socially distance at one meter or 1.5 meters.

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MILAN — Italy added 44 deaths from coronavirus on Sunday, with nearly half of those in hardest-hit Lombardy.

While most Italian regions counted fewer than 10 new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours, with eight regions at zero, Lombardy’s count remained stuck in the triple digits, numbering 244, according to the civil protection agency.

The next highest number was in neighboring Piedmont, at 30. As of Sunday, more than a month after a gradual easing of lockdown started and nearly two weeks since regional borders opened, the number of people currently positive for the virus is 26,274 -- with 3,800 being treated in the hospital.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece has announced zero new fatalities for the fifth consecutive day, the longest such run since mid-March.

Thus, fatalities remain at 183, while nine new confirmed cases over the past 24 hours have pushed the total to 3,121.

Thirteen patients remain hooked up to ventilators, while 116 have exited intensive care units, authorities said Sunday.

On Monday, Greece is opening a second airport to international traffic, in Thessaloniki, the country’s second-largest city, part of an attempt to ease into the tourist season. Depending on the country of origin, arriving passengers will either be tested at random or will follow the existing protocol, which mandates that all aboard an arriving flight be tested.

Flights will be allowed only from European Union countries, at least until June 30. But while routes from France, Italy and the Netherlands to Athens will resume Monday, the ban remains in Thessaloniki.

Also, land travel with Bulgaria, the only neighboring country that is also an EU member, will be permitted from Monday.

Greece’s museums reopen Monday, after a three-month shutdown. Masks, social distancing and limits to groups will be enforced.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is “moving away from the target,” the country’s health minister warned Sunday as the daily number of new coronavirus cases rose above 1,500 following the relaxation of restrictions.

Fahrettin Koca tweeted that 1,562 new cases were recorded over the previous 24 hours, the highest daily figure since June 3.

Reporting 1,330 recoveries, he said: “Our number of recovered patients fell below the number of new cases. The need for intensive care and respiratory equipment is rising.”

Koca also reported 15 deaths due to coronavirus, taking the total since the first case on March 11 to 4,807. Turkey has recorded a total of 178,239 coronavirus cases.

At the start of June, the government authorized cafes, restaurants, gyms, parks, beaches and museums to reopen and eased stay-at-home orders for the elderly and young.

A weekend curfew that was due to be implemented last week was canceled, ending the series of part-time lockdowns in place since April.

Koca called for people to switch to a period of “controlled social life” from Monday to halt the rise in cases.

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CAIRO — Egypt says it will resume international flights starting July 1 with countries that will open its airports.

Minister of Civil Aviation Mohammed Manar told a news conference on Sunday that all of the country’s airports will be reopened allowing travelers around the world to return to parts of the country less hard-hit by the coronavirus.

Antiquities and Tourism Minister Khaled el-Anany also says the government will open three provinces to tourists starting July 1.

Those include the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula, home to the major resort and beach destination of Sharm el Sheikh, the Red Sea resort areas of Hurghada and Marsa Alam, as well as Marsa Matrouh, on the Mediterranean coast.

The government hopes to draw tourists to popular yet remote attractions that have been spared the ravages of the virus.

The decision comes even as the pandemic surges in the Arab world’s most populous country, which has at least 1,484 deaths among 42,980 confirmed cases.

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PARIS — France is opening its borders with other European countries at midnight for the first time since shutting them amid virus fears three months ago, and will start opening up to visitors from other continents July 1.

It’s among several European countries opening borders first thing Monday — though it’s not clear how many Europeans are ready to travel again.

The French government has urged fellow EU members to coordinate their border rules, and is sticking to calendar recommendations from the European Commission last week.

“Given the favorable evolution of the health situation in France and in Europe,” the French government said in a statement it’s opening its borders to all arrivals from the EU and countries in the border-free Schengen zone Monday.

People arriving from inside Europe won’t need to undergo quarantine. But France will apply different rules to visitors from Spain and Britain because those countries established different reopening schedules.

France will gradually allow visitors from outside Europe starting July 1, based on the virus situation in countries of origin.

The French government promised to ease entry for foreign students in particular ahead of the new academic year.

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SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — El Salvador’s president says that a stringent quarantine imposed to fight COVID-19 has legally expired and a gradual reopening of the economy will begin Tuesday.

The Central American nation’s Supreme Court ruled that the strict measures decreed by President Nayib Bukele were unconstitutional and Bukele said Saturday night that he is going to veto the alternative restrictions passed Friday by the National Assembly.

As a result, he acknowledged, by law the region’s most restrictive legal lockdown has ended, though he asked citizens to continue in quarantine voluntarily until Tuesday, when phased measures to reactivate economic life would begin.

Under Bukele’s stay-at-home decrees, violators were sent to government-run containment centers for month-long stays. He had resisted loosening the orders, arguing that the country’s medical system could be quickly overwhelmed, resulting in much greater loss of life.

Health Minister Francisco Alabí said that the nation’s health system is already strained, with 90 of its 105 available intensive care beds already occupied. He said he expected to see an increase in COVID-19 cases with the end of restrictions.

The country of nearly 6.5 million people has reported 3,603 confirmed cases of the disease, with 72 deaths.

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