ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says that securing large-scale investments from the European Union for Italy’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be ‘’a victory’’ for all supporters of European institutions.
Conte spoke to reporters in Rome after the first day of consultations aimed at devising a detailed program to help Italy emerge from the health and economic crisis resulting from the spread of the virus and the long lockdown that halted non-essential economic production.
The head of the EU’s executive arm, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addressed the meeting in Rome via video.
She said that Europe’s recovery plan could provide Italy with the opportunity to ‘’address long-standing challenges affecting the Italian economy,’’ including slow growth and high public debt.
The premier invited all Italian political parties, trade unions, industry organizations, business groups and international agencies to participate in what is expected to be more than a week of discussions. The government’s political opposition has refused to participate.
Conte appealed in particular to League leader Matteo Salvini to work with the government to help ensure the strongest possible package of investments from the EU.
Conte noted the reluctance of EU members in central Europe like Hungary to endorse an aid program that gives the most money to countries hardest hit by the coronavirus, such as Italy and Spain.
Right-wing leader Salvini has maintained ties with euroskeptic leaders outside of Italy.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Lives Lost: Weatherman built career on skills learned in war
— France has millions of unsold face masks after virus crisis
— Treasury chief refusing to disclose recipients of virus aid
— In the sprawling refugee camps of Sudan’s Darfur, officials say people are falling sick and dying at astonishing rates. Humanitarian workers and medical personnel believe the coronavirus is spreading unchecked and untracked through Sudan’s most marginalized territory. Medical facilities are few and far between in the large western territory.
— Most Americans say they are wearing masks. They are still by and large avoiding restaurants. And the vast majority are still staying at least six feet from others. A new poll finds most Americans aren’t ready to abandon precautionary measures in response to the coronavirus, even as states and metropolitan areas relax restrictions.
— In the battle against COVID-19, public health workers spread across states, cities and small towns make up an invisible army on the front lines. But that army is under assault when it’s needed most. Elected officials and members of the public frustrated with lockdowns and safety restrictions have turned public health workers into politicized punching bags, battering them with angry calls and physical threats.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
PHOENIX — Coronavirus infections are surging in Arizona, hospitalizations for COVID-19 are increasing and more people are dying since the state relaxed stay-at-home orders last month.
But Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is not requiring residents of the Grand Canyon state to wear masks in public.
The decision seems to be following U.S. President Donald Trump’s lead: Get the state reopened and keep the face masks in your pocket.
Public health and medical officials outside state government have started pleading with Arizonans to wear masks after a recent surge in cases that is threatening to set off a cascade of new hospitalizations.
An Associated Press analysis found Arizona had a rolling average of fewer than 400 new cases a day when the state’s shutdown was lifted on May 15. It shot up two weeks later and surpassed 1,000 new cases a day by early this week.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Cases of the coronavirus continue to rise in Florida as the state gradually reopens, with more than 2,500 new confirmed cases reported by state health officials.
The numbers reported by the state Department of Health on Saturday mark the 10th out of 11 straight days in which new cases have topped 1,000.
The Department of Health said Saturday that Florida had 2,581 new coronavirus cases, the third consecutive daily record. Coronavirus deaths in the state now stand at over 3,000 out of 73,552 confirmed cases since Florida’s outbreak started.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and local officials began relaxing rules for businesses, beaches, theme parks and gatherings in May.
MILAN — Italy has added 78 more deaths to its toll from the coronavirus pandemic, bringing the national total to 34,301.
The new total given Saturday includes 23 people who died in Lazio in recent months but were not previously counted in Italy’s virus mortality numbers.
New confirmed cases nationally rose by 346 since a day earlier, 60% of them in the Italian outbreak epicenter in the Lombardy region, for an epidemic total of 236,651.
Lombardy’s governor, Attilio Fontana, has signed an ordinance extending the requirement to wear masks in public through the end of the month.
Fontana said the ‘’difficult’’ decision was made in light of a recent University of California study that concluded that the use of masks has prevented the spread of the virus to 78,000 people.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s National Public Health Organization reported just four new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and no virus-related deaths.
The total number of confirmed cases in Greece is now 3,112, including 183 deaths. There were 13 patients on ventilators, while 116 have exited intensive care.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to announce later Saturday the opening of the country’s tourist season. Speaking from the island of Santorini, Mitsotakis is expected to say that Greece is a safe travel destination and that authorities will protect both residents and visitors.
LONDON — Pharma giant AstraZeneca has struck a deal with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance to supply up to 400 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
The alliance forged by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands to speed up production of a coronavirus vaccine is set to take delivery by the end of 2020 of a vaccine being tested by the University of Oxford. The agreement struck Saturday aims to make the vaccine available to other European countries that wish to take part.
The cost is expected to be offset by funding from the governments.
AstraZeneca, an Anglo-Swedish company, recently completed similar agreements with Britain, the United States the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for 700 million doses. A license also has been agreed with the Serum Institute of India for another 1 billion doses.
Other companies, including Moderna and Sanofi, are racing to develop and produce a vaccine against the new coronavirus, a step experts say will be crucial to easing restrictions on public life and preventing additional waves of infections.
SKOPJE North Macedonia — Authorities in North Macedonia have reported the small European nation’s highest single-day numbers for new coronavirus cases and deaths due to COVID-19.
They said Saturday that there were 196 new confirmed cases and eight virus-related deaths over 24 hours. That brought the totals since an outbreak started in late February in the country of roughly 2 million people , to 3,902 confirmed cases and 179 deaths.
Health officials have attributed North Macedonia’s rise in new cases and deaths in the past 10 days to people ignoring government recommendations to protect themselves and to avoid family gatherings.
Authorities are urging newly infected people to abide by mandatory two-week quarantines and be honest when providing personal data and information about those with whom they had contact.
They warned that the virus can’t be prevented from infecting more people if individuals who already have it give false phone numbers and addresses.
Despite the spike, North Macedonia’s president, Stevo Pendarovski, announced Friday that won’t extend a state of emergency that ends at midnight Saturday.
JOHANNESBURG — African leaders say China will ensure the supply of 30 million testing kits and 10,000 ventilators each month for the African continent as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates there.
A statement by the South African president’s office says the supplies will be available for purchase via a new continental platform that African nations set up to negotiate cheaper prices for urgently needed medical equipment amid intense global competition.
The head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said each African nation will be given a quota based on its population and number of virus cases. The South African statement says Canada, the Netherlands, South Korea and France also have been partners in the effort.
African nations have been outspoken about the need for equitable distribution of supplies, including eventual treatments and vaccines for the virus, saying the pandemic won’t be over until the entire world is protected.
Africa has conducted 3 million tests for the virus, far short of its goal of about 13 million.
MOSCOW — Ukraine has recorded its highest daily count of new coronavirus infections for the third day in a row, more than double the count earlier in the month.
The health ministry on Saturday reported 753 new cases, compared with 683 the previous day.
In early June, Ukraine was recording fewer than 350 new cases a day. Overall, Ukraine counts 30,506 confirmed infection cases and 880 deaths.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa says the average delay in obtaining coronavirus test results from public labs has risen to 12 days amid backlogs and shortages of testing materials.
South Africa represents well over a quarter of Africa’s virus cases, with more than 61,000. The country has conducted about a third of the virus tests in Africa, and countries with fewer resources could face similar delays or worse.
The longer it takes to confirm a positive case, the greater the risk that an infected person is unknowingly spreading the virus.
South Africa’s latest weekly report by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, issued late Friday and ending June 6, says the average time to process tests at public labs has grown from a little over two days a month ago.
Public labs earlier were handling three-fourths of coronavirus testing but that dropped to just over one-fourth as of June 6. Turnaround time in testing by private labs is less than two days.
South Africa’s overall number of tests conducted has dropped since mid-May, also likely reflecting shortages. The African continent overall has more than 225,000 cases.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistani authorities have identified and sealed off nearly 1,300 hot spots to contain the rising trajectory of new coronavirus infections.
The sealing of high-risk area comes as Pakistan reported 6,472 news cases on Saturday, the country’s highest single-day total. Pakistan has confirmed a total of 132,405 cases, including 2,551 deaths.
Pakistan put its entire population of 220 million under lockdown in March. The government has since eased restrictions, saying it was necessary to save the country’s economy, but it has caused a surge in infections.
Prime minister Imran Khan has resisted demands from experts to reinforce the lockdown.
Authorities, however, are now using the term “smart lockdown” to close shops and markets and force people to stay home in areas where confirmed cases have increased in recent weeks. Some residential areas were also sealed in the capital, Islamabad, to contain the spread of the virus.
BEIJING — The Chinese capital has locked down 11 residential communities near a wholesale food market to try to stem a new outbreak of COVID-19.
Beijing officials said Saturday that 45 workers at the Xinfadi market tested positive for the coronavirus, though they showed no symptoms. That was in addition to an earlier announcement of seven people with symptoms, including six who had visited or worked at the market.
Forty environmental samples taken at the market also tested positive, city officials said.
The Beijing News newspaper said in a social media post that Communist Party members and volunteers were being organized to shop for food and other daily necessities for the affected residents.
The city, which had not had a locally transmitted infection in more 50 days, reversed some recent moves to relax coronavirus restrictions.
Authorities delayed the planned reopening of schools on Monday for first to third graders and suspended athletics events. One immediate casualty was an orienteering race slated for Saturday, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The National Center for the Performing Arts, which had just reopened on June 2, reclosed, according to a media report.
—This item has corrected to say that six of the seven people with symptoms had visited or worked at the market, not all seven.
NEW DELHI — India reported another record daily spike in coronavirus infections as the country passed the grim milestone of 300,000 cases.
The Health Ministry reported 11,458 new cases on Saturday and 386 deaths, driving the toll of fatalities up to 8,884.
India’s total caseload reached 308,993, the four-highest in the world, including more than 150,000 recoveries.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a nationwide in late March. India’s caseload jumped by about 100,000 cases in a week, which coincided with the reopening of shopping malls, houses of worship and restaurants.
In the capital of New Delhi, most public hospitals are full, and crematoriums and graveyards are struggling to manage a rash of bodies. Delhi’s government has projected that cases in the capital area alone could expand to more than half a million by late July, and is considering taking over luxury hotels and stadiums to convert into field hospitals.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 49 new coronavirus cases.
Most most of them are in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where health authorities have been struggling to slow transmissions linked to entertainment and leisure activities, church gatherings and low-income workers who can’t afford to stay home.
The figures released Saturday brought national totals to 12,051 cases and 277 deaths.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 44 of the new cases are in greater capital area, which is home to half the country’s 51 million people.
Agency director Jung Eun-kyeong is urging residents in the capital area to stay home over the weekend, saying there is “high concern” that increased public activity will lead to widespread circulation of the virus.