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:
— Spain to provide impoverished families minimum monthly income.
— Israel reports virus outbreaks at recently reopened schools.
— Berlin-based pianist plans marathon performance.
— New Zealand near eradication, but virus has grim global hold.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The University of Virginia says its campus will reopen for some in-person classes in August, with the face-to-face instruction ending by Thanksgiving.
Students will be allowed to return for the fall semester on Aug. 25, according to a statement from the university.
Administrators say on-campus classes will end by Nov. 26 and students won’t return until January to limit travel amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Large classes and those taught by professors with health concerns will remain online. The university says most classes offered in-person also will be offered remotely, allowing students to choose whether they will stay home or return.
SKOPJE, North Macedonia — Health authorities in North Macedonia have announced an increase in coronavirus cases, just days after the government decided to end a two-month curfew and allow bars and restaurants to reopen.
Health Minister Venko Filipce says 52 new infections and four deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. Authorities have recommended wearing protective masks and maintaining social distance.
Half of the new cases were recorded in five municipalities of the capital Skopje. Filipce says those areas will be quarantined if the number of new infections doesn’t fall in the next few days.
North Macedonia has recorded 2,129 confirmed cases and 126 deaths. A state of emergency declared in mid-March in the country is still in effect.
BERLIN — Switzerland is ordering its army to largely stand down from coronavirus duty.
The Swiss government says up to 5,000 soldiers supported civilian authorities across the Alpine country and in neighboring Liechtenstein nation over the past 10 weeks. Switzerland’s army is composed mainly of conscripts.
The government says about 1,000 soldiers will assist with border controls and provide other technical support until mid-June.
Switzerland and Liechtenstein have recorded 30,828 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and 1,657 deaths.
TORONTO — Canada’s transport minister says large cruises will still be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau says it applies to cruises with overnight accommodations and more than 100 passengers and crew. The government previously restricted large cruise ships until July 1.
VIENNA — Vienna mayor Michael Ludwig switched on the Austrian capital’s giant Ferris wheel to celebrate the reopening of the country’s tourism industry.
The landmark attraction has been in use since World War II and closed due to the coronavirus.
Austrian hotels are allowed to host guests, though many European borders are still closed and tourists have been wary of traveling.
MADRID — The Spanish government will provide more money for the country’s most impoverished 850,000 families so they can reach a minimum monthly income in the nation’s first attempt to guarantee a basic salary.
The plan was approved by the ruling left-wing coalition led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. The leader of the Spanish Socialist Party is under pressure to spur economic recovery and reduce the fallout from a two-month lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus that’s killed at least 27,000.
Citizens over 21 will be eligible for benefits if they don’t meet a minimum monthly income ranging from 461 euros ($513) to 1,015 euros ($1,130), depending on the number of family members. Migrants who have been in Spain for more than one year can apply.
Social Security Minister José Luis Escrivá says the measure intends to reduce poverty and inequality. He says 100,000 households will immediately benefit and the government aims to include 750,000 more in coming months. The total cost for Spain’s public coffers is estimated at 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) annually.
MONROE, N.C. — A school board in North Carolina voted to hold an in-person graduation ceremony for all its high schools that would be a violation of the state’s coronavirus safety orders.
The Union County Public Schools Board voted 5-4 Thursday to hold the ceremonies in an outdoor stadium where students would maintain social distancing, news outlets reported. But the ceremonies would still violate Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order limiting mass gatherings to 25 people in outdoor spaces.
“Obviously, we have a terrible lack of leadership from the governor of our state,” says Gary Sides, a school board member who issued the proposal. “We’re trying to fumble through and not deprive these kids of one of the most important events of their life.”
The board’s vote comes after students and parents held a protest outside Union County Public Schools Superintendent Andrew Houlihan’s home demanding an in-person ceremony.
LAGOS, Nigeria — The Nigerian government says it still hasn’t received ventilators from the United States a month after President Donald Trump promised to send hundreds to the West African country.
Trump said last week 1,000 ventilators had been provided to Nigeria. But the country’s information minister, Lai Mohammed, says, “To the best of my knowledge, they have not arrived. When they do arrive, it will be made public.”
Trump had offered to provide ventilators to Nigeria in late April during a telephone conversation with Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigeria has recorded about 9,000 COVID-19 cases. However, testing has been limited, complicating efforts to track the full extent of the crisis in Africa’s most populous nation.
LONDON — People in Scotland can meet outside in groups of no more than eight as parts of the U.K. regain some freedom from coronavirus restrictions.
People are allowed to enjoy sunbathing and some non-contact sports such as golf and tennis.
In England, up to six people from different households will be allowed to meet outside in parks or gardens on Monday. In Wales, people from two households can start meeting outside starting Monday, but they must stay in their local area.
In Northern Ireland, the government plans to allow small outdoor weddings on June 8.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s Health Ministry is warning people not to “slip into complacency” about the coronavirus after recording a spike in new cases.
The ministry reported another 64 cases late Thursday after weeks of steady improvement when the total number of active cases dropped below 2,000. New outbreaks have been linked to schools, which recently reopened after weeks of lockdown.
Israel imposed sweeping restrictions on travel and movement in mid-March. It has reported about 16,900 cases and 284 deaths.
Authorities have lifted most of the restrictions in recent weeks. This week bars, restaurants, pools and hotels were allowed to reopen. Authorities are urging people to wear masks in public and practice social distancing, but in recent days many have appeared to ignore the rules.
MALE, Maldives — The Maldives has increased the number of hours people can spend out of their homes and opened some businesses in its first relaxation of restrictions since mid-April.
The government says three passes will be issued per family and each will allow two hours out twice every week. Only one family member had been allowed to go out every week for one hour, with most supplies home delivered.
Most shops and workshops will be allowed to open and taxis and trucks can operate. The government says the spread of the virus has reached a manageable level and its prepared to handle a spike.
There are 1,513 COVID-19 patients in this tiny archipelago state of 400,000 people and five reported deaths.
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Passenger traffic has resumed at the main airport in Slovenia after more than two months of suspension.
An Air Serbia flight from the capital of Belgrade on Friday was the first to land at the Ljubljana airport. Authorities say they expect most airlines to return by early July.
Traffic relaunch at the airport is set in stages: Lufthansa, Montenegro Airlines and a Polish carrier should return by mid-June, while Swiss Air, Air Brussels, Transavio and British Airways will come next.
The STA news agency says Finnair and Iberia have decided not to fly to Slovenia this summer season. The report says Fraport Slovenia operator of the Ljubljana airport has recorded only 15% of its regular revenue since passenger flying was halted in mid-March.
Slovenia has eased lockdown measures the past few weeks. The Alpine home country of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, Slovenia is a popular tourism destination, particularly for sport enthusiasts and nature lovers.
BERLIN — Russian-German pianist Igor Levit plans a marathon performance of Erik Satie’s “Vexations.”
Levit told German news agency dpa the virus outbreak and the resulting lockdowns have been “brutal for us artists — physically, mentally and emotionally.” Satie’s work fits on a single sheet of music and involves 840 repetitions.
The Berlin-based pianist says he’ll perform Saturday for about 20 hours. The concert will be streamed on various classical music sites and Levit’s Twitter and Instagram accounts.
BARCELONA, Spain — Employees in Spain of Japanese giant Nissan took to the streets for the second day in a row to protest the closure of three Barcelona plants as the carmaker scales down its global production.
Hundreds of workers have surrounded on Friday at least four of Nissan’s car dealerships in or around the northeastern city, covering their windows with leaflets reading “Nissan betrays 25,000 families” and “We will keep fighting” among others.
The closures by the end of the year would mean the loss of 3,000 direct jobs, and some 20,000 additional ones in the supply chain could be affected.
Both Spain’s central government and the regional authorities of Catalonia, where the affected factories are, have vowed to help unions revert the Japanese company’s decision. Industry Minister Reyes Maroto on Friday said that the proposal could be a “joint private-public partnership.”
Although Nissan had been mulling for months to scale down its production in Europe and other parts of the world, the company is suffering like many other automakers from a plunge in demand for vehicles amid the coronavirus pandemic.
ANKARA, Turkey — Worshippers in Turkey have held their first communal Friday prayers in 74 days after the government reopened some mosques as part of its plans to relax measures in place to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Prayers were held in the courtyards of a select number of mosques on Friday, to minimize the risk of infection.
Authorities distributed masks at the entrance to the mosques, sprayed hand sanitizers, and checked temperatures for fever.
Worshippers were asked to bring their own prayer rugs, but some mosques offered disposable paper rugs which were placed 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart.
The partial opening of the mosques follows a slowdown in the confirmed COVID-19 infections and deaths in the country.
On Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to lift restrictions on movement between cities and reopen restaurants, cafes, sports centers, beaches and museums on June 1.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The number of coronavirus cases in Indonesia has surpassed 25,000 with more than 1,500 virus-related deaths as authorities are stepping up to lift large-scale social restrictions next week.
Indonesia’s COVID-19 Task Force on Friday reported 678 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 25,216 with 1,520 deaths, the highest death toll in Southeast Asia. It also reported 6,492 recoveries.
Jakarta, the first large city to enforce partial lockdown rules in the country, has hinted that the restriction policy would not be extended after June 4.
The State-Owned Enterprises Ministry has instructed state-run companies to allow its employees to return to work in mid-June by observing health guidelines amid a surge in cases and fears of a new wave of infections with the return of hundreds of thousands of people to cities after Islamic holidays.
The government’s data showed that nearly 50,000 people are under isolation and monitoring for possibly having the virus or after testing positive without showing any symptoms, while another 12,499 patients who remain in treatment are waiting for the lab-test results.
AMSTERDAM — Dutch authorities have closed a third meatpacking plant in a week for fear it would be source of coronavirus transmission.
The Van Rooi plant in the southern Netherlands was closed on health grounds after 16% of a sample of 130 workers tested positive.
“The test results show that there is a risk that the company can become a hotspot to spread the coronavirus within a short timespan,” the regional security authority said in a statement.
The plant will be closed until at least June 2. Over 30,000 people work in the Dutch meatpacking and slaughterhouse industry.
PARIS — France has reported more than 3,000 new daily virus infections in the biggest such one-day rise in more than three weeks — and the first major increase since France started gradually reopening May 11.
The new figure was not included in the government’s daily virus press release Thursday night, but was put on a government virus tracking website.
The national public health agency and Health Ministry didn’t provide a reason for the rise Friday. It comes as testing has become more easily available in France, though it is unclear whether that is part of the reason.
The French government has gradually increased the number of tests it is conducting after widespread criticism early in the pandemic that it was not testing widely enough.
Scattered virus outbreaks have been reported since France’s reopening began, notably in some schools that were subsequently shut down.
France has reported more than 28,000 virus deaths in hospitals and nursing homes and more than 149,000 people who have tested positive with the virus.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A Latvian company has launched a virus tracing app, one of the first with the joint Apple-Google operating system software — the newly released exposure notification API — saying the software that is using Bluetooth technology can detect and register other nearby mobile devices.
The country’s health ministry says all data on the app, called ″Apturi Covid,″ Latvian for “Stop Covid,” is encrypted and stored directly on the device. It won’t be accessible to the phone owner or other users of the app that is voluntary to use.
The software “will give people the opportunity to return to their daily lives by ensure faster awareness of contact people, according to the app’s Facebook page.
Latvia has 1,064 confirmed cases and 24 deaths, the Baltic News Service says.
“With the use of modern technology, we can once again gain time and go a step further. The new app will allow epidemiologists to identify contacts more quickly,″ says Elina Dimiņa, head of the Infectious Diseases Surveillance and Immunization.
Due to the decentralized and encrypted nature of the app, it aligns with EU regulations on data protection.
A Swiss coronavirus contact-tracing app was launched this month but was limited to hospital workers, members of the Swiss army and civil servants. The Latvian app is estimated to initially be used by at least 1/5 of the country’s population of nearly 2 million.
MOSCOW — Russia has reported the highest daily spike in coronavirus deaths once again on Friday, with health officials registering 232 deaths in the last 24 hours, which bought the country’s total to 4,374.
Russia’s comparatively low mortality rate continues to raise questions among experts both in Russia and in the West, with some suggesting that the country’s government may be underreporting virus-related deaths for political reasons. Russian officials deny the allegations and attribute the low numbers to the effectiveness of the measures taken to curb the spread of the outbreak.
Russia’s coronavirus caseload has exceeded 387,000 on Friday, with health officials reporting over 8,500 new infections.
President Vladimir Putin announced earlier this month the lifting of some lockdown restrictions, saying that Russia was able to “slow down the epidemic.” The vast majority of the country’s regions have been on lockdown since March 30.
TOKYO — Tokyo will remove shutdown requests on more businesses in June when theaters, cinemas, fitness gyms and retailers can reopen after a coronavirus state of emergency ended this week.
Governor Yuriko Koike says Tokyo is ready to move to Step 2 of a three-phase roadmap designed to gradually reopen businesses in the city.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared an end to a seven-week emergency on Monday, saying the infections have subsided enough to resume social and economic activity under a “new normal” requiring physical distancing and other disease prevention measures.
Tokyo reported 22 new cases Friday, triggering concerns of an underlying risk and a possible second wave of infections. Koike says infections are not accelerating and hospitals have space.
Libraries, museums and schools, considered to be lowest risk, reopened in Tokyo this week. Under Step 2, theaters, cinemas, fitness gyms, cram schools and retailers can resume businesses. Night clubs, karaoke and live music houses, which are considered more prone to infections, will be last.
Even though its emergency measures only involved requests for social distancing and some business closures, Japan so far has about 16,700 cases and 870 deaths, significantly fewer than many other countries.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa says it has a backlog of nearly 100,000 unprocessed tests for the coronavirus.
A health ministry statement overnight puts the backlog at 96,480 on Monday. The ministry says “this challenge is caused by the limited availability of test kits globally.” It says priority is given to processing tests from patients admitted to hospitals and health workers.
South Africa has conducted more tests for the virus than any other country in Africa — more than 655,000 — and has more confirmed cases than any other country on the continent with 27,403. The ministry says one of the latest people to die in South Africa was an employee with the National Health Laboratory Services.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Muslims in some parts of Indonesia attended Friday prayers as mosques closed by the coronavirus were allowed to start reopening in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
The guidelines for worship facilities released by religious affairs minister Fachrul Razi. Worshippers usually pray shoulder to shoulder, and they huddle, hug and shake hands once the prayer ends, with cheek-to-cheek kisses common.
Muslims in the Jakarta nearby city of Bekasi were expected to stay at least 1 meter (yard) apart from one another without shaking hands and would hear shorter sermons. No children were allowed to join the prayers, and police and soldiers were there to ensure health protocols such as social distancing and wearing a mask were observed.
Similar scenes were seen in another satellite city of Bogor, and Makassar, one of Indonesia’s big cities on Sulawesi island.
President Joko Widodo says his administration wants Indonesia to remain productive economically but also safe from the virus. He says any measures to start the so-called “new normal” would be based on epidemiological data.
Indonesia had recorded more than 24,500 COVID-19 cases by Thursday and nearly 1,500 deaths, the most in Southeast Asia.
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