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:
— Philippine police raid illegal hospital treating infected Chinese virus patients
— UN Secretary-General warns virus pandemic threatens Africa's progresss
— Trump again says he is considering barring flights from hard-hit Brazil
— WHO members OK evaluation of virus response.
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine police have raided a small clandestine hospital and a drugstore catering to Chinese citizens suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 disease and arrested two Chinese administrators.
Police Brig. Gen. Rhoderick Armamento said law enforcers found a Chinese patient in the seven-bed hospital and drug store during Tuesday’s raid at a residential villa, which was illegally turned into a medical facility at the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone northwest of Manila.
More than 200 suspected Chinese-brand coronavirus rapid test kits and syringes, which have been used, were recovered in trash cans, he said.
“They have practiced medicine and prescribed drug without license,” Armamento told The Associated Press by telephone Wednesday. “The Chinese patients who were brought there may still be walking around in public and can infect other people.”
The Chinese who have gone to the underground hospital may include the large numbers of workers in online gambling outfits in Clark, a former U.S. Air Force base turned into a commercial and leisure hub.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the illegal hospital and drugstore can endanger patients instead of saving them because they do not conform with government health regulations and standards.
The Philippines has reported nearly 13,000 coronavirus infections, including 837 deaths, among the highest in Southeast Asia.
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations secretary-general is warning that the coronavirus pandemic threatens Africa’s progress and could push millions into extreme poverty.
Antonio Guterres said in a video message Wednesday launching a policy briefing on “The Impact of COVID-19 in Africa” that countries on the continent have responded swiftly to the crisis, “and as of now reported cases are lower than feared,” with more than 2,500 deaths.
But the U.N. chief said “much hangs in the balance,” and he called for “international action to strengthen Africa’s health systems, maintain food supplies, avoid a financial crisis, support education, protect jobs, keep households and businesses afloat, and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings.”
To help address the devastating economic and social consequences of the pandemic, Guterres said Africa needs more than $200 billion and “an across-the-board debt standstill for African countries.”
He said in recent years economic growth in Africa has been strong, the digital revolution “has taken hold” and agreement has been reached on a free trade area.
But Guterres said “already, demand for Africa’s commodities, tourism and remittances are declining” and “the opening of the trade zone has been pushed back.”
And the secretary-general said the pandemic “will aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease.”
SINGAPORE — Singapore, which has one of the highest infection rate in Asia, plans to exit a partial lockdown that ends June 1 in a controlled approach over three phases.
Officials say businesses that do not pose high risk of transmission can reopen from June 2 but some retail shops, personal services and dine-in restaurants will still be barred. Schools will reopen in phases and families can visit each other, but limited to one visit a day and not more than two guests in a household.
The city-state has reported 28,794 cases with 22 deaths. Most of the cases are linked to foreign workers, who remained locked down in their crowded dormitories. Earlier this month, the city-state allowed select businesses to open doors after infections dropped in the local community, away from the dorms.
The government said in a statement Tuesday that it expects infections to rise with the increased activity next month. If transmission remains low and stable, and the dorm situation under control, it said more activities will gradually resume including gyms, tuition centers and retail outlets in phase two.
It said all restrictions will eventually be eased in phase three but with strict health guidelines in a “new normal” until an effective vaccine for COVID-19 is developed.
NEW DELHI — In a major relief to tens of thousands migrant workers eager to return to their village homes from cities and towns, Indian Railways will be doubling the number of special trains for them and also run 200 new trains across the country from June 1.
Indian Railways in a statement says that it has operated more than 1,600 trains for migrant workers and transported over 2.1 million of them to their home states in the past 19 days.
Passengers are required to wear masks and undergo health screenings before being permitted to board. The return of these workers in huge numbers has raised fears of many of them carrying infections to their home states from cities and towns.
Thousands of workers have been crowding rail stations, bus stations and highways with their wives and children in blazing heat anxious to return to their homes. They say the they can resume farming and also take up jobs like building roads, water harvesting in drought-hit areas and construction of animal shelters under a government program that guarantees 100 days of employment a year in rural India for 200 rupees ($2.65) per person per day.
The Railways statement on Tuesday appealed to the migrants not to panic.
The number of coronavirus cases in India have surged past 100,000 with nearly 4,000 deaths. Almost 39,000 people have recovered from the illness. India’s two-month-old lockdown has been extended until May-end.
The railway system is often described as India’s lifeline, transporting 23 million people across the vast subcontinent each day, some 8.4 billion passengers eac
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is lifting restrictions put into place because of the coronavirus.
“It’s time to get Alaska back on its feet,” he said at a Tuesday evening news conference. “Friday, we’re open for business across the state of Alaska.”
Low case numbers and death totals in the nation’s largest but sparsely populated state led Dunleavy, a first-term Republican facing a recall effort, to his decision. Alaska has had 399 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths.
All businesses, including bars and gyms, will be allowed to reopen without restrictions or capacity limits, as will churches, libraries and museums. Recreational and sports activities will also be allowed to resume.
“It will all be open just like it was prior to the virus,” he said.
There will be some guidelines in place, however. Alaskans will be advised to still practice social distancing, clean touch screens before use, stay home if sick and wear a face covering in public if near other people.
Visitor restrictions remain in place for senior centers, prison and institutions. And organizers with large gatherings and festivals should consult with public health officials before scheduling the event. A 14-day mandatory quarantine for those arriving in Alaska remains in place until June 2.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean students have begun returning to schools as their country prepare for a new normal amid the coronavirus outbreak in the Asian country.
Wednesday’s reopening of schools come as South Korea reported 32 new cases over a 24-hour period, the first time its daily jump has marked above 30 in nine days.
Hundreds of thousands of high school seniors in South Korea were allowed to go back to their schools earlier Wednesday. The education ministry says lower-level students are set to go back to schools in phased steps in coming weeks.
Students and teachers are required to have temperature checks before entering schools and wear masks at classrooms. The education ministry says some schools installed plastic partitions at each student’s desk.
South Korea’s new school year was supposed to start in early March, but it had been delayed several times due to worries about the spread of the coronavirus. About 5.4 million students in South Korea have been subsequently taking classes online.
South Korea relaxed much of its social distancing rules in early May. But it quickly saw a small but sudden spike in new infections linked to nightclubs in Seoul. Those latest outbreaks had been on a downward trend until Tuesday.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is considering barring entry to flights coming from Brazil due to the spread of COVID-19 in Latin America’s hardest-hit country. It was the second time Trump has said he is studying such a measure.
“I don’t want people coming in here and infecting our people. I don’t want people over there sick either. We’re helping Brazil with ventilators. We’re sending them ventilators,” Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.
Hours later Brazil reported more than a thousand deaths from the disease for the first time in a 24-hour period. The health ministry’s announcement of 1,179 deaths on Tuesday boosted the nation’s death toll to 17,971. Brazil has 271,628 confirmed cases, the third most in the world after Russia and the U.S.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who like Trump has previously downplayed the disease and encouraged supporters to go back to work, neither responded to Trump’s remarks nor commented on the record daily figure.
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. government announced it was offering Brazil $3 million to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. The Trump administration has already pledged $950,000 to Brazil in efforts against the pandemic. The resources will be used in 79 emergency centers for COVID-19, laboratories and in the health care system of 13 border cities.
BEIJING — China is continuing to combat a cluster of new coronavirus infections in its northeastern province of Jilin, with four out of five new cases reported Wednesday located in the region north of Beijing.
Authorities believe the outbreak may have begun among a group of family members and friends who gathered for dining and drinking without maintaining the social distancing regulations that have been increasingly relaxed nearly four months after they were imposed over much of the country.
No deaths were reported on Wednesday and just 87 people remained in treatment, while 375 others were under isolation and monitoring for being suspected cases or for having tested positive without showing symptoms.
China has recorded a total of 4,634 deaths from the virus among 82,965 cases.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says a public health order that imposes strict regulation of the country’s borders has been extended.
The new order announced Tuesday by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf does not put a 30-day limit on the restrictions as before. It says instead that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will review the latest health data every 30 days to ensure the restrictions are still needed.
Homeland Security officials had signaled in recent days that the order should be extended but that the decision would be up to health authorities. It had been scheduled to expire May 20.
The order enables U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to immediately expel anyone stopped trying to enter the country without authorization, including people seeking asylum. DHS officials say the COVID-19 pandemic makes it too dangerous to hold people in their detention facilities.
Immigrant advocates say it deprives people of the legal right to seek asylum under international law.
NEW ORLEANS — Coronavirus fears closed a Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles location near New Orleans the same morning that it reopened after a two-month pandemic closure.
The office in Harvey was notified that someone in the building might have been in contact with somebody who had COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Deputy Commissioner Keith Neal said Tuesday.
Neal said he did not know whether the notification was from a state Department of Health contact tracer. The health department reported Tuesday that more than 35,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease, 1,004 of them are hospitalized and 2,458 have died. About 26,200 are presumed recovered.
He said the office — one of 11 that reopened statewide Monday after being closed since March 20 — will be sanitized before reopening.
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon’s unemployment rate soared to 14.2% in April, marking the deepest recession the state has experienced since it began keeping records in 1939.
State officials say the numbers released Tuesday don’t reflect the full effect of the economic downturn brought on by a statewide stay-at-home order and the closure of schools and most businesses.
The state lost 266,600 jobs in the first two months of the pandemic, going from a near-record-low unemployment rate of 3.5% in March to the current 14.2%. More than half of all jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry have dried up.
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