By The Associated Press undefined
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 expands grip in many areas, US nears 100,000 deaths.
— Moscow to ease some lockdown measures on June 1.
— Japan approves largest budget for combined $2.1 trillion.
— India surpasses 150,000 virus cases with another one-day high.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered to increase payments to the unemployed and take other steps to relieve the economic pain from the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking during a video conference with top officials, Putin says the number of officially registered unemployed now stands at 1.9 million, double compared with March.
The Russian leader approved a proposal to triple the monthly minimum payment for the unemployed to 4,500 rubles ($63) and pay 12,130 rubles ($170) to entrepreneurs who lost their business in the epidemic.
The coronavirus outbreak has caused massive damage to the Russian economy, already hurt by a steep drop in energy prices that caused the ruble to fall.
The rising unemployment and falling incomes have contributed to a drop in Putin's approval rating to 59% last month, the lowest in more than two decades of his rule, according to the independent Levada polling firm.
WASHINGTON — The Army Reserve has identified the reserve soldier who died of complications from COVID-19.
It says Sgt. Simon Zamudio died Friday, making him the third member of the U.S. military to die from COVID-19.
Zamudio was assigned to the 371st Theater Movement Control Element at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, whose Army Reserve parent unit is the 646th Regional Support Group at Madison, Wisconsin.
He's from Carpentersville, Illinois, according to Lt. Col. Simon B. Flake, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Reserve Command. Zamudio, who enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2015 and was promoted to rank of sergeant last month, was not on active duty at the time of his death, Flake said.
O'FALLON, Mo. — The owner of a business that hosted crowded pool parties over the Memorial Day weekend at Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks says no laws were broken and safety measures were in place to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
Social media postings over the weekend showed large crowds of mostly young people without masks and not adhering to social distancing guidelines at pools along the central Missouri lake that is a popular weekend getaway. Many of photos and videos showed people in an area of the lake nicknamed "Party Cove."
Political leaders in St. Louis, St. Louis County and Kansas City, along with Kansas' health secretary, encouraged 14-day self-quarantines for anyone involved in the parties. Some labeled the gatherings "reckless" and worried that revelers would return home after becoming unwittingly exposed to the virus and potentially spread it to others.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah and Utah State University announced students will return to campus this fall for in-person classes with preventive measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported the announcement came Tuesday, with the expectation of smaller class sizes and larger classes online. The Utah Board of Higher Education is expected to release a draft of specific criteria this week for the colleges choosing to reopen.
Fall classes at both universities are scheduled to begin in August, contingent on the number of virus cases.
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel says there's still a great need for personal responsibility with Germany relaxing some restrictions.
Germany has more than 180,000 cases of coronavirus and a relatively low number of deaths at 8,400.
The number of daily new cases has been dropping. Merkel says to preserve the gains, "society will have to increase its vigilance, not decrease it. We have to again make clear, the pandemic is not gone, it is contained but the virus is still there."
Merkel says that means people need to wear masks while using public transportation and in close contact, follow hygiene protocols and keep social distance.
Merkel says it's the beginning of the pandemic and reminded, "we have no vaccination, we have no medication yet, but we have better control and I would like to thank the people for that."
JOHANNESBURG — The head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says "we are in for a long, long haul" as shortages of testing materials and protective gear remain in short supply.
John Nkengasong says the African continent of 1.3 billion people has conducted less than 2 million coronavirus tests while it aims for at least 13 million. Just over 100 days have passed since Africa's first virus case was announced and more than 119,000 cases have been confirmed.
The World Health Organization's Africa chief, Matshidiso Moeti, says increased testing has not revealed a huge increase in cases on the 54-nation continent and rejects the idea of a "silent epidemic." A high proportion of cases have been asymptomatic or a mild form of COVID-19, Moeti said.
There's a shortage of protective gear , with more than 3,400 health workers infected as of last week.
LUXEMBOURG —Luxembourg is starting a coronavirus program to test each person in the country and cross-border workers.
Luxembourg has a population of more than 600,000, making it the second-smallest in the 27-nation European Union.
The testing program will try to blunt a second wave of the virus, which is expected after the European summer.
Luxembourg has nearly 4,000 confirmed cases and 110 confirmed deaths.
GENEVA — Summer camps, Alpine tourist trains and cinemas can soon reopen in Switzerland.
The government says it will lift a ban on all public gatherings of more than five people in the coming days, allowing gatherings of up to 30 people and planned events of up to 300 people.
Overall, the order for strict temporary limits on the public will end June 19.
As of Wednesday, the Swiss federal office of public health tallied 30,776 cases of COVID-19, with 15 more over the latest 24 hours. The total reported deaths stand at 1,649.
MOSCOW — Moscow's mayor announced easing lockdown restrictions in the city on June 1, сiting the slowing of the coronavirus outbreak in Russia's capital.
Speaking at a teleconference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin says people can take walks at designated times after remaining under a stay-at-home order since March 31. He also announced plans to reopen non-food stores and services such as laundries, dry cleaners, and repair shops.
Moscow, with a total of 171,443 confirmed coronavirus cases, accounts for a little less than half of Russia's caseload of 370,000. It's about 55% of the country's virus death toll.
Sobyanin says the number of new infections in the city and hospitalizations, has been going down in the past two weeks. On Wednesday, Moscow health officials announced 2,140 new cases, which is more than two times lower than two weeks ago.
Russia's coronavirus statistics have raised multiple questions among experts, who suggest the numbers may be higher.
Russian authorities dispute that, hailing the effectiveness of the country's lockdown measures.
BERLIN — A spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel says her participation in a possible Group of Seven meeting in the United States depends on the state of the coronavirus pandemic.
President Donald Trump recently suggested that the G-7 meeting originally scheduled for June 10-12, but then canceled, might be rescheduled soon.
German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer says Merkel "can't confirm a physical participation in such a summit event at this time." Demmer added "such a participation depends on the infection occurrence."
She declined to specify whether this referred to the occurrence of COVID-19 infections in Germany, the United States -- which currently has the highest global case load -- or among the potential participants.
LONDON — Official figures from Britain show the coronavirus lockdown has slightly reduced the gap in housework and childcare done by men and women, but women still take up most unpaid work.
A study of how people in Britain spend their time under lockdown by the Office for National Statistics found that the gender gap in unpaid work has been reduced to 1 hour and 7 minutes a day, from 1 hour and 50 minutes. This was partly because men have, on average, cut down 1 hour and 37 minutes a day on working and travelling, and are spending an extra 22 minutes a day on average doing chores and childcare.
The statistics agency also says people with low household incomes have been spending more time doing paid work and are less likely to have an increase in leisure time compared to those with higher incomes.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan is halting the use of the controversial malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19 patients after a new study suggested it doesn't work and poses health risks.
Zafar Mirza on Twitter announced a pause on the use of hydroxychloroquine after the World Health Organization indicated it will temporarily drop the malaria drug from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments.
Authorities say instructions had gone to all hospitals to put on hold the use of malaria drug for clinical trials.
Authorities have reported more than 59,000 cases and 1,225 deaths since the first case was reported in February.
TOKYO — Japan's Cabinet approved the largest supplementary budget of 32 trillion yen ($296 billion) to fund stimulus projects aimed at softening the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.
The extra budget for fiscal year 2020 is the second in a month. It will partly finance projects providing support for small businesses affected by the outbreak, funding to strengthen medical systems and for medical workers, and subsidies for local governments to step up regional coronavirus measures. The budget also will provide money for a possible second or third wave of infections.
Cabinet approval brings the combined total of the stimulus worth more than 230 trillion yen ($2.1 trillion).
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared an end to a coronavirus state of emergency Monday in hopes of resuming the economy while taking disease prevention measures. With soft social distancing measures and business closures, Japan has 16,000 confirmed virus cases and about 800 deaths, much fewer than many other countries.
He says the combined size of the stimulus package accounts to 40% of the gross domestic product of the world's No. 3 economy.
"I will defend the Japanese economy at any cost against the once-in-a-century crisis," Abe said during a meeting of ruling and government officials.
GENEVA — The International Labor Organization says more than one in six young people have stopped working during the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.N. labor agency, in its fourth edition of a report on the impact of the pandemic on jobs, says the equivalent of 305 million full-time jobs has been lost due to COVID-19. It says the impact is strong in the Americas, which the World Health Organization calls the new epicenter of the outbreak.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder says young workers age 15-28 may face a tougher time getting proper training or access to jobs that could extend into their working careers. ILO says nearly one in four have seen their working hours cut.
MADRID — Flags are flying at half-staff on more than 14,000 public buildings in Spain as the European nation holds its first of 10 days of national mourning for the victims of the coronavirus.
Spanish King Felipe VI led a minute of silence held at noon for the more than 27,000 lives that have been confirmed to be lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and other lawmakers participated from the Parliament, while health workers and other citizens also stopped activity to honor the dead.
The 10-day period is the longest national mourning declared in Spain since the restoration of democracy in the late 1970s.
Felipe VI, as Spain's head of state, is also planning to preside over a ceremony to honor the dead once the country emerges from its lockdown rules.
BRUSSELS — Belgium's institute for health is advising against the use of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 patients after global studies suggested it is ineffective.
The announcement came after the World Health Organization said it would temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments. A paper published last week in the Lancet showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems than those that were not.
In an update of the clinical guidance for adults diagnosed with the coronavirus, Sciensano said several studies didn't find any benefit to the drug and indicated a possible harmful effect.
"Overall, based on these recent observational findings which all consistently point to an absence of benefit related to hydroxychloroquine use, and possibly some harmful effect, it has been decided not to recommend its off-label use for COVID-19 in Belgium anymore, except within ongoing clinical registered trials after careful reassessment of the study-related risk/benefit," the institute said.
Belgium, a country of 11.5 million inhabitants, has reported more than 57,000 virus cases and about 9,000 deaths.