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:
— World Health Organization said that it will temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments.
— Missouri health director issues warning after revelers seen at lake.
— British PM’s aide says he did nothing wrong with long drive during lockdown.
— Japan’s prime minister says vaccines, treatments are priorities for Olympics.
LONDON — The World Health Organization said that it will temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine — the malaria drug U.S. President Trump said he is taking — from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments, saying that its experts need to review all available evidence to date.
In a news briefing on Monday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that in light of a paper published last week in the Lancet, that showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems than those that were not, there would be “a temporary pause” on the hydroxychloroquine arm of its global clinical trial.
“This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19,” Tedros said, adding that the drugs are accepted treatments for people with malaria or auto-immune diseases.
Other treatments in the study, including the experimental drug remdesivir and an HIV combination therapy, are still being pursued.
MILAN — The number of confirmed new cases of coronavirus in Italy jumped by just 300 in the past 24 hours while deaths rose by 92, according to new figures by the civil protection agency on Monday.
Only hard-hit Lombardy, the epicenter of Italy’s epidemic, reported new cases in the triple digits, but significantly lower than recent days at 148, and with just 34 deaths. Five regions had no new cases at all.
The numbers of confirmed cases in Italy are believed to be a fraction of the actual, as the testing regime covers only those hospitalized, those who show severe symptoms or those who have been in contact with someone who tested positive.
The number of known people currently positive is 55,300. It will be at least another week until it is seen if Italy’s easing of the lockdown — with restaurants, bars and shops open now for the second week — will provoke any new outbreaks.
Mayors in many major cities have complained of lax distancing practices and mask habits among people indulging in their newly reclaimed freedoms.
BALTIMORE — President Donald Trump is mourning America’s fallen service members and noting that Memorial Day this year is different from years past.
Marking the holiday at Baltimore’s historic Fort McHenry, Trump notes that tens of thousands of service members and national guard personnel are currently “on the frontlines of our war against this terrible virus.”
The U.S. leads the world with more than 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and is approaching 100,000 deaths.
Trump says brave warriors from the nation’s past have shown that “in America, we are the captains of our own fate.”
Fort McHenry is where a poem written during the War of 1812 became “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The fort is closed to the public because of the pandemic.
O’FALLON, Mo. — Missouri’s health director issued a dire warning Monday after photos and video showed Memorial Day weekend revelers partying close together.
One video on social media showed a crammed pool at Lake of the Ozarks, with people lounging and playing close together, without masks.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams said in a statement that behavior like what was seen at the lake could have “long-lasting and tragic” results.
The lake draws people from as far away as Arkansas and Iowa. It’s also an especially popular spot for travelers from St. Louis city and county, which combined account for more than half of Missouri’s 11,988 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than two-thirds of the 681 deaths.
Bars, restaurants and hotels at Lake of the Ozarks also had big crowds, and they weren’t alone. In Hannibal, Mark Twain’s hometown and a popular regional tourist attraction, people could be seen sitting shoulder-to-shoulder inside and out at downtown bars and restaurants over the weekend.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson allowed Missouri businesses and attractions to reopen May 4, but the state order requires 6-foot social distancing through at least the end of May. The order leaves it up to local and state health officials to enforce social distancing. It wasn’t immediately clear if Camden County, the lake county that draws the biggest crowds, planned any action.
LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s aide Dominic Cummings says he was in an “exceptional situation” and broke no rules when he drove 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house during a nationwide lockdown.
In an exceptionally rare televised statement, Cummings gave a detailed account of his movements in late March and early April, which have caused an intense political storm.
Cummings said he traveled so that extended family could care for his 4-year-old son if he and his wife, who were infected with the coronavirus, both fell ill.
His trip came after the government imposed a strict “stay home” order, and Cummings is being accused of flouting the rules he helped impose on the rest of the country.
Cummings insisted that “the rules … allowed me to exercise my judgment.”
He said “I don’t regret what I did,” though he acknowledged that “reasonable people” might disagree with his actions.
ARLINGTON, Va. — President Donald Trump has laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery as he commemorates Memorial Day in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and his defense secretary. He laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier overlooking rolling hills dotted with white tombstones.
First lady Melania Trump and other cabinet members were also in attendance Monday.
Presidents typically honor fallen military members by laying a wreath and delivering a speech at the hallowed burial ground across the Potomac River from Washington. But the pandemic has led to changes this year because of restriction on gatherings.
Trump is expected to speak instead later on Memorial Day at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. It’s where the hoisting of a huge American flag to celebrate an important victory over the British during the War of 1812 inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
COLOGNE, Germany — A German company is providing 140,000 students in the western city of Cologne with their own face shields to help protect them from infection with the new coronavirus.
A first delivery was accepted Monday by the principal and several students of the Katharina Henoth secondary school.
The shields consist of a plastic headband that holds a replaceable piece of clear plastic covering the face.
The face shields are not a substitute for a mouth-nose cover, but they provide further protection, especially for the eyes, which can also be an entry point for the coronavirus. The shields also reduce the natural reflex of touching the face.
TOKYO — Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday said the swift development of vaccines and effective treatments for COVID-19 are priorities towards achieving the Tokyo Olympics next year.
Abe said recovery from the coronavirus pandemic only in Japan would not be enough to hold the Games, because it involves spectators and athletes from around the world.
Abe reiterated that the government hopes to hold the Tokyo Games “in a complete form” — with spectators — as a proof of human victory against the coronavirus.
In late March, when the coronavirus became a global pandemic, Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Games by one year to July 2021.
Experts say developing an effective and safe vaccine by the Games next year would be difficult. Abe acknowledged Monday that the fight against the virus “would be an endurance battle.”
Abe made the remark at a news conference Monday as he declared an end to a state of emergency across the nation.
Japan, with about 16,600 confirmed cases and about 850 deaths, has so far avoided a large outbreak like those experienced in the U.S. and the Europe despite its softer restrictions.
RALEIGH, N.C. — President Donald Trump demanded Monday that North Carolina’s Democratic governor sign off “immediately” on allowing the Republican National Convention to move forward in August with full attendance despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump’s tweets about the convention, planned for Charlotte, come just two days after North Carolina recorded its largest daily increase in positive cases yet.
On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper moved the state into a second phase of gradual reopening by loosening restrictions on hair salons, barbers and restaurants.
But he said the state must continue to closely watch virus trends and has ordered indoor entertainment venues, gyms and bars to remain closed for several more weeks.
Trump tweeted that North Carolina’s “Democrat Governor … is still in Shutdown mood.”
He added that Republicans “must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. If not, we will be reluctantly forced … to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site.”
Cooper’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the tweets.
A week ago, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel asserted on a call with reporters that the convention slated for Aug. 24-27 would be held at least partly in person.
MADRID — Spain says it will lift a 2-week mandatory confinement for all travelers arriving from overseas starting July 1.
The government said in a brief statement that Cabinet ministers made the decision to lift the mandatory quarantine during a meeting Monday.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had already announced over the weekend that his nation was ready to welcome some foreign visitors in July.
The government is looking to establish safe corridors between parts of Spain that have the outbreak under control and similar areas in Europe that are an important source of tourists. There has been no talk so far of reopening to travelers from outside the European Union.
Spain is one of the world’s most visited countries, attracting over 80 million international tourists each year. The industry represents 12% of Spain’s GDP and employs 2.6 million people. Its economic importance is even greater on Spain’s Canary and Balearic archipelagos.
BEIJING — The Chinese city of Wuhan has conducted more than 6.5 million coronavirus tests over a 10-day period in a bid to test all its 11 million residents, state media said Monday.
The city’s health commission, in a post on its website, asked anyone who hasn’t been tested to come forward by the end of Tuesday.
No new COVID-19 cases have been reported since the 10-day campaign started, though some people with no symptoms tested positive. More than 3 million people had been tested prior to the campaign, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The campaign was launched after a cluster of six cases was discovered in one residential compound. Wuhan, where the global pandemic is believed to have started late last year, was by far the city hit hardest in China.
RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian prime minister says the West Bank will reopen on Tuesday after a dramatic slowdown in the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said shops, restaurants and mosques and churches would reopen on Tuesday, while government offices would reopen on Wednesday following the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
The Palestinian Authority, which administers autonomous areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, imposed a strict lockdown in March.
The Palestinians reported 368 cases of COVID-19 in the West Bank, with two deaths.
TOKYO — Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his government will compile a fresh stimulus package worth about 100 trillion yen ($930 billion) to provide financial support for companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Abe unveiled the new stimulus at a news conference Monday as he declared an end to a coronavirus state of emergency across the nation, as he removed the measure in five remaining prefectures including Tokyo.
Abe said a Cabinet approval of funding for the additional stimulus package is expected later this week.
The package would bring the amount of spending to more than 200 trillion yen ($1.9 trillion), he said. The government earlier compiled a 117 trillion yen stimulus package.
Japan, with about 16,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and about 850 deaths, has so far avoided a large outbreak like those experienced in the U.S. and the Europe despite its softer restrictions.
But the world’s third-largest economy is fallen into a recession, and public discontent over Abe’s handling of the coronavirus has sent his support ratings tumbling.
KYIV, Ukraine — The subway in Kyiv and kindergartens in parts of Ukraine reopened on Monday as the country moved to the second stage of easing lockdown restrictions.
Last week, Ukraine’s government announced shifting to “an adjustable lockdown,” with authorities in different regions deciding which restrictions to lift. The new regime started on Saturday, with public transport, hotels and churches reopening, and will remain in place until June 22.
In Kyiv, the subway returned to its usual schedule, allowing people in if they wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. Churches across the country resumed public services on condition of enforcing social distancing. Hotels were allowed to reopen with their restaurants remaining closed.
Ukraine was one of the first ex-Soviet nations to impose a strict nationwide lockdown in March, when it had just a handful of coronavirus cases. It has so far reported 21,245 confirmed infections and 623 deaths.
VIENNA — Austria’s government says it has agreed upon a one billion euro ($1.1 billion) package to support cities and municipalities struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.
Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said Monday the money will be used to help kindergartens, schools and public transit systems, as well as projects like energy-saving measures, building renovations and the expansion of broadband connections.
Bluemel says the money will be distributed according to the size of cities.
Austria has registered 16,539 cases of the new coronavirus with 641 deaths.
LONDON — A hospital in southwest England says it has stopped accepting patients because of a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases it is treating.
Weston General Hospital in Weston-super-Mare says it is temporarily closing its admissions department “to maintain patient and staff safety.” People are being sent to nearby hospitals for treatment.
Local lawmaker John Penrose tweeted that the hospital had had “a spike in infections” and would get a “deep clean” before reopening.
Nationally, the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus is falling. The British government says there are 8,951 people in hospitals with COVID-19, down from 10,085 a week ago.
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