Latest in coronavirus pandemic. New Coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can cause more severe illness or death.
—German experts say vaccines, a vital herd of immunity.
—We let the federal social distance guidelines end.
—The number of British deaths has jumped more than 26,000 with deaths in nursing homes.
GENEVA – A senior World Health Organization official said the US health agency is checking whether grandparents can hug their grandchildren safely without risking contracting the corona virus.
The comments from Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical emergency program leader, came after a Swiss health official this week suggested that grandparents could hold young grandchildren – under the age of 10 – shut down without the risk of contracting COVID-19 disease.
Most statistics show that older people and people with pre-existing health conditions make up the majority of victims who die from a pandemic.
At the WHO press conference, Van Kerkhove acknowledged that many grandparents “were very eager to hug their children, grandchildren” and said that the problem was one of the “life reviews” carried out by WHO.
DETROIT – The city of Detroit has passed 1,000 deaths due to complications from the COVID-19 virus.
Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair said 1,008 people in Detroit had died. The city has 8,954 confirmed corona virus cases.
Of the last 16 deaths, 14 of the victims are aged over 70 years, while eight of them are over 80 years according to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
HELSINKI – Finland says it will gradually reopen schools starting May 14 after the closure that began last month to stem the spread of the new corona virus.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin said primary, secondary and secondary schools would be opened “in a controlled manner” in accordance with the recommendations and guidance of health officials.
Among other things, that would include keeping classrooms as separate from each other as possible in different shifts.
Public schools in Finland have been closed since March 18. Education Minister Li Andersson stressed that the government could not continue the closure “because this is not epidemiologically sustainable.”
Finland, a country of 5.5 million, has recorded 206 COVID-19 deaths and 4,906 confirmed cases.
NICOSIA, Cyprus – The President of Cyprus has launched a road map to gradually revoke strict orders, living in homes that have successfully blocked the spread of COVID-19.
But Nicos Anastasiades said “the danger is not over” because the virus will not completely disappear in the near future. He warned that “deviations from or bad disciplinary action” against the authorities’ guidelines would lead to a return to locked conditions “that no one wanted.”
Movement restrictions will begin to be canceled on May 4, with out-of-home visits increasing from once a day to three. The curfew at night will remain in effect until restrictions are completely lifted on May 21, when restaurants, hair and beauty salons will also reopen.
Anastasiades did not say when the airport will be fully operational in a country that depends on tourism. The ban on all flights is still valid until May 17.
Cyprus, with a population of around 880,000, has recorded 843 confirmed cases of the corona virus and 15 deaths.
BUDAPEST, Hungary – The Hungarian Prime Minister said restrictions on leaving home would be gradually lifted, especially in rural areas where there was little corona virus infection. Restrictions will still apply in Budapest and surrounding areas.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a Facebook video that the first phase of defending against the pandemic was over and the Hungarian health sector was now ready to deal with mass infections.
Without giving a specific date, Orban said in the countryside, shops would be able to extend opening hours and restaurants and cafes would be allowed to reopen terraces and parks.
Orban said measures that would allow only those over 65 to shop at food stores and pharmacies in the morning would remain in place.
Hungary has registered 2,727 cases of corona virus and 300 deaths.
PRAGUE – Hundreds of people have protested what they said was a chaotic response by the Czech government to the coronavirus pandemic.
The committee, which is behind the recent large-scale demonstration against Prime Minister Andrej Babis, has asked participants to keep two meters (two yards) away from each other in line with government regulations.
Wearing mandatory face masks, the protesters at Letna Prague park brought banners with their questions and messages to the Cabinet.
They read like “Let our children go back to school!” or “Why do we have to make our own face masks?”
The daily increase in new COVID-19 cases in the Czech Republic has been under one hundred for a week, according to Ministry of Health figures.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka will reinstate a 24-hour curfew across the country as part of the country’s strict measures designed to curb the spread of the new corona virus.
According to the government’s decision, the curfew will take effect starting Thursday at 8 pm. until May 4.
The government’s decision to impose a curfew around the island came after a surge in confirmed cases in the past three days. There are now 630 COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka, including seven deaths.
The country has been under a 24-hour curfew since March 20. The curfew was lifted at noon hours in more than two-thirds of the country on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Recently there has been a lifting of curfews in certain areas which are not considered dangerous.
The police strictly enforces the curfew and has arrested more than 41,000 violators since last month.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said the federal government would not extend social distance guidelines when they expire Thursday at the end of the month.
Trump told reporters at the Oval Office that the coronavirus guidelines would “fade” because of the work the governors were doing in their states.
Vice President Mike Pence said the guidelines issued 45 days ago had been incorporated into the guidelines given to countries on how they could begin the process of gradually reopening their economies.
The guidelines – which were originally supposed to last 15 days and then be extended for another 30 days – include encouraging Americans to work from home and avoiding restaurants and free travel and telling older Americans and those with serious health conditions to isolate themselves .
BATON ROUGE, La. – Republican state lawmakers are fussing over Governor John Bel Edwards’ decision to extend his stay at Louisiana home until May 15.
They are considering an extraordinary step in trying to override the Democratic governor’s emergency decision making about the outbreak of the country’s coronavirus.
Edwards was in Washington for a meeting with President Donald Trump about Louisiana’s response to COVID-19 disease.
Meanwhile, some GOP legislators – especially in the House of Representatives – are trying to garner support for a rare legal maneuver that will allow them to cancel the possibility of part or all of the disaster orders and the proclamation of the governor.
The governor’s office said that it would put millions of dollars in federal aid at risk.
LONDON – The official UK death rate from coronavirus has jumped to more than 26,000, after deaths in nursing homes are added to daily totals for the first time.
The government says 3,811 more people have died after testing positive for the corona virus than previously reported.
The death toll now stands at 26,097, up from 21,678 announced Tuesday.
To date, hospital deaths have been reported every day, while deaths in nursing homes and other settings are reported separately every week.
The new total is the second highest official victim in Europe after Italy, although countries do not use the exact same action.
This might still be underestimated because testing has not been routinely done in nursing homes to date.
ROME – The increase in new Italian COVID-19 cases everyday is almost the same as the previous day’s number.
The health ministry said there were 2,086 new cases in the 24-hour period that ended late Wednesday, compared to the 2,091 increase registered the day before. The total number of known coronavirus infections in Italy is 203,591.
Italy has the most deaths in people with COVID-19 from any European country. On Wednesday, 323 deaths were reported, giving Italy a total of 27,682.
Italy is in the eighth week of national closure, with some easing restrictions on daily life scheduled to take effect on Monday.
ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey announced 89 new deaths due to coronavirus in the last 24 hours, because the number of deaths every day continues to decline.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also reported 2,936 new infections, bringing the total to 117,589. The total number of deaths now reaches 3,081.
At least 5,231 people were released from hospitals in the past 24 hours, increasing the number of patients who had recovered to 44,022, according to data shared by the minister.
The country has not reported an increase in daily deaths above 100 since April 16.
However, Koca warns against the relaxation of measures that could lead to a “second peak wave.”
“We see a downward trend but it is important that this is maintained,” Koca told reporters earlier.
CAIRO – The Sudanese Ministry of Health has reported the highest count of one-day corona virus infection in the country since the first case was confirmed more than two months ago, with 57 new COVID-19 patients and three deaths.
Wednesday’s figures make state counts for 375 confirmed cases, including 28 deaths. Some 32 people were sent home after their recovery, the ministry said.
Most COVID-19 patients in the country are in the capital, Khartoum where authorities earlier this month imposed a 24-hour curfew for three weeks to slow the spread of the virus.
Sudan’s health care system has been weakened by decades of war and sanctions. The country of 43 million people is still reeling from last year’s uprising that ousted the old ruler Omar al-Bashir.
ATHENS, Greece – Greek authorities say that the use of face masks is mandatory – with a fine of 150 euros ($ 163) – in public transportation and shops starting May 4, when the country begins to reduce lock restrictions. But they will be optional in school when middle school children start returning to class starting May 11.
Classes will not have more than 15 children separated 1.5 meters (about 5 feet), while larger classes will split up and attend lessons on alternative days, Education Minister Niki Kerameos said.
The head of the Coronavirus Sotiris Tsiodras said it was important for children to return to normal life as far as possible, adding that while the virus transmission from children to adults cannot be ruled out, “it seems unusual.”
Health officials have reported one new death and 10 new COVID-19 infections in the previous 24 hours, bringing the country’s total to 139 deaths and 2,576 infections.
SOFIA, Bulgaria – Authorities say all schools in Bulgaria will remain closed and students will continue to use distance learning until the end of the school year.
Schools will only be opened for year-end exams for seventh grade students, which are needed for high school entrance, and graduation tests for 12th grade students, the education minister said.
The Balkan country of 7 million people has declared a national emergency until May 13 to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Bulgaria has recorded 1,447 COVID-19 confirmed cases and 64 deaths.
BERLIN – Four leading scientific research organizations in Germany say some of the steps put in place to curb the corona virus infection rate need to remain there until the vaccine is found or herd immunity is achieved.
They said in a joint statement that their mathematical model independently showed the reproduction rate of the outbreak had been below 1 in Germany since the end of March. This means that each person confirmed with COVID-19 has been infected with less than one other person during the past month.
The Fraunhofer Society, the Helmholtz Association, the Leibniz Association and the Max Planck Society say the decline in new cases in Germany is thanks to restrictions and changes in behavior. But they warned “the situation is unstable, even a small increase in the reproduction rate will bring us back to the phase of exponential growth.”
They said fighting for herd immunity, where so many people gained immunity so that the virus effectively stopped spreading through the population, would need “several years” and some restrictions needed to be maintained. Experts say the vaccine may not be available until next year.
These institutions urge focus on three areas: sustainable hygiene measures; expanded testing and search capacity; and adjusted contact restrictions.
ROME – The head of Italy’s coronavirus pandemic strategy said the country was ready to face a second wave of infection “even greater than the first” if the reopening gradually led to a surge in new cases.
Domenico Arcuri told the House of Deputies that 20 Italian regions now have twice as many ventilators as are currently needed and the 5,200 intensive care beds that Italy had before the pandemic almost doubled to 9,000.
Italy, the center of a European pandemic with more than 27,000 people killed, entered the crisis with a fraction of the ICU’s capacity compared to other developed countries.
Arcuri told lawmakers that beds in sub-intensive care had increased sixfold, a similar increase in the capacity of Italian beds in infectious diseases and pneological wards.
The planned reopening of Italy begins May 4.