Coronavirus Updates: Spain mandates masks in all public spaces

The Latest on the coronavirus  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.


— WHO members OK evaluation of virus response.

— Russian prime minister returns to work after bout of coronavirus.

— Shakespeare’s Globe theater in London may be shuttered due to virus.

MADRID — Spain is mandating facial masks in all public spaces, including outdoors when a safe distance of 2-meters (6.5-feet) between people can’t be kept.

Health Minister Salvador Illa says the decision expands recommendations in March for masks worn only in hospitals and nursing homes.

Previously, masks were in short supply in a country ravaged by the pandemic. Last month, masks became mandatory on public transportation.

Spain has recorded more than 27,000 deaths from the coronavirus and more than 230,000 confirmed infections.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Public health officials in at least two-thirds of U.S. states are sharing the addresses of people who have the coronavirus with first responders. Supporters say the measure is designed to protect those on the front line, but it’s sparked concerns of profiling in minority communities already mistrustful of law enforcement.

The AP review shows public health officials in at least 35 states share the addresses of those who have tested positive for the coronavirus — provided by the state or local health departments to emergency dispatch centers that request it. In at least 10 of those states, health agencies also share their names: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Tennessee. Wisconsin did so briefly but stopped earlier this month.

In Tennessee, the issue has sparked criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers who recently became aware of the data sharing. Some critics wonder why first responders don’t take precautions with everyone, given so many people with the virus are asymptomatic or present mild symptoms.


UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations secretary-general is recommending the annual gathering of world leaders in late September be dramatically scaled back because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Antonio Guterres suggested heads of state and government deliver prerecorded messages instead, with only one New York-based diplomat from each of the 193 U.N. member nations present in the General Assembly Hall.

The meeting of world leaders in New York usually brings thousands of people for more than a week of speeches, lunches, dinners, receptions, one-on-one meetings and hundreds of side events.

However, New York has been an epicenter of the coronavirus crisis. This year was expected to bring an especially large number of leaders to U.N. headquarters to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

But Guterres said in a letter to Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the president of the General Assembly, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, that the COVID-19 pandemic “will continue to cycle with varying degrees of severity” across the world and it’s highly unlikely leaders can travel to New York in September.

Muhammad-Bande has said a decision on the annual gathering will be made after consultations with U.N. member states.


MADRID — Spain’s government says it will seek to extend the current state of emergency to fight the coronavirus outbreak until mid-June.

The government had planned to extend the special measures until the end of June, when some regions are expected to completely come out of lockdown. But Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s cabinet on Tuesday shortened the extension period to two weeks to secure the backing of opposition parties for Wednesday’s vote in the Congress of Deputies.

Sánchez’s minority left-wing coalition needs a simple majority in the 350-seat Lower House to pass the decree. The center-right Citizens party and smaller nationalist parties from the Basque and Catalan regions were demanding a shorter period in order to limit the government’s special powers.

The main conservative opposition and a far-right party have declared they will vote against the extension. Some of their members have been attending anti-government protests of pot-banging citizens in cities across the territory.

Spain has recorded more than 27,000 deaths and more than 230,000 confirmed infections.


LONDON — A British lawmaker is urging the government to accept a bill that enshrines privacy protections in law in connection with a new app meant to track COVID-19 cases.

Harriet Harman, chair of Parliament’s human rights committee, says Britain needs a bill to safeguard privacy rights with the new app, rather than relying on existing legislation.

Though Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised to safeguard privacy rights in rolling out the app nationally, Harman says the system shouldn’t “rely on the individual integrity of any minister.”

Britain is testing an app on the Isle of Wight that logs details of nearby phones that have the app. If a user gets symptoms, those other phones will receive an alert and people can get a coronavirus test.

But the app’s success depends on large swathes of the population being willing to share personal data. Harman argues that such an intrusion requires legislation — even if the ultimate goal is to safeguard the population.


ISLAMABAD — A special Pakistani plane has airlifted 274 students from China.

That comes months after they were stranded in Wuhan because of the spread of coronavirus. The students arrived at the Islamabad airport Monday night, according to Tuesday’s foreign ministry statement.

It didn’t say how many Pakistani students were still present in China.

Pakistan is a longtime friend of China. Despite domestic pressure, Pakistan earlier this year had refused to evacuate an estimated 30,000 of its nationals, including students, to express solidarity with Beijing. Officials say seven Pakistani students were tested positive in Wuhan following the outbreak of virus and all of them recovered.

The move to start bringing back students came a week after Islamabad eased a six-week long lockdown amid increasing infections. It has drawn criticism from some experts who say it could cause more coronavirus-related deaths.

Pakistan has reported 43,966 confirmed cases and 939 coronavirus-related deaths since February. Authorities say the increase of infections and deaths was mainly because people failed to adhere to social distancing guidelines.


GENEVA — Member states of the World Health Organization have unanimously passed a resolution brought by European Union members, African nations and others calling for an independent “comprehensive evaluation” of the international response to the COVID-19 outbreak coordinated by the U.N. health agency.

The United States has sharply criticized the agency and its relationship with China, where the outbreak erupted.

Overnight, U.S. President Donald Trump listed concerns and criticism about the WHO to its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Nations rallied around the resolution that calls on the director-general to initiate “at the earliest appropriate moment” an evaluation that would “review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19.”

It was not immediately clear how, when or by whom that evaluation will be conducted.

The resolution pointed to the “role of extensive immunization against COVID-19 as a global public good,” and called on international organizations to “work collaboratively” to produce safe, effective and affordable medicines and vaccines.


BELGRADE, Serbia — Top officials from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia have discussed reopening of borders and economic recovery amid a slowdown in the coronavirus outbreak.

A statement from Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s office says participants at Tuesday’s video meeting agreed that opening of borders would help speed up the economic revival after the virus lockdown.

Vucic says Serbia agrees borders can open on June 1 with implementation of precautions against the coronavirus. The statement quotes Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis saying Greek borders will open for tourists on June 15.

The meeting is part of a regional initiative among the four countries aimed at boosting cooperation. Bulgaria, Greece and Romania are members of the European Union, while Serbia is seeking entry.


SAO PAULO — A study shows the number of COVID-19 cases in Brazil could reach 1 million if unconfirmed cases are taken into consideration.

The study conducted for the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper by researchers in the Brazilian Navy and universities in Rio de Janeiro and France says the number of cases is expected to peak this week. It could start stabilizing at the end of July after reaching nearly 370,000 confirmed infections.

Brazil this week became the world’s third worst-hit country with more than 250,000 confirmed cases despite limited testing. The United States has the most cases, followed by Russia.

The governor in the northeastern state of Pernambuco said Monday he has COVID-19, becoming the fifth state governor to announce being infected.

Most Brazilian states haven’t implemented strict lockdown measures to contain the virus that has already killed nearly 17,000 people in the South American nation.

The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the University of Bordeaux helped conduct the study.


BRUSSELS — The European Union is supporting the World Health Organization. The EU is urging all countries to back the U.N. agency after President Donald Trump threatened to permanently cut U.S. funding.

European Commission spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson says global cooperation is “the only effective and viable option to win this battle.”

She says “this is the time for solidarity. It is not the time for finger pointing or undermining multilateral cooperation.”

In a letter to WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump wrote the agency’s “repeated missteps” in its response to the pandemic have proven “very costly for the world.”

Trump’s threatened to cut U.S. WHO funding unless it commits to “substantive improvements” in the next 30 days.


JAKARTA, Indonesia — The celebration for the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan will be muted in Indonesia’s capital as authorities extended the enforceable restrictions.

Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan announced that a large-scale social restriction, initially slated to end Friday, will be extended to June 4.

He urged Muslims to suspend communal gathering, including religious activities in mosques, during Eid-al Fitr celebration because the risk of new waves of coronavirus remains high.

Eid-al Fitr is one of Islam’s two major religious holidays. It marks the end of Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims, who fast from dawn to sunset. It’s expected to fall on May 24 after Islamic clerics agreed on the sighting of the moon.

Muslims usually congregate for Eid prayers in mosque and fields and share meals among communities while forgiving one another.

Jakarta has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia. It recorded 6,155 confirmed cases with 470 deaths as of Tuesday. Nationwide, there’s been 18,496 cases and 1,221 deaths.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Long-haul carrier Etihad Airways says it has fired staff because of fewer flights during the coronavirus.

The Abu Dhabi-based, state-owned carrier says in a statement “it is clear the demand for travel in the near future will be significantly reduced and as a result we must make difficult decisions to ensure Etihad will weather this storm.”

The airline offered no figures for the number of employees let go. Etihad competes with Dubai-based Emirates and Qatar Airways for long-haul flights from East to West.

Since 2016, Etihad has lost a total of $5.62 billion after its failed strategy of aggressively buying stakes in airlines from Europe to Australia.

In February, Etihad announced it would sell 38 aircraft to an investment firm and a leasing company in a deal valued at $1 billion.


MOSCOW — Russia’s prime minister has fully resumed his duties after recovering from the coronavirus.

Mikhail Mishustin, 54, announced he was infected on April 30.

On Tuesday, Mishustin’s office says he’s checked out of the hospital and returned to his duties in the Cabinet headquarters. He’s set to take part in a video conference with President Vladimir Putin later in the day.

Several Cabinet ministers and Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov also have been infected. Peskov says he had double pneumonia caused by the virus. He noted he hadn’t met with Putin in person for more than a month.

Putin has limited public appearances and held most of his meetings online during the virus pandemic.


LONDON — Shakespeare’s Globe theater, one of London’s major tourist attractions, says it could be forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic.

All of Britain’s theaters have been shut since March, when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.

While some venues receive government subsidy, the Globe gets 95% of its revenue from ticket sales. The theater says the blow from the pandemic “has been financially devastating and could even be terminal.”

Parliament’s culture committee told the government that the Globe was “part of our national identity.” It says, “for this national treasure to succumb to COVID-19 would be a tragedy.”

The Globe is a reconstructed Elizabethan playhouse beside the River Thames modeled on the theater where many of Shakespeare’s plays were first performed. It opened in 1997 and draws hundreds of thousands of people a year to its open-air productions.


GENEVA — A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization says the U.N. health agency doesn’t have an immediate reaction to a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump that listed his complaints, including “an alarming lack of independence” from China in its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib says she’s seen the letter.

“I don’t have any reaction, we have been busy trying to finalize our agenda for the World Health Assembly,” she said, referring to health agency’s annual meeting, which has been shortened and will end later Tuesday because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I am sure in the course of the day we will have more clarity and reaction to this letter,” she said at a regular U.N. briefing in Geneva.

Trump posted a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, dated Monday, on his Twitter page overnight.

Among other things, Trump pointed to his decision to suspend U.S. contributions to the WHO pending a review of its actions in response to the outbreak. He faulted its “repeated missteps” in the response to the pandemic, saying they have proven “very costly for the world.”

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