U.K. construction, other workers get nod to go to work
As curbs ease, nations fear virus resurgence.
Nations struggled to balance public and economic health Sunday, feeling pressure to reopen shuttered businesses and aspects of life amid worries that relaxing restrictions too much could ignite a second wave of coronavirus infections.
South Korea, China and Germany, all seen as nations with success in clamping down on COVID-19, have seen small upticks. Yet Germany, like much of Europe, is continuing to loosen restrictions.
British Prime Minister
Boris Johnson announced a modest easing of the country’s coronavirus lockdown, saying those in the construction or manufacturing industries or other jobs that can’t be done at home “should be actively encouraged to go to work” this week.
Johnson, who has taken a tougher line after falling ill himself with what he called “this devilish illness,” set a goal of June
1 to begin re-opening schools and shops if the U.K. can control new infections and the transmission rate of each infected person. The country has recorded the most virus deaths in Europe at over 31,900.
“We will be driven not by mere hope or economic necessity,” he said. “We’re going to be driven by the science, the data, and public health.”
He also said he would soon impose a quarantine for some air travelers entering the U.K., but gave no start date or other details.
Germany, which managed to push new infections below 1,000 daily before deciding to loosen restrictions, has seen regional spikes in cases linked to slaughterhouses and nursing homes.
German officials expressed concerns about the growing number of large demonstrations, including one in the southwestern city of Stuttgart that drew thousands. Police in Berlin stepped in Saturday after hundreds of people failed to respect social distancing measures at anti-lockdown rallies.
France, which has a similar number of infections as Germany but a far higher death toll at over 26,300, is letting some younger students go back to school Monday after almost two months out. Attendance won’t be compulsory right away, allowing parents to decide if it’s safe or not.
Italian hotel owners, tour guides, beach resorts and others who depend heavily on tourism are pressing to know when citizens can travel across the country. In a newspaper interview, Premier Giuseppe Conte promised that the restriction on inter-regional movement would be lifted, but only after authorities better determine how the virus outbreak evolves.
Residents in some Spanish regions will be able to enjoy limited seat
ing at bars, restaurants and other public places Monday, but Madrid and Barcelona, the country’s largest cities, will remain shut down. Spain reported 143 new deaths from the virus, the lowest daily increase since March 19.
Russia, in contrast, is still reporting rising infections. Figures on Sunday recorded 11,012 new cases, the highest oneday tally yet, for a total of nearly 210,000 cases and 1,915 reported deaths. Russian officials attribute the sharp rise in part to increased testing, but health experts say Russia’s coronavirus data has been significantly under-reported.
China reported 14 new cases Sunday, its first double-digit rise in 10 days. Eleven of 12 domestic infections were in the northeastern province of Jilin, prompting authorities to raise the threat level in one of its counties, Shulan, to high risk, just days after downgrading all regions to low risk.
Authorities said the Shulan outbreak originated with a 45-year-old woman who had no recent travel or exposure history but spread it to her husband, three sisters and other relatives. Train services in the county were suspended.
“Epidemic control and prevention is a serious and complicated matter, and local authorities should never be overly optimistic, war-weary or off-guard,” said Jilin Communist Party secretary Bayin Chaolu.
Jilin shares a border with North Korea, which insists it has no virus cases.
South Korea reported 34 more cases as new infections linked to nightclubs threaten its hard-won gains against the virus. It was the first time that
South Korea’s daily infections were above 30 in about a month.
The U.S. has seen 1.3 million infections and nearly 80,000 deaths — the most in the world by far, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
New York City has detected 38 cases of “pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome” — an alarming condition linked with COVID-19, claiming one young life in the Big Apple so far — Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.
“There is a rare condition which we’re seeing more of just in the last days and it is causing tremendous concern,” he said at a news conference. “Our health leadership is deeply concerned.”
The case number of 38 is up from the last count, when there were 15 instances of the condition, de Blasio said.
Symptoms include persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain and vomiting, health officials said,
A 5-year-old New York City boy died of the syndrome Thursday, according to officials, with two other young New Yorkers dying outside the city.
An additional two deaths are under investigation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
Cuomo also announced two policy reversals a day after an Associated Press report in which residents’ relatives, watchdog groups and politicians from both parties alleged he was not doing enough to counter the surge of deaths in nursing homes, where about 5,300 residents have died. Nursing home staff in New York will now have to undergo COVID-19 tests twice a week, and facilities will no longer be required to take in hospital patients who were infected.
The faithful gathered outside St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sunday as Pope Francis delivered his blessing from the window of his studio because of lockdown measures resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.