The Latest: China reports 1 new virus case, South Korea 12
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:
— Military member near Trump tests positive for virus.
— Japan approves remdesivir for coronavirus treatment.
China reported one new coronavirus case Friday and 16 additional positive tests for people not showing symptoms.
No new deaths were reported. There are 260 people who remain hospitalized because of the virus and 890 under isolation as suspected cases or after testing positive without showing symptoms.
China has reported a total of 4,633 deaths among 82,886 cases.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 12 fresh cases of the new coronavirus, its first increase above 10 in five days, as officials continue to call for vigilance to maintain hard-won gains against the outbreak.
Figures by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday brought national totals to 10,822 cases and 256 virus-related deaths.
Three of the new cases were detected in the hardest-hit city of Daegu, where more than 6,800 people have been sickened. Three other cases were found among passengers screened at airports.
South Korea’s caseload has slowed in recent weeks, with no daily jump over 100 since April 1. This has allowed officials to relax social distancing guidelines, schedule school re-openings and allow professional sports to return to action without fans in the stands.
South Korea’s professional soccer league will begin its new season on Friday, following Tuesday’s baseball openers.
Still, health officials have warned about a possible second wave of infections and urged people to think twice about visiting their elderly parents on Friday, which is national parents’ day, and over the weekend.
BEIJING — The European Union delegation to China says it allowed a Chinese state newspaper to publish an op-ed even after it removed a reference to the Chinese origins and spread of the coronavirus.
The delegation said in a news release that it had been informed the foreign ministry would not allow the article to appear unless part of a sentence relating to what has become a hugely sensitive topic for China was removed.
“The EU Delegation to China made known its objections to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in no uncertain terms,” the delegation said in a statement Friday.
However, it said it decided to proceed with publication because the op-ed “passed key messages on a number of our priority areas to a potential audience of more than 1 billion readers,” including on climate change and sustainability, human rights, the importance of multilateralism and debt relief for highly indebted countries.
Only the English-language China Daily published the editorial, although the original agreement had also called for it to be published in the ruling Communist Party’s Chinese-language flagship People’s Daily.
While the virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, China insists the true origins have yet to be determined and has angrily fired back at suggestions by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others that it escaped from a high-security lab in Wuhan.
NEW YORK — The Brooklyn district attorney’s office released data late Thursday showing that of the 40 people arrested for social distancing violations in the New York City borough since mid-March, 35 were black and four were Hispanic. One was white.
Some of the arrests were caught on video, including one from Monday in which an officer knocked a man to the ground with his arm in Brooklyn. Police said he took a “fighting stance” as officers wrestled his stepbrother against a squad car. Another video from Saturday shows an officer pulling a stun gun on a man and violently taking him to the ground.
The arrests stand in sharp contrast to photos and video tweeted by the NYPD showing friendly officers handing out face masks and gently reminding people to stay 6 feet apart.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, despite mounting pressure to stop using police to enforce social distancing and the data showing that such arrests disproportionately affect people of color, stood by the practice on Thursday, saying: “We’re not going to sideline the NYPD.”
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the incidents should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
All the charges in the arrests were dropped.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un has sent a personal message to Chinese President Xi Jinping praising what he described as China’s success in getting its coronavirus epidemic under control.
The report by North Korea’s state media on Friday came amid outside observations that the pandemic is taking a toll on an economy already crippled by decades of policy failures and U.S.-led international sanctions over its nuclear weapons program.
China is seen as North Korea’s most significant ally and economic lifeline, accounting for about 90% of the country’s external trade. With China’s COVID-19 caseload easing, some experts say the North could reach out to China to reinvigorate cross-border trade that had been significantly reduced in past months.
The Korean Central News Agency says Kim in the message to Xi “congratulated him, highly appreciating that he is seizing a chance of victory in the war against the unprecedented epidemic.” It did not specify when the message was sent.
South Korea’s spy agency recently told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing that trade volume between North Korea and China in the first quarter declined 55% from a year earlier. In March, the bilateral trade volume suffered a 91% drop, lawmakers cited the agency as saying.
TOKYO — The annual Tokyo Game Show, which highlights the latest video game software and machines, is moving online, organizers said Friday, to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
Details of the event will be disclosed starting in late May, Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association and other organizers said in a joint statement.
“We are making this decision out of concern for the health and safety of the visitors, exhibitors and other participants,” the statement said.
The Tokyo Game Show was scheduled to be held in sprawling Makuhari Messe, outside Tokyo, from Sept. 24-27. In the past, Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp., as well as game developers from around the world, set up about 2,000 booths that have drawn crowds of more than 250,000 people.
WASHINGTON -- When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park becomes one of the country’s first national parks to reopen Saturday, some of its most popular trails will remain off limits.
Major roadways, most trails and some restroom facilities will be accessible, but it’s unclear when the Laurel Falls, Chimney Tops and Alum Cave trails will reopen, park spokeswoman Dana Soehn says. She says safety will be stressed as officials seek to follow federal and state guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We think that access to the three most heavily used trails just simply wouldn’t be possible with CDC social distancing guidelines,” Soehn said.
The push to restore access to some of the country’s most treasured spaces comes six weeks after the park abruptly shut its gates after visitors weren’t following social distancing guidelines.
Located on the Tennessee-North Carolina border, the Great Smoky Mountains is the nation’s most visited national park.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves did a dramatic about-face Thursday, saying state legislators will have a role in deciding how to spend $1.25 billion the state is receiving from the federal government as part of a massive coronavirus relief package.
“They’ve assured me that they want what I want, which is to get this money to those people that need it,” Reeves said at a news conference with Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn. The fellow Republicans had challenged Reeves’ assertion that the governor has the power to spend money without legislative consent during emergencies.
The majority-Republican state House and Senate met Friday and voted nearly unanimously to pass a bill that puts most of the money into funds that they control. They cited the Mississippi Constitution’s provisions that say lawmakers have the power to spend money. Reeves harshly criticized Hosemann and Gunn during multiple public appearances in the past week, accusing legislators of a power grab. But Reeves said Thursday that he had invited them to the Governor’s Mansion on Wednesday to make peace.
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada will begin allowing restaurants, salons and other non-essential businesses to open starting Saturday.
Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak says he’s still encouraging people to get takeout or food delivery, but restaurants may open if they limit capacity to 50% and keep customers seated 6 feet apart. Salons and barbershops cannot except walk-in appointments and must keep customers spaced apart, while stores may reopen but must limit customers to 50% of the building’s capacity.
Sisolak says casinos, nightclubs, spas and gyms must remain closed until further notice.
MINNEAPOLIS — Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has outlined a “battle plan” to keep Minnesota long-term care residents and workers safe against COVID-19, which so far has claimed the lives of more than 400 residents of nursing homes or assisted-living facilities in the state.
Walz tells reporters the state is “prepared to go very much on the offensive” to reduce illnesses and deaths at nursing homes, where residents are more susceptible to the coronavirus because of age, underlying medical conditions and close quarters.
Walz’s plan includes expanded testing for the coronvirus for residents and workers at long-term care facilities, creating “strike teams” to quickly conduct on-site testing, getting personal protective equipment for facilities facing outbreaks, activating the Minnesota National Guard to maintain staffing levels and requiring facilities to exclude sick workers and those testing positive.
State health officials say another 17 residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities have died. Minnesota’s COVID-190 death toll rose 23 on Thursday to 508. Of the total number of deaths, 407 people lived in long-term care or assisted-living facilities.
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations is appealing to governments, companies and billionaires to contribute to a $6.7 billion appeal to fight the coronavirus pandemic in vulnerable countries, warning that a failure to help could lead to a “hunger pandemic,” famine, riots and more conflict.
U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock says the initial $2 billion appeal launched March 25 was being increased because there is already evidence of incomes plummeting and jobs disappearing, food supplies falling and prices soaring, and children missing vaccinations and meals — and the peak of the pandemic isn’t expected to hit the world’s poorest countries for three to six months.
He told a video briefing launching the new appeal that the poorest countries face “a double whammy” — the health impact of COVID-19 and “the impact of the global recession and the domestic measures taken to contain the virus.”
World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley stressed two keys to averting the possibility of 265 million people being on the brink of famine by the end of the year: money and keeping supply chains running smoothly without disruptions.
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says auto and other manufacturing workers can return to the job next week, further easing her stay-at-home order while extending it through May 28 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Manufacturers — which account for 19% of the state’s economy — can resume operations on Monday. It is key for auto parts makers a week ahead of automakers’ planned phased-in May 18 restart. Factories must adopt measures to protect their workers, including daily entry screening and, once they are available, the use of no-touch thermometers.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Authorities in Oklahoma say three McDonald’s employees suffered gunshot wounds when a woman opened fire because she was angry that the restaurant’s sit-down dining area was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Police Capt. Larry Withrow says a 16-year-old employee was shot in in the arm, another 16-year-old and an 18-year-old suffered shrapnel wounds while a second 18-year-old suffered a head injury.
All are expected to recover.
Withrow said Gloricia Woody, 32, whose first name is spelled Glorica in jail records, was arrested for assault and battery with a deadly weapon.
Woody entered the restaurant’s lobby and was told the dining room was closed for safety reasons, Withrow said
“The suspect was forced out of the restaurant by employees. She reentered the restaurant with a handgun and fired approximately three rounds in the restaurant,” Withrow said.
The shooting comes amid tensions over restrictions in efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic that have escalated into violence elsewhere in the country.
TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey is sending 120 National Guard members to nursing homes hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic to help staff members.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and other officials didn’t offer details on what their exact role would be. Nursing homes need “some relief from the bullpen,” Murphy said.
The troops will first go to the state’s biggest home, in Andover, he said. The home became so overwhelmed by COVID-19 deaths at one point that it began using what Murphy called a “makeshift morgue.”
Murphy reported an additional 254 deaths in the hard-hit state, bringing the total to 8,801, with about 134,000 reported cases.
WASHINGTON — U.S. officials say fewer illegal immigrants are trying to enter the country from Mexico amid new enforcement rules imposed in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan says agents are encountering about half the number of migrants along the southwest border than in the month before President Donald Trump authorized the rapid expulsion of migrants under a March 21 public health order.
Total encounters in April were about 16,700.
The public health order was initially renewed for 30 days and is scheduled to expire this month. But Morgan and Deputy Commissioner Robert Perez suggested Thursday that the public health restrictions may have to stay in place longer even as the U.S. starts to ease quarantine restrictions.
Morgan also said border agents have encountered their first two migrants with confirmed cases of COVID-19. The first was from India and was captured near Calexico, California, on April 23. The second was a man from Mexico captured this week as he tried to enter the U.S. to seek medical attention for his illness.
WASHINGTON — A military member working in close proximity to President Donald Trump tested positive for the new coronavirus Wednesday. The White House says Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have since tested negative for the virus and “remain in good health.”
Spokesman Hogan Gidley says in a statement the military member works “on the White House campus” and tested positive Wednesday. The White House instituted safety protocols nearly two months ago to protect the nation’s political leaders, including frequent temperature checks. Last month it began administering rapid COVID-19 tests to all those near the president, with staffers being tested about once a week.
TOKYO — Japan has approved Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir for coronavirus treatment in a fast-track review just four days after the U.S. company submitted an application.
The drug is the first approved in Japan for the coronavirus. It was originally developed for Ebola and could block the coronavirus from replicating itself in the human body.
It will mainly be used for seriously ill patients. It was authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for coronavirus treatment last Friday.
Japan is also testing a Japanese-made influenza drug, favipiravir, that is also designed to inhibit viral replication but could cause birth defects. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing for favipiravir and says he hopes to have it approved by the end of May for less serious patients.
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