The Latest: India reports positive results from lockdown

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:

— Some countries and US states move to ease virus lockdowns.

— India’s prime minister says lockdown measures have saved “thousands of lives.”

— Residents in Spain look forward to further easement of restrictions.

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NEW DELHI, India — Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has said the monthlong ongoing lockdown has yielded positive results and that the country has managed to save “thousands of lives.”

Modi, who had a videoconference with various heads of the states on Monday, said the impact of the coronavirus, however, will remain visible in the coming months, according to a press statement released by his office.

During the meeting with state heads, Modi advocated for social distancing of at least two yards (6 feet) and the use of face masks as a rapid response to tackle COVID-19.

He said that states should put their efforts of converting hotspots, or red zones, into “orange and thereafter green zones.”

India last week eased the lockdown by allowing shops to reopen and manufacturing and farming activities to resume in rural areas to help millions of poor, daily-wage earners. But the economic costs of the nationwide lockdown continue to mount in a country of 1.3 billion people.

Modi, who put India under a strict lockdown on March 25, did not say if the lockdown restrictions will extend after May 3.

India has confirmed over 27,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 872 deaths.

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MADRID — Spain is recording 331 new deaths with coronavirus in the past 24 hours, up from Sunday’s 288, while the political and social debate focuses on the way out of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.

The total death toll stands on Monday over 23,500, while the number of infections is over 200,000 according to the latest count of the Health Ministry, which records only cases confirmed through lab tests.

With supervised children under 14 allowed to enjoy one hour out every day since Sunday, Spaniards are now setting eyes on the next relaxation of the confinement, now entering its seventh week. From Friday on, people of all ages will be allowed to go on walks or practice sports outdoors, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced.

Details on this and other new measures are expected to be ironed out on Tuesday, when the Cabinet holds a weekly meeting. Further loosening that could help activate the economy, such as the reopening of nonessential shops or restaurants, is still under discussion.

Health authorities are rolling out on Monday an 8-week survey among 36,000 Spanish households with a series of tests that should shed light on what’s the share of the population that has overcome the COVID-19 illness.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch national birthday party for their king is a muted affair, dubbed King’s Day at Home because of coronavirus restrictions.

King Willem-Alexander was celebrating his 53rd birthday Monday with his family at their palace in a forest on the edge of The Hague after a mass celebration in the southern city of Maastricht was canceled due to the coronavirus.

In a nationally televised speech to the nation, he paid tribute to health care workers and others battling the virus and hoped for better times ahead.

Flanked by his wife Maxima and their three daughters, Willem-Alexander said the annual holiday would be unique, “especially unique because I hope it will be absolutely the last King’s Day at Home in history.”

King’s Day is usually a nationwide celebration involving street parties and children selling secondhand toys in makeshift garage sales known as “free markets” throughout the country.

But early Monday, streets were still largely deserted apart from queues of shoppers, observing social distancing guidelines, outside bakeries selling traditional King’s Day pastries decorated with orange frosting.

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BEIJING — China is fighting back against calls for an investigation into its role in the global coronavirus pandemic, citing faults with the U.S. response to the outbreak and calling for Washington itself to admit error.

“We hope the U.S. will respond to people’s concern from the U.S. and the international community. Perhaps the World Health Organization can also be invited in to assist in the investigation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing on Monday.

President Donald Trump says he is suspending payments to the WHO, of which the U.S. is the largest funder, saying it has responded weakly to the pandemic and shown a pro-China bias.

China, where the virus was first detected late last year, has strenuously denied accusations from the U.S. and others that it suppressed information about the outbreak, allowing it to spread far wider than it might have, and delaying responses from other countries.

Also Monday, the official Xinhua News Agency ran a commentary accusing U.S. Republican politicians of seeking to gain political points by attacking China over the pandemic.

“The U.S. conservatives’ moves to cover up their own failures by shifting blame and public attention will only harm those still struggling in the pandemic and render the global fight much harder,” Xinhua said.

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MOSCOW — Russia surpassed China with its total number of confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday.

The Russian government reported 87,147 cases on Monday, which is almost 4,000 more than China’s official toll of 83,912. Almost 6,200 new infections were registered in the past 24 hours.

The actual number of infections in both countries is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. Many also believe that governments in both Russia and China could be manipulating the statistics for political purposes.

Russia had been reporting comparatively low numbers of coronavirus cases until April, and the Kremlin insisted the situation was under control. In mid-April, Russians were supposed to vote for a constitutional reform that would allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036, and Kremlin critics argued the government was downplaying the crisis ahead of the vote. In late March, Putin postponed the vote indefinitely. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has been growing exponentially since then.

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LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Britain has reached the moment of “maximum risk” in the coronavirus outbreak, arguing that lifting the nationwide lockdown too soon would allow a second spike of infections.

Speaking outside 10 Downing St. on his first day back at work after three weeks off sick with the virus, Johnson said the country was beginning to “turn the tide.”

Johnson’s Conservative government is under mounting pressure to set out a blueprint for easing the lockdown that has hobbled business activity and daily life since March 23. The restrictions are due to last until at least May 7.

Johnson said he understood people and businesses were eager to get back to work, but “I ask you to contain your impatience because I believe that we are coming to the end of the first phase of this conflict and in spite of all the suffering we have so nearly succeeded.”

Johnson spent a week in St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, including three nights in intensive care. When he was discharged on April 13, Johnson thanked medics at the hospital for saving his life. He has been recovering for the past two weeks at his Chequers country retreat.

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MOSCOW — A total of 874 servicemen in the Russian military have tested positive for the new coronavirus since March, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Sunday. Almost half of them — 379 people — are isolated at home; others are being treated in various medical facilities. Four people are in grave condition, including one on a ventilator.

Russia has so far reported 80,949 confirmed cases of the virus and 747 deaths. The vast majority of the country’s regions have been on lockdown since late March, with only essential businesses — grocery shops, pharmacies, banks — operating and people ordered to stay at home.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin indefinitely postponed the traditional May 9 military parade marking the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II because of the growing outbreak.

Military units have already rehearsed the parade — footage of these rehearsals showed hundreds of servicemen drilling outside Moscow without observing social distancing. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the military had their own isolation and distancing protocols which allowed them more freedom.

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PRAGUE — The Czech Republic has entered another phase of relaxing restrictive measures adopted to contain the coronavirus pandemic, opening stores with a surface of up to 2,500 sq. meters (26,900 sq. feet).

At the same time, the zoo and botanical parks, fitness centers and driving schools are back to business. Public gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed, up from two.

The government rules on social distancing and mandatory face masks remain in place.

In a boost for the economy, the three Czech plants of Skoda Auto that belong to Germany’s carmaker Volkswagen renewed production on Monday. The company employs some 34,000 jobs.

One person died of COVID-19 on Sunday for a total of 221, while 73 patients with the disease needed intensive care in hospitals, the second lowest number from April 1.

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BANGKOK — Thai health authorities have reported the country’s lowest number of new cases of COVID-19 in almost six weeks, as the government considers easing some restrictions imposed to control the spread of the disease.

Nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported Monday, the smallest single-day increase since March 14. There are now a total of 2,931 cases, with 2,609 recoveries and 52 deaths.

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration says that a proposal will be submitted to the Cabinet on Tuesday for easing restrictions according to suggestions from the National Economic and Social Development Board, the state planning agency.

Measures currently in place include a nationwide 10 p.m.-4 a.m. curfew, the closure of malls, and restaurants being restricted to takeout and delivery service. A ban on incoming international commercial passenger flights was extended Monday through the end of May.

The center says a state of emergency will be extended through May, allowing the government to continue implementing measures outside the normal legal framework to combat COVID-19.

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CANBERRA, Australia — Australian officials are pleased that more than 1 million people have downloaded an app designed to accelerate contact tracing for coronavirus despite some privacy concerns.

Within 12 hours of the Australian-developed COVIDsafe app becoming available late Sunday, 1.13 million of Australia’s 26 million population had downloaded it onto their smart phones.

Chief Health Officer Damian Murphy said Monday he was “really excited” by the app’s early popularity.

Government officials intend to rush legislation through Parliament to outlaw use of collected data for purposes other than tracing people who might have COVID-19. Officials have also promised to release the app’s source code within two weeks so that independent analysts can better understand how to works and its privacy implications.

The government says at least 40% of the Australian population needs to take up the technology based on Singapore’s TraceTogether app for it to be effective.

If users of COVIDsafe are diagnosed with the virus, they can upload the app’s encrypted data logs which identify other users who have been in close proximity for 15 minutes or more in the previous three week.

The government hopes the app will enable Australia to safely reopen the economy by enabling health officials to quickly identify and contain new outbreaks. Australia will resume non-urgent surgeries this week for the first time since March 27 as confidence grows that hospitals won’t be overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.

Australia has recorded 6,720 cases of the virus, 83 patients have died and 27 remained critically ill in hospitals on ventilators on Monday.

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TOKYO — Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that his country is adding 14 more countries, including Russia, Peru and Saudi Arabia, to the entry ban list as the country steps up border control as the coronavirus infections continued to spread in the country.

Japan has already banned entry from more than 70 other countries, banning foreigners with records of visiting those countries in the past two weeks, while invalidating visas for the rest of the world. The additional step on the 14 countries will take effect Wednesday, Abe said.

The entry ban and the visa restrictions, initially set to end on April 30, are extended until the end of May.

Japan is now under a month-long state of emergency through May 6, for now. Officials and experts are now gauging its effect and whether to extend the measure.

Japan has 13,385 confirmed cases, as well as 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year, with 364 deaths, according to the health ministry.

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