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    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans to announce further lockdown-easing measures were being overshadowed Monday by an outcry over the movements of a senior aide who allegedly flouted restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. Conservative leader Johnson is standing by adviser Dominic Cummings, who drove 250 miles (400 kms) from his London home to his parents’ house while he was infected with the virus. Johnson said Cummings “followed the instincts of every father and every parent,” traveling so that extended family could care for his 4-year-old son if he and his wife both fell ill. But many Britons saw the trip as a clear breach of the government’s national “stay at home” order, introduced on March 23. Cummings was heckled with calls of “hypocrite” as he returned to his London home Sunday after spending the day in 10 Downing St. Stephen Reicher, a social psychologist who sits on a group advising the government, said “more people are going to die” because the episode would undermine adherence to the lockdown rules. Several senior Church of England clergy joined in the criticism. Bishop of Leeds Nick Baines said the public had been “lied to, patronized and treated … as mugs.” Bishop of Manchester David Walker tweeted: “Unless very soon we see clear repentance, including the sacking of Cummings, I no longer know how we can trust what ministers say sufficiently for @churchofengland to work together with them on the pandemic.” A self-styled political disruptor who disdains the media and civil service, Cummings has been essential to Johnson’s rise to power. He was one of the architects of the successful campaign to take Britain out of the European Union, and orchestrated Brexit champion Johnson’s thumping election victory in December. Five months on from that triumph, Johnson’s government is facing criticism for its response to a pandemic that has hit Britain harder than any other European country. Britain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at 36,793, the second-highest confirmed total in the world after the United States. The coronavirus laid low a swath of senior U.K. officials, including Cummings, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Johnson himself, who spent several days in intensive care at a London hospital in April. The U.K. is gradually easing its lockdown, allowing more outdoor recreation and letting some shops and businesses reopen. But as Johnson gathered his Cabinet on Monday to discuss plans to reopen schools and more stores starting June 1, the Cummings scandal showed no signs of dying down. Ominously for Johnson, a growing number of Conservative lawmakers have joined the opposition in criticizing Cummings. Member of Parliament Paul Maynard said the aide’s actions were “a classic case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ … It seems to me to be utterly indefensible and his position wholly untenable.” The conservative Daily Mail newspaper, usually supportive of Johnson, blared “What planet are they on?” in a headline about Cummings and the prime minister. In a front-page editorial, the newspaper said “for the good of the government and the nation, Mr. Cummings must resign. Or the prime minister must sack him. No ifs, no buts.”
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and four other remaining areas on Monday, ending the restrictions nationwide as businesses begin to reopen. Experts on a government-commissioned panel approved the lifting of the emergency in Tokyo, neighboring Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures, and in Hokkaido to the north, which had more cases and remained under the emergency declaration after it was removed in most of Japan earlier this month. Abe said the lifting of the emergency does not mean the end of the outbreak. He said the goal is to balance preventive measure and the economy until vaccines and effective drugs become available. Japan, with about 16,600 confirmed cases and about 850 deaths, has so far avoided a large outbreak like those experienced in the U.S. and the Europe despite its softer restrictions. But the world’s third largest economy is fallen into a recession, and public discontent over Abe’s handling of the coronavirus has sent his support ratings tumbling. Recent media surveys show public support for his Cabinet has plunged below 30%, the lowest since he returned to office in December 2012. Abe declared the state of emergency on April 7 in several parts of Japan including Tokyo, expanded it to the entire nation later in the month, and then extended it until the end of May. Under the emergency, people were asked to stay at home and non-essential businesses were requested to close or reduce operations, but there was no enforcement. Since May 14, when the measures were lifted in most of Japan, more people have left their homes and stores have begun reopening. Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said recent data suggest that infections have slowed enough and pressure on the medical system has fallen enough to allow a gradual resumption of social and economic activity. He said Tokyo, Kanagawa and Hokkaido, where the number of infections is still fluctuating, need to be watched closely. On Monday, Matsuya department store, a landmark in Tokyo’s posh Ginza shopping district, resumed operation. Sales staff wearing plastic face shields welcomed customers with bows but no verbal greetings under new guidelines. Individual prefectures are allowed to impose their own measures. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said last week that the capital will reopen in three phases starting with schools, libraries, museums, and longer service hours for restaurants. She said theaters, sports facilities and other commercial establishments will be next, with nightclubs, karaoke and live music houses in the final phase. ___ Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi
  • The European Union's top diplomat has called for the bloc to have a “more robust strategy” toward China amid signs that Asia is replacing the United States as the center of global power. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told a gathering of German ambassadors on Monday that “analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century.” “This is now happening in front of our eyes,' he said. Borrell said the pandemic could be seen as a turning point in the power shift from West to East, and that for the EU the “pressure to choose sides is growing.' He said the 27-nation bloc “should follow our own interests and values and avoid being instrumentalized by one or the other.” But while China's rise was “impressive,” Borrell said current relations between the Brussels and Beijing weren't always based on trust, transparency and reciprocity. Borrell said “we only have a chance if we deal with China with collective discipline,” noting that an upcoming EU-China summit this fall could be an opportunity to do so. “We need a more robust strategy for China, which also requires better relations with the rest of democratic Asia,” he added. Speaking at the same conference, held by videolink this year due to the pandemic, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas echoed Borrell's call for greater transparency from China, an issue that has come to the fore over Beijing's information policy during the early stages of the virus outbreak. Germany takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the EU in July.
  • A key indicator of German business outlooks bounced upward in May as more businesses and activities re-opened — but the index remained far below normal readings as Germany faced a long journey toward full recovery from the coronavirus downturn. Revised official figures released separately Monday showed the economy has now recorded two straight quarters of falling output, meeting a commonly used definition of recession. The Ifo institute index based on surveys of businesses rose to 79.5 from 74.2 in April, a strong increase but still far below normal. “The gradual easing of the lockdown offers a glimmer of hope,” said Ifo President Clemens Fuest. Carsten Brzeski, chief eurozone economist at ING, said in a research note that “today’s Ifo index echoes more real-time signals that economic and social activity has started to pick up significantly since the first lifting of the lockdown measures in late April.” He said the upturn from historic lows was “highly welcome” but “no reason for complacency or even hubris.” He said the German economy is unlikely to return to its pre-crisis level before 2022 even if there is no second wave of the virus outbreak. Official statistics released Monday confirmed an earlier reading that the German economy shrank by 2.2% in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period in 2019. That was the biggest quarterly decline since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. The more detailed figures in the second release showed that private consumption and exports were the hardest hit. Investments in the engineering sector, construction and public expenditure helped prevent an even bigger downturn. The figures revised growth for the last quarter of 2019 to minus 0.1%, meaning the country has recorded two straight quarters of falling output. Figures for the second quarter should show an even deeper downturn since the first-quarter figures only captured part of the lockdowns.
  • It’s not quite a case of coitus interruptus, but efforts to create a very special baby are definitely on hold. Blame the pandemic. Groundbreaking work to keep alive the nearly extinct northern white rhino subspecies — population, two — by in-vitro fertilization has been stalled by travel restrictions. And time is running out. The two northern white rhinos are female. The goal is to create viable embryos in a lab by inseminating their eggs with frozen sperm from dead males, then transfer them into a surrogate mother, a more common southern white rhino. As of January, three embryos had been created and stored in liquid nitrogen. But further key steps now have to wait. “It has been disrupted by COVID-19, like everything else,” said Richard Vigne, managing director of Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, home of the two remaining rhinos. “That is, the process of collecting more eggs from the females as well as the process of developing the technique to introduce the northern white rhino embryo into the southern white rhino females.” It’s an international effort that includes conservationists from Kenya, the Czech Republic, Germany and Italy — many affected by closed borders or restricted travel. For those involved in the effort, acutely aware of time, the delay can be painful. The procedure to create viable embryos has proven to be safe, they say, and can be performed regularly before the animals become too old. In January, the transfer of the embryos to surrogates had been planned for the coming months. In March, the plan had been to collect another round of eggs from the two remaining females. Because those eggs are limited, scientists are working with embryos from southern white rhinos until they can establish a successful pregnancy. Seven or eight transfers so far have failed to take hold. A receptive female is needed, along with the knowledge of exactly when she ovulates. “We know time is working against us,” said Cesare Galli, an in-vitro fertilization expert based in Italy. “The females will age and we don't have many to choose from.' He hopes restrictions on international travel will loosen in the coming weeks so key steps can resume in August. “The problem is quite serious,” he said. “Certainly as soon as international travel is resumed, it will be the first priority to go” to Kenya and collect more eggs from the two females. Even when travel can resume, another problem looms. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy also is home to primates — non-human primates — which are susceptible to the coronavirus, Galli said. “If you bring in the virus accidentally, it's an additional risk,” he said. “You threaten one species to save another.” So for now, the two northern white rhinos wait. Fatu and her mother, Najin, roam and graze within sight of rangers in the company of one intended surrogate mother, a southern white rhino named Tewa. One of the rhinos’ keepers, Zachariah Mutai, was sympathetic. “They won’t have a chance anymore to have babies in a natural way, but the only hope is to save them with the scientific way,” he said. The ultimate goal is to create a herd of at least five animals that could be returned to their natural habitat in Africa. That could take decades. Decades of poaching have taken a heavy toll on rhino species. The animals are killed for their horns, which have long been used as carving material and prized in traditional Chinese medicine for their supposed healing properties. The last male northern white rhino was a 45-year-old named Sudan, who gained fame in 2017 when he was listed as “The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World” on the Tinder dating app as part of a fundraising effort. He was euthanized in 2018 because of age-related ills. This effort to keep the northern white rhino subspecies alive has been a good way to draw the world’s attention to the issue of extinction, Vigne said. “The rate of extinction of species on this planet is now the fastest that has ever been recorded, much faster than the rate dinosaurs went extinct, and that is as a result of human activity,” he said. “So there comes a time where we have to draw a line … and say no more.” ___ Kazziha contributed from Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Greece restarted regular ferry services to its islands Monday, and cafes and restaurants were also back open for business as the country accelerated efforts to salvage its tourism season. Travel to the islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown was imposed in late March to halt the spread of the coronavirus, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents allowed access. But the country’s low infection rate in the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the government to start the holiday season three weeks earlier than the expected June 15 date, as other Mediterranean countries — including Italy, Spain and Turkey — are grappling with deadlier outbreaks. At Bairaktaris restaurant on central Monastiraki Square in Athens, waiters and staff wearing purple face masks and some with plastic visors, sliced meat from the revolving gyros grill, arranged flowers on widely spaced tables and waited for customers, who remained cautious Monday. Spiros Bairaktaris, the exuberant owner, is carrying on a family business running for 140 years and has framed pictures on the wall of himself sitting next to supermodel Naomi Campbell, singer Cesaria Evora, and other past celebrity customers. He says he’s optimistic about the season despite the slow start. “This has never happened before,” he told the AP. “We normally sit 100 in the inside area, now it’ll be just 30. ... There won’t be any bouzouki music or dancing until we get the all-clear from the doctors. 'But I think people from all over Europe will come here because we have a low death toll, thank God.” Greece has had nearly 2,900 infections and 171 deaths from the virus. Italy has seen nearly 33,000 coronavirus patients die, Spain has had nearly 29,000 dead and Turkey has had 4,340 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Social distancing regulations and passenger limits have been imposed on ferries and at restaurants to ward off new infections. State-run health services to combat the coronavirus are being expanded to the islands, with intensive care units being placed on five islands: Lesbos, Samos, Rhodes, Zakynthos, and Corfu, along with existing ICU facilities on the island of Crete. Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy, directly contributing more than 10% of the country’s GDP as Greece struggles to emerge from years of financial crisis. More than 34 million visitors traveled to Greece last year, spending 18.2 billion euros ($19.5 billion), according to government data. With a view of the Acropolis and padded lounge seating, it’s usually hard for cafe goers to find a spot at Kayak, but midday Monday it was still largely empty. “Eighty percent of our business is from tourism, and people in Greece are cautious, they fear they will lose their job,” owner Liza Meneretzi said. “I’ve been running the cafe for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this. But I was born an optimist, so we’ll see how things go.” ___ Petros Giannakouris and Iliana Mier contributed. ___ Follow Gatopoulos at http://www.twitter.com/dgatopoulos ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • South Koreans will be required to wear masks when using public transportation and taxis nationwide starting Tuesday as health authorities look for more ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus as people increase their public activities. Health Ministry official Yoon Taeho on Monday said masks also will be enforced on all domestic and international flights from Wednesday. From June, owners of “high-risk” facilities such as bars, clubs, gyms, karaoke rooms and concert halls will be required to use smartphone QR codes to register customers so they can be tracked down more easily when infections occur. South Korea was reporting 500 new cases per day in early March before it largely stabilized its outbreak with aggressive tracking and testing. But infections have been rising slightly since early May, with more people going out during warmer weather and eased social distancing guidelines, causing concern in a country that has just started to reopen schools. “Until treatments and vaccines are developed, we will never know when the COVID-19 crisis could end, and until then we will have to learn how to live with COVID-19,” Yoon said. It will be up to bus drivers and subway station workers to enforce masks on public transportation, while taxi drivers will be allowed to refuse passengers who aren’t wearing masks. Customers who refuse to download QR codes at entertainment venues will have to write their personal information by hand instead. South Korea has reported 11,206 COVID-19 cases, including 267 fatalities. The recent increase in infections has been centered around the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where more than 200 cases were linked to nightclubs and other entertainment venues. In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: — SOUTH KOREA SENDS MASKS: South Korea plans to send 370,000 face masks to tens of thousands of South Koreans adopted in the West to help them weather the coronavirus. The Foreign Ministry said its diplomatic missions will work with dozens of international adoption groups to distribute the masks in 14 countries. South Korea has been a major source of babies for adoption in the West since the end of 1950-53 Korean War. According to official figures, there are around 167,000 adopted South Koreans living abroad, but experts say the actual number is closer to 200,000. — INDIA FLIGHTS BACK IN AIR: Domestic airline travel partially resumed in India, which is easing its virus lockdown despite adding more than 6,000 new infections per day. At New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, passengers in masks or full protective suits stood in long lines to show identification and boarding passes to security personnel standing behind plastic partitions. Ticket machines have been shifted outside, where airport workers sanitized baggage and stalls stocked masks, sanitizer and face shields. Commercial flight traffic returned across India except for the states of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. India’s Supreme Court has ordered social distancing norms in airports and in flight, forcing airlines to keep middle seats open. — MORE AUSTRALIANS BACK IN SCHOOL: Students in two more Australian states returned to school full-time as numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the country fall. New South Wales and Queensland states joined the less populous Western Australia and South Australia states and the Northern Territory in resuming face-to-face learning instead of studying from home online. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said students and teachers should stay home if they are sick, noting “We’re not out of the woods yet.' New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said school absences appeared to be higher than normal. Australia's remaining jurisdictions plan to send students back to school in stages through early June. — JAPAN LIFTS EMERGENCY: Japan lifted a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and four other remaining prefectures, ending the declaration that began nearly eight weeks ago. “It appears the measure is no longer needed in all of the prefectures,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said at a virus task force meeting. Japan's emergency was softer than the lockdowns imposed in many countries and requested rather than required businesses to shut and people to stay home. But those measures as well as mask-wearing and social distancing have slowed infections and eased pressure on the medical system. Japan has 16,580 confirmed cases and 830 deaths. — FIJI AIRWAYS LAYOFFS: Fiji’s national airline is laying off more than 750 staff, about half of its workforce, as it struggles for its survival. Remaining employees will have their pay reduced by 20% and only get paid for the days they work. CEO Andre Viljoen said the company is negotiating with lenders and aircraft lessors for payment deferrals. He said Fiji Airways expected to receive almost zero revenue over the coming months due to canceled international flights because of the pandemic. — NEW ZEALAND TO ALLOW CROWDS: New Zealand plans to further loosen its coronavirus restrictions by increasing the maximum size of gatherings from 10 people to 100. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the change would take effect midday Friday. The timing is designed, in part, to allow religious services to proceed that day and over the weekend. New Zealand has reported just one new case of coronavirus over the past week. Ardern attributed that success to a strict early lockdown and people’s ongoing vigilance. “We are still in a global pandemic,” Ardern said. “Cases continue to grow overseas, and we still do have people coming home. But for the most part, many aspects of life can and should feel much more normal.” — CHINA HAS 11 NEW CASES: China reported 11 new infections, all of them brought from outside the country. Ten of them were on a flight arriving in the vast Inner Mongolia region, according to the National Health Commission. China has recorded a total of 4,634 deaths among 82,985 cases of the virus, which was first detected in the central city of Wuhan late last year. The latest figures come as China holds the annual session of its ceremonial parliament, part of efforts to show the country is returning to normal and shaking off the devastating economic impact of the pandemic.
  • Muslims in India and Bangladesh joined prayers to celebrate a subdued Eid-al Fitr on Monday, marking the end of the Ramadan holy month by seeking blessings for a world free from coronavirus. Across India, government leaders and imams appealed to Eid celebrants to follow lockdown norms and maintain social distance. Bangladesh's leader stressed public safety in her Eid greetings. The three-day holiday that begins by the sighting of the moon is usually a time of travel, family gatherings and feasts after weeks of dawn-to-dusk fasting. But this year, Muslims were praying at home, their celebrations quieter and tinged with worry about the virus and the impact of lockdowns and other restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. Outside New Delhi's iconic Mughal-era Jamia mosque, closed as part of a ban on religious congregations, security officers patrolled the streets and almost all shops were closed barring a sweet shop. Police made rounds on motorbikes and a mini police camp stood just outside a gate. “It’s been 1,400 years since the Islam religion was founded, ... even our elders could never imagine that we will have to celebrate Eid in such a way,” said businessman Shehzad Khan. He said money typically spent buying new clothes to wear for Eid was sent to the poor, who have lost livelihoods due to the virus and the measures taken to contain it. 'That money we have given them so that they too can celebrate Eid with us,” Khan said. In Bangladesh, authorities asked people to avoid mass prayers in open fields, which draw tens of thousands normally. Devotees could join prayers at mosques by maintaining safe distances. On Monday morning, those praying in the country's more than 300,000 mosques wore masks, and many wore gloves as well. In the capital’s main Baitul Mokarram mosque, thousands joined the prayers in phases as authorities allowed them to enter in groups and prayers were held every hour. Many waited in lines for more than an hour to enter the premises. “This is a new experience. We never felt like this,” government official Abdul Halim said after attending the prayer in Dhaka. “I did not bring my two sons for the prayers, they are staying home. My family could not visit my parents this time,” he said. India has climbed to among the world’s largest outbreaks with more than 138,000 cases and 4,000 deaths. It has eased its strict lockdown in recent weeks, including allowing domestic flights to resume starting Monday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his greeting to Muslims. “Eid Mubarak!” Modi tweeted. “May this special occasion further the spirit of compassion, brotherhood and harmony. May everyone be healthy and prosperous,” he said. New cases and deaths from COVID-19 were rising in Bangladesh, which has 33,000 cases and 480 deaths. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered Eid greetings but stressed the need for maintaining health guidelines and for individuals to stay safe. “Your safety is in your hands. Remember that if you remain safe, you are also keeping your family, neighbors and the country safe,” she said in an address to the nation. _____ Associated Press journalist Rishi Lekhi in New Delhi contributed to this report.
  • 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: — Czech coal mine stops work after COVID-19 outbreak — South Korea sends masks to adoptees abroad. — Outdoor service restarts at bars in Spain's biggest cities. — Syria reports 20 new cases, the largest number in a day since the outbreak began. ___ PRAGUE — A coal mine in northeastern Czech Republic near the border with Poland has halted work after a major COVID-19 outbreak among the miners. In recent days, tests of some 2,400 people revealed a total of 212 positive for coronavirus, mostly miners from the Darkov mine in the town of Karvina and their family members. It’s currently the biggest local outbreak in the country. Ivo Vondrak, the head of the regional government, said Monday that only workers who are necessary to deal with ventilation and water pumping remain in the mine. Local health authorities have limited public gatherings in Karvina county to 100, while it is 300 in the rest of the country. Visits to nursing homes and hospitals are banned The daily increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the entire Czech Republic was 65 on Sunday. A total of 8,957 people have tested positive in the country, while 315 have died. ___ SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it plans to send 370,000 face masks to tens of thousands of South Korea-born adoptees living in the West to help them weather the coronavirus. The Foreign Ministry said its diplomatic missions will work with dozens of international adoptee groups to distribute the masks to adoptees in 14 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and European nations such as Britain, Germany, France and Italy. The ministry said it initially planned to send 100,000 masks but decided to expand the supplies because most South Korean adoptees were sent abroad as infants during the 1970s and 1980s and are now old enough to have their own children. South Korea has been a major source of babies for Western adoptive parents since the end of 1950-53 Korean War. According to official figures, there are around 167,000 South Korean adoptees living abroad, including 110,000 in the United States. But experts say the actual number would be closer to 200,000. South Korea is also in the process of sending 1 million masks to foreign veterans of the Korean War. ___ MADRID — Spain is making progress on its staggered plan out of the confinement against the new coronavirus. Roughly half of the population, including residents in the biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, are entering phase 1 on Monday, which allows social gatherings in limited numbers, restaurant and bar service with outdoor sitting and some cultural and sports activities. “It is all very strange but we missed this,” María Cámara said as she enjoyed a morning breakfast in a central Madrid terrace for the first time in over two months. Cámara and her partner, both warehouse workers, had turned the morning coffee in a bar into a routine followed religiously after long night shifts. “We really noticed not being able to do this,” she said. “We went for a walk instead. But this is great.” Beyond hand-sanitizer, masks and tables separated by social distancing norms, coffee bar owner Roberto Fernández said that the saddest novelty is those old customers who won’t show up anymore. “We are also a little sad today, as we have lost two of our more elderly regular customers,” Fernández said. “They used to come every day but now they have left us.” The other half of the country, provinces with fewer infections or ready to face a possible second outbreak, are going one step further in loosening up restrictions. That includes no time limits on outdoor activities, meetings of up to 15 people, weddings, and visits to nursing homes and beaches. Some vocational schools in the Basque country are also resuming classroom activity. ___ DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s Health Ministry is reporting 20 new cases of coronavirus in the country, the highest daily count since the new virus was first reported here in late March. Monday’s announcement raises to 106 the number of confirmed cases. There have been four deaths. The ministry said all 20 new cases are of Syrians who returned from abroad. They comprise 15 people who came back from Kuwait, three from Sudan, one from Russia and one from the United Arab Emirates. Syria recently began easing restrictions imposed over the past weeks. Earlier in May, President Bashar Assad issued a decree postponing the country’s parliamentary elections until July — the second such delay in light of restrictions in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus. ___ BERLIN — A coronavirus outbreak linked to a slaughterhouse in the Netherlands has spread across the border to Germany. Dutch regional health authorities said Monday that tests showed 147 of the 657 employees at a meat processing plant in Groenlo were positive for COVID-19. They said 79 of those infected live in Germany, while 68 are resident in the Netherlands. There have been several clusters of COVID-19 among slaughterhouse workers in Germany in recent weeks, prompting a government pledge to crack down on conditions in the industry. Many workers in German abattoirs are migrants from Eastern Europe employed by subcontractors. They often live in shared housing and are transported to and from the slaughterhouses by shuttle bus, increasing the likelihood of infection. ___ PODGORICA, Montenegro — Montenegro’s health minister has urged citizens to help keep the small Balkan country “corona-free” in the future after authorities said there are no more cases of infection at the moment. Minister Kenan Hrapovic on Monday described the current situation in the country as a joint success of the health authorities and the citizen of Montenegro. The Public Health Institute said Sunday that all of the 140 tests in the past 24 hours were negative and that there are no people currently reported sick with the virus. Hrapovic says “responsible behavior and joint health care will be out trump card in the days ahead so that we can remain proud bearers of the title of a corona-free country.” The Balkan country of some 620,000 people imposed strict lockdown measures to curb the outbreak. A total of 324 cases have been recorded and nine people have died. ___ ATHENS, Greece — Greece on Monday restarted regular ferry services to the islands, while restaurants and bars were also back open for business as the country accelerated efforts to salvage its tourism season. Travel to the islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown in late March, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents keeping access. But the country’s low infection rate in the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the government to start the holiday season earlier than expected, on June 15, as other Mediterranean countries — including Italy, Spain, and Turkey — are grappling with more deadly outbreaks. Distancing regulations and passenger limits have been imposed on ferries and at restaurants, while state-run health services to combat new coronavirus cases are being expanded to the islands, with intensive care space being provided on five islands: Lesbos, Samos, Rhodes, Zakynthos, and Corfu, along with existing facilities on the island of Crete. Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy, with a direct cash contribution of more than 10%, and broad secondary benefits. More than 34 million visitors traveled to Greece last year, spending 18.2 billion euros, according to central data. ___ NEW DELHI — Domestic airline travel has partially resumed in India as authorities continued to ease a nationwide coronavirus lockdown despite the caseload rising at more than 6,000 new infections per day. At New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Monday, passengers in masks or full protective suits stood in long lines to show identification and boarding passes to security personnel standing behind plastic partitions. Ticket machines have been shifted outside, where airport workers sanitized baggage and there are stalls stocked masks, sanitizer and face shields. Commercial flight traffic returned across India, except for the states of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. India’s Supreme Court has ordered social distancing norms observed in airports and in flight, forcing airlines to keep middle seats open. Elsewhere in India, Muslims celebrated the festival of Eid, the end of Ramadan, in a subdued fashion with places of worship remaining closed under the lockdown restrictions. On Monday, India reported more than 138,000 virus cases, including 4,000 deaths. ___ ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Thomas Waerner won this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in March, yet he is still waiting to return to his home in Norway. The Anchorage Daily News reported Waerner and his 16 dogs have been stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions and flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The 47-year-old Waerner plans to fly home in early June. He has five children and 35 other sled dogs in Torpa, Norway. He missed the 10th birthday of one of his children and misses morning coffee with his wife, who left Alaska in March, shortly before health restrictions stopped travel. ___ TOKYO —Experts on a special government panel have approved a plan to remove a coronavirus state of emergency from Tokyo and four other remaining prefectures, paving the way for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare entirely ending the measure to allow businesses to gradually resume. Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters that experts on a government-commissioned panel approved the plan to end the state of emergency that has lasted for more than a month and a half. Abe is to officially declare the end of the state of emergency later Monday after endorsement from parliamentary committees. Nishimura said lifting of the emergency does not mean the end of the pandemic. He said the goal is to minimize next possible recurrences of infections while balancing preventive measures and the economy. Abe declared the state of emergency on April 7, first in parts of Japan including Tokyo, expanded it to the entire nation later in the month and extended it until the end of May. Unlike a European-style hard lockdown, Japan’s state of emergency is soft and largely a request for people to stay at home and for non-essential businesses to close or operate shorter hours, a strategy aiming at minimizing the economic damage. Tokyo and its three neighboring prefectures are to reopen schools, public facilities and businesses in phases in coming weeks while watching any signs of a resurgence of infections. Nishimura said recent data suggest that the infections have slowed enough and the medical systems are under less pressure and that it’s time to gradually resume social and economic activity. Tokyo and Hokkaido, where more than a dozen new cases have been reported Sunday, still need to remain extra-cautious, he said. (asterisk)We cannot completely eliminate the coronavirus to zero,” Nishimura said. “Even after the state of emergency is lifted, we must firmly take preventive measures based on our new lifestyles.” Japan has 16,580 confirmed cases and 830 deaths, according to the health ministry. ___ WASHINGTON — The White House has announced a ban on travel to the U.S. from Brazil due to the spread of coronavirus in Latin America’s hardest-hit country. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says in a statement Sunday evening that the ban applies to foreign nationals who have been in Brazil in the 14 days before they sought to travel to the United States. McEnany cast it as a move by President Donald Trump “to protect our country.” Trump has already banned travel from the United Kingdom, Europe and China, all of which have been hit hard by the virus. Trump had said last week that he was considering imposing similar restrictions on Brazil. Brazil had reported more than 347,000 COVID-19 cases, second behind the U.S. in the number of infections, according to a Johns Hopkins University count. Brazil also has recorded more than 22,000 deaths, fifth-most in the world. There have been more than 97,000 U.S. deaths. ___ Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
  • Big crowds turned out for the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. amid warnings from authorities about people disregarding the coronavirus social-distancing rules and risking a resurgence of the scourge that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans. On the Navajo Nation, which sprawls across the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the number of virus cases rose by 56 on Sunday to 4,689, according to the local health department. Meanwhile, the White House broadened its travel ban against countries hit hard by the virus, saying it would deny admission to foreigners who have recently been in Brazil. Japan moved further toward reopening Monday, with plans to end the state of emergency in Tokyo and surrounding areas that has lasted for more than a month and a half. Millions of Australian children returned to school as the number of coronavirus patients across the country continues to fall. The states of New South Wales and Queensland were the latest to resume face-to-face learning. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Monday that students and teachers had to observe one key message: Stay home if sick. “We’re not out of the woods yet,' she said. “We have to take each day as it comes, each week as it comes and we keep our fingers crossed.” China reported 11 new cases of the coronavirus, 10 of them among passengers arriving from overseas in the vast Inner Mongolia region north of Beijing, according to the National Health Commission. China, where the virus was first detected late last year, is holding the annual session of its ceremonial parliament, part of efforts to show that the country is returning to normal and shaking off the devastating economic efforts of having locked down tens of millions of citizens in order to contain the pandemic. South Korea reported 16 new cases as 2 million more children begin returning to school this week. Thirteen of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where more than 200 infections have been linked to nightclubs and other entertainment outlets. The transmissions have raised concern as officials proceed with a phased reopening of schools. All South Koreans will be required to wear masks while using public transportation starting Tuesday, Health Ministry official Yoon Taeho told reporters. Masks will also be required on all domestic and international flights beginning Wednesday. Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said she was “very concerned” about scenes of people crowding together over the weekend. “We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask,” Birx said on ABC’s “This Week.” In Missouri, people packed bars and restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks, a vacation spot popular with Chicagoans. On Georgia’s Tybee Island, the beach was filled with families, but at a nearby grocery store, staff members handed customers gloves and a number to keep track of how many people were inside. In California, beaches and parks were open for swimming, running and other activities. At New York’s Orchard Beach in the Bronx, kids played with toys, and people sat in folding chairs. Some wore winter coats on a cool and breezy day, and many wore masks and sat apart from others. “Good to be outside. Fresh air. Just good to enjoy the outdoors,” said Danovan Clacken, whose face was covered. The U.S. is on track to surpass 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the next few days, while Europe has seen over 169,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that almost certainly understates the toll. Worldwide, more than 5.4 million people have been infected and nearly 345,000 have died. The issue of wearing masks in public and staying several feet apart has become fraught politically, with some Americans arguing that such rules violate their rights. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who has been targeted by such demonstrations, insisted the precautions should not be a partisan issue. “This is not about whether you are liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican or Democrat,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The Trump administration said Sunday that it would ban foreign nationals who have been in Brazil 14 days or less before planning to enter the United States. The ban does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents or some of their relatives. Brazil is second only to the U.S. in reported coronavirus cases. Across Europe, meanwhile, a mishmash of travel restrictions appears to be on the horizon, often depending on what passports visitors carry. Beginning Monday, France is relaxing its border restrictions, allowing in migrant workers and family visitors from other European countries. Italy is only now allowing locals back to beaches in their own regions with restrictions. For the first time in months, the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the traditional Sunday papal blessing. Some 2,000 Muslims gathered for Eid al-Fitr prayers at a sports complex in a Paris suburb, spaced 3 feet (1 meter) apart and wearing masks. Greece restarted regular ferry services Monday as the country accelerates efforts to salvage its tourism season. Bars and restaurants were also accepting customers again. Travel to Greece's popular tourist islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown in late March, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents allowed access. ___ Mahoney reported from New York. Associated Press writers around the world contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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  • More than 5.4 million people worldwide – including at least 1.6 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Monday, May 25, continue below: Florida reports lowest number of daily deaths since late March Update 5:04 a.m. EDT May 25: Florida health officials on Sunday reported five new coronavirus-related deaths statewide since Saturday – the lowest day-to-day increase since March 29, records show. According to Orlando’s WFTV, officials also reported 740 additional cases of the virus statewide since Saturday. As of Sunday, the total number of cases in the state was at 50,867, with 2,237 deaths. Read more here. ‘Person of interest’ identified in bias crimes against Asians in Seattle Update 3 a.m. EDT May 25: Police in Seattle are investigating a growing number of crimes targeting Asians during the outbreak. Seattle officers said the attacks started late Saturday afternoon in the heart of Ballard and moved to Golden Gardens Park. They believe one man is responsible for all the incidents. A victim at Golden Gardens Park said the man spat in his face. The workers at Thai Thani Restaurant said the man threw things at them while demanding to know if they are Chinese. “I hear some noise, and I see some guy angry, yelling,' Umboom Moore told Seattle’s KIRO-TV. That was the first time she knew something unusual was happening Saturday night at the restaurant where she works. “Just like some crazy guy,” she said. “So I just started taking pictures.” Her co-worker, Natthiya Chumdee, said he was yelling at her. “Right over there, he smashed the window,” she said. When he asked if she is Chinese, she told him everyone there is Thai. He asked her to kneel and swear to it. “Well, I’m not going to do that,” she said. “He’s starting [to] lose control. And he comes here, and he says, ‘You know, I’m going to slam the door, this table to you.’” The night before, Tonya McCabe got the brunt of his anger. “He said, ‘Are you Chinese?’” she said. “And I said, ‘No, we’re not.’ And he still kept yelling at us. And I said, ‘If you’re not going to leave, I’m going to call 911.’ And then he said, ‘Better [expletive] call 911.’” Just last week, a man was captured on camera shoving an Asian couple as they walked by. They told Seattle police he spat on them, too. The man in these latest attacks is described as white, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, in his mid-20s to mid-30s and is of a muscular build. He was wearing a white shirt and shorts. It is the same suspect description in two attacks at Golden Gardens Park on Saturday night. “I stand back there, and ... yell to him, ‘Get out, leave!’” said McCabe. It has McCabe and the others working at this restaurant finding a different way to get around this city that is now their home. “I’m afraid to like walk on the street or take a bus,” said McCabe. They told KIRO that the man also approached other Asian-owned businesses in the area before apparently heading to Golden Gardens Park. Anyone who recognizes him is asked to call Seattle police. 17-year-old Georgia boy becomes youngest in state to die from COVID-19 Update 2:24 a.m. EDT May 25: The Georgia Department of Public Health said Sunday that a 17-year-old boy has died of the coronavirus, marking the youngest fatality and first pediatric death in the state. Nancy Nydam with the department confirmed the information to Atlanta’s WSB-TV on Sunday. The teen was from Fulton County and had an underlying condition, according to officials. His identity has not been released. More than 1,800 people have died of COVID-19 in Georgia since the outbreak began, with the median age of deaths at 73.6 years old, according to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of COVID-19 in children have typically been less severe, though there has been growing concern and a new warning about a rare condition recently seen in dozens of children nationwide. A spokesperson for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta confirmed that a team of infectious disease and cardiology experts are evaluating several cases in metro Atlanta of children who exhibited Kawasaki-like symptoms and inflammation. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta physician specialists stressed that it appears to be a rare finding with a low rate in Georgia. New York health officials have already issued a warning about a rare inflammatory syndrome that has infected at least 64 children in that state. A spokesperson for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said they have experts for treating the symptoms regardless of a potential link to COVID-19. Families should contact their doctor or visit an emergency room if their child develops signs of illness such as high fever, rash, red eyes, abdominal pain and swelling of the face, hands or feet. US coronavirus cases top 1.6M, deaths near 98K Published 12:43 a.m. EDT May 25: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged past 1.6 million early Monday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,643,238 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 97,720 deaths. The hardest-hit states remain New York, with 361,515 cases and 29,141 deaths, and New Jersey, with 154,154 cases and 11,138 deaths. Massachusetts, with 92,675 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,372, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 110,304. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 5,000 cases each. Seven other states have now confirmed at least 42,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 94,020 cases, resulting in 3,754 deaths • Pennsylvania: 71,563 cases, resulting in 5,136 deaths • Texas: 55,861 cases, resulting in 1,528 deaths • Michigan: 54,679 cases, resulting in 5,228 deaths • Florida: 50,867 cases, resulting in 2,237 deaths • Maryland: 46,313 cases, resulting in 2,277 deaths • Georgia: 42,902 cases, resulting in 1,827 deaths Meanwhile, Connecticut has confirmed at least 40,468 cases; Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 31,000 cases; Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota and Tennessee each has confirmed more than 20,000 cases; Washington, Iowa, Arizona and Wisconsin each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases; Alabama and Rhode Island each has confirmed more than 14,000 cases; Mississippi, Missouri and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases; South Carolina has confirmed at least 10,000 cases; Kansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Utah and the District of Columbia each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by Nevada with more than 7,000; New Mexico and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases, followed by Arkansas with more than 5,000; South Dakota and New Hampshire each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; and Oregon and Puerto Rico each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.
  • A South Carolina soldier has died in Afghanistan, WPDE reported. The U.S. Department of Defense announced Thursday that 25-year-old 1st Lt. Trevarius Ravon Bowman of Spartanburg died May 19 at Bagram Air Force Base. He died in a non-combat-related incident. A department news release said the incident is under investigation but didn’t provide details. Bowman was in Afghanistan supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. He was assigned to a unit attached to the 228th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade of the South Carolina National Guard. “It is with heavy hearts and deepest condolences that we announce the passing of 1st Lt. Trevarius Bowman. This is never an outcome we as soldiers, leaders and family members wish to experience,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, the adjutant general for South Carolina. “Please keep the service members in his unit in your thoughts and prayers, as well as his family as they work through this difficult time.”
  • The Republican National Committee and other conservative groups filed a lawsuit Sunday to stop California from mailing ballots to all voters ahead of the November general election. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced earlier this month that the state would mail all registered voters a ballot, while in-person voting would still remain an option, CNN reported. 'Democrats continue to use this pandemic as a ploy to implement their partisan election agenda, and Gov. Newsom's executive order is the latest direct assault on the integrity of our elections,' RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement, CNN reported. The lawsuit, filed by the RNC, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the California Republican Party challenges the expansion of absentee voting. '(It) violates eligible citizens' right to vote,' the lawsuit claims. '(And) invites fraud, coercion, theft, and otherwise illegitimate voting.' State officials stand by the move. “California will not force voters to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “We are meeting our obligation to provide an accessible, secure and safe election this November. Sending every registered voter a ballot by mail is smart policy and absolutely the right thing to do during this COVID-19 pandemic.” The lawsuit is one of nearly a dozen across the country challenging Democrat-led vote-by-mail expansion. The RNC has pored $20 million into the nationwide legal effort, CNN reported. Some states, including Republican-heavy Utah, already conduct their elections completely by mail. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud linked to voting-by-mail, CNN reported.
  • Thousands of convicted felons will be eligible to vote in Florida after a federal court ruled that a law that created wealth-based hurdles to voting is unconstitutional. The law, SB 7066, required people with past convictions to pay all outstanding legal fees, costs, fines and restitution before regaining their right to vote. The law undermined Floridians’ 2018 passage of Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to more than a million people who completed the terms of their sentence, including parole or probation. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle found that conditioning voting on payment of legal financial obligations a person is unable to pay violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by discriminating on the basis of wealth. He said that requiring the payment of costs and fees violates the 24th Amendment, which prohibits poll taxes and violates the National Voter Registration Act. “This is a historic win for voting rights. Judge Hinkle told the state of Florida what the rest of America already knows. You can’t make wealth a prerequisite for voting. This ruling opens the way for hundreds of thousands of Floridians to exercise their fundamental right to vote this November, and our democracy will be stronger for their participation,' said Sean Morales-Doyle, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice.
  • A temporary field hospital built for $21 million as the coronavirus outbreak threatened to overrun medical facilities in New York has closed without ever seeing a patient. Plans to transform the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal into a temporary 670-bed hospital were announced March 31, a day after the USNS Comfort hospital ship arrived to help coronavirus patients. Officials also announced a tennis center in Queens would be converted into a 350-bed facility. At that time, there were about 8,400 patients in hospitals citywide being treated for the coronavirus, The City reported. The tennis center opened as a medical facility April 11 when there were 12,184 patients in hospital beds being treated across the city. It cost $19.8 million to renovate and revert the tennis center. It closed earlier this month after taking in 79 patients. The Brooklyn hospital, built by SLSCO, a Texas-based construction company, was supposed to open in April but was not ready for patients until May 4, The City reported. By then, hospital use had been sliced in half, to about 6,000 patients. It closed last week without ever having a patient. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to pay the costs for both hospitals. The two field hospitals were not the only emergency medical facilities in New York that saw limited use. The Comfort left New York after about a month and treating 182 patients, of which about 70% had the coronavirus. Several other field hospitals were built across New York for nearly $350 million. They closed in April without seeing any patients, The Associated Press reported. Built for worst-case scenarios, some of the unused facilities will be kept on stand by for a possible second wave. “As part of our hospital surge, we expanded capacity at a breakneck speed, ensuring our hospital infrastructure would be prepared to handle the very worst. We did so only with a single-minded focus: saving lives,” city spokesperson Avery Cohen told The New York Post. 'Over the past few months, social distancing, face coverings, and other precautionary measures have flattened the curve drastically, and we remain squarely focused on taking that progress even further.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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