The Latest: Italy’s number of new coronavirus cases drops

International

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas briefs the media during a news conference on current developments in the worldwide spread of the coronavirus at the foreign ministry in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)

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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:

—Seven crew cases on Navy hospital ship in Los Angeles.

—Trump meets with former coronavirus patients.

— NY Gov. Cuomo: We have a president, not a ‘king.’

—Leader of Sinn Fein party Mary Lou McDonald recovers from virus.

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ROME — The number of new positives for the coronavirus in Italy is at the lowest level in a month.

Italy’s civil protection agency reported 2,972 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the lowest number since March 13, when 2,547 cases were reported. Italy has registered a total 162,488 positives since the virus broke out on Feb. 21.

Deaths rose 2.9%, by 602 to 21,067. While the number of new cases and deaths continue to grow, pressure is easing on hospitals, with 74 fewer patients being treated and 12 fewer in intensive care.

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’ transport minister says the country is starting the mass repatriation of citizens who have been stranded abroad as a result of coronavirus travel restrictions.

The move comes amid complaints from some parents who say their kids who are studying abroad have been left confused over how the government will bring them back.

Minister Yiannis Karousos told the state-run Cyprus News Agency that the target is to bring back every two weeks 2,000 people — equal to the maximum number of available hotel rooms where returnees will spend a mandatory two weeks in quarantine.

Repatriation flights will start from the U.K. and Greece and then be extended to Germany, the U.S. and the Netherlands. Priority will be given to first-year university students.

Repatriation of those belonging to vulnerable groups like the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions began several days ago.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is meeting with patients who have recovered from the coronavirus.

Among the former COVID-19 patients meeting with Trump at the White House is Michigan state lawmaker Karen Whitsett. Whitsett has publicly credited Trump for publicizing the use of an anti-malaria drug — which she says she used during her illness — as a treatment for the disease.

Whitsett thanked Trump again during Tuesday’s meeting and said hydroxychloroquine must to readily available for the people of Detroit, which is in her district.

Trump has promoted the drug as a treatment for COVID-19 although it hasn’t been approved by the federal government for that specific use.

Trump is also hearing from a passenger who was on a cruise ship that experienced an outbreak of coronavirus.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities say cemeteries across the country will remain closed this Friday, which is Good Friday for Orthodox Christians and a day on which the faithful traditionally visit the graves of their loved ones.

Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias says cemeteries are part of religious facilities that are subject to current lockdown restrictions banning the public. Particularly on Good Friday, Hardalias says: “As hard as it is, as harsh as it sounds, our cemeteries will remain closed.”

Greece announced 25 new confirmed COVID-19 infections and two new deaths, bringing the country’s total to 2,170 registered cases and 101 deaths. Seventy-six people are intubated in intensive care.

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TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says anyone returning from overseas without a credible isolation plan will be required to quarantine in a hotel.

Trudeau says the new rule begins at midnight. He says an inadequate plan would include those who no set destination for someone who has been out of Canada for years. He also says an inadequate plan includes those who plan stay with many elderly family members.

The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to all nonessential travel, but Canada is still receiving repatriation flights for Canadians who have been stranded abroad. Trudeau says travel restrictions will remain for many weeks.

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has urged the Serb authorities in Bosnia to withdraw a decree against alleged spreading of false news and panic during the state of emergency introduced to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Desir, and the Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kathleen Kavalec, warned the decree could restrict the media and journalists from reporting freely on the outbreak.

The decree envisages hefty fines for those allegedly spreading false news and panic.

Bosnia has 1,083 confirmed infections with the new coronavirus, while 40 people have died.

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WINDHOEK, Namibia — Namibia’s President Hage Geingob says the southern African nation will extend its lockdown until May 5.

Namibia, with a population of 2.4 million, has confirmed 16 cases of COVID-19. In response to the economic hardships caused by the restrictions to combat the virus, the Namibian government is sending citizens a once-off payment of R750 ($40).

Also Tuesday, Uganda extended its lockdown for three weeks until May 5. At least 33 of Africa’s 54 countries have national lockdowns or partial restrictions to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Fifty-two African countries have confirmed COVID-19, with just over 15,200 cases across the continent, causing 815 deaths.

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RENO, Nev. — Swiss ventilator maker Hamilton Medical plans to open its first U.S. factory to make the breathing machines to fulfill a government contract.

Hamilton is hiring “several hundred” workers for the plant that it’s setting up in Reno, Nevada, with help from automaker General Motors. The company is building a production line and expects to start making critical care ventilators by the end of April.

On Monday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded Hamilton a $552 million contract to build 14,115 ventilators by July 3, with 850 coming by May 8 and 4,404 by May 22.

Health care experts expect hospitals to experience shortages of ventilators as cases of the coronavirus peak in the coming weeks.

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PARIS — A French court has ordered Amazon to stop buying, storing or delivering non-essential goods for the next month to protect its employees from the virus.

The emergency ruling Tuesday requires Amazon to evaluate health risks at all its facilities around France and negotiate new safety measures with worker representatives, according to lawyers for unions that launched the legal proceedings.

The court stopped short of halting all Amazon warehouse activity, which the unions had sought.

Lawyer Judith Krivine says Amazon must suspend its non-essential trade within 24 hours of Tuesday’s ruling or face 1 million euros in fines per day. Sales of food, medicine and hygiene supplies are still allowed.

Amazon did not immediately comment. The head of Amazon France, Frederic Duval, said last week the company was putting in place safety measures.

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WASHINGTON — The Navy says one of the four crew members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt hospitalized on Guam with coronavirus symptoms has been moved into the intensive care unit.

The move was “for increased observation due to shortness of breath.”

On Monday, a sailor who had been in ICU died of complications related to COVID-19. The Navy also says the number of coronavirus cases among the Roosevelt crew is now 589, with 3,922 negative test results.

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LOS ANGELES — The number of COVID-19 cases among crewmembers of the Navy hospital ship Mercy has risen to seven.

They’ve been isolated off the ship, Cmdr. John Fage, a 3rd Fleet spokesman, told The San Diego Union-Tribune in an email Monday.

The 1,000-bed hospital ship docked in the Port of Los Angeles is serving patients who have not been stricken by the coronavirus. The Mercy’s ability to receive patients has not been affected, Fage said.

The ship has more than 800 medical personnel and support staff aboard to relieve strain on local hospitals by providing care to patients who do not have COVID-19, allowing those hospitals to use intensive care units and ventilators for virus cases.

On Monday, Los Angeles County public health authorities reported 9,420 positive cases and 320 deaths.

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BERLIN — The World Health Organization is warning people not to believe claims that drinking potent alcohol will help stave off the coronavirus.

The agency’s European office says “fear and misinformation have generated a dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill the COVID-19 virus. It does not.”

It cautioned that consuming alcohol always poses a health risk, particularly if it is highly concentrated or adulterated with methanol, because that can result in death.

The agency says alcohol is responsible for one million deaths in Europe each year, a third of the global total.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards is concerned too many people in Louisiana are disobeying his stay-home order.

He’s worried that puts the state at risk for a new spike in coronavirus infections after appearing to make strides in stemming the outbreak.

Louisiana has seen encouraging signs in combating the virus, with slowing rates of new hospitalizations and fewer patients on ventilators. Edwards credits people remaining physically distanced from others and limiting their trips outside of their homes with helping to slow the rate of new infections.

But the Democratic governor says he’s received reports about an uptick in traffic and gatherings over the Easter weekend. More than 21,000 people in Louisiana have confirmed infections, with 884 deaths.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark can open “much faster” than expected, but Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen cautioned against a setback.

Frederiksen says the health sector was first in line to be reopened. Many non-essential surgeries previosly postponed could be carried out. However, she says any move toward reopening hinged on “advice from health professionals and in a “controlled and responsible fashion.”

On Wednesday, students in preschool classes up to the fifth grade will return to school. Older students must continue to study online from home. High school and universities will remain closed.

Gathering of more 10 people are still banned. Restaurants and cafes can still only serve takeout.

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BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s president has extended by 30 days the state of emergency declared in mid-March because of the coronavirus.

President Klaus Iohannis says a televised address “the danger has not passed” and relaxing restrictions would result in “a sharp increase” of infections, overcrowding hospitals and putting huge pressure on the health care system.

The presidential decree took effect immediately but must be ratified by parliament within five days.

Romania has reported 6,879 coronavirus cases and 346 deaths.

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NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to morning TV shows to push back against President Donald Trump’s claim of “total” authority to reopen the nation’s virus-stalled economy.

“We don’t have a king. We have a president,” Cuomo said on NBC’s “Today.”

He added, “That was a big decision. We ran away from having a king, and George Washington was president, not King Washington. So the president doesn’t have total authority.”

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STOCKHOLM — The number of deaths related to the coronavirus in Sweden has surpassed 1,000.

Anders Tegnell, of the country’s Public Health Agency, says there’s been 1,033 deaths. Tegnell says 114 deaths have been reported in the last day, up from a previous 20 deaths.

Sweden is pursuing relatively liberal policies to fight the coronavirus pandemic, even though there has been a sharp spike in deaths.

In an opt-ed Tuesday, some 22 public health experts called on politicians to take control, saying Sweden’s Public Health Agency had failed. It cited the high Swedish per capita death rate compared to neighboring countries, urging politicians to take control.

Tegnell brushed off the criticism, saying the figures used by the experts were “erroneous.”

Authorities in the Scandinavian country have advised the public to practice social distancing. But schools, bars and restaurants are still open, and only gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned.

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LONDON — The leader of Ireland’s left-wing nationalist Sinn Fein party has revealed that she has recovered after suffering from COVID-19.

Mary Lou McDonald is the first woman to lead the party and the first Sinn Fein leader with no direct connection to Ireland’s period of violence known as the Troubles.

McDonald expressed her thanks to medical staff saying, “my thoughts and solidarity are with everyone who is sick at this time.’’ She plans to return to work next week.

McDonald is credited with leading Sinn Fein to an election result of the Irish Republican Army-linked party, taking the largest share of votes in the last election. The left-wing nationalist party beat both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, the centrist parties that have governed Ireland since it won independence from Britain a century ago.

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MADRID — Spain’s recorded coronavirus death toll is more than 18,000 after 567 people succumbed to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

The number is slightly higher than Monday’s, but below most daily increases in the past two weeks.

Confirmed infections are roughly 172,500 after Spain’s Health Ministry reported 3,045 new positive cases on Tuesday, a 1.8% day-to-day increase.

The figures defy the common fear that a backlog of unreported infections over the Easter holidays could have reverted the recent trend of the slowdown in the spread of the epidemic.

The real situation could be different because Spain has not begun widespread testing and because the government itself acknowledges coronavirus-related fatalities are not being efficiently recorded.

A study by Spain’s main epidemiology institute on the excess mortality compared to the average in over a decade shows there were some 1,500 more “unexpected” deaths between March 17 and April 11 than those officially attributed to the coronavirus.

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LONDON — New figures show hundreds more people with COVID-19 have died in Britain than have been recorded in the government’s daily tally.

The Office for National Statistics says 5,979 deaths that occurred in England up to April 3 involved COVID-19, 15% more than the 5,186 deaths announced by the National Health Service for the same period.

The daily total released by the U.K. government only includes people who died in hospitals. The higher figure includes deaths in all settings, including nursing homes, and cases where coronavirus was suspected but not tested.

The U.K. statistics office says so far just under 10% of deaths involving COVID-19 occurred outside hospitals.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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