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:
— FBI cyber division warns against Chinese hackers.
— Tiny nation of Lesotho has virus, last of 54 African countries.
— France to thank health workers on Bastille day.
— Wuhan to test all residents after handful of new infections.
WASHINGTON — The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber division are warning hackers backed by the Chinese government may be attempting to steal the work of U.S. researchers on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two agencies issued a public service announcement of the potential threat on Wednesday. They issued a similar alert earlier this month.
A joint statement says China’s efforts pose a “significant threat” to the health care, pharmaceutical and research sectors.
The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency says it would release technical details of the threat in the coming days and asked organizations to report any suspicious activity.
U.S. authorities have long complained that China has used hacking to steal academic and economic data to bolster its economy. This warning comes amid increased tensions between the two governments over the origins of the outbreak and China’s initial response.
LONDON — British media reports say a baby has died after his mother tested positive for coronavirus.
The BBC and others reported Coolio Carl Justin John Morgan, born on May 2, died three days later at a hospital in Swansea, Wales. The baby’s primary cause of death was due to lack of brain blood and oxygen and maternal Covid-19 was listed as a secondary cause.
No post-mortem examination was done. The coroner, Graeme Hughes, asked officials to investigate the circumstances of the death ahead of a final hearing next year.
GENEVA — The head of Switzerland’s justice and police department says it will reopen its borders with Austria, France and Germany to most traffic on June 15.
Karin Keller-Sutter, one of the seven members of Switzerland’s executive Federal Council, says a gradual easing could begin as early as this weekend. Switzerland currently limits entries mostly to cargo shipments and cross-border workers who have special exemptions.
Keller-Sutter says a date for a broader reopening of the Swiss border with Italy, whose government has limited domestic travel, was not immediately possible.
Switzerland is not a member of the European Union but is part of the Schengen area that allows for visa-free travel within Europe.
Switzerland recorded 33 infections in the last day, bringing the total confirmed at 30,413. That’s a significant decline from nearly 1,500 confirmed cases recorded in a single day in late March.
LONDON — The British government has announced 600 million pounds ($735 million) in funding to stop coronavirus infections in nursing homes, but opponents say the money comes too late.
More than 8,000 people with the coronavirus died in nursing homes from March 2 to May 1, according to Britain’s Office for National Statistics. The total is likely substantially higher.
Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer say that until March 12, the official advice from Public Health England was it’s “very unlikely” people in nursing homes would become infected. He accused the government of being lax for releasing people from hospitals into nursing homes early in the outbreak without testing for the coronavirus.
Starmer also accused the government of trying to dodge scrutiny by ceasing to publish a daily chart comparing U.K. coronavirus deaths to other countries’ totals. Britain’s official death total stands at 33,186, the highest in Europe and second only to the United States.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the U.K. figures were “stark and deeply, deeply horrifying” but claimed it would be impossible to make international comparisons until “we have all the excess death totals for all the relevant countries.”
STOCKHOLM — Sweden has extended a request against nonessential trips until July 15.
Foreign Minister Ann Linde says, “closed borders (and) extensive restrictions are still a reality.”
Travel within Sweden of up to one to two hours by car is allowed, according to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.
Anders Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist with Sweden’ Public Health Agency, says there is “a fairly stable situation across the country.”
Tegnell says Sweden recorded 147 deaths over the past days, with the total at 3,460.
Sweden has taken a relatively soft approach to fighting the coronavirus. Large gatherings were banned but restaurants and schools for younger children have stayed open. The government has urged social distancing, and Swedes have generally complied.
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron wants Bastille day to show the nation’s gratitude toward health workers and others who help fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye says the tribute was announced during a Cabinet meeting at the Elysee palace on Wednesday. Details about July 14 celebrations will be disclosed later depending on the evolution of the epidemic.
France’s national holiday is traditionally marked by a military parade on Paris’ Champs-Elysees avenue.
Ndiaye says an honorary medal will be awarded to those who dedicated themselves to fight the disease.
France has reported at least 140,227 infections and 26,991 deaths.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico officials say they are closing more than 30 public school cafeterias and several food warehouses after dozens of workers tested positive for the coronavirus.
Education Secretary Eligio Hernández says the temporary closures come after 50 employees tested positive and another 278 were placed under quarantine. The closures hit places including Caguas and Mayaguez, two of the largest cities in a U.S. territory where nearly 70% of public school students are poor.
Several mothers and nonprofit organizations have sued the island’s Department of Education, accusing it of dodging its responsibility to feed the island’s nearly 300,000 public school children. A judge was expected to rule in the case on Friday.
Education officials initially refused to open the department’s 854 school cafeterias during the lockdown that began in mid-March, citing health concerns, noting that 64% of workers are elderly. Instead, they offloaded the food to nonprofits and a food bank, but it soon ran out.
Two weeks ago, officials abruptly changed their stance and have since reopened more than 100 school cafeterias for one meal.
MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says the country is moving to “the new normality,” after 51 days of lockdown.
Economy Secretary Graciela Marquez says the reopening would be “gradual, orderly and cautious.” By Monday, industries such construction, mining, and car and truck manufacturing would be allowed to resume.
Mexico’s top advisory body on the coronavirus pandemic, the General Health Council, says it had decided to classify those industries as “essential activities.”
Mexico has been under pressure from U.S. officials to reopen auto plants because without an integrated supply chain, it would make it hard for plants in the U.S. and Canada to reopen.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland is extending anti-coronavirus checks at its land, sea and airport borders through June 12.
On Monday, it will open the hairdressers and restaurants, with use of social distancing and masks.
High school and vocational school students can have some individual classes.
Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski says the virus reproduction rate has dropped to below 1 and the pandemic parameters are at a “safe level.”
JOHANNESBURG — The United States says Tanzania has not publicly released any data on COVID-19 in two weeks as concerns rise about the true number of cases there.
The World Health Organization also has openly worried about Tanzania, whose president has questioned his own government’s virus testing and refused to close churches in the belief that the virus can’t survive in the body of Christ.
A new U.S. Embassy statement warns that the risk of being infected in Tanzania’s commercial hub Dar es Salaam is “extremely high” and says many hospitals in the city have been overwhelmed.
It says “all evidence points to exponential growth” in cases in the East African nation. The country has more than 500 confirmed cases and 21 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
LISBON, Portugal — Portuguese health authorities have published plans for the resumption of preschool next week.
Nursery schools must reduce the number of children they normally have in a room and place them far apart.
Staff members will be dedicated to a single group, and groups should be kept in separate rooms.
Parents’ groups have expressed concern it will be impossible to ensure social distancing at school between small children. Experts say its required to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
School classes for students ages 16-18 also are expected to resume next week.
Portugal has officially recorded just over 28,000 cases and 1,175 deaths from the coronavirus.
ANKARA, Turkey — A lawyer in Turkey has filed a lawsuit against China on behalf of a private company, seeking compensation for financial losses due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Lawyer Melih Akkurt says he filed the lawsuit at the Ankara Court of First Instance on behalf of a company that was forced to suspend operations during lockdowns. He says it is the first commercial lawsuit in Turkey against China, where the coronavirus pandemic began.
The lawyer wouldn’t name the company. The lawsuit holds China responsible for economic losses, accusing of failing to provide timely and accurate data to the World Health Organization, concealing information on the virus’ infectiousness, silencing doctors and not preventing its spread.
China rejects accusations of a coverup or not responding to the outbreak in a timely manner.
VIENNA — Austria’s agreed to a plan to open its border with Germany and expects something similar soon with Switzerland and Liechtenstein, but Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says it’s too early to talk about such measures with Italy.
Italy has been one of the European countries hardest hit by the coronavirus with more than 220,000 infections and 30,000 deaths.
Austria already announced an agreement with Germany to open their border from June 15. Kurz says work is under way on a similar solution with its other Western European neighbors, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Austria has recorded some 16,000 coronavirus infections and more than 600 deaths.
Lesotho — Southern Africa’s tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho has confirmed its first positive case of COVID-19, making it the last of 54 African countries to report the disease.
The Lesotho health ministry says one person, who recently arrived in the country, had tested positive without showing signs of illness. The patient is isolated.
Lesotho, a country of 2 million people, is surrounded by South Africa, which has the highest confirmed cases in Africa at 11,350.
The coronavirus has been slow to spread in Africa, but cases are rising. More than 69,500 cases have been confirmed and more than 2,400 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
TOKYO — Japan is considering a partial lifting a coronavirus state of emergency, currently in place nationwide through May 31.
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is expected to make an announcement Thursday.Abe declared a monthlong state of emergency on April 7 in Tokyo and six other urban prefectures and later expanded it nationwide.
Japanese media says lifting is expected in more than 30 prefectures where new cases of COVID-19 have decreased. Restrictions will remain in place in Tokyo and its neighboring areas, as well as Osaka, where medical systems are still under pressure.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura says work from home should continue and residents should avoid trips after the state of emergency is lifted.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike says it is too early for people to put their guards down, even though the number of new cases in the capital has decreased. She says it is unknown when the second wave of infections will occur and whether the ongoing wave of infections has subsided.
Meanwhile, Japan’s health ministry approved a new type of coronavirus test. Antigen test kits developed by Fujirebio can detect virus proteins in samples swiped inside the nose of a suspected patient, with results in 30 minutes. Ministry officials and experts say it is faster than the PCR test, which takes several hours.
Japan has nearly 16,000 confirmed cases and more than 680 deaths.
WARSAW, Poland — U.S. and Polish defense officials say an element of the DEFENDER-Europe 20 exercise in Poland will move from May to June 5-19 to ensure the safety of the troops during the coronavirus pandemic.
A communique by the U.S. Army Europe command and Poland’s Defense Ministry says the decision to move the Allied Spirit exercise was taken “after careful assessment and planning.” The exercise at the test range in Drawsko Pomorskie has been modified from its original design.
The deployment exercise will involve some 4,000 U.S. troops and 2,000 Polish troops in an airborne operation and a division-size river crossing.
Some 5,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Poland to enhance security at a time of increased military activity by neighbor Russia.
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