The Latest: Phuket closes land and sea entry and exit points

National News

A lone jogger run on a partially empty 7th Avenue, resulting from citywide restrictions calling for people to stay indoors and maintain social distancing in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, Saturday March 28, 2020, in New York. President Donald Trump says he’s considering a quarantine affecting residents of the state and neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut amid the coronavirus outbreak, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that roping off states would amount to “a federal declaration of war.” (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

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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:

— Trump extends stay-at-home guidelines for another 30 days.

— New York state surpasses 1,000 coronavirus deaths

—.Two cruise ships begin passage through Panama Canal

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BANGKOK — Thailand’s popular seaside resort island of Phuket has closed all land and sea entry and exit points until April 30 to try to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana says a ban on air travel will start on April 10. Phuket attracts many foreign tourists whose travel plans have been disrupted by the widespread cancellation of international flights.

Thailand registered 39 million international arrivals last year. Phuket is a top destination for tourists, hosting more than 10 million visitors annually, including Thais.

Phuket’s land travel ban, which became effective Monday, makes exceptions for transport of food and essential items, emergency vehicles and vehicles carrying publications.

Ships are banned from entering and leaving Phuket’s international port, with exceptions for cargo ships, which can unload their cargoes but not allow crews to disembark before leaving as soon as possible.

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CANBERRA, Australia — Australia has announced a 130 billion Australian dollar ($80 billion) plan to subsidize businesses damaged by the new coronavirus to pay to up to six million staff a minimum wage to keep them in the work force for the next six months.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday that businesses that have lost 30% of revenue because of the COVID-19 outbreak would be eligible for the subsidy, which is part of what he describes as a hibernation strategy for the economy.

The government would pay AU$750 a week of employees’ wages, which is equivalent to the minimum wage and 70% of Australia’s median wage. The government expects half of Australia’s employees will be subsidized.

The government will have to recall Parliament to approve the spending.

The measure brings total government economic support to response to the virus to AU$320 billion, which is 16.4% of GDP.

Australia’s banks announced on Monday that 98% of businesses with bank loans are eligible for a six-month deferral of repayments on loans worth AU$250 billion.

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TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday its auto plants in Europe will halt production, at least until April 20, because of the new coronavirus outbreak.

Its European plants are in France, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Turkey and Portugal.

All its plants in China resumed normal production Monday, spokeswoman Kayo Doi said. Japan’s top automaker also stopped production in Russia, through Friday. It earlier halted assembly lines in North America and has partially shut down production in Japan, South America and parts of Asia.

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BEIJING — China’s National Health Commission on Monday reported 31 new COVID-19 cases, among them just one domestic infection while the others were individuals recently arrived from abroad.

As outbreaks have surged in the United States and the rest of the world, China’s reported cases have dwindled four months after the then-unidentified illness first emerged in the central province of Hubei.

The country is now easing the last of the controls that confined tens of millions of people to their homes while they sought to contain the spread of the virus. At the peak of China’s restrictions, some 700 million people were in areas covered by orders or official requests to stay home and limit activity.

The focus of China’s prevention measures has shifted to overseas arrivals, who have made up the bulk of new infections for more than two weeks. Virtually all foreigners were barred from entering the country starting Saturday.

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KATHMANDU, Nepal — Nepal’s government has extended the nationwide lockdown by a week in an attempt to stop the coronavirus spread.

A government notice said the lockdown imposed since last week would now last until April 7, shutting down businesses and major markets, and stopping transport. Flights are also halted until April 15.

A flight has been arranged to take stranded Americans back home on Tuesday. Another flight is planned for Wednesday to repatriate Australians to Sydney.

The government also banned import of alcohol, luxury vehicles and gold while ordering rent and school fees to be waived for a month.

Nepal has reported five confirmed cases, including one person who has recovered from it.

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PORTLAND, Ore. — President Donald Trump has approved a major disaster declaration for Oregon due to the coronavirus outbreak, the White House announced Sunday.

The declaration orders federal assistance to aid state, tribal and local recovery efforts. The order is back-dated to Jan. 20 and brings to 18 the number of states with disaster declarations due to the coronavirus.

Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency on March 8. On March 23, she issued an executive order directing residents to stay home to the maximum extent possible and ordered the closure of retail businesses where close personal contact is difficult to avoid, such as hair salons, gyms and theaters.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An outbreak of the new coronavirus at a Tennessee nursing home has spread to dozens more of its residents and staff members, the governor’s office said. A hospital said without elaborating that a total of two of the residents have died.

Tests results released Sunday show 59 additional residents of the Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing northeast of Nashville tested positive, while 33 staff members with confirmed cases were isolated at their homes, the governor’s office statement said.

Sumner Regional Medical Center said 42 patients from the nursing home have been admitted in isolation after some tested positive for the virus, while the 59 additional residents were to be transported there by Monday. A hospital statement did not disclose whether the two nursing home patients who died had tested positive for coronavirus.

The nursing home is being closed for a deep cleaning, with dozens of noncritical patients being transported to three other hospitals.

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WASHINGTON — Officials in the nation’s capital announced four new deaths and 59 new positive infections from the coronavirus Sunday. That brings the totals to eight deaths and 401 infections.

Among the dead last week was a senior member of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s staff. Bowser has declared a state of emergency, shuttered all schools and ordered all non-essential businesses to close. White House and Capitol tours have been canceled and the National Zoo, Smithsonian museum network and Kennedy Center have closed.

Police have blocked off dozens of streets, bridges and traffic circles to prevent crowds coming to see Washington’s signature blooming cherry blossom trees.

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PANAMA CITY — The Panama Canal Authority says two cruise ships carrying more than 1,800 passengers and crew, including some infected with COVID-19, had begun transiting the canal.

The announcement came after the passengers on the Zaandam and its sister ship the Rotterdam received mixed signals about their fate. While Panamanian officials said they would let the ships through the canal, Holland America Lines said it had not been given official permission and the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said he didn’t want it to dock near his city as planned, at least without extensive precautions.

On Sunday evening, the canal authority released a statement saying the ships had started transiting the canal.

Holland America Lines said Friday that four people aboard the Zaandam had died — though the cause was not reported — and at least two had tested positive for COVD-19. It has been at sea since leaving Argentina on March 7.

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SYDNEY — Paramedics evacuated three crew members from a cruise ship that has become Australia’s largest source of the new coronavirus.

New South Wales state Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said on Monday the three patients are not Australian citizens and were taken from the Ruby Princess to a Sydney hospital with the help of water police.

Authorities have been criticized for allowing 2,700 passengers and crew to disembark when the ship docked in Sydney on March 19 despite COVID-19 test results remaining unknown.

Many of the passengers traveled interstate and overseas before the health risk was known.

More than 300 people have contracted the virus from the ship, including two women, aged 77 and 75, who died.

More than 1,100 crew remain on board in quarantine.

Ruby Princess’ owner Carnival Corp. said in a statement the three crew members were suffering acute respiratory symptoms.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 78 new cases of the coronavirus and six more deaths, bringing its totals to 9,661 infections and 158 fatalities.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday at least 476 infections so far have been linked to recent arrivals from abroad with most of them being detected over the past two weeks.

South Korea from Wednesday will enforce two-week quarantines for all passengers arriving from overseas as authorities scramble to prevent the virus from re-entering amid broadening outbreaks in Europe, North America and beyond.

The country had already enforced two-week quarantines on South Korean nationals and foreigners with long-term stay visas arriving from Europe and the United States.

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SALT LAKE — Former Utah House speaker and auto executive Robert Garff died Sunday of complications of COVID-19, his daughter said.

Rep. Melissa Garff Ballard, R-North Salt Lake, posted on Facebook: “My loving dad passed away peacefully today from COVID-19. He has lived a long and happy life, full of vigor and love for our state and our families.”

Garff, 77, was the third Utah resident to die of the virus.

Garff was a prominent Utah businessman and chairman of the Ken Garff Automotive Group. He served as speaker of the Utah House from 1985 to 1987 and chaired the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Games.

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NEW YORK — New York state surpassed a grim milestone Sunday as its death toll from the coronavirus outbreak climbed above 1,000, less than a month after the first case was detected in the state.

New York City reported in the evening that its toll had risen to 776. The total number of statewide deaths isn’t expected to be released until Monday, but with at least 250 additional deaths recorded outside the city as of Sunday morning, the state’s total fatalities was at least 1,026.

The virus has torn through New York with frightening speed.

The first known infection in the state was discovered on March 1. A second case was confirmed two days later.

The first fatality in the state was March 10.

Two days later, the state banned all gatherings of more than 500 people, darkening Broadway theaters and sports arenas. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio closed New York City’s schools March 15.

More severe restrictions came March 20, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all nonessential workers to stay home, barred gatherings of any size and instructed anyone out in public to stay at least 6 feet from other people. At the time, only 35 New Yorkers had been killed by the virus.

That was only nine days ago.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia has reported the state’s first death linked to the new coronavirus pandemic.

The fatality involved an 88-year-old woman from Marion County, the Department of Health and Human Resources said in a news release. The statement said no further details would be released.

“We extend our sincere condolences to this family,” DHHR Secretary Bill J. Crouch said in the statement.

West Virginia was the last U.S. state to report a confirmed case on March 17.

Hawaii and Wyoming are the only remaining states with no reported coronavirus deaths.

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NEW ORLEANS — Orders closing many Louisiana businesses and keeping people home to slow the spread of COVID-19 “may well” have to be extended past April 13, Gov. John Bel Edwards says.

Edwards and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell spoke to reporters at a briefing that was livestreamed from outside the city’s convention center, which is being transformed into a 1,000-bed hospital.

That hospital, for recovering patients who no longer need ventilators or intensive care, will open by April 5, as will a nearby 250-bed center for some people awaiting test results, Edwards said.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says Congress should re-convene if some Americans don’t get their coronavirus stimulus money because of antiquated state computer systems that aren’t equipped to quickly handle the volume of federal money being sent to workers.

He says he wanted the money to be distributed by the federal government, but his opponents wanted it distributed through existing state unemployment systems.

Trump told reporters at Sunday’s White House briefing on the virus that if Americans don’t get their money quickly, he’s going to call for Congress to reconvene or find other ways to distribute the money.

He says the federal government is equipped to quickly distribute money from the mammoth, $2.2 trillion stimulus package to shore up the U.S. economy.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is extending federal guidelines recommending people stay home and away from one another for another 30 days as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.

Trump made the announcement during a Rose Garden briefing. The guidelines, originally tagged as “15 days to slow the spread” had been set to expire Monday.

Trump had said last week he hoped to have the country “re-opened” by Easter. But public health experts sounded the alarm, saying a rollback would speed transmission, making the situation worse.

The federal guidelines recommend that older people and those with preexisting conditions stay home and away from other people, and also recommend that all Americans avoid social gatherings, work from home and steer clear of bars and restaurants.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says two health insurers are waiving patient payments for coronavirus treatment.

Both Cigna and Humana won’t require many of their customers to make copayments or other forms of cost sharing for COVID-19 care. Health care providers would be reimbursed at the insurers’ in-network rates or Medicare rates.

Cigna said the waived payments would begin Monday and continue through May 31.

The moves could save those patients thousands of dollars, depending on their coverage and how much health care they’ve used so far this year, for treatment for the coronavirus. They come after Aetna last week announced payment waivers for patients for hospital stays tied to the coronavirus.

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WILMINGTON, Del. — Delaware’s governor has issued an order telling out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for two weeks.

The order by Gov. John Carney takes effect Monday morning and requires anyone entering the state from elsewhere to self-quarantine for 14 days. It does not apply to people who are only passing through the state.

“Now’s not the time to visit Delaware. We’re facing a serious situation here that is getting worse,” Carney said in a statement.

Those who disobey the order, which has some exceptions for health care workers and other essential tasks, could face criminal charges.

Statewide, health officials say there are more than 200 coronavirus cases and 31 hospitalizations as of Sunday morning.

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

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