The Latest: New Zealand reports no active coronavirus cases

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has eradicated the coronavirus from its shores after health officials reported that the final person known to have contracted an infection had recovered.

It has been 17 days since the last new case was reported in New Zealand, and Monday also marked the first time since late February that there have been no active cases. Health officials caution that new cases could be imported into the country, which has closed its borders to everybody but citizens and residents, with some exceptions.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said it was a pleasing development.

“Having no active cases for the first time since February 28 is certainly a significant mark in our journey but as we’ve previously said, ongoing vigilance against COVID-19 will continue to be essential,” Bloomfield said.

Advertisement

Experts say a number of factors have helped the nation of 5 million wipe out the disease, including its isolated location, along with leadership shown by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who imposed a strict lockdown early on during the outbreak. Just over 1,500 people contracted the virus in New Zealand, including 22 who died.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Worldwide virus deaths pass 400,000, according to Johns Hopkins tally.

— Brazil yanks providing virus death tolls as data befuddles experts.

— Tens of thousands in Europe are out on the streets once more to protest racism and police brutality in what is becoming an international Black Lives Matter movement.

— Coronavirus disrupts global fight to save endangered species.

— Travel restrictions and lockdowns have made for one of Normandy’s loneliest D-Day remembrances.

— Britain faces criticism for another sudden change in its advice on face masks: all hospital staff in England will wear surgical face masks beginning June 15 while visitors will need some sort of face covering.

— While seasonal colds and the flu spread through NFL locker rooms most years, many players polled by The Associated Press say they’re scared to return to work without a vaccine for the coronavirus.

___

Go to https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates throughout the day.

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:

___

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 38 new cases of COVID-19 as infections continue to rise in the densely populated capital area.

The figures by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday brought national totals to 11,814 cases and 273 deaths.

All but four of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live, as officials scramble to stem transmissions linked to e-commerce workers, door-to-door sellers and people who went out amid loosened social distancing.

Health Minister Park Neunghoo, during a virus meeting, called for officials to examine the supplies of test equipment in case infections continue to increase. He also called for education officials to double-check preventive measures with millions of children returning to school.

Classes on Monday were reopened for around 1.3 million middle-school freshmen and fifth- and sixth-grade elementary school kids in the last stage of a phased reopening of schools, which began with high school seniors on May 13.

___

LOS ANGELES — A Catholic archbishop has celebrated the first in-person Mass since public worship services were suspended in Los Angeles because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Los Angeles Times reports Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrated the Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Sunday.

The morning service was limited to 100 people, with face masks and social distancing required for everyone in attendance. People older than 65, suffering from underlying health conditions or experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms were encouraged to instead watch a livestream online.

The cathedral was scheduled to be cleaned and sanitized immediately following the Mass.

___

ROME — Italy has registered 197 new cases of COVID-19 with some 60 percent of them in Lombardy, which remains by far the country’s region with the most infections.

The same 24-hour period saw an increase of 53 deaths nationwide. Overall, Italy has just under 235,000 known infections and 33,899 deaths of persons who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Authorities acknowledge that the real number of cases and of deaths is considerably higher. Many with mild symptoms didn’t get tested, and other who had serious COVID-19 symptoms but who died in nursing care facilities or in their own homes didn’t get tested, particularly among the elderly.

Italy has eased many of its lockdown restrictions, but schools never re-opened for the academic year and those coming from overseas are still required to self-quarantine.

___ ROME — The Italian government’s point person on combating the COVID-19 pandemic says so far not enough Italians have downloaded an app to help health authorities trace contacts with persons testing positive for the virus.

Domenico Arcuri said in an interview with Italian state TV on Sunday that 2 million people in Italy have downloaded Immuni, the app that uses Bluetooth technology to signal when someone comes in close contact with an infected person.

That number is “still too few,” Arcuri said. He was referring to experts’ advising that at least 60% of Italy’s 60 million people would have to use the app for contact-tracing to be effective. As Italy gradually emerges from lockdown, allowing travel to resume throughout the country for whatever reason, the health minister and scientific experts who advise him have urged citizens to use Immuni.

Arcuri called the app “a very useful component for the strategy of the last weeks” to gradually reopen the country. The government says the app will safeguard privacy. Users won’t be told who tested positive but instead receive a notification urging them to get tested. Arcuri originally pledged the app would be up and running by the end of May. Later, authorities said it should be operating across the country before the end of June.

___

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia surpassed 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday with 3,045 new infections in the past 24 hours.

The kingdom’s total confirmed cases since the start of the epidemic stand at 101,914, including 712 deaths. Around 70% of all cases have recovered.

On Saturday, Saudi authorities moved to restrict movement again in the second largest city of Jiddah with a 3 p.m. curfew and the suspension on mosque prayers there.

___

MOSCOW — As other nations in Europe report sharply lower new coronavirus cases, Russia has recorded nearly 9,000 new infections over the past day.

The number is roughly in line with those reported over the past week as the spread of the virus may be reaching a plateau in Russia.

The national task force for the pandemic said 8,984 new cases were recorded in a day, and 134 people died of the virus. New cases of the virus have hovered around 9,000 per day since the middle of May.

As the worldwide coronavirus death count surpasses 400,000, Russia has tallied 5,859 deaths overall, a number that health experts question as being much too low. Russian authorities say it’s due to their efficient work at handling the pandemic and method of counting the virus-linked dead that differs from other countries.

___

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is cautioning people in countries emerging from coronavirus lockdowns to keep following authorities’ rules for COVID-19 containment.

“Be careful, don’t cry victory, don’t cry victory too soon,” he said Sunday.

Italy’s gradual easing of stay-at-home rules now allows the public to gather in St. Peter’s Square on Sundays for the pope’s noon blessing, and Francis was clearly delighted to see several hundred people gathered in the square below his window, standing safely either individually or as families.

Francis told the faithful to “follow the rules, they are rules that help us to avoid the virus getting ahead” again.

“Thank God, we’re slowly coming out” from the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

But in his prepared remarks, the Argentine-born pontiff has also expressed dismay that the virus is still claiming many lives, especially in Latin America. In his off-the-cuff comments to the people in the square, he didn’t name any country, but said that two days earlier, in one day, a death of an infected person was registered every minute.

—-

LONDON — The worldwide death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 400,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that health experts say is still an undercount because many who died were not tested for the virus.

The milestone was reached Sunday, a day after the Brazilian government stopped publishing a running total of coronavirus deaths and infections. Critics called the move an extraordinary attempt to hide the true toll of the disease rampaging through Latin America’s largest nation.

Brazil’s last official numbers recorded over 34,000 virus-related deaths, the third-highest toll in the world behind the U.S. and Britain.

Worldwide, at least 6.9 million people have been infected by the virus, according to Johns Hopkins. The U.S. has seen nearly 110,000 confirmed virus-related deaths and Europe has recorded over 175,000 since the virus emerged in China late last year.

___

LONDON — The British government will allow places of worship to reopen on June 15 — but only for private prayer.

Weddings and other services will not be permitted under the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

People are expected to adhere to social-distancing rules.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said it has been a “priority” to get places of worship to open again. He said people of all faiths have “shown enormous patience and forbearance” during the lockdown, unable to mark Easter, Passover, Ramadan or Vaisakhi in the traditional way.

Under the government’s road map for easing the lockdown, places of worship are not due to fully reopen until at least July 4.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to discuss the next stage of the lockdown easing with his Cabinet on Tuesday. As things stands, nonessential shops, including department stores, are due to reopen on June 15.

The government insists it will hold off if any of its five tests to monitor the pandemic, such as being confident there is no second wave in the outbreak, are not met.

___

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysians will be allowed to travel interstate, get their hair cut at salons and visit street markets beginning Wednesday, when more coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Sunday that more economic sectors will reopen, schools and religious activities will gradually resume, and people can travel for domestic holidays after nearly three months of lockdown.

But he said certain prohibitions will remain as the country enters a “recovery” phase until the end of August.

Nightclubs, pubs, karaoke parlors, theme parks and reflexology centers will stay shut. Contact sports or those that involve many spectators, including soccer and boxing, and activities involving mass groups will remain banned.

Malaysia has confirmed just over 8,000 cases of the virus, including 117 deaths.

___

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan passed another grim milestone as the number of deaths from COVID-19 crossed the 2,000 mark on Sunday.

Pakistan is also pushing toward 100,000 confirmed infections as Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the country’s 220 million people in televised speeches that they are going to have to learn to live with the virus.

He said the country is too poor to go into a full lockdown, which he warned would devastate a failing economy, already dependent on billions of dollars in loans from international lending institutions.

Pakistan’s medical professionals have pleaded for more controls and greater enforcement of social distancing directives. They’re infuriated that Khan’s government bowed to the radical religious right to keep open mosques, which have been one of the leading causes of the spikes in infections.

To try to stem the spread of the virus, the government has ordered markets closed on weekends and inspections have been stepped up in some areas where clusters have emerged, quarantining entire neighborhoods.

Pakistan has some 3,000 ICU beds, and while the demands are increasing, nearly 25% are still available.

___

NEW DELHI — India reported 9,971 new coronavirus cases Sunday in another biggest single-day spike, a day before it prepares to reopen shopping malls, hotels and religious places after a 10-week lockdown.

India has now surpassed Spain as the fifth hardest-hit by the pandemic with 246,628 confirmed cases and 6,929 fatalities.

New Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad are among the worst-hit cities in the country. Six of India’s 28 states account for 73% of total cases.

India has already partially restored train services and domestic flights and allowed shops and manufacturing to reopen. E-commerce companies have started to deliver goods, including those considered nonessential, to places outside containment zones.

Subways, schools and movie theaters remain closed.

___

BEIJING — China has reported its first non-imported case of the new coronavirus in two weeks, an infected person on the island of Hainan off the southern coast.

The National Health Commission said Sunday that there were also five imported cases in the previous 24-hour period, bringing the nation’s total case count to 83,036.

China says it has largely stopped the spread of the virus at home, though it continues to have occasional localized outbreaks. It is on guard against imported cases as it begins to ease restrictions on flights and people arriving from abroad.

The official death toll in China is 4,634.

___

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 57 additional cases of the coronavirus, marking a second day in a row that its daily jump is above 50 as authorities struggle to suppress a spike in fresh infections in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.

The figures released Sunday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the country’s total to 11,776 cases, with 273 deaths. The agency says 10,552 people have recovered while 951 remain in treatment.

South Korea’s caseload peaked in late February and early March but a later significant easing amid aggressive tracing, testing and treatment prompted authorities to loosen strict social distancing rules. The country has since seen an increase in new infections, mostly in the Seoul region, where about half of its 51 million people live.

___

FLAGSTAFF, Arizona — Northern Arizona University will start and end its fall semester earlier this year, hoping to mitigate the spread ofthe coronavirus.

University President Rita Cheng has announced in an email that classes will start Aug. 12 and end before Thanksgiving Day.

She adds that the university plans to increase cleaning and sanitation measures, require facial coverings in common areas and maintain social distancing guidelines and protocols for testing and screening.

On Saturday, Arizona state officials reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, increasing the statewide total to nearly 25,500. More than 1,000 people have died from the virus in Arizona.

___

Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Copyright © 2020 . All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.