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.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Coronavirus disrupts global fight to save endangered species
— Brazil yanks virus death toll as data befuddles experts
— Travel restrictions and lockdowns have made for one of Normandy’s loneliest D-Day remembrances
— The British government faced criticism for another sudden change in its advice on face coverings that has left those running hospitals in England scrambling to work out how they will be able to meet the new requirements. As the World Health Organization broadened its recommendations for the use of masks, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said all hospital staff in England will have to wear surgical face masks from June 15 while visitors and outpatients will need to don some sort of face covering.
— People in Asia, Australia and Europe braved gloomy weather, infection risk and protest bans to voice support for George Floyd and for what is becoming an international Black Lives Matter movement. Demonstrations took place in Sydney, London, Seoul and other cities in a worldwide wave of solidarity.
— While seasonal colds and the flu spread through NFL locker rooms most years, football teams now have COVID-10 to worry about. Coaches are returning to their offices, but many players polled by The Associated Press say they’re scared to return to work without a cure or a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Go to https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreakfor updates throughout the day.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
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, Ariz. — 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.
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