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.

WUHAN, China — One mask producer in China says it is rushing to fill orders from overseas while facing stricter quality inspections from Chinese regulators.

Wuhan Zonsen, which makes masks and disinfection wipes, says $50 million in orders from European countries and the United States will keep them at full production capacity until June.

“Now the major demand of masks comes from European countries and the US where the epidemic is severe … their demand now has increased to 10 times than before because of the epidemic,” said Cynthia Ye, global marketing manager of Zonsen.

Zonsen plans to add another five production lines to increase their daily production from 200,000 to 700,000 masks, Zonsen’s production managers told reporters during a media tour organized by Wuhan government.

Chinese customs have announced that ventilators, masks and other supplies being exported to fight the coronavirus will be subject to quality inspections following complaints that substandard goods were being sold abroad. Regulators in Australia, the Netherlands and other countries have complained that masks, virus test kits and other products were faulty or failed to meet quality standards.

Ye denied there are any quality issues with the masks they had shipped to Netherlands.

Wuhan on Wednesday ended its 76-day lockdown, allowing residents to again travel in and out of the city. Wuhan and China are expected to suffer severe economic costs and tens of millions of job losses from the city closure.

Ye said the government of Xinzhou district, where Zonsen is located, offered aid to meet the company’s demand for workers. Now more than 60 employees are back to work and live together in a designated hotel to avoid infection.

“We have to provide hotel rooms for the workers so we have more cost, which is about five to 10 times of our normal cost. The salary for workers is about three or five times of their normal one,” said Ye.

South Korea reports 25 new cases of coronavirus, and three deaths

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 25 new cases of the coronavirus and three more virus-related deaths, bringing its totals to 10,537 infections and 217 fatalities.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday said at least 929 cases were linked to passengers arriving from abroad, with most of them detected over the past three weeks.

South Korea’s caseload has slowed from early March, when it was reporting around 500 new cases a day, but officials have raised concerns over a broader “quiet spread,” pointing to transmissions at bars and other leisure facilities that supposedly indicate eased attitudes toward social distancing.

South Korean Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun during a meeting on anti-virus strategies on Monday said officials are discussing new public guidelines that would allow for people to engage in “certain levels of economic and social activity” while also maintaining distance to slow the spread of the virus.

Death toll in France nearly 14,400

PARIS — The overall death toll in France from the coronavirus has risen to nearly 14,400, but for the fourth day in a row, slightly fewer people were admitted into intensive care — 35 fewer — giving health officials a reason to grasp for good news.

Sunday’s statistics issued by the Health Ministry confirm the country is reaching a “very high plateau” and reflect initial signs that nearly four weeks of confinement and the “drastic reduction in contacts” are producing an effect, a statement said.

Strict confinement measures began March 17, were renewed once and are expected to be extended again, with a likely announcement to the nation Monday by President Emmanuel Macron.

Since March 1, hospitals and nursing homes have counted 14,393 deaths.

Of the 31,836 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, more than 1,600 were admitted in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

Still, with more than 6,800 patients being treated in intensive care Sunday, that was 35 people fewer than a day earlier, a ray of hope for overworked health workers and authorities looking for small signs of change.

Since the start of the epidemic in France, more than 95,400 people have been infected.

Italy has its lowest number of new deaths in three weeks

ROME — Italy recorded the lowest number of new coronavirus deaths in three weeks, saying 431 people died in the past day to bring its total to 19,899.

It was the lowest day-to-day toll since March 19.

For the ninth day running, intensive care admissions were down and hospitalizations overall were down, relieving pressure on Italy’s over-stressed health care system.

More than 4,000 people tested positive as Italy began its fifth week under nationwide lockdown, continuing a general flattening in its infection curve.

But officials have noted that Italy has also increased its testing capacity in recent days, yielding more positive cases but allowing for more effective quarantine measures for people once they know they are infected.

Italy crossed the 1 million virus test mark on Sunday, doubling the number of tests since the end of March. Overall, 156,363 people have been confirmed as positive, though officials note that the true number of infected could be as much as 10 times that, particularly in hard-hit Lombardy.

Officials have also warned that the true number of dead from the virus pandemic is higher, given the hundreds of elderly who have died in nursing homes but were never tested.

Police patrols lead to 12,500 Italians cited

ROME — The Italian government says increased police patrols over Easter weekend led to more than 12,500 people being sanctioned and 150 facing criminal charges for allegedly violating lockdown measures.

The Interior Ministry released data from Saturday’s traffic checkpoints and patrols and said more than 280,000 people were pulled over and asked to explain why they were outside their homes.

The numbers were slightly higher than previous days.

The government’s lockdown measures allow people to move around for work, health reasons or necessities such as grocery shopping or walking the dog.

Anyone outside is required to carry a certificate explaining why they are outside.

Fines can range up to 3,000 euros or lead to criminal charges for anyone making a false declaration.

Authorities had announced beefed-up patrols over the long Easter weekend, when Italians generally head to summer homes or to lunches with friends and family.

Pork plant closes in South Dakota after 293 employees test positive

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Virginia-based Smithfield Foods announced Sunday that it is closing its pork processing plant in Sioux Falls until further notice after dozens of employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

The announcement came a day after South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken wrote to Smithfield and urged the company to suspend operations for 14 days so that its workers could self-isolate and the plant could be disinfected.

The plant, which employs about 3,700 people in the state’s largest city, has become a hot spot for infections. Health officials said Sunday that 293 of the 730 people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in South Dakota work at the plant.

Read the rest of this story here.

France will test whole crew on aircraft carrier

TOULON, France — The French aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle returned to its base in the southern port of Toulon on Sunday after some 50 members of its crew and some aboard an escort frigate contracted the new coronavirus.

The French Defense Ministry says the entire crew of some 1,700 sailors will be tested and confined for 14 days in various military quarters in the region. Same for air crews aboard the vessel and those on the frigate.

The ministry says the carrier cut short by about 10 days a nearly three-month mission in the central Mediterranean then in the Atlantic and North Sea.

The source of the infection was not immediately known.

A similar virus outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt led to the firing of its captain, then the resignation earlier this month of the acting U.S. Navy secretary.

Johnson hails NHS workers for saving his life

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has posted a video on Twitter in which he hails the staff in the National Health Service for saving his life when it could have “gone either way.”

Johnson was dressed in a suit and looked and sounded assured in the video made after his discharge from St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. He said he did not have the words to properly thank the staff at NHS for“saving my life.”

He listed a number of the frontline staff who cared for him over a week at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London but singled out two nurses who stood by his bedside for 48 hours “when things could have gone either way.”

He said Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal were the reason “in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen.”

Johnson said there are “hundreds of thousands of NHS staff who are acting with the same care and thought and precision as Jenny and Luis.”

Johnson spent a week at St. Thomas’, three days of which were in intensive care. He was given oxygen but was not put on a ventilator.

Read the rest of this story here.

Italian premier thanks citizens for sacrifices

ROME — Premier Giuseppe Conte on Sunday thanked Italians for their sacrifices fighting the new coronavirus. He acknowledges that many families are suffering the loss of loved ones as they celebrate Easter with empty places at the table.

Conte wrote in a Facebook post “the sacrifices that each of us makes on this important Sunday are a gesture of authentic attachment to what really matters and that we can recover soon.”

He added: “Together we will make it.”

His message was echoed by members of the La Scala philharmonic, who collaborated on a video performance of Pachelbel’s Canon to honor medical workers fighting the virus.

Around Italy, musicians were urged to join in the concert from their windows or balconies.

Italy has been among the hardest-hit countries, suffering nearly 20,000 dead and a level of contagion that prompted the government to impose a draconian industrial shutdown and national lockdown.

Fauci calls for a “rolling re-entry”

WASHINGTON – The United States’ top infectious disease expert says the economy in parts of the country could be allowed to reopen as early as next month.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says there’s no light switch that will be clicked to turn everything back on. He says a “rolling re-entry” will be required based on the status of the new coronavirus pandemic in various parts of the country.

Fauci says those factors include the region of the country, the nature of the outbreak it already has experienced and the possible threat of an outbreak to come.

Social distancing guidelines imposed by President Donald Trump are set to expire April 30.

Trump is eager to restart the economy, which has stalled because most Americans are under orders to “stay at home” to help slow the virus’ spread.

Fauci spoke Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

UK death toll tops 10,000

LONDON — Health officials say 657 more people in England have died from the new coronavirus, raising the total U.K. deaths over 10,000.

The National Health Service figure does not include deaths in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. A figure for the whole U.K. will be released later.

The 657 deaths come on top of the 9,875 deaths of people with COVID-19 in British hospitals announced Saturday.

While the number of new cases and hospitalizations appears to have plateaued, deaths are still rising. Virus death tolls in Italy and Spain have been on a downward slope, and there are growing fears that the U.K. will end up being the country with the most virus deaths in Europe.

Russian church will have Easter services without congregants

MOSCOW — The Russian Orthodox Church says it will hold Easter services in Moscow without parishioners in conformance with an order from the city’s chief epidemiologist.

The church this year observes Easter on April 19.

A statement from the church says it would abide by the order from the doctor prohibiting mass gatherings and that people attending Palm Sunday services would be informed that services would be held only by clerics beginning Monday.

Pope calls for worldwide solidarity

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is calling for solidarity the world over to confront the “epochal challenge” posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

He has urged political leaders in particular to give hope and opportunity to laid-off workers.

Francis made his traditional Easter address on Sunday and called for sanctions relief, debt forgiveness and cease-fires to calm conflicts and financial crises around the globe.

He has offered special prayers for the sick, the dead, the elderly, refugees and the poor. He also has offered thanks and encouragement to doctors and nurses who have worked “to the point of exhaustion and not infrequently at the expense of their own health.”

Francis has urged the European Union to step up to the “epochal challenge” posed by COVID-19 and resist the tendency of selfishness and division. He recalled that Europe rose again after World War II “thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity that enabled it to overcome the rivalries of the past.”

He says “this is not a time for self-centerdness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons.”

Spain reports more than 4,000 new cases in last 24 hours

MADRID — Spain has reported its lowest daily growth in confirmed coronavirus infections in three weeks as it prepares to loosen its strict lockdown measures and let some workers return to the job.

Spanish health authorities have reported 4,167 confirmed new cases over the past 24 hours. The country’s total is at 166,019, second only to the United States.

Deaths in Spain have reached a total of 16,972, with 619 new fatalities confirmed since Saturday. More than 60,000 patients have recovered from COVID-19 in Spain.

The country on Monday will allow workers in industry and construction to return to work after a two-week shutdown of economic activities other than health care and the food industry.

Those who can work from home are strongly encouraged by authorities to continue doing so. Retail shops will remain closed other than supermarkets, fruit stands, bakeries, butchers, newsstands and pharmacies.

South Korean churches hold Easter services online

SEOUL, South Korea — Some South Korean churches have held their Easter services online amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Seoul’s Yoido Full Gospel Church, one of the biggest churches in South Korea, delivered an online live streaming of its Easter service on Sunday.

A small number of masked followers attended the service broadcast via the church’s website. They were seated notably apart from each other to abide by social distancing rules. Choir members also wore masks when they sang hymns.

Many South Korean churches have switched to online services to support government-led efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. Local media reported some churches resumed offline services to mark Easter Sunday, raising worries about new infections.

South Korea has reported 32 additional cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, a continued downward trend in new infections in the country.

Australia says it’s in a good place

SYDNEY — Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says the country is “in a good place” in its fight against the coronavirus as the death toll rose by three to 59.

Murphy says “there is no place in the world I would rather be than Australia at the moment.”

Australia now has 6,289 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.

Murphy says people in the community are still transmitting the virus so it is necessary to “keep our pressure on and make sure that we don’t end up like countries in the world that you have all seen on the news.”

He says the country is “in a good place … but we have to maintain that good place.”

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says it would be “very dangerous and unrealistic” to remove social distancing restrictions too soon.

He says those restrictions will stay in place across Australia “for as long as it takes” based on medical advice.


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