The latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that state and local governments are seeking up to $1 trillion for coronavirus costs, a stunning benchmark for the next aid package that’s certain to run into opposition from Senate Republicans.

Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. adjusts her face mask during a news conference Thursday on Capitol Hill. Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Pelosi acknowledged the federal government may not be able to provide that much. But she said money for “heroes” is needed to prevent layoffs as governors and mayors stare down red ink in their budgets. Many jurisdictions are facing rising costs from the health pandemic and plummeting revenues in the economic shutdown. The best way Americans can support front-line community workers, Pelosi said, is to make sure they don’t lose their jobs to budget cuts.

The $1 trillion figure comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shifted his tone, suggesting he is “open” to considering additional funds in the next coronavirus relief bill.

But the huge cost would be on top of the nearly $3 trillion Congress has already approved to salvage the economy and confront the health crisis.

Read the full story about House Democrats’ push for aid here.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin says he tested positive

MOSCOW — Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin says he has tested positive for the new coronavirus and has told President Vladimir Putin he will self-isolate.

First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov will temporarily perform Mishustin’s duties.

Mishustin, 54 was named prime minister in January.

Also, the mayor of Moscow says he doesn’t think the Russian capital is close to overcoming the spread of coronavirus.

Moscow accounts for half of Russia’s reported 106,000 infections and on Thursday recorded nearly 3,100 new cases.

“We’re not even at the midpoint, in my opinion; at best we have passed a quarter of this way,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. Moscow quickly built one hospital to handle coronavirus cases and Sobyanin said the need for more could be filled by establishing treatment facilities at shopping malls, sports venues or the sprawling Stalin-era VDNKh exhibition complex.

Prime Minister Johnson: U.K. “past the peak” and “on a downward slope”

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the U.K. is “past the peak” and “on a downward slope” in its coronavirus outbreak.

In his first news conference in more than a month following his hospitalization with COVID-19 and his subsequent recuperation, Johnson said he would be presenting a “comprehensive plan” next week about how and when the U.K. will ease the lockdown restrictions, which are due to last at least until May 7.

Though he said it would provide a “roadmap,” Johnson is widely expected to extend the current lockdown further.

Johnson also voiced frustrations in getting personal protective equipment, and in ramping up the testing program, but he insisted that the government was throwing “everything at it, heart and soul, night and day, to get it right.”

Johnson, whose partner Carrie Symonds gave birth to a boy on Wednesday, said another 674 people with the coronavirus have died in all settings, taking the total to 26,711, the second highest in Europe behind Italy.

Georgia governor will allow shelter-in-place order to expire at midnight

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will allow his statewide shelter-in-place order to expire at midnight Thursday but is extending his emergency powers to June 12 and telling the elderly and medically fragile to stay at home until then.

The first-term Republican governor had already carved sizable loopholes in his order that applied to all 10 million Georgians and signaled it would end when he allowed some businesses to reopen last week and Monday. Social distancing requirements and bans on large gatherings remain in place.

Kemp told The Associated Press in a Thursday interview that he’s been pleased with how his effort to reopen some businesses — among the most aggressive in the nation — has gone in the face of a continuing COVID-19 pandemic that has sickened 26,000 people in the state and killed more than 1,100.

U.N. chief: Follow South Korea’s example

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief says he hopes many countries in the world will follow the “remarkable example” of South Korea which has been “extremely successful” in addressing the coronavirus pandemic and is planning to tackle climate change in its recovery from COVID-19.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed to the announcement Thursday “that there was no new case in the Republic of Korea,” the country’s official name.

At the same time, he said, South Korea has presented plans for “a very ambitious green deal” for its recovery from the pandemic including no new coal-fired plants and a reduction of emissions from existing coal-fired plants.

Guterres told a news conference Thursday: “We hope that this example of the Republic of Korea will be followed by many other countries in the world.”

The Koreas Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement early Thursday that four cases in the previous 24 hours, all imported, took the country’s total to 10,765 with 247 deaths and 9,059 recoveries.

South Korea’s caseload has been slowing in recent weeks after it recorded hundreds of new cases every day between late February and early March. It has subsequently relaxed some of its social distancing guidelines and is expected to ease up on more restrictions in coming days if the downward trend continues.

South Korea had its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Jan. 20, the same day as the United States. But unlike the U.S., officials there used a test focused on the same gene targets as the World Health Organization’s recommended test, according to the website of a test manufacturer. The government quickly allowed private sector labs to produce it.

As a result, a nation with less than one-sixth the population of the United States mobilized to test more than 20,000 people a day. South Korea also instituted drive-thru centers, allowing quicker identification of those who were infected but might not be displaying symptoms, thus slowing the emergence of new cases to a more manageable level.

Well-connected Trump alumni converge on D.C. in coronavirus lobbying rush

WASHINGTON — As a wave of coronavirus restrictions shuttered more than two dozen of his hotels, Dallas hotelier Monty Bennett publicly pleaded for help.

“Every American should expect just enough from government that our businesses can survive. Is that too much to ask?” the longtime Republican donor wrote in a March blog post.

Behind the scenes, Bennett’s companies paid $50,000 to hire two well-connected allies of President Trump for help seeking financial relief: Jeff Miller, former vice chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, and Roy Bailey, a top fundraiser for the president’s reelection campaign, according to lobbying disclosures.

As lobbyists blitz Washington for a piece of the massive federal response to the global pandemic, a group of former Trump administration officials and campaign alumni are in the center of the action, helping private interests tap into coveted financial and regulatory relief programs.

Businesses hit hard by the virus and health-care manufacturers seeking approval for their products have rushed to hire Trump alumni, who are leveraging their connections in a variety of ways – helping get their clients designated as “essential” services and securing meetings at the White House and federal agencies on their behalf, federal filings show.

In all, at least 25 former officials who once worked for the Trump administration, campaign or transition team are now registered as lobbyists for clients with coronavirus needs, according to The Washington Post’s analysis of federal lobbying records and employment data compiled by ProPublica.

The barrage of activity shows how, despite Trump’s repeated claim that he would “drain the swamp,” his former aides and onetime administration officials have embraced Washington’s lobbying world – and are now providing firepower for companies eager for coronavirus relief.

Read the full story about lobbyists here.

Republican-led states signal they could strip jobless benefits if workers don’t return

Iowa, Oklahoma and other states reopening soon amid the coronavirus outbreak are issuing early warnings to their worried workers: Return to your jobs or risk losing unemployment benefits.

The threats have been loudest among Republican leaders in recent days, reflecting their anxious attempts to jump-start local economic recovery roughly two months after most businesses shut their doors. In Iowa, for example, state officials even have posted a public call for companies to get in touch if an “employee refuses to return to work.”

For some states, the concern is that residents who are offered their old jobs back simply may not accept them, choosing instead to continue tapping historically generous unemployment aid. The $2 trillion congressional coronavirus relief package signed by President Trump in March greatly plussed up weekly benefit checks for out-of-work Americans, and some people now may be earning more than they did previously.

Business leaders say they desperately need workers to return to stores, restaurants and other operations to stay afloat financially. Labor activists, however, contend the reality is far more complicated: Some now-unemployed Americans weren’t making much money in the first place, so they may not want to risk their safety just to return to underpaid old gigs.

In the process, some states’ public comments have frustrated federal lawmakers, labor activists and public-health officials, who say that forcing workers to return so quickly might be dangerous – and could undermine the country’s response to the deadly pandemic.

“These states are offering people the choice to endanger your life or starve,” said Damon Silvers, the director of policy and special counsel for the AFL-CIO.

Generally, states have the legal right to revoke benefits if unemployed Americans are offered jobs comparable to their past positions yet decline to take them. In response to the coronavirus, regulators also have put in place special exemptions to protect people out of work because they’re sick or caring for family members who been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Read the full story about unemployment benefits here.

Outrage builds over 70 virus deaths at Massachusetts veterans home

Desperate for information as coronavirus deaths mounted at the Massachusetts veterans home where her father lived, Susan Kenney drove there with her question written in big letters on her car window: “Is my dad alive?”

He was. But not for long.


This undated selfie photo provided by Susan Kenney shows Kenney with her late father Charles Lowell, when he resided at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Mass. Lowell died April 15 after contracting the new coronavirus while residing at the veterans’ home. He was 78. Susan Kenney via Associated Press

Kenney’s father and 69 others who served their country have died after contracting the virus at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in what has become the deadliest known outbreak at a long-term care facility in the U.S. As state and federal officials investigate what went wrong, outrage is building among family members and workers who say leadership failed to protect the veterans and allowed the virus to spread unchecked.

“Somebody screwed up there,” Kenney said, choking back tears. “Somebody needs to be held responsible.”

Officials and health care workers at the state-run home are now racing to curb the spread of the disease while tending to the roughly 100 veterans who remain there. Dozens of residents have been moved away, including about 30 to a nursing unit at Holyoke Medical Center. In addition to the dead, about 80 other veterans and 80 employees have contracted the virus, officials said.

The home’s superintendent was placed on administrative leave on March 30 and the CEO of Western Massachusetts Hospital, Val Liptak, took over operations.

This week, eight “coaches” were brought into the home to ensure staff are using personal protective equipment properly, officials said. And dozens of National Guard members have been sent there to help, but staffers say it’s too little, too late.

“The truth is the damage has already been done,” said Kwesi Ablordeppey, a certified nursing assistant who has worked there for about 20 years. “All we can do now is do our best to salvage,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Capt. Tom’s 100th birthday: 150,000 cards and a fundraiser worth $39 million

LONDON — Capt. Tom Moore, the heart-stealing British war veteran who walked the length of his garden to raise money for Britain’s National Health Service, turned 100 on Thursday — just as donations to his fundraiser reached $39 million.

On his birthday morning, his name once again trended on social media as thousands worldwide offered well wishes to a man many called a “legend.”


World War II veteran Capt. Tom Moore celebrates his 100th birthday in Bedfordshire, England, on April 30, 2020. Emma Soh/Associated Press

Britain is still in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus crisis, but Moore’s milestone birthday brought widespread celebration. The veteran, who served in India during World War II, was honored with a flyby above his home in Bedfordshire, 50 miles north of London, as Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Boris Johnson led tributes.

But perhaps the greatest gift of all: an honorary title change from captain to colonel.

Pence didn’t know of Mayo Clinic mask policy, his wife says

Vice President Pence, who was roundly criticized this week for not wearing a mask during a tour of the Mayo Clinic, did not know hospital policy required it until after he left the facility, his wife said Thursday.

The comment from Karen Pence, made during an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” appears to contradict statements from the clinic that the vice president’s office had been informed of the rule before his Tuesday visit to the Minnesota hospital.

Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence, center, visits Dennis Nelson, a patient who survived the coronavirus, during a tour of the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday in Rochester, Minn. Pence chose not to wear a face mask while touring the clinic. It’s an apparent violation of the world-renowned medical center’s policy requiring them. Jim Mone/Associated Press

“It was actually after he left Mayo Clinic that he found out that they had a policy of asking everyone to wear a mask,” Karen Pence said.

On Tuesday, when photos and videos of a maskless Pence spread across social media, the Mayo Clinic tweeted that it had “told @VP of the masking procedure prior to his arrival today.”

The clinic appeared to have deleted the tweet soon after, but a spokesman told media outlets that Pence’s office was made aware of the rule.

Karen Pence on Thursday reiterated the explanation that her husband gave shortly after completing the tour: that masks are thought to help prevent an infected patient from spreading the virus and so, “knowing he doesn’t have covid-19, he didn’t wear one.”

She added that she was grateful for the chance to address the issue.

“Someone who’s worked on this — this whole task force for over two months is not someone who would have done anything to offend anyone or hurt anyone or scare anyone,” she said. “So I’m glad you gave me the opportunity to talk about that.”

With kids stuck at home, ER doctors see more severe cases of child abuse

Across the country, from California to Iowa to Massachusetts, child abuse reports have plummeted since the virus arrived. In the nation’s capital, hotline reports of abuse and neglect between mid-March and mid-April were 62% lower than in the same period last year, according to the Washington D.C. Child and Family Services Agency. Reports to child protective services in Maryland have fallen just as far, and in Virginia, referrals from school staffers have dipped by 94%.

The cases surfacing often involve children so severely injured they end up in the emergency room and intensive care unit. In some hospitals, they are dying at an unusually high rate.

Pediatricians across the country are sounding the alarm: The stress of unemployment and financial insecurity has strained relationships between children and those who care for them. The closures of schools and day cares have forced children closer to adults who may not be safe.

In a world without school, doctors and advocates say, no one is there to watch, to speak up, until it’s too late.

The American system of catching child abuse relies on kids venturing outside their homes.

Year after year, most referrals to child protective services come from professionals – police officers, lawyers, doctors, anyone who comes into contact with a child as part of their job. But no group reports more than educators, who were responsible for 21% of the 4.3 million referrals made in 2018, according to federal data.

Read the full story.

Judge refuses to block Mich. governor’s stay-home order, says constitutional rights not absolute

LANSING, Mich. — Constitutional rights are not absolute and it is reasonable for Michigan’s governor to restrict them to control a pandemic, a judge has ruled in refusing to block Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich. on Wednesday. Michigan Office of the Governor via Associated Press

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray — an appointee of former Republican Gov. John Engler — issued an 18-page opinion Wednesday denying a request for an injunction that would block certain aspects of the order.

Murray said that while the court challenge will continue, the plaintiffs are unlikely to be successful.

“This is not because the rights asserted by plaintiffs are not fundamental,” Murray wrote.

“Being forced … by the state to remain in one’s home, in turn causing many residents to be unable to work, visit elderly relatives, and to generally move about the state,” does infringe on constitutional rights in the short term, Murray wrote.

“But those liberty interests are, and always have been, subject to society’s interest — society being our fellow residents. They — our fellow residents — have an interest to remain unharmed by a highly communicable and deadly virus.”

Read the full story.

California governor expected to close all beaches

The California Police Chiefs Association has told its members that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) plans to announce Thursday that all beaches and state parks will be closed effective Friday.

The anticipated move follows a weekend on which thousands of people took advantage of warm weather and flocked to California beaches in violation of the state’s social distancing restrictions, prompting Newsom to warn of the potential of a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak.

The scene on Huntington Beach, Calif. on April 26. Associated Press/Marcio Jose Sanchez

“After the well-publicized media coverage of overcrowded beaches this past weekend, in violation of Governor Newsom’s Shelter in Place Order, the Governor will be announcing tomorrow that ALL beaches and all state parks in California will be closed, effective Friday, May 1st,” the notification to police chiefs said. “We wanted to give all of our members a heads up about this in order to provide time for you to plan for any situations you might expect as a result, knowing each community has its own dynamics. … State Parks personnel will be out … to help support local efforts as well.”

Law enforcement officials confirmed the authenticity of the notification to multiple news organizations, including NBC News.

Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a television interview broadcast Wednesday, Newsom voiced frustration with residents who crowded the beaches. Asked if he thinks the worst of the pandemic has passed in California, he warned that it might not have.

“If people just assume, like they did in Newport Beach over the weekend, that the virus is going to take the weekend off or maybe go on summer vacation, then we’re in real trouble, with a potential second wave that erases all the progress and potentially puts literally tens of thousands of lives at risk,” he said on NBC’s “Today” show.

U.S. working to deliver coronavirus vaccine by January, Fauci says

Anthony S. Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease specialist, confirmed Thursday that the Trump administration is working to speed up development of a vaccine and aiming to produce hundreds of millions of doses by January.

Speaking on the Today show, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said he is part of the team leading that effort, dubbed “Operation Warp Speed.”

Fauci said the goal is to develop a vaccine that is safe, effective and able to scale up rapidly to meet the January timeline.

“We want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it’s safe and its effective,” Fauci said. “I think that is doable if things fall in the right place.”

As part of the initiative, he said, manufacturers of the best potential vaccine candidates would ramp up production “at risk” – i.e. before confirming that they work.

Bloomberg News, which reported on “Operation Warp Speed” on Wednesday, found that taxpayers rather than drug companies would shoulder the financial risk of failed vaccine candidates. Though costly, this could result in one being available months earlier than the typical process.

The potential January date would be on the early end of the 12-to-18-month timeline that Fauci has repeatedly given for a vaccine.

Chaotic search for coronavirus treatments undermines efforts, experts say

Meanwhile, he said he is “cautiously optimistic” about states beginning to reopen – as long as they follow contact tracing guidelines for the inevitable “blips” in cases. Those that don’t have the capability to test and trace must go “very slowly,” he said.

“There’s a lot of leeway because we give governors the ability to be very flexible,” Fauci said. “But you have to have the core principles of the guidelines. You can’t just leap over things and get into a situation where you’re really tempting a rebound. That’s the thing I get really concerned about. I hope they don’t do that.”

Read the story here.

3.8 million Americans sought jobless benefits last week

More than 3.8 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to the Labor Department, as the coronavirus pandemic’s economic toll burrowed deeper into the American workforce.

The outbreak and subsequent recession have wiped away all jobs created since the 2008 financial crisis. Economists estimate the national unemployment rate sits between 15 and 20 percent, compared to about 25 percent at the peak of the Great Depression.

For comparison, 4.4 million people applied for benefits for the week ending April 18.

There is no precedent for figures like this in modern American history.

How the pandemic consumed the labor market

At first, national attention focused on the unprecedented wave of layoffs tied to restaurant and other non-essential businesses, said Tara Sinclair, an economist at the George Washington University and senior fellow of the Indeed Hiring Lab. But it quickly became clear that many more industries were going to be hit by the downturn. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Sinclair pointed to recent job losses in the health care industry, as surgeries and other elective procedures are cancelled in large numbers.

“No job is safe,” Sinclair said.

Read the full story.

Trump predicts election won’t be a referendum on his coronavirus performance

President Trump does not believe the November election will be a referendum on his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, he told Reuters in an interview Wednesday.

“No, I don’t think so,” Trump said. “I think it’s a referendum on a lot of things. I think it’s going to be a referendum on all the things we’ve done and certainly this will be a part of it, but we’ve done a great job.”

His comments come a day after the release of an NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll that found that 55 percent of Americans prefer former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, handling the coronavirus response, compared to 40 percent for Trump.

In the Reuters interview, Trump also cast doubt on other polls that have shown Biden leading nationally and in some key swing states. Aides have recently presented Trump with such numbers in an effort to curtail his freewheeling daily briefings on the pandemic.

“I don’t believe the polls,” Trump told Reuters. “I believe the people of this country are smart. And I don’t think that they will put a man in who’s incompetent.”

“I mean he’s incompetent for 30 years,” Trump said, referring to Biden. “Everything he ever did was bad. His foreign policy was a disaster.”

Los Angeles offers free coronavirus testing to all residents

LOS ANGELES — The city of Los Angeles will offer free coronavirus testing to all residents, whether or not they have symptoms.

Until now tests were reserved for those with symptoms and frontline employees like healthcare and grocery store workers. Mayor Eric Garcetti says LA will be the first major U.S. city to offer widescale testing to all its residents.

People can sign up online for appointments starting immediately. Priority will still be given to people with symptoms, such as a fever, cough and shortness of breath.

People will be able to go back for tests several times: there is no limit.

Read the full story.

Lithuania’s main airport temporarily a drive-in movie theater

VILNIUS, Lithuania — For the time being, Vilnius International Airport is busy. Not with people heading for an exotic destination. But cinemagoers pack the tarmac in their cars to watch a movie while the grounded planes are parked in background.

A drive-in cinema has been set up at Lithuania’s main airport as part of the Aerocinema project that will run until the end of May. A silver screen has been stretched out outside gates 1-4, and some 150 cars with a maximum of two people per vehicle — except families — can watch a movie. Wednesday’s screening was the Oscar-winner South Korean film “Parasite.”

Each car pays 15 euros ($16) with proceeds going to the Vilnius International Film Festival that is behind the project.

“Going out onto an airport apron, which is usually only possible to access after check-in, is an exciting experience. I hope this would create a lifetime impression on our audience,” said Algirdas Ramaška, head of the film festival.

The Baltic country’s airspace has been closed commercial aviation and Lithuania’s three airports — including the Vilnius airport that served five million passengers last year — have been shut because of the pandemic.

Vaccines in development

LONDON — Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is partnering with the University of Oxford to make and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine that is now being tested — a move that would make it possible to quickly offer vaccinations globally if it works.

The agreement announced Thursday will be finalized in the coming weeks.

The university’s Jenner Institute began human trials last week.

John Bell, a professor of medicine at Oxford, told the BBC he hoped that some results from a human trial of the vaccine would be available by the middle of June.

He says the challenge would be to manufacture at scale after regulatory approval.

Bell says “we also want to make sure that the rest of the world will be ready to make this vaccine at scale so that it gets to populations in developing countries, for example, where the need is very great.’’

Dozens of vaccines are currently in development. The World Health Organization estimates it will take 12 to 18 months to actually find one that works.

Read the story here.

Turkey donates medical aid to the United States

ANKARA, Turkey — A second Turkish military plane took off from an air base near Ankara carrying more medical aid to the United States which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said Thursday the cargo plane is carrying a second batch of protective equipment, including masks, hazmat suits and disinfectants, as part of Turkish efforts to the United States as it grapples with the outbreak. Turkey also dispatched a plane with medical supplies on Tuesday.

A message attached to the boxes of supplies read: “From Turkey to the United States with love,” according to the private DHA news agency.

Turkey’s deputy foreign minister, Selim Yavuz Kiran and the US Ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, were at a military airbase to see the plane off.

Separately, a Turkish military plane carrying medical supplies, including masks and disinfectants, also left for South Africa late on Wednesday, Anadolu reported.

Turkish officials say the country has donated medical supplies to a total of 55 countries — including Britain, Italy and Spain.

Russian cases of the coronavirus grow

MOSCOW — Russia’s coronavirus caseload surpassed 100,000 on Thursday, with the number of deaths exceeding 1,000.

Russian health officials reported a record daily spike of 7,099 new confirmed cases on Thursday morning, which brought the country’s total to 106,498. The number of infections is likely to be much higher, as not everyone is being tested and many carry the disease without exhibiting any symptoms.

The vast majority of Russian regions have been on lockdown since late March, with people ordered to stay at home and only essential businesses, such as grocery shops, pharmacies and banks, operating.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin extended the lockdown until May 11 and tasked the government with putting together a plan for gradually reopening the country. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed out that the timeline for the reopening will be contingent on how the outbreak continues to unfold.

In wake of pandemic, asylum applications down in Europe

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s asylum agency says that the number of asylum applications in Europe plummeted by almost half last month as measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus kicked in.

The European Asylum Support Office said Thursday that just 34,737 applications for asylum were lodged in the 31 European countries it collects data for in March, a 43% drop over the previous month.

It said that “just before the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe, applications had increased compared to the same period in 2019, with 65 300 applications lodged in January and 61 100 in February.”

To halt the spread of the coronavirus, many European Union countries have temporarily closed parts of their borders, making it increasingly difficult for migrants to enter without authorization.

Greece, a main entry point for people seeking refuge or better lives in Europe, suspended all asylum applications for a month at the beginning of March after Turkey began waving migrants through to their common border.

Nationals from Syria, Afghanistan, Colombia and Venezuela continue to file the most asylum applications.

Australian territory declares itself free any known case of infection

CANBERRA, Australia — The Australian Capital Territory has become the first of the country’s eight states and mainland territories to declare itself free of all known cases of the coronavirus.

Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said the territory surrounding the capital city Canberra was free of any recorded infection on Thursday for the first time in seven weeks after the last patient recovered.

There have been 106 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canberra and three patients have died. The capital territory has a population of only 420,000, the second-smallest of the states and territories, and its infection rate per head of population ranks in the middle of the field.

Everyone with cold or flu symptoms have been offered free COVID-19 testing in Canberra for the past week and the government said that offer will be extended for another week. One in 49 of the territory’s population had been tested by Thursday.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said a government announcement will be made on Friday on the future of lockdown measures that will take into account the risk of a second wave of infections.

Lawmakers and their staff from across Australia will converge on Canberra on May 12 for the first regular sitting of Parliament since early March.

Australia has recorded 6,746 virus infections, 90 of whom have died. Eight new cases were reported since Wednesday.


NEW DELHI — India says it has achieved tremendous gains and improvement in curbing the coronavirus infections through a stringent lockdown imposed across the country five weeks ago.

A Home Ministry statement late Wednesday said the government would give considerable relaxations in many districts as the lockdown comes for a review on Sunday.

India has so far reported more than 33,050 positive coronavirus cases with 1,074 deaths.

The government on Wednesday allowed migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places in the country to resume their journeys by road. The decision will provide relief to hundreds of thousands of workers who want to return to their villages from Indian cities and towns after they lost jobs following the imposition of a country-wide lockdown on March 25.

The government recently allowed reopening of neighborhood shops in cities and towns and resumption of manufacturing and farming activity in rural India to help millions of poor people who lost work.



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