— Nurse group says the new coronavirus has killed more nurses in Brazil than in any other country.
— U.N. chief warns of historic levels of famine.
— South Africa eases bans on alcohol sales, church services.
RIO DE JANEIRO — The new coronavirus has killed more nurses in Brazil than in any other country, according to the International Council of Nurses.
The group did not provide exact figures but said it is in the process of updating its data and will be releasing a new statement regarding the global situation early next week, Richard Elliot, the council’s communications director, said in an e-mail to the Associated Press.
Brazil has registered 157 deaths of nurses, nurse technicians and nursing assistants from COVID-19 so far, according to the Brazilian Federal Council of Nursing. The council said the trend is for the death toll among the workers to continue growing and warned its scale depends on several factors, including supply of personal protective equipment and the virus’ spread in the general population.
Brazil has reported about 411,000 infections and 25,000 deaths from the pandemic thus far, by far the hardest hit country in Latin America.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is relaxing several restrictions that were put into place to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that a ban on travel between cities most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak will be lifted, while restaurants, cafe, museums, sports centers parks and beaches will re-open on Monday. Public service workers, except those with chronic illnesses, will also return to work and child care facilities will be allowed to reopen.
However, in a televised address following a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan said that a stay-at-home order for people aged 65 and over, and for minors, will remain for a while longer, while those aged 19 and 20 are now allowed outdoors.
The country resumed limited intercity train services Thursday and mosques are scheduled to partially reopen Friday.
Meanwhile, the total number of confirmed infections in the country surpassed 160,000, with the Health Ministry announcing 1,182 new cases in the past 24 hours. The ministry also reported 30 new deaths, raising the total COVID-19 fatalities to 4,461.
LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s record jobless figures continues to climb, with more than 18,000 people filing first-time benefits claims last week, adding to the all-time-high 28.2% statewide unemployment figure in April.
Thursday’s report from the U.S. Labor Department comes after Gov. Steve Sisolak announced earlier in the week that casinos can reopen June 4.
Nevada, which relies heavily on tourism and entertainment, saw unemployment soar to the highest rate since the national jobless rate was estimated at 25% in 1933 during the depths of the Great Depression, said David Schmidt, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief is warning world leaders that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause “unimaginable devastation and suffering around the world,” with historic levels of hunger and famine and up to 1.6 billion people unable to earn a living unless action is taken now.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a high-level meeting Thursday that COVID-19 could also lead to “a loss of $8.5 trillion in global output, the sharpest contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s.”
Guterres called for Immediate and collective action in several critical areas: enhancing global financial liquidity; providing debt relief; engaging private creditors; promoting external finance; plugging leaks in tax evasion; money-laundering; and corruption. He also wants to make sure the recovery tackles the climate crisis.
PARIS — France is reopening its restaurants, bars and cafes starting next week as the country eases most restrictions amid the new coronavirus crisis.
All city parks will reopen and more children will be accommodated in schools with classes capped at 15 students.
French Prime minister Edouard Philippe also pledged to revive “cultural and sport life.”
Although life is returning closer to normal, public gatherings larger than 10 people are still banned, contact sports are not allowed, and night clubs will remain closed.
France, one of the world’s hardest-hit countries, has reported at least 28,596 coronavirus-related deaths.
ROME — Italy registered 593 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, nine more than the previous day-to-day figure from the Health Ministry.
Lombardy in the north registered 382 new cases, nearly the same as a day earlier. All other regions registered far fewer than 100 new cases, most with fewer than a dozen.
There were 70 deaths in the 24-hour period ending on Thursday evening, raising the nation’s overall known death toll to 33,142. Italy has logged 231,732 known cases of COVID-19.
Lombardy’s situation is concerning health experts ahead of a looming government decision on whether Italians can resume travel between regions and if people can arrive from abroad without having to quarantine.
STORM LAKE, Iowa — A rural Iowa county that's home to two meatpacking plants has seen an increase of nearly 500 coronavirus cases in the past few days.
The state health department reported 697 cases Thursday in Buena Vista County, where Tyson Foods has pork and turkey processing plants. Health officials say the number of coronavirus cases in the county had jumped from around 250 on Tuesday as more testing has been done.
A Tyson pork processing plant in Storm Lake has had more than 550 employees out of more than 2,500 test positive, said Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter.
Tyson Foods is in the midst of testing all employees at the two plants. Company officials say they plan to release results once the testing of the roughly 3,100 employees is completed sometime in the next week.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced another easing of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England,.
Johnson said Thursday at the government’s daily press briefing that schools will start reopening Monday. He also said that some outdoor-based businesses can reopen, but social distancing guidelines have to be observed in all the changes.
Johnson said the limited changes are possible because the government’s five tests on easing the lockdown, in effect since March 23, have been met. Those include a sustained and consistent fall in virus infections and the daily death rate.
Though the number of people dying after testing positive for COVID-19 has fallen since the peak in early April. the U.K. still recorded another 377 deaths, taking the total to 37,837.
CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- The South African government says it will allow people to buy alcohol and attend church services starting Monday as part of its phased relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown.
Both activities will be subject to restrictions in a country with the highest number of cases in Africa.
Alcohol sales, banned since March 27, will be allowed four days a week. No alcohol can be purchased on Fridays and over the weekend and bars remain closed. Alcohol may be consumed only at home.
Churches can reopen but must limit congregation size to 50 people. Churchgoers and officials must wear masks and maintain social distancing. For those entering church, hand sanitizing and screening will be compulsory.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, also said cigarette sales remain banned but a national night curfew will be lifted, and outdoor exercise will be allowed at any time.
MILAN -- The governor of Sardinia is urging Italy’s government to back a coronavirus testing regime that would give domestic tourists a greater sense of safety.
Borders between Italian regions are to reopen Wednesday after three months, and Sardinia is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destination. Italy’s minister for regional affairs opposes such a system of ‘’immunity passports,’’ saying none of the tests so far offers clarity.
But Gov. Christian Solinas said Thursday that while neither nasal tests to determine if someone is positive nor antibody tests indicating exposure offer ‘’certainty,’’ the island region would like an alternative ‘’to nothing.’’ He said testing arriving tourists’ body temperatures was not enough.
Sardinia’s insistence on a standardized testing regime has rubbed some the wrong way, with Milan’s mayor saying when he considers where to go for a break he will look elsewhere.
BERLIN -- Authorities in northern Germany say at least 72 workers at a UPS center near Hannover have tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Officials said Thursday that COVID-19 cases at a daycare center and a school in Hannover were also linked to the outbreak at the logistics center.
Separately, authorities in Frankfurt say the number of COVID-19 cases linked to a Baptist church service on May 10 has grown to 200.
Despite loosening numerous restrictions amid falling case numbers, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday that “we are still living at the start of the pandemic.” She cited the cluster linked to the church service as an example of “how quickly infections can break out again.”
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control center, said there have been almost 180,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and 8,411 deaths.
LONDON — Since March, Britons have stood on balconies, doorsteps and sidewalks once a week to applaud care workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
But Thursday’s 10th weekly “Clap for Our Carers” could be the last. The woman who founded the ritual says that “to have the most impact I think it is good to stop it at its peak.”
Annemarie Plas, a 36-year-old Londoner, was inspired by an idea from her native Netherlands. The event quickly took off, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and members of the royal family taking part, and news channels broadcasting the applause live from around the country.
But there was criticism as some people broke social distancing to take part. And some say the gesture deflects attention from serious government failings in providing testing and protective equipment to medics and care workers.
Plas also was concerned the gesture was becoming “politicized.” She hopes it will become an annual event on the last Thursday in March each year.
NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Cyprus is advising doctors to curtail the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine on some coronavirus patients amid renewed concerns the drugs could trigger heart problems and put lives at risk.
The Health Ministry urged doctors Thursday to be “particularly vigilant” and to even stop administering the drugs to COVID-19 patients with pre-existing heart conditions.
The announcement came after the World Health Organization said it would temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments.
Cyprus’ health minister said last month the country was among the first nations to approve use of the anti-malaria drug to treat COVID-19 patients.
MOSCOW -- Health officials in the Russian capital have updated numbers on coronavirus deaths, trying to dispel doubts about the nation’s remarkably low COVID-19 mortality.
Moscow’s Health Department said Thursday the coronavirus mortality index for April varies from 1.4% to 2.8% depending on the calculation. The results are significantly lower than those from London, New York and other capitals.
On top of previously reported 636 deaths directly caused by the coronavirus, it added 756 deaths of those who tested positive for the virus but died of other causes and 169 deaths of those who tested negative but likely died of the virus according to autopsies.
Previously, the department counted only deaths directly resulting from the virus, leaving other “excess” deaths that represented a hike over the same period last year unexplained.
That has drawn suspicions from Russian and Western experts, who contend authorities in Moscow and other parts of Russia may have been under-reporting coronavirus deaths for political needs.
ZAGREB, Croatia -- Croatia plans to reopen borders for the citizens of 10 European Union nations as part of efforts to revive tourism after the new coronavirus lockdown.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said at a government session Thursday that travel restrictions will be lifted for citizens of Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. He says the list of countries will be expanded.
Croatia, with one of the weakest economies in the EU, is largely dependent on tourism along the country’s stunning Adriatic Sea coast. The country hopes to salvage as much as possible the summer tourism season after suffering losses the past months.
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