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.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Countries and U.S. states are moving to reopen gradually amid warnings that acting too quickly could enable the virus to come back with a vengeance.
— Britain reports a sharp increase in the number of daily deaths from COVID-19 despite believing peak may have passed.
— The head of the U.N. food agency warns that the world is on the brink of a hunger pandemic.
LONDON — The British government says an additional 823 people with the new coronavirus have died in U.K. hospitals, a sharp increase on the previous day’s daily increase of 449.
The number of people dying in hospitals traditionally has spiked sharply on Tuesday following a Monday decline that has been attributed to reporting delays related to the weekend.
In total, 17,337 people have died in U.K. hospitals after testing positive for the coronavirus. The country’s death toll is the fourth highest in Europe, behind Italy, Spain and France, which have all reported more than 20,000 deaths.
However, there has been increasing scrutiny of the U.K. figures in recent days because they don’t include those who died in care homes or elsewhere in the community.
Earlier, scientists said there are signs the virus peak may have passed. Using data from the Office for National Statistics for England and Wales, which account for around 90% of the U.K. population, a panel convened by the Science Media Centre said the peak likely occurred on April 8.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti is preparing for the arrival of 129 deportees from the U.S., some of whom officials fear might be infected with COVID-19.
Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe says the flight is scheduled to arrive Tuesday.
Jouthe told Radio Vision 2000 on Monday that three of 68 people previously deported from the U.S. have tested positive. He said the entire group was placed under a two-week quarantine in a hotel financed by the government.
Jouthe said another group of at least 280 migrants expelled by the Turks and Caicos government also are under quarantine.
Haiti has reported more than 50 coronavirus cases and three deaths.
UNITED NATIONS — The head of the U.N. food agency is warning that as the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic it is also “on the brink of a hunger pandemic” that could lead to “multiple famines of biblical proportions” within a few months if immediate action isn’t taken.
World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that even before COVID-19 became an issue he was telling world leaders that “2020 would be facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.” That’s because of wars, locust swarms in Africa, natural disasters and economic crises.
Beasley said 821 million people go to bed hungry every night all over the world, 135 million more people are facing “crisis levels of hunger or worse” and a new World Food Program analysis shows that as a result of COVID-19 an additional 130 million people “could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.”
He said WFP is providing food to nearly 100 million people on any given day, including “about 30 million people who literally depend on us to stay alive.”
Beasley, who is recovering from COVID-19, said if those people can’t be reached, “our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period,” and that doesn’t include increased starvation due to the coronavirus.
He warned that in a worst-case scenario “we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries.”
Beasley urged greater humanitarian access, coordinated action to deliver aid, an end to trade disruptions and accelerated and increased funding including $350 million to set up a network of logistics hubs and transport systems to keep supply chains running worldwide.
TIRANA, Albania — The European Union has donated 20,000 coronavirus tests to Albania.
The EU ambassador in Tirana, Luigi Soreca, says the bloc gave the tests to the Balkan nation to better calibrate the local health laboratories’ equipment.
“The more reliable are the tests, the more effective is the fight,” he wrote Tuesday on Twitter.
Last month the European Union agreed to launch full membership negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.
The virus has infected 609 people in Albania and killed 26, as of Tuesday.
Albania is in a total lockdown since mid-March, with all border crossings closed, private and public transport blocked, and schools, cafes, restaurants and gyms shut. One person per family may go out for 90 minutes a day for shopping or other most needed services.
This week the government started a gradual ease of the restrictions, letting most of the small businesses and the country’s big industries like mining and oil resume work.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has ordered all liquor stores to close indefinitely, as a part of its stringent measures aimed at containing the spread of the new coronavirus.
The government’s decision came amid warnings by the doctors’ union and association, which cautioned that consumption of alcohol can exacerbate health vulnerability, risk-taking behavior, mental health issues and violence. They also warned that it could disrupt social distancing guidelines.
Doctors’ warnings came as the number of confirmed cases rose to 310. Seven people have died while 102 have recovered.
Liquor stores and bars were opened on Monday in some parts of the country, after the government partially lifted a monthlong curfew during which all liquor shops remained close.
Sri Lanka had been under a 24-hour curfew since March 20. It was lifted during daytime hours in more than two-thirds of the country on Monday and will continue in the remaining districts including the capital, Colombo, until next week.
The curfew will remain in effect from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. until further notice.
PARIS — The palace of Monaco says its ruler, Prince Albert, has decided to cut the palace spending by about 40% amid the coronavirus crisis.
Albert, who announced last month he had contracted the virus, has decided to extend confinement measures in the Mediterranean principality until May 3.
In a statement Tuesday, the palace said Monaco’s budget will be “very deeply impacted” by the consequences of the pandemic, leading to an estimated deficit of 500 million euros ($543 million) this year due to emergency measures to support the economy and a planned decrease of the state revenues.
The operational budget for the palace will drop from 13.2 million euros to 8 million euros ($14.3 million to $8.7 million).
ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says the easing of lockdown restrictions will be gradual and evenly distributed throughout the country.
Italians have been eagerly awaiting to learn what limits they still will have on their personal, social and work life after the government decree on restrictive measures expires on May 3.
In a speech to the Senate on Tuesday, Conte gave no specifics on what his center-left government would mandate after evaluating recommendations on how to continue to contain Italy’s devastating COVID-19 outbreak from the fields of science, business, labor and psychology. But he said the country would see a “progressive, homogenous opening up” of the country across all of Italy.
The north, which is Italy’s most productive industrial region and also the most stricken with infections, has been pushing for a resumption of factories and other businesses that so far have been considered nonessential. Conte cautioned against haste.
“Any imprudence or rashness in this phase, dictated by the legitimate desire to get going again, can compromise all the sacrifices that citizens have made with responsibility and discipline up to now," Conte said.
ANKARA, Turkey — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes Turkey has reached a plateau in cases of the new coranavirus.
In an address to officials from his ruling party on Tuesday, Erdogan said Turkey could “transition to a normal life” in June, following a holiday that marks the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan — as long as measures aimed at curbing the virus’ spread are adhered to.
Erdogan described the pandemic as the “biggest crisis since the Second World War in terms of the economic impact.”
Turkey has reported 90,980 coronavirus cases and 2,140 deaths. The country is imposing weekend curfews and among other measures has banned people above the age of 65 and below the age of 20 from leaving homes.
ISTANBUL — A Turkish media report says a British air force plane has arrived in Istanbul to transport medical equipment back to Britain.
The DHA news agency said the military cargo plane landed at Istanbul Airport on Tuesday and is scheduled to take off after a consignment of medical equipment is loaded onto it.
British officials have been scrambling to source much-needed personal protective equipment for medical staff and said a consignment of 84 tons, including 400,000 gowns, would arrive from Turkey.
MADRID — Spain will begin allowing children age 14 and younger out of their homes starting next week, though they must be accompanied by an adult they live with and their movements will be limited.
Government spokeswoman María Jesús Montero says that beginning Monday, younger children can go along on family errands to the supermarket, pharmacy or bank. Those between the ages of 15 and 17 already were allowed. There will be no time limit, and the children won't be required to wear masks.
Montero said Tuesday after the government’s weekly Cabinet meeting that the children have been inside for the past five weeks and are unlikely to be infected with the new coronavirus. Restrictions on movement are part of the country’s state of emergency rules.
Spain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at more than 21,200, behind only the United States and Italy, and the country has imposed one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.
WASHINGTON — This year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee has been canceled after U.S. organizers concluded there is “no clear path to safely set a new date in 2020” because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision announced Tuesday by Scripps means kids who are in eighth grade this year will miss their final opportunity to compete in the national finals. Scripps won't change eligibility requirements for next year’s bee, which is scheduled for June 1-3, 2021, at a convention center outside Washington.
Televised by ESPN since 1994, the bee had only previously been canceled in 1943-45 because of World War II. The first Scripps bee was held in 1925.
MINSK, Belarus — The World Health Organization is urging the government of Belarus to cancel public events and implement measures to ensure physical and social distancing amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement released Tuesday, a team of WHO experts who had assessed the country’s response to the pandemic said the country “needs to introduce community-wide steps to increase physical distancing,” postpone “large gatherings, including sports, religious and cultural events,” introduce options “for teleworking, and distance learning for schools, universities and other educational institutions” and suspend nonessential business.”
Belarus has registered 6,264 coronavirus cases and 51 deaths and remains one of the few countries affected by the pandemic that hasn’t gone into lockdown or imposed restrictions on public life in order to halt the spread of the virus. Factories, stores and restaurants conduct business as usual in Belarus, stands at sports events are filled with spectators and masks are a rare sight in the capital of Minsk.
President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet nation with an iron fist for more than two decades, has repeatedly dismissed concerns about the pandemic as “coronapsychosis.” On Monday, he allowed the country’s schools to reopen after an extended spring break. On Sunday, he attended an Easter church service with his 15-year-old son.
The government has also refused to evacuate its stranded citizens from abroad unless they pay the air fare and cover state costs of organizing flights. Several thousands of Belarusians are currently stuck abroad, unable to return home amid worldwide closure of border and flight halts.
NEW DELHI, India — Indian authorities say they have arrested 29 people, including 16 foreign nationals who participated in an Islamic missionary meeting last month in New Delhi that resulted in a large cluster of coronavirus cases in the country.
The foreigners include nationals from Indonesia and Thailand.
A local university professor who had arranged the shelter for Indonesians in a mosque in the Indian city of Allahabad was also arrested, police officer Brijesh Kumar Shrivastava said Tuesday.
He said the arrested have been booked on charges of violating the Foreigners Act and colluding with one another on providing shelter to foreign nationals and shielding information about them from the police.
One of the Indonesians had earlier tested positive for COVID-19 and the arrested have been kept in isolation, police said.
In India, the global Muslim missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat came under fire when the government blamed it for a surge in the number of coronavirus cases.
India has 18,601 confirmed cases of the virus, and authorities have linked more than 4,200 cases to the missionary meeting.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Police in Bosnia have begun moving hundreds of migrants and refugees off the streets of the northwestern city of Bihac and transferring them into a nearby emergency tent camp speedily set up amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The tent camp Lipa, where migrants and refugees were being bused Tuesday, can accommodate up to 1,000 people, according to the International Organization for Migration, which manages all such facilities in Bosnia.
The tent camp was “equipped with all necessary infrastructure to provide the beneficiaries with … accommodation, food, hygiene, sanitation and medical care,” IOM said in a statement.
The organization previously reported serious overcrowding in six migrant centers it has been running in the country since 2018, when previous migration routes to Western Europe from the Balkans closed off and the migration shifted toward Bosnia.
The six camps were housing 6,200 people, or nearly 20% more than they were before the coronavirus outbreak in Bosnia in mid-March.
Despite strict social distancing measures imposed by the authorities, some 1,500 migrants and refugees were estimated last week to be sleeping in squalid and insanitary conditions in Bihac and several other cities in the northwestern Krajina region bordering the European Union member Croatia.
As of Tuesday, Bosnia’s coronavirus caseload reached 1,342, with 51 deaths.