Families with their children play along the Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Spanish authorities are reporting no setbacks in their gradual easing of restrictions on movement over this past month, as some regions prepare to further loosen limits from June 1. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

The Latest: US sends Brazil malaria drug for COVID-19

May 31, 2020 - 5:37 pm

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:

— US sends Brazil malaria drug unproven for COVID-19 treatment.

— Egypt reports its highest number of infections, deaths.

— Turkey opens COVID-19 hospitals.

— Pandemic doesn’t stop Yosemite student newspaper.

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. has sent to Brazil more than 2 million doses of a malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump as potentially protecting against and treating the coronavirus, even though scientific evidence has not backed up those uses.

No large, rigorous scientific studies have found the drug, hydroxychloroquine, safe or effective for preventing or treating COVID-19, and some smaller studies have indicated worse outcomes from those taking the drug.

Brazil, now Latin America’s hardest-hit country, continues to see a surge in virus cases, and last week Trump announced that the U.S. was restricting travel from the country to prevent travelers from spreading the virus in the U.S.

In a joint statement with the Brazilian government on Sunday, the White House said the doses of hydroxychloroquine had been sent to Brazil as a prophylactic for front-line health workers and as a therapeutic for those who may come down with the virus. The White House said it was also delivering 1,000 ventilators to Brazil.

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CAIRO — Egypt’s Health Ministry reported its highest-ever number of infections and deaths from the coronavirus.

The ministry said Sunday there were 46 deaths in the last 24 hours, jumping from 34 the previous day. There were also 1,536 confirmed cases.

Egypt, a country of 100 million people, has seen a surge in infections in the past week. It has the highest announced deaths from COVID-19 in the Arab World, and the third in the Middle East behind Iran and Turkey, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

Sunday’s figures have taken the tally in the Arab World’s most populous country to 24,985 confirmed cases and 959 deaths. The ministry says over 6,000 patients were discharged from quarantine after their recovery.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Two hospitals for coronavirus patients were opened in Istanbul as Turkey’s daily number of new cases fell to its lowest since the peak of the outbreak.

“Thank God, we prevented the spread of the pandemic even without needing the additional capacity we created here,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday as he opened a 1,008-bed hospital, built over 45 days on the site of the former Ataturk airport.

Turkey recorded 839 cases over the previous 24 hours, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted, taking the total to 163,942 since the first infection was announced on March 11. There were 25 coronavirus-related deaths over the same period, bringing the toll to 4,540.

Turkey ranks 10th worldwide for the number of virus cases, according to John Hopkins University, although experts believe the rate of infections globally could be much higher than reported.

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ATHENS, Greece — For the third day in a row, no new COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Greece.

Authorities said Sunday that, since Saturday afternoon, only two new cases have been reported, raising the total to 2,917. The number of fatalities remains at 175.

Also, 13 patients are hooked to ventilators, while 106 have left intensive care.

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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California — Yosemite National Park has been closed to the public for nearly three months and a few dozen lucky children have had it mostly to themselves.

They are student journalists who put out the Yosemite Valley School newspaper.

Their parents are Yosemite’s essential staff who live in a residential area of the park and are watching over it while it’s closed.

The pandemic hasn’t stopped the presses on the school year’s last edition of “The Yosemite Eye.” The publication has charmed its community and has a circulation of 5,000.

Naturally, the upcoming June edition will feature some stories on coronavirus, from the children’s perspective.

Talleulah Barend, a fifth grader, is writing about how video games are helping people socialize. There is a story on making masks, and a word search featuring coronavirus keywords, like “Zoom.” Graduating eighth graders who are leaving to attend a high school outside the park usually get to give speeches. The paper will publish those.

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ROME — Italy registered 355 new coronavirus cases and 75 deaths, some of the lowest such numbers since the nation’s lockdown against the pandemic began in early March. Italy now totals 233,019 known cases of COVID-19 and 33,415 deaths.

But health experts say many people with no or mild symptoms likely didn’t get tested and note that many died in residences for the elderly or in their own homes also without being tested for the virus.

The latest figures from the health ministry come three days before Italy lifts a lockdown rule against travel for tourism between Italian regions and from most European countries.

This prospect has made some governors nervous in regions which have been relatively less hard hit in the pandemic.

Sicily’s governor, Nello Musemeci told the Corriere della Sera daily that if vacationers come from places such as northern Lombardy, Italy’s most stricken region, they should be prepared to indicate “day-by-day” whereabouts so they can be traced while visiting the Mediterranean island in case of infection.

For 10 days straight, Lombardy has been the only region in the country with daily increases of cases in the three digits, registering 210 confirmed infections in patients in the 24-hour period ending Sunday.

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JOHANNESBURG — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says that China has pledged to make available 30 million COVID-19 testing kits per month to African countries, which are facing a shortage of the materials to test for the disease.

Ramaphosa, currently the chairman of the African Union, told journalists that Chinese President Xi Jinping had pledged that Chinese companies would make available the testing kits as well as 10,000 ventilators per month and 80 million masks per month to African countries.

Ramaphosa didn't specify if the equipment would be donated or sold to African countries. South Africa, which has the continent’s highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 30,967 and 643 deaths, has faced a shortage of testing kits and other equipment.

The shortage of testing materials and ventilators has been a problem for all the countries of Africa, which have had to compete with richer countries for the equipment. The coronavirus is spreading steadily but relatively slowly across Africa, with the continent’s 54 countries reporting 141,535 cases and 4,069 deaths, according to figures provided Sunday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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LONDON — Britain has announced new plans to help the homeless, pledging to provide 6,000 new “supported homes’’ as the country moves to lift the lockdown put in place to stall COVID-19.

The measure builds on the work of a task force that succeeded in bringing 15,000 homeless people off the streets and into hotels during the pandemic.

The head of task force, Louise Casey, warned that “the pandemic is not over” and vulnerable people must still be protected.

But she praised the “absolutely extraordinary response” from charities and businesses. She says it has been “a heartening example of what we can do when we need to do it, and the best of Britain in this time of crisis.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said Sunday that the government is offering 433 million pounds ($534 million) for the new accommodation.

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MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he will ask Spain’s Parliament for a final two-week extension of the nation’s state of emergency that has allowed the government to take lockdown measures to control its coronavirus outbreak.

Sánchez says this will be “the last, definitive extension of 15 days.”

The current state of emergency is set to expire on June 7. The government will ask for the extension in the coming days.

The lockdown measures have succeeded to reining in a COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed at least 27,000 lives in Spain.

Sánchez says this final stretch of the lockdown will include the handing back of control over health care to the regions that have shown the most progress in containing the virus.

“We have almost reached safe harbor,” Sánchez said.

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis cheerfully greeted people in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, as he resumed his practice of speaking to the faithful there for the first time since a coronavirus lockdown began in Italy and at the Vatican in early March.

“Today the square is open, we can return to it with pleasure,’’ Francis said.

Instead of the tens of thousands of people who might have turned out on a similarly brilliantly sunny day like in pre-pandemic times, perhaps a few hundred came to the square on Sunday, standing well apart from others or in small family groups.

Until June 3, people aren’t allowed to travel between regions in Italy or arrive from abroad for tourism, so the people in the square came from Rome or places in the region.

Francis cited those who have been infected by the virus or who died in the Amazon region, especially the “particularly vulnerable” indigenous people. He prayed that no one in the world lack medical assistance, especially due to economic priorities.

“Persons are more important than the economy,” Francis said.

Noting this was the first time he could greet people in the square for weeks, Francis said that “one doesn’t emerge from a crisis the same. You either come out better or you come out worse.” He said he’d be back to greet them next Sunday in the same place at noon, smiling and pointing down to the vast square far below his studio window.

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BEIJING — A German engineer who flew to China on a special charter flight Saturday has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Tianjin city government said in a social media post that the 34-year-old man from Blaustein, Germany, had a body temperature of 36.3 Celsius (97.3 Fahrenheit) and no COVID-19 symptoms. It did not give his name. He has been transferred to a hospital where he will be kept for medical observation.

About 200 people arrived on the chartered Lufthansa A340 from Frankfurt. A second flight is scheduled to depart on Wednesday for Shanghai.

China has banned most foreigners from entering the country to try to prevent the introduction of new infections, but agreed to allow the two German flights to bring back businesspeople as it tries to revive economic growth after the coronavirus shutdowns.

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s daily death toll from the coronavirus is climbing, hitting a new high of 88 overnight, amid reports of acute care bed shortages and near daily warnings from health professionals to tighten lockdown measures.

The government, however, has kept mosques open, urging safe distancing but not enforcing the rules.

In the latest reduction of restrictions, the government has withdrawn the limits on congregations in mosques and churches in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where minorities make up less than 5% of the population of 220 million.

Pakistan has confirmed 69,496 cases of the coronavirus, including 1,483 deaths.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Tens of thousands of mosques across Saudi Arabia have reopened for the first time in more than two months.

Worshipers have been ordered to follow strict guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Islam’s holiest site in Mecca remains closed to the public.

Also Sunday, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem that had been closed since mid-March reopened for prayers. Worshipers waited outside the gates, many wearing surgical masks. As they entered, they were stopped to have their temperature taken.

The new measures come as Saudi Arabia and other countries around the world begin to loosen restrictions following weeks of curfews and lockdowns.

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BRISBANE, Australia — COVID-19 restrictions are easing in most of Australia, but authorities say they’ll be watching carefully to ensure the country’s success in containing the pandemic remains on track.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth says the lifting of restrictions is a balancing act between the socio-economic benefit from their removal and the public health risk.

“We’re taking a deliberately safe and cautious approach,” Coatsworth said. “Most importantly we’re taking the time to gather the data over the coming weeks to determine whether it’s safe to move to the next round of lifting restrictions.”

Coronavirus cases remain low in Australia by international standards, with 7,180 infections and 103 deaths.

The more flexible restrictions, which differ across the states, will mean more movement in public places, including pubs, cafes, and restaurants. But authorities have renewed their call for safe hygiene and social distancing measures to remain.

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NEW DELHI, India — India has recorded more than 8,000 new cases of the coronavirus in a single day for the first time as the infection tally surged to 182,143.

The death toll climbed to 5,164 after 193 fatalities were recorded in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry data. This week has been the deadliest in India, with cases of infections and deaths reaching a new high almost every day.

Overall, more than 60% of the country’s virus fatalities have been reported from only two states — Maharashtra, the financial hub of India, and Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The new cases of infections are also largely concentrated in six Indian states, including the national capital New Delhi.

Public health experts have criticized the Modi government’s handling of the outbreak. A joint statement by the Indian Public Health Association, Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine and Indian Association of Epidemiologists, which was submitted to Modi’s office on May 25, said it was “unrealistic” to eliminate the virus at a time when “community transmission is already well-established.”

India has denied of any community transmission of the virus even though new cases have continued to mount significantly.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 27 new cases of the coronavirus, including 21 from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where officials have been scrambling to stem transmissions linked to club-goers and warehouse workers.

The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday brought national totals to 11,468 cases and 270 deaths. Twelve of the new cases were linked to international arrivals.

South Korea was reporting about 500 new cases per day in early March but had seemed to stabilize its outbreak with aggressive tracking and tracing, which allowed authorities to ease social distancing guidelines.

But cases in the greater capital area have been rising steadily again since May amid increased public activity, causing alarm as millions of children have begun returning to schools.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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