Covid-19 Reopenings and Jitters Around the World

Archbishop of Lima Carlos Castillo swings a censer over some of the more than 4,000 portraits of Covid-19 victims at the Cathedral of Lima, Peru, Sunday. (AP photo/Rodrigo Abd)

LIMA, Peru — Archbishop Carlos Castillo on Sunday looked out over a cathedral full of faces — none of them now alive.

The cleric had filled his church with more than 5,000 portraits of those who have died in the pandemic that is burning across Peru and South America, using his broadcast homily to criticize a health system he said “is based on egotism and on business and not on mercy and solidarity with the people.”

Covid-19 has taken at least 6,400 lives in the nation of some 32 million people — a toll second only to that of Brazil in South America.

Hundreds have died without any help from the health system, and many families have faced financial ruin due to the cost of trying to care for the ill. The nation faces a projected economic contraction of 12% this year, and Castillo called for solidarity with the poor.

“An even harder moment is coming,” he said. “It would be terrible if in the times to come we have thousands of these photos — but dead of hunger.”

Church workers spent days filling the pews with images of coronavirus victims, and when the 84 pews were filled, the archbishop ordered thousands of photos more attached to the base of the columns that rise to the arched ceiling.

Virus Is Out of Control in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s upward spiral of new virus infections neared 145,000 Monday amid warnings from political leaders that the numbers could double by the end of June and were likely to hit a stunning 1.2 million by the end of July if Pakistan’s 220 million people continue to flout basic precautions such as mask wearing.

Planning and Development Minister Asad Umer, who heads the government’s Covid-19 command center, warned that the virus will rampage through Pakistan unless there is “a change in our attitude toward the virus,” that ends the relentless refusal of most in Pakistan to social distance and wear masks in public.

Still, he defended Pakistan’s easing on lockdown restrictions saying the country’s economy would collapse under the burden of a total shutdown. Pakistan has stepped back on some easing of restrictions, closing markets on the weekend and extending closures of large wedding halls, restaurants, gymnasiums and large gatherings.

Pakistan’s doctors have pleaded for stricter lockdowns, saying the struggling health care system is already straining under the escalating numbers of infections. Pakistan has reported 2,729 deaths since mid March, almost certainly an undercount.

France Is Fully Reopening

PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron announced that France is fully reopening its economy, including all restaurants, to accelerate the country’s recovery after virus crisis.

Macron said restaurants in the Paris region will be allowed to open indoor seating starting on Monday. Before then, only outdoor seating was permitted.

Restaurants in other French regions have already reopened.

From June 22, all nursery schools, primary schools and junior high schools will be open and mandatory for students — instead of classes capped to small groups and many children staying at home.

Macron also confirmed that the second round of local elections that have been interrupted by the virus lockdown will take place on June 28.

“We must relaunch our economy,” Macron said.

France is reopening its borders with other European countries at midnight and will start allowing visitors from other continents on July 1.

The country, which has reported at least 29,398 deaths from the virus in hospitals and nursing homes, has been under strict lockdown from March 17 to May 11, before gradually easing restrictions.

Boris Johnson Wants Distancing Eased

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a review of the government’s two-meter (6.5-feet) social distancing rule, saying the falling number of coronavirus cases gives the government “more margin for maneuver” in easing the guideline.

Johnson said that “probably” fewer than one in 1,000 people now have the virus, and the chance of coming in contact with someone who’s infected are increasingly remote.

Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said that officials will be drawing on advice on the issue from economists as well as the government’s scientific and medical advisers.

Conservative lawmakers and businesses have been putting increasing pressure on the government to ease the two-meter rule, saying it will make it extremely difficult for pubs and restaurants to operate.

They say the government in the U.K. can follow other countries and ask people to socially distance at one meter or 1.5 meters.

Putin Says Russia’s Handled Virus Better Than US

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country is emerging from the coronavirus crisis, but that the United States is struggling because it has a fragmented government system.

In an interview on state television Sunday, parts of which were reported before broadcast by news media, Putin said “we are working quite steadily and getting out of this situation with the coronavirus confidently, with minimal losses.”

In the United States, “this is not happening,” he said, and the central and regional governments work more closely in Russia. “I doubt that someone somewhere in the government or in the regions suddenly said: ‘We will not do what the government says or the president says. We consider this inappropriate,'” Putin said.

Ghana Health Minister Infected

ACCRA, Ghana — Ghana’s president said that Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang-Manu has contracted Covid-19 and is undergoing treatment at a hospital.

In a state broadcast Sunday night, President Nana Akufo-Addo said the health minister had “contracted the virus in his line of duty” leading the West African nation’s fight against Covid-19.

Ghana has one of highest number of confirmed cases in Africa because of its robust testing, with more than 11,400 cases and 51 reported deaths.

News of the health minister’s illness fueled worries as Ghana’s universities prepared to reopen Monday so students in their final year of study can take exams.

“If the health minister is contracting the disease, what is the guarantee that my son will be safe?” asked Peter Owusu, who son studies at the University of Cape Coast.

The warning comes a day after the Democractic governor reacted sternly to a short Twitter video from New York City of young people enjoying a warm day packed tightly on a city street, many without masks.

44 More Deaths in Italy on Sunday

MILAN — Italy added 44 deaths from coronavirus on Sunday, with nearly half of those in hardest-hit Lombardy.

While most Italian regions counted fewer than 10 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, with eight regions at zero, Lombardy’s count remained stuck in the triple digits, 244, according to the civil protection agency.

The next-highest number was in neighboring Piedmont, at 30. As of Sunday, more than a month after a gradual easing of lockdown started and nearly two weeks since regional borders opened, the number of people positive for the virus is 26,274 — with 3,800 being treated in hospitals.

No Virus Deaths for 5 Days in Greece

ATHENS, Greece — Greece has announced zero new fatalities for the fifth consecutive day, the longest such run since mid-March.

Fatalities remain at 183, while nine new confirmed cases over the previous 24 hours pushed the total to 3,121.

Thirteen patients remain hooked up to ventilators, while 116 have been discharged from intensive care units, authorities said Sunday.

On Monday, Greece is opening a second airport to international traffic, in Thessaloniki, the country’s second-largest city, to ease into the tourist season. Depending on the country of origin, arriving passengers will be tested at random or will follow the protocol, which mandates that all aboard an arriving flight be tested.

Flights will be allowed only from European Union countries, at least until June 30. But while routes from France, Italy and the Netherlands to Athens will resume Monday, the ban remains in Thessaloniki.

Also, land travel with Bulgaria, the only neighboring country that is also an EU member, will be permitted beginning Monday.

Greece’s museums reopen Monday, after a three-month shutdown. Masks, social distancing and limits to groups will be enforced.

Infections Rise After Turkey Eases Restrictions

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is “moving away from the target,” the country’s health minister warned Sunday as the daily number of new coronavirus cases rose above 1,500 after relaxation of restrictions.

Fahrettin Koca tweeted that 1,562 new cases were recorded over the previous 24 hours, the highest daily figure since June 3.

Reporting 1,330 recoveries, he said: “Our number of recovered patients fell below the number of new cases. The need for intensive care and respiratory equipment is rising.”

Koca also reported 15 deaths due to coronavirus, taking the total since the first case on March 11 to 4,807. Turkey has recorded 178,239 coronavirus cases.

At the start of June, the government authorized cafés, restaurants, gyms, parks, beaches and museums to reopen and eased stay-at-home orders for the elderly and young.

A weekend curfew that was due to be implemented last week was canceled, ending the series of part-time lockdowns in place since April.

Koca called for people to switch to a period of “controlled social life” from Monday to halt the rise in cases.

Egypt Hopes to Draw Tourists Despite Virus

CAIRO — Egypt says it will resume international flights starting July 1 with countries that will open its airports.

Minister of Civil Aviation Mohammed Manar said on Sunday that all of the country’s airports will be reopened, allowing travelers around the world to return to parts of the country less affected by the coronavirus.

Antiquities and Tourism Minister Khaled el-Anany said the government will open three provinces to tourists on July 1.

Those include the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula, home to the major resort and beach destination of Sharm el Sheikh, the Red Sea resort areas of Hurghada and Marsa Alam, as well as Marsa Matrouh, on the Mediterranean coast.

The government hopes to draw tourists to popular yet remote attractions that have been spared the ravages of the virus.

The decision comes even as the pandemic surges in the Arab world’s most populous country, which has at least 1,484 deaths among 42,980 confirmed cases.

El Salvador Reopening Against Wishes of President

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — El Salvador’s president says that a stringent quarantine imposed to fight Covid-19 has legally expired and a gradual reopening of the economy will begin Tuesday.

The Central American nation’s Supreme Court ruled that the strict measures decreed by President Nayib Bukele were unconstitutional and Bukele said Saturday night that he will veto the alternative restrictions passed Friday by the National Assembly.

As a result, he said, by law the region’s most restrictive legal lockdown has ended, though he asked citizens to continue in quarantine voluntarily until Tuesday, when phased measures to reactivate economic life would begin.

Under Bukele’s stay-at-home decrees, violators were sent to government-run containment centers for monthlong stays. He had resisted loosening the orders, saying the country’s medical system could be quickly overwhelmed, resulting in much greater loss of life.

Health Minister Francisco Alabí said the nation’s health system is already strained, with 90 of its 105 intensive care beds already occupied. He said he expected to see an increase in Covid-19 cases with the end of restrictions.

The country of nearly 6.5 million people has reported 3,603 confirmed cases of the disease, with 72 deaths.

%d bloggers like this: