THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government said homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages because of the coronavirus crisis will not be evicted, as countries around the world adopted a raft of sometimes conflicting policies to deal with the pandemic.
Banks, housing organizations and the ministry of environment and housing issued a statement Tuesday pledging not to kick people out of their homes in the coming months as restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus wreak a devastating economic toll.
If people whose income has been hammered by the measures are unable to make monthly repayments, “mortgage providers together with homeowners will seek solutions” and not force them to sell their home, the statement says.
The exception to the no-eviction pledge is if a person is found to be running illegal activities in their home, such as a drug lab.
Russia Reports More Than 1,000 New Cases Tuesday
MOSCOW — Russian authorities registered more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak.
The government coronavirus task force reported 1,154 new cases Tuesday, bringing the country’s total caseload to 7,497, with 58 deaths and 494 recoveries.
The epidemic in Russia picked up speed in March, with the number of cases growing exponentially and doubling every few days.
To curb the outbreak, President Vladimir Putin ordered everyone to stay off work this month, with only essential businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies operating. The vast majority of Russian regions are on lockdown, ordering residents to self-isolate at home and not go out, unless it’s to buy groceries, medications, walk their dogs or take out trash.
China and Russia Close a Land Border
BEIJING — China and Russia are closing their land border and river port near Vladivostok after the discovery of 59 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus among Chinese citizens returning home via the crossing.
Beginning Tuesday, all Chinese citizens who arrive in the border region aboard Russian domestic flights will be forced to undergo a 14-day quarantine, according to a notice posted on the website of the Chinese consulate in Vladivostok.
Only those holding special passes will then be permitted to travel on the Russian side of the border area, the notice said. It wasn’t clear whether pass holders would be able to cross into China.
In addition, all guesthouses and nursing homes on the Russian side of the border area will be closed to outsiders through June 1, the notice said.
“Here, the consulate general strongly recommends and reminds relevant Chinese citizens to fully take into consideration the above situation” and not seek to return to China through the border crossing, the notice said.
South African Infections Exceed 10,000
JOHANNESBURG — The African continent has reported more than 10,000 coronavirus cases, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fifty-two of Africa’s 54 countries have reported the virus, with island nation Sao Tome e Principe the latest to confirm cases.
Only the small kingdom of Lesotho and the island nation of Comoros have not confirmed cases. South Africa has the most reported cases on the continent with more than 1,600.
The shortage of testing capabilities across the continent has raised concerns that the number of actual cases in Africa could be higher.
Denmark Plans to Reopen Primary Schools
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark says it is planning to reopen kindergartens and primary schools next week for students up to age 11 in a gradual lifting of the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said late Monday that her government planned to open schools for younger students up until fifth grade first because the requirement to care for them represented a greater burden on society. Reopening is planned for April 15.
She said restaurants, bars and cafés would remain closed for now. Churches, libraries, sports venues and shopping centers also would remain closed until at least May 10.
Denmark will keep in force border controls and ban gatherings of more than 10 people at least until May 10.
Frederiksen said the gradual easing of the lockdown would take place only if the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases remains stable and there is no major hike by Easter.
South Korea Will Try Plasma Treatment
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it will soon announce a guideline for hospitals on experimental coronavirus treatments using donated plasma from patients who survived.
Kwon Jun-wook, with South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday the guideline will draw from the country’s experience with similar treatments on patients who contracted the MERS virus during an outbreak in 2015.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, discovered in 2012, is caused by a coronavirus in the same family as the common cold, SARS, and the new virus that’s causing the Covid-19 illness. The 2015 outbreak killed 36 people and infected nearly 200 in South Korea.
Kwon said officials were examining recent recoveries of two elderly Covid-19 patients at a hospital in Seoul who had been infused with survivors’ plasma — the liquid part of blood that contains antibodies — after other treatment attempts failed to improve their conditions.
He cautioned there’s still no guarantee that plasma treatment will work, and that health authorities and civilian experts are continuing to debate its effectiveness.
Also in Seoul on Tuesday, South Korea’s professional baseball league says it hopes to start practice games between teams on April 21 before possibly opening the season in early May.
The Korea Baseball Organization said the plans were contingent on the country’s coronavirus caseload continuing to slow.
The KBO will advise players to wear face masks in locker rooms and require them to download smartphone apps to report their daily health status to league officials.
South Korea reported 47 new cases for the second consecutive day Tuesday, the smallest daily toll since Feb. 20, as infections continued to wane in the worst-hit city of Daegu. The country was reporting around 500 new cases per day in early March.
The KBO announced in March that it was postponing the start of its season, but that it still hoped to maintain a 144-game regular-season schedule.
New Zealand Declares Easter Bunny an Essential Worker
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has decided there is some magic in the world after officially declaring children’s favorites the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are essential workers.
That means they can carry on with their work while others stay at home during a monthlong lockdown.
“You will be pleased to know that we do consider both the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny to be essential workers,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday. “But, as you can imagine at this time, of course, they are going to potentially be quite busy at home with their family as well and their own bunnies.”
Japan Enlists Soldiers in Virus Fight
TOKYO — Japan’s Defense Ministry said it has sent a group of soldiers to a Tokyo hotel to prepare rooms for Covid-19 patients with no or slight symptoms to stay.
It is an attempt to relieve overburdened hospitals and save beds for patients with more serious symptoms as Tokyo sees the number of cases surge. The Defense Ministry said 10 soldiers were to support the transfer of the patients, deliver meals and provide other assistance.
The measure, under the health ministry’s new medical care guideline for the coronavirus, is designed to relieve overburdened hospitals amid a growing fear of a medical system collapse. Monday’s pilot case began at Toyoko Inn, where about 100 people can stay in single rooms while being monitored.
The step came hours before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures later Tuesday to bolster social-distancing measures in the hard-hit areas.
Tokyo has seen a surge of new cases since late March, with its city total doubling every few days to 1,116 as of Monday, a sign experts regard as an infection explosion. Nationwide, Japan has 4,618 cases, including 712 from a cruise ship.