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The Latest: South Korea raises testing of European arrivals

The Latest: South Korea raises testing of European arrivals

By The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 336,000 people and killed more than 14,600. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 98,300 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

– South Korea testing passengers from Europe to prevent illness from re-entering.

– Singapore Airlines cutting 96% of its capacity through April.

– Limited movement now allowed in Chinese city of Wuhan.

Canada calls for Olympic postponement, won’t send team this summer.

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South Korea says it tested more than 1,440 passengers arriving from Europe for the coronavirus as the country tightens border controls to prevent the illness from re-entering from the West.

The office of Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun on Monday said 152 of the passengers who arrived on Sunday were tested at airport isolation facilities after exhibiting fever or respiratory symptoms.

The office says the other 1,290 passengers were taken to an employee training center of the SK business group in Incheon and that six of them have so far been sent home after testing negative.

South Korea began testing all passengers arriving from Europe on Sunday and enforcing 14-day quarantines on South Korean nationals arriving from Europe and foreigners entering the country from Europe on long-term stay visas.

Chung says his government is also considering expanding the measures to passengers arriving from North America.

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SINGAPORE – Singapore Airlines says it will cut 96% of its capacity until the end of April as international travel is hit by tightening of border controls to battle COVID-19.

The airline says it will ground 138 planes out of its total fleet of 147 in the biggest challenge it has ever faced. It says its low-cost unit Scoot will also suspend most of its network, grounding 47 out of its fleet of 49 aircraft.

The move came as Singapore announced it will completely shut its borders to all travelers from Tuesday in a drastic move to slow the virus spread. The city state has recorded 455 cases with two deaths.

Singapore Airlines said in a statement Monday that it is unclear when it can resume normal services. It said it is taking steps to build up its liquidity, while reducing operating costs and capital expenditure. It is also in talks to defer delivery and payment of new aircraft.

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HONOLULU – A cruise ship that had to cut short its trip because of the coronavirus and mechanical problems docked Sunday in Honolulu’s harbor.

The Norwegian Jewel, which carried about 2,000 passengers, docked in the late afternoon, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The ship has problems with its propulsion, which will be repaired at Honolulu’s harbor, the Hawaii Department of Transportation said. The repairs to the ship must be made without passengers aboard, the department added.

“A detailed plan is being developed with Norwegian Cruise Line that keeps passengers isolated to avoid any potential strain on Hawaii’s resources, while also addressing the well-being of the cruise line passengers who have been at sea for a very long time,” said Jade Butay, director of the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

The ship had to cut short its 23-day cruise of Australia and French Polynesia because many ports were closed due to the coronavirus, the ship’s owner, Norwegian Cruise Line, said in a statement. The passengers last disembarked in Fiji on March 11, the transportation department said.

Charter flights have been arranged for ship passengers on Monday and Tuesday from Honolulu to Los Angeles; Sydney; London; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Frankfurt, Germany, the company said.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka police said on Monday that they have detained 1,589 people and seized hundr of vehicles for breaching a three-day curfew which has been imposed as part of strict measures designed to contain the spreading of the coronavirus.

Law enforcement agencies have been strictly implementing the curfew as the Indian Ocean island nation is struggling to prevent further spreading of the virus which has so far infected 82 people, a majority of which have returned recently from Italy.

On Monday, police said the 1,589 people were arrested and detained by police during patrols to ensure that people stay in their homes. Some of the suspects were arrested for boozing at public places, some were loitering on streets and some were driving during the curfew. Police have also seized 362 vehicles in which people traveled during the curfew hours.

The island-wide curfew that was imposed on Friday was removed for a few houses in some parts on Monday while in other parts, the curfew will continue until Tuesday.

The government says 3,458 people who have recently returned from Italy, South Korea, Britain and India are being held at 45 quarantine centers across the country.

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BEIJING – The central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus outbreak emerged, is now allowing for limited movement within and outward as its months-long lockdown gradually eases.

The municipal government said in a Monday notice that residents whose health is classified as “green” on an electronic database will be allowed to leave their residential neighborhoods if they have proof that they are returning to work.

Public transportation is being revived, while checkpoints between different districts are being dismantled.

Individuals who want to leave Wuhan for other parts of the province of Hubei – but not beyond it – can apply to do so with medical documentation, including the results of a COVID-19 test.

Wuhan has the bulk of China’s more than 81,000 virus cases. The first infections were reported there, and it was also the first city to be locked down.

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NEW YORKNew York City hospitals are just 10 days from running out of “really basic supplies,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said late Sunday.

“If we don’t get the equipment, we’re literally going to lose lives,” de Blasio told CNN.

De Blasio has called upon the federal government to boost the city’s quickly dwindling supply of protective equipment. The city also faces a potentially deadly dearth of ventilators to treat those infected by the coronavirus.

Health care workers also warned of the worsening shortages, saying they were being asked to reuse and ration disposable masks and gloves.

New York City hospitals scrambled Sunday to accommodate a new swell of patients, dedicating new COVID-19 wings in their facilities. It remained “extremely busy” at Northwell hospitals, a spokesman said, adding their intensive care units were filling up.

“A number of hospitals have reported that they are becoming overwhelmed,” said Jonah Allon, a spokeswoman for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

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TORONTO – Canada says it won’t attend the Olympics this summer, calling for a postponement for a year.

The Canadian Olympic Committee sent out a statement Sunday night saying it’s refusing to send a team to Tokyo unless the Games, which are scheduled to start on July 24, are pushed back by 12 months.

The COC’s statement comes amid criticism of the International Olympic Committee’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean low-cost airline Eastar Jet says it will shut down all flights, becoming the first South Korean carrier to do so amid a sharp decline in travel over the global coronavirus crisis.

The company on Monday said it will temporarily suspend its domestic flights from Tuesday to April 25 because of decreased demand.

Eastar, which had flown to various places in Asia and Russia’s Vladivostok, halted its last international routes earlier this month when Japan began enforcing 14-day quarantines on passengers arriving from South Korea.

South Korean carriers have been cutting back or suspending flights amid the global spread of COVID-19. Other budget carriers such as Air Seoul, Air Busan and T’Way Air are currently operating only domestic flights after suspending their international services.

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BEIJING – China’s National Health Commission on Monday reported 39 new cases of COVID-19, all of which it says are “imported” infections in recent arrivals from overseas.

For more than a week, the majority of mainland China’s reported cases have been found in people coming from other countries, while community transmission inside the country has dwindled, according to the National Health Commission.

Seeking to prevent a resurgence of the virus, which first emerged late last year in central China, the government is imposing a strict quarantine on individuals entering the country.

Beginning Monday, all flights into Beijing will be diverted to one of 12 airports in other cities. Passengers must pass a health inspection in one of those cities before flying onward to the Chinese capital. They must then quarantine themselves in a hotel for 14 days at their own expense.

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TOKYO – Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that a postponement of the Olympics is unavoidable if it cannot be held in a complete way due to the coronavirus impact.

He was commenting on the International Olympic Committee plan to examine the situation over the next few weeks and make a decision, which could include a postponement option.

Abe, speaking at a parliamentary session, ruled out a possibility of a cancellation.

Whether Japan can hold the Tokyo Games as planned on July 24 has been a major international concern as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread globally, especially hitting hard Europe and the U.S.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand will go into a full lockdown for about four weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday.

She said the lockdown will begin in 48 hours’ time. People must stay at home and all non-essential businesses and activities cease.

The decision came as health officials announced another 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 102. Most of those cases have been traced to people returning from overseas but crucially two of the cases could not be traced and officials believe are evidence of a local outbreak.

Ardern said there would be an unprecedented level of economic and social disruption as a result of the lockdown.

“I do not underestimate what I’m asking New Zealanders to do,” she said. “It is huge, and I know it will feel daunting.” But she said it was important to act early to save tens of thousands of lives.

There have been no deaths due to the coronavirus in New Zealand, which has a population of 5 million.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The United Arab Emirates has announced that it is suspending all passenger flights and the transit of airline passengers in the country for two weeks to stymie the spread of a new virus.

Dubai’s airport, the world‘s busiest international airport, is a vital hub connecting Europe and other Western nations with countries in Asia and Australia. Suspending transit flights there impacts travelers around the world. The UAE made the announcement early Monday.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, announced overnight that an evening curfew would go into effect starting Monday from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. for 21 days.

The decisions are the latest and most dramatic measures to be announced in what has been a gradual, but rapid tightening of daily life across Gulf Arab states and the world as government’s struggle to slowdown the rate of infections from the new coronavirus.

There are around 26,800 cases of the virus confirmed in the Middle East, but more than 21,000 of those cases are in Iran and many others are linked to travelers from Iran.

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Sunshine lured crowds to California beaches and parks on Sunday despite a statewide stay-at-home order, prompting officials to close some strands and trails and issue more warnings for people to go back indoors.

Santa Monica closed seaside parking lots to discourage people from visiting its famous beach and help curb the coronavirus spread. Most people on the sand took care to heed guidelines to stay 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from others. But spacing became an issue in popular areas like the boardwalk.

Today is not the day to go to the beach,” city manager Rick Cole said.

Dozens of Southern California parks, trails and facilities overseen by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority were closed to visitors.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, authorities shut Drakes Beach, Agate Beach and other popular coastal spots, including Point Reyes Lighthouse and Chimney Rock Headlands.

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ROSEAU, Dominica – The eastern Caribbean island of Dominica is reporting its first COVID-19 case. Health Minister Irvin McIntyre said Sunday that the patient is a 54-year-old Dominican who recently returned from the United Kingdom. He said the man was immediately placed under quarantine upon his arrival.

Also, the Dominican Republic’s minister of foreign affairs has tested positive for COVID-19.

Miguel Vargas said Sunday that his son also tested positive after recently attending a wedding in the popular upscale resort town of Punta Cana. Vargas also is the chairman of the Dominican Revolutionary Party.

The Dominican Republic has 75 confirmed cases and three deaths. The country shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

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WASHINGTON – The Senate has refused to advance the coronavirus rescue package in a procedural vote with Democrats rejecting a draft from Republicans and pushing for more aid for workers.

Negotiations are expected to continue into the evening Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged senators to “signal to the public that we’re ready to get this job done.” He wants passage by Monday.

But Democrats have resisted, arguing the nearly $1.4 trillion measure ne to bolster aid and put limits on how businesses can use the emergency dollars.

More voting is possible.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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