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The Latest: Swedish officials reflect on virus response

by Nereida Broadus (2024-04-28)

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.


슬롯사이트- South Korea nightclub cases highlight fear of virus 2nd wave.

- Official in Sweden says country could have reacted faster to virus outbreak.

- Emirati officials say fire strikes site of Dubai´s Expo 2020.


Sweden's Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren, center, looks on as health worker Gun Bjorling administers a Covid-19 test at a drive-in-test station in Alvsjo, Stockholm, Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Several Mobile test stations, primarily for health care workers, are set up around Stockhom lately to fight the coronavirus. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency via AP)

STOCKHOLM - A top Swedish official is saying lessons should be learned from tackling the coronavirus pandemic and Sweden could maybe have acted "a little faster."

In a radio interview, Dan Eliasson, head of Sweden´s Civil Contingencies Agency told Swedish radio Monday that "when major crises occur, you will always look at it afterward. So comes the question, did we react fast enough?"

His comments come after Health Minister Lena Hallengren last month told Swedish television that "we failed to protect our elderly. That´s really serious and a failure for society as a whole. We have to learn from this."

Swedish media in recent weeks have reported cases where retirement homes have seen a large death toll with staff continuing to work despite a lack of protective gear or despite exhibiting symptoms and potentially infecting residents. Some retirement homes also have been seen shortage of staff because employees either have refused to work and have been encouraged to stay home even with mild symptoms.

The Scandinavian country has taken a relatively soft approach that has caught international attention. Large gatherings were banned but restaurants and schools for younger children have stayed open. The government has urged social distancing, and Swedes have largely complied.

The country has reported more than 3,175 fatalities and 90% of those who had died as of April 28 were above the age of 70, according to official figures. Half were nursing home residents, and another quarter were receiving care at home.


SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea has pushed back its reopening of schools by a week as health authorities scramble to isolate virus carriers and trace their contacts after finding dozens of coronavirus infections linked to club goers.

Before discovering the new transmissions, the country relaxed social distancing guidelines amid what had been a slowing caseload and scheduled the reopening of schools, starting with high-school seniors on Wednesday.

But Vice Education Minister Park Baeg-beom said in a briefing on Monday that the school openings for high-school seniors were pushed back to next Wednesday.

Local education authorities, including Cho Hee-yeon, superintendent of Seoul´s education office, earlier called for the government to postpone the reopening of schools, raising concerns that children could be exposed to larger infection risks.

The country´s elementary, middle- and high-schools have been providing remote learning since April.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - A fire struck the site of Dubai´s Expo 2020 on Monday, though Emirati officials said no one was injured.

The blaze saw thick black smoke rise over the site of the world´s fair in the southern edge of Dubai, one of seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates.

Officials said in a statement the fire began in a pile of "construction debris" and was later extinguished. They did not immediately offer further details, though images of the site showed firefighters battling the blaze near a structure at the site bearing burn marks.

Earlier this month, a Paris-based body behind the events said that Expo 2020 world´s fair would be postponed to Oct. 1, 2021, over the new coronavirus pandemic. Dubai has bet billions of dollars on Expo 2020 to rejuvenate its troubled economy.


LONDON - British businesses, trade unions and employees are expressing confusion after the government changed its lockdown message from "stay at home" to go to work if you can.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has extended most of the imposed March 23 lockdown to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, while sketching out how the lockdown will be eased in stages if the number of infections continues to fall.

But while most employees were previously told to stay away from workplaces, Johnson said Sunday that those who can´t do their jobs from home "should be actively encouraged to go to work." He also said workplaces should observe social distancing and people should avoid public transport if possible, raising many questions about how practical the advice was.

Johnson´s government says more details will come in a 50-page document being published Monday.

But critics accused the government of sowing confusion. Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said "the prime minister appears to be effectively telling millions of people to go back to work without a clear plan for safety or clear guidance as to how to get there without using public transport."

The leaders of Scotland and Wales also criticized the announcement, and rejected Johnson´s decision to replace the "stay at home" slogan with one urging people to "stay alert." They said they would not change the "stay at home" message in their territories.


BERLIN - Gyms in Germany´s most populous state are reopening Monday, after authorities relaxed rules intended to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Some fitness clubs in North Rhine-Westphalia opened shortly after midnight to let gym-starved customers build up a sweat again.

Authorities agreed last week to further loosen restrictions on movement, but with a fallback clause designed to clamp down on any new clusters.

In recent days, five areas have broken the threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a week. Among them is Coesfeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia, where dozens of workers at a slaughterhouse tested positive for COVID-19. Officials have delayed the planned reopening of restaurants in the county by a week.

Authorities in Rosenheim said the threshold has also been narrowly passed in the southern town, after a number of cases were found in a refugee shelter. It wasn´t immediately clear whether officials would reimpose restrictions across the town or limit measures to the affected asylum center.


PARIS - As France has started lifting its lockdown on Monday, the law enforcing measures to fight the spreading of the virus are not ready yet.

The government acknowledged a last-minute legal delay as the Constitutional Council needs to give its green light on the plans.

In a statement overnight, French President Emmanuel Macron appealed instead to the "sense of responsibility" of the French to respect the measures.

The law extending the state of health emergency until July 10 has been approved by parliament on Saturday.

It limits travels across France to 100 kilometers (60 miles) from home unless compelling professional or family reason.

It also requires workers to have an attestation from their employer to get in public transports during rush hours and allow medical staff to systematically trace people who have been in contact with COVID-19 patients.

The government said it should enter into force by the end of the day on Monday.

A government decree has been published on Monday to make wearing mask mandatory in all public transports, with any violation punished by a 135-euro ($146) fine.


PARIS - The French began leaving their homes and apartments Monday for the first time in two months without permission slips as the country began cautiously lifting its virus lockdown.

The reopening is somewhat chaotic, however, with mixed messages from authorities and a last-minute legal tangle for President Emmanuel Macron and his government.

In Paris, crowds packed into some subway lines and train stations despite new social distancing rules. Clothing shops, hair salons and real estate agencies were among businesses large and small reopening Monday, with strict precautions to keep coronavirus at bay.

Teachers were returning to prepare classes to welcome students later in the week, but in limited numbers.

Temperatures plunged and heavy rains were forecast, putting a damper on the joy of leaving confinement.

Health Minister Olivier Veran held out the possibility of a re-confinement if infections rise again.

"We´re going to have to learn to live with the virus," he said on BFM television.

France, among the countries hardest hit by the virus and imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures, counts more than 26,000 deaths from the virus in hospitals and nursing homes.


MADRID - Roughly half of 47 million Spaniards are stepping into a softer version of the country´s strict confinement, beginning to socialize, shop in small establishments and enjoy a meal or a coffee in restaurants and bars with outdoor seating.

Altogether, 11 of Spain´s 17 regions, as well as the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla in the northern African coast, are officially from Monday in the so-called phase one of the rollback, as the country departs from the uncompromising lockdown imposed in mid-March to spread out the impact of the new coronavirus.

The hard-hit region around the Spanish capital, Madrid, and the economic powerhouse of Barcelona, in the northeastern Catalonia region, are among those territories that remain under stricter measures while authorities watch closely contagion rates and other health indicators.

In the rest of the country, people will be allowed to meet with up to 10 people, hold wakes for the dead with a maximum of 15 attendees and go to churches and mosques as long as the prayer rooms limit to a third of their capacity.

Small shops are also allowed to reopen and restaurants and cafés can serve customers in half of the tables of their outdoor terraces.

Officials are under pressure to reactivate an economy that is heading toward a recession and skyrocketing unemployment. The country has more than 26,600 recorded deaths for the new coronavirus.


MOSCOW - Russia has registered a fresh daily record high of new coronavirus cases.

The government´s task force in charge of combating the outbreak said the country has registered over 11,600 new infections in the last 24 hours, more than half of them in Moscow.

That has brought the nation´s total to more than 221,000 cases, including about 2,000 deaths.

Officials said the number of registered cases has grown as testing has widened, but they still represent a small share of the real number. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said last week that up to 2.5% of the capital´s 12.7 million residents, or about 300,000 could have been infected.

Russia has been in partial economic shutdown since late March with only essential industries allowed to continue operating. Most regions have imposed lockdowns forcing the bulk of the population to stay home.


ANKARA, Turkey - Shopping malls, barber shops, hairdressers and beauty salons have reopened for business across Turkey for the first time in seven weeks as the country gradually eases restrictions aimed to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The government has however, laid out strict requirements for the businesses. Shopping malls have to check customers´ temperatures at entry, limit the number of customers to at least one per every 10 square meters (108 square feet) and ensure that everyone is wearing masks. Food courts, cinemas and children´s play areas will remain closed.

Service-providers like hair dressers and barbers are required to work on an appointment basis only, wear face masks and transparent face protectors, and use disposable towels and other material.

The government announced a "normalization plan" as the number of new cases dropped last week, but warned of tougher measures if infections go up again. On Sunday, senior citizens were allowed to leave their homes for a few hours for the first time in seven weeks under relaxed coronavirus restrictions.

Turkey has recorded nearly 140,000 confirmed cases of the virus and almost 3,800 deaths attributed to COVID-19.


AMSTERDAM - Dutch elementary schools are welcoming back students who had been forced to stay home for two months as part of measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Schools, libraries and businesses such as hairdressers were allowed to reopen Monday in the Netherlands on condition that they take measures to enforce social distancing.

Some hairdressers opened their doors at midnight to welcome customers desperate for a trim.

Antoinette van Zalinge, principal of the public elementary school De Notenkraker in Amsterdam, dressed up to welcome back students who walked over a red carpet to get back to their classes.

Van Zalinge wore a wide white skirt and a hula hoop slung from her shoulders by red and white tape and carried a long stick with a hand at one end so she could shake hands with students while maintaining the government-mandated 1.5-meter (5-foot) social distancing.


ATHENS, Greece - Greece has entered the second phase in lifting its lockdown, with all remaining retail stores that had been shut down in March allowed to reopen and 에그벳주소 the final grade of high school resuming classes.

Shopping malls and department stores remain shut, while some businesses such as electronics stores and opticians were included in the first phase of reopening. All other retail businesses, including clothing, hardware and beauty product stores, were reopening Monday morning, with social distancing measures applying to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Stores must limit the number of customers inside at any one time depending on the size of the property. Students preparing to take university entrance exams this year returned to class, while other junior high and senior high school students return next week.

Greece imposed a lockdown early in its outbreak, a move that has been credited with keeping the number of deaths and crucially ill at low levels. On Sunday, health authorities announced zero new deaths and just six new confirmed infections, bringing the death toll over 150 and the confirmed infections to more than 2,700 in the country of nearly 11 million.


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Health officials wearing protective gear as they spray disinfectant to help reduce the spread of the new coronavirus in a class at a high school in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Arabian oryxes graze with a backdrop of Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, May 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

In this photo issued by 10 Downing Street on Sunday, May 10, 2020, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers an address on lifting the country's lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson announced a modest easing of the country's coronavirus lockdown and outlined his government's road map for further lifting restrictions in the coming months. In a televised address to the nation, Johnson said people in Britain who can't work from home, such as those in construction or manufacturing jobs, "should be actively encouraged to go to work" this week. (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street via AP)

A writing on the ground remind students to keep distance as they arrive at a reopen primary school in Cologne, Germany, Monday, May 11, 2020. Germany eases the restrictions to contain the corona virus most of the federal states. (Henning Kaiser/dpa via AP)

French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, right, visits a subway station control room Monday, May 11, 2020 in Paris. The French began leaving their homes and apartments Monday for the first time in two months without permission slips as the country began cautiously lifting its virus lockdown. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh, Pool)

Commuters wearing the compulsory face mask in public transports exit a train at the Saint Lazare train station, Monday, May 11, 2020 in Paris. France is begin to reopen Monday after two months of virus confinement measures. Shops, hair salons and some other businesses are reopening Monday and French citizens no longer need a special permission form to leave the house. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

A man takes a selfie with Paseo de la Castellana in his background after the lockdown measures imposed by the government due to coronavirus in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, May 9, 2020. Spain's Prime Minister has cautioned the nation that the loosening of its nearly two-month lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus will be for naught if people do not obey social distancing rules and hygiene recommendations. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Grave diggers wearing protective suits bury a COVID-19 victim as