The Latest: Face of Italy’s virus deniers unmasked at rally

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People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus visit The Great Buddha statue at Kotoku-in Temple in Kamakura, near Tokyo Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the lift of a coronavirus state of emergency from Tokyo and four other remaining areas last week, ending the restrictions nationwide as businesses begin to reopen. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic.COVID-19 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:

— Virus deniers and lockdown critics protest in Rome

— Tokyo governor issues alert after new cases rise again

— Greece to test workers on voluntary basis ahead of tourist season

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ROME — Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered in Rome shunning masks to protest against the Italian government’s measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Members of a marginal political movement created last year by a retired Carabinieri general have emerged as a virus-denial camp in Italy, the first Western country to be hit by the global pandemic.

The leader of the so-called Orange Vests told the protest crowd assembled in the Piazza del Popolo on Tuesday that children shouldn’t be made to wear masks and he threatened to ‘’slap’’ anyone who did.

Antonio Pappalardo added that he refuses to wear a mask himself and said: ‘’These lungs mine. I will take care of my lungs. Breathing is sacred.’’

The people packing the square didn’t adhere to social-distancing guidelines set by the government.

Pappalardo portrayed such containment measures as an infringement of freedom. Other speakers at the protest asserted that the pandemic ‘’never existed’’ and alleged that politicians had played it up to enhance their own powers.

Italy went into a nationwide lockdown in early March. The country enters a new phase in emerging from the virus emergency with the opening of regional and external borders on Wednesday.

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TOKYO — The governor of Tokyo has issued a coronavirus alert for the Japanese capital amid worries of a resurgence of infections only a week after a state of emergency ended.

Governor Yuriko Koike issued a “Tokyo alert” on Tuesday after 34 new cases were confirmed in the city, where confirmed infections had slowed to a few per day in late May.

Koike said: “The alert is to precisely inform the people of the status of infections and to advise caution.”

Lighting on Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge will be changed from rainbow-colored to red as a sign of alert. However, the alert does not mean restrictions that just got eased will be reimposed immediately.

Experts say the rise in new cases reflects the increased movement of people since mid-May and could increase further.

Koike said: “I want to remind everyone once again that we are fighting against an unknown virus as we still don’t have any vaccines or treatment for it.”

Under the second phase of a three-part plan for resuming business activity, Tokyo’s theaters, fitness gyms and other commercial facilities reopened. Night clubs, karaoke parlors and other highest-risk establishments are still closed. shut observing shutdown requests.

Kitakyushu in southern Japan is also experiencing what local officials say is a second wave of infections. New cases exceeding 110 in the last 10 days following a three-week hiatus.

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ATHENS — Greece’s Health Ministry says it will carry out coronavirus antibody tests on public health and support workers across Greece this month as part of its efforts to monitor the course of the nation’s outbreak.

The Health Ministry said Tuesday that the testing will be carried out on a voluntary basis.. The plan was announced as Greece prepares to reopen to foreign tourists starting June 15.

Early and strictly enforced lockdown measures helped keep Greece’s infection rates comparatively low, and officials hope that will help entice summer visitors.

The government is racing to reopen international access to its resorts and to augment health care resources on the Greek islands and in mainland cities popular with vacationers.

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LISBON, Portugal — Portugal’s economy minister says the outlook for the country’s crucial tourism sector is brightening.

Some low-cost flights have resumed from Zurich and Luxembourg to Faro, in Portugal’s southern Algarve region, which is one of western Europe’s main vacation destinations.

Flights to Faro from Amsterdam are set to restart this week. Ryanair and Jet2 expect to operate flights to Faro starting July 1.

Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira said Portugal is in “advanced discussions” with Germany to establish a so-called “air corridor,” which could allow tourists who test negative for the coronavirus to fly to an area with a low infection rate, such as the Algarve.

The Portuguese government also has started talks with the British Foreign Office about creating an air corridor.

Siza Vieira told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday: “I and businesses in the (tourism) sector are less pessimistic than we were a month ago.”

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MADRID — The Spanish government is seeking to extend the state of emergency it imposed over the coronavirus until June 21, when most remaining restrictions on movement and business will be lifted.

New confirmed virus cases and deaths in Spain are at the lowest point since before the government ordered nationwide lockdown in mid-March.

The decree the Spanish Cabinet passed on Tuesday to prolong the state of emergency still needs to be approved by the lower house of parliament. Spain’s ruling left-wing coalition has secured enough support from smaller opposition parties for the measure to be approved on Wednesday.

Government spokeswoman María Jesús Montero says the extension will be the last one. But she warned that all precautions should be applied in advancing toward the post-lockdown phase the government calls the “new normality.”

For the first time since early March, Spain didn’t register any new deaths from COVID-19 on Monday. The official death toll stands at 27,127, and a total of 240,000 infections have been confirmed by laboratory tests.

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LONDON — An analysis of the disproportionate effect the coronavirus outbreak in the U.K. appears to be having on members of ethnic minority groups has found that those of Bangladeshi ethnicity had around twice the risk of dying with the virus than white British people.

The report by Public Health England found that black people were most likely to be diagnosed and that coronavirus-related death rates were highest among people from black and Asian ethnic groups.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This pandemic has exposed huge disparities in the health of our nation.”

The Public Health England analysis did not adjust for conditions such as obesity or for occupations when calculating the risk to various ethnic groups. There are a number of other findings in the report, including the fact that working age men are twice as likely to die than working age women.

Hancock says further analysis will be taken over the coming weeks and months to flesh out the early findings.

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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed his government to take quick steps to repair economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin reported to Putin on Tuesday that the Cabinet’s plan contains measures designed to stimulate economic growth, raise incomes and reduce unemployment. It envisages spending 5 trillion rubles (about $73 billion) until December 2021.

A partial economic shutdown that Putin ordered in late March to stem the country’s outbreak badly hurt an economy already battered by a sharp drop in oil prices.

The Russian leader says the nation is now past the peak of contagion, allowing regional officials to gradually ease the restrictions. However, some experts warned that a daily increase of about 9,000 confirmed cases makes a quick lifting of the lockdown dangerous.

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LONDON — A leading epidemiologist said the coronavirus outbreak in the U.K. is unlikely to worsen during the summer but that the outlook from September was “very unclear.”

Professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London said he expects levels of coronavirus transmissions and cases to “remain relatively flat between now and September, short of very big policy changes or behavior changes in the community.”

He told a committee of lawmakers in the House of Lords on Tuesday that the “real uncertainty” will be in September.

Ferguson resigned from his position as a government adviser last month after revelations that he broke social-distancing rules.

Ferguson leads a team which modeled the spread and impact of the coronavirus. The team’s data was instrumental in prompting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose the lockdown on March 23.

The lockdown is being eased across the U.K., most quickly in England, raising concerns among many health officials of a potential second spike in infections.

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Health authorities in Slovenia say the first primary school pupil has tested positive for the coronavirus since children started returning to school two weeks ago.

A school in the city of Maribor said Tuesday that the 3rd-grader’s 17 classmates and teacher have been placed under a two-week quarantine.

Health authorities say the child with the virus likely acquired the virus from within the family and that contact tracing is underway.

The official STA news agency says it’s the first confirmed virus case since April 30 in Slovenia’s second-largest city.

Slovenia has declared an end to its outbreak and started easing anti-virus restrictions in mid-May.

The small European Union nation has reported 1,475 confirmed cases and 109 deaths since early March.

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JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s total confirmed coronavirus cases have jumped to more than 35,000 while the province anchored by Cape Town remains a worrying hot spot with more than 23,000.

South Africa has the most confirmed virus cases of any nation in Africa. The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the total number across the continent is now above 152,000.

South Africa took another step in easing lockdown restrictions on Monday with alcohol sales allowed again. Authorities have warned that the rate of new cases is expected to quicken.

South Africa has seen cases double roughly every 12 days while cases in the Western Cape have been doubling every nine days.

A major test lies ahead this weekend as places of worship are allowed to operate with a limit of 50 people, despite warnings from some religious leaders about the risk of spreading the virus.

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MOSCOW — The two main Russian Orthodox cathedrals in Moscow have reopened their doors as officials take more steps to ease the country’s coronavirus lockdown.

The Christ the Savior Cathedral and the Epiphany Cathedral at Yelokhovo welcomed parishioners again on Tuesday.

The move was coordinated with federal and city officials. Church-goers are supposed to wear medical masks and maintain a proper distance from others during services.

Other churches in the Russian capital are scheduled to reopen on Saturday. Moscow churches have been closed to parishioners since April 13.

Russian officials say that the nation is now past the peak of contagion, making it safe to gradually ease lockdown measures. Some experts warn that with new confirmed cases increasing by about 9,000 daily, lifting restrictions quickly is dangerous.

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JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 150,000 while the World Health Organization says the continent of 1.3 billion people is still the region least affected.

Concerns remain high as some of Africa’s 54 countries struggle with when to reopen schools and parts of their economies.

Rwanda, the first nation in sub-Saharan Africa to impose a lockdown, this week slowed the easing of it after reporting its first COVID-19 death.

More than 4,300 deaths have been confirmed across the continent as local transmission of the virus increases and testing materials and medical equipment remain in short supply in many places.

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Britain’s statistics agency says the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the U.K. up to the week ending May 22 was 48,106.

The updated figures from the Office for National Statistics come after it recorded a weekly 2,589 deaths involving the coronavirus in England and Wales. Although that was the lowest in the past seven weeks, the virus still accounted for 21.1% of all deaths.

The daily figures provided by the government have COVID-related deaths at just above 39,000. Those figures are based on initial cause of death assessments whereas those from the statistics agency are collated from death registrations, which can take a few weeks to be issued.

The agency also said there were 2,348 more deaths in England and Wales during the week than the five-year average. Excess deaths are widely considered to be the best gauge of the virus’s impact as they provide a clear guide over historical periods and include all-cause mortality.

Statistician Nick Stripe said there have been just under 62,000 excess deaths across the U.K.

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BERLIN — Berlin’s top health official says she is appalled by a weekend gathering in support of the city’s shuttered clubs that brought up to 1,500 people together and which organizers ended because participants weren’t keeping to distancing rules.

The demonstrators gathered on a city canal Sunday in 300 to 400 small boats and on the banks, with loud music. The city’s health minister, Dilek Kalayci, said Tuesday she understands nightclubs’ financial difficulties but noted that aid is available and said the weekend event was “grossly negligent” while the pandemic continues. She said “this is not the time for parties.”

Germany started easing its coronavirus restrictions in late April and is continuing to do so despite some concern over local outbreaks linked to slaughterhouses, a church service and a restaurant.

In the latest case, at least 68 people tested positive in the central city of Goettingen after private family parties.

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HARARE, Zimbabwe — State media say Zimbabwe has confirmed its first coronavirus cases in prisons, with four inmates and two guards testing positive.

The Herald newspaper says authorities declared the prisons in Plumtree, which borders Botswana, and in Beitbridge, which borders South Africa, as “no-go areas.” Authorities also have suspended movement out of prisons countrywide, resulting in some prisoners failing to attend court hearings.

Zimbabwe’s cases more than doubled in the past week to over 200, with most new infections at centers where people crossing the border are quarantined. Most are returning from Botswana and South Africa, which host millions of Zimbabweans who fled economic turmoil in recent years.

South Africa has more than 34,000 virus cases, the most in Africa. Zimbabwe’s health ministry says the returnees pose the biggest virus threat. Those arrested for illegal border crossings are put into the prisons in Plumtree and Beitbridge. Zimbabwe earlier released more than 4,000 prisoners to ease overcrowding in facilities where health systems are weak. About 18,000 people are still behind bars.

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LAHORE, Pakistan — A leaked government document reveals authorities ignored experts who wanted a monthlong lockdown in Pakistan’s Punjab province and who estimated 670,000 might have been infected in the provincial capital of Lahore.

After media published the experts’ report Tuesday, residents criticized the government for easing the restrictions last month instead of heeding the recommendation.

The report was based on a sample survey done in Lahore, which had 245 deaths through May 15. Since then, Punjab has reported nearly 200 more fatalities related to COVID-19.

The document surfaced hours before Prime Minister Imran Khan relaxed more coronavirus restrictions implemented in March, saying Pakistanis must learn how to live with the virus since lockdowns don’t treat the disease.

Pakistan has registered 1,621 fatalities amid 76,398 cases.

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SINGAPORE — Singapore has reopened 75% of its economy as part of a three-phase controlled approach to end a virus lockdown in place since early April.

Finance, electronics manufacturing and logistics are among sectors that resumed operations after a two-month closure with strict safety requirements. Schools will also reopen in stages this month. But most retail shops, personal services, dining in at restaurants and social gatherings are still banned.

“It feels like it has come back to where it should be. Like you know, people start to see people again, and working again. It feels good,” said Firman Hanif, who works in a security firm.

The affluent city-state has more than 35,000 cases, one of the highest in Asia. More than 90 percent of cases involved foreign workers living in crowded dormitories. The government says it will only lift further restrictions if infections remain low.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 38 new cases of COVID-19, all but one in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.

The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday brought national totals to 11,541 cases and 272 deaths.

Hundreds of cases have been linked to workplaces, including call centers and a massive warehouse operated by local e-commerce giant Coupang, which officials say failed to properly enforce preventive measures. At least two dozen cases have been linked to churches near capital Seoul, including a death of a follower in his 70s.

Incheon, a port city west of Seoul, banned gatherings at more at some 4,200 churches and other religious facilities. Gyeonggi province, which surrounds the capital, issued an administrative order to shut down warehouses, funeral homes and wedding halls.

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BEIJING — China is reporting five new cases of the coronavirus, all brought by Chinese citizens from outside the country.

No new deaths were reported on Tuesday, while 73 people remain in treatment for COVID-19 and 373 are under monitoring and isolation for showing signs of the virus or having tested positive for it without showing symptoms. China has recorded a total of 4,634 deaths among 83,022 cases of the disease.

China further re-opened schools this week and much of the economy is back on a regular footing following the virus outbreak that was first detected late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

On Monday, China’s foreign ministry again defended the country’s handling of the outbreak against charges of incompetence from the Trump administration focusing on its failure to prevent people leaving Wuhan earlier than Jan. 23 when the city was put on lockdown.

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