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Protests Spark Virus Fears in US       06/01 06:36

   

   MIAMI (AP) -- Protests around the U.S. against police brutality have sparked 
fears of a further spread of the coronavirus, while South Korea is reporting a 
steady rise in cases around the capital after appearing to bring the outbreak 
under control.

   The often-violent protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who 
was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer, are raising fears 
of new virus outbreaks in a country that has more confirmed infections and 
deaths than any other.

   The protests come as more beaches, churches, mosques, schools and businesses 
reopen worldwide, increasing the risk of cross-infections.

   South Korea has reported 238 cases of the coronavirus over the past five 
days, most of them in the Seoul metropolitan area, causing alarm in a country 
that had eased up on social distancing and started to send millions of children 
back to school. Hundreds of infections have been linked to nightspots, 
restaurants and a massive e-commerce warehouse near Seoul. The 35 new cases 
reported Monday include 30 around Seoul.

   Protests over Floyd's death have shaken the U.S. from New York to Los 
Angeles. Demonstrators are packed cheek by jowl, many without masks, many 
chanting, shouting or singing. The virus is dispersed by microscopic droplets 
in the air when people cough, sneeze, talk or sing.

   "There's no question that when you put hundreds or thousands of people 
together in close proximity, when we have got this virus all over the streets 
... it's not healthy," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday on CNN's "State of 
the Union."

   The U.S. has seen more than 1.7 million infections and over 104,000 deaths 
in the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected racial minorities in a 
nation that does not have universal health care.

   In London, thousands of people marched Sunday, chanting "No justice! No 
peace!" while carrying signs reading "Justice for George Floyd" and "Racism is 
a global issue." Britain has had nearly 38,500 virus deaths, the second-most in 
the world after the United States.

   Other protests were held in Berlin and Copenhagen, Denmark.

   Around 6.1 million infections have been reported worldwide, with about 
370,000 people dying, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The 
true death toll is believed to be significantly higher, since many victims died 
of the virus without ever being tested.

   China, where the global pandemic is believed to have originated late last 
year, reported 16 new cases on Monday, all in travelers newly arrived from 
abroad. Eleven of those arrived in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Friday 
aboard the same flight from Cairo, the Chengdu city government said in a 
statement.

   With local transmissions having fallen to virtually zero, much of China has 
reopened for business and Monday saw the further restart of classes in middle 
and high schools. Kindergartners and fourth- and fifth-graders will be allowed 
back next week as part of a staggered opening to prevent the further spread of 
the virus.

   South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says that China has pledged to make 
available 30 million COVID-19 testing kits per month to African countries, 
which are facing a shortage of the materials to test for the disease.

   The U.S. has sent to Brazil more than 2 million doses of a malaria drug 
touted by President Donald Trump as potentially protecting against and treating 
the coronavirus, despite a lack of scientific evidence. Brazil, Latin America's 
hardest-hit country, continues to see a surge in virus cases, and last week 
Trump announced that the U.S. was restricting travel from the country.

   Traffic jams and crowds of commuters are back in the Philippine capital, 
which shifted to a more relaxed quarantine in a high-stakes gamble to slowly 
reopen the economy while fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

   The situation continues to worsen in India, where 230 new deaths were 
reported Monday, bringing the country's total to 5,394, even as it eases 
restrictions on shops and public transport in more states beginning Monday. 
Subways and schools remain closed.

   Neighboring Bangladesh also restarted bus, train, ferry and flight services 
Monday. The impoverished country's government says a gradual reopening is 
crucial to reviving the economy amid forecasts that economic growth is likely 
to plunge, leaving millions jobless.

   In Saudi Arabia, mosques reopened Sunday for the first time in more than two 
months, but Islam's holiest site in Mecca remained closed. In Jerusalem, 
throngs of worshippers waited outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque before it reopened. 
Many wore surgical masks and waited for temperature checks as they entered.

   In Bogota, Colombia's capital, authorities were locking down an area of 
nearly 1.5 million people as cases continued to rise, while Egypt on Sunday 
reported its highest-ever number of infections and deaths from the virus  46 
over the previous 24 hours, with 1,536 confirmed cases.

   In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Snchez said Sunday that he would ask 
Parliament for a final two-week extension of the nation's state of emergency 
that is set to expire on June 7. That allows the government to keep ordering 
lockdown measures to control its coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed at 
least 27,000 lives, many of them in overwhelmed nursing homes.

   "We have almost reached safe harbor," Snchez said.

   During a Mass at the Vatican to mark Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis 
cautioned people against being pessimistic as they emerge from coronavirus 
lockdowns.

   Italy on Sunday registered 355 new coronavirus cases and 75 deaths, some of 
the lowest such numbers since the nation's lockdown against the pandemic began 
in early March.

   Two hospitals for coronavirus patients were opened in Istanbul as Turkey's 
number of new cases fell to its lowest since the peak of the outbreak.

   And at California's Yosemite National Park, closed to the public for nearly 
three months, student journalists who put out the Yosemite Valley School 
newspaper are charming their community with stories of cleaner water and more 
active and abundant wildlife.

 
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