The Latest: Moscow explains nation’s low coronavirus deaths

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.

— Moscow tries to dispel doubts over nation’s low virus deaths.

— British police say Boris Johnson adviser likely violated rules.

— ‘Historic’ rise: French unemployment claims jump 22% in April.

— Italy governor gets police protection over threats tied to crisis.

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MOSCOW — Health officials in the Russian capital have updated numbers on coronavirus deaths, trying to dispel doubts about the nation’s remarkably low COVID-19 mortality.

Moscow’s Health Department said Thursday the coronavirus mortality index for April varies from 1.4% to 2.8% depending on the calculation. The results are significantly lower than those from London, New York and other capitals.

On top of previously reported 636 deaths directly caused by the coronavirus, it added 756 deaths of those who tested positive for the virus but died of other causes and 169 deaths of those who tested negative but likely died of the virus according to autopsies.

Previously, the department counted only deaths directly resulting from the virus, leaving other “excess” deaths that represented a hike over the same period last year unexplained.

That has drawn suspicions from Russian and Western experts, who contend authorities in Moscow and other parts of Russia may have been under-reporting coronavirus deaths for political needs.

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ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatia plans to reopen borders for the citizens of 10 European Union nations as part of efforts to revive tourism after the new coronavirus lockdown.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said at a government session Thursday that travel restrictions will be lifted for citizens of Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. He says the list of countries will be expanded.

Croatia, with one of the weakest economies in the EU, is largely dependent on tourism along the country’s stunning Adriatic Sea coast. The country hopes to salvage as much as possible the summer tourism season after suffering losses the past months.

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MOSCOW — Residents of Russia’s capital will be able to go for a stroll under relaxed coronavirus regulations, but they’ll have to check an online map to find out when they can do it.

The mayor’s office said Thursday that it is developing an interactive for the walks that can start on June 1. It says a resident will have to enter his home address and the map will show days and times that walks are allowed.

Under current restrictions, residents are supposed to stay home except for going to grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors or jobs that require their presence.

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LONDON — British police say Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings likely violated rules by traveling from home during lockdown, but the force has “no intention” to pursue the matter.

Cummings has acknowledged driving 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house in Durham, northeast England, during the lockdown, and later taking another drive to a scenic town 30 miles (50 kms) away.

Durham Constabulary said Thursday that the second drive, to the town of Barnard Castle, was probably a “minor breach” of lockdown rules that would have “warranted police intervention had he been caught in the act.” But police say there is “no intention to take retrospective action.”

Johnson has resisted calls to fire Cummings for apparently flouting restrictions the government imposed on the rest of the country.

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NEW DELHI — India’s top court has ordered free train rides and food and water for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers returning to villages in blazing heat after losing city jobs because of the pandemic.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that state governments shall oversee the registration of migrant workers and ensure that they board the train or bus at an early date.

Television images have shown desperate and hungry migrants looting food carts on railroad stations and highways. Several migrants have died while travelling on the trains this week, with day temperatures rising to 113 degrees (45 Celsius).

After imposing a countrywide lockdown March 25 to contain the spread of COVID-19, the government stopped trains, buses and other transit.

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NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said he scolded one of his sons for violating curfew by going out at night and endangering his grandmother’s health.

Kenyatta’s son is staying at his home in Mombasa. The coastal city, the nation’s second largest, is a center of infections, with a dusk-to-dawn curfew and ban on social gatherings.

The president told local media he asked his son if he would able to live with his actions if his grandmother became ill with COVID-19. Kenyatta said that as the East African country considers lifting restrictions, everyone must exercise responsibility.

Other Kenyans have not escaped curfew punishment lightly. At least 18 people have been killed by police for violating curfew, according to human rights activist Wilfred Olal of the Dandora Community Justice Center.

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PARIS — French unemployment claims jumped 22% in April, with 843,000 more people seeking work and the virus lockdown preventing companies from hiring.

The national employment office announced the “historic” rise Thursday, saying it’s “because in the current context, companies are not hiring, not because they are conducting massive layoffs.”

The jobless ranks in France do not include 8 million people who received government-funded temporary unemployment in April and are gradually returning to work, the employment office said.

While the temporary unemployment scheme is credited with stabilizing the French economy during the virus crisis, the country is still facing its worst recession since World War II and permanent job cuts are likely.

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MILAN — The governor of the Lombardy region, the epicenter of Italy’s coronavirus epidemic, has been placed under police protection after receiving threats related to the health emergency.

Gov. Attilio Fontana confirmed in a Facebook post that authorities assigned him the protection, and not at his request. Officials cited a “climate” around the governor that has become “incandescent,’’ including graffiti labeling him a killer and internet threats regarding the region’s handling of the epidemic.

Fontana has been called for questioning as part of an investigation into his failure to create a red zone around two small cities next to Bergamo after the first case was identified in a hospital Feb. 23 — two days after 11 towns in Lombardy and Veneto were declared hot spots.

Other Italian officials dealing with the virus also have been placed under police escort because of threats.

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases is rising as the country braces to gradually reopen its economy next week.

The nation recorded 687 new coronavirus cases in its daily report Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 24,538. It also reported the country’s death toll at nearly 1,500, the highest in Southeast Asia.

Several regions reportedly have been preparing to reopen businesses. Among them is the resort island of Bali, where hotels have been drafting guidelines for health protocols.

Health experts have warned that reopening the economy prematurely could trigger a second wave of infections. Still, the government has insisted the country must try to get back to normal by the end of July amid growing economic pressures.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The World Health Organization is concerned countries will respond to the pandemic as it did to the recession last decade by making public health spending cuts.

Hans Kluge, head of the WHO’s Europe office, said “many countries in Europe” made cuts after the 2008 recession. He did not identify any country.

“Today, our priority must be to invest in health, invest in social protection and above all, avoid austerity which has devastated the lives of so many in Europe,” Kluge told a news conference.

He stressed that “there is no economy without people. There is no economic recovering without COVID-19 being under control.”

The regional office serves the U.N. body’s European region that comprises 53 countries, covering a vast region from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans.

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JOHANNESBURG — Tanzania remains a trouble spot for the coronavirus as the government hasn’t updated the number of cases and deaths for a month and is accused of a cover-up.

The East African nation’s last update said cases were just above 500, with 21 deaths, but opposition leaders assert more than 400 deaths in the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam alone. They told reporters Wednesday they believe Tanzania’s true number of cases is between 16,000 and 20,000.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief, John Nkengasong, says they are “following this Tanzania situation very closely” and he urges countries to share data daily.

Africa has nearly 125,000 cases overall on the continent of 1.3 billion people, with some 30,000 new cases confirmed in the past week. Nkengasong says slightly under 2 million tests have been completed — far below the goal of 13 million. Shortages of test kits and reagents are a problem.

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BANGKOK — Thailand’s main planning agency says that 8.4 million people are at risk of losing their jobs this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the tourism sector being most badly affected.

The National Economic and Social Development Council estimated Thursday that the fall in the number of foreign and domestic tourists could mean 2.5 million people, or 64% of the approximately 3.9 million workers in the tourism sector, could become unemployed.

It said in a report that 1.5 million, or 25% of the 5.9 million person industrial workforce, also could be laid off due to the coronavirus crisis reducing demand that was already weakened by trade wars. Possibilities for expansion still exist where domestic demand is high, such as for food and beverages, and for products considered necessary, including electronics.

The jobs of 4.4 million people, or 43% of 10.3 million people working in the service sector outside of tourism, are also at risk. Retail jobs were especially affected by restrictions imposed to combat the spread of COVID-19, many of which have now been lifted.

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TOKYO — Nissan announced Thursday it will be closing two auto plants, in Spain and Indonesia, as it sank into the red for the first time in 11 years, as the coronavirus pandemic sent global demand plunging and halted production.

Nissan’s Chief Executive Makoto Uchida told reporters the production in Europe will be centered at the British plant in Sunderland, and the production in Indonesia will move to Thailand, as the Japanese automaker reduces global production by 20%.

Nissan Motor Co. reported Thursday a 671.2 billion yen ($6.2 billion) loss for the fiscal year ended in March, its first annual loss since getting slammed by aftermath of the financial crisis in the year ending in March 2009.

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LONDON — Budget carrier easyJet plans to cut up to a third of its workforce as it restructures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline has around 15,000 full-time employees — meaning some 4,500 jobs are at risk.

CEO Johan Lundgren, says the carrier remains focused on doing what is right for the company and its long-term “health and success.’’

EasyJet plans to resume limited service on June 15, but estimates that it may take three years to get back to 2019 demand levels.

Lundgren says that “against this backdrop, we are planning to reduce the size of our fleet and to optimise the network and our bases.”

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CANBERRA, Australia — A Catholic archbishop has accused an Australian state government of inequitable pandemic rules by allowing up to 50 people into pubs while church congregations are limited to 10.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher on Thursday encouraged Catholics to sign a petition calling on the New South Wales government to treat churches the same as pubs, restaurants and cafes.

New pandemic restrictions that take effect on June 1 increase the number of customers that such commercial premises can hold from 10 to 50.

“Contrary to what has been said throughout this pandemic, we do not consider church attendance to be non-essential; indeed, nothing is more essential than the practice of our faith,” the petition said.

Fisher said he was standing up for freedom of worship “when I see so many double standards being applied to people of faith.”

“We aren’t asking for special treatment, we are asking for equal treatment,” Fisher said.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said state governments were working at their own pace in lifting pandemic restrictions.

New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state and has been the worst effected by COVID-19. New South Wales has recorded 48 of Australia’s 103 deaths. Catholicism is the largest denomination in Christian-majority Australia.

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