Europe reopened more widely on Monday, allowing people into the Acropolis in Greece, shops in Italy, markets and museums in Belgium, golf courses in Ireland and beer gardens in Germany while its leaders discussed how to salvage hallowed summer vacations.
New infections and deaths have slowed considerably in Europe, where some countries started easing lockdowns a month ago and even the harshest shutdowns — such as those in Italy and Spain — have loosened significantly. Many nations are now preparing to open their borders next month, trying to sketch out the parameters for a highly unusual summer tourist season.
Here are some of AP’s top stories Monday on the world’s coronavirus pandemic.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
— Chinese President Xi Jinping says China will provide $2 billion over two years to help with the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Xi’s announcement by videoconference at the start of the World Health Organization’s annual assembly marks a sharp contrast to the United States: The Trump administration has announced a suspension of its funding for WHO over its alleged mishandling of the outbreak and praise of China’s response.
— The coronavirus pandemic has created a huge need for health care in the U.S., but it also is delivering a devastating financial blow to that sector. COVID-19 worries have kept patients away from doctors’ offices and forced the postponement and cancellation of non-urgent surgeries, and hospitals, health systems and doctors have been forced to lay off staff, cut costs and hope a return to normal arrives soon.
— New York City is ramping up its ability to test for the coronavirus, with testing available at more than 150 sites citywide and test kits made in the city now in use at city-run health clinics, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The mayor says his goal is “to make sure that every New Yorker who needs a test gets one.”
— An experimental vaccine against the coronavirus showed encouraging results in very early testing, triggering hoped-for immune responses in eight healthy, middle-aged volunteers. Study volunteers given either a low or medium dose of the vaccine by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. had antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from COVID-19.
— Italy and the Vatican allowed the first public Masses to be celebrated since March as coronavirus restrictions eased further, following a sharp confrontation between church and state over limits on worshiping in the era of COVID-19. Guards in hazmat suits took the temperature of the faithful entering St. Peter’s Basilica, where Pope Francis celebrated an early morning Mass for a handful of people to commemorate the centenary of the birth of St. John Paul II.
— Just one week after a third of French schoolchildren went back to school in an easing of the coronavirus lockdown, there’s been a worrying flareup of about 70 COVID-19 cases linked to schools. Some schools were opened last week and 150,000 junior high students went back to the classroom Monday as further restrictions were loosened by the government.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.
Here are the symptoms of the virus compared with the common flu.
One of the best ways to prevent spread of the virus is washing your hands with soap and water. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends first washing with warm or cold water and then lathering soap for 20 seconds to get it on the backs of hands, between fingers and under fingernails before rinsing off.
You should wash your phone, too. Here’s how.
TRACKING THE VIRUS: Drill down and zoom in at the individual county level, and you can access numbers that will show you the situation where you are, and where loved ones or people you’re worried about live.
— 5,242: India recorded its biggest single-day surge in coronavirus cases on Monday, attributed largely to migrant workers returning home after losing their jobs in India’s population centers. The 5,242 new cases and 157 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours took the country’s infection tally to more than 96,000, the most in Asia. It now has 3,029 fatalities.
IN OTHER NEWS:
— WEDDING GIFTS: They had dreams for a grand wedding, but Sri Lankan newlyweds instead celebrated their love by feeding the poor. After registering the marriage with a few close family and friends, Darshana Kumara Wijenarayana and his fiance, Pawani Rasanga, visited 50 households with boxes of food, each containing rice, sugar, tea powder, onion, potatoes, lentils, salt, soybeans and noodles.
— CAMPAIGN FOR THE KIDS: “This Is Us” stars Mandy Moore and Justin Hartley will co-host NBC’s Red Nose Day special on Thursday night to raise money and awareness for children in need. Funds raised by the campaign will be directed to help combat the effect of COVID-19 on youngsters and the organizations that aid them.
- Is there life after death? Businessman offers nearly $1 million to find out
- Message in a bottle discovered decades after it floated away
- New studio offers classes with many health benefits
- ‘A House Divided’ panelists speak on President Biden’s inauguration
- A nice Saturday with adjustments to Monday’s winter event