Latest News: Swedish authorities reflect on viral response


– UAE officials say fire hits Dubai Expo 2020 site


STOCKHOLM – A senior Swedish official says that lessons should be learned from the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and that Sweden could perhaps have acted “a little faster”.

In an interview with the radio, Dan Eliasson, head of the Swedish Civil Emergency Agency, said on Swedish radio Monday that “when major crises occur, you will always watch them afterwards. So comes the question, did we react quickly enough? “

The comments come after Health Minister Lena Hallengren said last month on Swedish television that “we have not protected our elderly. It is really serious and a failure for society as a whole.

In recent weeks, Swedish media have reported cases in which retirement homes have resulted in large numbers of deaths, with staff continuing to work despite lack of protective equipment or symptoms and potentially infecting residents. Some retirement homes have also experienced staff shortages because employees have refused to work and have been encouraged to stay at home, even with mild symptoms.

The Scandinavian country has adopted a relatively gentle approach that has attracted international attention. Large gatherings were banned, but restaurants and schools for young children remained open. The government encouraged social distancing and the Swedes largely complied.

The country has reported more than 3,175 deaths and 90% of those who died on April 28 were over 70, according to official figures. Half were residents of nursing homes and another quarter received home care.


SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea has postponed its reopening of schools for a week as health officials try to isolate virus carriers and regain contact after finding dozens of coronavirus infections related to club lovers.

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

But Deputy Minister of Education Park Baeg-beom said in a briefing Monday that school openings for high school seniors have been postponed until next Wednesday.

Local education authorities, including Cho Hee-yeon, superintendent of the Seoul Education Bureau, had previously asked the government to postpone the reopening of schools, fearing that children would be at greater risk of infection.

Elementary, intermediate and secondary schools across the country have been providing distance education since April.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A fire hit the Dubai Expo 2020 site on Monday, although UAE officials said no one was injured.

The fire saw thick black smoke rising from the Universal Exhibition site at the southern end of Dubai, one of the seven sheikhs of the United Arab Emirates.

Authorities said in a statement that the fire started in a pile of “construction debris” and was then extinguished. They did not immediately provide additional details, although images from the site show firefighters fighting the fire near a site structure with burn marks.

Earlier this month, a Paris-based organization behind the events said that the Expo 2020 World Expo would be postponed until October 1, 2021, due to the new coronavirus pandemic. Dubai has bet billions of dollars on Expo 2020 to rejuvenate its struggling economy.


LONDON – British businesses, unions and workers are confused after the government changed its “stay home” lockdown message to work if you can.

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

But while most workers previously had to leave the workplace, Johnson said on Sunday that those who cannot do their work from home “should be actively encouraged to go to work.” He also said that workplaces should respect social distance and that people should avoid public transport if possible, which raises many questions about the relevance of advice.

The Johnson government says more details will be provided in a 50-page document released Monday.

But critics have accused the government of causing confusion. Labor leader Keir Starmer said that “the Prime Minister does seem to be telling millions of people to return to work without a clear safety plan or clear advice on 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 slogan “stay at home” with another urging people to “stay alert”. They said they would not change the “stay at home” message on their territory.


BERLIN – Gyms in Germany’s most populous state will reopen on Monday after authorities relaxed rules to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Some fitness clubs in North Rhine-Westphalia opened soon after midnight to allow hungry gym clients to sweat again.

Authorities agreed last week to further loosen movement restrictions, but with a fallback clause designed to limit any new cluster.

In recent days, five areas have crossed the threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 people in one week. Among them, Coesfeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia, where dozens of slaughterhouse workers tested positive for COVID-19. Authorities delayed the county restaurants ’reopening by a week.

Authorities in Rosenheim said the threshold had also been surpassed in the southern city, after a number of cases were found in a refugee shelter. It was not immediately clear whether officials would reimpose restrictions across the city or limit measures to the affected asylum center.


PARIS – While France has started to lift its lock on Monday, the law to fight the spread of the virus is not yet ready.

The government has acknowledged a last-minute legal delay because the Constitutional Council must give the green light to projects.

In an overnight statement, French President Emmanuel Macron, on the contrary, appealed to the “sense of responsibility” of the French to respect the measures.

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

It limits travel across France to 100 kilometers (60 miles) from home, except for compelling business or family reasons.

It also requires workers to obtain a certificate from their employer to use public transport during peak hours and allow medical personnel to systematically find people who have been in contact with COVID-19 patients.

The government has said it is scheduled to go into effect late Monday.

A government decree was issued on Monday to make it mandatory to wear a mask on all public transport, with any fine punishable by a fine of 135 euros ($ 146).


PARIS – The French began leaving their homes and apartments on Monday for the first time in two months without a permit, as the country began to carefully lift its anti-virus lock.

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

In Paris, the crowd crowded into certain metro lines and stations despite new rules of social distancing. Clothing stores, hair salons and estate agents were among the big and small businesses that reopened on Monday, with strict precautions to avoid coronaviruses.

Teachers returned to prepare lessons to welcome students later in the week, but in limited numbers.

Temperatures have plunged and heavy rains have been forecast, curbing the joy of leaving isolation.

Health Minister Olivier Veran has considered the possibility of a new containment if infections return.

“We will have to learn to live with the virus,” he said on BFM television.

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


MADRID – About half of the 47 million Spaniards enter a milder version of strict confinement in the country, starting to socialize, shop in small establishments and enjoy a meal or coffee in restaurants and bars with terrace.

In total, 11 of the 17 Spanish regions, as well as the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the North African coast, are officially on Monday in the so-called phase one of turning back, as the country departs uncompromising locking imposed in the middle of March to extend the impact of the new coronavirus.

The hard-hit region around the Spanish capital, Madrid, and the economic power of Barcelona, ​​in the northeast region of Catalonia, are among the territories that remain subject to tougher measures as authorities closely monitor rates contagion and other health indicators.

In the rest of the country, people will be allowed to meet up to 10 people, to organize revivals for the dead with a maximum of 15 participants and to go to churches and mosques as long as the prayer rooms are limited to third of their capacity.

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

Authorities are under pressure to reactivate an economy that is headed for a recession and soaring unemployment. The country has more than 26,600 deaths registered for the new coronavirus.


MOSCOW – Russia has set a new daily record for new cases of coronavirus.

The government’s task force to fight the epidemic said the country had registered more than 11,600 new infections in the past 24 hours, more than half of which were in Moscow.

This brought the country’s total to over 221,000 cases, including about 2,000 deaths.

Officials said the number of cases registered has increased as the tests have expanded, but they still represent a small part of the actual number. Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin said last week that up to 2.5% of the capital’s 12.7 million people, or about 300,000, could have been infected.

Russia has been experiencing a partial economic shutdown since the end of March, only essential industries being allowed to continue operating. Most regions have imposed closures forcing most of the population to stay at home.


ANKARA, Turkey – Shopping centers, hair salons, hairdressers and beauty salons reopened across Turkey for the first time in seven weeks as the country gradually eases restrictions to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus .

However, the government has set strict requirements for businesses. Shopping centers should check the temperature of customers at the entrance, limit the number of customers to at least one per 10 square meters (108 square feet) and make sure everyone is wearing masks. Food courts, cinemas and children’s play areas will remain closed.

Service providers such as hairdressers and barbers are required to work by appointment only, wear transparent masks and face protectors, and use disposable towels and other materials.

The government has announced a “normalization plan” as the number of new cases fell last week, but has warned of tougher measures if infections escalate. Seniors were allowed to leave their homes for a few hours on Sunday for the first time in seven weeks on relaxed coronavirus restrictions.

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


AMSTERDAM – Dutch elementary schools are once again welcoming pupils who had been forced to stay at 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 on Monday in the Netherlands on condition that they take steps to impose social distancing.

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

Antoinette van Zalinge, principal of De Notenkraker public primary school in Amsterdam, dressed up to welcome the students who walked on a red carpet to return to their classes.

Van Zalinge wore a wide white skirt and a hoop suspended from his shoulders by red and white ribbon and wore a long stick with one hand at one end so that he could shake hands with the students while respecting the 1.5 meter (5- foot) social distancing.


ATHENS, Greece – Greece has entered the second phase of lifting its foreclosure, with all of the remaining retail stores that had been closed in March allowed to reopen and the final year of high school resumption classes.

Shopping centers and department stores remain closed, while some businesses such as electronics stores and opticians have been included in the first phase of reopening. All other retail businesses, including clothing, hardware and beauty stores, reopened on Monday morning, social distancing measures being implemented to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Stores must limit the number of indoor customers at any time based on the size of the property. Students preparing to take the university entrance exams this year have returned to the classroom, while other junior high and high school students are returning next week.

Greece imposed a lock at the start of its outbreak, a decision that has been credited with keeping the number of deaths and serious illnesses low. Health officials on Sunday announced zero new deaths and only six new confirmed infections, bringing the death toll to more than 150 and confirmed infections to more than 2,700 in the country of nearly 11 million.


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