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The Latest: Turkey sends plane of protective gear to Britain

Friday, April 10, 2020 | The Associated Press

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.

TOP OF THE HOUR

— Good Friday observed at home as Japan virus divide surfaces.

— Turkey sends protective gear to Britain.

— African nations work to ease the pain of coronavirus lockdowns.

— Malaysia extends its lockdown for two more weeks.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is sending a planeload of surgical masks, N95 masks and hazmat suits to Britain to help the country battle the coronavirus outbreak.

State-run Anadolu Agency said a military cargo plane carrying the medical supplies took off from an air base near the capital Ankara on Friday.

A second plane carrying more equipment would depart on Saturday, the agency reported.

There was no information on the quantity of the supplies sent.

In the past weeks, Turkey has similarly donated medical supplies to Italy, Spain as well as five countries in the Balkans.

The items were sent in boxes displaying the words of 13th century Sufi Poet Jalaluddin Rumi: “There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness.”

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ACCRA, Ghana — Some African nations are trying to ease the pain of coronavirus lockdowns even as they extend them.

In Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo says the lockdowns in the greater Accra and Ashanti regions have been extended for a week, but he pledges that the government will fully absorb the cost of electricity bills for the “poorest of the poor” and 50% of the cost for all other consumers.

In South Africa, which has announced a two-week lockdown extension, President Cyril Ramaphosa says he and his Cabinet will take a one-third salary cut for the next three months, with the money going to a fund to help vulnerable countrymen.

Full or partial lockdowns in Africa have affected more than 20 countries, severely hurting the livelihoods of millions of informal workers and others.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia will extend its lockdown for another two weeks but let selected industries reopen in stages.

Nonessential businesses and schools have been shuttered for a month until April 14 but Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced Friday the restricted movement order will be extended until April 28. Even though the country has reported a reduction in cases in recent days, he said it was premature to lift the control measures as “the war on COVID-19 is not yet over.”

Malaysia reported 118 new infections on Friday, bringing its total to 4,346, the highest in Southeast Asia.

Muhyiddin said selected economic sectors can reopen in phases but must follow strict hygiene guidelines and movement restrictions.

He warned the lockdown could stretch up to a few months for the government to be entirely sure that the chain of transmission has been broken.

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MOSCOW — Russian doctors will start treating patients with pneumonia for the new coronavirus without waiting for test results to confirm the diagnosis, the country’s Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said.

“We’re seeing that the disease progresses fast, and it has specific clinical presentation, (allowing) to diagnose (it) without confirming in the lab based on the clinical presentation,” Murashko said in a TV interview that aired on Thursday night.

Murashko’s statement echoes earlier comments from Moscow doctors involved in treating coronavirus patients, saying that the vast majority of pneumonia cases in Russia are most likely caused by the new virus and should be treated as such.

“Existing tests for confirming COVID-19 are 70-80% accurate,” Denis Protsenko, chief doctor of a top Moscow hospital treating coronavirus patients, said Thursday.

Russian health officials reported 1,786 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, bringing the country’s total to 11,917. The outbreak has picked up speed in Russia in recent weeks, with the number of cases growing exponentially and doubling every few days. Kremlin critics have been questioning the official statistics, pointing to a growing number of pneumonia cases and suggesting that Russia’s coronavirus case count might be much higher.

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BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s prime minister says the country now has about 2,000 of the 8,000 ventilators it expects to need at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban also said Friday on state radio that he expects around 20% of Hungary’s health workers to be infected with the coronavirus.

Orban, who has extended indefinitely restrictions put in place two weeks ago to make people stay home, said Hungary was learning from measures implemented in neighboring Austria, which he called “our large laboratory,” where the pandemic is at a more advanced stage.

Hungary has 1,190 cases of the coronavirus, and 77 people with have died.

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LONDON — Boris Johnson’s father says the British prime minister needs time to recover from the new coronavirus and is unlikely to be back at work imminently.

The U.K. leader spent three nights in the intensive care unit at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London after his COVID-19 symptoms worsened. He was moved back to a regular ward on Thursday evening, and his office says he is in “the early phase of his recovery.”

His father Stanley Johnson said the prime minister needed to “rest up.”

“He has to take time,” Stanley Johnson told the BBC. “I cannot believe you can walk away from this and get straight back to Downing Street and pick up the reins without a period of readjustment.”

Johnson was diagnosed with COVID-19 two weeks ago, the first world leader confirmed to have the illness. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is standing in for Johnson while he is in hospital.

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MANILA, Philippines — Southeast Asian foreign ministers have endorsed in a video conference the setting up of regional fund to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and discussed a planned meeting of their leaders with counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said Friday that the top diplomats of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations linked up by video Thursday in a meeting led by Vietnam. The ASEAN ministers could not hold an actual meeting due to the pandemic.

The ministers endorsed several collective steps to fight the pandemic, including the establishment of a COVID-19 ASEAN response fund, sharing of information and strategies and ways to ease impact of the global health crisis on people and the economy, the department said but did not provide details.

They also discussed a planned meeting of their leaders with counterparts from China, Japan and Korea in a video conference on April 14 to talk about the pandemic, three Southeast Asian diplomats told The Associated Press.

In Thursday’s discussion, Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea amid the contagion, the department said.

The Philippines has expressed solidarity with Vietnam after a Vietnamese fishing boat was reportedly rammed and sank by a Chinese coast guard ship in the disputed waters.

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TOKYO — Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Friday asked nonessential businesses such as hostess clubs, internet cafes, as well as cinemas and fitness facilities to close down to bolster defense against the coronavirus, after gaining consent from the reluctant central government.

The measure adds to her earlier “stay home” request to the Tokyo residents, the only measure in place so far under the state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan’s capital and six other prefectures Tuesday. Koike’s business closure plans outlined ahead of the declaration had to wait temporarily as Abe’ government suddenly asked her to wait for two weeks until effects of the stay-at-home requests are evaluated.

Koike’s business closure requests in Tokyo will take effect Saturday.

Koike sought stricter measures to put “people’s lives first,” while Abe’s government wanted a more relaxed approach to avoid confusion. The two sides agreed to allow barbers and hardware shops to stay open and Japanese style “iazakaya” pubs to open limited hours. The move highlighted Abe’s perceived reluctance to take tougher measures damaging to the economy.

“In order to protect people’s lives, it is only appropriate to take tougher measures first and relax as we see how they go,” not the other way around, Koike said.

Universities, movie theaters, live music venues, pachinko parlors and internet cafes are to close, while schools, nursery schools and welfare services are allowed to operate on limited conditions.

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PARIS — Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi says it is donating 100 million doses of a malaria drug being tested for use as a treatment against the new coronavirus.

In a statement Friday, the company said the hydroxychloroquine doses will be given to 50 countries. The company said it also is ramping up production, aiming to quadruple is capacity to manufacture the drug.

Sanofi said it “will continue to donate the medicine to governments and hospital institutions if ongoing clinical studies demonstrate its efficacy and safety in COVID-19 patients.”

But the company also cautioned that hydroxychloroquine has “several serious known side effects” and tests are so far inconclusive over its safety and efficacy in treating COVID-19.

It said that “while hydroxychloroquine is generating a lot of hope for patients around the world, it should be remembered that there are no results from ongoing studies, and the results may be positive or negative.”

United States President Donald Trump has been among the drug’s proponents, tweeting that hydroxychloroquine plus an antibiotic could be “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine” and should “be put in use immediately.”

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MULTAN, Pakistan — Pakistani police and rescue officials say at least one woman was trampled to death and 20 others were injured in a stampede as authorities distributed money among families affected by a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Pandemonium broke out Friday at a school in Multan, a city in eastern Punjab province, when hundreds of women gathered there to receive 12,000 rupees (about $70) promised by the government for each family.

Pakistan plans to distribute financial assistance among 10.2 million low-income families across the country. The program began in Multan.

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JERUSALEM — The number of coronavirus infections has risen to more than 10,000 in Israel, which imposed strict measures to contain the pandemic early on but has seen it tear through the insular ultra-Orthodox religious community.

The Health Ministry on Friday reported a total of 10,095 cases, including 92 deaths.

Israeli authorities moved quickly in mid-March to close borders, ground flights and shut down all non-essential businesses. But in the early days and weeks of the pandemic many in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community ignored guidelines on social distancing, which health experts say is key to containing the outbreak.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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