From left, Forza Italia party's Antonio Tajani, Brothers of Italy Party's leader Giorgia Meloni and The League party leader Matteo Salvini take a selfie during an anti-government protest in Rome, Tuesday, June 2, 2020 on the day marking the 74th anniversary of the Italian Republic. (Roberto Monaldo/LaPresse via AP)

The Latest: Iraq sees record daily cases as testing widens

June 02, 2020 - 12:21 pm

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 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:

— Iraq sees record daily cases, officials cite wider testing

— Two more lawmakers with virus die in Pakistan as new cases spike

— Spain reports zero COVID-19 deaths for second straight day

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BAGHDAD -- Iraq’s Health Ministry is reporting a record-breaking single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases that it says resulted from increased testing.

At least 519 new cases were confirmed Tuesday, bringing the country's total to 7,387, according to a statement from the Health Ministry. Iraq has reported a total of 235 virus-related deaths.

The number of confirmed cases in Iraq tripled in the last two weeks as more people were tested. Thousands more are being tested on a daily basis, according to daily government reports. The Health Ministry said at least 3,000 were tested nationwide in the previous 24 hours.

Since he was sworn in last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has reinforced full-day curfews, prohibited non-essential businesses from operating and banned large crowds from gathering.

Iraq faces shortages of hospital beds and ventilators. Health professionals have warned that a flareup in cases could be catastrophic for the country's health system.

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ROME — Italy’s Lombardy region has continued to register by far the highest day-to-day increase in coronavirus cases after emerging as the epicenter of the nation's outbreak in February.

The Health Ministry reported Tuesday evening that Lombardy accounted for 187 of Italy’s 318 new confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours. Total confirmed cases now number 233,515, although authorities say many people with mild symptoms may have had the virus but never underwent testing.

Italy also reported 55 more virus-related deaths in the same 24-hour period, raising the national death toll from the pandemic to 33,530.

Since many elderly people who died during the outbreak in nursing homes or in their own homes weren’t tested, authorities acknowledge that the actual death toll is likely much higher.

A government-ordered ban on travel between regions is set to end on Wednesday. Italy also will start allowing in tourists from most of Europe.

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KARACHI, Pakistan -- Two Pakistani lawmakers have died after testing positive for the coronavirus amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Officials said Tuesday that Munir Khan Orakzai, a lawmaker in the lower house of parliament, died in northwest Pakistan. They said a minister in the southern Sindh province, Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, died at a hospital in the port city of Karachi.

Their deaths came weeks after the first virus-related death of a lawmaker in Pakistan took place in the eastern city of Lahore.

Pakistan on Tuesday reported 78 deaths in the past 24 hours from the country’s outbreak.

Critics blame Prime Minister Imran Khan for an increase in deaths and infections. THey accuse him of easing restrictions last month at a time when there was a need to enforce a stricter lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

Pakistan has recorded a total of 76,398 confirmed cases and 1,621 deaths since February.

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MADRID -- Spain’s Health Ministry says it recorded no deaths from COVID-19 for a second day in a row.

The latest official data reported Tuesday showed an increase in new confirmed cases, however -- 137 in the previous 24 hours compared with an increase of 71 cases between Sunday and Monday.

Madrid accounted for over half of the new cases, with 73. The Spanish capital has been the area of the country hardest-hit by the coronavirus.

The head of Spain’s emergency response called the falling death rate “very encouraging.”

Fernando Simón added that the number of patients being treated in intensive care units has also been declining, with only nine people admitted to ICUs over the past seven days.

Spain’s official national death toll from the pandemic is 27,127, while the country has almost 240,000 confirmed cases.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai has announced that shopping malls and the private sector can operate at full capacity starting Wednesday following weeks of restrictions and curfews.

Still, people must adhere to social distancing and wear face masks in public. Some of Dubai’s largest malls have already installed thermal scanners at gates to check the temperatures of all entering.

In recent days, Dubai — known for its sprawling malls, shopping and luxury hotels — has also opened some public beaches, parks and gyms. Mosques, public pools, amusement parks, nurseries and schools remain closed.

The capital of the United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, began restricting movement in and out of the city for a week starting Tuesday. Abu Dhabi said the move is aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 there.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities have temporarily suspended flights from Qatar until June 15, after 12 people on a flight from Doha tested positive for the coronavirus.

Authorities have quarantined all 91 passengers from the flight that landed Monday.

International flights to Greece are currently only allowed into Athens, with all passengers subject to compulsory coronavirus tests.

The Civil Protection Agency said Tuesday nine of the passengers who tested positive were Pakistani nationals with residence permits in Greece, two were Greek citizens coming from Australia and one was a Japanese national from a Greek-Japanese family.

Greece currently has a very low coronavirus rate, with 179 deaths and just over 2,900 confirmed positive cases.

Health authorities announced zero deaths on Tuesday, and 19 new confirmed positive cases, including the 12 from the Doha flight.

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ROME — Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered in Rome shunning masks to protest against the Italian government's measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Members of a marginal political movement created last year by a retired Carabinieri general have emerged as a virus-denial camp in Italy, the first Western country to be hit by the global pandemic.

The leader of the so-called Orange Vests told the protest crowd assembled in the Piazza del Popolo on Tuesday that children shouldn’t be made to wear masks and he threatened to ‘’slap’’ anyone who did.

Antonio Pappalardo added that he refuses to wear a mask himself and said: ‘’These lungs mine. I will take care of my lungs. Breathing is sacred.’’

The people packing the square didn't adhere to social-distancing guidelines set by the government.

Pappalardo portrayed such containment measures as an infringement of freedom. Other speakers at the protest asserted that the pandemic ‘’never existed’’ and alleged that politicians had played it up to enhance their own powers.

Italy went into a nationwide lockdown in early March. The country enters a new phase in emerging from the virus emergency with the opening of regional and external borders on Wednesday.

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TOKYO — The governor of Tokyo has issued a coronavirus alert for the Japanese capital amid worries of a resurgence of infections only a week after a state of emergency ended.

Governor Yuriko Koike issued a “Tokyo alert” on Tuesday after 34 new cases were confirmed in the city, where confirmed infections had slowed to a few per day in late May.

Koike said: “The alert is to precisely inform the people of the status of infections and to advise caution.”

Lighting on Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge will be changed from rainbow-colored to red as a sign of alert. However, the alert does not mean restrictions that just got eased will be reimposed immediately.

Experts say the rise in new cases reflects the increased movement of people since mid-May and could increase further.

Koike said: “I want to remind everyone once again that we are fighting against an unknown virus as we still don’t have any vaccines or treatment for it.”

Under the second phase of a three-part plan for resuming business activity, Tokyo's theaters, fitness gyms and other commercial facilities reopened. Night clubs, karaoke parlors and other highest-risk establishments are still closed. shut observing shutdown requests.

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ATHENS — Greece’s Health Ministry says it will carry out coronavirus antibody tests on public health and support workers across Greece this month as part of its efforts to monitor the course of the nation's outbreak.

The Health Ministry said Tuesday that the testing will be carried out on a voluntary basis.. The plan was announced as Greece prepares to reopen to foreign tourists starting June 15.

Early and strictly enforced lockdown measures helped keep Greece's infection rates comparatively low, and officials hope that will help entice summer visitors.

The government is racing to reopen international access to its resorts and to augment health care resources on the Greek islands and in mainland cities popular with vacationers.

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LISBON, Portugal -- Portugal’s economy minister says the outlook for the country’s crucial tourism sector is brightening.

Some low-cost flights have resumed from Zurich and Luxembourg to Faro, in Portugal’s southern Algarve region, which is one of western Europe’s main vacation destinations.

Flights to Faro from Amsterdam are set to restart this week. Ryanair and Jet2 expect to operate flights to Faro starting July 1.

Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira said Portugal is in “advanced discussions” with Germany to establish a so-called “air corridor,” which could allow tourists who test negative for the coronavirus to fly to an area with a low infection rate, such as the Algarve.

The Portuguese government also has started talks with the British Foreign Office about creating an air corridor.

Siza Vieira told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday: “I and businesses in the (tourism) sector are less pessimistic than we were a month ago.”

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MADRID — The Spanish government is seeking to extend the state of emergency it imposed over the coronavirus until June 21, when most remaining restrictions on movement and business will be lifted.

New confirmed virus cases and deaths in Spain are at the lowest point since before the government ordered nationwide lockdown in mid-March.

The decree the Spanish Cabinet passed on Tuesday to prolong the state of emergency still needs to be approved by the lower house of parliament. Spain’s ruling left-wing coalition has secured enough support from smaller opposition parties for the measure to be approved on Wednesday.

Government spokeswoman María Jesús Montero says the extension will be the last one.

For the first time since early March, Spain didn’t register any new deaths from COVID-19 on Monday. The official death toll stands at 27,127, and a total of 240,000 infections have been confirmed by laboratory tests.

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LONDON -- An analysis of the disproportionate effect the coronavirus outbreak in the U.K. appears to be having on members of ethnic minority groups has found that those of Bangladeshi ethnicity had around twice the risk of dying with the virus than white British people.

The report by Public Health England found that black people were most likely to be diagnosed and that coronavirus-related death rates were highest among people from black and Asian ethnic groups.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This pandemic has exposed huge disparities in the health of our nation.”

The Public Health England analysis did not adjust for conditions such as obesity or for occupations when calculating the risk to various ethnic groups. There are a number of other findings in the report, including the fact that working age men are twice as likely to die than working age women.

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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed his government to take quick steps to repair economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin reported to Putin on Tuesday that the Cabinet’s plan contains measures designed to stimulate economic growth, raise incomes and reduce unemployment. It envisages spending 5 trillion rubles (about $73 billion) until December 2021.

A partial economic shutdown that Putin ordered in late March to stem the country's outbreak badly hurt an economy already battered by a sharp drop in oil prices.

The Russian leader says the nation is now past the peak of contagion, allowing regional officials to gradually ease the restrictions. However, some experts warned that a daily increase of about 9,000 confirmed cases makes a quick lifting of the lockdown dangerous.

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LONDON — A leading epidemiologist said the coronavirus outbreak in the U.K. is unlikely to worsen during the summer but that the outlook from September was “very unclear.”

Professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London said he expects levels of coronavirus transmissions and cases to “remain relatively flat between now and September, short of very big policy changes or behavior changes in the community.”

He told a committee of lawmakers in the House of Lords on Tuesday that the “real uncertainty” will be in September.

Ferguson resigned from his position as a government adviser last month after revelations that he broke social-distancing rules.

Ferguson leads a team which modeled the spread and impact of the coronavirus. The team's data was instrumental in prompting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose the lockdown on March 23.

The lockdown is being eased across the U.K., most quickly in England, raising concerns among many health officials of a potential second spike in infections.

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JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s total confirmed coronavirus cases have jumped to more than 35,000 while the province anchored by Cape Town remains a worrying hot spot with more than 23,000.

South Africa has the most confirmed virus cases of any nation in Africa. The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the total number across the continent is now above 152,000.

South Africa took another step in easing lockdown restrictions on Monday with alcohol sales allowed again. Authorities have warned that the rate of new cases is expected to quicken.

South Africa has seen cases double roughly every 12 days while cases in the Western Cape have been doubling every nine days.

A major test lies ahead this weekend as places of worship are allowed to operate with a limit of 50 people, despite warnings from some religious leaders about the risk of spreading the virus.

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JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 150,000 while the World Health Organization says the continent of 1.3 billion people is still the region least affected.

Concerns remain high as some of Africa’s 54 countries struggle with when to reopen schools and parts of their economies.

Rwanda, the first nation in sub-Saharan Africa to impose a lockdown, this week slowed the easing of it after reporting its first COVID-19 death.

More than 4,300 deaths have been confirmed across the continent as local transmission of the virus increases and testing materials and medical equipment remain in short supply in many places.

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LONDON — Britain’s statistics agency says the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the U.K. up to the week ending May 22 was 48,106.

The updated figures from the Office for National Statistics come after it recorded a weekly 2,589 deaths involving the coronavirus in England and Wales, or 21.1% of all deaths.

The daily figures provided by the government have COVID-related deaths at just above 39,000. Those figures are based on initial cause of death assessments, whereas those from the statistics agency are collated from death registrations.

Excess deaths are widely considered to be the best gauge of the virus’s impact as they provide a clear guide over historical periods and include all-cause mortality.

Statistician Nick Stripe said there have been just under 62,000 excess deaths across the U.K.

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BERLIN — Berlin’s top health official says she is appalled by a weekend gathering in support of the city’s shuttered clubs that brought up to 1,500 people together and which organizers ended because participants weren’t keeping to distancing rules.

The demonstrators gathered on a city canal Sunday in 300 to 400 small boats and on the banks, with loud music. The city’s health minister, Dilek Kalayci, said Tuesday she understands nightclubs’ financial difficulties but noted that aid is available and said the weekend event was “grossly negligent” while the pandemic continues. She said “this is not the time for parties.”

Germany started easing its coronavirus restrictions in late April and is continuing to do so despite some concern over local outbreaks linked to slaughterhouses, a church service and a restaurant.

In the latest case, at least 68 people tested positive in the central city of Goettingen after private family parties.

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HARARE, Zimbabwe — State media say Zimbabwe has confirmed its first coronavirus cases in prisons, with four inmates and two guards testing positive.

The Herald newspaper says authorities declared the prisons in Plumtree, which borders Botswana, and in Beitbridge, which borders South Africa, as “no-go areas.” Authorities also have suspended movement out of prisons countrywide, resulting in some prisoners failing to attend court hearings.

Zimbabwe’s cases more than doubled in the past week to over 200, with most new infections at centers where people crossing the border are quarantined.

Zimbabwe earlier released more than 4,000 prisoners to ease overcrowding in facilities where health systems are weak. About 18,000 people are still behind bars.

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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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