Lockdowns are beginning to lift in Europe, under intense debate. Israel’s prime minister and president are under fire for breaking their own lockdown rules.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Lockdowns in some European countries are shifting, but not without heated debate.
- Britain surpasses 10,000 deaths, and Boris Johnson is released from the hospital.
- Erdogan rejected the resignation of the minister who oversaw Turkey’s rushed lockdown.
- Saudi Arabia, Russia and others agree to slash oil production to balance falling demand caused by lockdowns.
- In a live-streamed Easter Mass, Pope Francis says the pandemic is ‘testing our whole human family.’
- Amid an exploding caseload in the U.S., Easter services take on many forms.
- Latest in science news: Researchers are studying the role of ‘superspreaders’ who infect many others.
In France, the death toll rose to nearly 14,400 people, but the country had its fourth straight day with a decrease of patients in intensive care, The Associated Press reported. A lockdown imposed on March 17 is expected to be renewed.
In Russia, officials on Sunday reported 2,186 new confirmed cases, the largest daily increase since the start of the outbreak, bringing the national tally to 15,770, with 130 deaths. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin of Moscow said that the city would introduce digital permits that will be required to travel by car, motorcycle, taxi and public transit.
In Germany, where gatherings of more than two people are banned, the police in Frankfurt were attacked with stones and metal pipes when they tried to break up a party of about 20 people late Friday. Around the country, hundreds of officers fanned out across parks and riverbanks to ensure that the rules were observed. Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet on Wednesday with state governors to discuss whether restrictions can be eased.
Spain, the only European country hit harder than Italy by the pandemic, was preparing to allow factories and construction sites to recall workers after the Easter holiday, even as the population remains under lockdown until at least April 26. Elected officials from the regional governments of Madrid and Catalonia, the two areas most affected by the virus, questioned the lifting of restrictions.
On Saturday, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the conservative leader of the Madrid region, said she would respect the orders of the government, but warned that it would be “unforgivable” if the authorities allowed another wave of infections.
Britain surpasses 10,000 deaths, and Boris Johnson is released from the hospital.
In Britain, where the total number of reported coronavirus deaths surpassed 10,600 this weekend, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from the hospital on Sunday.
It was a major step forward in his recovery from the coronavirus and a welcome relief for a nation whose political leadership has been harder hit by the contagion than that of any other Western country.
In a video posted on Twitter, he credited the National Health Service with saving his life, calling it “the beating heart of this country.”
“It’s hard to find words to express my debt,” he said, looking a bit wan but speaking with his usual vigor.
He thanked Britons for adhering to social distancing measures and said they were helping to slow the spread of the virus.
He named two nurses — Jenny, from New Zealand and Luis, from Portugal — who “stood by my bedside for 48 hours when things could have gone either way.”
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal later thanked Luis Pitarma and all Portuguese professionals fighting Covid-19 around the world.
Jenny McGee, the nurse from New Zealand, told her family she was “blown away” by Mr. Johnson’s recognition, according to The New Zealand Herald.
Mr. Johnson, who spent three nights in intensive care at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, will convalesce at Chequers, the prime minister’s country house, the government said in a statement. But he will soon be able to sign off on major decisions, including when to ease the country’s lockdown.
His release came a day after Queen Elizabeth II released a recorded Easter message in which she said that the holiday was a time of “light overcoming darkness.”
“We know that coronavirus will not overcome us,” the queen said. “As dark as death can be, particularly for those suffering with grief, light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.”
The total number of confirmed cases in the country is nearly 79,000, and the virus has also emerged in the country’s prisons. The fiancée of Julian Assange — the WikiLeaks founder, who is being held in Belmarsh prison, a high-security facility in London — appealed for him and others to be released on bail because an inmate at the facility has died from the coronavirus. Mr. Assange and his partner, Stella Moris-Smith Robertson, a legal researcher on his legal team, have two young children together.
Crime has generally fallen in the country since lockdown measures were introduced — a 21 percent drop in the last four weeks compared with the same period last year, officials said on Saturday.
But the home secretary, Priti Patel, said in a daily briefing that fraudsters had been using the pandemic “as a hook for new acquisitive crimes” with losses to victims surpassing 1.8 million pounds, about $2.2 million.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declined on Sunday to accept the resignation of Turkey’s interior minister, who offered it after taking responsibility for an abruptly announced curfew over the weekend that set off panic buying.
The minister, Sulyeman Soylu, announced his resignation late Sunday on Twitter, saying that he was responsible for implementing the lockdown. Within an hour, the president’s director of communications announced that Mr. Erdogan had refused to accept his resignation.
Mr. Soylu is one of the most powerful ministers of Mr. Erdogan’s cabinet, and his attempted resignation, following the removal of another minister two weeks ago, is an indication of the political fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Confirmed cases have risen to more than 56,000 in Turkey’s population of 80 million, and deaths are at 1,198.
The lockdown for 31 provinces was announced just two hours before it went into force at midnight on Friday, sending thousands of citizens rushing to late-night stores to buy provisions, undoing the government’s efforts to encourage social distancing.
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