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The Latest: South Korea reports 19 new virus cases, China 7

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:

— South Korea reports 19 new virus cases, China 7.

— Ban on foreign travelers arriving in U.S. from Brazil to start Tuesday.

— WHO warns Brazil against reopening economy before it can perform enough testing.

— California churches can resume in-person services but congregations will be limited to less than 100.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 19 new cases of the coronavirus, most from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where officials have been actively tracing transmissions linked to nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday also reported two more deaths, bringing national totals to 11,225 cases and 269 fatalities. Officials linked three of the new cases to international arrivals.

South Korea has been reporting around 20 new cases per day over the past two weeks after health workers found hundreds of infections linked to club goers who went out in early May as the country eased social distancing measures.

The new infections in the greater capital area have caused concern as authorities proceed with a phased reopening of schools, which began with high school seniors last week.

Around 2.4 million high school juniors, middle school seniors, first and second graders and kindergarten students will be returning to school on Wednesday.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo urged school officials to double check their preventive measures. He called for authorities to strengthen monitoring on some 390,000 undocumented foreign nationals who may have poor access to medical services and tests, but related measures weren’t immediately announced.

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BEIJING — China reported seven new coronavirus cases Tuesday, all brought into the country by Chinese citizens returning from abroad.

Just 81 patients remain hospitalized with COVID-19, and another 408 are in isolation and being monitored for either suspected cases or after testing positive for the virus without showing any symptoms. China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from the disease among 82,992 cases.

With the decline in numbers, students have gradually returned to class and some international schools in the capital Beijing are preparing to re-open on June 1. China is proceeding this week with the annual session of its ceremonial parliament, which is being held under social distancing restrictions.

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MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine president has ordered about 24,000 workers who have lost their jobs abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic to be transported by land, sea or air to their provincial homes and warned local officials not to refuse them entry.

The workers returned to the country in recent months but had to undergo two weeks of quarantine in hospitals, hotels and makeshift isolation centers in metropolitan Manila in a chaotic situation that delayed their trip home and sparked a myriad of complaints. Some had to wait weeks to be tested for the coronavirus and receive results.

President Rodrigo Duterte said in televised remarks Monday night that some provincial officials have refused entry to returning workers from abroad as a precaution and warned them of possible lawsuits. Authorities have been scrambling to unclog quarantine facilities in the capital with about 300,000 more displaced Filipino workers slated to come home soon.

“I’m ordering you to accept them, open the gates of your territories,” Duterte said. “Do not impede it. Do not obstruct the movement of people because you run the risk of getting sued criminally.”

Thousands of workers who have tested negative for the virus began boarding buses, ships and planes back to their provinces on Monday in homecomings that are expected to be completed in a week.

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WASHINGTON — A ban on foreign travelers arriving in the U.S. from Brazil due to the surge in coronavirus cases there will now take effect late Tuesday, two days earlier than previously announced.

The ban had been set to go into effect late Thursday. The White House announced the change Monday without explanation.

Brazil is second to the U.S. in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, and has seen cases surge in recent days.

The White House cited Brazil’s status as Latin America’s hardest-hit country on Sunday when it announced the ban, saying it would prevent additional infections in the U.S.

Foreign nationals who have been to Brazil in the two weeks before they attempt to enter the U.S. are to be turned back under the ban. The ban does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, and their spouses, parents or children.

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RIO DE JANEIRO — The World Health Organization warned Brazil on Monday against reopening its economy before it can perform enough testing to control the spread of the pandemic.

The organization’s executive director, Michael Ryan, said in a news conference that Brazil’s “intense” transmission rates meant it should keep some sort of stay-at-home measures in place, regardless of negative impacts on the economy.

Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor Marcelo Crivella, an evangelical bishop, announced Monday he was including religious institutions in the list of “essential services.”

This means churches would be able to open their doors, while keeping a minimum two meters between attendees, in spite of existing recommendations for people to stay at home and most businesses remaining shut.

Meanwhile, Sao Paulo Gov. João Doria, ruled out a full-on lockdown in Brazil’s largest state economy and said he would start loosening restrictions on June 1.

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LOS ANGELES — California says churches can resume in-person services but the congregations will be limited to less than 100 and worshippers should wear masks, avoid sharing prayer books and skip the collection plate.

The state Department of Public Health released a framework Monday for county health officials to permit houses of worship to reopen. Most have been limited to online and remote services since March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order took effect to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

With progress being made, Newsom has been relaxing those restrictions for restaurants, stores and other businesses.

Several thousand churches had vowed to defy Newsom’s order on May 31, which is Pentacost Sunday, a major holiday for many Christians.

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LONDON — The vast majority of shops in England will be allowed to reopen next month as the government gradually eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says outdoor markets and spacious car showrooms can open from June 1 because the likelihood of transmission is low there.

Clothes stores, bookshops, tailors, auctioneers and other retailers will follow on June 15, as long as the number of infections continues to fall and the businesses can be made “COVID-19 secure.”

The other parts of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — can set their own timetables.

Since a nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 23, only shops classed as “essential,” such as supermarkets, have been allowed to operate.

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MADRID — In a surprise announcement, Spain has corrected its official death toll from COVID-19, saying almost 2,000 fewer people than previously thought have died from the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

A Health Ministry statement Monday said the death toll stands at 26,834 — down from the number published a day earlier of 28,752.

Fernando Simón, the director of Spain’s health alerts and emergency center, said the discrepancy was detected as officials sifted through and corrected data collected since the pandemic reached Spain.

Officials have deleted deaths counted twice and deceased people who were not cases confirmed by tests, for example. The quality of data being gathered has improved considerably, he said, adding that automated data collection had introduced errors.

However, the figures do not include the thousands of people who are believed to have died, especially in nursing homes, with symptoms attributable to the coronavirus, though unconfirmed.

Spanish regions have reported that the number of deaths in nursing homes, of both confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases, is close to 19,000.

The Health Ministry said 50 people died Monday, one of the lowest daily tolls in weeks.

Spain has officially recorded 235,400 cases, 246 of them new.

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BEIJING — The Chinese city of Wuhan has conducted more than 6.5 million coronavirus tests over a 10-day period in a bid to test all of its 11 million residents, state media said Monday.

The city’s health commission, in a post on its website, asked anyone who hasn’t been tested to come forward by the end of Tuesday.

One COVID-19 case has been confirmed since the 10-day campaign started, and some people with no symptoms also tested positive. More than 3 million people were tested prior to the campaign, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The campaign was launched after a cluster of six cases was discovered in one residential compound. Wuhan, where the pandemic is believed to have started late last year, was by far the city hit hardest in China.

— This item corrects an earlier version that indicated no new cases had been confirmed. One new case has been confirmed.

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COLUMBUS, Ga. — A 34-year-old Guatemalan detainee has become the second person reported to have died from COVID-19 while in federal immigration custody.

Santiago Baten-Oxlaj, who died Sunday in a Georgia hospital, had been awaiting his voluntary departure to his native country, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a news release.

Baten-Oxlaj had been held inside Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, where at least 16 detainees have tested positive for COVID-19, according to ICE.

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DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s state media says authorities have decided to lift a nighttime curfew imposed in March to limit the spread of coronavirus.

State news agency SANA reported late Monday that the curfew will be lifted as of Tuesday. It added that travel between the country’s governorates will be allowed to resume as well.

It said that it is possible to re-impose the curfew if needed.

Syria has registered 106 cases of coronavirus and four deaths.

Syria began recently easing restrictions imposed over the past weeks.

Earlier Monday, the Health Ministry reported 20 new cases of coronavirus in the country, the highest daily toll since the new virus was first reported here in late March. It said all the new cases were of Syrians who had returned from abroad.

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RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Health has reported the second confirmed case in the state of a pediatric inflammatory illness associated with the new coronavirus.

The department’s website on Monday showed a second case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children in the Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church. No other details, including the age of the child, were provided.

Officials confirmed the first case in the same district last week, saying at the time that the child was recovering at home.

While children have generally not experienced severe cases of COVID-19, health officials have warned recently of the new inflammatory illness related to the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control issued an advisory about the syndrome May 14, warning of symptoms including fever, abdominal pain without another explanation, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, red or cracked lips, bumpy tongue, and swollen hands and feet.

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovak citizens will be allowed to travel to eight countries, and not to face a mandatory quarantine and tests for the coronavirus if they return in 48 hours.

Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic says the move will become effective on Wednesday.

Those countries include the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany and Switzerland.

Previously, the Slovaks had to return in 24 hours if they traveled to those countries.

Matovic said Monday that Slovakia has been negotiating with those countries reciprocal deals to enable the Slovaks travel there without a negative test on the coronavirus or get quarantined and the citizens of the eight countries would also be able to travel to Slovakia without restrictions.

The first such deal between Slovakia and the neighboring Czech Republic becomes effective on Wednesday, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said.

Slovakia has only a total of 1,511 positive cases while 28 people died of COVID-19.

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ISTANBUL — Turkey’s health minister announced 29 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the country’s toll to 4,369.

Fahrettin Koca also tweeted Monday 987 new infections were confirmed in the past 24 hours.

The total number of infections has reached 157,814.

More than 120,000 people have recovered and people needing intensive care continued on a downward trend, according to the health ministry statistics. The ministry has said its treatment protocol includes the early use of antivirals hydroxychloroquin and favipiravir, as well as the antibiotic azithromycin, along with high frequency oxygen.

Turkey ranks ninth in a tally by Johns Hopkins University, but experts believe the number of infections globally could be much higher than reported.

Turkey’s 83 million citizens are on the third day of a four-day nationwide lockdown.

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LONDON — The World Health Organization said it will temporarily drop hydroxychloroquine — the malaria drug U.S. President Trump said he is taking — from its global study into experimental COVID-19 treatments, saying that its experts need to review all available evidence to date.

In a news briefing on Monday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that in light of a paper published last week in the Lancet, that showed people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of death and heart problems than those that were not, there would be “a temporary pause” on the hydroxychloroquine arm of its global clinical trial.

“This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19,” Tedros said, adding that the drugs are accepted treatments for people with malaria or auto-immune diseases.

Other treatments in the study, including the experimental drug remdesivir and an HIV combination therapy, are still being pursued.

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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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