TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Spain allows children under 14 out for first time after 44 days of seclusion
— French government to give details on how it plans to ease lockdown measures
— Frontline health workers in Pakistan protest poor quality of personal protection equipment
— British prime minister to return to work two weeks after being discharged from hospital
— India’s prime minister warns against complacency and asks people to change their habits
— South Korea reports 10 confirmed cases, continuing slowing country’s caseload
BARCELONA, Spain — The sound of children shouting has returned to Spain’s streets for the first time in six weeks after the government lifted a strict home confinement on its youngest citizens.
Spain’s government let children under 14 years old out for the first time on Sunday morning after 44 days of complete seclusion. They can now to take walks with a parent for up to one hour within one kilometer from home.
“This is wonderful! I can’t believe it has been six weeks,” said Susana Sabaté, a mother of 3-year-old twin boys who were wearing child-size face-masks. “My boys are very active. Today when they saw the front door and we gave them their scooters, they were thrilled.”
Youngsters can take one toy with them, but they are not allowed play with other kids and should maintain a one-meter distance from other people. Parks are closed. Authorities recommend that both parents and children wash their hands before and after outings.
Spain has one of the world’s strictest lockdowns as it fights to contain one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world. The country has registered almost 225,000 cases of the virus and attributed nearly 23,000 deaths to COVID-19, though the true figure is thought to be much higher.
The strict measures helped reduce a daily contagion rate that was over 20% a month ago to under 2% this week, easing pressure on hospitals that were on the brink of collapse.
The government plans to allow adults to go out for exercise next week. Currently, only trips for buying food and medicine and unavoidable commutes to work are permitted.
PARIS — The French government will detail to parliament on Tuesday how it plans to pull the country out of the coronavirus lockdown that has plunged the eurozone’s second-largest economy into a deep and alarming freeze.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe tweeted that he will unveil the “national deconfinement strategy” in an address at the National Assembly. Lawmakers will get to debate the blueprint before voting on it.
The government has for weeks had teams of experts working on finding a balance between restarting the economy without provoking a second surge of COVID-19 infections that could overwhelm hospital ICUs.
President Emmanuel Macron had already announced that France’s lockdown, in place since March 17 and among the strictest in Europe, would begin to ease from May 11.
Philippe’s long-awaited speech will flesh out the details. He said it will cover six themes: health, schooling, work, shops, transport and gatherings.
Parents are anticipating specifics about the government’s previously announced plans for a staggered resumption of classes. The government says parents will be given the option of continuing to home-school kids if they prefer.
ISLAMABAD — Frontline health workers in Pakistan’s largest Punjab province are holding rotating sit-ins to protest the poor quality of their personal protection equipment.
Dr. Salman Haseeb Chaudhry, president of the provincial chapter of the Young Doctor’s Association, said Sunday the substandard equipment is leading to an increasing number of health professionals contracting COVID-19, and that a grand health alliance including nurses and paramedics has formed to demand greater protection.
Chaudhry said 100 health professionals tested positive for the new coronavirus in the previous 24 hours.
Pakistan has confirmed 12,723 cases of the virus with 269 deaths attributed to COVID-19. The true number of infections is thought to be far higher.
Pakistan has been recording a steady daily increase of about 750 positive cases in the last week. Testing is still low with barely 6,800 people tested daily in a country of 220 million people, 60% of whom live in the most populous Punjab problem.
Pakistan has struggled to get protective equipment to its health professionals. Doctors in southwestern Baluchistan province who protested were jailed earlier this month. They were freed within hours.
The government has increased the supply of protective equipment after receiving planeloads of supplies from China and stepping up local production. But Chaudhry said the quality is substandard.