Wednesday March 3rd, 2021 3:32AM

The Latest: UN chief says COVID-19 deepens gender inequality

By The Associated Press
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UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief says the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the inequality between men and women and reversed “decades of limited and fragile progress on gender equality and women’s rights.”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned young women from civil society organizations at a virtual town hall meeting on Monday that “without a concerned response, we risk losing a generation or more of gains.”

During the pandemic, he said “women have been on the front lines of the response, as health care workers, teachers, essential staff and as carers in their families and communities.” A majority of health care workers are women, but less than a third are in decision-making roles, he said.

Guterres said the pandemic has impacted physical and mental health, education, and labor force participation. He also noted reports in some places of increases in teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence.



— Students are returning to schools in much of Europe

— How will the U.S. coronavirus crisis play out this fall?

— In South Africa, the pandemic claimed 14,000 lives, plus the rituals to mourn them

— In China’s Xinjiang, forced medication accompanies lockdown


Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida’s director of economic opportunity has resigned months after being stripped of his oversight of its glitch-ridden unemployment system, which left hundreds of thousands of people waiting weeks for benefits after losing their jobs.

Ken Lawson’s resignation letter said he was leaving his post Monday “in the spirit of turning the page and moving forward.”

Florida’s unemployment system was among the slowest in the country to respond to the surge in unemployment as the pandemic sidelined key sectors of the state’s economy, including bars, restaurants and tourism.

The number of unemployed people overwhelmed the state’s benefits system. Lawson had publicly apologized for the distress that caused the newly unemployed.


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Gov. Gina Raimondo says every public school district in Rhode Island except two has been given the go-ahead to resume in-person classes in September.

The Democrat said Monday that children are scheduled to return to school on Sept. 14 and “our expectation is that’s what you will do.”

Five metrics had to be met, including low hospitalization and spread rate statewide and an ability to return coronavirus test results within 72 hours.

Only Providence and Central Falls haven’t met the metrics. Those cities have had the highest coronavirus rates in the state.


COLUMBIA, S.C. — Officials in Columbia, South Carolina, say at least 200 people were crowded around without masks at a pool party that was shut down near the University of South Carolina.

Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins tells WLTX-TV the scene Saturday at an apartment complex violated rules meant to halt the coronavirus and created “a perfect storm to spread the virus.”

Jenkins persuaded the complex to close the pool for several days, but no one was cited for violating the city’s mask ordinance.


CHICO, Calif. — California State University, Chico has canceled the limited number of in-person classes it was offering and has gone virtual-only for the duration of the fall semester after at least 30 people tested positive for the coronavirus three days after the semester began.

University President Gayle Hutchinson says she is asking students to vacate campus housing by this weekend because nearly all on-campus residences have at least one case and there are concerns the numbers will increase.


GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization warns that opening up societies too quickly amid the coronavirus pandemic is a “recipe for disaster.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus insists that countries that are serious about opening up must also be serious about suppressing transmission. He says that's not “an impossible balance.”

Tedros cited four key points that countries, communities and individuals should focus on: preventing “amplifying events” — as the virus thrives on clusters; protecting vulnerable groups; people taking steps individually to protect themselves; and finding, isolating, testing and caring for cases, while tracing and quarantining their contacts.


ROME — Italy registered nearly 1,000 more coronavirus cases on Monday, far fewer than recent daily new caseloads — but far fewer swab tests had been done.

Italy now counts 269,214 confirmed infections. Many of those testing positive in recent weeks have been travelers returning from vacations or their close contacts.

Sardinia, which had relatively few cases for weeks, registered 79 new infections Monday, with clusters of infections linked to crowded discos or holiday-goers’ parties on the Mediterranean island.

The regions with the most daily new cases were Campania, which includes Naples, and Lazio, which includes Rome.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — President Donald Trump’s new pandemic adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, says coronavirus infections and deaths are declining in the hardest-hit states.

Appearing with Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for a panel discussion on Monday, Atlas said hospitalizations, length of hospital stays and mortality are also declining.

“The American public should feel cautiously optimistic here about what’s going on,” Atlas said. “There is no need for fear at this point.”

He downplayed the risk of infections in young people and agreed with DeSantis that college football needs to be played this year and “can be done safely.”

Atlas also downplayed the need to test people for the coronavirus when they don’t have symptoms.


YANGON, Myanmar — The Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar has reported its highest single-day total of confirmed COVID-19 cases since its first cases were confirmed in late March.

The Health Ministry announced 95 new cases Monday, bringing its total to 882. Of those, 354 are listed as recovered, and six died.

The surge of new cases over the past week has mostly been in the western state of Rakhine, which borders Bangladesh and hosts several major displacement camps due to years of civil conflict. The government responded by instituting a “Stay-at-Home” program for the entire state. It also banned unnecessary and unauthorized travel.


DETROIT — Detroit turned an island park into an extraordinary memorial garden on Monday as cars packed with families slowly passed hundreds of photos of residents who died from COVID-19.

Mayor Mike Duggan declared a Detroit Memorial Day to honor the city’s 1,500-plus victims of the pandemic. Hearses led solemn processions around Belle Isle Park in the Detroit River, where more than 900 photos were displayed.

Detroit’s director of arts and culture, Rochelle Riley, said organizers hoped the memorial would “wake people up to the devastating effect of the pandemic” and also “bring some peace to families whose loved ones didn’t have the funerals they deserved.”


BRUSSELS — The European Union is joining the COVID-19 vaccine alliance COVAX with the aim of helping to provide access to any future vaccine for people in countries that might not be able to afford it.

The EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, announced Monday that it was contributing 400 million euros ($478 million) to support the scheme.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the aim is to work together “in purchasing future vaccines to the benefit of low and middle income countries.”

But the commission refused to say whether it wants to use COVAX as another means to secure access for relatively-wealthy Europe to any future vaccine.

Activists warn that without stronger attempts to hold political, pharmaceutical and health leaders accountable, any vaccines could be hoarded by rich countries in a race to inoculate their populations first.


TRENTON, N.J. — Indoor dining will resume Friday with limited capacity in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced.

Restaurants can have 25% capacity, which includes maintaining social distancing between tables. Masks will be required except when eating or drinking.

“Reopening responsibly will help us restore one of our state’s key industries while continuing to make progress against #COVID19,” Murphy wrote in a tweet Monday announcing updated regulations.

New Jersey has had more than 190,000 positive cases, with over 14,000 fatalities.


FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The University of Alaska Fairbanks hockey team and other student-athletes there are in quarantine or isolation after some tested positive for the coronavirus following an off-campus party.

Administrators say 37 students were placed in isolation after six hockey players and an athlete from another university team tested positive. Their head coach, who wasn't at the Aug. 22 party, was also quarantined after having close contact with players.


STOCKHOLM — A Swedish health official said Monday that a COVID-19 vaccine “alone cannot stop the pandemic,” adding “important preventive measures must remain in place for the foreseeable future.”

Johan Carlson, head of the Public Health Agency in Sweden that opted for a much debated COVID-19 approach of keeping large parts of the society open, said a future vaccine “will probably be an important tool” but “not the tool that ultimately solves the problem."

Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren says the vaccine should be administered in priority to people over age 70, people in risk groups, and care and nursing staff.


GENEVA — The U.N. health agency says 90% of countries that responded in a new survey reported fallout from COVID-19 on the provision of other health care services.

The World Health Organization says 105 countries responded to the survey aimed at assessing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on strained health systems, notably in low- and middle-income countries.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the survey, covering five regions between March and June, exposed the need for better preparation for health emergencies like the current pandemic.

The survey found that routine immunization and outreach services were among the most affected, with 70% of countries reporting disruptions, followed closely by the diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Nearly a quarter of countries that responded reported disruptions to emergency services.

WHO cautioned about some limitations about the study, including differences in the phases of the outbreak that countries were experiencing.


NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’ education minister says mask-wearing will be compulsory for all middle and high school students but optional for primary and kindergarten grades when schools open next week, easing an earlier position that masks would be mandatory for all grades.

Prodromos Prodromou said schools were instructed to conduct classes in the largest available spaces to ensure social distancing. He says his ministry is ready to switch to online teaching if coronavirus infection rates within schools increase.


MADRID — Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says the Spanish government is working on a post-pandemic recovery plan that aims to bring sustained annual economic growth higher than 2%.

Spain was allocated 140 billion euros ($166.84 billion) from the European Union’s coronavirus recovery fund, roughly divided in half between grants and repayable loans.

Using that aid, the plan outlined Monday by Sánchez will aim to address inequality deepened by the virus, which has claimed at least 29,000 victims in Spain.

It has become western Europe’s hardest-hit country by a new surging wave of fresh outbreaks.


BUCHAREST, Romania — Romanian government is lifting several restrictions imposed earlier to curb the coronavirus, despite consistently rising number of new infections and deaths.

The government announced Monday it will let indoor dining, movie theaters and performing art venues restart on Tuesday. They must comply with social distancing and mask-wearing rules.


LONDON — British authorities say 16 coronavirus cases have been linked to a flight that brought U.K. tourists back from Greece, and everyone aboard has been told to isolate for two weeks.

Public Health Wales says it's contacting almost 200 people who were aboard the Tui flight from the Greek island of Zante to Cardiff, Wales, on Tuesday.

Gwen Lowe of Public Health Wales says 30 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among people who returned from Zante on several flights, and the number is expected to rise.

The U.K. requires people arriving from overseas to quarantine for two weeks, unless they are coming from a considered at low risk from the coronavirus. Greece is on the exemption list.


NEW DELHI — India reported more than 78,000 new coronavirus cases and 984 more deaths on Monday, increasing its total fatalities to 64,469.

India has had more than 3.6 million reported virus cases and now has the fastest-growing reported caseload of any country, seeing more than 75,000 new cases for five straight days.

The virus hit India’s major cities and is now fast spreading in smaller towns and rural areas.

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