Spain Eyes Late May For Easing Coronavirus Lockdown 

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has targeted the second half of May as his country’s “horizon of de-escalation,” as his government and others start to plan an exit from strict coronavirus containment measures. Speaking to parliament Wednesday as he requested an extension of current lockdown orders through May 9, Sanchez said when Spain does begin to ease restrictions it will be a “slow and gradual” process. That would be in line with warnings from public health officials who in recent days have urged governments to be careful when lifting restrictions on businesses and public life, saying that moving too quickly would risk a resurgence of infections. Healthcare workers of the Medical Emergency Services of Madrid (SUMMA 112) UVI-6 unit wearing protective suits speak to the wife of a man who has fallen ill at home in Madrid on April 19, 2020.Spain has been one of the world’s most hard-hit countries, with more than 208,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 21,700 deaths. A strict lockdown went into effect in mid-March.  Some businesses have been allowed to reopen, and after public criticism the government said starting Sunday children under the age of 14 will be allowed to go outside for walks. FILE – Medical staff members of a government-run medical college collect swabs from people to test for COVID-19 at a newly installed Walk-In Sample Kiosk in Ernakulam in the southern state of Kerala, India, April 6, 2020.Focus on testing
With many countries around the world focused on testing programs to find the infected, isolate them and trace down their close contacts, there are concerns about areas where widespread testing is not available and where people are living in close quarters. That includes refugee camps, and on Wednesday the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees reported the first confirmed case among refugees in a camp in eastern Lebanon. UNRWA said the woman is a Palestinian from Syria and that she has been taken to a hospital in Beirut.  The agency says it is doing everything necessary to aid her family in isolating themselves, and that it is sending a team to the camp to carry out coronavirus tests. Governments are also eager to find a vaccine for COVID-19, a milestone that would help prevent future massive outbreaks. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Washington Post on Tuesday that a second wave of infections later this year just as flu season begins “could be even more difficult” and put a massive strain on the health care system. Healthy volunteer receives injection in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle, Washington.The United States and China are among countries currently conducting trials of coronavirus vaccines, with officials cautioning it could take until at least early next year before a vaccine is available to the public. British health officials said Oxford University is set to begin testing a vaccine candidate on  people on Thursday. “In normal times, reaching this stage would take a year,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told reporters.  He cautioned that vaccine development is a process of “trial and error and trial again.”  

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