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Japan lifts emergencies for most regions; New Zealand ends lockdown

By
Don Jacobson & Danielle Haynes
A medical worker collects a sample for polymerase chain reaction tests for the coronavirus disease on May 10 during a simulation for drive-through at the Kashima soccer Stadium in Ibaraki-Prefecture, Japan. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
A medical worker collects a sample for polymerase chain reaction tests for the coronavirus disease on May 10 during a simulation for drive-through at the Kashima soccer Stadium in Ibaraki-Prefecture, Japan. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

May 14 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said Thursday he will lift a state of emergency ahead of schedule for about 80 percent of prefectures.

Abe said the decision was made after a close look at health data and will be finalized at the next meeting of the government's coronavirus task force.

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The move does not include lifting the emergency for Tokyo and Osaka, but Abe said the government will consider them next week.

The worldwide death toll from COVID-19 was more than 301,000 out of about 4.4 million cases since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University on Thursday evening.

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In New Zealand, no new cases were reported for the third consecutive day as a national lockdown ended Thursday.

The health ministry said the total number of cases is about 1,500 and no new deaths were reported. New Zealand downgraded to a "level 2" alert that allows most businesses to resume and workers to return to offices.

Domestic travel also was allowed to resume Thursday and schools will reopen Monday, followed by bars and restaurants on May 21.

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War-torn Yemen, meanwhile, has had a spike in coronavirus-related deaths, according to Save the Children. There were at least 380 deaths over the past week, the humanitarian organization said.

There's a shortage of personal protective equipment and ventilators in hospitals there, and some healthcare workers are refusing to work without protection. Some hospitals have closed.

"Our teams on the ground are seeing how people are being sent away from hospitals, breathing heavily or even collapsing. People are dying because they can't get treatment that would normally save their lives," said Mohammed Alshamaa, Save the Children's director of programs in Yemen.

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"there are patients who go from hospital to hospital and yet cannot get admitted."

In the former epicenter of China, three new cases were reported Thursday by the National Health Commission. All were local cases and included two in Liaoning province and one in Jilin province. No deaths were reported nationwide.

World moves to reopen amid COVID-19 pandemic

Visitors wear face masks as they tour the Whitney Museum of American Art as it reopens on September 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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