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UN chief: Use pandemic to ‘rebuild our world for the better’

BERLIN — United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed how fragile societies are but that if governments work together on common challenges, including global warming, it can be an opportunity to “rebuild our world for the better.”

Speaking at a two-day international meeting on climate change, the UN chief said the only effective response to the worldwide health emergency is ‘‘brave, visionary, and collaborative leadership.”

He urged the European Union to show “global leadership” by presenting updated emissions reduction plans by the end of the year that would put Europe on course to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

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But Guterres added that other big emitters also have to come on board, noting that the Group of 20 major developed and emerging economies together account for more than 80 percent of global emissions.

“The Paris Agreement was largely made possible by the engagement of the United States and China,” he said, referring to a 2015 climate accord. “Without the contribution of the big emitters, all our efforts will be doomed.”

Under President Trump, the United States has moved to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which commits to keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) by the end of the century.

“These are dark days, but they are not without hope,” Guterres said. “We have a rare and short window of opportunity to rebuild our world for the better.”

Associated Press

UK mourns ‘fallen’ front-line workers, expands testing

LONDON — Britain held a minute’s silence Tuesday for all front-line workers who have died from the coronavirus, as the government extended its testing program and concerns mounted about the rising death toll in care homes.

As clocks struck 11 a.m., senior political leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, joined hospital and nursing home staff in observing the silence. London’s transport networks came to a halt as workers honored colleagues who have died from COVID-19, and the bells of Westminster Abbey went silent.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said 85 front-line workers in the National Health Service had died from the virus, while another 19 have died in care homes.

“These are the nation’s fallen heroes, and we will remember them,” Hancock said at the government’s daily briefing.

The minute’s silence had been campaigned for by the Unison union, the Royal College of Midwives, and the Royal of College of Nursing, many of whose members have complained about insufficient supplies of personal protective equipment.

Associated Press

Pope urges lockdown obedience amid debate

ROME — Pope Francis waded into the church-state debate about virus-imposed lockdowns of religious services, calling Tuesday for “prudence and obedience” to government protocols to prevent infections from surging again.

His appeal came just two days after Italian bishops bitterly complained that the Italian government offered no provisions for Masses to resume in its plan to reopen Italian business, social, and sporting life starting May 4.

While it wasn’t clear whether Francis intended to send a different message than the bishops, his appeal for obedience and prudence was in line with his previous calls to protect the most vulnerable, and for economic interests to take a backseat to shows of solidarity.

At the same time, Francis has certainly chafed at the lockdown, saying early on that he felt like he was in a “cage’’ and lamenting more recently that the church isn’t really “Church’’ without a community of faithful present and the administration of sacraments.

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Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte’s government announced Sunday that funerals could resume starting May 4, but there was no information on when the faithful could attend Mass.

Associated Press

Russian doctors, nurses face more risks as cases grow

MOSCOW — Reports of infected medical workers are emerging almost daily as Russia copes with the virus. Last week alone, more than 200 doctors in Moscow and St. Petersburg were reported to have it, with some turning to social media to make their plight known.

It’s unclear how many Russian doctors and nurses overall have been infected. The Health Ministry did not respond to requests for comment, but news reports from a dozen regions in the past two weeks suggest at least 450 medical workers have had COVID-19, with 11 doctors and five nurses dying.

The number is likely to be much higher because hospital officials often hide such infections, said Semyon Galperin, head of the Doctors Defense League.

The number of coronavirus cases in Russia has risen quickly to more than 93,000 with 867 deaths, although some in the West question the accuracy of those reports. Most of Russia’s big cities have been locked down since March 30 under measures that were extended to May 11. Of 285 virus hot spots in the country, medical facilities account for more than half, said Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova.

Associated Press

Officials: 9 inmates dead in Peru coronavirus prison riot

LIMA — Prisoners in Peru staged a riot to protest their precarious living conditions following the deaths of several fellow inmates from the coronavirus, but the revolt in itself proved fatal, with nine prisoners winding up dead, authorities said.

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Authorities said Tuesday the inmates were shot to death during a clash with authorities at the Miguel Castro Castro prison in Lima a day earlier. Who fired the deadly shots was under investigation.

Hundreds of inmates gathered around the bodies of two of the dead in a common space of the prison late Monday afternoon. Images taken by the Associated Press show one of the deceased prisoners was surrounded by candles and placed next to a cross and an illustration of Jesus Christ that is venerated in Peru.

“Right to life,” read a large sign created by the prisoners with black cloth and white letters. “We want to live but outside these walls.”

Peru’s overcrowded jails have been hard hit by the coronavirus: At least 13 prisoners have died and more than 500 have been infected. More than 100 workers have also fallen ill.

Throughout Latin America, prisons are notoriously overcrowded, violent, and dominated in large part by gangs or corrupt officials. Overall there are 1.5 million inmates in the region’s jail cells.

Peru has nearly 30,000 confirmed cases total of COVID-19, the second-highest number of infections in the region following Brazil. Health authorities say 782 have died.

Associated Press