What’s Happening: Hope in Wuhan, unequal access to US tests

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Armed Kazakhstan police wearing face masks block an area in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Thursday, March 19, 2020. A residential block in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s former capital and largest city, has been surrounded by the military and blocked for entry and exit after one of the residents was diagnosed with the new coronavirus. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Vladimir Tretyakov)

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These are some of the latest developments Thursday in the world’s coronavirus pandemic:

HOPE IN WUHAN, BUT DEATH TOLL IN ITALY NEARS STARK TOLL

The Chinese city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the new coronavirus, reported no new homegrown infections on Thursday, in what was a sign of hope for the world and a lesson in the strict measures needed to halt its spread. But in a stark warning for the world, Italy appeared set to surpass China’s death toll from the virus. The two milestones were a dramatic illustration of how much the global outbreak has pivoted toward Europe and the United States.

U.S. ANTI-VIRUS MEASURES POSE NEW THREAT TO CHINA’S FACTORIES

Factories in China, struggling to reopen after the coronavirus shut down the economy, face a new threat from U.S. anti-disease controls that might disrupt the flow of microchips and other components they need. Sustained disruption of activity in the U.S. is expected to lead to disruptions to manufacturing activity in China. The shock threatens to set back the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to revive the world’s second-largest economy after it declared victory over the outbreak.

TRADITIONAL FRENCH SOAP ENJOYS REVIVAL

Amid the rapid spread of the new coronavirus across Europe, the hallmark Marseille tradition of soap-making is enjoying a renaissance, as the French rediscover an essential local product. Savonnerie de la Licorne, a family business going back more than a century which runs four soap shops on the Old Port, a museum and a small factory in the heart of Marseille, has seen its shop sales increase 30% and delivery orders quadruple since Italy declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus.

TESTS FOR CELEBRITIES UNDERLINE INEQUALITIES IN U.S.

Celebrities, politicians and professional athletes in the United States are being tested for the coronavirus even when they don’t have fevers or other symptoms of COVID-19. That’s fueling a perception that the wealthy and famous have been able to jump to the head of the line to get tested while others have been turned away or met with long delays. The concerns over preferential treatment underscore a fundamental truth about inequalities baked into the American health care system — those with the financial means can often receive a different level of service.

ISRAEL’S NETANYAHU ACCUSED OF USING CRISIS TO CEMENT POWER

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing accusations that he is exploiting the coronavirus crisis to entrench himself in power and undermining the country’s democratic foundations after pushing a series of emergency measures. There have been sweeping restrictions that have put Israel in near-shutdown mode. Meanwhile, Netanyahu has managed to postpone his own pending criminal trial, authorize unprecedented electronic surveillance of Israeli citizens and block parliament from pressing ahead with legislation aimed at pushing him from office.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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