U.S. records 33 new measles cases, raising year’s total to 1,077

FILE PHOTO: A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

(Reuters) – The United States recorded 33 new measles cases last week, bringing the number of confirmed cases this year to 1,077 in the worst outbreak of the virus since 1992, federal health officials said on Monday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the cases of the highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease rose 3% in the week ended June 20 from the prior week. The 2019 outbreak, which has spread to 28 states, is the worst since 1992, when 2,126 cases were recorded.

Health experts say the virus has spread among school-age children whose parents declined to give them the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which confers immunity to the disease. A vocal fringe of U.S. parents, some in New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, cite concerns that the vaccine may cause autism, despite scientific studies that have debunked such claims.

The disease has mostly affected children who have not received the vaccine.

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, meaning there was no continuous transmission of the disease for a year. Still, cases of the virus occur and spread via travelers coming from countries where measles is common.

CDC officials have warned that the country risks losing its measles elimination status if the ongoing outbreak, which began in October 2018 in New York, continues until October 2019.

The outbreak has escalated since 82 people in 2018 and more than 40 people in 2019 brought measles to the United States from other countries, most frequently Ukraine, Israel and the Philippines, federal officials said.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Susan Thomas)

Philippines sends trash back to Canada after Duterte escalates row

Philippine customs officials inspect cargo containers containing tonnes of garbage shipped by Canada at Manila port November 10, 2014. Mandatory credit BAN Toxics/Handout via REUTERS

By Ronn Bautista

SUBIC, Philippines (Reuters) – The Philippines has started returning dozens of shipping containers full of trash to Canada after a long-running row over waste exports that has tested diplomatic ties amid threats from firebrand President Rodrigo Duterte.

The 69 containers were loaded overnight onto a vessel at the port of Subic, northwest of Manila, and left on Friday for a month-long journey to the Canadian city of Vancouver.

A Philippine court in 2016 declared the import of 2,400 tonnes of Canadian waste illegal. It had been mislabeled as plastics for recycling.

Canada said the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a private commercial transaction done without the government’s consent.

“The government of Canada is taking all the necessary measures to ensure safe and environmentally sound transport, handling and disposal of the waste in Canada,” Mark Johnson, spokesman for Canada’s environment and climate change ministry, said in an email statement.

The Philippines had accused Canada of stalling, prompting angry rebukes from Duterte, a volatile but hugely popular president known for his tirades against Western governments.

He threatened to declare war on Canada, dump the trash in front of its embassy in Manila, or personally sail with the waste and leave it in Canadian waters.

His spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said he hoped ties with Canada would now return to normal.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said diplomats whom he had ordered to leave Canada in protest had now been told to return. Locsin posted a picture on Twitter on Friday of the ship departing Subic, with the message “Baaaaaaaaa bye”.

The Philippines is the latest Southeast Asian nation to take issue with developed nations they say use the region as a dumping grounds for waste.

Malaysia, the world’s main destination for plastic waste after China, said on Tuesday it would return as much as 3,000 tonnes of waste back to the countries of origin.

Environmental activists gathered in Subic as the containers were being prepared, holding banners that said “never again” and “we are not the world’s dump site.”

Some carried cardboard boxes made to look like shipping containers bearing signs that read “good riddance” and “Canada take back your trash”.

“The waste trade is a very unacceptable practice. It is a deplorable practice,” Greenpeace Philippines director Lea Guerrero told reporters.

(Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in MANILA; Editing by Martin Petty and Darren Schuettler)

U.S., Japan, India and Philippines challenge Beijing with naval drills in the South China Sea

Vessels from the U.S. Navy, Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Philippine Navy sail in formation at sea, in this recent taken handout photo released by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on May 9, 2019. Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force/Handout via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – In a fresh show of naval force in the contested South China Sea, a U.S. guided missile destroyer conducted drills with a Japanese aircraft carrier, two Indian naval ships and a Philippine patrol vessel in the waterway claimed by China, the U.S. Navy said on Thursday.

While similar exercises have been held in the South China Sea in the past, the combined display by four countries represents a fresh challenge to Beijing as U.S. President Donald Trump threatens to hike tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

“Professional engagements with our allies, partners and friends in the region are opportunities to build upon our existing, strong relationships,” Commander Andrew J. Klug, the captain of the U.S. destroyer, the USS William P. Lawrence, said in a statement.

Japan sent one of its two big aircraft carriers, the Izumo, while India deployed a destroyer, the INS Kolkata, and a tanker, the INS Shakti.

The week of joint drills, which ended Wednesday, comes after two other U.S. warships sailed near islands in the region claimed by China on Monday, prompting a protest from Beijing, which said the action infringed its sovereignty.

The U.S. Navy says it conducts such freedom of navigation operations in international waters around the world, even in seas claimed by its allies, without political considerations.

China claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam pushing competing claims to parts of the maritime region. The United States, Japan and India do not have any territorial claims there.

In a separate challenge to Beijing in Asian waters, the USS William P. Lawrence and another U.S. destroyer sailed through the Taiwan Strait in April separating Taiwan, which Beijing views as a rogue province, from the Chinese mainland.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Michael Perry)

Rescuers race to find survivors after Philippine earthquake kills 16

Rescuers are seen at a collapsed four-storey building following an earthquake in Porac town, Pampanga province, Philippines, April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

By Peter Blaza and Eloisa Lopez

PORAC, Philippines (Reuters) – Rescue teams in the Philippines searched for signs of life beneath the tangled debris from a collapsed four-storey commercial building on Tuesday after a strong earthquake shook the country’s biggest island, killing at least 16 people.

Heavy equipment and search dogs were used as dozens of firefighters, military and civilian rescuers shifted through mangled metal and lumps of concrete in Porac, a town 110 km (68 miles) north of Manila, where 12 people were killed by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck on Monday.

Two people were rescued and carried out on stretchers on Tuesday, adding to seven found alive and four found dead overnight after higher levels caved in on a ground-floor supermarket in Porac, killing five people. Seven were killed elsewhere in the town.

Another, stronger earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 struck in Samar island in the central Philippines on Tuesday afternoon, but there were no reports of injuries or major damage.

The national disaster agency said the Monday earthquake injured 81 people and damaged 29 buildings across Luzon island, with 14 people reported missing.

An investigation was underway into why the supermarket building collapsed so easily when most structures suffered only superficial damage from a quake that officials said was the biggest the town had ever felt.

Debris and rubble are pictured inside the Santa Catalina de Alejandria Parish after an earthquake the day before in Porac town, Pampanga province, Philippines, April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

“We’re not sure how many people are trapped still,” Porac mayor Condralito dela Cruz told news channel ANC.

“We can still hear some voices, the voice of a woman.

The Philippines is prone to natural disasters and is located on the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire”, a horse shoe-shaped band of volcanoes and fault lines that arcs round the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

Aurelia Daeng, 65, was in her family drug store in Porac when Monday’s quake struck, breaking windows, cracking the floor and destroying one wall of her home.

“It was very strong. It was our first time experiencing something like that,” she said.

“This one, it’s terrifying.”

The earthquake was felt strongly in business areas of Manila, with residential and office buildings evacuated after being shaken for several minutes.

Train services were halted and roads and sidewalks were clogged by the sudden exodus of workers.

One corner of a 17th century church in Pampanga partially collapsed and the province’s international airport in Clark was closed for repairs. It was expected to reopen on Thursday at the latest, the transport minister said, adding there was no damage to the runway or control tower.

The government declared Tuesday a holiday for civil servants in Metro Manila to allow for safety inspections of buildings. Foreign exchange trading was suspended and a treasury bond auction canceled.

Irene Consultado, a government official, said many buildings were evacuated after Tuesday’s quake in Samar and early information indicated minor damage to infrastructure and commercial and residential properties.

(Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema in MANILA; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Paul Tait, Robert Birsel)

Filipino devotees nailed to crosses to re-enact crucifixion

Ruben Enaje, 58, who portrays Jesus Christ, grimaces in pain after being nailed on a wooden cross during crucifixion re-enactment on Good Friday, in San Fernando City, Pampanga province, Philippines, April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

By Ronn Bautista

CUTUD, Philippines (Reuters) – Hundreds of tourists watched in shock as actors dressed as Roman soldiers hammered four-inch nails through the hands and feet of a Filipino into a wooden cross for the 33rd time in a Good Friday re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

A Catholic devotee is nailed on a wooden cross during a ritual performed during Good Friday, in San Fernando City, Pampanga province, Philippines, April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

A Catholic devotee is nailed on a wooden cross during a ritual performed during Good Friday, in San Fernando City, Pampanga province, Philippines, April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

The gory display of devotion, which the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines looks down upon, draws tourists to the province of Pampanga, north of the capital, year after year as barefoot penitents also whip themselves as a form of penance.

“I thought they wouldn’t be nailed but they were really nailed, and it was for me a great event to see it live,” said German tourist Johann Tenken.

Devotees, including 58-year old Ruben Enaje who has performed the act 33 times, believe their penance will wash away their sins, cure illness and lead to blessings.

Enaje was among the four people who were nailed to crosses in the village, including a woman taking part for the 17th time.

The crucifixions were the most extreme display of faith this mainly Catholic country, where millions were praying and fasting ahead of the Easter weekend.

Five other Filipinos were nailed to crosses in two other villages in Pampanga.

Filipino devotees are nailed on wooden crosses during a crucifixion re-enactment on Good Friday, in San Fernando City, Pampanga province, Philippines, April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

Filipino devotees are nailed on wooden crosses during a crucifixion re-enactment on Good Friday, in San Fernando City, Pampanga province, Philippines, April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

“At the end of the day, you have to respect the people doing this because that’s devotion,” said Filipino tourist Bianca Yao.

Christians believe Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of humanity and rose from the dead two days later.

(Writing by Karen Lema; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Philippines says Chinese vessels in disputed waters illegal

FILE PHOTO - A view of Philippine occupied (Pagasa) Thitu island in disputed South China Sea April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

By Karen Lema

MANILA (Reuters) – The presence of more than 200 Chinese fishing boats near an island occupied by Manila in the disputed South China Sea is illegal and a clear violation of Philippine sovereignty, the country’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

The Philippines military has described them as a “suspected maritime militia”.

“Such actions, when not repudiated by the Chinese government, are deemed to have been adopted by it,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a rare rebuke of Beijing.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has pursued warmer ties with China since taking office in 2016 in exchange for billions of dollars of pledged loans and investment, said he would not allow China to occupy Thitu island because it “belongs to us”.

“I assure you, unless China wants a war with us, I will not allow them to occupy Pagasa”, Duterte told reporters, using the local name for Thitu.

The presence of the trawlers near Thitu island raises questions about their intent and role “in support of coercive objectives”, the ministry said, days after the Philippines lodged a diplomatic protest with China.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not refer directly to Manila’s protest, but he said bilateral talks on the South China Sea held in the Philippines on Wednesday were “frank, friendly and constructive”.

Both sides reiterated that South China Sea issues should be resolved peacefully by parties directly involved, he said.

The Philippines has monitored the Chinese boats from January to March this year, according to military data.

“These are suspected maritime militia,” Captain Jason Ramon, spokesman for the military’s Western Command said this week.

“There are times when they are just there without conducting fishing. At times, they are just stationary.”

The Philippines, Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims of sovereignty in the busy South China Sea, a conduit for goods in excess of $3.4 trillion every year.

FILE PHOTO - A Philippine flag flutters in Philippine occupied (Pagasa) Thitu island, in disputed South China Sea, as soldiers and civilians sing the country's national anthem April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

FILE PHOTO – A Philippine flag flutters in Philippine occupied (Pagasa) Thitu island, in disputed South China Sea, as soldiers and civilians sing the country’s national anthem April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.

“We call on concerned parties to desist from any action and activity that contravenes the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, as these generate tension, mistrust and uncertainty, and threatens regional peace and stability,” the Philippines ministry said.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured the Philippines it would come to its defense if it came under attack in the South China Sea.

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Darren Schuettler and Alison Williams)

Pompeo assures Philippines of U.S. protection in event of sea conflict

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

By Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales

MANILA (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured the Philippines on Friday it would come to its defense if it came under attack in the South China Sea, reaffirming a defense code that Manila’s security chiefs have sought to revise.

Speaking during a stopover after a summit in Hanoi with North Korea, Pompeo said a 1951 Philippine-U.S. Mutual Defence Treaty would be adhered to if its ally was a victim of aggression, and singled out China as a threat to stability.

“China’s island-building and military activities in the South China Sea threaten your sovereignty, security and therefore economic livelihood as well as that of the United States,” he told a news conference in Manila.

“Any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations.”

The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia have competing claims of sovereignty in the waterway, a conduit for in excess of $3.4 trillion of goods carried annually on commercial vessels.

Pompeo said those countries were responsible for ensuring “these incredibly vital sea lanes are open and China does not pose a threat to closing them down”.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that China and the countries around the South China Sea were working hard to protect peace and stability.

“So if countries outside the region, like the United States, really want to consider the peace, tranquillity and well-being of people in the region, then they shouldn’t make trouble out of nothing and incite trouble,” Lu told reporters.

Pompeo also said allies should be wary of risks of using Chinese technology.

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has been seeking a review of the treaty, which was agreed five years after the Philippines gained independence from the United States in 1946, with the aim of clarifying the extent to which the United States will defend the Philippines should it come under attack.

Lorenzana’s push for greater certainty comes amid a rapid buildup by Beijing of military assets, coastguard and fishing militia in the South China Sea, most notably on and around artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago.

Although there is no longer a permanent U.S. military presence in the Philippines, joint exercises, intelligence exchanges and transfers of hardware take place regularly under various agreements.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, however, is not a fan and believes that the alliance makes his country a potential target of China, with which he wants stronger business ties.

Duterte has repeatedly questioned the U.S. commitment, noting that it did nothing to stop China from turning reefs into islands equipped with radar, missiles batteries and hangers for fighter jets, and within firing distance of the Philippines.

Pompeo made a courtesy call on Duterte late on Thursday.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin confirmed that discussions on the defense treaty were taking place, but in his own view, it was better not be too specific about its parameters.

“I believe in the old theory of deterrence,” he told reporters. “In vagueness lies the best deterrence.”

He added: “We are very assured, we are very confident that United States has, in the words of Secretary Pompeo, and in the words of President Trump to our president, ‘we have your back’.”

(Writing by Martin Petty; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick Macfie)

Philippine president suggests church bombing was ‘suicide’ attack

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a ceremony marking the return of the three Balangiga bells taken by the U.S. military as war booty 117 years ago, at Balangiga, Eastern Samar in central Philippines December 15, 2018. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

By Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday twin explosions that killed 20 people in a church on a southern island at the weekend may have been a suicide attack, citing a briefing given to him by military commanders.

Duterte’s comments run counter to statements by military and police officials on Tuesday, who said the bombs inside and outside of the church in Jolo appeared to have been detonated remotely. Security camera footage of suspects believed to have planted the bombs has been shown to media.

If confirmed, it would be one of the first known cases of a suicide attack in the Philippines and would be consistent with details of a claim of responsibility by Islamic State via its Amaq news agency early on Monday.

“It exploded. That is terrorism and suicide. You cannot carry plastic bags, you will be questioned by the military, police when you have backpack,” Duterte said when asked by reporters to clarify an earlier remark.

He added: “But you could see all around bits and pieces of flesh. We even stepped on it.”

Asked separately about Duterte’s comment, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said it was possible the second blast “may have been a suicide bomber”.

“The first bomb that exploded inside the church was apparently left behind by a certain woman,” he said.

“The second bomb that exploded at the entrance about a minute and a half after, may have been a suicide bomber as indicated by body parts strewn all over,” Lorenzana said.

The bombings came six days after a referendum on autonomy for the mainly Muslim region returned an overwhelming “yes” vote.

More than 100 people were wounded along with the 20 killed in Jolo in what was one of the deadliest attacks in recent years in a region long plagued by instability.

Islamic State said last year it was behind what it called a suicide bombing, when a device was detonated by the driver of a van when he was stopped at an remote checkpoint in Basilan. It killed 11 people.

The driver was believed to be a foreigner, and may have triggered the device prematurely, according to security officials, who say the intended target was likely a more populated area.

Duterte said he was certain the militant Abu Sayyaf group was responsible for the church attack and that it was possible, though not certain, that one of the bombers was Indonesian.

He appeared to have some doubts about the mode of the attack, based on the information from a briefing he said he had received at 3 a.m. on Tuesday.

“If not suicide bomber, what? By cellphone? Yes, that is a possibility. But the eyewitnesses said it was the other way around. There could have been a companion, a support system,” he said.

Police believe an Abu Sayyaf faction called Ajang-Ajang carried out the attack in revenge for the deaths of relatives killed during military operations against the group.

Abu Sayyaf is a domestic militant group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State and engages in kidnap for ransom and piracy.

(Writing by Martin Petty; editing by Darren Schuettler)

Philippines evacuates coastal areas ahead of typhoon Yutu

A general view of the damage after Super Typhoon Yutu hit Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S., October 25, 2018 in this picture taken through a cracked vehicle window, obtained from social media. Brad Ruszala via REUTERS

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines raised storm warning levels on Monday and began evacuating some coastal communities in the path of a typhoon that threatened storm surges, landslides and floods triggered by heavy winds and rain.

Typhoon Yutu, which caused havoc last week with a direct hit on the U.S. Northern Mariana islands, was set to make landfall on Tuesday morning and move across the main island of Luzon before leaving the Philippines 24 hours later, the state weather agency PAGASA said.

By mid-morning on Monday, Yutu was about 400 km (249 miles)east of the mainland and had weakened to sustained wind speeds of 150 km per hour (93 mph), with gusts of 185 kph, from 170 kph recorded a few hours earlier.

That was less intense than four days ago, when as a super typhoon with wind speeds of over 270 kph barreled through the Marianas, a U.S. Western Pacific archipelago of 52,000 people, tearing off roofs, overturning vehicles and cutting off power and water.

Authorities in Isabela and Cagayan provinces started moving residents in coastal towns to evacuation centers while the mountainous Cordillera region was put on red alert for landslides.

Three provinces in north Luzon were elevated to warning signal 3 on the severity scale of 5, and 28 more put on the earliest warnings of 1 and 2, with strong winds and rains expected later on Monday.

Known locally as Rosita, the typhoon will be the 18th to hit the Philippines this year and comes six weeks after super typhoon Mangkhut tore across Luzon, triggering landslides that killed dozens of people and damaged about $180 million of crops.

School classes were suspended in at least five provinces and fishermen in Luzon and the eastern seaboard advised not to go to sea, with warnings of storm surges of up to three metres in six provinces.

All boat services in the port city of Batangas, about 83 km (52 miles) south of Manila, were suspended on Monday.

About half of the Philippines’ 105 million population live in the Luzon region. The country is hit by an average 20 typhoons each year.

(Reporting by Martin Petty and Karen Lema; editing by Darren Schuettler)

Few Islamic State fighters return but home-grown attacks rise, Europol says

Manuel Navarrete, head of Europol's Counter Terrorism Centre and Catherine De Bolle, head of Europol, hold a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018 REUTERS/Eva Plevier

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Europeans who went off to fight on behalf of Islamic State have not flooded back in large numbers since losing strongholds in Syria and Iraq, Europe’s police agency said on Wednesday, but they have inspired a growing number of home-grown attacks.

Tracking battle-hardened fighters is still the main concern of Western counter-terrorism officials, though a big influx did not materialize, Manuel Navarrete, head of Europol’s Counter Terrorism Centre, told reporters at its Hague headquarters.

“The main threat is coming from foreign terrorist fighters even though the numbers … that are returning are quite low,” he said, referring to outsiders who traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside militants there.

There has been a spike in recent years in IS-inspired attacks by “lone wolves” using little more weaponry than a knife or car. Most have been less deadly than strikes by former fighters, but they are harder for police to stop, he said.

The number of attacks and foiled plots in Europe more than doubled last year to 205, killing 62 people, Europol’s annual report showed.

“Even though we suffer more attacks, they were less sophisticated,” Navarrete said.

Of more than 5,000 Europeans – most from Britain, France, Germany and Belgium – who joined the ranks of fighters in Syria and Iraq, some 1,500 have returned and 1,000 were killed, according to the EU intelligence-sharing body. There is only limited intelligence available about the fate of the rest.

Many fighters have been detained. Some traveled to Malaysia, the Philippines and Libya. Others are thought to be laying low or in third countries like Turkey, he said.

Tougher border controls, surveillance and prosecution in Europe have also dissuaded some from returning, with EU nations making more than 700 arrests linked to jihadi activity in 2017, he said.

The suicide bomber who killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in the English city of Manchester in May 2017 had just returned from Libya. But most recent attacks have been carried out by home-grown jihadists who never went to conflict zones.

As the Islamic State was routed last year from Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, it urged followers to carry out attacks at home, rather than travel to its self-declared caliphate.

“Now the message of the Islamic State has changed … to being more negative and asking for retaliation,” Navarrete said.

While lone actors often use tactics that result in fewer victims, they pose a threat that is difficult to prevent. In 2016, a man killed 86 people by driving a truck into a crowd in the Mediterranean city of Nice, France.

“You have to be very, very close to a person in order to take action on the police level to prevent this,” Navarrete said. “And the closest you can be to a person right now is not going to the front door, it is going to Facebook, to Twitter.”

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Peter Graff)