The Latest: Africa’s 1st COVID-19 vaccine trial starting
JOHANNESBURG — Researchers in South Africa say the first COVID-19 vaccine trial on the African continent is set to get underway on Wednesday.
The University of the Witwatersrand says the vaccine developed by University of Oxford researchers is already being evaluated in a large trial in the UK and a similar trial is beginning in Brazil.
The announcement came hours after South Africa reported that total coronavirus cases in the country surpassed 100,000 as of Tuesday. South Africa accounts for almost one-third of the infections on the African continent.
The South Africa vaccine trial aims to enroll 2,000 participants. The first are to get vaccinated this week in Gauteng province, home of economic hub Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.
Others will be vaccinated in the hot spot of Western Cape province. Shabir Madhi, who leads the trial, said it begins as South Africa enters winter and the flu season and as pressure increases on hospitals.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health experts will testify Tuesday in the U.S. House at a fraught moment for the nation’s pandemic response.
— Novak Djokovic and three other top tennis players test positive for virus after Balkans tournament
— Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are set to reopen on July 1 but visitors won’t be able to hug Mickey Mouse.
— One of the Arab world’s most prestigious universities has endured civil war, staff kidnappings and economic crises in its 154-year history. The American University of Beirut now confronts a triple threat simultaneously in a pandemic, a recession and the collapse of Lebanon’s currency. Meanwhile, a Saudi official says the hajj pilgrimage that usually draws up to 2.5 million Muslims is likely to see only a few thousand pilgrims.
— A coronavirus outbreak linked to a slaughterhouse in Germany has led a state government to impose week-long lockdown measures. More than 1,500 people tied to the slaughterhouse have tested positive. Thousands more are quarantined. The governor of North Rhine-Westphalia says area cinemas, fitness studios and bars will be closed again. In related news, China’s ban of imports from one Tyson Foods poultry plant with infected workers has raised concerns for the U.S. meat industry.
— People are flocking to beaches for vacation after being cooped up by COVID-19 for months. But the coronavirus is taking no vacation. The U.S. state of South Carolina now has the fourth-highest new infection rate in the nation when adjusted for population. One hot spot is around Myrtle Beach, which has seen COVID-19 cases jump from fewer 300 at the start of June to nearly 1,600. And that only counts residents, not visitors. Local entrepreneurs fear more infections could result in bad publicity.
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
HOUSTON — The largest pediatric hospital in the United States has begun admitting adult patients to expand hospital capacity in the U.S. state of Texas as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to soar.
Texas Children’s Hospital said Tuesday that it was admitting adult patients across its campuses to free up more hospital beds in the Houston area.
The number of COVID-positive hospital patients in Harris County, which encompasses Houston, has nearly tripled since May 31.
The move comes as Texas registered an 11th consecutive day of record COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state.
BERLIN — Germany is sending a team of doctors and laboratory scientists to Peru to help the Latin American nation cope with its expanding coronavirus outbreak.
The German government said Tuesday that medical experts from Berlin’s Charite teaching hospital will be among those deployed as part of a rapid response group.
Previously, German medical teams have helped train workers and set up testing labs in Namibia, Benin, Colombia and Ecuador.
CAIRO – Egypt is gradually loosening its partial coronavirus lockdown amid a steady increase of daily infections in recent weeks.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said Tuesday that his government would reopen mosques and churches starting Saturday and the ban on Friday’s Muslim prayers at mosques and Sunday’s masses at churches would remain in place for now.
He says restaurants, coffee shops, clubs and theaters will allowed to reopen at 25% capacity. The government has also extended the hours public and private transposition can operate by four hours, until midnight. It also lifted the country’s nighttime curfew.
Madbouky says Egypt’s beaches and parks remain closed until further notice.
The gradual reopening was announced as the the daily number of new coronavirus cases in Egypt has often surpassed 1,000 in recent weeks.
The Arab world’s most populous country has officially reported around 57,000 confirmed cases, including at least 2,278 deaths.
LONDON — Millions of people in Britain will be able to go to the pub, visit a movie theater, get a haircut or attend a religious service starting July 4, but they will have to wait to see a concert, get a tattoo or go to the gym.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a major loosening of coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Tuesday that will allows a swath of businesses to reopen. They include restaurants, bars, hotels, hairdressers, cinemas and museums.
Places of worship can hold services, but choirs and congregations won’t be permitted to sing since the virus can spread through open mouths. Live music and theater performances are remaining off-limits for the same reason.
Indoor gyms, pools, spas and tattoo parlors also have to stay shut for now.
The government also announced that social-distancing rules will be relaxed. From July 4 people will be advised to stay at least 1 meter (3 feet) apart, rather than 2 meters — as long as they take other measures to reduce transmission of the virus, such as wearing a mask in enclosed spaces.
The changes only apply in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all following slightly different measures.
TOKYO — The company that owns Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea say the two theme parks will reopen on July 1 after being closed for four months due to the coronavirus but there will be no hugging or touching Mickey Mouse and other characters.
Oriental Land Co. said in a statement issued Tuesday that the two theme parks near Tokyo to protect public health. It says the number of visitors allowed in at once will be reduced and individuals will be asked to get their temperature checks, to wear face masks and to disinfect their hands.
Some rides and facilities will be closed and performances such as fireworks will be canceled, the company said. Visitors are also requested to buy fixed-date tickets online in advance.
Employees who perform as Disney character won’t do shows or greet people in a way that involves touching.
Other theme parks in Japan have gradually reopened recently, including Universal Studios Japan in Osaka reopened this month.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Novak Djokovic tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday after taking part in a tennis exhibition series he organized in Serbia and Croatia.
The top-ranked Serb is the fourth player to test positive for the virus after playing last week in Belgrade and last weekend in Zadar, Croatia. His wife also tested positive.
“The moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested. My result is positive, just as Jelena’s, while the results of our children are negative,” Djokovic said in a statement.
Djokovic has been criticized for organizing the tournament and bringing in players from other countries.
Viktor Troicki said Tuesday that he and his pregnant wife have both been diagnosed with the virus. Grigor Dimitrov, a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist from Bulgaria, said Sunday he tested positive for the virus.
Dimitrov played Borna Coric played on Saturday, and Coric said Monday he has also tested positive.
MOSCOW — Restaurants, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and kindergartens resume operation in Moscow on Tuesday as the city emerges from a tight coronavirus lockdown in place since late March.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced ending the lockdown in the Russian capital two weeks ago.
Sobyanin lifted stay-at-home orders and allowed beauty parlors to reopen first. Last week, dental clinics, museums and outdoor spaces of cafes and restaurants resumed operation.
Over the past few weeks, the officially reported daily number of new coronavirus infections in Moscow has dropped from more than 2,000 to about 1,000. On Tuesday, health officials in the city reported 1,081 new infections.
In total, Moscow has so far registered 216,095 confirmed coronavirus cases, 36% of Russia’s caseload of over 599,000 contagions.
TOKYO — Hundreds of visitors rushed to see a popular panda cub Xiang Xiang as Tokyo’s Ueno zoo reopened Tuesday for the first time since February when it closed due to the coronavirus.
An avid Xiang Xiang fan, Masumi Tsunoda, who used to visit the zoo every week to see the panda, showed up Tuesday with her handmade mask with panda prints for the occasion. “I was so happy to see Xiang Xiang got so much bigger,” she said.
Xiang Xiang is due to return to China later this year under panda exchange protocols.
Entry to the zoo is limited to 4,000 visitors per day who must book tickets in advance.
The zoo said the coronavirus shutdown was the longest closure in the facility’s history since it opened in 1882.
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Officials in Bangladesh reported 43 new virus deaths and 3,412 new infections on Tuesday.
Bangladesh’s has now seen 119,198 infections and 1,545 fatalities since the first positive case was reported on March 8.
Officials say 47,635 people have recovered from the illness.
BERLIN — The head of Germany’s disease control center says a relaxation of distancing rules in parts of the United States is to blame for the rise in cases there.
Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, noted Tuesday that case numbers in southern U.S. states have risen markedly.
“The reasons for this are a loosening of distancing rules despite the case numbers not having fallen there yet,” he said.
Germany has seen an increase in COVID-19 infections in recent days, too, linked to outbreaks at a slaughterhouse and apartment buildings.
Germany’s Lufthansa, meanwhile, says it will resume flights to Shanghai on Wednesday, offering its first regular scheduled flights to mainland China since the end of January.
Lufthansa said Tuesday that for now the flights will operate once a week.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 100,000 as the country makes up close to one-third of all recorded infections on the African continent.
The latest daily update shows a worrying new trend as Gauteng province, home to South Africa’s economic hub of Johannesburg, has a higher number of new cases than the hotspot of Western Cape province centered on the city of Cape Town.
Virus cases in Gauteng, which also contains the capital, Pretoria, now make up more than one-fifth of South Africa’s total.
South Africa continues to loosen its lockdown despite the rise in cases because of economic pressure, with casinos and beauty parlors the latest businesses allowed to open.
Africa overall has more than 315,000 cases including more than 8,000 deaths. The true number of cases remains unknown because of the low level of testing on the continent due to a shortage of materials.
NEW DELHI — India has added nearly 15,000 new infections to its coronavirus caseload as some of the states less affected by the initial surge of the virus are considering new lockdowns to staunch growing numbers.
India’s health ministry said Tuesday that the nationwide tally had reached 440,215 cases, including 14,011 deaths. The state of Delhi, which includes the capital of New Delhi, has reported 62,655 cases with the rate of new infections rapidly expanding in recent weeks as a nationwide lockdown has eased.
States remote from the capital including Assam in the northeast that initially reported few cases have plans to reimpose stringent lockdowns in certain districts.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi lifted months-long restrictions on movement and industrial and commercial activity to restart India’s ailing economy, which has shed millions of jobs.
But Sonia Gandhi, president of the main opposition Congress party, has asked the government to extend a three-month free food distribution program for India’s poorest that is due to expire soon.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it’s testing 176 workers at the southern port of Busan following a coronavirus outbreak among crew members of a Russian cargo ship that has so far sickened 16.
Kwon Jun-wook, director of South Korea’s National Institute of Health, said Tuesday that all 21 crew members were tested after the ship arrived at Busan’s Gamcheon Port on Sunday carrying frozen seafood.
He said the ship’s captain failed to properly inform port authorities that three of the crewmembers had high fever. The 176 people being tested included cargo handlers, customs officials, repair workers and interpreters who made contact with the infected crew members. Port officials and workers earlier on Tuesday agreed to halt unloading cargo from the ship and another Russian ship at the port.
South Korea reported 46 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, including 30 linked to international arrivals. The country has been struggling to stem a resurgence of the virus in the Seoul metropolitan area, where hundreds of infections have been linked to entertainment and leisure activities, church gatherings and sales and warehouse jobs.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Coronavirus infections in Australia’s Victoria state have prompted new school closings, and the state’s leader said there would be “significant community transmission” among the new cases.
The Melbourne suburbs where the schools are located have been identified as hot spots in recent weeks. The two primary schools have been closed for thorough cleaning after students tested positive.
Australia’s Victoria state has recorded 17 new cases. State Premier Daniel Andrews said there would be “significant community transmission” among them.
Andrews said one of the new cases was from a person in hotel quarantine, two were from known outbreaks, three were from routine testing and 11 were under investigation.
Last weekend, Andrews said large family gatherings had been the catalyst for the virus taking off again in some areas after lockdown rules were eased.
In the national capital Canberra, Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia’s borders will remain closed for “a very significant” amount of time.
BEIJING — China has reported 22 new cases of coronavirus, including 13 in Beijing, a day after a city government spokesperson said containment measures had slowed the momentum of a new outbreak in the capital that has infected more than 200 people.
Another nine cases were brought by Chinese travelers from outside the country, seven of them on board a flight from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia that arrived in the western city of Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, according to a notice from the provincial government.
China has reported 4,634 deaths from the virus among 83,418 total cases since it was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
While the situation in Beijing is headed in the right direction, “the prevention situation remains grave and complex,” city spokesperson Xu Hejian said at a Monday news conference.