The Latest: Britain records weekly average of 3,700 cases
LONDON – British officials say there were about 3,700 new coronavirus infections a day in England in the week to Aug. 2, down from the previous weekly average of nearly 4,200 a day.
The Office for National Statistics says the coronavirus may have leveled off after a rise following the easing of the lockdown in June. There were 98 more deaths reported by the government on Friday.
British authorities are extending a ban on different households meeting up to a northwest England city where coronavirus infections are increasing. The Department of Health says the town of Preston will be added to restrictions on social life starting Saturday.
The move comes a week after the government barred different households from meeting indoors in nearby Greater Manchester and surrounding areas of Lancashire and West Yorkshire counties.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says infection rates in those areas have not fallen and restrictions will continue.
Britain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at more than 46,000, the highest in Europe and fourth highest in the world.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— 7-year-old boy dies of coronavirus in Georgia
— Hong Kong offers free testing for all residents
— India hits 2 million cases as health volunteers strike
— Russia boasts it’s about to become the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine, with vaccinations planned as early as October using shots that haven’t completed clinical trials.
— The entire football team and marching band at an Alabama high school are under quarantine following potential exposure to the coronavirus.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MADRID — Spain reported 1,895 new coronavirus cases Friday, more than 200 from the previous day.
It’s the highest daily increase in coronavirus infections since the country ended a lockdown in June.
The Health Ministry says the Madrid region, with 567, and the Basque country, with 403, accounted for around half of the new cases in the last 24 hours.
But the report didn’t include the Aragón region, which on Thursday had the highest number of new cases with more than 300. The Health Ministry says Aragón had technical problems in reporting.
Since the outbreak began, Spain has confirmed 314,362 cases and more than 28,500 deaths.
ROME — The number of daily new coronavirus cases in Italy has surged, with 552 confirmed infections on Friday.
That’s a 38 percent increase from the previous day’s new caseload. Italy hasn’t seen a such a high daily figure since late May.
The northeastern region of Veneto, which performed some 16,500 swab tests since Thursday, registered roughly a third of the new cases at 183, according to Health Ministry on Friday. Veneto Gov. Luca Zaia says the new infections were found in residents who recently returned home from travel to Spain, Peru, Malta, Croatia and Greece.
Italy’s total known infections stand at 249,756. Three more deaths since Thursday raised Italy’s overall confirmed death toll to 35,190.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities have reported 151 confirmed coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, one of the highest daily numbers since April, but no new deaths.
Data released Friday showed 12 of the new cases were people visiting from abroad, while another 17 involved a wedding in the northeastern town of Alexandroupolis.
The country of about 11 million has a total of nearly 5,300 confirmed cases and 210 deaths. On Thursday, 153 new infections were recorded, prompting a partial tightening of restrictions.
SAVANNAH, Ga. — A 7-year-old boy with COVID-19 has become the youngest known person to die in Georgia since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The African-American boy had no other chronic health conditions, according to data released by the state. The case is from Chatham County, which includes Savannah, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported.
The boy’s death comes amid nationwide debate ahead of the school year about the risks that children face for infection or spread of the coronavirus. There is no indication in the health department’s reports about where or when the child contracted the virus.
Georgia’s previous youngest death involved a 17-year-old African American in Fulton County who had undisclosed health issues in addition to COVID-19. More than 30 people in their 20s have died, state data shows.
Georgia recently topped 4,000 deaths and more than 200,000 confirmed cases.
BERLIN — Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has apologized for posing for a picture with five other people without a mask and no social distancing during a vacation in northern Italy.
The Neue Suedtiroler Tageszeitung newspaper published a picture showing Steinmeier standing with a group of four musicians and the governor of Italy’s German-speaking South Tyrol region, Arno Kompatscher, in late July.
In comments Friday to German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Steinmeier described it as the result of “five seconds of inattentiveness that I blame myself for and shouldn’t have happened.”
NEONTA, Ala. — The entire football team and marching band at a small-town Alabama high school are under quarantine after exposure to the coronavirus.
Oneonta High School coach Phil Phillips told WBMA-TV that a fifth player has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s the second quarantine of the summer for the team.
“I looked my wife in the eyes Monday night before I went to bed and I said, ’You know I sure hope we didn’t kill anybody’s grandmother today by having a football practice,” Phillips said. “You’re torn because the kids want to play so bad.”
The team stopped summer workouts in late July after two coaches and four players tested positive for the coronavirus. The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms for most people but can be deadly to the elderly or people with other health problems.
Band director David Bearden says one of 135 students tested positive in his group, so a band quarantine was needed.
The town of 6,600 people is located about 35 miles northeast of Birmingham.
ZACHARY, La. — A Louisiana school district will delay the reopening of its schools by one week after nearly 20 teachers were infected or exposed to the coronavirus and other staff members quit.
The Zachary Community School Board voted unanimously Thursday to postpone its first day of classes to Aug. 17. Classes werer originally set to begin Aug. 10 under a hybrid model of in-person and virtual learning.
Seven teachers in the district outside of Baton Rouge have either tested positive for or are suspected of having the coronavirus and 12 reported possible exposure, according to Zachary Superintendent Scott Devillier. Some tested positive before reporting to work on Monday, while others were identified afterward, he says.
Devillier asked those at the special meeting to consider applying to work for the district, saying its schools are facing a teacher shortage for the first time, The Advocate reported. Some substitute teachers have requested removal from the district’s list.
CAIRO — Egypt is requiring non-citizens to test negative for the coronavirus before traveling to the country.
The new regulation, announced by Prime Minister Mostaf Madbouly, says arrivals should have a test for the virus no more than 72 hours before traveling.
Egypt confirmed more than 95,000 total cases of the coronavirus and 4,951 deaths as of Friday, according to the country’s health ministry. Deaths have declined in recent weeks.
Egypt reopened its borders to tourists in July after months of an international flight ban. Foreigners were allowed access to its coastal resort towns, but regulations kept most from Cairo and other urban hotspots where there have been more cases.
MILWAUKEE — Three workers hired to help set up the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the event’s organizers.
Daily screening began last week for people working at the Wisconsin Center in preparation for the Aug. 17-20 convention, which will be largely virtual because of the coronavirus.
The Journal Sentinel reports the staff at the Wisconsin Center “followed the guidelines set forth by our client regarding daily health screens,” the center district said in a statement.
ATHENS, Greece — The United States has issued a travel advisory calling on Americans to “reconsider travel to Greece” due to the coronavirus.
Similar advisories were issued by the U.S. for many European countries. However, Greece has seen an increase in new daily confirmed cases of the virus, with lockdown restrictions eased and the summer holiday season is in full swing.
There were 153 new cases on Thursday, one of the highest daily spikes in Greece since the outbreak began. The increase is partly attributed to people ignoring protective measures such as social distancing and wearing masks.
On Friday, a partial lockdown went into effect on the island of Poros, where a cluster of 13 cases had been reported. So far, Greece has a total of 5,123 confirmed infections and 210 deaths.
GENEVA — U.N. organizations are stepping up efforts to help the people of Beirut after a chemical explosion, expressing concerns about food shortages and a lack of COVID-19 protective gear.
World Health Organization spokesman Christian Lindmeier flagged an initial WHO appeal for $15 million for emergency trauma and humanitarian health support. He says 17 containers laden with personal protective equipment — much needed for fighting the coronavirus outbreak — were destroyed in the blast.
UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado says areas around the blast faced the most active community transmission of coronavirus, and it’s difficult for those affected to practice safe distancing.
World Food Program spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs says it is allocating 5,000 food parcels to families in Beirut, noting Lebanon imports 85 percent of its food, much of it through the now-damaged Beirut port.
HONG KONG — Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says the semi-autonomous Chinese city will offer free coronavirus testing for all its 7.5 million residents beginning in two weeks.
Lam says such universal testing will help gauge the level of transmission in the community, find those who may be carrying the virus but not showing symptoms and reassure the public.
She told reporters, “Put simply, anyone in the community who wants to do a test can take the test. We won’t care if they come from high-risk groups or not.”
Lam says tests would be carried out in a manner to avoid lines and maintain social distancing. Lam’s government has already cited such concerns as the reason for postponing elections for the city’s Legislative Council originally scheduled for September in what the opposition camp called a political move.
Hong Kong has been struggling to contain a new outbreak that has seen it adding around 100 new cases per day. The city has registered more than 3,800 cases with 46 deaths.
LONDON — The vaccines alliance GAVI says it has agreed to a deal with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the world’s biggest vaccine producer, India’s Serum Institute, to speed the manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to developing countries in 2021.
The collaboration will give upfront capital to the Serum Institute so that once any effective COVID-19 vaccine is licensed, the company can mass produce the shots at scale, as early as the first half of 2021.
In a statement on Friday, GAVI CEO Dr. Seth Berkley said the deal was aimed at making sure rich countries would not be the only ones with access to coronavirus vaccines.
He says, “If only the wealthiest countries in the world are protected, then international trade, commerce and society as a whole will continue to be hit hard as the pandemic continues to rage across the globe.”
Numerous countries including Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the U.S. have already signed multiple deals with pharmaceuticals for access to COVID-19 vaccines before they have been even licensed. Activists warn that rich countries are essentially hoarding limited vaccine supplies and that few will be left for the developing world.
The Serum Institute says the vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca and Novovax, will be available for about $3 a dose, a price subsidized by investment from partners including the Gates Foundation. GAVI is heading an international plan to buy vaccines for low and middle income countries and is aiming to raise $2 billion for the effort.
BERLIN — Officials in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have shut down two schools after new cases of coronavirus were confirmed only days after the northeastern German state became the country’s first to resume classes.
The dpa news agency reported Friday that a high school in Ludwigslust was shuttered after a teacher tested positive for the virus and a primary school in Graal-Mueritz was closed after a student was confirmed to have COVID-19.
The sparsely populated state has been Germany’s least affected by the pandemic, with 910 positive tests for COVID-19 and 20 virus-related deaths among its 1.6 million residents.
Schools fully reopened on Monday with no mask or distancing requirements, but with children divided into fixed groups for classes in an effort to compartmentalize possible outbreaks.
The development raises concerns as Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, prepares to send its 2.5 million students back to school next week. It has the country’s strictest guidelines, including a mask requirement at all times in school buildings.