The Latest: England fines those who fail to self-isolate
LONDON — People across England face tough new fines if they fail to self isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.
Starting Monday, those who fail to follow the rules face a 1,000-pound ($1,200) fine, which increases to 10,000 pounds for repeat offenders. The Department of Health and Social Care says those who test positive also will be fined if they knowingly provide false information to contact tracers.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the government will “not hesitate” to introduce further measures to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.
The House of Commons on Wednesday may consider an amendment to existing legislation that would give Parliament the right to vote on any new restrictions.
Britain already has Europe’s worst death toll from the pandemic, with about 42,000 confirmed deaths. But those who are calling for tighter restrictions are being challenged by critics who fear further damage to the economy.
In addition to national restrictions, about one-quarter of the U.K.’s 65 million people are living under tighter local restrictions to fight local outbreaks.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— India’s confirmed coronavirus tally reaches 6 million cases
— Nearly 1 million who died of COVID-19 helped scientists better understand disease
— Lockdowns are fading, but Republican outrage isn’t in U.S. campaigns
— UN failures on coronavirus underscore the need for reforms
— University students in Britain are decrying hasty lockdowns that make them feel like prisoners in their dorms, while politicians are debating whether students will be allowed to return home for Christmas.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BRUSSELS, Belgium — Facing a surge of new coronavirus cases far higher than in other parts of Belgium, Brussels authorities are closing bars early in the EU institutions capital city.
From Monday night, all bars and cafes will have to close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. while other businesses selling drinks or food will shut down at 10 p.m. In addition, eating at street markets is now forbidden.
According to local media, authorities initially thought about starting the bar curfew at 10 p.m. but the proposal was rejected to support virus-ravaged businesses. According to the Belgian cafes federation, half of the country’s 12,000 bars may not survive the coronavirus crisis.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 114,000 coronavirus infections have been recorded in hard-hit Belgium — a country of 11.5-million residents — including 9,980 deaths. From Sept. 17-23, 11,934 new cases were diagnosed, with the biggest spike in Brussels, where the positive rate now averages 9.7% compared to 4.7% in the whole of Belgium.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai has announced new restrictions on nightlife to curb a rising tide of coronavirus infections.
Dubai’s tourism authorities have ordered all bars and restaurants in the city-state to stop serving and halt “entertainment activities” at 1 a.m. Hotels will be restricted by law to offering only delivery and room service after 3 a.m.
Authorities urged dining and drinking establishments to adhere to anti-virus protocols or face “consequential procedures and violations,” including shutdowns and huge fines.
The new rules are the first since restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen in July as Dubai, a top travel destination known for its lively nightlife, emerged from lockdown.
The United Arab Emirates has recorded more than 90,600 infections since the pandemic began, including over 400 deaths. Daily new infection rates are now climbing to heights last seen four months ago.
NEW DELHI — India’s confirmed coronavirus tally reached 6 million cases on Monday, keeping the country second to the United States in number of reported cases since the pandemic began.
The Health Ministry on Monday reported 82,170 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, driving the overall tally to 6,074,703. At least 1,039 deaths were also recorded in the same period, taking total fatalities up to 95,542 since the pandemic began.
New infections are in India are currently being reported faster than anywhere else in the world. The world’s second-most populous country is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country in coming weeks, surpassing the U.S., where more than 7 million infections have been reported.
Even as infections mount, India has the highest number of recovered patients in the world. More than 5 million people have recovered from COVID-19 in India and the country’s recovery rate stands at 82%, according to the Health Ministry.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s coronavirus hot spot Victoria state has recorded its lowest number of new infections in more than three months as the nation’s second-largest city, Melbourne, further eases lockdown restrictions.
The easing of restrictions in Melbourne will allow most children to return to school from mid-October and send more than 125,000 people back to work.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said only five new cases were recorded in the latest 24-hour period, the lowest case number since June 12. The state also recorded three deaths on Monday.
Melbourne and surrounding parts of rural Victoria were placed under strict lockdown measures on Aug. 2, shuttering schools and non-essential businesses, imposing a nighttime curfew and prohibiting public gatherings.
The 9 p.m.- 5.a.m curfew was lifted from Monday, although residents still cannot travel more than 5 kilometers (3 miles) from home.
Public gatherings of up to five people from a maximum of two households will be allowed.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Little Rock teachers union says its members won’t show up for in-person classes due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus in schools.
The Little Rock Education Association said Sunday its members are willing to teach classes virtually, but accused district administrators of not doing enough to prevent the virus’s spread. It was unclear how many teachers planned to participate in the action.
“At this juncture, LREA members believe that our schools are not safe for in-person instruction and that the risk to our students, our staff members and our community is too great,” the association said in a news release.
The superintendent of the state-controlled 21,000-student district said it was taking additional steps to ensure schools stay open for in-person instruction. Arkansas is requiring its public schools to stay open for in-person classes five days a week, though they can also offer virtual or hybrid options. Schools reopened Aug. 24.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s top coronavirus official says definitive data on the country’s death toll from COVID-19 won’t be available for “a couple of years.”
The statement by Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell is likely to revive debate about Mexico’s death toll, currently at 76,430, the fourth-highest in the world.
“When will the final statistics on deaths from COVID-19 be ready? Certainly, a couple of years after the first year of the pandemic,” López-Gatell said Sunday, adding that work would be left to the country’s statistics institute.
Officials have acknowledged in the past that the figure is a significant undercount, because it includes only those who died after a positive test result, almost always at a hospital. Mexico does very little testing, and many people die without a test.
But the Mexican government has avoided adjusting its death toll upward to account for people who died at home or weren’t tested.
Some parts of the country like Mexico City have begun conducting their own recalculations, finding “excess deaths” likely caused by coronavirus were at least double official figures.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 50 new cases of the coronavirus, its lowest daily increase in nearly 50 days, a possible effect of strengthened social distancing measures that were employed to slow a major outbreak surrounding the greater capital region.
The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Monday brought the national caseload to 23,661, including 406 deaths. Thirty-four of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people live, and 10 were tied to international arrivals.
Monday’s daily jump was the lowest since 34 new cases were reported on Aug. 11. The country reported around 200 to 300 cases a day from mid-August to early September, a resurgence that forced officials to tighten social distancing restrictions in the Seoul area and elsewhere.
Officials have called for vigilance ahead of the Chuseok harvest festival that begins Wednesday and continues through the weekend. Thye are pleading for people to stay home during an annual holiday when South Koreans typically travel to visit relatives, and nightclubs, bars and other establishments deemed “high-risk” will be shut in Seoul during the holiday period to reduce gatherings.