The Latest: Hong Kong, Singapore plan ‘air travel bubble’
HONG KONG — Hong Kong and Singapore will establish an “air travel bubble” Nov. 22 allowing travelers from the two cities to visit the other without having to serve quarantine in a first step to stimulate tourism amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the plan, tourists from either city must take nucleic acid tests before their flight, after arrival and before their return to prove they do not have the coronavirus.
They will also have to take designated flights that will carry only passengers travelling within the bubble, with a maximum of 200 travelers. Initially, there will be one flight a day to each city, increasing to two flights after Dec. 7.
Officials say the system will be suspended for two weeks if either Hong Kong or Singapore reports a seven-day moving average of more than five untraceable coronavirus infections.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— US to allow limited supplies of new antibody drug
— Doctors, nurses may be better prepared for US virus surge
— Norway gives quarantine exemption to 2020 Nobel winners
— Intensive care space is dwindling across Europe as beds fill again with coronavirus patients
— A safe Thanksgiving is possible, though health experts know their advice about avoiding the risks are tough to swallow
— Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BEIJING — A leading Chinese health official is expressing confidence that the country may avoid a second wave of coronavirus infections this winter if it maintains the precautions currently in place.
Feng Zijian is deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and tells the financial magazine Caixin that China “will very likely prevent” a new round of infections given present trends and preventive measures.
China has largely eliminated new local outbreaks by requiring masks to be worn indoors and on public transport. It also requires two-week quarantines for those entering the country and bans some foreign travelers entirely.
Authorities have quickly moved to address local outbreaks by tracing potential contacts, carrying out widespread testing and sometimes locking down entire communities.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s central bank is increasing its monetary stimulus as it tries to counter the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Reserve Bank says that beginning in December, it will provide retail banks with lower funding costs, allowing them to lower borrowing rates for companies and households. That comesplan in addition to a large asset-buying program already introduced by the central bank.
The bank also announced Wednesday that it is keeping its benchmark interest rate at a record low 0.25% and is considering lowering it to zero or to a negative rate next year. But the bank also says it is considering reintroducing mortgage restrictions in March due to concerns about an increase in house prices and high-risk lending to housing investors.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The Pacific nation of Vanuatu has recorded its first case of the coronavirus after a citizen who had been repatriated from the United States tested positive while in quarantine.
Vanuatu had been among the last handful of countries to have avoided the virus.
Health authorities say the 23-year-old man was asymptomatic when he returned home Nov. 4. His infection was confirmed Tuesday after routine testing.
Officials say they plan to keep everyone from the same flight in quarantine and to trace the man’s close contacts, but they don’t plan to impose any broader measures in the nation of 300,000 people.
SEOUL, South Korea — The number of South Koreans with jobs declined in October for the eighth straight month, a streak unseen since during a 2009 financial crisis, underscoring the shock unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Statistics Korea said Wednesday that 27.09 million had jobs last month. That is 421,000 fewer than a year earlier as global lockdowns decimate jobs in both the country’s domestic service industries and its export-driven manufacturers.
Officials say a growing number of people have given up actively searching for work amid the bleak job market. The number of people seen as economically inactive is up more than a half million from a year earlier, to a total of 16.74 million.
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s governor has streamed a live social media speech to plead with residents of his state to stay at home to avoid the coronavirus, speaking after the state reported new daily highs for infections and deaths.
Gov. Tony Evers said Tuesday night that he is advising businesses to allow employees to work remotely and to require masks and limit the number of people in stores and offices that are open.
The governor has been imploring people to stay home and wear masks for months to little avail.
The courts have overturned some of his mandates, including a stay-at-home order and a decree limiting gatherings in bars, restaurants and other places. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Monday on Evers’ statewide mask mandate, which remains in effect.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Athletes at five New Mexico universities are asking Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for more flexibility in pandemic rules that would let them hold full practices and play games — something colleges in other states are being allowed to do.
The student athletes are from the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands and Western New Mexico University. They say positive tests among athletes are lower than in the general community and that shows they have been adhering to safe protocols and should be allowed to practice and compete.
State officials said Tuesday they understand athletes want to compete, but public health is the top priority.
Acting state Higher Education Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez said in a statement that “we must make tough decisions that will save the lives of New Mexicans, including students, faculty and staff members at our state’s colleges and universities.”
RENO, Nev. — The mayor of Reno, Nev., is warning that she will fine people who don’t wear face masks and will shut down businesses if residents fail to redouble their personal efforts to fight the recent dramatic increase in coronavirus infections.
Mayor Hillary Schieve cited a variety of indicators Tuesday signaling a worsening of the threat of the pandemic locally and statewide.
She says a “perfect storm” is threatening to overwhelm hospitals in Reno and Sparks. Gov. Steve Sisolak scheduled a news conference Tuesday evening to address the situation. The combined number of confirmed and suspected coronavirus hospitalizations statewide has grown from about 600 on Oct. 30 to about 900 Monday.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, his wife and their three daughters are in isolation after the youngest tested positive for the coronavirus.
The governor announced his daughter’s infection shortly after he canceled his coronavirus news conference that was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. He said in a social media post that “she feels OK, but could still use prayers!”
Maddie Reeves, 8, attends a private elementary school in Jackson. An executive order issued by Reeves requires children and teachers to wear masks in public and private schools.
Reeves says everyone in his family is being tested for the virus.
Like many other states, Mississippi has seen a sharp increase in virus cases in recent weeks, with 933 newly confirmed cases reported Tuesday. Sixteen of Mississippi’s 82 counties are under a mask mandate that is set to expire Wednesday.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland will reduce indoor operations for bars and restaurants from 75% to 50% in response to rising coronavirus cases and increased hospitalizations.
Gov. Larry Hogan says the new limits will take effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
State health officials issued a public health advisory strongly discouraging indoor gatherings of 25 people or more after contact tracing data showed an increase in cases resulting from family gatherings and house parties.
The announcement came Tuesday after the state reported 54 more people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. The total number of people hospitalized with the disease increased to 761, the highest since June.
Maryland also reported 1,338 new coronavirus cases Tuesday — the seventh straight day of at least 1,000 cases.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. has surpassed 1 million new confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of November.
The tally of cases in just 10 days shows the reach of the virus amid a strong fall surge.
Several states posted new highs Tuesday, including 12,000 new cases in Illinois and more than 7,000 in Wisconsin, where the governor planned to take the unusual step of delivering a live address to the state urging unity and cooperation to fight the virus.
The death toll is also soaring and hospitals in several states are at the breaking point. Indiana reported 63 new deaths Tuesday
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas’ largest public school district has scrapped plans to allow its middle and high school students to attend some in-person classes amid a surge in coronavirus cases across the state.
Three counties also have imposed new restrictions inspired by the coronavirus pandemic.
Kansas is seeing its largest numbers of new confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic reached the state in early March. Public health officials say people aren’t wearing masks enough and are letting their guard down at gatherings, including family events such as birthday parties and baby showers.
In Wichita, the state’s largest city, the local school board decided Monday that middle and high school students will continue to take classes remotely until the end of the current semester. The district had planned to allow them to have in-person classes twice a week, starting this week.
GILETTE, Wyo. — The son of a Wyoming state representative who opposed COVID-19 public restrictions says his father was positive for the coronavirus when he died.
The Gillette News Record reports Roy Edwards, 66, died Nov. 2 at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper after being hospitalized for more than a week with an undisclosed illness.
Mitch Edwards says his father was initially told he had a sinus inflammation and did not need to be tested for COVID-19.
Edwards continued to oppose public restrictions resulting from the pandemic during his recent campaign to retain his House seat. He was reelected the day after he died.
SALEM, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon health officials warned Tuesday of the capacity challenges facing hospitals as COVID-19 case counts continue to spike in the state.
The Oregon Health Authority recorded a record 285 confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals Tuesday — a 57% increase in just the past week and an 83% increase in the past four weeks.
Currently, out of Oregon’s 703 listed intensive care unit beds, 27% are available and about 18% of non-ICU adult hospital beds in the state are available, based on data on from the health authority’s website.
The previous record for hospitalizations in the state, outside of November, was 179 in October.
Prior to the end of October, the record of COVID-19 related hospitalizations was 165 in July.
TORONTO — The top health official for Canada’s largest city says the spread of COVID-19 has never been greater in Toronto so she’s using her powers to continue to prohibit indoor dining in Toronto.
Toronto had been due to lift some restrictions this coming weekend but Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa says there are 533 new cases in the city on Tuesday.
She says the test positive rate is now a high of 5.9%. She is urging people in Toronto to limit social gatherings to only the people with whom they live.
Toronto Mayor John Tory says unprecedented actions are necessary.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Authorities at a county jail in Colorado have said 859 of the 1,246 inmates in custody last Sunday tested positive for COVID-19 along with 66 employees.
The El Paso County sheriff’s office says two of the employees were hospitalized over the weekend as coronavirus cases surged at the facility.
The Gazette reports that spokeswoman Deborah Mynatt did not disclose the status of the two employees who were hospitalized or if they were civilian employees or deputies, citing privacy concerns.
Officials first reported the outbreak on Oct. 26 when eight inmates tested positive for COVID-19.
Mynatt compared the outbreak to a wildfire and said officials are trying to control further spread.