The Latest: Hungary unveils toughest virus measures yet
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Hungarian government has announced the strictest measures taken to date in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic amid a dramatic uptick in hospitalizations and deaths.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced in a Facebook video Monday morning that a general curfew would be imposed countrywide between 8 p.m and 5 a.m. with the exception of those commuting to work. Businesses must close after 7 p.m., restaurants will be limited to home delivery, sporting events will be held in empty stadiums, and family gatherings will be limited to 10 people, Orban said. A general ban on events will also be introduced.
Universities and high schools will transition to digital education, while preschools, kindergartens and classes for children 14 and under will remain open. Healthcare workers, teachers and childcare workers will be tested weekly for the virus, according to the statement.
The newest restrictions will take effect at midnight Tuesday and remain in place for 30 days, after which they may be extended, Orban said. The Hungarian Parliament is expected to pass a measure on Tuesday which will enact a state of emergency for 90 days.
The raft of measures comes after a week of record-breaking hospitalizations and deaths. On Saturday, 107 people died of COVID-19, the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic, and more than 6,000 coronavirus patients were being treated in hospitals on Tuesday — also a record.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19
— With the campaign over, President-elect Biden is pivoting to fighting the coronavirus pandemic
— Cases are surging among nursing home residents and staff in states hard hit by the latest onslaught of COVID-19
— Portugal enters new state of emergency to fight rising infections, imposes curfews
— Britain tightens travel restrictions from Denmark, where outbreaks have been connected to mink farms
— Trump’s election night party adds to scrutiny of White House virus cluster
— Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LISBON, Portugal — Portugal has entered a state of emergency, with curfews imposed in the areas worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
From Monday and for at least two weeks, some 7 million people — around 70% of the country’s population — must remain at home on weekdays between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.. At weekends, they cannot leave home after 1 p.m.
The government has warned that the state of emergency, which grants authorities special powers, may be prolonged and measures may be tightened if the spread of the new coronavirus does not slow.
The number of virus cases and hospital admissions in Portugal has climbed sharply in recent weeks. The country has seen 2,896 virus-related deaths.
Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, indicating the company is on track later this month to file an emergency use application with U.S. regulators.
Monday’s announcement doesn’t mean a vaccine is imminent: This interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries.
Pfizer Inc. did not provide any more details about those cases, and cautioned the initial protection rate might change by the time the study ends. Even revealing such early data is highly unusual.
Authorities have stressed it’s unlikely any vaccine will arrive much before the end of the year, and limited initial supplies will be rationed.
The shots made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are among 10 possible vaccine candidates in late-stage testing around the world — four of them so far in huge studies in the U.S.
Another U.S. company, Moderna Inc., also has said it hopes to be able to file an application with the Food and Drug Administration later this month.
MOSCOW — Russia on Monday reported a record number of new coronavirus infections but a daily death toll well below the highest toll.
The national coronavirus task force said 21,798 new cases were recorded, more than 1,000 more than the previous daily tally. It said there were 256 new deaths; the highest daily death toll is 389, recorded on Nov. 4.
Overall, Russia has tallied about 1,796,000 infections and 30,793 deaths but officials say there is no need for another national lockdown.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization’s chief says his agency is committed to “continuous accountability” as an independent panel evaluating WHO’s management of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic gets ready to brief the organization’s countries this week.
In a speech Monday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said WHO welcomes “any and all efforts to strengthen the organization,” months after the organization bowed to demands from member countries to start an independent probe evaluating the COVID-19 response. Tedros also pleaded for more money for the organization, saying there was a “shocking” imbalance between WHO’s annual budget and the expectations countries have of it.
“In the last decade, the world’s expectation of WHO has grown dramatically but our budget has barely changed,” he said, noting that WHO’s budget is equivalent to the amount the globe spends on tobacco products in a single day.
“If the world can send that much money up in smoke every day on products that maim and kill, surely it can find the funds and the political will to invest in promoting and protecting the health of the world’s people,” he said.
Tedros thanked donors for the $1.6 billion they have provided to WHO’s COVID-19 strategy.
PRAGUE — Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have started to decline after a two-month rise to record high levels, thanks to a series of new coronavirus restrictions.
The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase of the new confirmed cases dropped to 3,608 on Sunday, the lowest since Oct 11. A lower number of tests is usually carried out over the weekends but the number who tested positive dropped by almost 3,000 compared with the previous Sunday.
The confirmed cases reached a record daily high of 15,727 cases on Wednesday and has been declining since.
In another promising sign, the number of hospitalized dropped by some 500 to 7,779.
The Czech Republic has had 414,828 test positive while 4,858 have died.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 112.34 new cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 25 to 97.63 new cases per 100,000 people on Sunday.
NEW DELHI — India has reported 45,903 new coronavirus cases, with its capital recording the highest single-day rise in infections since the pandemic began.
The Health Ministry on Monday also reported 490 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities in the country to 126,611.
New Delhi’s increase of 7,745 cases comes during a recent surge the government has attributed to crowding in markets during the ongoing festive season, winter weather and high air pollution.
The capital’s air quality levels are plummeting to the “severe” category. A recent government report projected New Delhi may see up to 15,000 daily cases in the winter months.
India has counted more than 8.5 million cases since the pandemic began, the second-highest total behind the U.S.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka police will strictly enforce mask and social distancing requirements and punish violators starting Monday as other anti-virus measures are eased to reduce the economic pain.
Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said police have arrested 120 people for failing to wear face masks and maintain social distance in public places during the last 10 days. Coronavirus rules introduced last month carried punishment of a $54 fine, six-months imprisonment or both.
Passenger trains resumed operating after nearly two weeks and the government lifted a curfew that had been in effect in the capital Colombo and its suburbs. Only pockets where infections are high will remain under isolation with no one permitted to enter or leave the locality.
Sri Lanka has counted 13,929 COVID-19 patients with 35 deaths since the pandemic began, and both figures have been increasing due to two recent clusters that account for more than 9,900 of the total infections.
BOSTON — The coronavirus has hit another sobering milestone: more than 50 million cases.
Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker tallied more than 50.3 million reported cases of coronavirus infection as of Sunday. More than 1.2 million people have died from COVID-19, according to its count.
The U.S., with about 4% of the world’s population, represents almost a fifth of all reported cases.
The country has had more than 9.9 million cases and more than 237,000 deaths from the virus since the pandemic started, according to Johns Hopkins University’s data.
Coronavirus cases and deaths also continue to soar in the U.S., as they are in many countries.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas on Sunday reported 5,404 new cases of the coronavirus, with almost 2,000 of those cases coming from the hard-hit El Paso area, state health officials said.
The state’s total number of cases since the pandemic began is nearing 1 million, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, which puts the number of cases at more than 985,000.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said Sunday that with 43 additional deaths reported, the state’s death toll was at 18,743.
Cases and hospitalizations have been rising in Texas, and the situation has become especially acute in El Paso, with El Paso county’s top elected official shutting down nonessential activities and medical teams being sent in to help.
Health officials said that statewide, more than 6,000 people were hospitalized Sunday with COVID-19.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Hospitalizations from the coronavirus in Arkansas continued to climb Sunday, reaching a new one-day record high of 741, state health officials said.
The Arkansas Department of Health said 19 more people were hospitalized Sunday.
Health officials also reported 1,038 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total so far to nearly 122,000.
“With yet another day of over 1,000 new cases, we are likely headed for a difficult week,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday on Twitter. “Let’s all be safe and take action to protect each other.”
The state also reported 17 new deaths, bringing the death toll so far to 2,085.