The Latest: Italy sees drop in coronavirus cases and tests
ROME — Italy’s day-to-day new case numbers dropped for a second straight day, but so did the number of swab tests performed to detect coronavirus infections.
According to Health Ministry figures on Monday, 320 coronavirus cases were registered since the previous day, and 30,666 swab tests were carried out at the end of Italy’s big summer holiday weekend. Two days earlier, when Italy registered 629 case —the first time the daily caseload had topped 600 since May— there were more than 53,000 swab tests performed.
From the start of August, the number of hospitalized patients has climbed from just over 700 to 810 on Monday. Still, the situation is dramatically different than in the first weeks of the pandemic, when thousands of people in Italy were being hospitalized daily with COVID-19.
Infectious diseases experts fear that Italy’s caseload will tick upward again as many holiday-goers return from vacations abroad, including in Spain, where the climbing number of coronavirus infections lately has been stirring alarm.
Italy now records 254,235 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Four deaths were registered in the last 24 hours, raising the nation death toll in the pandemic to 35,400.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Japan’s economy shrinks at record rate, slammed by pandemic
— New Zealand delays election by four weeks after virus outbreak in Auckland
— South Koreans urged to stay home as cases jump
— Federal virus money slow to trickle to local public health in the U.S.
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MADRID — Spain is reporting 16,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases since Friday, when the last official update post-lockdown brought a record of nearly 3,000 cases in one day.
Fernando Simón, head of Spain’s health emergency coordination center, said the country needs to focus on controlling the spread of the virus ahead of September’s resumption of school and work activity after lockdowns and summer vacations.
“The problem in September is that people from areas with different epidemiological status are going to gather together,” Simón told reporters at a press conference. “We have to try to minimize the risk of that explosive mix.”
Since Spain ended a three-month lockdown June 21, the country’s health ministry has recorded more than 112,00 confirmed virus cases. Health authorities say one reason for the resurgence is that testing capacity has both expanded and become more targeted.
In the past 14 days — a period that experts say reflects a more accurate picture of the situation— Spain has recorded nearly 60,000 new confirmed cases, an average tally of more than 4,200 new daily cases, ministry data showed.
The government says more than 28,600 people have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece saw a slight drop in the number of new coronavirus infections Monday, with 150 new confirmed positive cases reported in the last 24 hours, compared to above 200 daily for the past five days.
Health authorities said two people died, bringing the total death toll to 230, and the overall confirmed infections to 7,222.
Greek authorities have imposed restrictions on some tourist hotspots as well as on Athens following an alarming increase in the number of daily infections, including ordering bars, restaurants and cafes to shut at midnight, and limiting the number of people at weddings and other gatherings to 50.
Greece had prided itself on successfully managing the initial outbreak of the pandemic, imposing an early lockdown that kept the numbers of infections and seriously ill people low. But the country has seen a spike in cases since restrictions were relaxed during the summer. Authorities say most are attributed to people ignoring protective measures such as social distancing.
VILNIUS, Lithuania — The government of the Baltic country has opened its borders to European travelers, demanding any foreign national entering Lithuania provides a negative COVID-19 test.
All those coming into Lithuania will be required to provide negative tests on COVID-19 conducted no later than 72 hours before arrival, Interior Minister Rita Tamasuniene said Monday.
The regulation applies to all 27 European Union members plus United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican.
Lithuania has had a total of 2,436 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 81 deaths since the pandemic began.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Schools in northern regions of the Netherlands are reopening this week with most students expected back in classrooms Tuesday and Wednesday without social distancing or face masks.
Education Minister Arie Slob insisted Monday that it is safe to return to high schools.
However, speaking on NOS Radio 1 news, he conceded that “there is never a 100% guarantee that everything will go well.”
While students in Dutch schools don’t have to wear masks or stick to social distancing measures, they do have to stay 1.5 meters (5 feet) from their teachers and adhere to other coronavirus measures such as good hygiene and staying home if they have symptoms.
Students returning from vacations in high-risk countries must stay home for a 14-day quarantine period. High-risk cities include Paris and Marseille in France along with Brussels and Antwerp in Belgium.
The reopening comes amid a recent sharp rise in infections in the Netherlands. On Sunday, the public health institute reported 507 new confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana’s elections chief has proposed a scaled-back emergency plan for this fall’s elections that would modestly expand early voting amid the coronavirus outbreak, but still require most people to cast ballots in person.
Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin sent the proposal to Louisiana’s governor and state lawmakers Monday.
It recommends a more limited adjustment in voting rules for the Nov. 3 presidential election than the plan used for Louisiana’s summer elections. It offers no expansions of absentee balloting for people with conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19 or people isolating because of virus exposure.
Louisiana’s absentee ballot procedure is limited to people 65 or older, members of the military, overseas voters, people who are hospitalized and people who won’t be in their parish for the election.
Ardoin’s plan for the November and December elections would allow any voter testing positive for COVID-19 during and after early voting but before Election Day to use the hospitalization excuse to get an absentee ballot. No other changes are proposed to who can use the absentee process.
The plan needs approval from Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and lawmakers before it could take effect.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A state lawmaker in Tennessee has been hospitalized as he battles the coronavirus, officials said.
Tennessee state Rep. Mike Carter, an Ooltewah Republican, was hospitalized Sunday and is being treated in the ICU, his colleagues told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
On Monday morning, Carter tweeted that he was feeling a little better, but expected ups and downs during his recovery. He is the second Tennessee lawmaker known to have tested positive for COVID-19.
Republican Rep. Kent Calfee of Kingston announced last month that he had tested positive for the virus but was asymptomatic.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Frustrated by scenes of crowded entertainment districts and bars on the first weekend many students returned to the University of Alabama, officials are looking ways to improve safety during the coronavirus pandemic and hopefully save college football this year, the mayor said Monday.
Police already are “depleted and exhausted,” and leaders don’t want to add to restrictions that already include early closing times and crowd limits at nightspots, Mayor Walt Maddox said.
“If you don’t want to protect yourself and you don’t want to protect your family and you don’t want to protect your friends and thousands of jobs, maybe just maybe you would want to protect football season so we can have it this fall,” Maddox said in an interview.
Tuscaloosa police officers issued 12 citations for mask violations and arrested four people.
STILLWATER, Okla. — At Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, where a widely circulated video over the weekend showed dozens of maskless students packed into a nightclub, officials on Monday confirmed 23 positive cases of COVID-19 at an off-campus sorority house.
All of the students living in the house were placed in isolation and are prohibited from leaving the facility, the university said in a statement.
“As a student, I’m frustrated as hell,” said Ryan Novozinsky, an OSU junior from Allentown, New Jersey, and the editor of the student newspaper. “These are people I have to interact with.
OSU has a combination of in-person and online courses, and students, staff and faculty are required to wear masks indoors and outdoors where social distancing isn’t possible.
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Traffic backed up at the Croatian-Slovenian border over the weekend as Austrians who had been vacationing in Croatia sought to get home before new safety restrictions on entering the country went into effect.
Hours-long traffic jams formed in Slovenia, and 350 Austrians were not able to make it across the border at the Spielfeld crossing before the Sunday deadline, the Austria Press Association reported Monday.
The Austrian government ordered the increased health and safety measures for people coming from Croatia, noting that about a third of new coronavirus infections had been linked to travelers, many who had been on vacation along the Croatian Adriatic coast.
Under the new guidelines for entering Austria, travelers need to produce an official health certificate no more than 72 hours old showing they tested negative for the coronavirus. If such proof is not available, travelers need to take a test within 48 hours of their arrival and quarantine at home until a result is available.
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic is returning to mandatory use of face masks in indoor public spaces.
Health Minister Adam Vojtech says the face coverings will have to be worn on all means of the public transport and interior places, such are stores, shopping malls, post offices but not in bars and restaurants. People will also have to have the masks at any indoor public gatherings.
Vojtech says the “preventive measure” becomes effective on Sept 1, the start of the new school year.
Currently, the masks are mandatory at hospitals and outpatient clinics and other health care facilities across the country, and on Prague’s subway network.
The number of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Czech Republic has surpassed 20,000. According to Health Ministry figures released on Monday, the country has had 20,012 infected people while 397 have died.
NEW DELHI — India’s number of reported fatalities from the coronavirus has crossed 50,000 after 941 new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.
With a total of 50,921 reported deaths, India now has the fourth most reported fatalities from the virus in the world, behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico.
India’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases also crossed 2.6 million on Monday after a spike of 57,982 cases in the past 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry. India is behind the United States and Brazil in total reported cases.
August has seen a big spike in fatalities with more than a quarter of the country’s total coronavirus deaths coming in the past 17 days.
The Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s top medical research body, said that more than 731,697 samples were tested for the virus on Sunday. India has conducted nearly 30 million tests so far.
India’s fatality rate is less than 2%, according to the Health Ministry.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark is making it mandatory to wear face masks on public transportation starting Saturday after the country has seen a steady climb in the number of new coronavirus infections.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said face masks could also become compulsory in other areas of society, including supermarkets and shopping malls.
She said the reason for the new initiative first will come into effect at the end of the week is to give the people and shops enough time to obtain face masks. Also, it is up to the transit companies to enforce that they are used.
Denmark was one the first European countries to ease its coronavirus lockdown as the epidemic appeared to be contained. The Scandinavian country has seen a total of 15,617 reported cases of the coronavirus, with 621 deaths.