The Latest: Madrid to impose lockdowns in some areas
MADRID — The Spanish capital will introduce selective lockdowns in urban areas where the coronavirus is spreading faster.
Deputy regional health chief Antonio Zapatero said Wednesday that the measures will most likely affect southern, working-class neighborhoods of Madrid where infection rates have been steadily soaring since August.
Zapatero said that Madrid wants to “flatten the curve before the arrival of autumn and the complications that cold weather could bring,” adding that the measures to be taken will be decided by this weekend.
Madrid and its surrounding region of 6.6 million people have accounted for nearly one third of Spain’s new cases, which have averaged 8,200 per day for the past week.
Overall, Spain has had more than 600,000 cases and just over 30,000 deaths.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— Trump denies downplaying virus threat, despite audio recording, and continues to cast doubt on masks
— India’s virus cases pass 5 million and are still soaring, testing feeble health care system and closing in on US total
— Iowa governor won’t budge on mandating masks even as virus deaths rise
— Doubts persist as NYC’s hybrid school year is set to start
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON — The British government plans to ration coronavirus testing, giving priority to health workers and care home staff after widespread reports that people throughout the country were unable to schedule tests.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday will face questions about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the House of Commons and before a key committee amid the outcry over the shortage of testing.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland says the government is in the process of drawing up a new priority list for testing, suggesting that students and their families could be next in line after the National Health Service and social care.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis says the coronavirus pandemic has proved that our own health depends on the health of others and the environment, and that exploiting nature means exploiting others.
Francis doubled down on his insistence of the interconnectedness of people and the planet during his general audience Wednesday, held in a Vatican courtyard with the faithful spaced apart to limit contagion.
Francis said if people are unable to contemplate the beauty and majesty of nature without exploiting it, they will be similarly unable to contemplate others without taking advantage of them. He said: “He who lives to exploit nature ends up exploiting people and treating them like slaves. This is a universal law.”
Francis is expected to elaborate on the themes of solidarity, fraternity and care for creation in an encyclical he’s expected to sign Oct. 3 on living in the post-COVID world.
HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam will resume international commercial flights connecting the country to several Asian destinations starting Friday, after a monthslong shutdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
The flights, however, are reserved for Vietnamese nationals, diplomats, experts, managers, skilled workers, investors and their families. They are not yet available for tourists.
The flights connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to destinations in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan will operate weekly, the government website announced. Flights connecting Vietnam’s two largest cities with Cambodia and Laos will resume next week.
To board a flight, passengers must hold a certificate showing they have tested negative for the coronavirus no more than five days before the departure date. Upon arrival, they will be tested and quarantined, the report said.
Vietnam shut down international flights on April 1. National carrier Vietnam Airlines estimated last month that it would lose $650 million in 2020.
Vietnam has reported 1,059 cases of the coronavirus. It managed to avoid any deaths until July, when the virus crept into the city of Da Nang, killing 35 people.
But no new cases have been reported for two weeks. Last week, Da Nang lifted a travel restriction after two months.
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic has registered another steep rise in coronavirus infections, with the number of new confirmed cases surpassing 1,600 in one day for the first time.
The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase reached a new record of 1,677 on Tuesday. The record was broken four times last week.
The capital of Prague has the highest number of people who tested positive, over 141 per 100,000. The surge has prompted some European countries, including Slovakia, Denmark, Britain and Switzerland to impose travel restrictions for travellers from the Czech Republic.
According to government figures released on Wednesday, 333 people needed hospitalization. That number was over 400 during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.
The Czech Republic has had 38,896 people infected with 476 deaths.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s daily coronavirus tally has stayed below 200 for two weeks, but the government is urging people not to lower their guard.
Authorities said Wednesday that the 113 cases added in the last 24 hours took the country’s total to 22,504, including 367 deaths.
Eighty-one of them were in the Seoul metropolitan area, the heart of a recent viral resurgence.
Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip called on people to refrain from having unnecessary gatherings and visiting crowded places.
UNITED NATIONS — The new president of the U.N. General Assembly is warning that unilateralism will only strengthen the COVID-19 pandemic and is calling for a new commitment to global cooperation including on the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines.
Turkish diplomat and politician Volkan Bozkir, who took over the reins of the 193-member world body on Tuesday, announced that the General Assembly will hold a high-level special session on the COVID-19 pandemic in early November, though diplomats said the date may slip.
Bozkir takes over from outgoing General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, who presided over a unique year-old session that he said was “defined by a pandemic” and included virtual meetings and new voting procedures.
Bozkir told diplomats from U.N. member nations, seated at socially distanced spaces in the assembly chamber, that “confronting the effects of the coronavirus in all their dimensions will be an overarching priority for my presidency.”
He said “no state can combat this pandemic alone,” and it is the members’ responsibility “to strengthen people’s faith in multilateral cooperation and international institutions, with the U.N. at their center.”