The Latest: Mobile apps to trace virus get mixed reviews
LONDON — Mobile apps tracing coronavirus cases were touted as a key part of Europe’s plan to beat the coronavirus outbreak.
Seven months into the pandemic, virus cases are surging and the apps have not been widely adopted due to privacy concerns, technical problems and lack of interest from the public.
Britain, Portugal, and Finland this month became the latest to unveil smartphone apps that alert people if they’ve been near someone who turned out to be infected so they can seek treatment or isolate.
But some countries have scrapped their tracing apps already while others have found so few users that the technology is not very effective.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— India confirms 75,000 coronavirus cases, 1,000 deaths in one day
— Madrid may extend virus measures despite outcry
— Mobile apps for tracing coronavirus cases get mixed reviews
— England will order pubs and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. People who can work from home will be encouraged to do so.
— Virus infections and deaths in French nursing homes are on the rise again. Nearly half of the 31,000 people confirmed to have died in France with the virus were nursing home residents.
— The only thing more difficult than staging next year’s Tokyo Olympics in a pandemic might be convincing sponsors to keep their billions of dollars on board. Tokyo needs to convince sponsors the Olympics will really happen.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MADRID — The Spanish capital is poised to extend its restrictions on movement to more neighborhoods due to a surge in new cases in other districts, despite an outcry from residents over discrimination.
Police on Monday deployed to 37 working-class neighborhoods that have seen 14-day transmission rates above 1,000 per 100,000 inhabitants. People are required to justify trips out of those neighborhoods.
Locals complained that the restrictions stigmatize the poor, who often live in more cramped conditions and rely on public transport to get to their jobs.
On Tuesday, 16 more districts exceeded that transmission rate threshold, and Madrid’s regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, said the possibility of extending the restrictions was on the table.
Regional vice president Ignacio Aguado said officials are assessing whether health services can cope with the increased cases before deciding on restrictions. “Things aren’t going well,” he said.
TOKYO — The number of people testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 totaled 88 in Tokyo Tuesday, the second straight day that Japan’s capital had fewer than 100 cases.
The Tokyo Metropolitan government said Tuesday the current cumulative number for those infected by the coronavirus is 24,394 in Tokyo, 30 of them serious cases.
The drop in cases may be partly caused by the four-day weekend including two national holidays that run through Tuesday, which has people out of town for leisure and not getting tested.
The surge in crowds at airports and shopping malls during the holidays has already raised concern about another spike in cases ahead.
Japan has had about 1,500 COVID-related deaths since the illnesses began late last year, spreading from China.
Across the country, new infections reported Monday totaled 314, including seven cases among incoming passengers at airports, the Health Ministry said Tuesday.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s prime minister has tested negative for the coronavirus after a person working at his office was confirmed to have the virus.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun’s office said Chung underwent the test on Tuesday after one of office’s staff was found to have been infected with the virus earlier in the day.
Chung’s office said the prime minister hadn’t come in contact with the infected official since last Wednesday.
Officially, Chung is South Korea’s No.2 official and he’s been playing a leading role in government-led efforts to contain the coronavirus. South Korea’s executive power is concentrated in a president but a prime minister leads the country if the president becomes incapacitated.
South Korea added 61 additional coronavirus cases earlier Tuesday, its lowest daily virus tally since mid-August amid a downward trend in fresh infections.
The Catalonia region of Spain is cutting its required quarantine time for people possibly exposed to someone with COVID-19 from 14 days to 10.
France has also reduced its quarantine time, from 14 days to seven, despite warnings last week by the World Health Organization that even slight reductions in the length of the quarantine could have a significant effect on the spread of the virus.
Catalan health secretary Josep Maria Argimon said Tuesday the change will take effect from next week.
He said in an interview with broadcaster TV3 that the briefer quarantine time “carries a risk, but it’s a manageable risk.” Some studies have indicated that only about half of people quarantined observe the full two-week period.
By Tuesday, Catalonia had officially recorded more than 155,500 cases — an increase of 938 from the previous day.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce new restrictions on social interaction Tuesday as the government tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus before it spirals out of control.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told Sky News that pubs and restaurants across England will be ordered to close at 10 p.m. and people who can work from home will be encouraged to do so, reversing a government drive to get people back to the office.
The prime minister will release further details of the government’s plan when he speaks to the House of Commons at 12:30 p.m. BST (11:30 GMT). He will deliver a televised address to the nation at 8 p.m.
The new restrictions come a day after the government’s top scientific and medical advisers said virus infections were doubling every seven days and could rise to 49,000 a day by mid-October if nothing is done to stem the tide.
ISLAMABAD — The Pakistani prime minister’s health adviser says authorities have begun much-awaited final-phase testing of a Chinese-made vaccine against the coronavirus.
In Tuesday’s televised comments, Faisal Sultan, who advises Prime Minister Imran Khan on health issues, said the clinical trials will continue for about 12 weeks.
The latest development comes weeks after Pakistan approved advanced clinical trials for potential vaccines at the country’s main health facilities. Pakistan has said the vaccine produced by CanSinoBio, a China-based vaccine developer, and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology will be used during the clinical trials.
NEW DELHI — India on Tuesday confirmed over 75,000 new coronavirus cases and more than 1,000 deaths in the past 24 hours.
With more than 5.5 million cases, India is behind only the United States in total number of confirmed infections. India’s death toll from the virus is nearly 89,000.
So far, nearly 76% of the new virus cases are concentrated in 10 states, with Maharashtra in central India accounting for almost a quarter of new infections on Monday.
Daily new infections in India have been hovering around 90,000 for the past few days, but experts point out that testing still varies from state to state. And new surges have been detected in states that had so far been left relatively unscathed by the virus.
The central state of Chhattisgarh, where nearly half the population is poor, has seen the sharpest increase in new infections. The caseload in the state, where the health system is very fragile, has increased from around 33,000 in beginning of the month to over 86,000 now. The state government announced a weeklong lockdown of 10 districts on Monday.
LOS ANGELES — Hollywood’s unions have announced that they have reached an agreement on pandemic protocols with major studios that will allow the broad resumption of production of films and television after six months of stagnant sets and widespread unemployment.
The Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Basic Crafts unions and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on Monday jointly announced the deal reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers after months of planning and negotiating.
The deal includes mandatory and comprehensive use of personal protective gear and testing of cast and crew members, and a dedicated coronavirus supervisor to oversee it all.
It requires the use of a “zone system” that strictly limits interactions between people on sets based on their job’s requirements. Those who must deal with more people will be tested more frequently and have more strict protective equipment and spacing requirements. Actors will be tested especially often because their on-camera work won’t allow for many protective measures.
The agreement also gives 10 days of paid COVID-19 sick leave per employee, which can be used after positive tests or when quarantine is necessary, and says that employees who use the leave must be reinstated so long as their jobs still exist.
“The protocols pave the way for creative workers, who have been hard hit by the pandemic, to resume their crafts and livelihoods in workplaces redesigned around their health,” the unions said in a joint statement.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas began relaxing some coronavirus restrictions, including allowing restaurants to let more people inside.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced the changes last week. Bars though still remain closed indefinitely and a mask mandate is still in place following a massive summer spread that became one of the deadliest outbreaks in the U.S.
Under the new orders, restaurants and retail shops that until now have only been allowed to operate at half capacity were allowed to open up to 75% starting Monday in most of the state.
The Texas Department of State Health Services on Monday reported 1,742 new coronavirus cases and 24 more deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Health officials say there have been 698,387 reported cases in Texas so far. The death toll is at 14,917.
HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut is forming an advisory group to validate the safety of any coronavirus vaccines and how to distribute them to the public, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.
Lamont said the goals are to make sure the vaccines are not harmful, the public can have confidence in them and they are distributed with priority going to certain populations such as nursing homes, first responders, schools and colleges while supplies are limited at first.
Lamont cited comments by Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that a vaccine is expected to be widely available by April.
___ HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed a bill that would give school districts the sole ability to make decisions on sports, including whether and how many spectators to allow.
Lawmakers are planning to vote to try to override the Monday veto.
Legislation that cleared the House and Senate would have empower schools to make their own rules about the number of spectators permitted at games.
Wolf says his gathering limits of no more than 25 people indoors and 250 people outdoors should apply to youth sports to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
WASHINGTON — The White House is urging U.S. governors to put politics aside and help the Trump administration promote future coronavirus vaccines as safe and effective.
Vice President Mike Pence urged governors Monday to use their bully pulpits and reassure the public that vaccines will be safe to take after a rigorous vetting process by the Food and Drug Administration.
“What we don’t want is people undermining confidence in the process,” Pence said in a private call with governors, the audio of which was obtained by The Associated Press.
Trump has escalated his promise for a coronavirus vaccine before Election Day. But Democrats, independents and even some Republicans do not trust the Trump administration to produce a safe and effective vaccine on such an aggressive timeline.
Pence acknowledged the country is in the middle of a heated election season, but stressed that no corners would be cut in approving a vaccine and said his request for support was apolitical.
“I’m leaving the politics outside of the room here,” Pence said.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s president, who has long called for a reform of the United Nations, said the world body has failed in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a televised address following a Cabinet meeting, Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed the UN was late in “accepting the existence” of the pandemic and had failed to “make its presence felt” for nations requiring help to fight infections.
“The UN, which has fallen flat concerning crises from Syria to Yemen, as well as developments in fragile regions of Africa and South America, has also flunked during the pandemic,” he said.
His comments came as world leaders mark the 75th anniversary of UN General Assembly this week.