The Latest: NYC school district to test monthly for virus
NEW YORK — The New York City school district is rolling out a monthly plan to test students and staff for the coronavirus.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city plans to do more than 100,000 virus tests on students a month, at a cost of between $78 and $90 per test.
The nation’s largest school district will test 10% to 20% of students and staff in every building monthly beginning Thursday, the same day the final wave of the district’s more than 1 million students began returning to brick-and-mortar classrooms.
De Blasio announced the plan as part of an agreement with the teachers’ union to avert a strike. At least 79 Department of Education employees have died from the coronavirus.
Los Angeles public schools launched a similar $150 million testing program.
The CDC says coronavirus in school-age children in the U.S. has been rising since early September when many returned to classrooms.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Russia reports nearly 9,000 new virus cases
— India reports 86,821 new coronaviruses cases
— NFL postpones Steelers-Titans game after more positive tests
— Global health expert at Harvard University says poor countries “probably will not get vaccinated until 2022 or 2023.”
— Madrid will carry out a national order to restrict mobility in large Spanish cities with rapid virus spread. However, the regional president will fight the resolution in the court, calling it arbitrary.
— India added 41% of confirmed cases and 34% of deaths in September alone. India is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country within weeks, surpassing the United States.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON — The European Medicines Agency has begun its first review process for the experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.
The EU regulator says it had started a “rolling review” process it hopes will expedite any eventual approval.
The EMA has begun analyzing the preliminary information from scientists on the Oxford vaccine, which suggest the vaccine “triggers the production of antibodies and T-Cells,” referring to immune system cells that target the virus. The agency says it was waiting for data from ongoing late-stage tests of the vaccine involving thousands of people, which it hopes will be shared in the coming months.
A similar process was used to approve remdesivir, one of the only licensed drugs to treat COVID-19. That approval was issued in just over one month; the standard process can take nearly seven months.
The Oxford vaccine is proceeding with a large trial in the U.K. even though a similar study has been halted in the U.S. while the FDA examines the report of a serious neurological side effect in a British trial participant.
ATHENS, Greece — Police in Greece used tear gas to disperse protesting high school students who have organized school strikes in response to classroom overcrowding during the pandemic.
Brief clashes broke out near the parliament in central Athens after students threw several gasoline bombs at police. No arrests or injuries were reported.
Greece’s largest teaching union endorsed the rally and pressed the government to hire more teachers to reduce classroom numbers.
Authorities are struggling with a recent spike in coronavirus cases in the Greek capital, where residents of a nursing home were evacuated and some were hospitalized.
Also Thursday, Greece’s Civil Protection Authority says it will hire 192 people on eight-month contracts to be deployed around the country to assist in efforts for coronavirus contact tracing and quarantine of positive cases.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s government is accused of hiding the true extent of the coronavirus outbreak after the health minister revealed the daily figures only reflect patients with symptoms and not all positive cases.
Minister Fahrettin Koca revealed late Wednesday that since July 29, Turkey has been reporting the number of coronavirus patients being cared for in hospitals or at homes. The count didn’t include asymptomatic positive cases, he said.
The revelation led to an outcry on social media, with people calling on the government to reveal the true spread of the coronavirus among the population of 83 million. The hashtag asking “what Is the number of cases?” in Turkish was trending Thursday on Twitter.
The government on Wednesday reported 1,391 new coronavirus “patients” and 65 deaths. Since the pandemic began, Turkey has reported 318,000 cases and 8,195 deaths.
MOSCOW — Russian health officials reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, one of the largest increases in months.
The 8,945 cases are almost twice as many as health officials were registering in late August. The new cases brought the country’s total to more 1.18 million, fourth highest in the world. There have been 20,796 confirmed deaths – 12th highest globally — according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Despite the increases, authorities have repeatedly dismissed a second lockdown or other major restrictions. However, Moscow officials last week asked the elderly to stay at home, and employers to allow people to work from home. The mayor of Moscow also extended school holidays that start Oct. 5 to two weeks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday urged Russians to remain vigilant.
PARIS — A French government research institute is recruiting 25,000 people to test potential coronavirus vaccines from around the world and compare their results.
The recruitment process begun last week by the INSERM institute is parallel to trials led by pharmaceutical companies attempting to develop a vaccine. INSERM officials say it will focus on the “most promising vaccines” but didn’t list them, saying it will before the start of testing.
INSERM officials says it is looking for people — including the elderly and people in at-risk categories — to test vaccines and will follow their progress three to 12 months.
France is experiencing an increase in virus cases and people hospitalized with COVID-19.
France has reported more than 10,000 new cases a day in recent weeks. It has 604,000 total cases and nearly 32,000 confirmed deaths, eighth highest in the world.
LONDON — Britain’s government has imposed tighter restrictions on social mixing in the port city of Liverpool and three other communities.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons on Thursday the infection rate had risen to 268 per 100,000 population and it was time to extend measures to Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough. The measures were imposed in northeastern England this week.
There were 7,108 new infections reported Wednesday and 71 coronavirus-related deaths.
Britain’s official coronavirus death toll has surpassed 42,000 — the highest in Europe. However, those numbers are likely higher because Britain changed its method of counting deaths in August to allow only those who die within 28 days of a coronavirus diagnosis.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s president says the Balkan country will do a recount of COVID-19 deaths after a chief epidemiologist says more people have died of the disease than officially reported.
President Aleksandar Vucic says, “Serbia will do a complete revision for each death, for each person.” Vucic insisted that the authorities did not hide the number of fatalities caused by the pandemic.
The comments came after epidemiologist Predrag Kon said three times more people died in Belgrade by June than officially registered. Kon wasn’t clear over who’s to blame for the discrepancy.
Serbian authorities have denied accusations they let the pandemic spin out of control ahead of the June 21 parliamentary election and altered the numbers of the infected at the time.
Tens of thousands of people attended a soccer game in early summer, while anti-virus rules were almost completely relaxed. Restrictions to counter the virus were reintroduced in July following days of violent protests over the government’s handling of the crisis.
Vucic’s populists won a landslide victory at the ballot that was boycotted by many opposition parties who insisted the vote was unfair.
Serbia has reported more than 30,000 infections and 749 deaths.
JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s top public health official says the continent is “watching in total dismay” as COVID-19 cases rise again in Europe.
Studies show the virus largely entered Africa from Europe, and on Thursday one of the continent’s busiest entryways, South Africa, reopened to international commercial flights.
Africa’s rate of new virus cases continues to drop, down 7.6% from last week, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong says.
The 54-nation continent has over 1.4 million confirmed virus cases including over 36,000 deaths, nowhere near the 300,000 to 3 million deaths once projected.
Africa nations are trying to determine their true number of cases, with antibody surveys expanding to 15 countries. In a boost to testing —15 million tests have been conducted — some 20 million antigen tests will be distributed.
LONDON — British scientists are reporting that the rate of coronavirus infection across England has jumped four-fold in the last month and even higher in regions like northwest England and London.
That’s according to a large government-commissioned study that randomly tested tens of thousands of people in the community. But the researchers also said the epidemic does not appear to be growing exponentially at the moment.
“There is some evidence of a deceleration,” said Paul Elliott, chair of epidemiology at Imperial College London, who led the study. Elliott said some of the recently imposed measures in the U.K., including banning gatherings of more than six people, may have helped slow the spread of COVID-19.
Elliott said about 1 in 200 people across England are infected with the coronavirus, an increase from about 1 in 800 people in early September.
“We need to get on top of this now so we don’t have an exponential increase,” he said.
Elliott and colleagues noted that the steep rise in cases began in August — when the U.K. government launched a month-long promotion offering people steep discounts to eat out at restaurants.
The study also noted that rates of infection are increasing among all age groups in England, with the highest prevalence among 18 to 24-year-olds. The scientists reported that Black people and those of Asian descent were twice as likely to have COVID-19 as white people.
MADRID — Madrid will carry out a national order restricting mobility in large Spanish cities with rapid virus spread but its regional president announced Thursday she will fight the Spanish government’s resolution in the courts because she deems it arbitrary.
Spain’s official gazette on Thursday published the Health Ministry order that gives the country’s 19 regions two days to implement limits on social gatherings and shop opening hours and restricts trips in and out of any large cities that have recorded a 2-week infection rate of 500 cases per 100,000 residents.
Countrywide, only Madrid and nine of its suburban towns met the criteria as of Thursday.
Spain’s central government and regional officials in Madrid have been at odds for weeks over how to respond to the pandemic while the spread of the virus in the Spanish capital surged to the highest level in Europe’s second wave of infections.
The center-right Madrid government has resisted the stricter measures in the city of 3.3 million and its suburbs for fears of damaging the economy.
LONDON — An ambitious humanitarian project to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the world’s poorest people is facing potential shortages of money, cargo planes, refrigeration and vaccines themselves — and running into skepticism even from some of those it’s intended to help most.
In one of the biggest obstacles, rich countries have locked up most of the world’s potential vaccine supply through 2021, and the U.S. and others have refused to join the project, called Covax.
“The supply of vaccines is not going to be there in the near term, and the money also isn’t there,” warned Rohit Malpani, a public health consultant who previously worked for Doctors Without Borders.
Covax was conceived as a way of giving countries access to coronavirus vaccines regardless of their wealth.
Yet Alicia Yamin, a global health expert at Harvard University, said she fears the “window is closing” for Covax to prove workable. She says that poor countries “probably will not get vaccinated until 2022 or 2023.”
LISBON, Portugal — Portuguese authorities say 17 Moroccan migrants being held at an army barracks broke out and fled after two other migrants there tested positive for COVID-19.
The national immigration service said the group broke out at dawn Thursday. Two were recaptured by mid-morning. Police across Portugal and in neighboring Spain were on the lookout for the fugitives.
A group of 24 Moroccan migrants who arrived last month in a wooden boat on Portugal’s southern coast were being kept in quarantine at the barracks due to rules on stemming the spread of the new coronavirus.