The Latest: Spain 1st EU nation to reach 900,000 virus cases
MADRID — Spain has become the first European Union nation to reach 900,000 infections after adding more than 11,000 confirmed cases.
Spain’s health ministry say it has confirmed 908,056 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, which is seventh in the world.
France is next in the EU with more than 750,000 cases, although the exact number of cases in each country depends on the amount of testing.
More than 5,000 new cases were diagnosed in Spain between Tuesday and Wednesday, the ministry says.
Spanish authorities have confirmed 33,413 deaths from COVID-19, ranking eighth in the world. Health experts believe the actual number is much higher because of a lack of testing.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— World Bank OKs $12B for coronavirus vaccines, tests
— France bracing for coronavirus restrictions after President Macron speech
— Russia sets daily infection record with more than 14,000
— Months after Italy eased one of the globe’s toughest lockdowns, the country is recording well over 5,000 new infections a day.
— Belgium’s intensive care units will hit capacity by mid-November if the number of new coronavirus cases stay at the same pace, according to health experts.
— NFL will begin testing for the coronavirus on game days starting this week, doesn’t plan to move into bubble.
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
NEW YORK — Facing public skepticism about rushed COVID-19 vaccines, U.S. health officials are planning an extra layer of safety scrutiny for the first people vaccinated when shots become available.
A new poll shows a quarter of Americans say they wouldn’t get vaccinated, a slight increase from 1 in 5 in May. The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found only 46% of Americans want the vaccine and 29% aren’t sure.
Black Americans have been especially hard-hit by COVID-19, but just 22% say they plan to get vaccinated compared with 48% of white Americans, the AP-NORC poll found.
On top of rigorous final testing in tens of thousands of people, any COVID-19 vaccines cleared for widespread use will get additional safety evaluation as they’re rolled out. Some states are planning their own safety reviews.
Among plans from the CDC: Texting early vaccine recipients to check how they’re feeling, daily for the first week and then weekly out to six weeks.
ROME — Italy has recorded 7,332 coronavirus cases, its single biggest single-day increase since the start of the outbreak.
The previous record was 6,557 cases on March 21 when Italy became the European epicenter of the pandemic. However, there is more testing, with 152,000 conducted in the last day.
Another 43 people died, bringing Italy’s confirmed toll to 36,289, the second highest in Europe after Britain.
Public health officials are warning that hospitals are filling up and Italy’s contact tracing is overwhelmed by the number of the new infections. Virologist Andrea Crisanti says the resurgence threatens to create a “vicious circle” of too many infections to trace.
Speaking to RAI TG24 on Wednesday, he suggested a Christmastime lockdown would help stop the chain of transmission and help “reset” the overwhelmed contact tracing system.
MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin judge has temporarily blocked an order from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration limiting the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor places.
The order issued Wednesday comes as Wisconsin breaks records for new coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations.
Evers imposed the new capacity limits last week to help curb the spread in the state. It limits the number of customers in many indoor establishment to 25% of capacity.
The Tavern League of Wisconsin sued, arguing it amounted to “defacto closure.” Sawyer County Circuit Judge John Yackel on Wednesday blocked the order and set a court date for Monday.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court earlier this year struck down Evers’ “safer at home” order, which the governor has cited as part of the reason why coronavirus cases have spiked in Wisconsin.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s health secretary announced he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Lorenzo González says he’s quarantined himself and alerted all those he’d been in contact.
The U.S. territory of 3.2 million people has reported more than 27,600 confirmed cases and more than 740 deaths.
The island remains under certain restrictions imposed since the pandemic began, including a night curfew and restaurants, gyms and theaters operating at limited capacity.
PARIS — France is bracing for possible curfews and other coronavirus restrictions as hospitals and intensive care units take in more patients.
French President Emmanuel Macron will give a nationally televised interview Wednesday night to speak about the virus, his first in months. French media reports say Macron will step up efforts on social media to press the need for virus protections among young people.
France’s government has already put Paris, seven other cities and the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe under maximum virus alert, closing bars, banning student parties and capping the size of gatherings.
Bar and other business owners have organized numerous protests in response, saying they won’t survive the consequences of the crisis.
But with hospitalizations still rising, authorities are discussing tougher measures, including a possible overnight curfew in areas where infections are spreading fast. The government is seeking volunteers to pitch in at hospitals.
The COVID-19 patients occupy a third of intensive care units nationwide. France reported about 180 positive cases per 100,000 people during the last week and higher concentrations in some cities.
France has 798,000 confirmed cases and nearly 33,000 deaths.
GENEVA — The Swiss army is stopping weekend leave for some 10,000 recruits for the last two weeks of October to brace against the spread of the coronavirus.
Spokesman Daniel Reist of the Swiss army says the 24 coronavirus cases currently tallied were all contracted during previous leave at home — not among soldiers — so military chiefs opted to suspend the upcoming leave.
Seven of those cases produced mild symptoms, while the others had no symptoms at all. Switzerland has mandatory military service for all young men.
BUCHAREST, ROMANIA — Romania registered a record number of new coronavirus infections with 4,016 on Wednesday as the number of patients in intensive care also surged.
Romania, a nation of 19 million, has a total of 164,477 confirmed cases and 5,601 deaths. More than two-thirds of the confirmed cases were reported since the end of July.
The surge in new infections comes as authorities in Bucharest are considering a partial reopening of cinemas, theaters and restaurants following the recommendations of the National Center for Supervision and Control of Infectious Diseases (CNSU).
Romanian authorities ordered the shutdown of all indoor restaurants, theaters, movie cinemas, gambling and dance venues in the capital in early October. If the recommendations are approved, cinemas, theaters and restaurants will re-open on Thursday with reduced capacity, depending on the number of registered cases in their areas.
City officials have banned larger gatherings such as weddings and baptisms and may impose mandatory mask wearing outdoors.
WASHINGTON — The World Bank says it has approved $12 billion in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests and treatments.
The bank says the aim is to support the vaccination of up to 1 billion people and to signal to researchers and the pharmaceutical industry that people living in poor countries need access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
It is part of a wider World Bank Group package of up to $160 billion to help developing countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The bank says its pandemic response programs are reaching 111 countries.
Development and deployment of such preventive vaccines is crucial to helping stem outbreaks of the coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million people and sickened more than 38 million.
The world’s richest countries have locked up most of the potential vaccine supply through 2021, raising concerns poor and vulnerable communities won’t get the shots.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has apologized to the faithful for being unable to greet them and shake hands following a coronavirus spike in Italy and the Vatican.
Instead of wading into the crowd to embrace the sick and kiss babies during his weekly general audience Wednesday, Francis walked in through a back door directly onto the stage.
At 83 and with part of a lung missing since an illness in his 20s, the pope would be at high-risk for COVID-19 complications. Yet he has been reluctant to wear a face mask and appeared without one again Wednesday, even though many of his entourage and all the Swiss Guards wore masks.
He told the crowd: “I would like to come down as usual and get close to you to greet you, but with new prescriptions, we would better keep our distances.”
This week, four Swiss Guards tested positive for the coronavirus and were in isolation. There have been 19 total cases in the Vatican. The Vatican amended its mask mandates to conform with all of Italy, requiring them indoors and out.
While Francis was seen donning a mask a few weeks ago, the Vatican has not responded to questions about why he isn’t wearing one now. Francis often seems out of breath and speaks in a whisper because of his lung condition, suggesting that wearing a mask might be particularly uncomfortable.
GENEVA — Authorities in Switzerland are reporting a new daily record of 2,823 confirmed coronavirus cases, with young adults as the most affected demographic.
The Federal Office of Public Health says that brings the total to 68,704 confirmed cases. It recorded eight new deaths for a confirmed total of 1,816.
At a peak between late March and mid-April, Switzerland was recording more than 40 COVID-related deaths per day.
The age group 20-29 has tallied most of the new cases, while older groups were generally more affected in the early phases of the pandemic.
MOSCOW — Russian authorities have reported a record 14,000 new coronavirus cases, the latest daily spike in infections.
Russia, which has the world’s fourth-largest confirmed coronavirus caseload of more than 1.3 million, has been reporting over 10,000 new cases for 11 straight days, The 14,231 new infections on Wednesday is the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.
Most of the virus restrictions in the county have been lifted over the summer. Despite the rapid resurgence of the outbreak, Russian authorities have dismissed suggestions of a second national lockdown.
In Moscow, which has been reporting over 4,000 new cases every day since Saturday, officials recommended that the elderly to self-isolate at home and ordered employers to have 30% of their staff work from home. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin also extended school holidays by one week.
On Wednesday, Sobyanin said school students from 6th to 11th grades will shift to online studies for two weeks beginning Monday. Pupils in 1st to 5th grades will continue attending schools as usual.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — For the second consecutive day, the United Arab Emirates has reported a record number of coronavirus cases, with 1,431 new infections.
The caseload brings the total number in the country over 110,000, including 450 fatalities. Recorded infections have soared in recent weeks as authorities have relaxed restrictions and resumed schools for in-person instruction. Dubai, the region’s business hub, recently reopened its airport for international travelers.
While coming amid an aggressive testing campaign, the upward trend has raised fears that authorities could reinstate lockdowns in parts of the country that rely heavily on tourism.
STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s third-largest city has decided to temporarily make faces masks mandatory for health care workers who are in close contact with elderly.
Gisela Ost, head of administration of Malmo, the southern Sweden city of nearly 345,000, called it “an extra precaution” for when staff are within 1 meter (3.3 feet) of an elderly person.
Sweden’s Public Health Agency says for the time being it didn’t recommend face masks in public but adds “there may be situations where face masks can be useful.”
Sweden which has had 100,654 cases and 5,899 deaths, has in recent days seen an increase in cases and there have been “some worrying signs that nursing homes may begin to be affected,” according to chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell.
Sweden has opted for a much debated COVID-19 approach of keeping large parts of the society open.