The Latest: UK government defends virus control strategy
LONDON — The British government is defending its strategy for combatting a second wave of coronavirus infections from criticism that new restrictions didn’t go far enough to stop the exponential spread of the virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a slate of new rules on Tuesday to stem the renewed outbreak, including a 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants, increased use of face masks and again encouraging people to work from home.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News on Wednesday that the government’s approach was “focused, balanced and proportionate.” He says that if everyone complies with the measures, they will be enough to prevent a second national lockdown “with all the impact on society and families but also the damage it would do to businesses.”
Many health experts said the government’s plan wouldn’t be enough to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 infections.
The dean of epidemiology and population health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, John Edmunds, says the government needs to quickly impose much wider restrictions or risk losing control of the virus.
Edmunds told the BBC: “We will have let the epidemic double and double and double again until we take those measures. And then we’ll have the worst of both worlds, because then to slow the epidemic and bring it back down again … will mean putting the breaks on the epidemic for a very long time, very hard.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— 200,000 dead in the US as Trump vilifies science, prioritizes politics
— Pandemic means world leaders who skipped past UN meetings get their moment
— Israel has reported a new record level of daily cases of coronavirus as government officials planned to discuss tightening a new nationwide lockdown.
— One of only four doctors managing the COVID-19 unit at a Sierra Leone hospital is fighting to save his coronavirus patients but also to provide quality care for those afflicted with other infectious diseases.
— Experts predicted early in the pandemic that migrant workers would wire home less money as the coronavirus hammered the U.S. economy, but the predictions didn’t materialize for workers from Mexico.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BERLIN — Austrian authorities are canceling the 2021 Vienna Opera Ball in February, a high society highlight, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told the Austria Press Agency that the ball is a “flagship” for Vienna and for Austria as a cultural nation but that it would be “irresponsible” to press ahead as usual.
Austria, like many other European countries, has seen a resurgence of new infections recently and has tightened some restrictions on public life.
Culture minister Andrea Mayer said the Opera Ball requires extensive planning and authorities can’t assume at the moment that a relaxed event with 7,000 people dancing will be feasible on Feb. 11.
But she said the decision doesn’t affect operas and concerts in Vienna, which are going ahead with hygiene precautions.
NEW DELHI — India added 83,347 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, showing some decline after a record 97,000 a week ago.
The past six days have shown some drop in the new cases. Wednesday’s increase reported by the Health Ministry raised the nation’s total to more than 5.6 million, which is on pace to pass the U.S. total within weeks.
The ministry said 1,085 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 90,020.
The Health Ministry said more than 80% of people infected have recovered, leaving less than 1 million active cases.
Balram Bhargava, director-general of the Indian Council for Medical Research, said vaccines with 50% efficacy will be approved for use against the coronavirus.
That’s the benchmark set by the World Health Organization as no vaccine for respiratory diseases has a 100% efficacy, he told reporters on Tuesday.