The Latest: US health secretary warns `window is closing’
WASHINGTON — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is stressing that “the window is closing” for the U.S. to take action to effectively curb the coronavirus.
Azar pointed to a recent spike in infections, particularly in the South. He says people have “to act responsibly” by social distancing and wearing face masks especially “in these hot zones.”
Azar argued that the U.S. is in a better position than two months ago in fighting the virus because it is conducting more testing and has therapeutics available to treat COVID-19.
But he acknowledges that hospitalizations and deaths could increase in the next few weeks, because it is a lagging indicator.
Texas and Florida reversed course on parts of their reopening and clamped down on bars on Friday as the daily number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the U.S. surged to an all-time high of 40,000.
Azar spoke on NBC and CNN.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Virus cases worldwide hit 10 million
— Experts look to set expectations on any virus vaccine
— Experts see no proof of child-abuse surge amid pandemic
— A divided Poland holds presidential vote delayed by pandemic, while France holds municipal elections.
— Nurses, doctors feel strain as virus races through Arizona
— The pandemic means that millions of women in Africa and other developing regions could lose years of success in contributing to household incomes, asserting their independence and expanding financial inclusion.
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A Maryland man who has helped organize “reopen” protests against measures intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus says he has the virus.
Tim Walters is a co-founder of the ReOpen Maryland movement. The Capital Gazette and Washington Post report that he announced on social media that he has tested positive.
In a Facebook video, he said he was diagnosed at a hospital emergency room. The newspapers report that he said, “Here I am months after not wearing a mask at rallies, churches and so on and so it’s funny how capricious this thing is.”
Walters declined interview requests from the papers. He said he would not provide any information to public health officials trying to trace the spread of the disease. Walters emphasized he had contacted people he’d recently interacted with.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan posted a link to the Annapolis paper’s story to his own Facebook page Friday. He noted that health experts “are strongly encouraging anyone who attended a demonstration or mass gathering to immediately get tested for coronavirus.”
BERLIN — The southern German state of Bavaria says it’s starting a program to offer coronavirus testing for all residents.
State Health Minister Melanie Huml said Sunday that the “corona test offensive” will help provide Bavarians “clarity if they have been infected.”
Bavaria is Germany’s largest state by area and is home to some 13 million people. It has been the worst hit by the coronavirus both in terms of infections per capita and in total numbers.
As of Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control center, reported the state had 48,294 of Germany’s overall 193,499 cases, with 2,592 of its 8,957 deaths.
Bavaria is the first of Germany’s 16 states to undertake universal testing. The state plans to pay for tests that aren’t already covered under the country’s health care system.
Until now, testing has been focused on people with symptoms or possible exposure, as well as in certain professions where they are more likely to have come into contact with the virus.
MOSCOW — Russia has recorded 6,791 new cases in the past day.
The national coronavirus task force said Sunday that the total number of cases rose to 634,437.
It said 104 people died of the virus over the past day, bringing the total dead to 9.073.
Russia has the third-highest coronavirus infection case count in the world. But it has reported far fewer deaths than many countries with smaller infection case counts, leading to speculation that figures are manipulated which Russian officials vehemently deny.
LONDON — Britain’s government is pledging to support local officials the central English city of Leicester, amid reports that a spike in COVID-19 cases would prompt authorities to lock the community down.
The Sunday Times reports that a lockdown would come within days after 658 new cases were recorded in the Leicester area in the two weeks to June 16. It would be the first time Britain had locked down a single area during the pandemic.
The Department of Health and Social Care on Sunday acknowledged the city was an area of concern. It says it is “supporting the council and local partners in Leicester to help prevent further transmission of the virus.”
Confirmed coronavirus infections have surpassed the 10 million mark worldwide.
A tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University registered the grim milestone Sunday, after India and Russia added thousands of new cases. The United States has confirmed more than 2.5 million infections, the most in the world.
Globally, the Hopkins tally has reported nearly 500,000 deaths.
While Hopkins reports only confirmed coronavirus cases, experts believe the true number of people who have been infected could be as much as 10 times that figure, given that so many people can’t get tested or may have the virus without showing any symptoms.
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic has been registering a steep increase of the number of people infected with the coronavirus.
The day-to-day increase reached 260 new confirmed cases on Saturday, up from 168 the previous day and 93 the day before.
It is the highest number of newly infected people since April 8. It comes amid the government’s easing of its restrictive measures and despite a typical lower number of tests over the weekend.
The Czech Republic has had 11,306 confirmed cases while 347 people have died, according to Health Ministry figures released on Sunday.
ROME — Italy is honoring its coronavirus dead with a Requiem concert performed in front of the cemetery in Bergamo, one of the hardest-hit provinces in the onetime epicenter of the European outbreak.
President Sergio Mattarella, the 243 mayors of cities in Bergamo province and a representative of families who lost loved ones have been invited to attend the evening concert, which is being transmitted live on RAI state television. It will feature the Requiem Mass composed by Bergamo native Gaetano Donizetti, one of Italy’s most important 19th century composers.
Bergamo recorded its first positive case Feb. 23 and by the end of March had registered a 571% increase in excess deaths compared to the five-year monthly average. Images in mid-March of an army convoy hauling caskets away because Bergamo’s cemeteries and crematoriums were full came to epitomize the horrific toll of the virus in Italy’s north.
Donizetti composed the unfinished Requiem to honor his friend and fellow composer, Vincenzo Bellini, who died in 1835. During the peak of the epidemic, Bergamo’s Donizetti Theater and the city government put on social media the recording of a 2017 performance of the Requiem Mass to honor the victims.
NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India must focus on bolstering the economy as it exits the lockdown phase, even as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb.
On Sunday, India reported additional 19,906 confirmed cases, taking the total to 528,859 with 16,095 deaths. It says 309,713 people have recovered.
Modi told a radio address that during the post-lockdown period, Indians have to stay more vigilant compared to the lockdown and only alertness can save them from the coronavirus.
He again urged people to wear a mask and observe social distancing norms and other precautions, or else would be putting others at risk, especially the elderly and children at home.
BERLIN — Swiss authorities say they’ve ordered 300 people into quarantine after a “superspreader” outbreak of the new coronavirus at a Zurich nightclub.
Zurich officials said in a statement that a man who had been at the Flamingo Club a week ago tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, and that five people who were with him there were then tested and also were positive and reported to authorities on Friday.
Working from a list of guests provided by the club, officials were then able to get in touch with the others who were there and ordered them into quarantine on Saturday for 10 days to try and stop any further spread of the virus as they are tested.
Swiss officials say the incident shows how important it is to stick to hygiene and distance regulations as lockdown measures are gradually lifted. They say if there are more superspreader type events in clubs they will have to resort to closing such facilities again.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s minister for science and technology says the country has started producing locally designed ventilators, as authorities reported 83 more deaths from the coronavirus.
In a tweet, Fawad Chaudhry said the first home-made ventilators will be handed over to the national disaster management agency soon. The announcement comes days after Pakistan said it was racing against time to arrange for 1,500 more ventilators as part of a contingency plan.
Currently, 1,503 ventilators are available at government hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
Pakistan on Sunday reported 4.072 new cases of the coronavirus, taking the total to 202,955 with 4,118 deaths.
Pakistan has witnessed a spike in new infections since last month, when Prime Minister Imran Khan lifted lockdown, saying it was necessary to save the economy.
BEIJING — China is reporting 17 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, all but three of them from domestic transmission in Beijing, which has seen a recent spike in coronavirus infections.
But authorities in the Chinese capital say a campaign to conduct tests on employees at hair and beauty salons across the city has found no positive cases so far, in a further sign that the recent outbreak has been largely brought under control.
No new deaths were reported Sunday, leaving China’s reported total at 4,634 among 83,500 confirmed cases.
Tens of millions of Chinese traveled during the three-day Dragon Boat Festival that ended Saturday, but anti-crowding measures were in force nationwide. Tourist sites were required to cap visitor numbers at 30% of capacity.
HONOLULU — The city of Honolulu has announced that campgrounds will reopen for the first time in three months with limited permits to ensure social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Hawaii News Now reported that the city will issue permits for just over 100 campsites across Oahu.
Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation Public Information Officer Nathan Serota says campsites were limited to physically distance. Regular camp rules still apply.
The Bellows Beach campground northeast of Honolulu will remain closed through Sept. 4 for turtle nesting. All the other campgrounds have reopened.