The Latest: WHO official watching for rise in virus deaths
The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization says the coronavirus is continuing to gain pace globally. Noting the marked increase in the number of confirmed cases being reported in the past five or six weeks, he warned that a spike in deaths could be soon to follow.
“In April and May, we were dealing with 100,000 cases a day,” said Dr. Michael Ryan during a Tuesday press briefing. “Today we’re dealing with 200,000 a day.”
Ryan said that the number of COVID-19 deaths appeared to be stable for the moment, but he cautioned that there is often a lag time between when confirmed cases increase and when deaths are reported due to the time it takes for the coronavirus to run its course in patients.
Ryan also dismissed the idea that the significant jump in cases was due to more widespread testing and , said, “This epidemic is accelerating.”
He says he hopes the collective knowledge gained about effectively treating COVID-19 patients helps keep the death rate relatively low, but that can’t be guaranteed.
“We’ve only really experienced this rapid increase in cases over the last five to six weeks,” Ryan said. “So I don’t think it should be a surprise if the deaths start to rise again.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Spain extends social spending through September
— Italy suspends incoming flights from Bangladesh
— Australia’s second-largest city foils nation’s pandemic success
— Coronavirus slams Poland’s already-troubled coal industry
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WASHINGTON — U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says the nation’s schools must reopen this fall and be “fully operational” even as cases of COVID-19 continue to surge around the country. She says anything short of a full reopening would fail students and taxpayers.
DeVos made the comments during a call with governors as the Trump administration launched an all-out effort to get schools and colleges to reopen. Audio of the call was obtained by The Associated Press.
“Ultimately, it’s not a matter of if schools need to open, it’s a matter of how. School must reopen, they must be fully operational. And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders,” DeVos told governors.
DeVos slammed districts that are planning to offer in-person instruction only a few days a week. She called out Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, which is asking families to decide between fully remote instruction or two days a week in the classroom.
The educvation secretary also criticized schools’ past distance education efforts during the pandemic, saying there were schools that “didn’t figure out how to serve students or who just gave up and didn’t try.”
–Alan Suderman contributed to this report.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity.
Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in the capital of Brasilia.
“I’m well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendation,” Bolsonaro said.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has tested negative for the coronavirus Tuesday, a day after announcing he was going into isolation after being in contact with a lawmaker who tested positive.
“My girls and I tested negative for COVID-19,” Reeves wrote in a tweet. “Limited contact with the people who were diagnosed, but better safe than sorry! If someone you know gets the virus, get a test!”
Reeves has not identified the lawmaker who tested positive and with whom he had brief contact last week. During a Facebook Live video Monday, Reeves said a “large number” of legislators have tested positive for the virus. The Mississippi Department of Health has not released more information.
The governor was in close contact last week with House Speaker Philip Gunn during the signing of a bill that removed the Confederate emblem from Mississippi’s state flag. Gunn announced Sunday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Employees at the Iowa Veterans Home have been disciplined more than 20 times for personal protective equipment lapses that potentially exposed residents and staff to coronavirus, its leader confirmed.
Commandant Timon Oujiri says the strict approach to requiring masks and other equipment when interacting with residents and colleagues has helped keep coronavirus largely out of the state’s biggest nursing home.
He says 25 employees and seven residents have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic and all have recovered. Oujiri says he considers that a major success, noting that the Marshalltown home has 456 residents and 900 employees.
Still, there have been numerous policy violations.
He confirmed that five employees have received three-day suspensions for showing a “complete disregard of PPE” that results in “repeated exposure to residents and staff.”
He says five others have received one-day suspensions for exposing residents, and nine have received written reprimands for exposing staff. Two employees were terminated during probationary periods.
MADRID — The Spanish government is extending through September social spending to help families weather the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Utility companies cannot cut gas, electricity or water supply even if citizens fail to foot their bills until Sept. 30. Mortgage payments will remain frozen for those who can’t afford to pay their dues.
Home rentals will be extended without changes in their conditions for six additional months, government spokeswoman María Jesús Montero announced Tuesday. Tenants who qualify can apply for discounts on their rents or delays in payments if their landlords own 10 or more properties.
A U.N. report published this week says the COVID-19 crisis has exposed “serious weaknesses” in Spain’s efforts to reduce poverty, although it notes that the left-wing coalition government’s response to the virus outbreak is “encouraging.”
Transport Minister José Luis Ábalos also announced that more than half of a 1.77-billion-euro ($2 billion) aid fund for the transportation industry will be allocated to the state railway company, Renfe, whose operations nearly halted after the mid-March lockdown. Over 660 million euro will go to shore up private companies.
Spain has at least 28,300 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia has announced its highest single-day spike in deaths from the coronavirus, with 13 new deaths.
The country’s health ministry says there are 299 new COVID-19 confirmed cases.
That makes 16,719 registered cases and 330 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic in the Balkan country that went from having one of Europe’s toughest lockdowns to a near-complete reopening in early May.
Soccer and tennis matches were played in packed stands and elections were held on June 21 despite warnings from experts that the mass gatherings without social distancing could lead to a new coronavirus wave.
ROME — Italy has ordered a one-week suspension of incoming flights from Bangladesh after a spate of coronavirus cases near Rome were traced to members of the Bangladeshi community who had recently returned to Italy.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza saya beyond the dozen or so cases registered in recent days, more positive cases were traced to passengers on the latest flight that arrived in Rome on Monday.
The Rome area is home to some 20,000 immigrants from Bangladesh. Like many other migrant communities in Italy, they travel back and forth to their home countries via charter flights. A new COVID-19 cluster broke out near Rome after a worker recently returning from Bangladesh infected the owner and fellow workers at a restaurant outside the city. Based on that cluster, public health authorities urged members of the Bangladeshi community to get tested.
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio is working on new protocols for people arriving in Italy from outside the European Union and Shengen area. Italy, the onetime epicenter of the European outbreak, is maintaining protective quarantines for people even on the EU’s green list of 14 countries that can visit.
VIENNA — An Austrian region is reintroducing rules making masks compulsory in shops after an increase in coronavirus infections.
The Austria Press Agency reported the governor of Upper Austria province, Thomas Stelzer, set the requirement for Thursday. Masks already were made compulsory in public administrative building.
The province west of Vienna will once again require people to wear masks in shops and when leaving their table in restaurants.
Austria has relaxed many coronavirus restrictions in recent weeks. But authorities say Monday’s number of active cases of coronavirus in the country had risen above 1,000 for the first time since mid-May.
BERLIN — Authorities in a western German town have ordered quarantine for a Mennonite community after a family of 12 tested positive for the coronavirus.
News agency dpa reported the health office in Euskirchen, near Cologne, said Tuesday all members of the community are expected to be tested this week. Spokesman Wolfgang Andres said it’s not clear exactly how many people, but officials believe it’s about 500.
Andres says the children of the affected family went to the town’s Mennonite school before it emerged they had the virus, and the family probably also went to the community’s prayer house, so it can’t be ruled out that the virus spread.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has announced its highest single-day spike in deaths from the coronavirus, with 200 new fatalities.
The spokesperson for the country’s health ministry, Sima Sadat Lari, said Tuesday that the latest death toll was an increase of 40 from the previous day, when 160 were reported to have died of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
She blamed the spike on citizens who do not abide by restrictive measures but gather in large numbers for weddings and other ceremonies, without observing distancing regulations.
Iran on Sunday instituted mandatory mask-wearing as fears mount over newly surging deaths even as its public increasingly shrugs off the danger of the virus.
MANILA, Philippines — A major passenger railway system in the Philippine capital has been shut down for five days starting Tuesday after nearly 200 employees, including 15 ticket sellers, tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said.
The shutdown of the 13-station MRT Line 3, which runs for nearly 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) from north to south of metropolitan Manila, further complicates a transport shortage caused by quarantine restrictions. The government has allowed the deployment of more shuttle buses to ease the shortage.
The Philippines has seen a spike in infections in recent days after easing quarantine restrictions and ramping up tests, reporting nearly 48,000 infections, including 1,309 deaths.
PODGORICA, Montenegro — Montenegro has introduced a compulsory quarantine for all people arriving from Serbia, citing coronaviorus health risks in the neighboring Balkan country.
Until Tuesday when the measure was implemented, Serb citizens had to go through 14-day self-isolation period when entering Montenegro, while Montenegrin and other citizens were free to cross the border.
In an apparent tit-for-tat move, Serbian government reportedly plans to introduce a 14-day self-isolation period for Montenegrin citizens traveling to Serbia.
A country of 620,000, Montenegro split from much larger Serbia in 2006, but many in Montenegro and Serbia still remain opposed to the separation. Serbs represent about 30% of Montenegro’s population.
Montenegro, the first European country to declare itself free of the coronavirus, has recently seen an up pick in new confirmed cases.
LONDON — Care home providers are disappointed and frustrated after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused some homes of not properly following procedures during the COVID-19 crisis.
Mark Adams, chief executive of the charity Community Integrated Care, took exception with Johnson’s comments, calling them “clumsy and cowardly.’’
Johnson said Monday: “We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have, but we’re learning lessons the whole time.’’
Adams told the BBC that if this were genuinely Johnson’s view, the country is entering an “alternative reality where the government set the rules, we follow them and they don’t like the results and they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best.’’
The Office of National Statistics says nearly 20,000 deaths of care home residents in England and Wales have involved COVID-19.
Many care homes say they lacked protective equipment and clear guidelines, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Dubai Financial Market, the sheikhdom’s stock exchange, has reopened its trading floor after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move by Dubai on Tuesday came as the city-state in the United Arab Emirates also began welcoming tourists again.
The market closed in mid-March over the pandemic, but online trading continued throughout the closure.
Market official Jamal al-Khadhar said that social distancing will be maintained at the exchange, and that barriers have been installed as well.
JERUSALEM — The Israeli parliament has passed an emergency bill allowing the government to bypass it in making immediate decisions on combating a renewed outbreak of the coronavirus.
Parliament voted early Tuesday to sidestep its own committees so that government decisions could go into immediate effect. The argument was quick implementation was essential given the fast-spreading nature of the virus. But some opposition lawmakers decried the sidelining of the legislature, saying it marked another step in undermining the foundations of Israeli democracy.
It comes a day after the government reimposed new restrictions on the public to quell spread of the virus. Gatherings have been limited and reception halls, restaurants, bars, theaters, fitness centers and pools were ordered to shut down again.
Just weeks ago, Israel appeared to have contained its initial outbreak after imposing strict measures early on during a first wave of infections. But after reporting just a handful of new cases a day in early May, it has experienced a steady uptick in cases following an easing of restrictions. Currently, Israel is reporting upward of 1,000 new cases a day, higher than its peak during the previous wave.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 200,000 as the country continues to post some of the highest daily numbers in the world.
The health ministry reports 8,971 new cases, bringing the total to 205,721.
Nearly one third are in the new hot spot of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.
The African continent overall has more than 477,000 confirmed cases.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s second-largest city of Melbourne has been ordered into lockdown for a second time as coronavirus cases continue to surge.
Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Tuesday that residents will be prohibited from leaving the metropolitan area for six weeks except to go to work or school, for care or care giving, for daily exercise, and for food and other essentials.
He said 191 more positive cases have been detected, the most infections ever recorded in a single day.
Australia has been among the world’s most successful countries in containing its coronavirus outbreak, with the exception of Melbourne. The country has recorded more than 8,500 cases and 106 deaths.
NEW DELHI — India’s death toll from the coronavirus has passed 20,000, with case numbers surging past 700,000.
The country reported 467 new deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 20,160. It also recorded 22,252 new infections, increasing the total to 719,665.
The rate of new virus infections and deaths in India are now rising at their fastest pace. Health officials fear the number of deaths could rise significantly in the coming weeks.
India, with a population of 1.3 billion, is the third worst-affected nation in the world. Only the United States and Brazil have had more cases.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s national carrier has put a temporary hold on new bookings for flights into the country while the government tries to find enough quarantined hotel rooms for people returning home.
Air New Zealand says the hold will last for three weeks and it is also trying to better align flights with the hotel locations.
New Zealand has eliminated community transmission of the coronavirus but is still getting cases at the border. For the most part, only residents and citizens are able to fly into the country and must remain in a quarantined hotel room for 14 days.
Housing Minister Megan Woods says the government is currently housing nearly 6,000 people in 28 quarantine facilities and is seeing rapid growth in the number of returning residents as the pandemic worsens globally.