UN chief says COVID-19 is ‘the greatest crisis of our age’
BERLIN — The head of the United Nations said Sunday that “the Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest crisis of our age.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened an online session of the World Health Summit with a call for worldwide solidarity in the global crisis and demanded that developed countries support health systems in countries that are short of resources.
The coronavirus pandemic is the overarching theme of the summit, which originally had been scheduled for Berlin. Several of the leaders and experts who spoke at the opening stressed the need to cooperate across borders.
“No one is safe from COVID-19. No one is safe until we are all safe from it,” said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “Even those who conquer the virus within their own borders remain prisoners within these borders until it is conquered everywhere.”
More than 42 million have been infected with the virus and over 1 million people have died of Covid.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Fear and axiety spike in virus hotspots across the United States
— Europe’s restaurants and bars are being walloped by new virus curfews and restrictions
— Spain orders nationwide curfew to tamp down surging virus infections
— Experts question White House claims that federal rules on essential workers let Vice President Mike Pence keep campaigning after exposure to the coronavirus.
— British doctors are urging the government to reverse course and provide free meals for poor children due to increased poverty caused by the pandemic.
— Italy’s leader has imposed at least a month of new restrictions across the country to fight rising coronavirus infections.
Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ROME — Italy’s one-day caseload of confirmed coronavirus infections jumped past 20,000 on Sunday, with more than a quarter of the new cases registered in Lombardy, the northern region which bore the brunt of the pandemic in the country earlier this year.
According to Health Ministry figures, there were 21,273 new cases since the previous day, raising Italy’s total of confirmed COVID-19 infections to 525,782.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the government’s latest crackdown on social freedoms, including closing restaurants in early evening and shuttering gyms, for the next 30 days, was warranted by the growth of the contagion curve worldwide, with a “very high wave” in all of Europe.
“Every choice brings sacrifices and renouncing” activities, Speranza said. “We must react immediately and with determination if we want to avoid unsustainable numbers.”
Italy’s confirmed death toll in the pandemic rose to 37,338, with 128 deaths since Saturday.
PHOENIX — Arizona health officials on Sunday reported 1,392 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths. It’s the highest reported single-day coronavirus case total in the state since Sept. 17.
Arizona has continued to see a slow yet steady increase in the average number of COVID-19 cases reported each day as a decline that lasted through August and September reverses.
State Department of Health Services officials said the latest numbers increase Arizona’s totals to 238,163 known infections and 5,874 known deaths.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
SOFIA, Bulgaria – Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has tested positive for the new coronavirus as the number of infected with COVID-19 in the Balkan country has been on a steady rise in the two weeks.
Borissov made the disclosure in a Facebook message on Sunday.
“After two PCR tests, today I am positive for COVID-19,” Borissov wrote.
He said that he has a “general indisposition” and, following the recommendations of doctors, will remain at home for treatment.
The Balkan nation of 7 million people has recorded 37,562 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,084 deaths.
MOSCOW — Russia’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 1.5 million on Sunday as authorities reported 16,710 new infections amid a rapid resurgence of the outbreak that has swept the country in recent weeks.
Russia’s caseload remains the fourth largest in the world. The government’s coronavirus task force has also registered a total of over 26,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
The task force has been reporting over 15,000 new infections every day since last Sunday, which is much higher than in the spring, when the highest number of daily new cases was 11,656.
Despite the sharp spike in daily new infections, Russian authorities have repeatedly dismissed the idea of imposing a second lockdown or shutting down businesses after most virus-related restrictions were lifted during the summer. In some Russian regions, officials urged the elderly to self-isolate at home and called on employers to have at least part of their staff work from home. Several regions have shut down nightclubs and limited the hours of restaurants and bars.
BERLIN — Austria has tightened its coronavirus rules as the Alpine country sees new daily records of infections.
Starting Sunday, no more than six people are allowed to meet indoors, including events such as birthday parties, yoga or dance classes. Outside, a maximum of 12 people are allowed to get together. In restaurants, the number of guests has been reduced to no more than 10 per table.
People also need to wear masks in train stations, markets and nursing homes.
On Saturday, the daily virus numbers reached a new high of reported 3,614 cases. On Sunday, the figure was lower at 2,782, however not all new cases get reported on weekends.
BALTIMORE — A day after the U.S. set a daily record for new confirmed coronavirus infections, it came very close to doing it again.
Data published by Johns Hopkins University shows that 83,718 new cases in the U.S. were reported Saturday, nearly matching the 83,757 infections reported Friday. Before that, the most cases reported in the United States on a single day had been 77,362 on July 16.
Close to 8.6 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and about 225,000 have died. Both statistics are the world’s highest. India has more than 7.8 million infections but in recent weeks its daily number have been declining.
U.S. health officials have feared the surge of infections to come with colder weather and people spending more time indoors, especially as many flout guidelines to protect themselves and others such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington currently forecasts that the country’s COVID-19 death toll could exceed 318,000 by Jan. 1.
BERLIN — Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn, who has tested positive for the new coronavirus, appealed to Germans on Sunday to keep obeying precautionary measures as the virus spikes across the country and the hospital intensive care units are filling up again.
Spahn, 40, posted a video on his Facebook page saying he was lucky that other than “cold symptoms,” he is not suffering any other COVID-related symptoms. He also said none of his close coworkers at the ministry had yet tested positive.
Spahn appealed to all citizens to wear masks and keep distance in light of quickly rising infection figures.
““It is serious. We know the harm this virus can cause, especially for people with preexisting illness and for the elderly and very old,” he said.
On Sunday, Germany’s national disease control center reported 11,176 new daily infections, almost double the number reported a week ago Sunday. Another 29 people died of COVID, bringing Germany’s overall death toll to 10,032.
ROME — For at least the next month, gyms, cinemas and movie theaters in Italy will be closed, ski slopes are off-limits to all but competitive skiers, spectators are banned from professional matches including soccer games, and cafes and restaurants must shut down in early evenings.
But the decree signed on Sunday by Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte avoided another severe lockdown despite a current surge in COVID-19 infections.
The decree also continues a recent nationwide order mandating mask-wearing outdoors.
A day earlier, Italy surpassed the half-million mark in the number of confirmed coronavirus infections since the outbreak began in February, the first country to be stricken in Europe. The last two days have seen daily new caseloads creep close to 20,000.
Italy has the second-most confirmed virus deaths in Europe after Britain, with 37,210 dead.
BERLIN — Several people attacked Germany’s national disease control center with incendiary devices early Sunday, Berlin police reported.
A security guard noticed the attack on the Robert Koch Institute in the German capital and was able to quickly extinguished the flames. Nobody was injured, but one window was destroyed. Criminal police has taken over the investigation on suspicion that the attack may have been politically motivated.
Among other things, the institute keeps track of Germany’s coronavirus outbreak. It publishes daily new infection figures and also advises the government and the public on how to keep the pandemic from getting out of control.
While most Germans support the country’s handling of the pandemic, some have tried to downplay the dangers of the virus.
On Sunday, the institute reported 11,176 new daily infections, almost double the number reported a week ago Sunday. Another 29 people died of COVID, bringing Germany’s overall death toll to 10,032.
NEW DELHI — India’s daily coronavirus cases have dropped to nearly 50,000, maintaining a downturn over the last few weeks.
The Health Ministry says 50,129 new cases have taken the overall tally to nearly 7.9 million on Sunday. It also reported 578 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising total fatalities to 118,534.
The ministry also said India’s active coronavirus cases were below 700,000 across the country and almost 7.1 million people had recovered from COVID-19.
India is second to the United States with the largest outbreak of the coronavirus. Last month, India hit a peak of nearly 100,000 cases in a single day, but since then daily cases have fallen by about half and deaths by about a third.
Some experts say the decline in cases suggests that the virus may have finally reached a plateau but others question the testing methods. India is relying heavily on antigen tests, which are faster but less accurate than traditional RT-PCR tests.
MELBOURNE, Australia — A COVID-19 outbreak in the north of Melbourne has led health authorities in Australia’s Victoria state to hold off on any further easing of restrictions in the beleaguered city.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews withheld any announcement on an easing on Sunday as the state awaits results on 3,000 people who were tested in the city’s north in the past 24 hours.
He described it as a “cautious pause” – not a setback – to rule out there wasn’t widespread community transmission linked to the cluster.
Among the current restrictions are mandatory wearing of masks and no traveling beyond 25 kilometers (15 miles) from home. At the start of the second wave of cases two months ago, Andrews instituted an overnight curfew and shut down most businesses.
“I know it is frustrating,” Andrews said. “I know people are keen to have a long and detailed list of changes to the rules. It is not appropriate for us to do that now.”″
Victoria reported seven new coronavirus cases on Sunday, with six linked to the latest outbreak, which involves 39 people across 11 households.
No additional deaths kept the state toll at 817 and the national toll at 905.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan authorities have terminated a number of passenger trains and widened the curfew as COVID-19 cases related to a new cluster at a garment factory continue to surge.
The Railway Department canceled at least 16 trains — mostly ran through busy office hours — after the number of commuters declined due to the curfew imposed in many parts of the country.
More than a dozen villages are isolated in densely populated Western province, which includes capital Colombo.
Authorities last week closed the island’s main fish market on Colombo’s outskirts after 49 traders tested positive for the coronavirus. By Sunday, the number of cases from the fish market went up to nearly 900.
Authorities say the outbreak is linked to a cluster in a garment factory early this month, which has grown to 4,052 cases, more than half the country’s total of 7,521. During the last 24 hours, 368 new cases have been detected.
In a bid to contain the spread, health authorities also closed three fishery harbors and many fish stalls around the country.