The Canadian Press
PARIS -- French Prime Minister Jean Castex extended curfews to 38 regions to help lower the spread of the coronavirus because “the second wave is here.”
He says a curfew ordered last week in eight regions, including Paris and its suburbs, will be extended on Friday at midnight to those new regions and Polynesia.
New daily cases have hovered around 30,000. The number of cases has doubled in France in the past 15 days. The extension means 46 million people among France’s population of 67 million will be under curfew.
The prime minister says the occupation of hospital beds has reached more than 44 per cent, with more than half of UCI beds in four regions occupied by COVID-19 patients, including the Paris region.
More than 34,000 people have died in France since the start of the pandemic, the third-highest death toll in Europe behind Britain (44,000) and Italy (36,000).
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Oxford vaccine trial continues amid death report
— African health officials expect WHO distribution of rapid virus tests
— NATO, EU health workers to help Czech Republic with surge in cases
— Belgian Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes hospitalized in intensive care with the coronavirus.
— Ireland is aiming to get the coronavirus under control or there won’t be much Christmas cheer this year in Galway, Cork or Dublin.
— Poland’s prime minister has signalled that the whole country faces the highest restriction level short of a full lockdown if number of cases don't improve.
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 daily coronavirus cases reached a recrod 16,000 on Thursday, despite several thousand fewer swab tests in the last 24 hours.
With 16,079 infections registered by the Health Ministry, Italy has tallied a total of 465,726 confirmed cases.
For a second-straight day, the northern region of Lombardy had more than 4,000 new cases, more than double any other region. Many of the cases in Lombardy’s surging outbreak have occurred in Milan, Italy’s financial capital.
On Thursday, an overnight curfew takes effect in the city as authorities try to slow the spread. Premier Giuseppe Conte this week said he’s prepared to apply stiffer restrictions if the situation worsens.
Italy’s confirmed death toll rose to 36,968 with the addition of 136 deaths on Thursday.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece will impose a nightly curfew in greater Athens and other areas with high infection rates and require more generalized mask use.
In a televised address, Prime Minister Mitsotakis says the new measures start Saturday in regions of the country in the top two risk categories of a four-level response system.
The curfew will go into effect between 12:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., with exceptions granted to night-shift workers and emergencies.
Greece on Thursday reported a record 882 confirmed cases and 15 deaths.
“The aim is to reduce general movement and evening gatherings, which favour the transmission of the virus,” Mitsotakis said. “With a little less fun, for a short period of time, we will have better health for a long time.”
MILWAUKEE — Coronavirus cases among American Indians in Wisconsin have tripled since Sept. 1.
Data from the state Department of Health Services showed 59 new cases and one additional death among American Indians in Wisconsin. That raised the total to 2,333 Native Americans testing positive, up from 775 cases on Sept. 1. Twenty-three American Indians have died due in Wisconsin to the coronavirus this year, the agency says.
Shannon Holsey, president of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican tribe, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the numbers are “scary.”
Each of Wisconsin’s 11 tribes enacted orders aimed at stemming the outbreak. The numbers have increased in the fall, when cases surged throughout northern Wisconsin.
GENEVA — Health officials in Africa say the roll-out of new rapid diagnostic tests on the continent could be a “game-changer” in the fight against the coronavirus.
African countries generally have had a drop or a plateau in cases in recent weeks, just as the United States and Europe have had surging case counts.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, says the region comprising sub-Saharan Africa plus Algeria has experienced a downward trend to a daily average of less than 4,000 cases in the last month after more than 15,000 cases in July.
Moeti says “preventing an exponential rise is absolutely critical.”
WHO announced last month it and leading partners agreed to a plan to roll out 120 million rapid-diagnostic tests to help lower- and middle-income countries make up ground.
The rapid tests look for antigens, or proteins found on the surface of the virus. The tests are generally considered less accurate, although much faster, than PCRs, which are higher-grade genetic tests. PCR tests require processing with specialty lab equipment and chemicals. Typically, test results to patients take several days.
ROME — The Italian region that includes Naples is applying overnight curfews to help rein in rapidly rising daily caseloads of the coronavirus.
The governor of Campania signed an ordinance requiring people stay in their homes from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., starting Friday until at least Nov. 13.
A day earlier, the Lazio region that includes Rome ordered a similar curfew for 30 days. Lombardy, including Milan with its traditionally lively night life, also will be locked down starting Thursday from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Arzano, a town of 33,000 where 22 coronavirus infections were confirmed this month, has been declared a ‘’red zone.’’ Residents must stay home except for essential jobs or other reasons.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania recorded nearly 5,000 coronavirus infections on Thursday, the highest in a single day, and a record number of deaths.
Of the 34,466 tests, 4,902 were positive in the past 24 hours. There were 98 deaths, bringing the confirmed total deaths to 6,163.
Health authorities in the eastern European nation of 19 million have conducted 2.96 million tests. There’s been a total of 196,004 confirmed cases.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Bosnia reported 999 new coronavirus cases Thursday, its highest daily total.
The country’s infection rate has nearly doubled since the start of October, with the number of new cases per 100,000 people increasing to 107 over the last seven days.
This week, local authorities in some parts of Bosnia, including the capital Sarajevo, introduced outdoor mask mandates and instructed high schools to switch to remote instruction.
The Balkan country of 3.5 million has tallied more than 37,300 confirmed cases and 1,051 deaths.
PRAGUE — The Czech government has approved a plan for up to 300 military health personnel from NATO and EU countries to come to the Czech Republic to help treat the influx of coronavirus patients.
The day-to-day increase of new coronavirus infections soared to almost 15,000 on Wednesday. It is almost 3,000 more than the previous record set a day earlier.
Parliamentary approval is still needed for the plan because they are members of foreign armed forces. They will help their Czech colleagues at Prague’s military hospital and at a field hospital the armed forces have been building at Prague’s exhibition ground for 500 patients.
The first group of 28 National Guard doctors from the United States is scheduled to arrive in the county next week.
The government is acquiring 600 ventilators and other medical equipment needed at intensive care units. Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar says NATO will send another 60 ventilators.
The Czech Republic has been facing a surge for two months and a third of the cases have been recorded in last seven days. It has a total of 208,915 confirmed cases and 1,739 deaths.
MADRID — Spain is mulling new restrictions and curfews to combat the resurgence of coronavirus cases, according to its health minister.
Spain has surpassed more than one million coronavirus infections.
With a 14-day rate of infection more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 residents, more than three times the country’s average, the northern Navarra region has ordered all bars and restaurants closed and for shops and businesses to close at 9 p.m. and banned all non-essential travel in and out of its regional borders.
Varying degrees of heightened restrictions are affecting almost every region in the country of 47 million.
“We are on the verge of winter, where most of the activities take place indoors, which favours the contagion and respiratory viruses,” health minister Salvador Illa told Spain’s Onda Cero radio, calling on the public not to lower their guard because the coming “five or six months are going to be tough, very tough.”
Spain has confirmed more than 34,000 deaths from the coronavirus.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark recorded 760 coronavirus cases, the highest number registered with Statens Serum Institut.
The previous record of 678 came on Sept. 25. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen wrote on Facebook about the possibility of more restriction, saying the “virus is still the same. And it has far too good a grip. After all, the super weapon here is still to keep our distance. Seeing fewer people. Reduce social activities.”
Denmark restrictions include wearing face masks on public transportation and in bars and restaurants when standing, all eateries and cafes close at 10 p.m. and gatherings are limited to 50 people.
Denmark has 37,763 confirmed cases and 694 deaths.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A Norwegian cruise company with two coronavirus outbreaks on one of its ships along Norway’s coast in July is cancelling its remaining Antarctica season.
The Hurtigruten cruise line was one of the first companies to resume sailing during the pandemic. But it says the coronavirus is “still affecting large parts of the world and travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are widespread and changing rapidly.”
The cruise company also says it will reduce capacity on the coastal service above the Arctic Circle along Norway’s coast where the cruise line often acts like a local ferry, travelling from port to port. It says the move was at the request of the Norwegian Transportation Ministry.
LONDON — The University of Oxford says the late-stage trial of its COVID-19 vaccine in Brazil will continue following reports of a participant’s death.
The university says it can’t comment on specific incidents but an independent review found no reason for concern about the safety of the Brazilian trial.
It says an “independent review, in addition to the Brazilian regulator, have recommended that the trial should continue.”
The Oxford vaccine is being developed in conjunction with the international pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Trials are underway in the United States and the U.K., as well as Brazil, to determine whether the potential vaccine is safe and effective in humans.
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia’s confirmed coronavirus cases have soared to another daily record of 1,663, and the country has reported the deaths of five more people.
Neighbouring Croatia also set a daily record on Thursday with 1,563 new cases and 13 deaths, most of them in the capital of Zagreb.
Authorities in both countries have warned if the infection rates continue to climb at their current pace, hospitals could run out of unoccupied beds.
Several general hospitals in Croatia have already been turned into facilities treating only COVID-19 patients and are preparing tents to accommodate more people.
Confirmed infections constitute more than 25% of all virus tests in Slovenia, well above the 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization.
Health officials have called on the Slovenian government to introduce stricter measures to combat the virus spread, including a complete lockdown of the small Alpine state of 2 million people.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates has broken its single-day record for new coronavirus cases with 1,578.
The cases confirmed Thursday bring the country's total to more than 120,700 and 470 deaths. Despite an uptick in infections in recent weeks, authorities have pushed ahead with reopening the country.
Schools are back in session and Dubai, the region’s air travel hub, is welcoming back tourists. This week, authorities in Dubai allowed weddings and other major social events to resume under strict health conditions.
BRUSSELS — Belgian Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes has been hospitalized in intensive care with the coronavirus.
Wilmes, who was in charge when the first wave of infections hit the country this spring, now serves in the new government led by Alexander De Croo.
Elke Pattyn, a spokesperson at the Foreign Ministry, told The Associated Press that Wilmes is in a stable condition and conscious. She said her condition “is not worrying.”
The 45-year-old Wilmes, who was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday evening, said last week she thought she got infected within her family circle.
Belgium, a country of 11.5 million, is currently seeing a sharp rise in new cases. More than 10,000 people have died from coronavirus-related complications in Belgium.
LONDON — U.K. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak is expected to announce increased help for bars, pubs and restaurants that have seen business collapse because of coronavirus controls.
Hospitality businesses are under pressure because the measures limit social gatherings, even under the lower levels of restrictions imposed on areas with less severe outbreaks. That reduces the number of people who go out for dinner or to meet up with friends, reducing income and forcing employers to lay off workers.
But most can’t take advantage of current government aid programs, which are focused on businesses that are ordered to close under the highest level of restrictions.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street told the BBC the support programs were designed with the assumption that the pandemic would ease, reducing the need for government assistance. That didn’t happen and infection rates are rising across the country.
The government “didn’t expect us to be in a position through the autumn where we were having a rising level of the virus to this extent, so if you look at the design of the winter economy package, at the time that seemed rational but clearly events have moved very quickly.”
BUDAPEST — The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Hungary has risen above 2,000 for the first time as health authorities increase testing.
Hungary recorded 2,032 new infections, pushing the total number of active cases to 35,653. There were 16,361 tests carried out over the past 24 hours, which is also a record. The rate of identified infections stands at 12.4% of all tests, well above the 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization. The relatively high rate indicates the testing capacity of the Hungarian health care system is still insufficient.
Over the past day, 46 people have died, slightly below the daily record of 48. A total of 1,305 Hungarians have died.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland has broken another record for recorded daily infections, with over 12,100 reported by the Health Ministry Thursday and almost 170 deaths.
The government is expected to extend Poland’s highly restrictive local red zones to cover the entire nation in a move just short of a lockdown. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has suggested he would like all Poland to be in a red zone starting Saturday.
The regulation means, among other things, wearing masks in all open public spaces, a ban on ceremonies and wedding parties, limits on number of customers in shops and passengers on public transport, shorter restaurant hours and closed gyms and swimming pools.
BERLIN — Germany’s disease control centre is reporting a new daily record increase in coronavirus infections, which rocketed past the 10,000 mark for the first time.
The Robert Koch Institute says it had recorded 11,287 new cases over the past 24 hours, shattering the previous record figure of 7,830 daily infections set on Saturday.
The news comes the day after Health Minister Jens Spahn tested positive for the coronavirus.
He has been quarantined at home and told Bild newspaper so far he’s just suffering from “cold-like symptoms.”
The government says Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet members have always followed distancing, hygiene and mask rules, so there is no reason for other ministers to quarantine.
The Associated Press