The Canadian Press
PRAGUE — Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have hit a record high, soaring to over 15,000 in one day for the first time.
The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase of confirmed cases in the hard-hit country reached 15,252 on Friday. The previous record of 14,968 was set on Wednesday.
The record surge has continued for last two months despite tight restrictions, including limits on movement, closing stores, schools and restaurants and banning sports competitions and gatherings of more than two people. Face masks are obligatory outdoors and in cars.
The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital has surpassed 5,000 for the first time, putting the health system under pressure.
The Czech Republic has had over 238, 300 confirmed coronavirus cases, including over 78,000 in the last seven days, and reported 1,971 virus-related deaths.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from 41.78 new cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 9 to 104.33 new cases per 100,000 people on Friday.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Some hospitals in crisis as US nears high for COVID-19 cases
— Dutch hospital airlifts patients to Germany amid virus surge
— France is latest European nation to surpass 1 million confirmed virus cases
— President Donald Trump said during his final debate with Joe Biden that Texas saw a “big spike” in coronavirus infections that has since stopped. But in the border city of El Paso, the outbreak is the worst it’s ever been.
— AstraZeneca is resuming late-stage testing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the U.S.
— Brazil’s health regulator has authorized importing potential virus vaccine from China just days after President Jair Bolsonaro insisted he wouldn’t allow doses to be shipped from the Asian nation.
Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is adopting new strict limits on movement amid a record surge in coronavirus infections.
The number of new confirmed cases in one day reached 2,890 on Friday in the country of 5.4 million, the Health Ministry says, a record high. The EU nation has had over 40,800 confirmed cases and 159 virus-related deaths.
Starting on Saturday, people are allowed to travel only to work, buy food and medicine in the nearest stores, see a doctor, get tested for coronavirus or attend a funeral. They can walk a dog within 100 metres (yards) of their home and if they go to a park, it must be in their county.
On Friday, Slovak authorities started a plan to test almost the entire population for coronavirus.
The trials will be carried out until Sunday in the four hardest-hit counties. The antigen tests will then continue in the rest of the country.
Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic joined the medical staff and military personnel at one of the testing stations in the town of Tvrdosin to help.
WARSAW — Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for coronavirus, his spokesman says
The spokesman, Blazej Spychalski, said Saturday on Twitter that the 48-year-old conservative leader was tested the day before and his result was positive. He said the president feels well and is in isolation.
Duda’s diagnosis comes amid a huge surge in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths in Poland, a nation that saw only very low numbers in the spring.
The spiking infection rates are pushing the country’s strained health system to the breaking point.
The government is preparing to open field hospitals but it is not sure where it will find the doctors and nurses to staff them.
Duda on Friday visited the National Stadium in Warsaw, which is being transformed into one of the field hospitals. He also met Friday with Iga Swiatek, the 19-year-old Polish tennis player who won the French Open earlier this month.
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Anze Logar has tested positive for coronavirus as the government shut down non-essential shops, kindergartens and hotels Saturday to try to stem the latest outbreak.
The Foreign Ministry says Logar has displayed no symptoms and is self-isolating in the next 10 days.
The official STA news agency says Logar was on a tour of the Baltics earlier this week and attended a session of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg earlier this month. He is the highest-ranking Slovenian official to have contracted the virus.
Slovenia has faced a surge in new cases that have soared beyond 1,500 infections per day in the country of 2 million people, and authorities have already imposed an overnight curfew.
NEW DELHI — India has reported 53,370 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking the overall tally past 7.8 million.
The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 650 deaths, driving the country’s toll to 117,956.
The highest number of new infections is coming from Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka states. They’re also reporting the maximum number of daily recoveries.
Last month, India hit a peak of nearly 100,000 cases in a single day, but since then daily infections have fallen by about half and deaths by about a third, even as testing has remained consistent.
India is still adding more than 50,000 cases a day as the country prepares for a festival season when large crowds gather. Health officials have warned about the potential for the virus to spread.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Authorities in Sri Lanka on Saturday closed at least two fishery harbours and many stalls after a surge of 609 cases linked to the country’s main fish market.
The government also widened the curfew in parts of Colombo. At least 11 villages were isolated in the densely populated Western province, which includes the capital.
Health authorities on Wednesday temporarily closed the fish market on Colombo’s outskirts after 49 traders tested positive for the coronavirus. By Saturday, the number of cases went up to 609.
Hundreds of traders and fishermen are being tested.
Authorities say the outbreak is related to a cluster in a garment factory early this month, which has grown to 3,426 cases, almost half the country’s total of 6,287. It broke a two-month lull in infections.
Several thousand people have been asked to quarantine at home. Schools and key public offices are closed, gatherings banned and restrictions imposed on public transport.
Sri Lanka has had 14 deaths since March.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 77 new cases of the coronavirus, mostly from the greater capital area where officials are scrambling to stem transmissions at hospitals and nursing homes.
Figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the country’s caseload to 25,775, including 457 deaths. Among the 1,484 active cases, 60 are in serious condition.
Fifty-nine of the new cases were reported from densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which has emerged as the epicenter of the outbreak since summer.
Hundreds of cases have been linked to a handful of hospitals and nursing homes. Officials are testing thousands of medical workers to stem infections.
Eleven of the new cases were tied to international arrivals, including passengers from the United States, the Philippines and India.
MELBOURNE, Australia — All staff and students from two schools in northeast Melbourne in Australia have been told to immediately get tested for COVID-19 after the emergence of seven new cases on Saturday. There were no deaths.
Both schools will be closed for the next two weeks. Already about 800 residents in Melbourne’s northern suburbs have been isolating because of the school outbreak. Warnings have been circulated to workers, including taxi drivers, who might have visited the area.
The state’s death toll remained at 817 on Saturday and the national figure at 905, with only one death in the past week.
The updated figures follow the city’s most significant anti-lockdown protest on Friday.
A “Freedom Day” rally began mid-afternoon and continued for several hours, erupting at times in violent scuffles between police and demonstrators, many of whom did not wear masks.
Police arrested 16 people and handed out dozens of fines. Three police officers were injured and one was taken to a hospital.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s northern border state of Chihuahua returned to the highest level of alert and lockdown Friday after coronavirus cases jumped there and hospitals began to fill up.
The Chihuahua state government declared the return to the “red” level of alert Friday, which closes down most non-essential services and encourages people to stay at home.
The Health Department said the state’s hospital beds were now 69% occupied, and that only about 23% of intensive care beds were open. The department said steps were being taken to expand hospital facilities.
The department also said that three other northern states — Durango, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon — were at risk of returning to maximum alert unless infections were brought under control.
Nationwide, 19 of Mexico’s 32 states will be at high alert starting Monday, 11 will be at medium alert and one state was considered at moderate risk level.
BOISE, Idaho — A hospital in southern Idaho says it can no longer accept any children because it is overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center announced Friday afternoon that anyone needing treatment who is under the age of 18 will be sent to a hospital in Boise — 128 miles (206 kilometres) away. The hospital will still admit newborns and neonatal intensive care unit patients, however.
The hospital in Twin Falls is like many around the United States that are running out of space and reeling from a surge in COVID-19 patients. One out of every four patients at the Idaho facility is a COVID-19 patient, and hospital leaders spent the week warning Idaho Gov. Brad Little and local public health officials that the state’s healthcare system would soon be swamped until steps are taken to stem the virus’ spread.
Still, neither the governor nor the regional public health department has issued a mask mandate.
ROME — Protesters in Naples, angry over a just-imposed 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. regional curfew and by the local governor’s vow to put the region under lockdown to try to tame surging COVID-19 infections, clashed with police on Friday night.
The demonstrators, who Italian media said numbered several hundred, headed toward the Campania region’s headquarters near the southern Italian city’s Mediterranean waterfront.
RAI state TV said local merchants joined the protest, hours after Gov. Vincenzo De Luca told citizens in a televised speech that he was “moving toward closing everything down” except essential services.
Demonstrators threw rocks and smoke bombs, and police officers responded with tear gas, Italian media said.
“You close us down, you pay us!” was one of the shouted slogans, the Italian news agency ANSA said.
Unemployment in the south runs double or even higher than in the productive north, and Italy's economy, already sluggish before the pandemic struck in late winter, risks being crippled by another lockdown
Several people were detained in Naples, the Lapresse news agency said.
HONOLULU -- Hawaii had about 60,000 travellers arrive in the islands in the first week of its pre-travel coronavirus testing program.
That’s a state effort to get the tourism-based economy moving again.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Thursday that nearly 60,000 returning residents, military members, essential workers, tourists and others had been tested since Oct. 15.
The vast majority tested negative and were allowed to skip the previously required two weeks of quarantine.
The state accepts only negative nucleic acid amplification tests from certain entities.
Other travellers came to Hawaii without being tested at all. Nearly 7,300 people were ordered to quarantine upon arrival.
UNITED NATIONS — The president of the United Nations General Assembly has expressed concern that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio rejected a meeting with him to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work of the 193-member world organization.
Volker Bozkir said in a statement that the United Nations “has been proud to call the city its home since the middle of the last century” and is “happy to generate billions of dollars in economic benefits and tens of thousands of jobs in New York City.” But the Turkish politician said he was disappointed at the mayor’s refusal to meet him.
Bozkir said: “This lack of interaction concerns me.”
His spokesman, Brenden Varma, told reporters that Bozkir reached out about two weeks ago to ask for an appointment with the mayor. But the assembly president received a response a few days ago declining the request, he said.
Penny Abeywardena, New York City’s commissioner for international affairs, responded to the assembly president’s statement without mentioning the mayor’s decision not to meet Bozkir.
She pointed to de Blasio’s “excellent relationship” with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and “deeply collaborative relationship with Mr. Bozkir’s predecessors,” and said the city looks forward “to continuing our partnership with the United Nations.”
NEW YORK — The number of people hospitalized in New York because of the coronavirus has climbed back over 1,000.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there were 1,023 hospitalizations around the state as of Thursday. That’s more than double the number that were hospitalized month ago, and the first time since late June that the state has seen that many in hospitals with the virus.
At the pandemic’s peak in April, nearly 19,000 people were hospitalized. Statewide, 1,637 people tested positive with the virus on Thursday, on par with where levels have been for the month.
The Associated Press