BARCELONA, Spain – Barcelonaâ€™s iconic La Sagrada Familia basilica has reopened its doors for visits exclusively for health workers after nearly four months of being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The basilica invited a first group of health workers on Saturday to visit the temple designed by architect Antoni GaudÃ. More will be able to visit on Sunday and on July 11-12 during a reopening phase the church is calling an â€œhomageâ€ to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.
That will be followed by a second phase just for residents of Barcelona. The church says it is still waiting to announce when visitors from outside the city will be permitted entry.
La Sagrada Familia is Barcelonaâ€™s top tourist site, with 4.5 million visitors in 2019.
HEREâ€™S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
– `Huge bummerâ€™: July Fourth will test Americansâ€™ discipline
– South Africaâ€™s hospitals bracing for surge of virus patients
– UK scraps quarantine for some visitors as pubs set to reopen
– A special French court has ordered an investigation of three current or former government ministers over their handling of the coronavirus crisis. The investigation stems from complaints filed in the Court of Justice of the Republic targeting former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who resigned Friday, and the current and previous French health ministers.
– California restaurants are paying a heavy price during the coronavirus pandemic as indoor dining has been shut down for the second time across much of the state.
– Air France and regional subsidiary Hop have announced 7,500 job cuts after the virus pandemic grounded most flights and darkened prospects for future air travel
Follow all of APâ€™s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HEREâ€™S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PARIS – France is sending medics to its South American territory of French Guiana to help treat growing numbers of coronavirus patients in a region where half the population lives below the French poverty level.
While the virus spread stabilized more than two months ago in mainland France, infections started surging in French Guiana more recently as the coronavirus swept South America, and especially neighboring Brazil. Based on this â€œworryingâ€ trend, the French national health agency said Friday night that medical staff reinforcements will be sent in the coming days.
The military has already stepped in to fly patients from saturated facilities in French Guiana to the French Caribbean island of Martinique for treatment.
Of the roughly 5,000 new cases confirmed across France over the past week, 1,400 of them were in French Guiana, with a population of just 300,000, according to the health agency. About a quarter of virus tests in French Guiana have been positive in recent weeks.
Nationwide, France has reported 310 new virus clusters since it started reopening in early May. France has reported the fifth-highest number of virus deaths worldwide, a total of 29,893, about half of them in nursing homes.
NEW DELHI – India on Saturday recorded its highest single-day spike in new coronavirus cases, with 22,771 people testing positive in the last 24 hours.
India has now confirmed 648,315 cases – fourth in the world behind the U.S., Brazil and Russia. It also has reported 18,655 deaths from the virus.
Of the 442 deaths in the last 24 hours, 198 were in Maharashtra state.
BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has paid tribute to the elderly, who she said have faced particular hardship and loneliness in recent months because of the restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
In her weekly video address Saturday, Merkel thanked older Germans for accepting the necessary limits on social contacts, saying that â€œthe most painful thing was surely not to be able to see children and grandchildren for many weeks.â€
Like elsewhere, the elderly have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic in Germany, with numerous deadly outbreaks occurring in nursing homes.
Germany, which has so far recorded over 190,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,010 deaths, has started testing asymptomatic people in care homes in an effort to detect any new outbreaks before they spread.
Merkel urged Germans to help protect the elderly by respecting distancing rules in public.
LLEIDA, Spain – Authorities in northeast Spain have ordered the confinement of a county around the city of Lleida due to worrying outbreaks of the coronavirus.
Catalan regional authorities announced Saturday that as of noon local time movement will be restricted to and from the country of El SegriÃ¡ around Lleida, which is home to over 200,000 people. Residents will have until 4 p.m. local to enter the area.
Regional health authorities said Friday that they had registered a jump of 60 cases in 24 hours, taking the total number of infections to over 4,000 in the county.
The new outbreaks are linked to agricultural workers in the rural area.
Spain was completely locked down for over three months to get its coronavirus outbreak under control before its national government ended a state of emergency last month. Over 28,000 people are confirmed to have died from the virus in Spain.
MOSCOW – Russiaâ€™s death toll from the coronavirus has risen above 10,000.
The national coronavirus task force on Saturday reported 168 COVID-19 deaths over the past day, bringing the national total to 10,027. It also tallied 6,632 new infections, raising the total to 674,515.
Russiaâ€™s caseload is the worldâ€™s third-largest, behind the United States and Brazil, but its reported deaths are lower than many other countries. Russian officials have denied speculation that the figures are being manipulated.
BERLIN – Animal rights activists in Germany are attempting to block access to a slaughterhouse at the center of a large coronavirus cluster.
Police in the western city of Bielefeld confirmed that about 20 people were protesting at the entrance to the site early Saturday.
The group Together Against the Animal Industry said some of its members have dropped a banner from the slaughterhouse roof calling for the plant to be shut down.
The slaughterhouse, owned by the Tonnies Group, has been linked to more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases in the region, triggering a partial lockdown of two counties.
Animal rights activists and labor unions have criticized conditions for animals and workers at the plant, one of the countryâ€™s biggest.
MELBOURNE, Australia – Australiaâ€™s Victoria state recorded 108 new coronavirus cases Saturday, forcing authorities to lock down nine public housing towers and three more Melbourne suburbs.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said 3,000 people in the housing towers would go into â€œhard lockdown,â€ meaning â€œthere will be no one allowed in … and no one allowed out.â€
Residents in the Flemington and Kensington housing units will receive deliveries of food and medicine, along with alcohol support.
The suburbs of Kensington, Flemington and North Melbourne will join 36 others in being subject to stage 3 coronavirus restrictions. Residents can only leave their homes for food or essential supplies, medical care or care-giving, exercise or for work or education.
After a recent flareup, Victoria has 509 active cases of COVID-19 with 25 people hospitalized, including three in intensive care.
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has announced another record daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases with 9,064, as Africaâ€™s most developed country shows signs of strain in coping with the pandemic.
Thirty percent of South Africaâ€™s more than 177,000 cases are now in Gauteng province, which contains Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.
More than 2,900 people in the country have died. The African continent overall has more than 433,000 confirmed virus cases.
LOS ANGELES – California Gov. Gavin Newsom is warning local elected officials that they risk losing state funding if they donâ€™t enforce health orders as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.
Newsom has rolled back or limited some businesses reopening in Los Angeles and 20 other counties, now including San Diego. Recently reopened bars, indoor restaurant dining and other indoor entertainment venues were ordered closed in those counties for at least three weeks.
About 200 state inspectors fanned out Friday to look for violators over the long Fourth of July weekend. The new enforcement strike teams issued seven citations in their first day of operation.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Authorities in California say two more death row inmates have died from apparent complications of the coronavirus in the midst of an outbreak that has infected 40% of inmates at San Quentin State Prison.
The corrections department says Scott Erskine and Manuel Machado Alvarez died Friday.
Erskine was on death row for the 1993 murder of two boys, 9 and 13, in San Diego. Alvarez was there for a 1987 series of crimes that included rape, robbery, carjacking and murder in Sacramento.
There have now been two dozen deaths from COVID-19 in Californiaâ€™s prison system.
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Tribal police for the Navajo Nation and the New Mexico National Guard plan to enforce a curfew to shut down the Navajo reservation during the Fourth of July weekend.
The sprawling reservation has been trying to contain a coronavirus outbreak. Tribal President Jonathan Nez says the curfew will run from 8 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday. He says it is the first of three consecutive weekend lockdowns.
Nez warns that enforcement on the reservation that spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah will be strict.
The tribe reported 64 new confirmed coronavirus cases Friday and two more deaths.
MIAMI – As coronavirus infections surge across Florida and hospital authorities nervously count their available intensive care beds, the stateâ€™s most populous county is closing down again, imposing a curfew and closing beaches over the Fourth of July weekend to contain the spread.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew begins Friday night and will be in place indefinitely. A new county order also closes casinos, strip clubs, movie theaters, the zoo and other entertainment venues a month after they were allowed to reopen.
Florida reported 341 new hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients on Friday, the biggest daily jump since the pandemic began, along with 9,488 new confirmed cases and 67 deaths.
The mayorâ€™s order also tightens mask rules at restaurants, requiring customers to wear facial coverings at all times unless eating or drinking. Under the previous order, customers were allowed to remove masks when they sat down.
The mayor said Miami-Dade police will be checking businesses to enforce mask and capacity rules, and closing establishments in violation.
HONOLULU – A U.S. judge will not stop Hawaii from enforcing a quarantine on arriving travelers. U.S. District Judge Jill Otake says in a ruling that the emergency mandate is reasonable during the public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A group of Hawaii, California and Nevada residents tried to stop the quarantine by filing a lawsuit alleging it is unfair and unnecessary.
Gov. David Ige has announced that starting Aug. 1, travelers will be able to bypass the quarantine if they test negative prior to arriving. The testing plan is similar to one in Alaska.
LOS ANGELES – California is heading into the Fourth of July weekend under classic sunny summer skies and new health orders that temporarily put many popular beaches off-limits in an effort to prevent runaway coronavirus infections.
A few surfers were in the water at Los Angelesâ€™ Venice Beach and a few dozen people strolled the boardwalk or shoreline early Friday, but the normal Independence Day throngs are missing.
With testing showing a rising COVID-19 positivity rate and increasing hospitalizations, Gov. Gavin Newsom has rolled back or limited some of the reopening of business sectors in counties encompassing nearly three-quarters of the stateâ€™s population.
The holiday beach closures began Friday from Los Angeles County northward through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. To the south in Orange County, hugely popular beaches such as Huntington and Newport were to close Saturday and Sunday, while San Diego did not plan any shutdowns. Many Northern California beaches were open but parking was closed at some to reduce the potential for crowding.
GENEVA – The World Health Organizationâ€™s emergencies chief says â€œwe need to put up a fight nowâ€ during a peak in the current wave of the coronavirus pandemic – rather than focusing on when a second wave might come.
Dr. Michael Ryan said the world will be much better at fighting a second wave, if people can learn the lessons of fighting the first wave.
WHO officials emphasized mask-wearing, social distancing, and hygiene by individuals, along with contact-tracing and tracking of cases by health authorities as key strategies to fight the virus. They say governments and individuals should contour their policies and behavior based on the outbreakâ€™s status in their countries.
Ryan said the world was experiencing a â€œsecond peak in the first waveâ€ – a situation in which the virus hasnâ€™t been suppressed enough to quell transmission to end the first one.