The Latest: China says Beijing’s coronavirus outbreak wanes

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BEIJING – Chinese officials have reported eight new confirmed COVID-19 cases as a recent outbreak in Beijing appears to have largely run its course.

China’s capital had two new cases, the seventh straight day of single-digit increase. Authorities have confirmed 334 infections during the city’s outbreak, which was detected about three weeks ago and is the largest in the country since March. No deaths have been reporte.

Beijing government spokesperson Xu Hejian said at a news conference Saturday that the situation “keeps improving and is completely controllable.”

The six cases outside Beijing were people arriving from abroad. Three were in Gansu province in the country’s northwest.

China has reported 83,553 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths since the pandemic began. Its case count does not include people who test positive for the coronavirus but show no symptoms.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

– Pubs and hair salons are back in Britain and while many are welcoming the easing of the lockdown, some still have concerns about the virus.

– An Independence Day like no other: This year, July Fourth comes at a time when Americans are more divided than ever.

– While many July Fourth celebrations across the U.S. are subdued this year, President Donald Trump has promised a “special evening” in Washington that could bring tens of thousands to the National Mall.

– Will the Sun Belt remain gripped by doubt and uncertainty for months or years? A look at the economic impact of the pandemic on business owners, workers, consumers and home buyers.

-With many U.S. nursing homes locked down to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, officials are issuing reminders that those $1,200 stimulus checks belong to residents.

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Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas has reported its biggest daily increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases – 8,258. Hospitalizations also continue to climb.

Much of Texas began mandating face coverings Friday on the orders of Gov. Greg Abbott. The mask order carries a $250 fine. The order is the most dramatic about-face that Abbott has made as he retreats from what stood out as one of America’s swiftest reopenings.

Texas health officials on Saturday said the state’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases is now at 191,790. State health officials also reported 33 additional deaths linked to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. That brings Texas’ total to 2,608 deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 7,890 on Saturday, an increase of 238 from Friday.

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BERLIN – The World Health Organization says it is ending a trial into whether anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine helps patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

WHO said Saturday it has “accepted the recommendation” from the committee overseeing the trial to discontinue testing of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir, a drug combination used to treat HIV/AIDS. The drugs were being compared with standard care for hospitalized patients.

WHO says a review of the interim results showed hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir “produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care.”

The agency adds that while there was no “solid evidence” of increased mortality for hospitalized patients given the drugs, there were “some associated safety signals in the clinical laboratory findings” of an associated trial.

WHO says the decision won’t affect possible trials on patients who aren’t hospitalized, or on those receiving the drugs before potential exposure to the coronavirus or shortly afterward.

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BERLIN – The World Health Organization says member states reported more than 212,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the global body Saturday, the highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic.

The Geneva-based WHO said the highest number of new infections was reported from the Americas region, which includes the United States and Brazil, with almost 130,000 confirmed cases.

WHO’s count can differ from other global case tallies due to official reporting delays.

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ORLANDO, Fla. – A week before the first of Walt Disney World’s theme parks are set to reopen for the first time since March, three firefighters for the theme park resort’s private government have tested positive for COVID-19, union officials said Saturday.

Up to 10 other firefighters for the Reedy Creek Improvement District are in quarantine, said Tim Stromsnes, an official with the Reedy Creek Fire Rescue IAFF Local 211.

The 205-member Reedy Creek Fire Department has under 140 firefighters.

Firefighters are upset since they are expected to use up sick or vacation days while in quarantine, instead of getting paid time off. They also said Disney’s private government has done a poor job of communicating their coronavirus-related policies and informing other firefighters about their sick colleagues.

“They can’t manage COVID in the fire department. How is Reedy Creek going to protect visitors?” Stromsnes said.

A spokeswoman for the Reedy Creek Improvement District didn’t respond to an email inquiry on Saturday.

Two theme parks, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, are set to reopen next Saturday for the first time since coronavirus-related closures in March. The resort’s two other theme parks, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, are opening four days later.

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LA PAZ, Bolivia – The rising toll of COVID-19 deaths is overwhelming the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, where desperate relatives of one apparent victim of the new coronavirus left his coffin in the street for several hours on Saturday to protest difficulties in getting him buried.

Neighbor Remberto Arnez said the 62-year-old man had died on June 28 and his body had been in his home ever since, “but that’s risky because of the possible contagion.”

After a few hours, funeral workers showed up and took the coffin to a cemetery.

Police Col. Iván Rojas told a news conference that the city is collecting “about 17 bodies a day. This is collapsing the police personnel and funeral workers” in the city of some 630,000 people.

The Andean nation has reported more than 36,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,320 deaths.

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NEW YORK – The coronavirus put a damper on this year’s Fourth of July celebrations in New York, but some things stayed the same. Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo repeated as men’s and women’s champions at Saturday’s Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest.

Chestnut downed 75 wieners and buns in 10 minutes and Sudo downed 48 1/2 in a competition that took place at an undisclosed location with no in-person spectators. Both hot dog totals were world records. “I’m always pushing for a record,” Chestnut said before the contest aired on a live sports-starved ESPN.

New Yorkers were urged to avoid large holiday gatherings in order to prevent a surge in coronavirus cases like other states are seeing.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there were more than 720 new confirmed coronavirus cases reported Friday statewide, and 11 deaths were attributed to the virus.

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PHILADELPHIA – In Philadelphia, mask- and glove-wearing descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence participated in a ceremonial tapping of the famed Liberty Bell on Independence Mall on the Fourth of July.

Originally called the State House Bell, it became known as the Liberty Bell in the 1830s as a symbol of the abolitionist movement and has been used since as a symbol by other groups advocating for such causes as women’s suffrage and civil rights.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – The Fourth of July holiday weekend began Saturday with some sobering numbers in the Sunshine State: Florida logged a record number of people testing positive for the coronavirus.

State health officials reported 11,445 new cases, a single-day record since the pandemic began earlier this year. The latest count brings the total number of cases in the state to more than 190,000. A website maintained by the Department of Health shows an additional 245 hospitalizations from the outbreak.

Local officials and health experts are worried that people will gather over the holiday weekend and spread the virus through close contact. They’ve tried to mitigate spread by shutting bars statewide. Some regional attractions, such as Zoo Miami and Jungle Island, have closed. Universal Studios in Orlando is open.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez closed Miami-Dade County beaches through the weekend. Municipalities elsewhere in South Florida, from Vero Beach to Broward County, did the same. Beaches in the Florida Keys are also closed. Public beaches along Pinellas County’s 35 miles of sand are open.

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ROME – For a fifth straight day, the number of Italy’s daily new coronavirus cases increased.

The Health Ministry on Saturday said 235 new cases of confirmed coronavirus infections were registered since the previous day. Overall, Italy’s known number of coronavirus cases stands at more than 241,400, although authorities say many infections of those with mild or no symptoms likely went undetected.

Saturday saw a sharp jump in day-to-day number of infections – 27 to 51 – in the northern Emilia-Romagna region, whose beach towns are attracting vacationers.

The Lazio region, which includes Rome, also registered a steep rise in confirmed infections, 31, compared to 11 new cases a day earlier. The city has been trying to discourage groups of young people from mingling outdoors on summer nights to drink without keeping a safe distance apart despite not wearing masks.

There were 21 deaths registered nationwide, raising the known death toll in the pandemic to 34,854.

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ATHENS, Greece – Greek authorities announced Saturday that there were 25 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, but no fatalities.

Eight of the 25 new cases involved incoming tourists, who are tested when they arrive in the country, authorities said.

The number of confirmed cases rose to more than 3,500, while fatalities remained at 192. ___

BARCELONA, Spain – Barcelona’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 Gaudí. More will be able to visit on Sunday and on July 11-12 during a reopening phase the church is calling an “homage” 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 Barcelona’s top tourist site, with 4.5 million visitors in 2019.

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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.

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MOSCOW – Russia’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.

Russia’s caseload is the world’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.

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JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has announced another record daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases with 9,064, as Africa’s most developed country shows signs of strain in coping with the pandemic.

Thirty percent of South Africa’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.

A man wearing a face mask to protect against the new coronavirus uses his smartphone as he sits on steps at an outdoor shopping mall in Beijing, Saturday, July 4, 2020. China reported a single new case of coronavirus in Beijing on Saturday, plus a few more cases elsewhere believed to have come from abroad. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
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