The Latest: South Africa exceeds UK in confirmed virus cases

0

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has surpassed the UK in its number of confirmed coronavirus cases. That’s according to a health ministry statement and data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

South Africa now has the world’s eighth highest number of confirmed cases with 298,292.

President Cyril Ramaphosa this week said the country is now “confronted by the gravest crisis in the history of our democracy.”

He said many more infections have gone undetected despite South Africa conducting more than 2.2 million tests, by far the most of any African country.

A strict lockdown delayed the surge in cases but it has been loosened under economic pressure. Now what the president calls the “storm” has arrived and is already “stretching our resources and our resolve to their limits.”

South Africa grapples with the pandemic in the dead of winter, with temperatures in the epicenter, Gauteng province and Johannesburg, to drop below freezing overnight. That makes ventilation a challenge especially in small, crowded homes for the poor.

___

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

– France aims to open schools by new academic year

– Arizona reports all-time high in coronavirus hospitalizations

– France, England make masks mandatory in most places

– No Olympics, no awards shows, no weddings, no summer camp, no graduations. The coronavirus pandemic has brought change to almost every part of life.

– A Montana memory care facility didn’t carry out free coronavirus testing on its residents. Now its reeling from an outbreak that’s infected nearly all the residents.

___

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

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

RALEIGH – Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has announced guidelines that will allow North Carolina K-12 schools to reopen at reduced in-classroom capacity but give parents and school districts the choice to have classes entirely online.

The guidelines from Cooper and the Department of Health and Human Services outlined on Tuesday allow in-person instruction if students and teachers wear face coverings and people remain six feet apart at school.

Districts were previously directed to prepare for three plans: entirely in-person classes, a hybrid of online and in-person learning and fully remote instruction. Cooper decided to go with the hybrid approach statewide, though districts could elect to implement fully remote instruction. In many cases, students are expected to rotate between in-person and online instruction in a given week.

___

BOISE, Idaho – Healthcare leaders from the five biggest medical providers in southwestern Idaho are pleading for mask mandates across the state, saying it’s the best way to slow a rapid increase in coronavirus cases that will otherwise overwhelm hospitals.

The officials from St. Luke’s Health System, Saint Alphonsus Health System, Saltzer Health, Primary Health Medical Group and West Valley Medical Center also urged Idaho residents on Tuesday to push for mask mandates by calling government leaders.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has so far been unswayed, though he has encouraged Idaho residents to wear masks.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Idaho has nearly doubled in the past two weeks, with more than 11,400 cases statewide on Tuesday according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

___

PHOENIX – Arizona reported 4,273 confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday and an all-time high in hospitalizations.

The state Department of Health Services says the statewide infection total is 128,097. On Monday, 3,517 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, with record numbers using ICU beds and ventilators.

There were 92 deaths reported Tuesday, increasing Arizona’s confirmed death total to 2,337. Only eight deaths were reported Monday, a day when generally few deaths are reported due to weekend reporting lags.

Arizona became a national coronavirus hotspot after Gov. Doug Ducey in May relaxed stay-at-home orders and other restrictions. Ducey since has closed gyms and bars and limited restaurant capacity. Many local governments have imposed mask requirements.

___

ROME – Italy’s health minister has confirmed schools will reopen in September, with antibody tests for teachers, sample testing of students and a decision on masks before classes resume.

Minister Roberto Speranza says schools will reopen Sept. 14, adding Italy couldn’t consider its lockdown over until then. Unlike other European countries that sent children back to school in late spring, Italy has kept its schools closed since early March.

On Tuesday, Italy confirmed 114 more coronavirus cases and 13 deaths.

Recently, Italy blocked flights from 13 countries, including Bangladesh, where infections are surging.

___

ATHENS, Greece – The Greece government has ruled out a new lockdown after a rise in reported coronavirus infections since opening its borders.

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias says there are no plans for a lockdown, but local restrictions could be implemented.

On Tuesday, health authorities reported 58 new infections, with 34 from international visitors, and no new deaths. That brings the country’s overall number of confirmed infections to just under 3,900, and 193 deaths in a country of about 10 million.

Starting Wednesday, visitors from Britain can enter Greece. People arriving by road through the northern borders with other Balkan countries will need to provide negative coronavirus tests.

___

ACCRA, Ghana – Officials say 55 high school students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at a boarding school in Ghana’s capital.

The Accra Girls Senior High School campus has been quarantined and angry parents have gathered outside to protest not seeing their children. Classes resumed June 22 for senior high school students and state media has confirmed cases at 10 schools, including the Accra Girls campus.

Education officials say the infection rates at the high schools are comparable to those for the general population.

Ghana has 139 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and testing has confirmed more than 25,000 cases since the start of the pandemic.

___

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron says he’s aiming to reopen all schools for the new academic year under as “normal” conditions as possible.

France gradually reopened schools in May and June, and most children returned to classes. While new infections prompted a few schools to close again, the vast majority stayed open until the school year wrapped up this month.

France’s school reopening was driven by concerns about getting parents back to work to restart the economy. There were worries about children who couldn’t access online classes and families that depend on subsidized school lunches.

Schools adjusted schedules to keep children from mingling freely and kept students in one classroom instead of moving around for different subjects. Classrooms were regularly aired out, and masks were necessary for middle and high school students.

Macron pledged teachers will be “well-protected” and schools will adapt again if the virus surges before France’s 12.9 million pupils return to school around Sept. 1.

Macron has also said he wants to require masks inside all indoor public spaces by Aug. 1.

___

MADRID – Authorities in northeastern Spain’s Catalonia region are making fresh attempts to prevent new coronavirus outbreaks from spreading as health experts warn that more and better contact tracing is needed.

The region of 7.5 million people has 150 workers in three shifts tasked with locating individuals who came in close contact with thousands of people who have tested positive for the virus, including more than 2,000 only in the past week.

In line with other experts who say that a ratio of one contact tracer for every three new confirmed cases would be desirable, the head of infectious diseases at Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron Hospital calculates that Catalonia needs at least between 1,000 to 1,500 contact tracers at the current infection rate.

But the top regional official overseeing the response to the pandemic, Jacobo Mendioroz, said the system is in good shape because it largely relies on computers and only a “few more” experts are needed.

There’s been at least 28,400 confirmed coronavirus deaths in Spain. The Health Ministry says more than 170 clusters have been identified since the country dropped a three-month state of emergency, 123 currently active.

___

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida confirmed 132 coronavirus deaths Tuesday, a one-day record for the state.

That’s a 10% increase from the previous record set Thursday, but likely includes deaths from Saturday or Sunday not reported until Monday.

The rolling seven-day average is 81 deaths per day, currently the second highest in the country behind Texas and double the 39 average two weeks ago. Doctors had been predicting a surge in deaths because Florida’s daily reported infection cases have gone from about 2,000 a day to more than 12,000 in the past month.

That is partly driven by increased testing. However, the percentage of tests coming back positive has increased from 6% a month ago to more than 18%.

___

NAIROBI, Kenya – Some 41 workers at Kenya’s largest maternity hospital have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Ministry of health Director General Dr. Patrick Amoth says 19 cases involve health care workers and 22 are hospital support staff.

He says those infected are asymptomatic and undergoing medical care under home-based isolation. Three mothers at the facility also tested positive for COVID-19, but Amoth says no babies have been affected.

He says services at the hospital will continue and measures have been put in place to protect the health workers and the public visiting the hospital.

Nurses Association of Kenya President Alfred Obengo says infection control prevention measures at the hospital weren’t followed.

___

ROME – Italy has made contingency plans to transfer recently arrived migrants with coronavirus to military hospitals after their presence in a southern seaside town sparked protests among some residents.

Italy’s interior ministry says surveillance measures were beefed up in the apartment building in the Calabrian town of Amantea to ensure the quarantine is respected among migrants who tested positive for the virus.

Other migrants who tested positive after a rescue at sea have been quarantined on a ferry offshore.

___

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A group of teachers and parents took part in a “motor march” in Jacksonville to promote the reopening of schools “when it’s safe.”

Two grassroots groups – the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team and the Duval For a Safe Return to Campus – say they want the school district to put certain regulations in place until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available.

The 5-mile drive ended at the Duval County Public School headquarters just before the board’s meeting.

Marla Bryant, co-founder of the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team, told the Florida Times-Union the group’s primary concerns include requiring masks in classrooms, keeping desks 6-feet apart, rigorous cleaning and disinfecting at each school and a full-time distance learning option for all grade levels.

Previously, the district was criticized for not offering a full-time distance learning option for K-12 students who wanted to stay enrolled in their existing school. Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has said schools should reopen as planned next month.

___

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Coronavirus infections are rising again in the Netherlands, with the country’s public health institute reporting 534 confirmed positive tests in the last week, an increase of 102 from the previous week.

The Dutch government has relaxed many of the restrictions to rein in the spread of the virus when it nearly swamped hospital intensive care units in late March and April.

The government is still calling on people to adhere to social distancing measures and stay home and get tested if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.

The health institute reported eight confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 16 people hospitalized in the last week. The confirmed Dutch death toll is 6,135.

___

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina – Bosnia is reopening its border for the citizens of the European Union after four months.

Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija says the EU citizens must provide a negative test on the coronavirus to be allowed into the country. The test must not be older than 48 hours.

Bosnia and the rest of the Balkans have faced a spike in the virus cases in the last weeks after relaxing lockdown measures during the outbreak in spring.

Bosnia is not on the list of countries allowed into the EU after the bloc recently reopened its borders. The government initially said it, too, would not reopen for EU citizens.

This has triggered protests in the southern town of Mostar and elsewhere by people who are dependent on tourism and have been hit hard in the pandemic.

___

BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbia’s health minister is asking people to avoid protesting against the country’s restrictive measures to combat a surge in coronavirus cases.

For over than a week, thousands of people across Serbia have been defying a ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people to demonstrate against the Serbian president’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The protests started July 7 when President Aleksandar Vucic announced the capital of Belgrade would be placed under a new three-day lockdown following a second wave of confirmed coronavirus infections.

His government ended the plan and introduced a 10-person ban, but that hasn’t stopped the protests. Vucic and health officials say the mass gatherings have contributed to the virus surge.

___

LONDON – British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed the wearing of masks will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England. The requirement is expected to take effect July 24.

The decision follows weeks of discussion by the government about their value during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hancock told lawmakers in the House of Commons that face coverings can help keep people working in shops safe and can give people more confidence to safely shop.

A masked man rides on an escalator in a mall in Johannesburg, Tuesday, July 14, 2020. The government has ruled it compulsory for people to wear face coverings in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19 as the country heads towards its coronavirus peak. (AP Photo Denis Farrell)
Advertisements