Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Ruislip High School in his constituency of Uxbridge, west London, Monday Sept. 28, 2020. Lawmakers and scientists have criticized Johnson's Conservative government for problems with the national test-and-trace program that was supposed to help control the spread of the disease and reduce the need for limits on social interactions. (Stefan Rouseau/PA via AP)

The Latest: Moscow To Keep School Kids Home 2 Weeks In Oct

September 29, 2020 - 6:38 am

MOSCOW — Moscow authorities are extending school holidays by a week amid a surge of new coronavirus cases.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Tuesday ordered all schools to go on holiday between Oct. 5-18 and urged parents to keep their children at home during this period.

“Children (account for) a significant share of infections, often asymptomatic,” Sobyanin said in an online statement. “When they come home, they easily transmit the virus to adults and elderly members of the family, who get sick more severely.”

Health officials on Tuesday reported 8,232 new virus cases, with 2,300 in Moscow -- the highest daily number in the Russian capital since late May. Russia currently has the fourth largest caseload in the world with over 1.16 million confirmed infections. It ranks 11th in the world with a reported 20,450 deaths.

Last week, officials asked the elderly to stay at home starting on Monday and requested employers to allow as many people as possible to work from home.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday urged Russians to remain vigilant. “The fight against the epidemic is not over, it goes on. The risks remain,” Putin said.

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

— Worldwide death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has passed 1 million

— A viral march across the planet, tracked by a map in motion

— New York City elementary schools reopen in big back-to-school test

— The European Union’s external auditor says child poverty has reached worrying levels across the world’s largest trading bloc amid the pandemic.

— Montreal and Quebec City return to highest COVID-19 alert level, Ontario reports a record 700 new daily infections.

— Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states are conferring on how to prevent the country’s coronavirus infection figures from accelerating.

___

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

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

MADRID — Spain’s government is providing four more months of furlough to support workers and companies affected by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The existing plan expires Wednesday and was designed when the country’s strict lockdown brought the economy to a standstill. But a second wave is already causing partial lockdowns in towns and neighborhoods across the country, most significantly in the economic hub of Madrid.

The new plan approved Tuesday by Spain’s Cabinet was agreed to by unions and business lobbies. It extends benefits until the end of January. Companies that can’t afford to keep either all or part of the workforce due to virus outbreaks can apply for tax cuts under the pledge to bring employees back for at least half a year. The government will keep paying most of the salary of the workers sent home.

Some 600,000 people remain under the plan that began in March, according to the government. Labor Minister Yolanda Díaz says, “If we can save the fall and winter, we will fully enter recovery times.”

With infections nearing 750,000 and the confirmed death toll more than 31,400, the second wave has hit Madrid, which has a rate of infection 2.5 times higher than the national average.

___

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch public health institute says 19,326 people tested positive for coronavirus in the last week, nearly 6,000 more than the previous week.

The announcement Tuesday came hours before new restrictions were expected to help rein in the rapid spread of the virus.

The official death toll in the Netherlands rose by 51 in the last week to 6,393. The public health institute says it has seen sharp increases in infections throughout most of the country and a rise in the percentage of people testing positive.

A month ago, 2.5% of tests were positive, while 7.4% of recent tests came back positive.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced Monday night all bars and restaurants will have to close their doors at 10 p.m. and limited how many people can gather indoors and outdoors. The restrictions included a ban of fans at professional sports events.

___

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised new adult education and training programs to help workers recover amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson says the pandemic “has massively accelerated changes that were already happening in the U.K. economy,” such as the switch to online shopping.

He says neglect of skills training has left Britain short of construction workers, mechanics, engineers, IT experts and lab technicians.

He adds while some jobs would inevitably be lost because of the coronavirus, the government would “give people the skills to find and create new and better jobs.” The measures including more apprenticeships in skilled trades, free courses and “digital boot camps” for older workers.

Critics say the measures provide little immediate help to people who are losing their jobs because of the pandemic. U.K. officials are bracing for a surge in unemployment at the end of October when the government ends a program that’s paid the salaries of millions of furloughed workers.

___

NEW DELHI, India — India’s Serum Institute, the world’s biggest vaccine producer, says it would produce 200 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for developing countries.

In August, the vaccines alliance GAVI said it had agreed to a deal with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Serum Institute, to speed the manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to developing countries in 2021. Serum now says that it has agreed to produce an additional 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines.

This collaboration gives upfront capital to the Serum Institute so that once any effective COVID-19 vaccine is licensed, the company can mass produce the shots at scale, as early as the first half of 2021.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India said in a statement, “At this stage, it is important for governments, global health and financial institutions in the public and private sector to come together in ensuring that no one is left behind in the road to recovery.”

Countries including Britain, France and the U.S. have signed deals with pharmaceuticals for access to COVID-19 vaccines even before they have been licensed. Activists have warned that rich countries hoarding limited vaccines could leave very few for the developing world.

The Serum Institute has entered manufacturing agreements for vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca and Novovax. GAVI heads an international plan to buy vaccines for lower income countries.

___

STOCKHOLM -- The Swedish government on Tuesday decided to increase the number of spectators attending sports event from 50 to 500 on Oct. 15.

Bjorn Eriksson, chairman of the Swedish Sports Confederation, welcomed the move and called “a step in the right direction.”

The exemption applies if there’s no increased spread of infection in society. The Scandinavian country has opted for an approach of keeping large parts of the society open.

Most of Europe locked down their populations early in the pandemic by closing schools, restaurants, fitness centers and borders, while Sweden did not.

Sweden has 90,923 confirmed cases and 5,880 confirmed deaths.

___

ATHENS — Health inspectors in Greece are carrying out additional COVID-19 tests on crew members of a cruise ship with more than 1,500 people on board, ordering the ship to stop at a testing area at the country’s largest port near Athens.

The Maltese-flagged Mein Schiff 6, which is on a Greek island cruise, was docked Tuesday at the port of Piraeus after sample testing of the crew found 12 crew members were positive but asymptomatic, the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry said.

Passengers had undergone coronavirus tests before boarding.

But since only 150 of the ship’s 666 crew members had been tested, the public health team will re-test the 12 positive cases as well as anyone else deemed necessary by the ship’s crew and doctor.

The vessel, operated by TUI Cruises, has 922 passengers. It began its trip late Sunday from the port of Iraklio, on the island of Crete.

___

BRUSSELS — Brussels authorities have decided to ban prostitution until further notice in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus in Belgium’s capital city.

In addition, authorities have shut down three hotels hosting sex workers because social distancing measures were not respected, Wafaa Hammich, a spokeswoman at Brussels city hall told The Associated Press on Tuesday. She said police controls will be stepped up to make sure the ban is enforced.

The decision came after Brussels decided to impose a curfew on bars. Since the start of this week, all bars and cafes have to close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. while any other businesses selling drinks or food will shut down at 10 p.m.

Brussels is facing a surge of new coronavirus infections.

—-

JERUSALEM — Israel’s health minister says the country’s nationwide lockdown is likely to be extended.

The Israeli government imposed a second countrywide lockdown ahead of the Jewish High Holidays earlier this month in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The lockdown was initially slated to be lifted on Oct. 11, but in a radio interview on Tuesday Health Minister Yuli Edelstei said that “there is no scenario that in another 10 days we will lift everything and say ‘It’s all over, everything is ok.’”

Israel has recorded more than 233,000 confirmed cases of the virus since the pandemic began and more than 1,500 deaths from the disease, according to the Health Ministry.

While Israel garnered praise for its swift response to the arrival of the pandemic in March, the country’s reopening of the economy in May saw new infections skyrocket over the summer, and now it has one of the highest infection rates per capita in the world.

___

UNITED NATIONS — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres says the loss of 1 million people to the coronavirus is an “agonizing milestone” that has been made worse by the “savageness of this disease.”

In a statement released after the global death toll from the pandemic crossed 1 million, Guterres called it a “mind-numbing figure.”

“They were fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues,” he said. “The pain has been multiplied by the savageness of this disease."

Guterres warned “there is no end in sight to the spread of the virus, the loss of jobs, the disruption of education, the upheaval to our lives.”

Still he said he said the pandemic could be overcome with responsible leadership, cooperation and science, as well as precautions such as social distancing and wearing face masks. He said any vaccine must be “available and affordable to all.”

___

NEW DELHI — India has registered 70,589 new confirmed coronaviruses cases in the past 24 hours, maintaining a noticeable decline in daily infections.

The Health Ministry raised India’s confirmed total since the pandemic began to more than 6.1 million on Tuesday, but said the country had a little less than 1 million active coronavirus cases. It also reported 776 fatalities in the last 24 hours, which pushed the death toll to 96,318.

India is still registering the highest number of daily cases globally, but with a recovery rate of more than 82.5%, the number of recoveries has passed 5 million, the Health Ministry said.

The first two weeks of September saw India clocking 90,000 cases every day. Since then India has seen a sharp decrease in the number of new daily cases.

But health experts have warned about the potential for the virus to spread during the upcoming religious festival season.

___

PERTH, Australia — Authorities are concerned by a COVID-19 outbreak aboard a cargo ship off Australia’s northwest coast that has infected most of the crew.

Eight more members of the Filipino crew tested positive for the new coronavirus on Monday, bringing the number of infections to 17 out of a crew of 21.

Seven of the infected sailors remained aboard the Liberia-flagged bulk carrier Patricia Oldendorff, which is anchored off Port Hedland, a major iron ore export terminal, Western Australia State Health Minister Roger Cook said Tuesday.

The seven are part of an essential skeleton crew of nine. The other 10 infected crew members were in hotel quarantine at Port Hedland. None required hospital treatment.

Cook said he wanted to bring the skeleton crew ashore, but the ship would need a replacement crew and to undergo a deep clean before that replacement crew boarded.

___

MANILA, Philippines — A southern Philippine province and its war-battered capital will be placed under a mild lockdown in October, while the rest of the country will have more relaxed quarantine restrictions.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced the quarantine restrictions for October in televised remarks Monday night. Lanao del Sur province and its capital, Marawi city, will fall under a lockdown starting Thursday due to infection spikes in recent weeks.

Most of Marawi’s commercial and downtown areas were destroyed in 2017 fighting between the military and Islamic State group-aligned militants.

Metropolitan Manila and five other cities will remain under general quarantine restrictions with more businesses and public transport allowed to partially operate on the condition people wear masks and stay safely apart. Classes in public schools resume online on Oct. 5.

The Philippines has reported the most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.

___

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s new coronavirus tally has come below 50 for the first time in about 50 days amid a downward trend in new infections.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Tuesday the 38 cases added in the last 24 hours took the country’s total to 23,699 with 407 deaths.

South Korea had seen a viral resurgence, mostly in the densely populated Seoul area since early last month. But the number of new cases has begun slowing after authorities enforced stringent social distancing rules.

Many experts have warned the virus could spread again after this week’s traditional Chuseok autumn holidays.

___

AP Editorial Categories: