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The Latest: Lockdown returns to English city of Leicester

June 29, 2020
Associated Press

LONDON — The British government has reimposed lockdown restrictions in the English city of Leicester after a spike in coronavirus infections, including the closure of shops that don’t sell essential goods and schools.

In a statement in Parliament, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government won’t be recommending that the city joins in the easing of the lockdown in England that is due to take place on Saturday, which includes the reopening of pubs and restaurants.

He also said non-essential retailers, such as department stores and electronic retailers, will have to close again, two weeks after they reopened.

In addition, he said that schools will have to close from Thursday, though they will stay open for vulnerable children. And he also travel to, from and within the city will have to be curtailed.

Hancock said “precise and targeted actions like these will give the virus nowhere to hide and help us defeat this invisible killer.”

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

— Experts say the pandemic is wreaking havoc in poor and war-torn nations.

— Virus cases worldwide hit 10 million and deaths have surpassed 500,000.

— UK PM Boris Johnson says the pandemic “has been a disaster” for Britain.

— Hunger stalks Yemen's children as pandemic hits Arab world's poorest nation.

— Nurses, doctors feel strain as virus races through Arizona.

— The pandemic means millions of women in Africa and other developing regions could lose years of success in contributing to household incomes and asserting their independence.

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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 — A group of Texas bar owners filed lawsuits Monday seeking to overturn Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that closed their businesses to help contain the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

Abbott has pinpointed the re-opening of bars last month as one of the sources behind a dramatic spike in new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations that has made Texas a national hotspot in a virus resurgence.

The lawsuits filed in Austin, Houston and Galveston allege Abbott doesn’t have the authority under the state constitution to make such an order, and that it targets bars while allowing other establishments, such as hair and nail salons and tattoo studios to remain open.

Abbott’s order shuttered establishments that make at least 51 percent of their revenue from alcohol sales. It also trimmed restaurant dining capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent.”

The bar owners say Abbott should bring the Legislature into a special session to address the issue.

A spokesman for Abbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The city of Jacksonville, where President Trump is expected to accept the Republican nomination, enacted a mandatory mask requirement for public and indoor locations, and “in other situations where individuals cannot socially distance.”

The requirement begins at 5 p.m. Monday.

This is a reversal from city leaders. On June 23, Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry said he didn’t plan to issue a mask mandate.

“I do not think that’s a prudent action to take,” Curry said at the time. “We do not need to have law enforcement out in public enforcing this. It’s not an efficient use of resources and we’re not going to prosecute people, start prosecuting people, ticketing people and arresting people because they choose not to wear a mask.”

He had urged people to wear masks and to socially distance themselves.

The Republican event is scheduled to be held in Jacksonville in late August.

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MADRID — More than 1,000 Spanish health workers are demonstrating in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square against what they say is a lack of job security.

The protesters gathered Monday evening also demanded more resources to do their work.

The demonstration, with protesters complying with social distancing rules, was organized by the grass-roots movement Sanitarios Necesarios (Needed Health Workers).

By the end of last week, more than 52,000 Spanish health workers had been infected by the new coronavirus.

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The head of the World Health Organization says the coronavirus pandemic is “not even close to being over” and that the outbreak is accelerating globally.

At a news briefing on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Tuesday marks six months since the U.N. health agency was first informed of a cluster of unusual pneumonia cases in China -- the first indications of the coronavirus’ emergence.

“Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world and our lives would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus,” he said, noting WHO has since recorded more than 10 million cases and 500,00 deaths globally.

Tedros said WHO will be convening a meeting this week to assess the progress made in coronavirus research so far and reevaluate priorities moving forward as the pandemic continues.

Dozens of vaccine candidates are currently in early stages of testing and some may move into late-stage testing this summer.

Tedros warned that because “most people remain susceptible” to the virus, the world is still only in the early stages of the outbreak. “The worst is yet to come,” he said. “With this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst.”

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TUPELO, Miss. — The mayor of the northeast Mississippi city where Elvis Presley was born announced that masks would be required in all public buildings and businesses starting Monday and decided to debunk a wide variety of rumors at once.

After asking residents to listen to health care professionals, Mayor Jason Shelton wrote on Twitter:

“Also, ANTIFA is not coming to Tupelo, Elvis statues are not being removed, you are not the target of some type of global conspiracy, it is impossible to erase history and no one has attempted to do so, COVID is not a hoax, you shouldn’t believe and share posts that are obviously false or used as political propaganda, and there is nothing “liberal” about any of the actions that have been taken by our administration regarding these matters,”

“Those were all specific allegations I have received either by phone, email or social media,” he said in a brief phone interview Monday.

Responses to his message on Friday and a follow-up Twitter message on Monday ranged from praise to “Your days are numbered.”

Shelton, a Democrat, has pushed for years to remove the Confederate battle flag from Mississippi’s state flag -- something the state Legislature voted on Sunday to do. The City Council overturned his 2018 executive order to stop flying the flag at city buildings, but was poised — coincidentally, just after the Legislature’s vote — to revoke that ordinance on Monday, he said.

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BREMERTON, Wash. — Two Washington state Native tribes have sued a group of insurance providers they say have not covered claims for business losses resulting from the coronavirus.

The Kitsap Sun reported the Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes filed separate lawsuits against Tribal First Alliant Underwriting Solutions. The civil claims filed earlier this month say the tribes bought $50 million of coverage in policies that should cover losses caused by the pandemic outbreak. The lawsuits say the insurance group must provide broad coverage for losses resulting from any cause unless expressly excluded in the policies, which do not exclude diseases.

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WAILUKU, Hawaii — A Hawaii state plan to reopen a Maui highway to motorists from the general public has caused concern among residents who want to protect the rural area from the coronavirus.

The Maui News reports that the state Department of Transportation has announced it will reopen Hana Highway to all motorists on Wednesday. The east Maui road has been blocked to nonresidents since March over concerns about COVID-19 spreading to an area with limited health care facilities.

About 7,000 residents received placards allowing passage through roadblocks overseen by Hawaii National Guard troops. Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino plans to discuss the reopening with state officials.

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CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada health officials say more than half of the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases have been people aged 20 to 49 and 42% have been Latino.

The state’s COVID-19 response director said in a telephone call with reporters Monday that they intend to release a response plan geared toward containing the coronavirus among those demographic groups.

The state reported a total of nearly 17,900 confirmed coronavirus cases and 504 deaths as of Sunday.

In response to an uptick in confirmed cases, Gov. Steve Sisolak has implemented a face-covering mandate for public places throughout Nevada.

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BERLIN — Swiss authorities say 20 people who were patrons of a bar outside Zurich have tested positive for the coronavirus, and it is suspected that the virus spread there from an outbreak at club in the city.

Aargau canton (state) authorities said in a statement on their website Monday that patrons of the bar in Spreitenbach who were infected had been linked to the “superspreader event” at the Flamingo Club in Zurich.

They said that they were in contact with the infected people and other others and “where necessary, quarantine has been ordered.”

No further details were given, but the local media reported about 100 people had visited the bar during the evening in question.

Zurich authorities on the weekend said some 300 people had been ordered into quarantine after the so-called “superspreader” outbreak at the Flamingo Club.

In that case, a man who had been at the club the weekend before tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, and that five people who were with him there were then tested and also were positive and reported to authorities on Friday. The others were tracked down and ordered into quarantine on Saturday.

Swiss officials are working on new guidance for clubs and say they may be forced to closing such facilities again if the outbreaks continue.

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ATLANTA — Testing just once isn’t enough to stop the spread of the coronavirus in prisons, jails, nursing homes and similar facilities, U.S. health officials say.

A report released Monday suggests it’s crucial to test repeatedly over at least two weeks after people have been exposed to someone known to carry COVID-19.

An investigation at a Louisiana corrections facility showed one-quarter of cases were found only after a second and third round of testing over two weeks. It can take time for the virus to incubate and spread. More than 40% of those testing positive at the Louisiana facility never developed symptoms.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Infection, which published the report, conducted the investigation with the Louisiana Department of Health. The corrections facility wasn’t identified.

Outbreaks of the virus in prisons and jails affect the broader community as staff member carry the virus home or as detainees are released. COVID-19 has killed at least 585 prisoners and 42 prison staff in the United States, according to a separate analysis by The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization.

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ROME — Italy added six new victims and 126 new coronavirus infections to its official COVID-19 toll, one of its lowest daily tallies since the outbreak began four months ago in the onetime European epicenter.

Three of those new infections are in the northern Veneto region, which is now ordering tests for foreign home care workers after a cluster developed among returning Moldovans.

Veneto registered Italy’s first COVID-19 death on Feb. 21, the same day that the outbreak erupted in neighboring Lombardy. But whereas Lombardy’s outbreak spun out of control, Veneto managed to contain infections in part through broad testing and rigorous isolation of even asymptomatic cases.

Veneto’s governor, Luca Zaia, said Monday that 10 cases had been traced to a group of Moldovans who returned to Italy by bus, including the elderly Italian who employed one of the workers as a home care aide.

Zaia urged homecare workers to spread the word that the tests are free and that their documents won’t be checked. Many Italian families rely on domestic workers from Eastern Europe to care for their elderly rather than moving them into nursing homes.

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MADRID — Spanish health authorities are closely watching how coronavirus clusters involving agricultural workers in northern Spain and that have infected some 300 people over the past two weeks are evolving.

Spain has recorded 84 new confirmed infections in the past 24 hours, including among people who showed no clear symptoms of the COVID-19 disease. There have been three new recorded deaths, according to Spain’s health emergency coordination center.

The center’s director, Fernando Simón, on Monday said that clusters in the northern provinces of Huesca and Lleida are mostly among young workers harvesting fruit and vegetables. He added that only about 10% of them are patients who have shown symptoms and have been isolated.

At least nine more clusters in the country are being closely monitored and 40 more are considered under control, Simón said.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said that fresh outbreaks of the new virus shouldn’t necessarily lead to a widespread lockdown, but rather to localized controls in towns or counties.

“I don’t think the confinement will return, but it will if things get out of hand because it has been a very efficient weapon,” Illa told RAC1 radio.

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SAO PAULO — Sao Paulo state, the epicenter of Brazil’s COVID-19 crisis, will start fining people who are unmasked in public areas.

Gov. João Doria said Monday the penalty will be equivalent to $92 and will be enforced by sanitary agents. Doria said a fine 10 times higher will be given to stores for each unmasked client who is allowed in.

More than 14,000 of Brazil’s 57,000 confirmed fatalities from COVID-19 are in Sao Paulo state. Doria issued a decree in the beginning of May saying masks should be worn in public spaces, but it did not stipulate any penalty for people who didn’t. The use of masks has been mandatory in Sao Paulo city’s public transport since May.

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BERLIN — Authorities have extended by a week a partial lockdown in a western German district hit by a big coronavirus outbreak at a slaughterhouse.

The measures were imposed on Guetersloh county, home to some 360,000 people, for an initial one-week period nearly a week ago. Cinemas, gyms and bars were closed, but stores remained open and restaurants have been able to serve customers from the same household. People from the district have faced restrictions on travel elsewhere in Germany.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s state governor, Armin Laschet, said Monday that the measures are being extended by a week in Guetersloh as a precaution. But the partial lockdown will end on Tuesday in neighboring Warendorf county, where some of the slaughterhouse workers live.

New infections in Guetersloh, although they are falling, remain above 50 per 100,000 inhabitants over the past week, the level at which German regions are supposed to take action. But they have dropped below that level in Warendorf.

Laschet said that much-increased testing has shown no sign of infections crossing into the wider population in Warendorf, and “only a slight entry” into the population beyond slaughterhouse workers in Guetersloh.

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TOKYO — Japan’s capital city of Tokyo reported 58 new cases of coronavirus, as the number remained at recent highs since last week and a top government official said the trend doesn’t look good.

The number of cases in Tokyo rose to 60 on Sunday, highest since early May and nearly doubling from 31 five days ago. About half of recent daily confirmed cases have been detected among staff or customers of Tokyo’s nightlife districts.

Tokyo’s numbers were at their highs since the late May lifting of a pandemic state of emergency.

“We are closely watching the latest development,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters. “Frankly, this gives me a rather bad feeling.”

He said he planned to meet with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike to discuss the situation and a new set of caution scale that would balance disease prevention with maintaining economic activity. Koike planned to announce a new set of infection monitoring measures on Tuesday.

The latest cases brings Tokyo’s total infections to 6,172, with 325 deaths — about one-third of national total.

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ATHENS, Greece — Movie theaters, casinos and children’s summer camps reopened in Greece on Monday, while concerts, conferences, commercial fairs and artistic events can once again be held, in the latest phase of the country’s easing of lockdown measures.

Outdoor summer movie theaters have already been open for several weeks, but this is the first time indoor theaters will be able to operate since the lockdown was imposed in March.

Greece’s government imposed a lockdown early on in the country’s coronavirus outbreak, a move that has been credited with keeping the number of deaths and critically ill patients low. On Sunday, Greece reported no new deaths and 10 new cases, for a total of 191 deaths and 3,376 confirmed cases. The country has gradually been easing restrictions.

On Wednesday, international flights will be allowed at regional airports across the country once more. Currently tourists can fly into only Athens or the northern city of Thessaloniki. Greece has been eager to attract foreign visitors, as tourism makes up a significant part of the country’s economy.

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BERLIN — Germany medical research company BioNTech SE says it has received an investment of $250 million from Singapore’s Temasek and others as it races to develop the first vaccine against the coronavirus.

The Mainz-based biotechnology company said Monday that the investment will take the form of about $139 million in ordinary shares and $112 million in four-year mandatory convertible notes.

BioNTech in April became the first company in Germany to receive regulatory approval to conduct trials of its experimental mRNA-based vaccine on volunteers. Initial results from those early stage trials are expected by early July.

Temasek is a sovereign wealth fund owned by the government of Singapore.

 
 
 

 

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