ROME — Premier Giuseppe Conte says his government is deciding if more restrictions are needed to rein in the spread of coronavirus infections.
“The contagion curve is so rapid now it puts in-class schools at risk,’’ says Conte, five days after closing restaurants in the evening and closing down gyms, cinemas and theatres.
Elementary and middle school children can still attend class. However, 75% of high school instruction must be done remotely, in accordance with nationwide rules that started this week.
On Monday, Lombardy’s governor will consult with the local mayors, including of its main city Milan, before deciding whether to lock down the region.
Some citizens have participated in anti-lockdown protests this week to vent their anger about the restrictions. In Florence on Friday night, four demonstrators were detained.
Italy has more than 647,000 confirmed cases and more than 38,000 deaths.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— UK government mulls lockdown for England.
— Germany’s Merkel pledging financial help for companies hit by partial shutdown
— Greece tightens restrictions as virus spreads
— Italian nurse sees the nightmare return of the coronavirus. The 54-year-old nurse saw the virus in the unmasked faces of fellow vacationers this summer and her worry grew.
— Australia will spend $351 million to secure coronavirus vaccines for the Pacific and Southeast Asia as part of a shared recovery for the region.
— A multi-state coronavirus surge in the countdown to Election Day has exposed a clear split between President Donald Trump’s bullish embrace of a return to normalcy and urgent public warnings from the government’s top health officials.
Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has tested negative for coronavirus after having exposure to someone who tested positive.
A statement on his Twitter account says the Republican governor is quarantining as a precaution. It says first lady Marty Kemp also tested negative.
In a separate announcement Friday, U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson says he tested positive for coronavirus and is working from home while in quarantine. Ferguson appeared with Kemp at a rally on Thursday.
Kemp was among the earliest to allow businesses to reopen. He has avoided a statewide mask mandate, including this summer, when Georgia recorded the highest per capita infections nationwide.
Georgia has 360,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 7,950 deaths,
according to the state Department of Public Health.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece will shut down restaurants, bars, cafes, cinemas and gyms across a large part of the country, including the capital Athens, after a surge in coronavirus cases.
Outlining the measures in a televised address, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the changes will take effect Tuesday morning and last for the whole of November.
The areas affected are most of northern Greece and the Athens region.
Though closed for sitting customers, restaurants in these areas will be able to offer food for takeaway and deliveries.
In other measures, Mitsotakis said masks will become mandatory across the whole of Greece and a curfew will come into force from midnight to 5 a.m. University classes across the country will have to be conducted online.
In contrast to the spring lockdown, travel within the country will not be affected and retail shops will stay open.
Like other countries in Europe, Greece is in the grip of a resurgence of the virus. Daily infections surged over 1,000 this week, peaking at 1,690 Friday.
LONDON — The British government is considering imposing a new national lockdown in England after scientific advisers warned hospitalizations and deaths from the resurgence of the coronavirus could soon surpass the levels seen at the outbreak’s spring peak.
Epidemiologist John Edmunds, a member of the government’s scientific advisory group, say cases were running “significantly above” a reasonable worst-case scenario drawn up by modelers this month.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has introduced a system of local restrictions for England based on levels of infection. But scientists say it hasn’t been enough.
The Times of London says Johnson could announce a month-long lockdown as soon as Monday, though the government says no decisions have been made.
Any new lockdown would likely see non-essential businesses close and people told to stay mostly at home, though schools would remain open.
The U.K. is recording more than 20,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and government statisticians say the actual figure is likely far higher. On Saturday, the country is likely to surpass 1 million confirmed cases.
The U.K. has Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll at more than 46,000.
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel is pledging to help companies hit by a new German partial shutdown “quickly and unbureaucratically” as the country reports the latest in a string of daily coronavirus infection records.
German officials decided this week to shut down bars, restaurants and leisure facilities for four weeks starting Monday and impose new contact restrictions. The aim is to curb a rapid rise in new infections and prevent an overwhelmed health system.
The government plans to spend up to 10 billion euros ($11.7 billion) to compensate companies hit by the latest shutdown.
Merkel said in her weekly video message, “we will not leave companies that face difficulties because of the current crisis through no fault of their own alone. We want to help quickly and unbureaucratically.”
On Saturday, the national disease centre, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 19,059 confirmed cases in the last 24 hours and 103 deaths. That’s up from the previous record set Friday of 18,681.
Germany’s total cases since the pandemic started has increased to 518,753 and its death toll to 10,452.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — A national rapid-testing program for the coronavirus has launched in Slovakia. The government aims to test anyone over 10 in the next two weekends.
The results of the free tests, which look for antigens, will be available within minutes. Those testing negative won’t have to abide by strict limits on movement imposed on citizens in the country of 5.4 million.
Some 5,000 testing sites have been established by the armed forces. Long lines of cars have already formed at the sites. Despite help from volunteers, some sites didn’t have enough medical personnel on Saturday, authorities say.
BEIJING — China has reported six new confirmed cases of coronavirus in an outbreak in Xinjiang, bringing the total in the far-west region to 51.
Six were in serious condition, Xinjiang health authorities said Saturday. Another 161 people have tested positive but show no symptoms.
The outbreak in Shufu county, near the city of Kashgar, appears to be linked to a garment factory that employs 252 people. It has been sealed off.
China has largely curbed the spread of the coronavirus but continues to see localized outbreaks with infections in the hundreds. The National Health Commission also reported 27 new cases among people who had arrived recently from overseas.
The total confirmed cases has reached 85,973 and 4,634 deaths. China does not include people without symptoms in its confirmed case count.
NEW DELHI — India has registered 48,268 confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, continuing a downward trend.
The Health Ministry on Saturday reported 551 more deaths, taking total confirmed deaths to 121,641. The figure raises the country’s total virus tally to more than 8.1 million, behind only the U.S., which has 9 million cases.
The slowdown in daily infections has held for more than a month, with fewer than 60,000 cases for nearly two weeks. Some experts say the trend suggests the virus may have finally reached a plateau in India. But others question the testing methods and warn a major festival due in a few weeks and the winter season could result in a new surge.
The capital of New Delhi, which recently became the worst-hit city in India, is already witnessing high air pollution levels. That may make fighting COVID-19 — a respiratory disease that effects the lungs — more complicated in months ahead.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — For the first time, Sri Lanka police have arrested dozens of people for not wearing masks and failing to maintain social distancing, under the new laws imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Police spokesman Ajith Rohana says 39 people were detained and another 221 were held for violating a curfew.
Since Thursday, the government has imposed the curfew in the entire Western province where new outbreaks at a garment factory and a main fish market were discovered in early October. It includes the capital Colombo, where nearly 30% of the 22 million population live.
Infections from the two clusters have grown to 6,945 by Saturday, including 633 in the last 24 hours. That brings the confirmed total to more than 10,000 cases and 19 deaths on the island nation.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia has announced it will spend 500 million Australian dollars ($351 million) to secure coronavirus vaccines for the Pacific and Southeast Asia “as part of a shared recovery for our region from the pandemic.”
The government says it would use a range of advance purchase agreements with manufacturers via the global COVAX Facility plan, which aims to ensure virus vaccines are shared with all nations.
“A fast, safe vaccine rollout … will mean we are able to return to more normal travel, tourism and trade with our key partners in the region.”
Meanwhile, officials in Victoria state reported just one new coronavirus case on Saturday as Melbourne residents head into a weekend of greater social freedom.
Figures from the state’s Health Department show an average of just 2.4 new cases per day for the past 14 days.
The easing of restrictions means families can visit each other at home. A 25-kilometre (15-mile) travel limit remains in place and outdoor gatherings are still capped at 10 people.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky reported a near-record number of coronavirus cases Friday as the surging outbreak sent more people to hospitals, Gov. Andy Beshear said.
“This is a dangerous time. We’re moving the wrong way,” the Democratic governor said as he urged Kentuckians to wear masks in public to protect themselves and others.
Beshear reported 1,941 new coronavirus cases — the second-highest statewide daily total since the pandemic began — and 15 more virus-related deaths. The state’s positivity rate reached 6.19% — the highest level since May 6, he says.
The recent surge has led to rising hospitalizations. On Friday, there were 974 patients hospitalized in Kentucky due to the virus and 241 patients in ICU with COVID-19.
Total statewide cases surpassed 105,000, and the virus-related death toll reached at least 1,476. The latest deaths included people ranging in age from 39 to 91.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Walt Disney World says it plans to lay off more than 11,000 unionized workers because of the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of pandemic-related job casualties at the Florida resort to almost 18,000 positions.
Disney World said in a letter to state and local leaders Thursday that the 11,350 union workers — mostly part-timers — will be laid off at the end of the year. Company officials previously had said that another 6,400 nonunion Disney employees in Florida would lose their jobs.
Earlier this week, 720 Disney World actors and singers were laid off since many of the live entertainment shows at the Florida resort have gone dark, according Actors’ Equity Association, the labour union representing the performers.
The layoffs are part of a decision by The Walt Disney Co. last month to eliminate 28,000 positions in its parks division in California and Florida because of the pandemic.
Disney’s parks closed last spring as the coronavirus began spreading in the U.S. The Florida parks reopened this summer with restrictions on how many people could be in the parks at any given time and new requirements for social distancing and mask-wearing. The California parks have yet to reopen because of restrictions by the state of California.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas counties that require masks have seen about half as many new coronavirus infections as counties that don’t mandate face coverings, a study has found, as cases statewide surged again to record levels.
“Do Masks Matter in Kansas” produced by the Institute for Policy and Social Research at the University of Kansas found that counties that require masks saw a decrease in their seven-day rolling average of daily cases per 100,000 population starting 14 days after the mandate was issued.
“Masks, it is important to note, do not eliminate COVID, but they significantly slow the spread of the disease — at least here in Kansas,” said Donna K. Ginther, the institute’s director, in a video presenting the study’s findings. The Institute for Policy and Social Research at the University of Kansas has been tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the state, The Kansas City Star reported.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly tried over the summer to issue a statewide mask mandate, but most of the state’s 105 counties opted out. This week, Kelly and top Republicans agreed to try to persuade counties that are coronavirus hot spots to impose mask requirements rather than having the state step in. But she said she could still call the Republican-controlled Legislature into special session to impose a statewide rule.
Counties without mask mandates have seen the seven-day rolling average of daily cases per 100,000 steadily increase. And in September, those counties started to have higher case rates compared to counties with a mask mandate, Ginther said.
“We found a 50% reduction in the spread of COVID-19 in counties that had a mask mandate compared to those without,” Ginther said.
NEW YORK CITY — The coronavirus can spread more extensively in households than previous research suggests, and kids can transmit it at about the same rate as adults do, according to a new study.
The study shows how important it is for people who test positive to isolate themselves within a home, and for them and everyone else to wear masks when they are in common areas, researchers said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study Friday. The researchers focused on 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin.
In each home, after a person was diagnosed, other household members agreed to undergo nasal swab or saliva tests and kept symptom diaries. Nearly 300 people participated. About 100 were identified as the first to be infected and the other 200 people lived with them.
About 53% of the household members tested positive, and most were diagnosed within five days of the time the first person got sick. Previous studies have estimated the secondary infection rate at around half that.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Three tigers at a Tennessee zoo are in quarantine after one tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Zoo Knoxville.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s national veterinary lab confirmed the positive test for Bashir, an 11-year-old male Malayan tiger, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
Two other tigers, 11-year-old male Tanvir and 6-year-old female Arya, are presumed positive while their tests are being processed. All three animals have experienced mild coughing, lethargy and decreased appetite.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota broke its record for coronavirus infections reported in one day on Friday with 1,560 positive tests.
That brought the number of cases statewide to 13,520, according to the Department of Health. That means nearly one out of every 65 people currently has an active infection.
The state has ranked second in the nation for new cases per capita over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. There were about 1,359 new cases per 100,000 people.
The Department of Health also reported 12 more deaths, bringing the total coronavirus deaths to 415. October has been the state’s deadliest month with 192 deaths.
The number of hospitalizations declined by 10 people to 403, breaking a run where hospitalizations hit new highs for five straight days. About 31% of general-care hospital beds and 37% of ICU beds remained available in the state.
BALTIMORE — The U.S. reached 9 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Confirmed U.S. cases are on the rise in 47 states on Friday.
It took two weeks to reach the mark from 8 million cases, the fastest increase of 1 million yet. It had taken more than three weeks to rise from 7 million to 8 million.
Deaths are up 14% in the past two weeks, averaging more than 800 every day. The coronavirus has killed more than 229,000 Americans.
The Associated Press