The Latest: S. Korea has smallest rise in cases in 2 months

Health

A resident stands still as a healthcare worker dressed in full protective gear measures his temperature during a new coronavirus testing drive in the Villa Dolores neighborhood of El Alto, Bolivia, Saturday, July 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported its smallest daily jump in local COVID-19 transmissions in two months as health authorities express cautious optimism that the outbreak is being brought under control.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday still reported 26 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including 22 that were tied to international arrivals.

Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said during a virus briefing that the four local transmissions represented the first time that such infections came below 10 since May 19. He continued to plead for vigilance, encouraging people to avoid crowded places or even stay at home during the summer holiday period.

Officials consider imported cases as a lesser threat than local transmissions because the country is mandating COVID-19 tests and enforcing two-week quarantines on all people arriving from abroad.

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

— Facing uncertain fal l, schools make flexible reopening plans

— Governments are reassessing their coronavirus responses, with the mayor of Los Angeles saying the city reopened too quickly and Hong Kong issuing tough new rules on face masks.

—How the coronavirus spread through an immigration facility

— Major companies are keeping employees in the dark on how prevalent the coronairus is in warehouses, stores and plants. That’s led workers to sleuth out what’s happening in their workplaces.

— France’s most worrisome virus hot spo t is on the northern coast of South America: French Guiana, a territory of about 300,000 people where poverty is rampant and health care is scarce.

— The Blue Jays won’t play their home games in Toronto this year because Canada’s government doesn’t think it’s safe for players to travel back and forth from the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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:

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state recorded a third daily COVID-19 tally below a record 428 cases reported last week, but the state government leader said on Monday it was too early to tell what impact a second lockdown was having.

Since 428 cases were reported on Friday, Victoria has recorded 217, 363 and 275 cases on consecutive days.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews expected to know on Wednesday what impact a lockdown on Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne and the neighoring semi-rural Mitchell Shire were having. The six-week lockdown will be two weeks old on Wednesday.

“It is a wicked enemy, it is unstable and until we bring some stability to this, I don’t think we’ll be able to talk about a trend,” Andrews said. “I’m certainly much happier to be able to report a lower number than a high one.”

Victoria had conducted more than 1.3 million coronavirus tests among a population of 6.5 million, which represented one of the highest testing rates in the world, he said.

Most students in the lockdown regions returned to online schooling at home after an extended vacation.

A retired judge began an inquiry on Monday into breaches of hotel quarantine in Melbourne that have been blamed for most if not all the new virus spread. Australian citizens and permanent residents are required to self-isolate in hotels for 14 days when they return from overseas.

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BEIJING — Numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang continue to rise. Another 17 cases were reported on Monday, bringing the total in China’s latest outbreak to at least 47.

One of the 17 new cases reported on Monday was in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, the regional government said on its official microblog. The remainder were in the regional capital of Urumqi, where all other cases have been reported since the outbreak emerged earlier this month.

Another five cases were brought from outside the country, according to the National Health Commission.

No new deaths were reported, leaving the total at 4,634 among 83,682 cases, and 249 people remain in treatment. Another 158 people were being monitored in isolation for showing signs of having the virus or for testing positive without displaying symptoms.

China had largely contained local transmission of the virus before the Urumqi outbreak and has taken swift action to bring it under control, cutting subway, bus and taxi service, closing some communities, imposing travel restrictions and ordering widespread testing.

Beijing meanwhile, has gone 14 days without a case of local transmission and city authorities on Sunday said they were downgrading the emergency response level from two to three. Hong Kong, meanwhile, has seen a spike in cases, with more than 100 reported on Sunday. That has prompted the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city to reimpose measures including closing indoor entertainment venues and public libraries, and imposing additional quarantine measures on travelers arriving from seven countries where the risk of infection is considered especially high, including South Africa.

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reported 979 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, a daily record that he said should be a “wake-up call” for the state’s citizens to abide by mask and social distancing restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.

The Democratic governor announced the new cases, including 30 involving children 5 years old or younger, in a news release on Sunday.

“I have faith and I have trust in the people of Kentucky,” Beshear said. “But today and in the days ahead we’ve got to do a whole lot better. We’re going to have to take some more action.”

Beshear said there were at least 23,161 coronavirus cases in Kentucky as of 4 p.m., including the new cases reported on Sunday. The state’s public health commissioner said efforts would be made to confirm the accuracy of the results with some of the laboratories that submitted them.

“We typically have limited reporting on Sunday which makes today’s record-setting number of positives particularly alarming,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department of Public Health.

Beshear also reported three new deaths, raising the total to 670 Kentuckians lost to the virus.

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LAS VEGAS — Officials say Las Vegas-area hospitals are adding beds and staff to accommodate an increasing number of COVID-19 patients.

The Clark County fire chief says hospital occupancy isn’t high enough activate a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to use the Las Vegas Convention Center for up to 900 patients. But the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that hospitals in Clark County added 441 staffed beds as of Thursday, and the Nevada Hospital Association says another 49 have been added in other parts of the state.

The intensive care unit at the state’s only public hospital was 95% occupied as of Wednesday, with about one in three of those patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

State health officials report that 35,765 people have tested positive for the virus statewide and at least 647 have died.

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PHOENIX — Arizona health officials are reporting 31 more deaths from the coronavirus. State Department of Health Services data shows the statewide death toll due to COVID-19 is 2,761 as of Sunday. There have been more than 143,600 confirmed cases.

Gov. Doug Ducey lifted stay-home orders and other restrictions in May and the state became a national hot spot for reported cases. In June, Ducey authorized local governments to impose mask requirements to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and many have done so.

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Normally, Potions in Motions catering company would be in high gear for summer weddings, graduations and corporate events, averaging 25 to 35 a week at their peak and serving 2,000 to 3,000 people.

But this summer, with South Florida’s three counties imposing various restrictions on group gatherings, they’re down to “micro-events,” averaging two to five a week with 8 to 15 people. They’ve had to cut most of their staff. At peak season, they have 65, but now are down to six.

“We’re trying to just stay alive and keep as many people employed,” the company’s founder Jason Savino said. “They’re making so many restrictions by county. You can’t even have a gathering of more than 10 people in your house.”

He understands the need to make changes to curb the spread of the virus, but worries about the economic impact.

“The dialing back scares me,” he said. “There’s no support coming from any government or anywhere that are accommodating these businesses that are being ordered to dial their business back.”

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LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti conceded Sunday that Los Angeles eased COVID-19 restrictions too quickly and again warned that the city was “on the brink” of new shutdown orders as the coronavirus continues to surge in California.

Appearing on CNN, Garcetti was asked about an LA Times editorial that criticized the rapid reopening of California — which was followed by a spike in new COVID-19 cases.

Garcetti said the decisions were made at the state and county levels, but said that LA officials wouldn’t hesitate to implement new stay-at-home orders if the numbers don’t turn around.

California on Saturday reported its fourth-highest daily total of new confirmed cases.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana officials said Sunday they have suspended an emergency rent assistance program to help those hurt by the COVID-19 economic slowdown because they were quickly overwhelmed with applicants.

They said more than 40,000 people had begun the application process in less than four days. The Lousiana Housing Corportation had estimated it had enough money to help about 10,000 tenants, with money paid directly to landlords.

The Corporation had set aside $24 million of federal money for the program and says it will try to find more money after the flood of applications.

When the program was announced Thursday, housing advocates said it was a good start, but was far too little money, especially with the $600-per-week federal unemployment payments expiring at the end of the month.

“The response to our state’s emergency rental assistance program proves how significant the economic burden of COVID-19 is for our citizens,” Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement.

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HILLSDALE, Mich — A small conservative college in southern Michigan has defied warnings from state public health officials during the coronavirus pandemic by hosting an in-person graduation ceremony.

Hillsdale College held graduation Saturday evening, capping days of celebrations, according to The Detroit News.

“COVID obviously was a concern,” said David Betz, whose son, Christian, graduated. “For a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to come, it was well worth it.”

The college of about 1,500 students had expected more than 2,000 people at the event, though school officials declined to discuss actual attendance numbers. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel had called the gathering illegal at a time when with public gatherings are capped at 100 people.

Health officials had said the event, drawing people to restaurants and hotels, put the HIllsdale city community of about 8,000 people at risk.

School officials said graduation is an important milestone and safety precautions were taken, including wearing masks. The liberal arts college has connections to top Republicans. Vice President Mike Pence gave 2018′s commencement address.

Michigan has reported more than 73,000 confirmed COVID-19 with more than 6,100 deaths.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina has set another record for newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases in a single day.

Sunday saw 2,335 people newly diagnosed with COVID-19, the South Carolina Deparment of Health and Environmental Control reported.

South Carolina has reported 2,000 new cases three times since the virus was first detected in the state in March. All have been in the past eight days. The state has spent much of the past month in the top four in the nation for new COVID-19 cases when adjusted by population.

Health officials also reported 19 new deaths Sunday, bringing the death toll to 1,138 people.

But one key statistic has been missing from the public over the weekend. Health officials said they are unable to release how many people are hospitalized with COVID-19 because the state is following a federal request to change how it reports hospitalizations.

South Carolina reported a daily record 1,593 people in the hospital with the virus Friday, the last day figures were available.

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ROME — The Italian region that includes Rome is warning citizens that local lockdowns might have to be ordered if there are more clusters of coronavirus infections.

Lazio Region Health Commissioner Alessio D’Amato said 17 new COVID-19 cases were registered on Sunday, 10 of them “imported” from other countries when foreign residents returned to Italy. Many of the Rome area’s recent cases have been among returning workers from Bangladesh.

“I appeal for the use of masks, otherwise, we’ll have to close down again” with restrictive measures on citizens’ activities and movements outside of homes, D’Amato said.

“We can’t turn back and waste all the efforts done till now,” D’Amato pleaded in a Facebook post.

Lazio’s increases were included in Italy’s 219 new cases, raising to 244,434, the number of confirmed infections since the outbreak began. Italy’s known death toll on Sunday stood at 35,045, with the confirmation of three more deaths.

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SAN DIEGO — Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego was the site of the first big outbreak at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 221 detention centers. In interviews with The Associated Press, workers and detainees reveal shortcomings in how the private company that manages the center handled the disease: There was an early absence of facial coverings, and a lack of cleaning supplies. Symptomatic detainees were mixed with others.

Some workers at the center quit; the Mexican consul general, responding to complaints from detainees, raised concerns about how the facility handled the outbreak.

Other centers would follow with their own outbreaks, and a Homeland Security Department internal watchdog survey of 188 detention centers taken in mid-April echoed some of what The Associated Press found at Otay Mesa: 19% of facility directors said there weren’t enough standard surgical masks, 32% said there weren’t enough N95 respirator masks, and 37% felt there wasn’t enough hand sanitizer for detainees.

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is assuring his closeness to all those grappling with COVID-19 and its “economic and social consequences.”

Speaking on Sunday from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Francis said that “the pandemic is showing no sign of stopping.”

He said he was thinking in particular about all those whose suffering in the pandemic is worsened by conflicts.

Citing a recent U.N. Security Council resolution, he renewed his appeal for a worldwide, immediate cease-fire that he said “will permit the peace and security indispensable to supplying the necessary humanitarian assistance.”

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has suspended flights to Iran and Afghanistan because of the coronavirus outbreak, Turkey’s Transport Ministry said Sunday.

In a brief statement, the ministry said the flights were halted “as part of the Covid-19 process”.

Turkey previously shut down air travel with its neighbor Iran in February while Afghanistan suspended all flights in March.

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’ health minister says there’s concern that coronavirus-infected migrants could be seeping through the ethnically divided island nation’s porous cease-fire line.

Minister Constantinos Ioannou on Sunday pointed to “a problem” after a number of migrants who recently crossed from the breakaway north to seek asylum in the internationally recognized south have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Ioannou said the government had ordered two months ago that all migrants undergo testing for the virus before they enter reception centers for processing.

Reportedly at least eight Syrian migrants who crossed southward in the last week tested positive for the virus.

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HONG KONG — Hong Kong is tightening anti-coronavirus measures following a recent surge in cases. The wearing of masks will be mandatory in all public places and nonessential civil servants will again work from home.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam introduced the measures on Sunday, saying the situation in the Asian financial hub is “really critical” and that she sees “no sign” that it’s under control.

Travelers flying to Hong Kong from areas where the risk of infection is considered particularly severe will have to show a negative coronavirus test before boarding their flight, undergo another test upon arrival and undergo a 14-day quarantine in a hotel. Previously, those arriving could quarantine themselves at home. The nations included in the new regulation were given as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa.

Hong Kong had appeared to have largely contained the coronavirus, but new cases reported last week have brought the city’s total to 1,777, including 12 deaths.

China, which runs Hong Kong as a semi-autonomous region, has ordered all arrivals from Hong Kong to be quarantined for two weeks, sharply reducing the volume of cross-border traffic.

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NEW DELHI — A record 24-hour surge of 38,902 new cases has taken India’s coronavirus total to 1,077,618.

The Health Ministry on Sunday also reported 543 additional deaths for a total of 26,816.

The number of people who have recovered continues to grow. The Health Ministry data shows 677,422 patients have been cured so far across the country, putting the recovery rate at 62.82%.

Experts say India is likely to witness a series of peaks as the infection spread in rural areas.

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistani authorities reported 1,579 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest number in more than a month, as health officials plan to resume a much-awaited nationwide anti-polio campaign next week.

Authorities conducted 22,559 tests in the past 24 hours. The additional cases bring to 263,500 the total number of confirmed infections, out of which 53,652 are active. Pakistan has reported 5,568 deaths.

The improvement in infections coincides with Monday’s three-day anti-polio drive that aims to reach 800,000 children.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries where polio — a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the polio virus — is still endemic.

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Johns Hopkins University says the global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 600,000.

The university’s tally as of Saturday night says the United States tops the list with 140,103 deaths. It is followed by 78,772 fatalities in Brazil and 45,358 in the United Kingdom.

The number of confirmed infections worldwide has passed 14.2 million, out of which 3.7 million are in the United States. There are over 2 million in Brazil and more than 1 million in India.

The World Health Organization again reported a single-day record of new infections with 259,848.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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