The Latest: France to test some 1.3 million near Paris
PARIS — France is stepping up efforts to root out hidden clusters of coronavirus infections by offering tests to nearly 1.3 million people in the Paris region.
The expansion of France’s testing program was announced Thursday by the health minister, Olivier Véran, in an interview with the newspaper Le Monde. Health authorities will send out coupons that people can exchange for a test.
“The aim is to identify any sleeping clusters, that’s to say invisible concentrations of asymptomatic people,” Veran was quoted as saying.
The minister said France is also arming itself for the possibility of a second wave of infections, reconstituting its stocks of medicines and making plans to be able to treat 30,000 people in intensive care if necessary.
France had more than 7,000 patients in intensive care at the peak in April of its outbreak that has killed nearly 30,000 people. That figure is now down to under 700.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Governments and businesses are ramping up precautions as coronavirus case numbers rise to dire new levels, potentially wiping out two months of progress.
— Infections are climbing rapidly among young Americans, a generational shift that puts them in greater peril than many realize and endangers older people who cross their paths.
— New York, Connecticut and New Jersey ask visitors from states with high coronavirus infection rates to quarantine in an announcement made as summer travel would normally swing into high gear.
— Australia’s Qantas airline plans to cut at least 6,000 jobs and keep 15,000 more workers on extended furloughs as it tries to survive the pandemic.
— The return of Major League Baseball in late July will be a 60-game sprint played in empty ballparks under unusual rules.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic has registered its highest day-to-day increase of COVID-19 cases in more than two months.
As the government has been easing its restrictive measures, the number of new coronavirus infections reached 127 on Wednesday.
It’s the biggest increase since April 21, when it was 133.
The Czech Republic has had 10,780 people infected since the pandemic started while 344 have died, according to Health Ministry figures released on Thursday.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government will seek to extend a law granting emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to deal with the pandemic as the threat of future outbreaks remains.
Congress granted Duterte extra powers in March that included the authority to realign huge budgets to provide aid to millions of poor families and make emergency medical purchases under the law, which expired this week.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte plans to call a special session of Congress to pass a law extending his powers.
The Philippines has reported nearly 32,300 infections, including more than 1,200 deaths, among the highest in Southeast Asia.
JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s coronavirus cases have surged to more than 336,000, an increase of nearly 10,000 infections from Wednesday evening.
That’s according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The jump is largely due to South Africa announcing its largest daily number of new cases: 5,688.
The Africa CDC chief says the pandemic on the 54-nation continent “is picking up speed very quickly” while shortages of testing materials and medical equipment remain severe in many countries.
More than 4 million tests for the virus have been conducted on the continent of 1.3 billion people, far short of the ideal.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has more than 22,000 cases amid concerns that many infections there and elsewhere might not be recorded.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s daily COVID-19 testing has dropped by about a third in a matter of days, even as the country is being urged to increase testing.
The 21,835 tests conducted in the last 24 hours until Thursday morning was down nearly 10,000 from a high of more than 31,000 tests less than one week ago.
In a letter to the government earlier this month, The World Health Organization said Pakistan should increase its testing to 50,000 daily, while urging the government to tighten lockdowns.
The decline in the daily testing numbers in the past week have been accompanied by lower daily infection numbers as a result.
Pakistan had been seeing increasingly high daily infection statistics, as WHO and medical professionals pleaded with the government to restrict movement. Prime Minister Imran Khan has resisted, saying the country’s fragile economy would collapse, hurting the poorest.
Pakistan has recorded 192,970 infections.
The health care system has a shortage of critical care beds, and hospitals have begun turning away patients. The government has warned that without precautions like wearing masks in public, the infection rate could soar to 1.2 million by August.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has posted its highest daily number of coronavirus cases with 5,688 as the province that includes Johannesburg, Gauteng, now has nearly a quarter of the country’s infections.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s most industrialized country continues to loosen what had been one of the world’s toughest lockdowns under economic pressure.
The hot spot of Western Cape province centered on Cape Town, which once made up a third of cases, now has less than half but some health facilities are straining.
More than 2,200 people have died of COVID-19 in South Africa, whose 111,796 cases make up more than a third of infections on the African continent. Africa now has more than 326,000 overall.
DUBAI — The skyscraper-studded city of Dubai has ended its monthslong nightly curfew set over the coronavirus pandemic.
The city-state in the United Arab Emirates made the announcement in a tweet from the government’s Dubai Media Office late Wednesday.
It said there would be “free move all day & night” as long as people wore masks and maintained social distancing.
However, the emirate also reportedly shut down all bars and pubs Tuesday after briefly allowing them to reopen, cutting into lucrative alcohol sales. Dubai police, which oversees alcohol sales, and government officials did not respond to requests for comment.
The curfew began in late March and for a while involved a 24-hour lockdown in which people needed police permission to move on the street.
A nighttime curfew in Abu Dhabi similarly lifted, though the sheikhdom remains closed off to other emirates over the pandemic.
NEW DELHI — India has counted another record daily high in new virus cases as New Delhi grew to its worst-hit city.
India registered 16,922 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the national total to 473,105. The Health Ministry on Thursday also reported 418 more deaths, taking fatalities up to 14,894. The ministry said the recovery rate was continuing to improve at 56%.
With New Delhi causing a major concern with 70,390 cases, authorities have decided to carry out a house-to-house screening in the capital over the next two weeks.
Officials will go to each household to record each resident’s health details and test those who show or report symptoms.
New Delhi’s government has projected that cases in the capital area alone could expand to more than half a million by late July, and is considering taking over luxury hotels and stadiums to convert into field hospitals.
Armed forces personnel are providing medical care and attention to coronavirus patients kept in railroad coaches that have been turned into medical wards at nine locations in the Indian capital.
HONOLULU — Starting Aug. 1, travelers arriving in Hawaii from out of state may bypass a 14-day quarantine requirement if they test negative for COVID-19.
Since late March, Hawaii has been requiring travelers from outside the islands to stay in their hotel rooms or homes for two weeks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The move has helped keep down disease numbers but has also contributed to the collapse of the tourism industry and sent unemployment soaring.
The plan announced Wednesday is modeled after Alaska’s, which allows travelers to avoid quarantine if they take a test within 72 hours before arrival and test negative. If the test result is not available upon arrival, travelers must stay in quarantine until the result is known.
Gov. David Ige hasn’t yet set a time limit for when the tests will need to be done, but he said 72 hours was reasonable.
“People do need to get back to work, but it must be done in a manner that protects the health of our community,” Ige said at a news conference.
Hawaii the lowest per capita infection rate of any U.S. state. As of Wednesday, the islands have had 835 cases and 17 deaths.
SYDNEY — Australian health workers will go door-to-door testing more than 100,000 residents in a coronavirus hot spot in suburban Melbourne that is threatening to undo the nation’s success in battling the virus.
Victoria state on Thursday reported 33 new cases, the highest daily number in more than two months.
Premier Daniel Andrews says the testing aims to collect samples from half of all residents in 10 suburbs. He says the goal is to test 10,000 people daily over 10 days. The tests are free and Andrews is urging people to see undergoing testing as a civic duty.
More than 1,000 military personnel are helping with the operation, while other states will help process the test results.
Australia has reported more than 7,500 cases of the virus, including 104 deaths.
DAKAR, Senegal — Senegal’s national television says President Macky Sall is going into quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The report late Wednesday said the 58-year-old Sall tested negative for a virus infection earlier in the day but will still self isolate. The report didn’t identify the person who exposed the president. A month ago Sall’s brother was treated for the virus.
The news comes as concern mounts about COVID-19 in the West African nation, which now has more than 6,000 confirmed cases and 93 deaths. Four of the fatalities were announced Wednesday.
The rise in cases comes after Senegal lifted restrictions on movement between cities and shortened the nightly curfew.
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak says the state will begin mandating the use of face-coverings in public places in an effort to stem a rise in coronavirus cases four weeks after casinos, restaurants and other businesses started reopening.
Nevada has reported more than 14,300 coronavirus cases and 494 deaths from COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.
The governor says Nevada residents must make face coverings “a routine part of our daily life” in order to keep businesses open and people safe.
Nevada joins several states, including California, Washington and North Carolina, in mandating face coverings.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 28 more coronavirus cases as the country strives to suppress a resurgence of the virus, mostly in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.
The figures released Thursday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bring the country’s total to 12,563 cases, with 282 deaths. The agency says 10,974 people have recovered, while 1,307 patients are still in COVID-19 treatment.
South Korea has seen an uptick in infections since easing its strict social distancing rules. But the daily increase hasn’t reached the level of late February and early March, when South Korea saw hundreds of new cases every day.
Most of recent cases have been associated with nightlife establishments, church gatherings, a huge e-commerce warehouse and door-to-door sellers.
BEIJING — China has reported 19 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus amid mass testing in Beijing, where a recent outbreak appears to have been brought under control.
Of the new cases reported Thursday, 13 were in Beijing and one in the neighboring province of Hebei. Officials say the other five were brought by Chinese travelers from outside the country. No new deaths were reported.
China has reported 4,634 deaths among 83,4449 cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
This month’s outbreak in Beijing saw 249 people infected, most of them with links to the city’s biggest wholesale market. Since then, 3 million test samples have been taken from 2.43 million people in the city.
NEW YORK — Three Northeast governors are installing restrictions on travelers from states with increasing COVID-19 cases.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced the restrictions, which require travelers from certain states to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
The quarantine applies to people coming from states with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average, or with a 10% or higher positive rate over seven days.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says his state was mistakenly included on the list. Washington’s recent positive test rate was about 6%.
The New York-dated item has been corrected with the quarantine lasting 14 days, not 24.