The Latest: Tokyo governor warns infections rising quickly
TOKYO — Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike says the spread of infections in the Japanese capital has escalated to levels tantamount to “issuing an alarm,” and requested residents and business owners to step up preventive measures.
Koike specifically urged restaurants, shops and nightclub operators to fulfill safety measures and urged customers to stay away from places that don't comply with guidelines.
Koike also asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to revise the law to authorize local governors to penalize business owners who violate requested safety measures.
She appealed to residents to avoid non-essential out-of-town trips, and to the government to “think carefully” if it’s an appropriate timing to push Abe's unpopular tourism campaign.
Experts on the Tokyo task force said infections are no longer limited to younger generations linked to nightlife districts.
The number of serious cases is not rising rapidly but hospital beds are quickly filling up and more are needed. Tokyo has had 8,189 confirmed cases and 325 deaths.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Rules once lifted are reimposed to try to curb new outbreaks
— First COVID-19 vaccine tested in US poised for final testing
— Trump administration rescinds rule on foreign students
— Cars have become mobile markets in Zimbabwe where enterprising residents are selling goods from their vehicles to cope with economic hardships caused by the coronavirus.
— The best referees are largely invisible, keeping order unobtrusively and letting the players decide the game. Hundreds of football players in London are learning that after COVID-19 took the life of Jermaine Wright, a 46-year-old referee and driving force in their league for more than 20 years.
— It’s a fresh taste of bitter medicine for New Orleans: A sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is forcing bars to shut down again just a month after they were allowed to partially reopen.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON — Authorities in the English town of Blackburn have imposed new restrictions on social mingling amid what they say is a “rising tide” of new coronavirus cases.
Director of Public Health Dominic Harrison says Blackburn’s infection rate is 47 per 100,000 people, one of the highest in the country.
He said Wednesday that the main issue is transmission within families, mostly in South Asian households. He told the BBC that “what we are seeing is a single case being infected, then going back to a household and all that household becoming infected.”
He said that as a result the borough was limiting the number of other people residents can visit, requiring face masks to be work in public places and sending mobile testing units out into the community.
Harrison said that if infection numbers did not fall by July 27, officials would begin to reimpose lockdown measures such as the closing of shops and other businesses.
Harrison said he hoped Blackburn would not have to impose a blanket local lockdown like one in the city of Leicester. The government ordered restaurants, pubs and non-essential shops to close there on June 30 after the infection rate surged to 157 cases per 100,000 residents.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government would assess Leicester’s lockdown on Thursday when the latest coronavirus data is out. He said the number of infections in the city was falling but remained “well above the rest of the country.”
Like Blackburn, Leicester has a large South Asian population. Statistics show that Britain’s ethnic minorities are more likely to contract the virus than their white counterparts. Experts point to a range of factors, including social inequality and the prevalence of underlying health conditions such as diabetes.
MOSCOW — Russian authorities have lifted mandatory two-week self-quarantine for those arriving as part of easing coronavirus restrictions.
Starting Wednesday, both Russian and international travelers will have to either provide coronavirus test results at the border or take a test within three days of arrival in Russia. Self-quaratine will remain mandatory for those who test positive for the virus or whose health deteriorates upon arrival.
It’s one of several steps in an effort to reopen the country after health officials started reporting a slowdown in infections. Last month, authorities allowed travel abroad for the purpose of work, studying, medical treatment or taking care of relatives. They also let foreigners with work permits or those seeking medical treatment or taking care of family members into the country.
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said Russia may resume international flights starting Wednesday, adding that the final decision would depend on the outcome of negotiations with other countries.
On Tuesday night, Belarus Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko announced reopening of the border with Russia and resuming transport ties between the two countries “in the coming days.” Russia has so far reported over 746,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
ATHENS, Greece — Stricter health checks have gone into effect at Greece’s border with Bulgaria following an increase in tourism-related COVID-19 cases.
Starting Wednesday, all incoming travelers crossing the border are required to carry negative test results, issued in the previous 72 hours and translated into English.
The new rules saw a drop in arrivals compared to recent days early Wednesday. The Promachonas-Kulata border with Bulgaria is the only crossing that has been open for non-essential travel after lockdown measures were eased.
Also Wednesday, plans to lift a ban on direct flights from the U.K. officially went into effect with services due to resume Thursday.
Health experts advising the government want tougher enforcement of health safety rules, warning that public compliance is low after months of strict lockdown.
Dozens of health care workers staged a protest outside the prime minister’s office to demand better staffing at public hospitals due to the pandemic.
NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus caseload is approaching 1 million with a surge of 29,429 in the past 24 hours, prompting authorities to reimpose lockdowns in high-risk areas in nearly a dozen states.
The new confirmed cases took the national total to 936,181. The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported another 582 deaths for a total to 24,309.
A two-week lockdown was imposed Wednesday in eastern Bihar state, where nearly 2.5 million migrant workers have returned home after losing jobs in other parts of the country and further spread the virus.
India’s key southern technology hub, Bangalore, where the offices of Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are located, was also put under a weeklong lockdown Wednesday.
About a dozen other states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam, have also put high-risk areas in lockdown, allowing only essential food supplies and health services.
India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said he expected the coronavirus cases to peak in various parts of the country at different times. He said more than 280,000 samples are being tested every day in the country, taking the total to nearly 12 million.
BEIJING — China is further easing restrictions on domestic tourism after reporting no new local cases of COVID-19 in nine days.
A directive from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism dated Tuesday said that tourist sites should allow 50 percent of their daily visitor capacity, up from 30 percent, and that interprovince group tours should be resumed.
The National Health Commission said that six new cases were recorded Tuesday, all in people who had arrived from overseas. It has not reported any domestic cases since an outbreak in Beijing that infected more than 330 people before it faded early this month.
China has reported 83,611 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths since the outbreak began. It does not include people who test positive but show no symptoms in its case count.
MELBOURNE, Australia -- The leader of Australia’s worst-hit state says police were cracking down on a coronavirus lockdown in the nation’s second-largest city.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday warned that restrictions would be increased unless the spread was contained in Melbourne.
“If ... people do not do the right thing, then we will have to move to additional restrictions being put in place and we will have to prolong the period that those restrictions are in place,” Andrews said.
The Australian military is bolstering police numbers at checkpoints. Police were scanning license plates to determine drivers’ addresses and whether they were subjected to stay-at-home orders.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said 238 new cases detected in the latest 24-hour period could be the start of a stabilization in the spread since Melbourne and part of its surrounds were last week locked down for a second time for six weeks.
Sutton did not know whether new restrictions would likely entail spreading existing rules beyond Melbourne or tightening existing restrictions in Melbourne.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday outlined her government plans to contain future community outbreaks in New Zealand.
The South Pacific nation has not recorded a community spread virus case in 75 days. Its two new cases recorded Wednesday and all 27 of its active cases are people quarantined after foreign travel.
Ardern said a system of local or regional lockdowns would be used if community spread occurs and a national lockdown would only be considered as a last resort. Local lockdowns might involve buildings, suburbs or a city.
“Our priority will be to control any cases with the least intrusive measures and over the smallest area we can,” Ardern said. “No one wants to go backwards but the reality is our fight against the virus is not over and we must have a plan at the ready to protect our current position if it comes back.”
Since New Zealand stopped community spread and lifted its lockdown, life has returned largely to normal with schools, bars and restaurants all open and with packed stadiums at sports events.
SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico health officials are reporting an additional 227 COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to more than 15,500 since the coronavirus outbreak began.
The latest figures released Tuesday show Bernalillo County, which includes the state’s most populous metro area, added another 65 confirmed cases.
Health officials also reported three additional deaths, bringing that total to 551. Those deaths include a McKinley County man and San Juan County woman, both in the their 30s, who had underlying conditions.
New Mexico has been added to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut’s quarantine list because it’s among those states with growing infection rates.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas voters have returned to the polls as the state reports a record number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in a single day.
The short ballot of primary runoff elections Tuesday included a big race to determine Texas’ Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. In San Antonio, elections officials say they were unable to staff a handful of polling locations because some poll workers feared getting the virus.
Texas reported nearly 10,800 new cases and 87 new deaths. The rate of positive cases also climbed to nearly 17%, which was also a new high.
Primary runoff elections are typically low turnout in Texas. Election officials in many of the state’s big cities reported short lines, and some equipped polling places with social distancing measures and disposable gloves for voters to use.
The primary runoff in Texas was originally set for May but pushed back because of concerns over the virus.
CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan officials say new coronavirus cases have surpassed 10,000 nationwide, with an alarming number of recent illnesses found in the capital of Caracas.
President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday ordered strict enforcement of quarantine measures in Caracas where most of the 303 new daily cases were diagnosed.
Venezuela has been in a nationwide quarantine for 121 days starting shortly after the first cases were diagnosed in mid-March. Officials report fewer than 100 deaths.
The South American nation hasn’t been overrun by the virus like neighboring Brazil and Ecuador, which experts attribute to the Venezuela’s isolation after years of economic and social crisis.
Maduro doesn’t consider Caracas a focal point, but he says the recent surge in the capital and neighboring state of Miranda has “set off an alarm.”
SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah tallied 10 more confirmed deaths from the coronavirus Tuesday, the latest sign showing the severity of a surge of case that began after businesses reopened in May.
The Utah Health Department reported that six of the deaths came in rural San Juan County in the southeast corner of the state, including three at an assisted living facility.
Utah has now recorded 226 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and nearly 30,500 confirmed cases.
Case counts have more than doubled since mid-May when state leaders allowed some businesses to reopen, with an average of 636 per day over the last seven days.
LAS VEGAS -- Nevada officials say a record high in the daily number of positive COVID-19 tests in the state may be the result of people failing to wear masks and keep distances apart during the Independence Day holiday.
State coronavirus response chief Caleb Cage said Tuesday a resurgence in hospitalizations continues less than a week after Gov. Steve Sisolak cited a spike in cases and again closed bars and restaurants in the Las Vegas and Reno areas.
The more than 1,100 new cases reported statewide on Tuesday brings the total to nearly 30,000. Cage blamed the Fourth of July weekend.
PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland Public Schools has set a tentative Sept. 14 start date for the 2020-21 academic year, but the state’s largest district will only have students attend in-person classes two days per week, if at all.
Students and families should be ready to go online beginning Sept. 2, as teachers will offer individual consultations and technology checks, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Under the proposed reopening plan, educators will spend two weeks training in how to use online learning tools and helping students and their families adjust to long-term distance learning.
Portland Public Schools is also developing a full-time distance learning program for families who opt to keep their children home. District officials say all students may need to move back to digital learning if coronavirus cases spike.
WASHINGTON-- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, offered encouragement--tinged by firsthand experience--to young people on doing their part in separating politics from science as they navigate life in the age of coronavirus.
“Do your thing, and don’t get involved in any of the political nonsense, that’s a waste of time, and a distraction,” Fauci advised students during a virtual forum Tuesday, hosted by Georgetown University’s Global Health Initiative,
Fauci has been increasingly sidelined by the White House as he sounds alarms about the virus, a message that White House officials have become hostile to as President Donald Trump focuses on pushing an economic rebound.
Fauci, asked by a students how to separate politics from the science, said it’s very tough for young people to have an impact on depoliticization of the virus “except by not being part of the politicization.”
He added it was important that young people remind each other that in protecting oneself from the virus that “it doesn’t matter who you are, what you are--you’re Republican, Democrat, anybody else.”