The Latest: WHO says COVID-19 seems to lack seasonal pattern
LONDON (AP) — The emergencies chief for the World Health Organization said that COVID-19 doesn’t seem to follow the seasonal patterns that some viruses exhibit, making it harder to control.
Unlike other respiratory viruses like influenza that spread mainly in the winter, the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in the summer. That’s despite earlier predictions from some scientists and politicians it would fade in the heat.
“This virus has demonstrated no seasonal pattern as such,” said Dr. Michael Ryan at a press briefing on Monday. “What it has clearly demonstrated is that if you take the pressure off the virus, the virus bounces back,” he said. Ryan said the U.N. health agency continues to advise countries even where COVID-19 appears to be under control, such as those in Europe, to maintain measures to slow virus spread.
He called for countries where transmission remains intense, such as Brazil, to adopt measures so that communities have the necessary support they need to implement strategies like social distancing, wearing masks, and self-isolating if they have symptoms.
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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s health minister says new measures will be announced to curb the spread of the coronavirus, after an alarming spike in the number of new daily confirmed cases and the number of people severely ill with Covid-19.
Speaking after a meeting with health and government officials Monday, Vassilis Kikilias appealed to Greeks, particularly to young people, to ensure they adhere to protective measures such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance.
New daily confirmed infections have been above 150 for the past four days, with 203 new cases announced on Sunday, compared to 152 the previous day.
“Unfortunately, the transmission of the virus presents dangerously increasing tendencies,” Kikilias said. “Once more I appeal to young people and to citizens who are not adhering to personal protective measures ... to consider their responsibility toward vulnerable groups, our other citizens and toward the country.”
Greece currently has 5,623 confirmed coronavirus cases and 212 deaths, with 22 people intubated in intensive care units.
NEW DELHI — India has registered a record 1,007 fatalities in the past 24 hours as new coronavirus infections surged by 62,064 cases.
The Health Ministry says the total fatalities reached 44,386 on Monday.
The number of positive cases reported so far are 2,215,074. At least 634,935 patients were still undergoing treatment.
India has recorded more than 60,000 cases of the virus daily in the last four days and more infections than any other country in the world for six consecutive days. It has averaged around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June.
Infections in India remain concentrated in 10 states that contribute nearly 80% of the new cases.
India has the third-highest caseload in the world after the United States and Brazil. It has the fifth-most deaths but its fatality rate of about 2% is far lower than the top two hardest-hit countries.
LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization predicted that the number of people infected by the coronavirus will hit 20 million this week, including about 750,000 deaths.
In a briefing on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that “behind these statistics there is a great deal of pain and suffering” but said there were still “green shoots of hope” no matter what stage in an outbreak a country or region might be. He offered no new strategies to combat the virus but said again that “leaders must step up to take action and citizens need to embrace new measures,” pointing to New Zealand as an example for the world. The country recently marked 100 days with no local spread of the virus.
Tedros said that recently adopted measures in countries including Britain and France, which have imposed targeted lockdowns and mask-wearing strategies in the last week, were a good example of specific strategies needed to curb a new upsurge in cases.
BERLIN — The head of the German Teachers’ Association is calling for coronavirus masks to be made compulsory in the classroom.
Heinz-Peter Meidinger told the newspaper Passauer Neue Presse that “whoever wants full lessons can’t avoid compulsory masks.”
In an interview published Monday, Meidinger pointed out that most of Germany’s 16 states require basic mouth and nose coverings in supermarkets, public transport and at large events, but not in schools.
So far, only Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, requires students and teachers to wear masks during lessons, though some others are considering such a move.
In Berlin, where students return to school Monday, masks are only required outside the classroom.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka reopened schools Monday, nearly five months after shutting them to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The government decision says state-run schools and government-approved private schools were to reopen in stages.
Students in grades 5, 10, 11, 12 and 13 should attend daily to prepare for government exams. Students in grades 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 must attend once a week while students in grades 4 and 9 must come two days per week.
The arrangement will continue until Oct. 9 when the school holiday is expected to start.
Schools were shut in mid-March when Sri Lanka detected its first COVID-19 patient, but health authorities say the outbreak has been under control in the Indian Ocean island nation.
Sri Lanka health officials say they have prevented community spread of the virus and current patients are tied to two known clusters.
The country has reported 2,841 patients with 11 deaths.
BEIJING — New locally transmitted cases of coronavirus in China fell to just 14 over the past 24 hours, the National Health Commission reported Monday. The low figure was offset, however, by 35 cases brought into the country by Chinese travelers from overseas.
All the cases of local transmission were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose main city Urumqi is the center of China’s latest outbreak. Tightened restrictions on travel, widespread testing and a lockdown on some residential communities appear to have been effective in bringing down numbers of new infections in Urumqi, while a separate outbreak in the northeastern city of Dalian seems to have run its course.
Chinese hospitals are currently treating 802 people for COVID-19, 41 of them in serious condition, while another 290 people are under observation while being isolated for showing signs of having the virus or for testing positive without displaying symptoms. China has reported a total of 4,634 fatalities from the disease among 84,668 cases.
Hong Kong reported another 72 cases and five deaths as it continues to battle a new wave of infections with tightened rules on indoor dining and obligatory mask wearing in public settings. The semi-autonomous southern Chinese city has reported 52 deaths among 4,079 total cases.
SYDNEY — Australia has reported fewer new daily cases from its virus hotspot in the city of Melbourne than on any single day since last month. But it has also reported the nation’s highest daily death total since the virus outbreak began.
The state of Victoria reported 322 new infections and 19 new deaths on Monday, with 14 of the deaths connected to outbreaks at aged care facilities. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was more hopeful now that cases are stabilizing in Victoria than he has been at any time over the past week.
But state premier Daniel Andrews cautioned that not too much could be read into a single day’s worth of data, and that some of the state’s most stringent lockdown measures had only come into effect at midnight Sunday.
The number of new cases was the lowest recorded in Victoria since July 29. The figures did not include new infections and deaths from other Australian states, although Victoria has been accounting for the vast majority of both in recent weeks. Since the outbreak began, Australia has reported more than 21,000 infections and more than 300 deaths.
NEW DELHI, India — Former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee says he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Mukherjee, 84, said Monday that he found out he was positive when he went for a routine health check-up. He requested all those who came in contact with him in the last week to isolate themselves and get tested.
Mukherjee was India’s president between 2012 and 2017.
Over the last few weeks, several political leaders in India have either tested positive for the coronavirus or gone into quarantine.
India has reported nearly 2.3 million cases of coronavirus, the third-highest number in the world after the United States and Brazil. At least 44,386 people have died.
The country has been reporting an average of around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June.