The Latest: Guatemalan president tests positive for virus
GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei says he’s tested positive for the coronavirus.
The 64-year-old Giammattei told a local radio station he feels well. He has multiple sclerosis and uses canes to walk.
The announcement came on the same day the country reopened its borders and international flights. Guatemala had closed its airports and borders with Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador in March.
The country’s Health Ministry says travelers seeking to enter Guatemala will need to present a negative coronavirus test taken at most 72 hours before entry.
Guatemalans returning to their country and children under 10 won’t be subject to the test requirement. All those entering or leaving must wear face masks.
The country of 16 million has more than 83,600 confirmed cases and 3,036 deaths.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— Global coronavirus cases top 30 million, Johns Hopkins tally shows
— European Union seals second coronavirus vaccine deal
— India records 96,424 coronavirus cases in 24 hours
— Joe Biden derides President Donald Trump for his handling of COVID-19. At town hall, Biden blasts Trump’s ‘criminal’ virus response
— Israel returns to full lockdown to contain a worsening coronavirus outbreak while the government has been plagued by infighting.
— Iconic Key West bar that Ernest Hemingway frequented during the 1930s, Sloppy Joe's, has reopened after six months shuttered by the coronavirus.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TORONTO — Canada is extending the agreement to keep the U.S. border closed to non-essential travel to Oct. 21 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says they’ll continue to base the decision on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe. The restrictions were announced on March 18 and were extended each month.
Many Canadians are concerned about a reopening. The U.S. leads the world with 6.6 million confirmed cases and 197,000 deaths.
MADRID — Citizens in Madrid are urged not to travel out of their neighborhoods unless they need to work or study.
The restrictions announced Friday affect 13% of Madrid’s 6.6 million residents in areas where one of every four new virus infections are being detected, regional chief Isabel Ayuso said. The new measures were aimed at avoiding any mandatory stay-at-home orders.
Madrid has a rate of transmission six times higher than the national average, which already leads European contagion charts.
On Friday, the region reported more than 5,100 new infections, 200 more than the day before. The regional hospitals were treating 2,907 people, including nearly 400 in intensive care units, one third of the country’s total.
Nationally, there have been 625,000 confirmed cases and at least 30,400 deaths, according to the Health Ministry’s official data.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece is tightening restrictions in the greater Athens region, stepping up testing and creating quarantine hotels due to an increase in coronavirus infections.
The government says from Sept. 21 to Oct. 4 there can be no more than nine people allowed at indoors and outdoors gatherings -- except for restaurants, bars and coffee shops -- in the capital. Maximum attendance at weddings and funerals will be reduced to 20.
Officials will ban concerts, close indoors cinemas and mandate remote working for many employees.
About half the 339 new infections reported in the country Friday were in the greater Athens area. There have been 14,000 confirmed cases and 327 deaths nationwide.
LISBON, Portugal — The top diplomats of Spain and Portugal say they don’t intend to close their common border again, despite surging coronavirus cases.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva and Spanish counterpart Arancha González Laya say they prefer a piecemeal approach, adopting “surgical, occasional” measures.
The neighbors shut their border from mid-March through the end of June during national lockdowns. They allowed some exceptions, such as trucks.
Santos Silva says the European Union’s current policy aims for countries to cooperate against the pandemic, not close borders.
SAO PAULO — Brazil’s Supreme Court is suggesting attendees at last week’s inauguration of its chief justice be tested after six others confirmed they have the coronavirus.
The list includes newly inaugurated Chief Justice Luiz Fux, Lower House Speaker Rodrigo Maia, Prosecutor General Augusto Aras, the head of another high court and two justices of another tribunal.
Brazil’s top court says its ceremonial team “is in contact with guests who were present at the ceremony to warn them about the importance of seeking medical service in case they have been exposed in any way, including at other events.”
Only 20% of the seats at the ceremony in Brasilia were occupied on Sept. 10. Face masks were required and all guests had their temperatures taken before entry, according to the court’s statement.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch justice minister will be fined for breaches of social distancing rules at his recent wedding.
Public prosecutors say Ferd Grapperhaus will be fined 390 euros ($460) for the breaches at his Aug. 22 wedding in the upscale town of Bloemendaal. Photos taken of wedding guests gathered outside showed that some were not adhering to the government’s required 1.5-meter (5 foot) social distancing rules.
The photos were an embarrassment for the Dutch government and Grapperhaus, who is the minister responsible for making sure coronavirus measures are enforced.
The announcement of the fine came amid rising coronavirus infection numbers in the Netherlands.
MADRID — A line of tents has been installed at the gates of a Madrid military hospital four months after similar structures for triaging patients were taken down.
Spain’s Defense Ministry, which manages the Gómez Ulla military hospital, says the tents are currently empty, installed protectively ahead of the second wave taking hold on the Spanish capital.
Madrid has a rate of transmission six times higher than the national average.
Officials are expected to announce measures to slow down the outbreaks. That might include localized lockdowns or other “restrictions on mobility” centered in the city’s hardest-hit areas, which are also the poorest and more densely populated.
Spain on Thursday added more than 11,000 new infections and 162 confirmed deaths.
The totals are 625,000 cases and at least 30,400 deaths, according to the Health Ministry.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The president of Providence College announced the school will move to remote-only learning for at least two weeks after a surge of coronavirus cases among students.
More than 80 students tested positive in just two days, the private Catholic university’s president, Rev. Kenneth Sicard, wrote in a message to the community. The school has 106 positive student cases among about 4,800 students.
Students who live off campus cannot leave their apartments, and students who live on campus will be tested and can’t leave campus, he said. Students who violate the rules face suspensions.
Sicard says if things get worse, the campus may be shut down for the semester.
BRUSSELS — The EU Commission has finalized a deal with Sanofi and GSK allowing its 27 member states to buy up to 300 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
It’s the second contract signed by the bloc’s executive arm after a first agreement was reached last month with AstraZeneca for up to 400 million doses.
“With several countries in Europe experiencing new outbreaks after the summer period, a safe and effective vaccine is more instrumental than ever to overcome this pandemic and its devastating effects on our economies and societies,” said Stella Kyriakides, the Commissioner for health.
The Commission says some of the reserved shots could be donated to “lower- and middle-income countries.”
LONDON — The European Medicines Agency is recommending an inexpensive steroid be licensed for the treatment of people with severe coronavirus who need oxygen support.
The EMA says it is endorsing the use of dexamethasone in adults and adolescents age 12 or older who need either supplemental oxygen or a ventilator to help them breathe. The drug can be taken orally or via an infusion.
In June, British researchers published research showing dexamethasone can reduce deaths by up to one third in patients hospitalized with severe coronavirus. Shortly afterward, the U.K. government immediately authorized its use in hospitals across the country for seriously ill coronavirus patients.
Steroid drugs like dexamethasone are typically used to reduce inflammation, which sometimes develops in COVID-19 patients as their immune system kicks into overdrive to fight the virus.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced a nationwide order, telling cafes, bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. instead of midnight.
Frederiksen says the size of gatherings was lowered from 100 to 50 for the country. The new restrictions run Saturday through Oct. 4.
“When we take more measures, it is to get the infection down. It is important for me to stress that we are not in the same place as March 11,” he said.
Denmark was one the first European countries to ease its coronavirus lockdown as the first wave appeared to be contained.
Denmark has had 21,847 cases and recorded 635 deaths.
ROME — The Sicilian town of Corleone, made famous by the fictional Mafia clan in “The Godfather,” has ordered schools closed and a limited lockdown because of a coronavirus spike.
The city administration told all guests at a wedding on Sept. 12 and anyone who lives with them to self-isolate and inform their doctors and city health authorities. In a Facebook post, Mayor Nicolò Nicolosi said he expected “maximum cooperation to overcome the current crisis.”
The town, which is part of the province of Palermo, has reported at least five positive cases in recent days. News reports said they were tied to a wedding reception involving some 250 people.
Like the rest of southern Italy, Sicily has seen a new spate of infections since August, with more than 500 of its 5,500 cases overall registered in the past three weeks.
The Corleone administration ordered schools closed, put a curfew on bars and suspended the weekly market and other public gatherings.
Corleone was the home and last name of the fictional crime clan in “The Godfather” movie. It was also the real-life stronghold of the late convicted mobster and reputed chieftain, Bernardo Provenzano. In 2016, the Italian government dissolved the municipal government after determining the mob had infiltrated it.
LONDON — Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have topped 30 million worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The worldwide count of known COVID-19 infections climbed past 30 million on Thursday, with more than half of them from just three countries: the U.S., India and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins researchers.
The number increased by 10 million in just over a month; global cases passed 20 million on August 12.
The United States leads the country count with at least 6.67 million reported cases, followed by India with at least 5.21 million and Brazil at 4.45 million.
Individual numbers vary as the university’s tally sometimes lags behind country reports.
The U.S. leads the world in deaths at 197,643, followed by Brazil with 134,935 and India at 84,372.
PRAGUE — Confirmed coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic have hit a new record high for the third straight day and surpassed 3,000 reported cases in 24 hours for the first time.
The Health Ministry said 3,130 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, almost 1,000 more than the previous record set a day earlier.
That day-to-day increase was almost as high as the number of all cases the country reported in March, during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Czech capital of Prague was the hardest hit with 191 infections per 100,000 residents.
The Czech Republic has had a total of 44,155 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 489 deaths.
LONDON — British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has hinted that fresh restrictions on social gatherings in England could be announced soon as part of efforts to suppress a sharp spike in confirmed coronavirus cases.
Following reports that the government was considering fresh curbs on the hospitality sector, such as pubs and restaurants, Hancock said this is a “big moment for the country.”
He said that another national lockdown is the “last line of defense” and that most transmissions of the virus are taking place in social settings.
Hancock says the government’s strategy over the coming weeks is to contain the virus as much as possible “whilst protecting education and the economy.”
The government has come under sustained criticism in the past week following serious issues with its virus testing program.
There’s widespread speculation that parts of northwest England will see further restrictions announced Friday.
NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus cases have jumped by another 96,424 infections in the past 24 hours, showing little signs of slowing down.
The Health Ministry on Friday raised the nation’s confirmed total since the pandemic began to more than 5.21 million. It said 1,174 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 84,372.
India is expected within weeks to surpass the reported infections seen in the United States, where more than 6.67 million people have been reported infected, the most in the world.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday made a fresh appeal to people to use face masks and maintain social distance as his government chalked out plans to handle big congregations expected during a major Hindu festival season beginning next month.
UNITED NATIONS — U.N. World Food Program chief David Beasley is warning that 270 million people are “marching toward the brink of starvation” because of the toxic combination of conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beasley on Thursday urged donor nations and billionaires to contribute $4.9 billion to feed the 30 million he said will die without U.N. assistance.
He reminded the U.N. Security Council of his warning five months ago that “the world stood on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” and welcomed the response, which averted famine and led countries to fight back against the coronavirus.
Beasley said the U.N. food agency is keeping people alive “and avoiding a humanitarian catastrophe” but he said “the fight is far, far, far from over.”
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has reported no new confirmed cases of the coronavirus for the first time in more than five weeks as hopes rise that an outbreak discovered in Auckland last month has been stamped out.
Friday’s report also marked the fourth consecutive day without any cases of community transmission. All recent cases have been found among quarantined travelers returning from abroad.
Authorities have still not pinpointed the origin of the August outbreak, which they believe was imported. Auckland was temporarily placed into lockdown as the country continued its strategy of trying to completely eliminate community spread of the virus.
New Zealand has reported a total of just over 1,800 cases and 25 deaths.