The Latest: Police move to break up London virus protest
LONDON — Police moved into London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday afternoon to break up a protest against coronavirus restrictions after demonstrators ignored warnings to observe social distancing rules.
Thousands of people, most of whom weren’t wearing masks, crowded into the iconic square to hear speakers who criticized government-imposed restrictions as an overreaction to the pandemic that needlessly restricted the public’s human rights and freedom of expression.
The Metropolitan Police Service said before the event that officers would first encourage protesters to follow social distancing rules and would take enforcement action if demonstrators failed to comply. As the event began, officers were visible around the perimeter of the square, but they didn’t move into the crowd for about three hours.
The demonstration came as Parliament was preparing to review COVID-19 legislation and the government was imposing new restrictions to control the disease. It also came a week after a similar event during which thousands of people crowded into the iconic square. Police say several officers were hurt during that event when a “small minority’’ of protesters became violent.
Britain has Europe’s worst death toll from the pandemic, with nearly 42,000 confirmed deaths tied to COVID-19. New infections, hospitalizations and deaths have all risen sharply in recent weeks.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— Thousands gather in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest lockdowns and social distancing rules
— Virus cases rise in US heartland, home to anti-mask feelings
— California virus hospitalizations could surge in next month
— Spain’s health minister reiterates plea for tighter movement restrictions in Madrid
— Angry restaurant and bar owners have demonstrated in Marseille to challenge a French government order to close all public venues as of Saturday to battle resurgent virus infections.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BERLIN — Germany recorded another rise in daily COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with authorities confirming a further 2,507 infections in the past 24 hours.
The country’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, said the total number of cases recorded since the start of the outbreak now stands at 282,730.
Germany’s COVID-19 death toll as of Saturday stood at 9,452, which was an increase of nine from Friday.
BARCELONA, Spain — Spain’s health minister has reiterated his plea for Madrid’s regional authorities to apply more stringent restrictions on mobility in Europe’s worst coronavirus hotspot.
Minister Salvador Illa said Saturday that “the situation in Madrid is complicated, serious. Tough weeks are on their way.”
For the second time in as many days, Illa urged Madrid’s health authorities in charge of the capital’s health crisis to “revise their decisions” and “put in the limits on movement on the whole of the city of Madrid.”
On Friday, Madrid increased the number of neighborhoods under restrictions that prohibit unnecessary movement outside the area, reduce occupancy in shops and restaurants and close parks. Those measures apply to around 1 million people of the 3.3 million who live in the capital.
Spain has been able to stop a second wave of the virus that has claimed over 31,000 lives in the country.
MANILA, Philippines — Confirmed coronavirus infections in the Philippines have soared past 300,000, the latest bleak milestone in a country which has gradually reopened its battered economy despite having the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia.
The Department of Health on Saturday reported a daily tally of 2,747 new and recent infections, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 301,256, with 5,284 deaths.
Officials have tried to ease alarm by highlighting the massive number of COVID-19 recoveries, but critics say the outbreaks remain uncontrolled and coronavirus cases may be undercounted despite an increase in testing capacity in recent months.
President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration have walked a tightrope in reviving the battered economy and containing infections. The government said the central city of Iloilo was placed under a mild lockdown Friday for two weeks due to infection spikes but at the same time announced that the popular Boracay island beach resort in a nearby region would be opened to more local tourists.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is facing a record surge of coronavirus infections with the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassing 500 in one day for the first time.
The Slovak Health Ministry says the day-on-day increase was 552 on Friday.
Slovakia still has been less hit than most other European countries. The country has had a total of 8,600 infected, with 44 deaths.
Prime Minister Igor Matovic said his government is ready to impose new restrictive measures to curb the surge on Monday. Those should include limits on public gatherings such as weddings, both indoors and outdoors, officials said.
NEW DELHI — India reported 85,362 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours with infections slowing down this month.
The Health Ministry raised the nation’s confirmed total to more than 5.9 million on Saturday. It said 1,089 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 93,379.
Authorities have decided to hold the first legislative election in Bihar state since the pandemic. Nearly 72 million people are eligible to cast votes during three days beginning the end of October with social distancing restrictions.
The average new cases in India have fallen by around 7,000 daily in the past week, after reaching a record of 97,894 on Sept. 16. However, authorities are preparing for a major religious festival season beginning next month that generally sees huge congregations in temples and shopping districts.
MELBOURNE, Australia — The health minister in Australia’s Victoria state has resigned in the fallout from an inquiry into why security guards were used instead of police or the military at quarantine hotels. Lapses in security at the hotels were given as the major reason for a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Victoria reported just one more coronavirus death as Melbourne’s new case average continued to fall. The death took the state toll to 782 and the national figure to 870. There were 12 new cases, while Melbourne’s 14-day average fell again on Saturday to 23.6.
Melburnians, who have been in lockdown for more than a month, are waiting for the easing of restrictions on Monday. It’s expected to include a staged return to school for some students and outdoor gatherings of five people from two households.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on Saturday issued a statement confirming her resignation, just a day after Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews gave evidence to the inquiry and pointed partial blame at Mikakos for her role in the bungled quarantine program.
“I am disappointed that my integrity has sought to be undermined,” she wrote in a one-page statement. “I have never shirked my responsibility.” She said she also plans to resign from Victoria Parliament.
Mikakos appears to be taking the blame when no one else would. After six weeks of hearings into the hotel inquiry, it was still not known who made the decision to use security guards instead of police or soldiers, which were used in other Australian states.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California has begun to see concerning upticks in coronavirus data after a period of decline.
The state health secretary said Friday that there have been increases in the number of newly confirmed cases, hospital emergency department visits for COVID-19 and new hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases.
Dr. Mark Ghaly says the trends appear largely attributable to the Labor Day holiday and could lead to an 89% increase in hospitalizations in the next month.
Ghaly notes the state is heading into another hot weekend, which could increase people gathering with others. He urged renewed efforts to prevent spread.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 61 new cases of the coronavirus, the first time in four days its daily increase has been below 100 as officials urges citizens to be vigilant ahead of a major holiday break.
The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the national caseload to 23,516 cases, including 399 deaths.
Health officials say the annual Chuseok harvest festival that begins Wednesday and continues through next weekend will be a critical period in the country’s anti-virus campaign. Millions of South Koreans usually travel across the country during Chuseok to visit relatives, but officials are pleading for people stay home this year to help stem transmissions.
NEW YORK — New York City’s health commissioner has issued an order reiterating that private schools in some neighborhoods have to follow pandemic safety protocols.
The directive comes amid concerns about an uptick in coronavirus cases in certain Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish populations.
The order says that nonpublic schools in the specified areas must maintain six feet of distance between people and that face coverings are required in all buildings.
New York City’s current overall infection rate remains low, but official figures indicate the affected neighborhoods accounted for 20% of the city’s coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania has asked a federal appeals court to put on hold a ruling that found Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic restrictions on gatherings to be unconstitutional.
Officials told the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday that medical researchers have determined that so-called superspreader events where many people gather are driving the spread of the coronavirus.
The move came as the governor accused President Donald Trump of blatantly disregarding social distancing and mask requirements during frequent campaign rallies in Pennsylvania, a battleground state for the Nov. 3 elections.
Another Trump rally is planned for Saturday. The campaign says everyone will get a temperature check, be given a mask and have access to hand sanitizer.
HELENA, Mont. — The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council is imposing a 14-day lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge on the reservation east of Glacier National Park in Montana.
The tribe’s business council says the shutdown will begin at midnight Sunday.
Statewide, Montana reported 323 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus infections Friday and five more deaths.
More than 100 of the new cases involve people between the ages of 20 and 29, while 67 were confirmed in people 19 and younger. State health officials have said reopening schools and colleges have contributed to an increase in cases.
BOSTON — An outbreak of coronavirus infections at a major Boston hospital has grown to 19 confirmed cases.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital originally said it had identified 10 cases among staff and patients connected to two inpatient units.
A new hospital statement says 98 employees have been tested to date, and 11 of them tested positive. In addition, it says 50 patients have been tested, with eight positive.
An additional 445 people are in the process of being tested, and the hospital expects the number of positive cases to grow.
No other areas of the hospital have been affected.
WASHINGTON — The nation’s top infectious disease expert is cautioning people not to let pandemic fatigue weaken efforts to keep the coronavirus from spreading.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says that “people are exhausted from being shut down” and some give up on doing things that contain the virus.
The head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made the comment Friday in a podcast with a medical journal editor.
Fauci urges people to remember that “there is an end to this” and “we just have to hang in there a bit” as researchers work on a vaccine. Fauci says that “what we don’t want to have to do is to shut down again” if cases really spike.