The Latest: Slovakia sets virus restrictions amid case surge
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is imposing new restrictive measures in hopes of curbing a surge in coronavirus infections.
Starting Thursday, it will again be mandatory to wear face masks outside in all cities, towns and villages and there will be a ban on public events, including religious services in churches. Exceptions include weddings, funerals and baptisms with a limited number of participants.
Major professional sports competitions are allowed to continue without fans.
Fitness and wellness centers and public swimming pools will be closed. Restaurants are banned from serving meals indoors, and the number of people in stores and shopping centers is limited.
Starting Monday, all high schools across Slovakia will provide only remote teaching.
This past week, Slovakia reported new highs for confirmed coronavirus cases for four straight days, with a record 1,887 Friday. The country has had a total of 19,851 cases, with 61 deaths.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— The White House doctor says President Donald Trump is no longer at risk of transmitting the coronavirus but did not say whether Trump had tested negative. Some medical experts are skeptical that Trump could be declared free of the risk of transmitting the virus so early.
— Trump makes speech from White House balcony, 1st appearance since return to residence
— India's coronavirus cases top 7 million, a re on track to surpass the United States
— As a second wave of coronavirus infections hit, European nations seem not to have learned their lessons from the first surge
— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismisses the latest White House offer in COVID-19 aid talks but remains hopeful progress can be made toward a deal.
— Queen Elizabeth II honors the work of doctors, nurses, delivery drivers, fundraisers and volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MILAN — Italian experts are meeting to consider new restrictions expected later in the week as Italy continues to pile on new coronavirus infections at a rate of more than 5,000 a day.
The number of new infections spiked by nearly 5,500 Sunday, slightly lower than a day earlier. After reaching lows of even 100 a day early in the summer, new infections have pushed up for the last 2½ months, causing concern among experts and officials.
The government last week mandated masks outdoors, with the exception of physical exercise. Nearly 100 anti-masks protesters in Rome were issued fines for failing to comply during demonstrations this weekend.
Officials reported 26 more deaths from COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours. That Italy’s pandemic death toll to 36,166, the second highest in Europe behind Britain. Italy has registered nearly 355,000 infections.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has announced its highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus — 251.
Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said Sunday that Iran’s total death toll from COVID-19 now stands at 28,544, making Iran the hardest-hit country in its region. It’s previous daily high for deaths of 239 came just four days earlier.
Officials reported 3,822 newly confirmed coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, raising its total during the pandemic to 500,075. Among those recently infected is the head of Iran’s atomic energy organization, the latest senior official to test positive for the virus.
The government has largely resisted imposing widescale lockdowns as the economy teeters from continued U.S. economic sanctions that effectively bar Iran from selling its oil internationally. Iran’s currency plunged to its lowest level ever Sunday.
MOSCOW -- Russia’s coronavirus infections have hit a new record for a 24-hour period, with authorities reporting over 13,000 new confirmed cases in the highest daily spike since the beginning of the pandemic.
The 13,634 new infections registered Sunday brought the country’s total to nearly 1.3 million, the world’s fourth largest caseload. Russia has also reported over 22,500 deaths.
The Russian authorities have been reporting over 10,000 new cases every day this past week, but maintain there are no plans to impose a second lockdown. Russia has lifted most of the virus-related restrictions imposed in the spring.
At the same time in Moscow, which reported 4,501 new cases on Sunday, officials have recommended the elderly to self-isolate at home and have extended this month’s school holidays by a week. Moscow mayor also ordered employers to have at least 30% of their staff work from home.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey will start reporting its total number of coronavirus infection cases later this week, after coming under criticism for releasing only figures for patients showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in an interview published Sunday by the newspaper Hurriyet that asymptomatic cases will also be included in Turkey’s published data beginning Friday.
Turkey’s latest daily figures from Saturday showed 1,649 new patients and 56 deaths. The country has reported more than 334,000 coronavirus patients since the outbreak started, and 8,778 fatalities.
BEIRUT — Lebanon’s Interior Ministry has ordered a lockdown in 169 villages and towns as well as ordering all nightclubs and pubs to close around the country amid a sharp increase of coronavirus cases.
The Ministry said Sunday that the lockdown will begin Monday morning and last until Oct. 19. Pubs and nightclubs will be closed until further notice, it said.
The new lockdown comes a week after the ministry ordered a lockdown in 111 villages and towns that ends Monday morning. Some of those towns are included under the new restrictions.
On Saturday, Lebanon’s Health Ministry registered 1,388 new cases of coronavirus, raising the country’s confirmed total to 52,558 infections and 455 deaths.
Cases in Lebanon have been rising since early July when the country eased a nationwide lockdown and opened its only international airport. The numbers increased dramatically following an Aug. 4 blast in Beirut that killed and wounded many, as people gathered at hospitals, funerals and anti-government protests.
LONDON -- One of the main medical advisers to the British government has warned that the country is at a “tipping point” in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic, a day before Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce fresh lockdown restrictions for virus hot spots in the north of England.
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said in a statement that the country is at a “tipping point similar to where we were in March.”
The U.K. has experienced Europe’s deadliest outbreak with more than 42,750 deaths.
Van-Tam laid out his hope that history won’t repeat itself in light of better testing and treatments, as well as greater knowledge of the virus itself.
Johnson is on Monday expected to impose additional restrictions in areas where the virus has been spreading fastest in recent weeks. Pubs and restaurants in northern cities like Liverpool or Manchester are expected to be closed.
NEW DELHI — India’s confirmed coronavirus toll has crossed 7 million with a number of new cases dipping in recent weeks, even as health experts warn of mask and distancing fatigue setting in.
The Health Ministry on Sunday registered another 74,383 infections in the past 24 hours. India is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country in coming weeks, surpassing the U.S., where more than 7.7 million infections have been reported.
The ministry also reported 918 additional deaths, taking total fatalities to at least 108,334. Experts say all reported numbers seriously understate the impact of the pandemic, due to limited testing, missed cases and in some instances, concealment by authorities.
India, which has nearly 1.4 billion people, saw a steep rise in cases in July and added more than 2 million in August and another 3 million in September. But it is seeing a slower pace of coronavirus spread since mid-September, when the daily infections touched a record high of 97,894.
It’s averaging more than 70,000 new cases daily so far this month.
WASHINGTON — The White House doctor says President Donald Trump was no longer at risk of transmitting the coronavirus but did not say explicitly whether Trump had tested negative for it. The diagnosis came as the president prepared to resume campaign rallies and other activities.
In a memo released Saturday night by the White House, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley said Trump met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for safely discontinuing isolation and that by “currently recognized standards” he was no longer considered a transmission risk.
The memo did not declare Trump had tested negative for the virus. But sensitive lab tests — like the PCR test cited in the doctor’s statements — detect virus in swab samples taken from the nose and throat. Dr. William Morice, who oversees laboratories at the Mayo Clinic, said earlier this week that using the PCR tests, the president’s medical team could hypothetically measure and track the amount of virus in samples over time and watch the viral load go down.
Some medical experts had been skeptical that Trump could be declared free of the risk of transmitting the virus so early in the course of his illness. Just 10 days since an initial diagnosis of infection, there was no way to know for certain that someone was no longer contagious, they said.
SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea says it’ll will ease its social distancing rules as its caseload has continuously displayed a slowing trend ever after the five-day Chuseok autumn holidays.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told reporters Sunday that South Korea has counted an average of 59.4 new cases each day in the past two weeks, compared with 91.5 cases in the earlier two weeks. Earlier Sunday, South Korea reported 58 new cases, taking the country’s total to 24,606 including 432 deaths.
Under relaxed distancing guidelines effective Monday, Park says some high-risk facilities like nightclubs and karaoke bars will be allowed to reopen but they’re required to follow anti-virus steps like wearing masks and keeping a list of clients.
Park says South Korea will lift a ban on the gatherings of more than 50 people indoor and more than 100 outdoor. He says community welfare centers will also be reopened while professional sports leagues can have a limited number of fans back, up to 30% of the stadium capacity.
SYDNEY — The premier of Australia’s Victoria state is stepping up his fight with members of the public who don’t comply with pandemic regulations, saying close contacts of those infected who refuse a test will have to spend 21 days in quarantine.
The state government has announced mandatory quarantine will be extended by 10 days for close contacts if they decide not to be tested on the 11th day of isolation. The change takes effect at midnight Sunday.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said a “very, very high percentage” of people had submitted to testing but the rule was designed to provide authorities with an even more complete picture.
“This is just double-checking, triple-checking that you haven’t, in fact, still got the virus,” he said.
Victoria reported one more death and 12 new cases on Sunday, taking Victoria’s death count from the virus to 810 and the national toll to 898.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s count of COVID-19 deaths surpassed 150,000 despite signs the pandemic is slowly retreating in Latin America’s largest nation.
The Brazilian Health Ministry reported that the death toll now stands at 150,198. The figure is the world’s second highest behind the United States, according to the tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has played down the severity of the virus while deaths mounted rapidly in Brazil. The 65-year-old president flouted social distancing at lively demonstrations and encouraged crowds during outings from the presidential residence. He has rejected governors’ and mayors’ lockdowns and other tough measures to contain the virus’ spread, even after he contracted it himself in July.
But there have been recent signs of relief in Brazil. Over the last month and a half, the viral curve has dropped. The average number of deaths sat at 598 over the last 7 days, the lowest level since the beginning of May.