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The Latest: Pakistan banning open-air livestock markets

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani authorities are banning open-air livestock markets in cities for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice,” to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

However, people will be allowed to buy and sell sacrificial animals at the designated 700 markets, which will be set up on the outskirts of cities across the country. These markets will only remain open from dawn to dusk.

Monday’s move comes as Pakistan reported 69 more COVID-19 deaths, taking total fatalities to 5,266.

Pakistan now has 251,625 confirmed cases and the decision to ban open-air cattle markets within the cities was announced at a meeting of National Command and Control Center, which supervises country’s response to the virus.

It said all the buyers and sellers of sacrificial animals must adhere to social distancing regulations

Eid-al Adha will be celebrated in Pakistan on July 31, subject to the sighting of the moon.

During the three-day holiday, Muslims across the world slaughter livestock and distribute part of the meat to the poor.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— The November election is coming with a big price tag as America faces voting during a pandemic

— America’s two largest generations agree: the pandemic has smacked many at a pivotal time in their lives

— Families of Italy’s virus dead seek answers, solace, justice

India sees another surge in daily cases, scattered high-risk areas under another lockdown

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Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BEIJING — China on Monday said two World Health Organization experts were in the country as part of a mission to trace the origin of the global coronavirus pandemic.

China had been reluctant to allow a probe into the virus that was first detected in the central industrial city of Wuhan late last year, but relented after scores of countries called on the WHO to conduct a thorough probe. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the representatives would with Chinese scientists and medical experts on “scientific cooperation on the new coronavirus tracing issue.”

China has argued that the virus might have originated outside of China and has angrily denied allegations that it covered up the scale of the outbreak as it was first beginning to spread. The U.S. has moved to cut funding for the WHO over accusations it responded too slowly to the virus outbreak and repeated Beijing’s claims of having dealt with it swiftly without verification.

“We have a basic consensus with the WHO that virus tracing is a scientific issue that requires international scientific research and cooperation of scientists across the world,” Hua said at a daily briefing.

The WHO has confirmed the visit by an epidemiologist and an animal disease specialist but has not given out information on its agendas while in China. The virus is believed to have originated in bats and then jumped to humans via an intermediary species, possibly the anteater-like pangolin that is prized in China for its scales used in Chinese medicine as well as its meat.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece says it is seeking a ban on church and village fairs and will tighten tourism-related checks following a domestic increase in coronavirus infections in recent weeks as well as a surge in some nearby Balkan countries.

Government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said a scientific committee meeting later Monday would examine a government request to impose a two-week suspension on church fairs that are popular in the summer months and have become a source of concern for public health officials.

Heightened health checks also take effect Wednesday at the Greek-Bulgarian border, at a crossing point open for nonessential travel, where all incoming travelers will be obliged to carry a health certificate saying they are negative for the virus, issued in English in the previous 72 hours.

Despite the restrictions, Petsas said Greece was going ahead with plans to open up to air travel from the U.K. starting Wednesday and was considering lifting restrictions from the United States, with a decision to be made later this month.

Greece has just 3,803 total confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and a death toll of 193, but government experts say they are worried about a recent increase in daily infection numbers as well as the pattern of the spread.

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LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britons to wear face coverings in shops and other tight indoor spaces — but stopped short of making it mandatory.

Critics have accused Johnson’s government of failing to offer clarity on the mask issue in the days since he began backtracking on previous advice suggesting such coverings were not necessary. But Johnson says the scientific research has is now showing that masks help stop the transmission of COVID-19.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to the London Ambulance Service, Johnson said “face coverings do have a real value in confined spaces and I do think the public understand that.”

When pressed on whether it should be mandatory, Johnson said “we will be looking at the guidance, we will be saying a little bit more in the next few days.”

Masks were made mandatory in Scotland last week.

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BERLIN — Germany’s health minister has criticized his countrymen for failing to respect social distancing rules on vacation after videos emerged over the weekend showing German tourists partying on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

Jens Spahn told reporters on Monday that he understood vacationers were “impatient” after months of lockdown, but that the scenes captured on video Friday made him “very worried” because such behavior would increase the risk of coronavirus infection for the partying tourists and others.

Spahn also urged Germans not to stage private parties for Oktoberfest, after the official event was canceled this year due to the pandemic.

While Germany has managed to flatten the curve of infections, with just under 200,000 confirmed cases and 9,071 deaths to date, Spahn said it was important to remain alert to prevent a second wave in the fall.

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MADRID — A judge has overturned a decision by the Catalan regional government to confine over 140,000 people to only leaving their homes for work and other essential activities, arguing that only central authorities can issue a lockdown that restricts freedom of movement.

Authorities in northeastern Catalonia had announced the stay-at-home order on Sunday a week after they had already limited travel to and from El Segria county because of an outbreak of the virus that causes COVID-19.

But a judge in Lleida, the largest municipality in the county, ruled overnight that because the measure is “indiscriminate” and “disproportionate” it has to be applied under a state of emergency, which can only be enacted by the nation’s government.

Regional Vice President Pere Aragonés has said that the Catalan government plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

The outbreak in the rural area is connected to farm work and seasonal day workers, many of whom work and live in precarious conditions.

Spain’s 17 regional governments are now largely in charge of handling the response to the pandemic after a 3-month nationwide lockdown ended in mid-June. The virus has claimed at least 28,000 lives in the country, according to official records.

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HONG KONG — Organizers canceled Hong Kong’s annual book fair two days before it was due to start, as coronavirus infections rise in the city.

The book fair, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and is organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, will be rescheduled together with three other public fairs.

Hong Kong has seen a spike in the number of locally transmitted cases, prompting a suspension of all schools and tightened social-distancing measures. The city reported 30 new local infections on Sunday.

So far, Hong Kong has reported 1,470 infections and seven deaths.

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NEW DELHI — India reported another record surge of coronavirus infections on Monday, adding 28,701 new cases over the previous 24 hours.

Authorities in several cities are reinstating strict lockdowns after attempting to loosen things up to revive an ailing economy.

The new cases raised the national total to 878,254. The Health Ministry also reported another 500 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 23,174.

New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Pune are among the key Indian cities witnessing a surge in infections. Several states introduced weekend curfews and announced strict lockdowns in high-risk areas to slow down infections.

India is third in total coronavirus caseload, behind only the United States and Brazil.

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MEXICO CITY -- Mexican officials say the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths has passed 35,000, making it the country with the fourth highest total.

A count by Johns Hopkins University has only the United States, Brazil and Britain with more confirmed deaths from the new coronavirus. Sunday’s rise to 35,006 confirmed deaths moved Mexico, a country with 130 million inhabitants, past Italy.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador insisted the development of the pandemic in Mexico “is positive, it is good” because of the country’s 32 states only nine had increases in infections.

“The bottom line is that the pandemic is on the downside, that it is losing intensity,” Mexico’s president said.

Nevertheless, some days this past week have seen record daily numbers of new infections.

Deputy Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus rose to 299,750 on Sunday.

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s worst-hit Victoria state recorded only 177 new coronavirus cases on Monday, but a health official is warning the disease’s spread might yet worsen.

The new cases were substantially down from 273 cases on Sunday and a record 288 on Friday.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was too early to say whether the lower count meant the spread was being contained.

“It’s great it’s lower than our peak. But it may not be our peak yet,” Sutton said. “So I would like to see a week of decreasing numbers before I come and say I have greater confidence about the direction we’re going in.”

Melbourne, Australia’s second-most popular city, and a part of its surrounds in Victoria returned to lockdown last week in a bid to contain the disease spread.

Australia has recorded around 10,000 COVID-19 cases and 108 deaths.

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LOS ANGELES — A heat wave has brought crowds to California’s beaches, where people mostly heeded warnings to keep a safe distance from each other as the state grappled with a spike in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

Lifeguard Chief Jason Young said Sunday that people are spread out on Orange County beaches. Temperatures soared into the 90s in many areas from San Diego north to the San Francisco Bay Area.

The statewide death toll increased by 71 to hit 7,107. There are more than 320,800 positive cases statewide. Meanwhile, two more inmates from San Quentin State Prison have died.

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HOUSTON, Texas — Top officials in Houston are calling for the city to lock back down as area hospitals strain to accommodate the onslaught of patients sick with the new coronavirus.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, both Democrats, said this weekend that a stay-at-home order is needed for America’s fourth-largest city to cope with the surge of COVID-19 cases.

The call comes after a week in which Texas continued to break records for confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths linked to the disease. State health officials reported 8,196 new cases Sunday, another 80 deaths and a total of 10,410 people hospitalized due to the virus.

The decision over a lockdown, however, rests with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — who has resisted this step, saying it should be a last resort.

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