The Latest: Germany kicks off 4-week partial lockdown
BERLIN — A four-week partial shutdown has started in Germany, with restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas and other leisure facilities closing down until the end of the month.
The restrictions that took effect Monday are milder than the ones Germany imposed in the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic in March and April. This time around, schools, kindergartens, non-essential shops and hairdressers are to remain open.
But leading officials decided last week that a “lockdown light” was necessary in light of a sharp rise in new infections that has prompted many other European countries to impose more or less drastic restrictions.
On Saturday, the national disease control center reported the highest number of infections in one day — 19,059 — since the pandemic began. Figures at the beginning of the week tend to be lower, and the center reported 12,097 cases Monday. But that compared with 8,685 a week earlier, underlining the upward trend. Germany has reported over 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and state governors are to review the situation after two weeks.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— America stands at a crossroads the day before Election Day, facing a stark choice between candidates in the midst of historic pandemic
— Police in Spain are on curfew patrol, wrangling groups of young people who are drinking outside as the country battles a surge in coronavirus infections
— Germany kicks off a partial lockdown but keeps its schools open.
— Skeletons wear masks and surgical caps on Day of the Dead altars in Mexico, where many medical professionals were lost to COVID-19
— The BBC says Britain’s Prince William had the virus in April, around the same time as his father Prince Charles
— Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing opposition from his own party as he prepares to ask British lawmakers to back plans for a second national lockdown to combat the exponential spread of COVID-19.
Johnson on Monday will provide the House of Commons with details of a proposed four-week lockdown scheduled to begin Thursday. The plan was hurriedly announced on Saturday after scientific advisers told the government that rapidly rising infection rates risked swamping English hospitals in a matter of weeks.
The opposition Labour Party has said it will support the legislation when it comes up for a vote on Wednesday, virtually assuring it will be approved. But members of Johnson’s Conservative party have expressed concerns about the economic damage that will be caused by a second national lockdown.
Graham Brady, chairman of an influential committee of Conservative lawmakers, said he wants the government to present a full assessment of the impact a lockdown will have on jobs, businesses and mental health before lawmakers are asked to vote on it.
GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization says he has been identified as a contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 and will self-quarantine.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter late Sunday that he is “well and without symptoms” but will self-quarantine in “coming days, in line with WHO protocols, and work from home.”
The WHO director-general has been at the forefront of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected at least 46.5 million people and led to more than 1.2 million deaths, according to a count of confirmed cases by Johns Hopkins University.
Tedros’ tweet came the same day as authorities in Geneva, where the U.N. health agency is based, announced a tightening of restrictions aimed to curb the spread of the virus. A recent spike has more than 1,000 new cases recorded each day recently in an area of about 500,000 people.
NEW DELHI — India has added 45,230 new coronavirus infections, continuing a downturn.
The Health Ministry also Monday reported 496 more fatalities, raising the death toll to 122,607.
With 8.2 million cases, India is the second worst-hit country behind the U.S.
But the number of new cases being diagnosed each day is falling steadily even though testing is not declining. In the last week, there have been fewer than 50,000 new cases every day.
Many states have been easing restrictions on schooling and commercial activities to spur the economy, but experts fear a resurgence in the winter, particularly as people socialize in the festive season.
SAO PAULO — Protesters have gathered in Brazil’s two biggest cities to demonstrate against any mandate for the taking of a coronavirus vaccine, supporting a rejection campaign encouraged by President Jair Bolsonaro in opposition to the advice of most health professionals.
A small group of people assembled in downtown Sao Paulo on Sunday calling for the removal of Sao Paulo state Gov. Joao Doria, who has said state residents will be required to take a vaccine, likely the one being developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac and the local Butantan Institute. Demonstrators supporting Bolsonaro on the question also protested on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.
The issue has become a talking point in mayoral and city council campaigns for elections later this month.
Brazil has reported more than 5.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, and about 160,000 people have died from COVID-19, the disease that can be caused by the virus.
WASHINGTON — Dr. Scott Atlas, one of President Donald Trump’s science advisers, is apologizing after appearing on the Russian state-funded TV channel RT to criticize lockdown measures aimed at stemming the coronavirus.
In a tweet Sunday, Atlas wrote he was unaware that RT was a registered foreign agent. He said he regretted the interview and apologized, particularly to the national security community, “for allowing myself to be taken advantage of.”
Atlas told RT over the weekend that he considered the COVID-19 pandemic to be mostly under control and that it was actually lockdowns that are “killing people.”
RT is registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which applies to people or companies disseminating information in the U.S. on behalf of foreign governments, political parties and other “foreign principals.”
U.S. intelligence agencies have alleged RT served as a propaganda outlet for the Kremlin as part of a multi-pronged effort to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russia denies interfering.
ROME — The governor of the Italian region with the largest percentage of residents older than 65 has apologized for a tweet which contended the elderly aren’t indispensable to the country’s production, as Italy battles COVID-19.
Corriere della Sera daily said Liguria Gov. Giovanni Toti, in a meeting Sunday with government ministers, had advocated limiting movement outside the home for those older than 70 in a bid to avoid a generalized, nationwide lockdown.
“For as much as every single COVID-19 victim pains us, we must keep in mind this data: only yesterday among the 25 deaths in Liguria, 22 were very elderly patients,” Toti tweeted Sunday. They are “persons for the most part in retirement, not indispensable to the productive effort” of the economy, tweeted Toti, who is 52.
Nearly 29% of Liguria’s residents are older than 65.
Maurizio Gasparri, a 64-year-old senator, slammed Toti’s assessment of the elderly’s value as “delirious.”
Apologizing for what he termed “misunderstandings,” Toti later claimed his tweet was “badly extrapolated” and blamed it on “error” by his social media manager.
WASHINGTON — The government’s top infectious diseases expert is cautioning that the U.S. will have to deal with “a whole lot of hurt” in the weeks ahead due to surging coronavirus cases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s comments to the Washington Post take issue with President Donald Trump’s frequent assertion that the nation is “rounding the turn” on the virus.
Fauci says the U.S. “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” to stem rising cases as more people gather indoors during the colder fall and winter months. He says the U.S. will need to make an “abrupt change” in public health precautions.
Speaking of the risks, Fauci says he believes Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective,” while Trump is “looking at it from a different perspective.” Fauci, who’s on the White House coronavirus task force, says that perspective is “the economy and reopening the country.”
In response, White House spokesman Judd Deere says Trump always puts people’s well-being first and Deere charges that Fauci has decided “to play politics” right before Tuesday’s election.
Fauci has said in his decades of public service, he’s never publicly endorsed any political candidate.