The Latest: WHO says national lockdowns can be avoided

GENEVA — The World Health Organization says national lockdowns could be avoided to fight the latest surge of coronavirus cases if people are willing to make sacrifices and “if everyone plays their part.”

At a press briefing on Monday, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19 said she hoped countries would use other tools to stop transmission, including strengthening their surveillance, testing and contact tracing systems.

Van Kerkhove said people should take personal responsibility for everyday decisions, like whether or not they should go out to crowded places, avoiding closed settings and postponing social gatherings.

WHO’s emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan noted that 46% of all global COVID-19 cases last week were reported in Europe.

“There’s no question that the European region is an epicenter of disease right now,” he said. Ryan said that the normally open European Union borders might need to be shut down to “take the heat out of this phase of the pandemic.”

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

— Trump to intensify his campaign schedule despite U.S. virus surge, new White House outbreak

— Wary of angering public with restrictions, Iran has few ways to contain virus

— Nations across Europe enact more sweeping restrictions to try to slow surging infection rates

— Mexico acknowledges far more deaths than officially confirmed, saying 139,153 now attributable to COVID-19

— El Paso, Texas imposes curfew as virus cases overwhelm hospitals

— COVID-19 cases surge in north-central West Virginia county, shutting down schools and sports

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

LONDON — The central England city of Nottingham is the latest part of England to be put under tightened restrictions as part of a three-tier system to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The news came as Britain announced 102 new deaths of people with COVID-19. Its official total is almost, 45,000, the highest toll in Europe.

Local authority leaders in Nottingham say the city and parts of the surrounding county of Nottinghamshire will move to the top “very high” risk Tier 3 on Thursday. Under the rules, pubs and bars must close, non-essential travel outside the area is discouraged and people can’t mix indoors with members of other households.

The announcement came hours after Warrington, in northwest England, was also moved into the tighter restrictions. A big swath of northern England, including the major cities of Liverpool and Manchester, is already under the heightened measures.

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ROME — Italy registered slightly more than 17,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday. That’s fewer than daily increases of the last few days, but tens of thousands fewer swab tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, as often happens over a weekend.

Italy’s total of known coronavirus infections during the pandemic now stands at 542,789.

Compared to the first months of the outbreak, when most cases were concentrated in Italy’s north, the current situation sees surging infections nationwide, prompting the government to order new restrictions that took effect on Monday, including closures of gyms, cinemas and early shutdown of restaurant dining and cafes.

The regions with the highest day-to-day caseload on Monday was again northern Lombardy, which includes Milan, Italy’s financial hub, followed by Tuscany in the central-north and Campania, the southern region that includes Naples.

Hospitalizations and ICU admissions continued their steady increase. Italy’s death toll rose to 37,479, after 141 more deaths.

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A senior Bosnian health official is warning that the impoverished Balkan country is facing a “rapid rise in the number of patients” with the new coronavirus.

Deputy Health Minister in the half of Bosnia run by Bosniaks and Croats, Goran Cerkez said Monday all hospitals in the region have been instructed to allocate one third of their capacities for treatment of COVID-19 patients. Wearing face masks has become mandatory in open public spaces as well as inside.

Bosnia has reported a surge in new cases in the past weeks reaching record numbers. On Monday, authorities reported 703 new cases for the past 24 hours and said eighteen people have died.

Meanwhile, in the remaining part of Bosnia dominated by Serbs authorities placed the schools on remote teaching in an effort to contain the virus spread.

Bosnia’s health system is among the weakest in Europe after the country went through a devastating war in the 1990s’.

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LONDON — The large town of Warrington is the latest part of England to be put under tightened restrictions as part of a three-tier system to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The government says the city in northwest England will move to the top “very high” risk Tier 3 on Tuesday. That means most pubs and bars will have to close, non-essential travel outside the area is discouraged and people can’t mix indoors with members of other households.

The case rate per 100,000 people in Warrington is twice the national average.

Warrington is between Liverpool and Manchester, which have some of the country’s highest COVID-19 infection rates and are already in Tier 3.

There are mixed signs about whether measures introduced in the last few weeks have stemmed a steep rise in coronavirus infections. Government scientific advisers say there are some signs the increase has begun to level off since the three-tier system of restrictions came into force, but that it is too soon to be certain.

Britain has seen Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with almost 45,000 confirmed deaths.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway on Monday put a nationwide limit for public gatherings to 50, down from 200, and at the same time urged that a maximum five guests at a time can visit people in private homes.

The announcement by Prime Minister Erna Solberg came ahead of the traditional Christmas parties held by companies, associations and privates across Norway. These events are traditionally held before Christmas eve when Norwegian celebrate Yule.

The new restrictions start Tuesday at midnight and last until early December but can be extended if needed.

Norway has had 17,908 confirmed COVID-19 cases ad 279 deaths.

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BERLIN — The Bavarian city of Nuremberg has canceled its big Christmas market, one of Germany’s best-known, because of fast-rising coronavirus infections.

The bustling Christkindlesmarkt is traditionally a big tourist draw. City officials originally wanted to go ahead with the event under strict hygiene rules, but mayor Marcus Koenig said Monday they concluded even that would send the wrong signal as virus cases rise.

Germany, like other European countries, has seen new virus cases rise rapidly over the past two weeks.

Nuremberg is currently seeing 76 new cases per 100,000 infections over seven days, well above the 50 mark at which local authorities have to start taking action.

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TIRANA, Albania — Albanian authorities have decided to open a new COVID-19 hospital with 150 beds after the existing two hospitals are reaching their limits.

Health Minister Ogerta Manastirliu on Monday said that the two existing COVID-related hospitals with 320 beds are reaching their limits and the new one will open this week.

Albania has seen a surge of the daily new virus cases, doubling compared to two weeks ago.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said Albania’s cumulative figure for new cases per 100,000 inhabitants has increased to 131 cases compared to 75 cases two weeks ago.

Authorities have reported 19,157 confirmed cases with 477 confirmed related deaths, as of Sunday.

Holding the mask is mandatory indoors and outdoors and police have fined hundreds of Albanians not wearing it every day.

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PRAGUE — Prague has announced it is canceling its major traditional Christmas markets due to a record surge in coronavirus infections.

City Hall said Monday that it is necessary step “to curb the further uncontrolled spread of the pandemic.”

The decision applies to the most famed market at the picturesque Old Town Square that is considered by media one of the best in Europe, and also for the ones at Wenceslas and Republic squares.

Prague says it is still planning to erect a traditional Christmas tree at the Old Town market, and if the epidemic makes it possible, also allow few small stalls.

A number of cities across Europe have announced the same move while some others, such as Vienna, will go ahead as usual.

The Czech Republic had 258,097 confirmed cases, with about one third of the number registered in the last seven days. So far, 2,201 people have died, 1,528 of them in October.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from about 46 new cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 11 to 112 new cases per 100,000 people on Sunday.

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BERLIN — A second German district is to go into a de-facto lockdown as new coronavirus infections surge in the country and across Europe.

News agency dpa reported that local authorities in Bavaria’s Rottal-Inn county, on the border with Austria, said Monday that the restrictions will begin at midnight. Rottal-Inn follows Berchtesgaden, another Bavarian county in Germany’s southeastern corner, which introduced similar restrictions last week.

Schools and kindergartens will be closed and events canceled, and people told not to leave their homes without good reason.

Rottal-Inn has recorded well over 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the past seven days. In Germany, districts are required to take measures once new infections top the 50 mark, and many have done so in recent weeks — imposing measures such as early bar closures and requirements to wear masks outdoors in some public places.

Germany’s new infections have been increasing by sometimes record numbers over the past two weeks, though they are still considerably short of the numbers seen in many other European countries.

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EL PASO, Texas — Residents in the Texas border city of El Paso have been urged to stay home for two weeks as a spike in coronavirus cases overwhelms hospitals.

The uptick in virus cases has also prompted the state to dedicate part of the city’s civic center as a makeshift heath care center for the ill. On Sunday night, El Paso County’s top elected official issued a stay-at-home order that imposes a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Violators could be fined $500 under the order.

Earlier Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said 50 hospital beds will be set up in the city’s convention center and another 50 beds could be added if needed. The state has already sent over 900 medical personnel to El Paso, some of whom will be staffing the convention center site.

El Paso County health officials reported 772 new coronavirus cases Sunday, a day after a record 1,216 new infections were reported.

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MADRID — Authorities in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia are considering a mandatory stay-at-home order for weekends only, one of the strictest measures being imposed across the country to combat a sharp resurgence of the coronavirus.

Under a new state of emergency declared by the national government on Sunday, Spain’s 17 regions and two autonomous cities can tailor restrictions that include a nationwide overnight curfew, a cap of six people on social gatherings and possible regional travel bans.

Only Spain’s Canary Islands, where the curve of contagion has been kept at bay, will be exempted from the 11 p.m.-6 a.m. general curfew, which other regions’ officials can decide to push one hour earlier or later.

The aim is to rein in infections from gatherings of family and friends at home or in bars.

The Spanish government wants the state of emergency to be extended later this week until May with as many votes as possible in the country’s parliament.

Spain last week became the first European country to surpass 1 million officially recorded COVID-19 cases, although officials say that the real figure could be way above 3 million.

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LONDON — British authorities are likely to tighten restrictions on more areas of the country this week, amid mixed signs about whether recent measures have stemmed a steep rise in coronavirus infections.

Government scientific advisers say there are some signs the increase has begun to level off since a three-tier virus risk system of restrictions came into effect, but that it’s too soon to be certain.

A large chunk of northern England, including the major cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield, has been placed in the top tier of “very high” risk, with pubs closed and people from different households barred from mixing.

The regional disparities are causing friction between local politicians in the north and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, which has been accused of not doing enough to support people and businesses hit by the local lockdowns.

The government is talking to local leaders in other areas, including the city of Warrington in northwest England and the central England county of Nottinghamshire, about moving into the highest tier.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have established their own public health rules, with Wales introducing the strictest measure: a 17-day lockdown for all its 3 million people.

Britain has Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with almost 45,000 confirmed deaths.

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Categories: National News