Tue. 10:41 a.m.: Latest world virus headlines — Spain doctors stage walkout over health system
Here are summaries of the latest The Associated Press stories worldwide about the coronavirus pandemic, including:
— Spanish doctors stage 24-hour walkout to protest weak public health system;
— Russia issues nationwide mask requirement amid surge of cases;
— Iran, Hungary hit record single-day virus death tolls;
— India reports lowest one-day tally of new cases in three months;
— European nations enact sweeping restrictions like curfews to try to slow surging infection rates;
— Second German district goes into lockdown as new cases surge;
— Mississippi governor expands mask mandate; Illinois and Kentucky governors urge more caution.
MADRID — Spanish doctors are staging their first national walkout in 25 years to protest what they say are poor working conditions and the weakened state of the national public health system.
The 24-hour strike was called by the State Confederation of Medical Unions, which wants health authorities to negotiate changes in the sector. The confederation says the coronavirus pandemic has exposed a lack of investment public health system in recent decades.
The protest came as the government said its proposed 2021 state budget includes a 151 percent increase in spending for the public health sector.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian health authorities reported a surge in coronavirus deaths today, pushing the number of daily deaths to a new record.
The government data shows 63 deaths the past 24 hours, up from 47 deaths a day earlier. The number of new confirmed cases, reported at 2,079 today, has been above 2,000 for the sixth consecutive day.
Hungary’s Parliament passed new legislation on Monday that tightens the rules governing home quarantine and stipulates the fines for breaching these rules.
Authorities in the country of nearly 10 million have conducted about one million tests so far. The totals have reached 63,642 infections and 1,535 deaths.
TEHRAN — Iran has again hit a record single-day COVID-19 death toll, reporting 346 new deaths. That brings the country’s total virus deaths to 33,299, the highest virus toll in the Mideast.
Iran Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari also said today that daily new coronavirus cases have also hit a record, with 6,968 reported. That brings Iran’s total number of infections to 581,824.
She also said 4,995 COVID-19 patients are in serious condition.
JERUSALEM — Israel has appointed a new coronavirus czar as it slowly emerges from a second nationwide lockdown amid widespread criticism of the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Dr. Nachman Ash, a retired brigadier general and former surgeon general of the Israeli military, will take over from Dr. Ronni Gamzu, a leading public health expert whose three-month tenure was marred by political infighting and public anger at the government’s response to the outbreak.
Israel imposed a second nationwide lockdown in mid-September after a surge in new cases threatened to overwhelm the health system. The rate of new cases has declined since the lockdown was imposed. Authorities have lifted restrictions on movement, but most schools and businesses remain closed.
Israel hopes to avoid repeating its experience last spring, when an earlier lockdown largely succeeded in containing the outbreak before authorities abruptly lifted most restrictions. Cases shot up while the economy failed to recover, stoking public anger and weekly protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel has reported more than 300,000 cases and 2,452 virus deaths
MADRID — Spain’s Canary Islands aim to pass a law this week demanding a negative COVID-19 test result from tourists wanting to visit the archipelago off northwest Africa.
Canary Islands President Ángel Víctor Torres says the measure will apply to both Spaniards and foreigners. New infections have been soaring across Spain except for the Canary Islands, a popular tourist destination that is 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) southwest of Madrid.
He said the law was being prepared even before the U.K. and Germany recently lifted travel restrictions to the Canary Islands. Those two countries account for more than half the archipelago’s 13 million annual visitors.
Any tourist without a certified document confirming a negative test result between 48 and 72 hours before their arrival won’t be allowed inside any accommodations on the island. The visitor will be asked to go to a local testing center at their own expense.
Officials in the Canary Islands have officially recorded almost 17,000 cases of coronavirus and 272 deaths.
BERLIN — A second German district has gone into a de-facto lockdown as new coronavirus infections surge in the country and across Europe.
The restrictions in Bavaria’s Rottal-Inn county, on the border with Austria, began today, news agency dpa reported. 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, measures are required once new infections top the 50 per 100,000 mark.
Today, the country’s national disease control center reported 11,409 new infections. Another 42 people died, bringing the country’s overall virus death toll to 10,098.
Hospitals and intensive units are filling up again and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed grave concern, saying the current restrictions are not strong enough to slow down the spread of the virus.
Merkel will meet with the state governors Wednesday and the government is likely to introduce further restrictions.
PARIS — France’s government is holding emergency virus meetings today and warning of possible new lockdowns, as hospitals fill up with new COVID patients and doctors plead for backup.
President Emmanuel Macron is convening top ministers and Prime Minister Jean Castex is meeting with lawmakers, unions and business lobbies as the government weighs its next steps in the fight against surging infections. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France-Inter radio that “we should expect difficult decisions.”
Among possible new measures for the hardest-hit areas are lengthening existing curfews, full confinement on weekends or all week, and closing non-essential businesses.
Doctors describe growing pressure on emergency services and intensive care wards, where COVID patients now take up 54 percent of beds nationwide.
France is now reporting more than 350 new cases per 100,000 people each week, and nearly 18 percent of its widespread tests are now coming back positive. It has reported Europe’s third-highest virus death toll, at more than 35,000 lives lost.
MOSCOW — Russian authorities today have issued a nationwide mask requirement amid a rapid resurgence of the coronavirus outbreak.
Health authorities registered 16,550 new cases and 320 new deaths today, the highest daily death toll since the beginning of the pandemic.
Russia’s public health agency, Rospotrebnadzor, ordered all Russians to wear masks in crowded public spaces, on public transport, in taxis, at parking lots and in elevators starting on Wednesday. The agency also recommended regional authorities put a curfew on entertainment events, cafes, restaurants and bars from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Russia has the world’s fourth largest tally of over 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases. The government’s coronavirus task force has been reporting over over 15,000 new infections every day since last Sunday, which is much higher than in the spring.
Russia has reported more than 26,000 virus-related deaths.
Despite the sharp spike in daily new infections, Russian authorities have repeatedly dismissed the idea of imposing a second national lockdown or shutting down businesses. Most virus-related restrictions were lifted during the summer.
BRUSSELS — Former Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes remained hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19 but her condition is improving, her spokeswoman said today.
In a message to The Associated Press, Elke Pattyn said Wilmes “is getting better every day” although she will stay in intensive care until further notice.
Wilmes, who as Belgium’s leader led the country’s fight against the coronavirus, was hospitalized last Wednesday.
The 45-year-old Wilmes handed the reins to Alexander de Croo earlier this month and is now Belgian’s foreign minister. She was in charge when the first wave of infections hit the country this spring. She says she thought she got infected within her family circle.
NEW DELHI — Authorities in India are reporting 36,470 newly confirmed coronavirus infections. That’s the lowest one-day tally in more than three months in a continuing downward trend.
In its report today, the Health Ministry also listed 488 new fatalities from COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, raising the overall death toll to 119,502.
India’s overall total of cases for the pandemic is nearing 8 million, trailing only the United States, which has over 8.7 million.
The case number reported today is the lowest since India had 35,065 newly confirmed infections on July 17. Last month, the country hit a peak of nearly 100,000 cases in a single day, but daily infections have been decreasing since then.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky’s governor is urging people in the state’s counties hit hardest by the pandemic to take stricter steps to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Gov. Andy Beshear stressed Monday that he is only offering recommendations — not mandates.
Beshear says people should avoid hosting or attending gatherings of any size. He says employers should allow employees to work from home when possible, and noncritical government offices should operate virtually. Also, he says, in-person shopping should be reduced, with people opting to order online for pickup.
The recommendations are aimed at the 55 counties — nearly half of all Kentucky counties — with the highest infection rates. Those counties have a daily average of at least 25 new virus cases per 100,000 residents.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is again imploring people in his state to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, which can cause the sometimes deadly COVID-19.
During his daily briefing Monday, delivered from the OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Pritzker said there is a “COVID storm on the rise, and we have to get prepared.”
Pritzker spoke two days after Illinois officials reported 6,131 coronavirus infections, which was a new single-day high for the state.
His public health director reported another 4,729 fresh cases Monday, with 17 deaths from COVID-19.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is expanding a mask mandate to seven additional counties to try to control the spread of the coronavirus as cases increase rapidly in some areas.
His new order takes effect Wednesday and lasts until at least Nov. 11.
Sixteen of Mississippi’s 82 counties will now have a requirement for people to wear face coverings when they are indoors away from their homes. Social gatherings in those 16 counties also will be limited to 10 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.
Reeves says the restrictions are in counties that have had at least 200 confirmed virus cases or at least 500 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents during a recent two-week period.
WASHINGTON — The White House coronavirus response coordinator said Monday that North Dakota’s capital city had the worst COVID-19 protocols she’s seen in her travels around the country after she spent a day looking around.
Dr. Deborah Birx, whose tour has taken her to nearly 40 states, said she found the absence of face coverings and the lack of social distancing in Bismarck “deeply unfortunate” and a danger to public health.
North Dakota continues to rank first in the country for new virus cases per capita in the last two weeks, according to The COVID Tracking Project, and the Bismarck area has in recent months been a hot spot.
North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has not ordered a statewide mask mandate, instead urging people to wear masks out of personal responsibility and care for others.
Burgum said he and Birx “have been in complete agreement since the beginning of this,” local media reported.
MILAN — Protesters turned out in Turin, Milan and other Italian cities and towns on Monday to vent their anger, sometimes violently, over the latest COVID-19 rules, which have forced restaurants and cafes to close early and shuttered cinema, gyms and other leisure venues.
In the northern city of Turin, demonstrators broke off from a peaceful protest, smashing store windows on an elegant shopping street, setting off smoke bombs and hurling bottles at police in the main square where the Piedmont regional government is based, RAI state TV said.
A photographer was injured by a hurled bottle, RAI said. Police fired tear gas to clear the protesters.
Hours earlier, some 300 taxis peacefully lined up in neat rows to draw attention to their economic losses.
In the business capital of Milan, police used tear gas on Monday to scatter protesters, and at least two people were detained, an AP journalist at the scene said.
GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization dismissed suggestions from a top White House aide that the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t be controlled, saying that giving up on suppressing the virus is dangerous.
On Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said officials in the U.S. would not be able to control the coronavirus because it is “a contagious virus just like the flu.”
Asked to respond to Meadows’ comments at a press briefing on Monday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “giving up on control is dangerous.”
Tedros said that while the U.N. health agency agreed with the U.S.’ priority to protect the most vulnerable from COVID-19, more stringent measures should be taken to stop the coronavirus.
Tedros called for both governments and their citizens to each do their part to contain the pandemic.