LONDON — The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the planet has passed 40 million.
The milestone was passed early Monday according to Johns Hopkins University, which collates reporting from around the world.
The actual worldwide figure of COVID-19 cases is likely to be far higher, as testing has been variable, many people have had no symptoms and some governments have concealed the true number of cases. To date, more than 1.1 million confirmed virus deaths have been reported.
The U.S., Brazil and India are reporting by far the highest numbers of cases, although the increase in recent weeks has been driven by a surge in Europe.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Confirmed cases worldwide top 40 million.
— Coronavirus vaccines will require non-stop sterile refrigeration to stay potent and safe, which may leave 3 billion people without access to them
— India reports lowest daily virus death toll in three months; Poland turns National Stadium into a field hospital
— To avoid the economic hit of full lockdowns, some places where virus is resurgent are trying more targeted restrictions this time
— Congress is past the point of delivering more coronavirus relief before the Nov. 3 election, with Washington’s differences proving insurmountable
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
VIENNA — Austria will limit private gatherings to six people indoors and 12 outdoors in response to increasing coronavirus infections.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the new restrictions will take effect on Friday. Kurz said after a videoconference with provincial governors on Monday that professional events such as soccer games and operas will only be possible with assigned seats and mask-wearing throughout, and without food and drink being served. There will be a maximum of 1,000 people indoors and 1,500 outdoors.
Kurz acknowledged that new restrictions are unpopular but said they’re necessary. He said the next few months will be challenging “simply because all of us in Austria and Europe are already tired of corona, but it will take months before we can really achieve a breakthrough with a vaccine.”
Austria, a country of some 8.9 million people, has recorded as many as 1,750 new infections per day in recent days — as in many other European countries, seeing the highest numbers since the pandemic began. It has recorded 105.6 new cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s government is transforming the National Stadium in Warsaw into a field hospital to handle the surging number of patients infecting with the coronavirus.
The stadium, with a seating capacity of over 58,500, was constructed to host matches for the Euro 2012 soccer championship.
Government spokesman Piotr Müller said Monday the stadium will have room for 500 patients and will be equipped with oxygen therapy.
“We can see that the number of cases is growing so fast that we need to secure places for hospitalization for those who need it,” Müller said, speaking on TVP Info, state TV’s all-news channel.
However, it was unclear how the government would staff the hospital given widespread reports of shortages of doctors and other medical officials across the country.
Poland experienced very low rates of infection in the spring compared to western European countries but is now witnessing an exponential surge of coronavirus infections.
On Monday, the Health Ministry recorded 7,482 new coronavirus infections over the previous day and 41 deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, the nation of 38 million has recorded 183,248 and 3,614 deaths.
LONDON — Britain’s government says discussions about implementing stricter restrictions in Greater Manchester must be completed Monday because the public health threat caused by rising COVID-19 infections here is serious and getting worse.
Local officials have resisted plans to move the region and its 2.8 million people into Tier 3, the highest level of restrictions, because they say the Conservative government isn’t offering enough financial support for people and businesses that will be harmed by new lockdown restrictions.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and Sean Fielding, a local council leader, both described talks over the weekend as “constructive.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has threatened impose measures unilaterally if agreement can’t be reached.
Jenrick told the BBC that the government was “willing to continue and have final discussions with council leaders and the mayor in Greater Manchester today to see if we can reach an amicable agreement because we think that that is the most effective way of proceeding.”
Britain has Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with over 43,700 confirmed virus deaths.
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia has formally declared an epidemic of the coronavirus amid a major surge in infections.
The 30-day period starting Monday allows the government to impose further restrictions to combat the outbreak. It was not immediately clear what the measures will be.
So far, Slovenia has tightened face mask rules, curbed the work of bars and restaurants and switched most schoolchildren and university students from classroom to online teaching.
The country of 2 million people was the first in Europe in May to declare the end of the epidemic after the spring wave.
The Alpine nation in the past week has reported hundreds of new cases daily and increased hospitalizations. The country has reported 188 deaths since the start of the outbreak.
Prime Minister Janez Jansa said late on Sunday that people’s health comes first. He has urged the citizens to act responsibly.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The city-state of Dubai is allowing weddings and major social events to resume at halls, hotels and homes after a months-long ban, even as the country’s coronavirus infections reach new heights.
Dubai authorities say that starting this week, wedding halls will reopen for receptions with a maximum of 200 guests and strict conditions, including social distancing, masks and a four-hour time limit on festivities. Residents can now throw celebrations in their homes and outdoor tents for the first time since early March, with a maximum capacity of 30 people.
The city is loosening restrictions even as infections in the United Arab Emirates continue to climb, with over 1,000 new cases recorded daily amid an aggressive testing campaign. The federation of seven sheikhdoms has reported more than 115,600 cases and 460 deaths.
NEW DELHI — India has reported 579 fatalities from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the lowest increase in three months, driving its death toll to 114,610.
The Health Ministry on Monday also reported 55,722 new cases of coronavirus infection, raising India’s total to more than 7.5 million, second in the world behind the U.S.
A government-appointed committee of scientists said Sunday the epidemic may have peaked in India and the disease was likely to “run its course” by February 2021 if people used masks and adhered to physical distancing measures.
The number of new infections confirmed each day has declined for a month. The committee said even if active cases increased during the upcoming festive season and cold weather, they were unlikely to surpass India’s record daily high of 97,894 cases.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea on Monday began testing tens of thousands of employees of hospitals and nursing homes to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks at live-in facilities.
Fifteen of the 76 latest cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency were from Busan, where more than 70 infections have been linked to a hospital for the elderly. The disease caused by the coronavirus can be more serious in older people.
Health workers have been scrambling to track infections in the Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country’s 51 million people, as the virus spreads in a variety of places, including hospitals, churches, schools and workplaces.
From Monday, they will start a process to test 130,000 workers at hospitals, nursing homes and senior centers in the greater capital area. Officials will also test 30,000 patients who have visited and used these facilities, but will leave out hospitalized patients, who already receive tests when they are admitted.
Officials plan to complete the tests within October and could possibly expand the screening to other regions if needed.
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