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Friday September 24th, 2021 5:41PM

The Latest: More UK restrictions expected in virus fight

By The Associated Press
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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 says it 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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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

— Europe’s restaurants and bars are being walloped by new virus curfews and restrictions

— Spain announces a state of emergency to tamp down surging virus infections

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

__ Fear and anxiety are spiking along with the virus in U.S. hot spots

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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:

PARIS — Virus patients now occupy more than half of France’s intensive care units, and some doctors are urging tougher restrictions after another record jump in confirmed infections.

Dr. Jean-Francois Delfraissy, head of the government’s virus advisory body, expressed surprise Monday at the “brutality” of the rise, after more than 52,000 new cases were reported Sunday.

Speaking on RTL radio, he floated the idea of local lockdowns or extending France’s 9p.m. to 6 a.m. curfews, which currently cover about half of the country and more than two-thirds of its people.

The number of people hospitalized in France with the virus has climbed sharply in recent weeks, putting renewed pressure on ICUs. COVID patients now fill more than two-thirds of the ICUs in the Paris region.

Dr. Eric Caumes, head of the infectious and tropical diseases department at Paris’ Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, told broadcaster Franceinfo on Monday that “we have lost control of the epidemic, though it doesn’t date from yesterday.”

France has been among countries hardest-hit by the pandemic, reporting 34,761 virus-related deaths. It is currently registering more than 340 positive cases per 100,000 people nationwide each week.

Delfraissy warns that this latest wave of the virus could be “stronger than the first” and is spreading all around Europe.

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ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatia’s minister of tourism has tested positive for coronavirus as the small European Union nation continued to report a surge in the new cases.

The state Hina news agency said Nikolina Brnjac tested positive after attending a government meeting Saturday. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic tested negative, the government said Monday, but two ministers who sat next to Brnjac have been told to self-isolate.

Experts in Croatia and some neighboring countries blame the country’s summer tourist season for the rise in new cases, saying there was little or no distancing on Adriatic beaches or in nightclubs.

On Saturday, Croatia’s daily number of new infections soared past 2,000 for the first time.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — As of Monday, Denmark lowered the limit for public gatherings to 10 from a previous 50 and urged that the same number is respected for get-togethers in private homes.

There were a few exceptions, namely sporting events where there can be a maximum of 500 people inside a stadium and funerals where 50 people can gather.

Another new restriction is no alcohol can be sold after 10 p.m.

From Thursday on, it will be mandatory in Denmark to wear face masks in public places like supermarkets, libraries and theaters.

Earlier the government has ordered people to wear face masks on public transportation and when walking inside restaurants, bars or cafes.

Denmark has had 40,356 confirmed virus cases and 702 reported deaths.

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s former coronavirus hot spot Melbourne will largely emerge from lockdown after the city on Monday recorded its first day without a new COVID-19 case in more than four months.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said from 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday all shops, restaurants, cafes and bars will be allowed to open and outdoors contact sports can resume.

From 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 8, Melbourne residents will no longer be restricted to traveling within 25 kilometers (16 miles) of their homes.

Melbourne, the nation’s second-largest city, has been under strict lockdown measures since early July and the state government has been accused of inflicting unnecessary economic damage by not relaxing restrictions sooner.

The last time Victoria recorded a 24-hour period without a single case was June 9 before a second wave of infections began. A week has passed since Victoria lost a life to COVID-19. The death of a man aged in his 90s on Oct. 19 brought the state’s death toll to 817. Only 88 people have died with COVID-19 elsewhere in Australia.

Victoria’s daily infection tally peaked at 725 in early August.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s Parliament has closed for the premises to be disinfected after COVID-19 was diagnosed in a police officer serving there.

A coronavirus cluster that began among garment factory workers earlier this month has grown to 4,400 cases, more than half the country’s total of 7,872. The death toll climbed to 16 on Sunday.

During the last 24 hours, 351 new patients have been detected and the majority are from the garment cluster.

To contain the spread, the government has closed schools and banned gatherings across Sri Lanka, and a curfew is in effect in many parts of Western province, where the infections have been concentrated.

Several thousand people have been asked to quarantine at home, while another 8,421 people are being quarantined at military-run centers.

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NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus cases are continuing to decline but rising air pollution and Hindu festivals are raising fears of new infections.

The Health Ministry said 45,148 new cases have taken India's tally to 7.9 million on Monday. It also reported 480 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising total fatalities to 119,014.

The Indian capital is seeing an upsurge with nearly 4,000 new cases, the highest in the past five weeks. Experts expressed concern over severe air pollution caused by farm fires, exhaust from diesel generators, dust from construction sites and burning of garbage.

“When you have high levels of air pollution you will see an increase of severe COVID-19 infections,” said Dr. Randeep Guleria, a government health expert.

The southern coastal state of Kerala is the second-worst state for active cases in the country. India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan blamed “gross negligence” during the 10-day Onam festival in late August.

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BERLIN — The head of the United Nations says that “the Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest crisis of our age.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened an online session Sunday of the World Health Summit with a call for worldwide solidarity in the global crisis and demanded that developed countries support health systems in countries that are short of resources.

The coronavirus pandemic is the overarching theme of the summit, which originally had been scheduled for Berlin. Several of the leaders and experts who spoke at the opening stressed the need to cooperate across borders.

“No one is safe from COVID-19. No one is safe until we are all safe from it,” said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “Even those who conquer the virus within their own borders remain prisoners within these borders until it is conquered everywhere.”

More than 42 million have been infected with the virus and over 1 million people have died of Covid.

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ROME — Italy’s one-day caseload of confirmed coronavirus infections jumped past 20,000 on Sunday, with more than a quarter of the new cases registered in Lombardy, the northern region which bore the brunt of the pandemic in the country earlier this year.

According to Health Ministry figures, there were 21,273 new cases since the previous day, raising Italy’s total of confirmed COVID-19 infections to 525,782.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the government’s latest crackdown on social freedoms, including closing restaurants in early evening and shuttering gyms, for the next 30 days, was warranted by the growth of the contagion curve worldwide, with a “very high wave” in all of Europe.

“Every choice brings sacrifices and renouncing” activities, Speranza said. “We must react immediately and with determination if we want to avoid unsustainable numbers.”

Italy’s confirmed death toll in the pandemic rose to 37,338, with 128 deaths since Saturday.

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PHOENIX -- Arizona health officials on Sunday reported 1,392 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths. It’s the highest reported single-day coronavirus case total in the state since Sept. 17.

Arizona has continued to see a slow yet steady increase in the average number of COVID-19 cases reported each day as a decline that lasted through August and September reverses.

State Department of Health Services officials said the latest numbers increase Arizona’s totals to 238,163 known infections and 5,874 known deaths.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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