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Wednesday July 28th, 2021 12:31AM

The Latest: Michigan grad students strike over virus issues

By The Associated Press
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Graduate students who teach classes were on strike Tuesday at the University of Michigan over in-person instruction during the coronavirus pandemic and other issues.

The strikers chanted and held umbrellas while marching in the rain. “I do not want my students and colleagues to get a chronic illness because this university decided it was most important to collect tuition,” Surabhi Balachander wrote on Twitter.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization, which represents more than 1,000 instructors, has called for a four-day strike.

Most classes at the University of Michigan have shifted to online. But the union says the university isn’t doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It robust plans for testing, contact tracing, and campus safety. It wants plans for testing and contact tracing, allowing graduate employees to work remotely and a more flexible childcare subsidy.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald says the strike is illegal under state law and the union contract, and the university plans to continue classes in the event of a strike.

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

— Britain faces rising coronavirus cases at 3,000 daily

— Retiree in Austria gets U.S. virus relief check

— India reports 1,133 deaths, its highest single-day total

— Organizers, IOC try to remove doubts about Tokyo Olympics. IOC member John Coates says the games will happen despite the pandemic.

— Chinese leader Xi Jinpin praised China's role in battling coronavirus. He also supported the World Health Organization in a repudiation of U.S. criticism and bid to rally domestic support.

— Dozens of health-care workers in the Gaza Strip have been infected by the coronavirus during an outbreak that was first detected last month.

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PRAGUE — Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has reacted angrily to the local branch of World Health Organization voicing its opposition to his country’s possible plan to reduce contract tracing for the coronavirus.

The WHO says the situation in the Czech Republic “is concerning” and data shows “elevated and growing levels of transmission across many regions and districts.” It says the solution is not to stop tracing, but to rapidly scale up the service.

Babis tweeted the WHO should “keep quiet,” saying the country has one of the lowest death rates in Europe.

The Czech Republic has registered a surge of confirmed cases to record levels in recent days. Health authorities in Prague acknowledged they have reached their limit in contact tracing and up to 30% of contacts are not identified.

Health Minister Adam Vojtech says the plans is to make contact tracing more effective, not reduce it.

The Czech Republic has 28,716 confirmed cases and 437 confirmed deaths.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish health officials reported 243 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, mainly in the capital of Copenhagen and Odense, the third-largest city.

The cases were mainly in private homes and among young people. There were reports several public and private companies have asked employees to work from home.

On Monday, the government lowered the size of gatherings from 100 to 50 in greater Copenhagen, and announced bars and restaurants should close at midnight instead of 2 a.m.

Suburban Copenhagen police said Tuesday they’d increase patrolling to make sure people respect the rules. Overall, Denmark has 18,356 confirmed cases and 628 deaths.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is requiring masks in all locations apart from homes, following a spike in the number of COVID-19 infections.

An Interior Ministry circular sent to the country’s 81 provinces on Tuesday says “citizens are obliged to wear masks without exception in all areas” excluding their residences.

Previously, the wearing of masks was mandatory in most public spaces, in shops and on public transportation, but not at workplaces.

On Monday, Turkey reported 1,703 new daily infections, the highest since mid-May.

Last week, Turkey barred social gatherings such as wedding and engagement parties and henna nights and restricted marriage ceremonies to one hour.

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LONDON — The British government is facing pressure to keep a lid on coronavirus infections after a sharp spike in new cases across the U.K.

The figures released Monday showed nearly 3,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day running. There is mounting speculation the British government is considering tightening some restrictions, such as reducing gatherings indoors in England from the current limit of 30.

The U.K. has Europe’s worst death toll from the virus, recording more than 41,500 deaths. The actual toll is believed to be far higher as the government tally doesn’t include those who died without having been tested.

On Monday, Britain processed around 175,000 tests. Although the higher cases can partly be attributed to more testing, it’s clear there’s been an uptick in the past few weeks -- daily infections are about double the level they were the previous week. In some places, local outbreaks in Britain have been so severe that many lockdown restrictions have been reinstated.

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NEW DELHI, India — India officials say Russia had approached it to conduct Phase 3 clinical trials for the experimental Sputnik V vaccine and for Indian companies to potentially manufacture it.

Russian scientists published results from early trials of the experimental Sputnik V vaccine on Friday. Developers say the vaccine appeared to be safe and prompted an antibody response in all 40 people tested in the second phase of the study within three weeks.

The vaccine received government approval last month but drew considerable criticism from health experts because the shots had only been tested on several dozen people.

Dr. V.K. Paul heads a government task force on vaccines and called the partnership a “win-win for India and the world.” He says Tuesday that Russia had asked for assistance to conduct more research, including Phase 3 clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in India.

Officials say some companies had already come forward.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch public health institute says 5,247 people tested positive on Tuesday, an increase of 1,830 from the previous week.

There were 17 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, seven fewer than the previous week.

The increased infections came after schools reopened in recent weeks, but the health institute say there was “no significant increase” linked to transmissions at schools. It says a few clusters at schools involved mainly adults infecting other adults.

The health institute says the percentage of positive tests rose to 2.8% compared to 2.2% in the previous week.

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BERLIN -- A retiree in Austria says he received a U.S. government coronavirus relief check for $1,200, despite not having lived in America for over half a century.

The check, with President Donald Trump’s name on it, is part of a massive federal stimulus program. But the money also has been sent to people who aren’t eligible -- including deceased U.S. taxpayers.

Austrian public broadcaster ORF reports the 73-year-old man from Linz, who worked as a waiter in the United States for two years in the 1960s, was able to cash the check.

His wife, who never worked or lived in the United States, got one too.

ORF reports banks in Austria confirm they’ve cashed dozens of checks for residents of the Alpine country. It’s unclear how many were entitled to the money.

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — The Indonesian government announced the country has surpassed 200,000 coronavirus cases on Tuesday.

The National Task Force for COVID-19 Mitigation reported 3,046 new coronavirus cases in Indonesia, bringing the total to 200,035 confirmed cases. It reported 100 people died in the last 24 hours, reaching a confirmed death toll of 8,230.

National COVID-19 Mitigation Task Force spokesperson Wiku Adisasmito says, “We have to pay attention to our condition today as President Joko Widodo said that we have to take care of the health affairs first so the economic situation can get better.”

Indonesian government imposed large-scale social restrictions in the regions of the country in April. The regional governments lifted the restrictions and reopened the business activities in June.

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HONG KONG — Hong Kong is further relaxing social distancing measures, as the territory’s number of new coronavirus cases dwindles.

Hong Kong reported another six cases of the virus on Tuesday.

From Friday, the limit on public gatherings will be relaxed to four people, up from two people. Most indoor and outdoor sports facilities, as well as museums will be allowed to re-open.

The city has seen its coronavirus cases dwindle after a surge in locally-transmitted infections in July. Hong Kong has reported a total of 4,896 infections since the pandemic began, with 99 deaths.

Hong Kong officials said Tuesday that the city is in talks with 11 countries about setting up travel bubbles, which would allow residents to travel internationally even amid the pandemic.

Such travel bubbles would include a pre-flight coronavirus test that will be mutually recognized by both Hong Kong and the partnering country.

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BERLIN — Austria’s leader says he wants to keep both ski resorts and schools open this winter as the country tries to keep coronavirus infections down while supporting the tourism industry.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said during a visit to Slovenia on Tuesday that the government will do everything to ensure that safe skiing is possible. The Austrian ski resort of Ischgl became an early European hot spot as the pandemic took off in March.

The Austria Press Agency reported that Kurz said that “we must try to lead as normal a life as possible in all areas of our life” and added that “winter tourism and skiing will be possible.” Asked whether skiing areas might have to be closed so that schools can remain open longer, he said: “I would not like to play schools the economy off against each other.”

Kurz said that post-skiing partying won’t be possible in the way it was previously, but didn’t give details.

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NEW DELHI — India has reported 1,133 deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, its highest single-day total.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported 75,809 new cases, raising India’s reported tally to nearly 4.3 million — second only to the United States and maintaining an upward surge amid an ease in nationwide restrictions to help mitigate the economic pain.

The country’s death toll now stands at 72,775.

The rise in cases is partly due to increased testing. The number of daily tests conducted across the country has risen to more than a million. Nearly 3.3 million people in India have recovered from COVID-19 so far.

The pandemic has been economically devastating for India. Its economy contracted nearly 24% in the second quarter, the worst among the world’s top economies.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 136 new cases of the coronavirus, mostly in the greater capital area, where authorities have tightened dining restrictions and shut down certain businesses to slow the viral spread.

The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday brought the nation's reported cases since the pandemic began to 21,432. Five patients, between the ages of 75 and 90, died in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 341.

KCDC said 100 of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, where restaurants are currently required to provide only deliveries and takeouts after 9 p.m.

After-school academies and indoor sports facilities such as fitness centers and billiard clubs have also been ordered to close to slow the spread of the virus.

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CAIRO — The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Egypt has passed 100,000.

The Health Ministry reported 178 new cases late Monday. Since the pandemic began Egypt has recorded 5,541 virus deaths.

Egypt has recently relaxed most of its restrictions taken to stem the speed of the virus.

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