SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea’s new coronavirus tally has come below 50 for the first time in about 50 days amid a downward trend in new infections.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Tuesday the 38 cases added in the last 24 hours took the country’s total to 23,699 with 407 deaths.
South Korea had seen a viral resurgence, mostly in the densely populated Seoul area since early last month. But its caseload has recently begun slowing after authorities enforced stringent social distancing rules. The anti-disease agency says 17 of the new cases were reported in the Seoul area.
Many experts have warned the virus could spread again after this week’s traditional Chuseok autumn holidays.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— India’s confirmed coronavirus tally reaches 6 million cases
— Zimbabwe begins gradual reopening of schools amid virus
— For Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews, coronavirus restrictions raise numerous questions about how to maintain their religious lifestyle during the outbreak
— Standoff over Madrid’s response to virus pandemic continues
— U.S. to ship millions of tests in push to reopen K-12 schools
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
FRANKFORT, Kentucky -- Warning of a growing complacency in fighting the coronavirus, Kentucky’s governor said Monday the state is experiencing a surge in cases that needs to be met with a commitment to public mask wearing.
The Bluegrass State had nearly 5,000 coronavirus cases last week — the most in a single week since the pandemic began, Gov. Andy Beshear said at a news conference. After about seven months of efforts to contain the virus, he warned that some people are becoming casual in responding to the health crisis, which could lead to more cases and ultimately more deaths.
“The virus is here and it waits for us to get casual,” Beshear told reporters.
His warning of a renewed surge of COVID-19 cases came on a day many children returned to school across the state.
In recent weeks, Kentucky has repeatedly set record highs for weekly virus cases. The governor urged people to wear masks in public and follow other health guidelines to contain the virus. With colder weather approaching, more people will be inside, where the virus spreads faster, he said.
“Folks, we’ve been at this long enough to know what we can do to reduce the number of cases,” Beshear said. “We’ve done it several times. We’re having the largest number of cases right now. We’ve got to have urgency.”
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s governor says the state is showing signs of a potential new surge of coronavirus cases.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that could prompt another shutdown of businesses and further delay school reopenings.
A business industry expert says a slow-down of business reopenings could not come at a worse time, especially for retailers who depend on the holiday shopping season for a majority of their annual sales.
Rex Hime, president and CEO of the California Business Properties Association, which is a group representing owners of commercial properties, said the consequences of a third shutdown “will be devastating.”
Newsom said his message to the business community and parents of school-aged children is to “abide by these mask mandates.”
Newsom also received a flu shot during his news conference on Monday, and urged others to do the same.
MONTREAL — The premier of Quebec says the two biggest cities in the Canadian province are returning to the highest COVID-19 alert level.
Quebec reported 896 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the province’s highest single-day tally in months.
Montreal and Quebec City are included in the “red zone” lockdown. The measures will last from Oct. 1 to Oct. 28.
Premier Francois Legault says there should be no guests in homes with a few exceptions for help. He says restaurants and bars will close except for delivery. He also says outdoor gatherings require two meters of spacing.
Legault says the objective is to protect schools.
TORONTO — The premier of Canada’s largest province says his government was looking at all options to combat an alarming surge in cases after the Ontario reported a record 700 new cases on Monday.
Premier Doug Ford called the daily number extremely troubling and called on the public to help fight the latest spike.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health says the province must work to flatten the curve of the virus again to allow hospitals to respond without being overwhelmed. Dr. David Williams says people became too casual as virus numbers improved in late August, and urged them to now be more vigilant.
The latest figures prompted Ontario’s hospitals to call on the government to reinstate restrictions.
The Ontario Hospital Association said the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa should move back to Stage Two of the province’s pandemic response, which saw restrictions on non-essential businesses like restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice made an impassioned plea Monday for as many people as possible — healthy or otherwise — in the state’s most populous county to get tested for the coronavirus in an attempt to slow its spread.
In announcing plans for “massively, aggressively” testing people in Kanawha County, Justice said at a news conference that multiple testing sites will be available this week.
The county, whose seat includes the capital of Charleston, leads the state by far in active virus cases with at least 980 in a state with nearly 4,000 active cases. The county has at least 77, or 23%, of the state’s 337 virus-related deaths.
Four weeks into the public school year, classrooms have yet to open to students in Kanawha County because the rate of virus cases exceeds the state-mandated threshold for in-person classes.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is raising alarm about the emergence of a handful of coronavirus hot spots in New York.
The Democratic governor said Monday that just 10 ZIP codes represent a quarter of the state’s new infections in recent testing. New York has reported just over 11,500 new coronavirus infections over the past two weeks. Cuomo says the state has 200 rapid testing machines available.
A disproportionate number of new cases have come from a handful of communities in and north of New York City that are home to many Orthodox Jews. Cuomo warned his administration could close schools where too many people are testing positive.
BOISE, Idaho — Officials say Idaho has more than 40,500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and some health experts are warning that the state in the western U.S. is entering its third wave of new infections.
Former St. Luke’s Health System CEO Dr. David Pate is a a member of the state’s coronavirus task force and says Idaho is being hit with what could become its largest spike of cases so far as students return to school and colder weather limits outdoor activities.
Brigham Young University-Idaho officials warned students last week that that the school could close its campus if people flaunt social distancing and mask requirements and cases continue to rise.
CHICAGO — Restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus in Chicago’s restaurants and bars will ease slightly this week, letting more customers dine and drink indoors.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the decision Monday as Illinois officials said 1,709 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been reported statewide and 13 more people have died.
Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported 289,639 confirmed cases and 8,614 deaths. According to state health data, 79,765 of those cases and 2,956 deaths have involved residents of Chicago, the third-largest city in the U.S.
Statewide, 3.7% of the tests performed during the last seven days have been positive. In Chicago, Lightfoot said that figure is at 4.5%.
The changes to Chicago’s rules will let restaurants increase capacity from 25% to 40% — with a cap at 50 people within one room. Bars without food service, which the city shut down this summer after a brief reopening, can resume indoor service at 25% capacity or a maximum of 50 people.
STILLWATER, Okla. — Stillwater Public Schools students and their families are suffering personal and financial hardships as a result of the district’s distance and remote learning plan enacted because of the coronavirus pandemic, a group of parents allege in a lawsuit filed Monday.
The lawsuit, filed in Payne County against the district, superintendent and board members, is demanding the district provide access to in-person classroom instruction and reopen all public school facilities.
The district is currently offering a mixed schedule, dubbed the A-B plan, with students reporting to in-person classes two days a week and distance learning three days a week. Payne County is among about two dozen Oklahoma counties in the Orange 2 designation, the second-highest level, with between 25 and 50 confirmed coronavirus cases per 100,000 population, according to State Health Department data.
A spokesman for the district, Barry Fuxa, declined to comment on the lawsuit specifically but noted the district is following Oklahoma State Department of Education guidelines for determining when to limit in-person instruction.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas is reporting another seven-day record for new coronavirus cases, with 16% of tests for the virus during that period coming back positive.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Monday that the U.S. state had 2,037 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases since Friday, an increase of 3.6%, for a total of 58,629 since the pandemic reached the state in early March.
Kansas had an average of 667 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday, or 7% higher than the previous record of 622 for the seven days ending Wednesday.
The state also reported five new COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the pandemic total to 637. Deaths continued to represent about 1.1% of the total cases.
ROME — More Italian regions are mulling outside mask mandates amid a steady increase in infections and indications that testing capacity can’t keep up with the demand.
Italy added 1,494 coronavirus infections and 16 deaths to its confirmed COVID toll Monday, in line with its daily increase for the past few weeks. While Italy has managed to test around 105,000 people a day during weekdays, processing slows down considerably over the weekend, and Italian labs managed only 51,109 tests in the past 24 hours.
The Lazio region around Rome is the latest to announce it is considering requiring residents to wear masks outdoors as its infections grow and testing capacities lag. Residents are reporting a weeklong wait for results, prompting officials to announce they’ll start using quicker but less accurate rapid tests in schools next week.
Sicily over the weekend joined southern Campania and the city of Genoa in announcing outdoor mask mandates. The Campania region around Naples led the country in adding the most new infections Monday, at 295; Sicily added 102 — almost as many as Europe’s original virus epicenter in Lombardy.
MADRID — After ending a meeting with Madrid regional officials without agreeing how to tackle a wave of coronavirus infections, Spain’s health minister has pleaded again for tougher measures in the capital.
Salvador Illa said that the Madrid region, home to 6.6 million, “has community transmission and the pandemic is not under control.”
“It’s already too late and we need to act with determination,” he said.
The national government wants to see existing restrictions against the spread of the virus extended to the entire city while regional officials say time is needed to see if the current limitations have an effect and that drastic measures would hurt further Spain’s economy.
The disagreement has played out publicly, raising concern among many in Madrid and the rest of Spain.
The country’s coronavirus tally on Monday reached 748,266 infections since the onset of the pandemic, 31,785 more since Friday, official data showed. There were 179 new fatalities for COVID-19, bringing the total death toll to 31,411, although experts think many more deaths have not been recorded due to limited testing.
With 290 cases per 100,000 people in two weeks, Spain is by far leading Europe’s infections during this second wave. The rate is particularly high in the capital, Madrid, with 775 new cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days.
Madrid has limited all social gatherings to a maximum of 6 people, reduced attendance in shops and restaurants, and restricted mobility from and to 45 neighborhoods of the region.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is imposing further restrictive measures in an effort to curb a recent record surge of coronavirus infections in the country.
Calling the current situation “extraordinary serious,” Prime Minister Igor Matovic says most public gatherings will be banned, starting Thursday.
All family, sports, cultural or religious events are affected by the ban. Soccer matches and other similar competitions will be allowed to take place only if everyone involved tests negative for the coronavirus within 12 hours.
The exceptions include weddings, baptisms and funerals.
Also, all bars, restaurants and clubs must close at 10 p.m.
Similar to the restrictions adopted in the spring, face masks will be mandatory outside if people are closer to one another than 2 meters (yards). The number of people in stores will be limited to one customer per 10 square meters (108 square feet).
Slovakia faced a spike in day-to-day increases of new COVID-19 cases for several days last week, with a record of 552 set on Friday.
GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization says it and partners have agreed to a plan to roll out 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for the coronavirus to help lower- and middle-income countries make up ground in a testing gap with richer countries — even if it’s not fully funded yet.
At $5 apiece, the cost of the antigen-based rapid diagnostic test for which WHO issued an emergency-use listing last week, the program initially requires $600 million. It is supposed to get started as early as next month to provide better access in areas where it’s harder to get the PCR tests that are used often in many wealthier nations.
The rapid tests look for antigens, or proteins found on the surface of the virus. They are generally considered less accurate, though much faster, than higher-grade genetic tests, known as PCR tests. Those tests require processing with specialty lab equipment and chemicals. Typically that turnaround takes several days to deliver results to patients.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed the program as “good news” in the fight against COVID-19.