The Latest: Italy Announces New National Virus Restrictions

Conte outlined the new measures to lawmakers Monday

WRVA News
November 02, 2020 - 1:13 pm
People walk in the Monumentale cemetery in the day devoted to remembrance of the departed, in Milan, Italy, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

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By The Associated Press

ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has announced new national restrictions aimed at halting the increase of coronavirus cases, including closing shopping malls on the weekends, shuttering museums and limiting movements between regions.

Conte outlined the new measures to lawmakers Monday, ahead of a new decree expected soon. He said shopping malls will be closed on weekends, except for food stores, newsstands, drugstores and tobacco shops located inside. He also announced the closure of gambling parlors and video game arcades.

He added that there will be a “late evening” curfew, but without providing a time. Currently only some regions, including Lazio where Rome is located, have a curfew.

He also said high schools, which are currently on ¾ distance learning, can go on full-time distance learning in a bid to help alleviate pressure on public transport.

Conte told lawmakers on that one big difference this time - compared to measures during the virus's last peak in March - is that some measures will vary by region, depending on how critical the virus’ spread is and pressure on hospitals.

In Florence, at the Uffizi Galleries, Italy’s biggest-drawing museum, director Eike Schmidt was inaugurating an exhibition about female power in ancient Rome when Conte made his announcement. The Uffizi director said the Galleries were ready to shut down “in the course of minutes” if ordered. But he stressed the museum hadn’t experience any crowding issues amid social-distancing rules.

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

— America stands at a crossroads the day before Election Day, facing a stark choice between candidates in the midst of historic pandemic

— Germany kicks off a partial lockdown, as several European countries tighten restrictions this week

— Police in Spain are on curfew patrol, wrangling groups of young people who are drinking outside as the country battles a surge in coronavirus infections

— Skeletons wear masks and surgical caps on Day of the Dead altars in Mexico, where many medical professionals were lost to COVID-19

— The BBC says Britain’s Prince William had the virus in April, around the same time as his father Prince Charles

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BRUSSELS — Belgium, which is proportionally the worst-hit nation in Europe when it comes to coronavirus cases, announced Monday that it is finally starting to see “some points of light” amid the dark, dire statistics of the past weeks.

Some critical statistical curves are starting to ease their upward rise, increasing hopes that measures taken in parts of the country last month are beginning to pay off.

“The number of infections and hospital admissions continue to rise but not as fast anymore,” said virologist Steven Van Gucht of the Sciensano government health group. “The high-speed train is somewhat easing up, even if it still rages on.”

Belgium has the highest proportional incidence of cases in the European Union with 1,781 per 100,000 people, while countries like Spain, Britain and Italy have less than a third of that concentration.

Despite such numbers, Van Gucht said that cases now rose at an adjusted 29 percent, “which is considerably lower than the past weeks, when increases were 100 percent on a weekly basis.”

There were fears that the capacity of beds in the intensive care units would have been reached by Friday, but Van Gucht said that the increase was somewhat slower there too.

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia tested over 3.5 million of its population over the weekend in a national rapid-testing program with about 1% testing positive for the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic says 3.625 million were tested across the country in the two days in the optional tests that looked for antigens. The plan was to test almost everyone older than 10 in the nation of 5.4 million. The results of the free tests were available for people in several minutes.

Thanking anyone who participated, he says the unprecedented program was conducted in efforts to avoid the country’s lockdown amid a surge of coronavirus infections. Those testing negative won’t have to abide by strict limits on movement imposed on citizens.

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ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatia has reported the highest daily death toll since the start of the new coronavirus outbreak with 32 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Authorities on Monday confirmed 1,165 new infections in the country of 4.2 million that has seen soaring numbers in the past several weeks.

Most of the infections have been recorded in the Croatian capital Zagreb. Croatia has evaded lockdown despite surging numbers but has limited gatherings and working hours of bars and restaurants.

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LISBON, Portugal -- Portugal’s president has marked a day of national mourning for COVID-19 victims with a ceremony outside his riverside “pink palace.”

A military band played the national anthem and the Portuguese flag was lowered to half-staff before President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and other high-ranking state officials, all wearing masks, observed a minute’s silence Monday.

Just over 2,500 have died from the coronavirus in Portugal. The country is introducing new restrictions from Wednesday that will affect some 7 million people -- around 70% of the population. The measures include mandatory working from home for those able to do so and a “civic duty” to stay at home as much as possible.

Tighter limits, such as curfews or lockdowns, constitutionally require a state of emergency to be declared first. The president, who is the only one who can decree a state of emergency, is due to discuss the possibility with the prime minister later in the day.

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MADRID -- A senior Spanish official is blaming pandemic fatigue for a spate of violent weekend protests in a dozen cities against a national night-time curfew.

The mostly young protesters set fire to vehicles and trash cans, blocked roads and threw objects at riot police.

Spain’s Minister for Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá told Antena 3 television Monday that “this kind of behavior is to be expected” as people grow weary of restrictions against the spread of COVID-19.

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PRISTINA, Kosovo - Kosovo has launched new restrictive measures to prevent a collapse of its hospitals’ capacities following a resurgence of virus cases in the past two weeks.

The government ordered a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. (2000-0400 GMT) for all restaurants and cafes. No more than five people are allowed to socialize, and no mass gatherings, weddings, funerals or other events may be held. Concerts, cultural and sporting events may be held if seating is limited.

Elderly people are allowed out only at certain times, and masks are mandatory outdoors.

The National Institute of Public Health said last week that daily confirmed cases were seven to eight times higher than two weeks ago.

Daily infections have increased to 182 per 100,000 residents compared to 50-60 two weeks ago, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Local health authorities reported 20,179 confirmed cases and 688 deaths as of Monday.

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BERLIN — A four-week partial shutdown has started in Germany, with restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas and other leisure facilities closing down until the end of the month.

The restrictions that took effect Monday are milder than the ones Germany imposed in the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic in March and April. This time around, schools, kindergartens, non-essential shops and hairdressers are to remain open.

But leading officials decided last week that a “lockdown light” was necessary in light of a sharp rise in new infections that has prompted many other European countries to impose more or less drastic restrictions.

On Saturday, the national disease control center reported the highest number of infections in one day -- 19,059 -- since the pandemic began. Figures at the beginning of the week tend to be lower, and the center reported 12,097 cases Monday. But that compared with 8,685 a week earlier, underlining the upward trend. Germany has reported over 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and state governors are to review the situation after two weeks.

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LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing opposition from his own party as he prepares to ask British lawmakers to back plans for a second national lockdown to combat the exponential spread of COVID-19.

Johnson on Monday will provide the House of Commons with details of a proposed four-week lockdown scheduled to begin Thursday. The plan was hurriedly announced on Saturday after scientific advisers told the government that rapidly rising infection rates risked swamping English hospitals in a matter of weeks.

The opposition Labour Party has said it will support the legislation when it comes up for a vote on Wednesday, virtually assuring it will be approved. But members of Johnson’s Conservative party have expressed concerns about the economic damage that will be caused by a second national lockdown.

Graham Brady, chairman of an influential committee of Conservative lawmakers, said he wants the government to present a full assessment of the impact a lockdown will have on jobs, businesses and mental health before lawmakers are asked to vote on it.

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GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization says he has been identified as a contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 and will self-quarantine.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter late Sunday that he is “well and without symptoms” but will self-quarantine in “coming days, in line with WHO protocols, and work from home.”

The WHO director-general has been at the forefront of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected at least 46.5 million people and led to more than 1.2 million deaths, according to a count of confirmed cases by Johns Hopkins University.

Tedros’ tweet came the same day as authorities in Geneva, where the U.N. health agency is based, announced a tightening of restrictions aimed to curb the spread of the virus. A recent spike has more than 1,000 new cases recorded each day recently in an area of about 500,000 people.

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NEW DELHI — India has added 45,230 new coronavirus infections, continuing a downturn.

The Health Ministry also Monday reported 496 more fatalities, raising the death toll to 122,607.

With 8.2 million cases, India is the second worst-hit country behind the U.S.

But the number of new cases being diagnosed each day is falling steadily even though testing is not declining. In the last week, there have been fewer than 50,000 new cases every day.

Many states have been easing restrictions on schooling and commercial activities to spur the economy, but experts fear a resurgence in the winter, particularly as people socialize in the festive season.

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SAO PAULO — Protesters have gathered in Brazil’s two biggest cities to demonstrate against any mandate for the taking of a coronavirus vaccine, supporting a rejection campaign encouraged by President Jair Bolsonaro in opposition to the advice of most health professionals.

A small group of people assembled in downtown Sao Paulo on Sunday calling for the removal of Sao Paulo state Gov. Joao Doria, who has said state residents will be required to take a vaccine, likely the one being developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac and the local Butantan Institute. Demonstrators supporting Bolsonaro on the question also protested on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

The issue has become a talking point in mayoral and city council campaigns for elections later this month.

Brazil has reported more than 5.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, and about 160,000 people have died from COVID-19, the disease that can be caused by the virus.

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WASHINGTON — The government’s top infectious diseases expert is cautioning that the U.S. will have to deal with “a whole lot of hurt” in the weeks ahead due to surging coronavirus cases.

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s comments to the Washington Post take issue with President Donald Trump’s frequent assertion that the nation is “rounding the turn” on the virus.

Fauci says the U.S. “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” to stem rising cases as more people gather indoors during the colder fall and winter months. He says the U.S. will need to make an “abrupt change” in public health precautions.

Speaking of the risks, Fauci says he believes Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective,” while Trump is “looking at it from a different perspective.” Fauci, who’s on the White House coronavirus task force, says that perspective is “the economy and reopening the country.”

In response, White House spokesman Judd Deere says Trump always puts people’s well-being first and Deere charges that Fauci has decided “to play politics” right before Tuesday’s election.

Fauci has said in his decades of public service, he’s never publicly endorsed any political candidate.

 


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