WARSAW, Poland — Poland hit a daily high of nearly 24,700 coronavirus cases as the government introduced new restrictions on shops, schools and culture institutions through November.
The new restrictions limit the number of customers in shops and require remote teaching for primary schools. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says a full national lockdown may be necessary if these measures don’t contain the spread of the coronavirus.
He repeated his appeal to citizens to stay home and refrain from ongoing street protests. Morawiecki says they contribute to the increase in new cases and suggested the protests should be moved to the internet.
Hundreds of thousands in the nation of 38 million have been holding anti-government street protests since Oct. 22. That’s when a court tightened the abortion law, which now bans abortion for fetal defects.
Health officials say more than 370 people died in the past 24 hours from the coronavirus.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Russia reports records in new daily coronavirus infections, daily deaths
— India’s capital reports a record 6,725 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours
— South Korea approves single test for COVID-19 and flu
— Pints poured, retail therapy: England readies for lockdown to start Thursday to try to curb surge in coronavirus cases.
— Pope Francis urges people to follow recommendations from governments and health authorities amid a surge of infections across Europe.
— Sports venues throughout the U.S. were in play on Election Day. Professional sports teams offered their stadiums, arenas and practice facilities to provide more polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.
Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/virus-outbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BERLIN — Germany has deployed 5,350 soldiers to help with testing and tracing contacts of coronavirus patients.
Defense Ministry spokeswoman Christina Routsi says a pool of 15,000 military personnel have been set aside to help cope with the country’s pandemic response. It will eventually include mass vaccinations, the ministry says.
Germany reported 17,214 confirmed cases on Wednesday, taking the total to 577,593. Deaths rose by 160 in the past day to a confirmed total of 10,812 since the start of the pandemic.
GENEVA — The Swiss government is deploying the army for a second time this year to help Switzerland’s beleaguered health system respond to a surge in coronavirus cases.
Authorities announced a record 10,043 coronavirus cases in Switzerland in the last 24 hours.
Defense Minister Viola Amherd says the deployment of up to 2,500 soldiers will help Swiss regions cope with the growing number of coronavirus patients hospitalized or in intensive care.
The soldiers were expected to provide support for civilian hospitals such as basic care, detection of suspected cases and testing. They’ll supply equipment to intensive care units.
Switzerland has counted 192,376 confirmed cases and 2,275 deaths.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka police say more than 200 policemen have been infected with the coronavirus.
Police spokesman Ajith Rohana says another 2,213 officers have been quarantined.
Health authorities have linked the infections to a new cluster centered on the country’s main fish market near the capital of Colombo.
Sri Lanka’s new outbreak began last month when two clusters emerged – one at a garment factory and other at the fish market. The clusters have grown into 8,265 cases.
The government has imposed a curfew in the densely populated Western province, which includes the capital. Authorities have closed schools, key public offices and banned public gatherings.
Sri Lanka has recorded 11,744 confirmed cases and 23 deaths since March.
VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuania will close schools, restaurants and other venues for at least three weeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Cabinet decided the stricter measures will start on Saturday. They include mandatory masks outdoors, banning mass gatherings and closing sports clubs, theaters, cinemas. Similar measures were imposed in March during the first lockdown.
Lithuania registered less than 2,000 cases in September, then had a surge of 11,000 cases in October.
The nation of 2.8 million has 18,092 confirmed cases and 182 deaths.
LONDON — The chair of Britain’s coronavirus vaccine task force says data evaluating the efficacy and safety of the two most advanced candidates should be available in early December.
Kate Bingham told a Parliamentary committee on Wednesday that data on the two vaccine candidates — developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and Pfizer and BioNTech — should be available by then.
After that, the vaccine candidates will need regulatory approval, Bingham says.
“If we get that, we have the possibility of deploying by year end,” she says.
Bingham acknowledged despite the government’s earlier estimate there would be 30 million doses of the Oxford vaccine available by September, there only will be about 4 million doses available by the end of the year, due to some manufacturing “hiccups” that have since been resolved. She says there will be about 10 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.
Dr. Robin Shattock, one of the scientists behind another vaccine developed by Imperial College London, says it’s possible several vaccines will be needed to stop the pandemic.
“The first vaccines may reach the bar of preventing severe disease, but they may not necessarily block transmission,” he says.
Shattock says later vaccines likely will be more potent, but it’s still unclear how long immunity lasts and “most likely they will need to be boosted.”
TALLINN, Estonia — The Baltic nations of Estonia and Latvia say they have both registered a record daily number of coronavirus infections since the start of the outbreak.
Health officials in Estonia say the country of 1.3 million confirmed 208 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, putting the cumulative total to 5,333 cases with 73 deaths.
Latvia, Estonia’s southern neighbor, says it had a record number of new coronavirus cases: 313 in the past 24 hours. Latvian health officials say the nation of nearly 2 million has recorded 6,752 confirmed cases and 85 deaths.
Baltic News Service, the region’s main news agency, reported Tuesday that Latvia’s government has in principle agreed on declaring a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic — a decision expected to be formally taken up by the Cabinet.
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is following Italy’s lead and will re-close the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel to the public in a bid to contain surging coronavirus infections in Europe.
The Holy See press office said the Museums, as well as the papal villa south of Rome in Castel Gandolfo and the excavations under St. Peter’s Basilica, which are usually open to the public for touring, will close Thursday through Dec. 3.
The decision follows the latest decree approved by the Italian government to shutter museums as part of broader restrictions on movement to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
The Vatican Museums, which provide a major source of revenue for the Holy See, had reopened to the public June 1 after a nearly three-month coronavirus lockdown.
PARIS — Algeria’s secretive presidency has confirmed that the mysterious illness that caused President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to be hospitalized in Germany last month was the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, the presidency said the state of 74-year-old Tebboune’s health is “gradually improving” and he “continues to receive treatment in a specialized German hospital after contracting COVID-19.”
It the first time that officials have explicitly mentioned COVID-19 in connection to the Oct. 28 hospitalization.
However, previous to his hospitalization, several senior officials in the president’s entourage had developed COVID-19 symptoms and Tebboune had been placed in what the government called “voluntary preventive confinement.”
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic is launching a regular testing program in all its nursing and pensioner homes amid a surge in coronavirus infections among the elderly.
The program that involves testing up to 100,000 residents and over 80,000 staff members will used rapid antigen tests. It starts on Wednesday and the tests will be repeated every week.
The measure comes as the number of people 65 and older has been higher than 20% of all tested positive.
The Czech Republic had 362,985 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic with almost 170,000 registered in last two weeks. Nearly one-third of the country’s 3,913 deaths have taken place in last seven days.
The country was facing a record surge in new cases since late August. But in a positive sign, the day-to-day increase has slightly fallen since hitting a record of 15,664 a week ago. It reached 12,088 on Tuesday.
MOSCOW — Russian officials reported 19,768 coronavirus infections and 389 deaths on Wednesday, both record daily numbers.
Russia’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases — currently the fourth largest in the world — is nearing 1.7 million. There’s been a rapid resurgence of the outbreak sweeping the vast country since September. The government’s coronavirus task force has reported more than 29,000 deaths since March.
Despite the number of daily new infections in Russia hitting new records every week this month, authorities so far have shunned a second lockdown or shutting down businesses nationwide, insisting the health care system can cope with the surge.
However, in recent weeks reports have surfaced about overwhelmed hospitals, drug shortages and inundated medical workers in a sign Russia’s health system is under a significant strain.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization says there has been a “further acceleration” in the speed of the coronavirus spread in Europe, which was responsible for about half of the globe’s new cases reported last week.
The U.N. health agency said in a weekly report published late Tuesday that European countries also recorded a 46% increase in deaths compared with the previous week. Although deaths also rose in the Americas, the rate of increase there was only 2%.
In Europe, France, Italy and the U.K. reported the highest numbers of new cases while Andorra, the Czech Republic and Belgium reported the highest rate per capita.
WHO said the numbers of coronavirus cases in Italy jumped by 72% last week, with about 175,000 new cases. In Switzerland — where WHO’s headquarters is based — the agency said that test positivity rates were about 23%, suggesting that many people with the disease are going undetected.
WHO also reported that the proportion of COVID-19 deaths among people aged 25-64 increased from about 10% in the early stages of the pandemic to about 30% in the summer. About 75% of coronavirus deaths in recent weeks are in people older than 65.
BRUSSELS — Officials in Belgium, proportionally still the worst-hit nation in Europe when it comes to coronavirus cases, say there are increasing signs that a turning point in the crisis was drawing close.
“The high-speed train is slowing down,” said virologist Steven Van Gucht of the Sciensano government health group. “The infection center is stabilizing and hospital admissions are increasing at a slower pace.”
The announcement came in the wake of increased measures over the past few weeks. Bar and restaurant closures were capped by a partial lockdown that began Monday, which added restrictions on gatherings and shut non-essential shops.
Belgium has the highest proportional incidence of coronavirus cases in the European Union with 1,753 per 100,000 people. Spain, Britain and Italy have less than a third of that concentration.
Van Gucht says for the first time in a month, statistics on new infections on a weekly basis were going down.
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia says 29 people have died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the highest daily death toll since the start of the outbreak.
Authorities say there’s been a total of 2,027 confirmed cases in the country of 2 million.
Slovenia has introduced an overnight curfew and a set of other restrictions to combat the surge. Populist Prime Minister Janez Jansa has said the country is facing at least a month of “tough battle.”
Also Wednesday, authorities said Slovenia’s Environment Minister Anton Vizjak has tested positive on the virus. Previously Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Anze Logar also has confirmed he was positive.
ROME — Pope Francis is urging people follow recommendations from government and public health authorities to prevent coronavirus infections as he held his weekly general audience in private amid a surge of infections in Europe.
The Vatican announced last week that Francis was suspending public audiences and would celebrate all upcoming liturgies without throngs of faithful present, after someone who attended his Oct. 21 audience tested positive.
Francis held his audience Wednesday in his private library with around 10 priests on hand to translate summaries of his catechism lesson. The livestreamed audience is the same setup Francis used during the Vatican’s nearly three-month COVID-19 lockdown in the spring and summer.
In his opening remarks, Francis said “unfortunately” it was necessary to return to the library for the audience to prevent infections.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will be tested for the coronavirus because she attended a meeting with Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup, among others, who later tested positive.
She attended a meeting Friday “where all guidelines for distance, etc. were followed,” the prime minister’s office said.
Frederiksen, who will be tested as soon as possible, “is currently showing no symptoms of COVID-19 and will, as far as possible, continue her work with virtual meetings,” her office said.
Several government members, including the foreign, finance, defense and health ministers, also took part in Friday’s meeting. At least five other ministers have self-isolated after another meeting Friday attended by a lawmaker who later tested positive.
NEW DELHI — India’s capital reported a record 6,725 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, hit by its worst wave of infections since March.
New Delhi had previously reported a high of 5,891 cases on Oct. 30, averaging more than 5,200 cases a day this past week. It now has 403,096 confirmed cases and 6,604 deaths reported.
India’s overall positive caseload rose by 46,253 in the past 24 hours after dipping to 38,310 on Tuesday. The Health Ministry on Wednesday reported another 514 fatalities in the past 24 hours across the country, raising the overall death toll to 123,611.
The ministry has attributed the surge in New Delhi to the festival season and warned that the situation can worsen due to people crowding markets for festival shopping.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea approved a new test that’s designed to detect both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza from the same samples, which they say would help prevent disruption at hospitals as the pandemic stretches into the flu season.
The country has struggled to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which some experts say could spread more broadly during cold weather when people spend longer times indoors.
“It’s not easy to distinguish between COVID-19 and seasonal influenza as they share similar symptoms, but this test could diagnose them both in three to six hours,” senior Health Ministry official Yoon Taeho said during a briefing.
The new test, which targets genes that are specific to both COVID-19 and seasonal flu, is an evolved version of PCR.