The Latest: Imported infections a growing concern in Europe

MADRID — The official in charge of Spain’s response to COVID-19 says imported infections are a growing source of concern as Europe readies to welcome more visitors.

Epidemiologist Fernando Simón said Thursday that 54 people who had contracted the disease in the past week have been linked to recently arrived visitors in Spain. He suggested that controls should be strict and that regional and local governments should be ready to apply localized isolation to avoid spreading the disease.

Central authorities are drafting guidelines to do so as European countries are expected to receive visitors from outside of the bloc starting on July 1.

Spain has so far recorded 247,486 coronavirus cases, 157 in the past 24 hours, and three new fatalities that brought the total death toll to 28,330.

Most of the new infections are the result of aggressive testing, Simón said, and the majority of them show no symptoms.

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

— Actors union wants Walt Disney World to delay opening Florida resorts.

— U.N.’s World Food Program needs cash for the rest of the year to deliver medical supplies and aid.

— France to test some 1.3 million near Paris. The Eiffel Tower reopens to visitors after 104 days.

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations secretary-general says the world organization has mobilized to save lives and control transmission of COVID-19 despite the lack of international coordination, including by shipping over 250 million items of personal protective equipment to more than 130 countries.

António Guterres told a news conference Thursday that the U.N. has also placed its global supply chain network at the service of its 193 member nations during the pandemic and established eight air hubs that have reached more than 110 countries.

Guterres said the U.N. has also ensured education for 155 million children, provided mental health support for 45 million children, parents and caregivers, trained nearly 2 million health and community workers, and reached more than 2 billion people with information on staying safe and accessing health services.

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TRENTON, N.J. — Nearly 1,900 people likely died of COVID-19 in New Jersey but were not initially counted in the state’s death toll, Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday.

Murphy said state health officials recently completed a review of thousands of death certificates of people who died with coronavirus symptoms despite not having been tested. Those people likely died from COVID-19 and will be added to the death toll, Murphy said.

The total amounted to 1,854 people, or about 14% of the overall death toll. That means the combined death toll of those confirmed with the virus and suspected cases stands at 14,872, the Democratic governor said.

Murphy said the overnight increase in positive cases grew by 406 to about 170,000 overall, and there were 26 new deaths.

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JACKSON, MISS. — The Mississippi Department of Health announced 1,092 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the highest numbers in the state since the pandemic began.

The previous high single-day increase was 611 reported Tuesday. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs told The Associated Press then he feared the state was experiencing a surge.

Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, had at least 24,516 cases and 1,016 deaths from the novel coronavirus as of Wednesday evening, according to the state Department of Health. It said at least 2,487 cases had been confirmed in long-term care facilities with at least 503 virus-related deaths in those facilities.

The increase comes weeks after Mississippi began taking measures to reopen the state. Restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and movie theaters are among the businesses currently open with limited seating.

Dobbs said he doesn’t think the new cases were caused by the state reopening too quickly. He said the real problem is a lack of concern for safety guidelines around the use of masks and the practice of social distancing.

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ROME — Italy added nearly 300 new coronavirus infections to its official toll, with more than half in hard-hit Lombardy and new clusters reported in other regions.

The Health Ministry said another 34 people died, bringing the official COVID-19 toll in the onetime European epicenter of the outbreak to 34,678.

After two days of double-digit new infections, Lombardy reported 170 new cases Thursday, though some were in people who only got tested after blood tests showed they had virus antibodies. The Italian government is now classifying these cases differently, since they are considered “weak positives” and often are the result of people who caught the virus weeks or months ago, feel fine now, and haven’t shed all the virus from their systems.

The southern region of Campania, meanwhile, is trying to contain a new cluster that has produced more than three-dozen cases among mostly Bulgarian residents who work as farm hands around Naples.

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ORLANDO, Fla. — The union representing actors at Walt Disney World said Thursday that the company should postpone welcoming back guests at its Florida parks, which are scheduled to reopen next month after being closed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Actors’ Equity Association said it was unclear how Disney World could “responsibly” reopen as coronavirus cases continue to soar in the Sunshine State. The union represents about 600 actors at Disney World, out of a total workforce of 77,000 employees at the resort. It said it also was concerned that not enough testing was planned for the actors, who are unable to use face masks when doing their jobs.

The plea came a day after Disney said it would delay reopening its California theme parks.

Disney World representatives didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Florida reported having more than 114,000 confirmed cases on Thursday, a jump of about 5,000 cases over the previous day. The state has had at least 3,327 coronavirus-related deaths.

Disney World’s four theme parks are slated to start opening July 11. The resort has already reopened some hotels and its restaurant and shopping district.

Orlando’s other major theme park resorts — Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando — started welcoming back visitors earlier this month.

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JOHANNESBURG — African countries are urging governments around the world to “remove all obstacles” to swift and equitable distribution of any successful COVID-19 vaccine, including making all intellectual property and technologies immediately available.

A communique ending a continental conference on COVID-19 vaccines points out the “barriers” intellectual property posed in the past to affordable vaccines in developing countries. The communique issued under the African Union says there is an urgent need for countries to “make full use of legal measures … to ensure monopolies do not stand in the way of access to COVID-19 vaccines.”

UNAIDS chief Winnie Byanyima told the conference there’s evidence of “some rich countries making deals with pharmaceutical companies to jump the queue” and obtain potential vaccines.

The pandemic on the continent is growing rapidly, with more than 337,000 recorded infections.

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PHOENIX — Arizona reported 3,056 additional COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the fourth day in a week in which the state had daily increases of over 3,000 cases.

The state Department of Health Services said the additional cases raised the statewide total to 63,030 with 1,490 deaths, including 27 reported Thursday.

The department reported that a record 2,453 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, including 611 in intensive care beds and a record 415 on ventilators.

Arizona has become a national hot spot for the coronavirus since Republican Gov. Doug Ducey lifted stay-at-home restrictions in May. Health officials have attributed the rising number of cases to both increased testing and community spread of the disease.

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LAS VEGAS — Nevada reported more than 500 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the biggest one-day increase yet as cases in the state climb.

The 507 new cases mark the fifth time in the past 10 days Nevada had a new record for single-day jumps in new cases. The state also reported one new death from COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing deaths from the disease to 495. Nearly 14,900 people have tested positive for the virus since the outbreak began.

Gov. Steve Sisolak on Wednesday night announced face masks will be required in public spaces starting Friday. Nevada has also seen eight days of increases in the rate of positive COVID-19 tests.

The increasing coronavirus numbers have come since casinos and other businesses reopened a month ago.

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AMMAN, Jordan — The U.N. agency that flies crucial medical supplies and aid in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic will be forced to ground its planes in a month if it does not receive a large injection of cash, its head said Thursday.

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, told The Associated Press that his agency needs $965 million for the flights through the end of the year. He said it only has about $150 million, enough to keep flying until the third week of July.

Beasley repeated an earlier estimate that the number of people pushed to the brink of starvation could double by the end of the year, to 265 million, and said that number could get worse. He said his agency reaches about 100 million people, and about one-third are solely dependent on food aid.

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BRUSSELS — The World Health Organization chief expects the number of COVID-19 cases to hit 10 million and the death toll from the disease to reach 500,000 by next week.

Speaking Thursday during a videoconference with European Parliament members, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that although the crisis has improved across Europe, “globally, it’s still getting worse.”

Tedros said more than 4 million cases of the disease have been reported in the last month.

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JOHANNESBURG — Testing in Africa for the novel coronavirus is expected to increase significantly in the coming weeks, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control said Thursday.

John Nkengasong pointed to a new continental platform that African nations set up to negotiate cheaper prices for urgently needed medical equipment amid intense global competition.

African leaders have said that China will ensure the supply of 30 million testing kits and 10,000 ventilators each month for purchase on the platform by Africa’s 54 nations. Each country has a quota based on its population and number of virus cases, and a line of credit is available.

About 4.3 million tests have been conducted in Africa, or about 3,200 tests per million people, far short of the ideal on a continent of 1.3 billion people.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott again halted elective surgeries in Texas’ biggest counties in a bid to free up hospital beds after the number of patients admitted with COVID-19 has more than doubled in two weeks.

Texas has emerged as one of the nation’s hotspots, reporting more than 11,000 new cases in the past two days.

By re-imposing a ban on elective surgeries, Abbott is returning to one of his first actions when the virus emerged in Texas in March. He later rescinded the order during an aggressive reopening of the state in May, which lifted lockdown orders ahead of most of the U.S.

This week, Abbott has taken a newly urgent tone about the worsening trends and is telling the public they should stay home. On Thursday, the number of hospitalizations climbed to more than 4,700 patients, setting a record for a 13th consecutive day.

The surgery ban applies to Dallas, Harris, Travis and Bexar counties, which includes the Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas.

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KATHMANDU, Nepal — Nepal is increasing quarantine facilities and testing at border points to prepare for the expected return of thousands of workers from neighboring India.

Nepal has reported 11,162 cases and just 26 deaths in a population of 29 million. It was among the first countries in South Asia to report a case, but a lockdown imposed in March helped control the outbreak.

Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokhrel says in an interview with The Associated Press that coronavirus cases are expected to increase as workers return home from India, where millions of Nepalese are believed to be employed and where coronavirus cases are surging.

“We are very aware of the number of coronavirus cases in India. That is why we are monitoring and controlling entry of people and at the same time increasing quarantine facilities and testing at border points,” Pokhrel says.

India has reported 473,105 cases and 14,894 deaths.

Categories: AP National News