The Latest: Africa’s virus caseload climbs past 600,000

JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s coronavirus caseload has climbed above 600,000 as the pandemic on the 54-nation continent continues to pick up speed.

Africa surpassed the half-million case mark less than a week ago. The continent now has more than 610,000 confirmed cases. South Africa has the most cases on the continent, with more than 287,000.

South Africa’s public hospitals are already filling up, and the government on Sunday night reimposed a ban on alcohol sales with immediate effect to help free up hospital beds. The return of alcohol sales on June 1 was blamed for a surge in emergency admissions as well as an increase in the number of women and children killed.

Other countries struggling with shortages of medical equipment and personnel include Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, which has more than 33,000 cases.

___

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

— The legions of small businesses that employee most of the world’s workers are struggling; whether they survive will have reverberations in whole communities

— New York Gov. Cuomo facing blistering criticism over a report discounting link between deaths and state directive that sent virus patients into nursing homes

— Vice President Mike Pence heading to Louisiana as state reemerges as hot spot

— Virus assistance fund created by Indian PM Modi is getting substantial donations while his office refuses to detail how the money is being spent

___

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

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The official opening of the Dutch parliamentary year will happen without the traditional pomp and ceremony in September due to coronavirus restrictions.

The Hague municipality and the defense ministry said Tuesday that King Willem-Alexander’s traditional ride in an ornate horse-drawn carriage from a palace in the city to the parliament will not happen and appealed to the public not to visit the city on Sept. 15.

Thousands of people usually flock to The Hague to line the route of the monarch’s coach ride to parliament.

The venue of the meeting of both houses of Dutch parliament also has been changed from the historic Knights Hall to a church that is large enough to accommodate all 225 lawmakers with social distancing measures in place.

___

RAYONG, Thailand — Authorities in Thailand have revised rules governing visitors from abroad after a breakdown in screening led to two infected foreigners posing a risk to public health.

The government said Tuesday that diplomats will be asked to stay in state-supervised quarantine for 14 days, instead of self-isolating. And it is postponing the recently allowed entry of three categories of foreign visitors so the procedures for them can be changed. The categories are VIP guests of the government; diplomats or representatives of international organizations; and businessmen and investors and others with approved missions.

The cases that caused concern involved a member of an Egyptian military group whose plane made two stopovers in the eastern province of Rayong last week, and the 9-year-old daughter of a foreign diplomat whose family returned from Sudan.

Thai authorities are revoking landing permission for eight Egyptian flights due to lack of cooperation from last week’s visiting military team.

Officials in Rayong also closed some schools and a mall, sealed off part of the hotel where the Egyptian had stayed and gave coronavirus tests to his potential contacts.

Thailand has not had any locally transmitted cases for seven weeks, with the only people testing positive being travelers coming from abroad.

___

NEW DELHI — India’s number of coronavirus cases jumped by another 28,000 on Tuesday and are fast approaching 1 million.

The 28,498 cases reported in the past 24 hours took the national total to 906,752. Cases have jumped by 100,000 in four days.

The Health Ministry also reported another 553 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 23,727.

India has largely lifted its nationwide lockdown, but the spread of the virus has prompted several big cities to reimpose partial lockdowns.

The southern city of Pune started a 10-day lockdown Tuesday. Only essentials including milk shops, pharmacies, doctors’ clinics and emergency services will be allowed open.

India is the third worst-affected country in terms of infections, only behind the United States and Brazil.

___

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has announced 11,554 new coronavirus cases and is among the world’s 10 biggest outbreaks according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

South Africa now has 287,796 cases with more than a third in Gauteng province, home of a Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.

The country is under newly tightened restrictions including a ban on alcohol sales, mandatory face masks in public places and an overnight curfew.

___

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s governor says he will wait another month to waive a 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers who test negative for COVID-19, citing an increasing number of cases locally, “uncontrolled” outbreaks in several U.S. mainland states and a shortage of testing supplies.

The testing plan was scheduled to take effect on Aug. 1. It’s now postponed to Sept. 1.

Many in Hawaii’s business community had been looking forward to the plan as it would make it easier for tourists to visit and potentially boost the economy. The quarantine requirement has virtually shut down tourism since it took effect in late March. Hotels have closed and the unemployment rate stands at 22.6%, the second highest in the U.S.

“I know that this increases the burden on businesses here in the islands, especially small businesses. But we do believe that it is time to continue to protect the health and safety of our community,” Gov. David Ige said at a news conference.

Hawaii reported 23 new cases on Monday for a total of 1,243. It has one of the lowest infection rates in the U.S.

___

BRISBANE, Australia — Australia’s Queensland state is toughening the punishment for those who break coronavirus quarantine rules.

Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the current fines for breaking a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine for some visitors or lying about their whereabouts may not be a sufficient penalty.

The maximum penalty will now be a higher fine or up to six months’ imprisonment.

Queensland reopened its borders to all but Victoria state residents two weeks ago.

Victoria is the center of Australia’s recent outbreak, adding 270 new infections overnight to its more than 4,000 active cases.

The Victorian city of Melbourne is under a six-week lockdown to try to contain the outbreak.

___

CAIRO — Yemen’s Houthi rebels are easing a variety of coronavirus restrictions amid a news blackout on the virus’ toll in their territory.

The Houthi Cabinet announced late Monday it was allowing restaurants, wedding halls, public baths, parks and playgrounds to reopen. The statement encouraged people to sanitize regularly and practice social distancing.

Over the past months, the Houthis, who control Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and much of the war-torn country’s north, have suppressed all information about the virus. They’ve severely punished doctors and journalists who speak out, imposed only loose restrictions and promoted conspiracy theories.

The rebels have acknowledged just four virus cases, leaving aid workers, local health officials and doctors to warn the outbreak was far worse than authorities would admit. Scores of people suffering from COVID-19 symptoms in the Houthi-controlled north have died in recent weeks, overwhelming one of the capital’s largest cemeteries.

The outbreak is crippling a health system already in shambles after five years of brutal war that pits the Iran-allied Houthis against the internationally recognized government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

___

BEIJING — China says the number of people in treatment for COVID-19 in the country has fallen to just 297, with only three new cases of coronarvirus reported, all brought from outside the country.

No new deaths were announced, leaving the total at 4,634 out of 83,605 cases of the disease. Another 115 people are in isolation and being monitored for either being suspected cases or having the disease without showing any symptoms.

Meanwhile, a pair of experts from the World Health Organization were in China on Monday to make arrangements for an investigation into how the global pandemic may have spread after the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Categories: National/World