The Latest: Germany passes over 15,000 virus deaths

BERLIN — Germany has passed the grim milestone of more than 15,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

The Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control center, said Thursday that another 389 deaths were recorded overnight, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 15,160.

Germany has seen 983,588 total cases of the coronavirus after adding 22,368 overnight, the agency said.

Germany embarked on a so-called “wave-breaker” shutdown on Nov. 2, closing restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities but leaving schools, shops and hair salons open.

It was initially slated to last four weeks but Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors agreed late Wednesday to extend it through Dec. 20 with a goal of pushing the number of new coronavirus cases in each region below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants per week. It’s currently at 140 per 100,000.

Merkel said that while existing measures have succeeded in halting an surge in new coronavirus infections, they have stabilized at a high level.

___

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

— Americans risk traveling over Thanksgiving despite warnings

— Congress braces for Biden’s national coronavirus strategy

— Pandemic gave locals fleeting taste of a tourist-free Hawaii

— To avoid any traces of the coronavirus that might be lurking on surfaces, Americans have been wiping down groceries, wearing surgical gloves in public and leaving mail packages out for an extra day or two. But experts say the national fixation on scrubbing can sometimes be overkill.

— California has reported a record number of coronavirus cases on the eve of Thanksgiving. More than 18,000 COVID-19 infections were reported Wednesday.

— Though the first real snow has yet to fall across much of Europe, ski buffs are imagining with dread a bizarre scene: Skiing in Zermatt in Switzerland while lifts idle across the border in Italy’s Aosta valley.

___

Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip, who is fifth in the line of succession, and his wife Princess Sofia have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Swedish royal household said Thursday, adding that they have “milder flu symptoms but feel well under the circumstances.

The prince, son of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, and his wife are quarantined at home with their two children, the palace said.

The monarch, Austrian-born Queen Silvia, their oldest daughter Crown Princess Victoria, and Prince Daniel will protectively be tested Thursday, it said in a statement. The royal family had been together in connection with Friday’s burial of Walther Sommerlath, Silvia’s brother in Sweden, palace spokeswoman Margareta Thorgren told the Aftonbladet daily.

The 41-year-old prince wed Sofia Hellqvist, now 35, in June 2015. The couple has two children, Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel.

King Carl Gustaf is Sweden’s head of state, but his duties are ceremonial and he holds no political power.

___

MOSCOW — Russian authorities have reported a record number of coronavirus deaths for a third straight day.

The government coronavirus task force registered 524 new deaths on Thursday, the highest daily toll in the pandemic. Previous records of 507 and 491 deaths were reported on Wednesday and Tuesday. A total of 38,062 people have died of coronavirus in Russia, according to the task force.

Russia has been swept by a rapid resurgence of the outbreak this fall, with numbers of confirmed COVID-19 infections and deaths hitting new highs almost daily and significantly exceeding those reported in the spring. On Thursday, officials reported 25,487 new infections, another record number.

The country’s authorities have rejected the idea of another nationwide lockdown or widespread closure of businesses, leaving it to regional governments to impose their own measures. In most, those don’t go beyond mask mandates, limiting the hours of bars and restaurants, ordering the elderly to self-isolate, forbidding mass public events and requiring employers to have some staff work from home.

On Thursday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin extended requirements for the elderly to self-isolate and for employers to have 30% of their staff work from home until Jan. 15.

___

HONG KONG — Hong Kong on Thursday reported its third straight day of over 80 new coronavirus infections, a day after its leader declared a goal of “zero infections” in an annual policy address.

Authorities reported 81 coronavirus infections, 13 of which were not traceable. Daily cases in the past week have surged to a three-month high, resulting in the cancellation of a planned air travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore.

Many of the cases in the recent surge have been linked to outbreaks in dance studios across the city, with Hong Kong ordering those who have visited stipulated venues to undergo mandatory testing.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said in her annual policy address on Wednesday that the city is aiming for “zero infections,” and said that it might implement another round of mass testing of its residents.

The increase in locally transmitted cases has prompted concern that a new wave of the virus has begun in the city. Authorities have tightened social distancing measures, ordering bars and nightclubs to close, in an attempt to stem the transmission.

___

NAIROBI, Kenya — Africa’s top public health official says vaccinations against COVID-19 on the continent might not start until the second quarter of next year. And he says it will be “extremely dangerous” if more developed parts of the world vaccinate themselves and then restrict travel to people with proof of vaccination.

The director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, told reporters that “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available” in the past. He warned that “it’s clear the second wave (of infections) is here on the continent” of 1.3 billion people.

Africa last week surpassed 2 million confirmed coronavirus infections. The Africa CDC has been discussing vaccine options with Russia, China and others. Nkengasong said that “the worst thing we want for the continent is for COVID to become an endemic disease” in Africa.

In one hopeful development, authorities have begun distributing 2.7 million antigen tests throughout the continent, which Nkengasong said is “perhaps a game-changer” that allows for faster and easier testing. So far, some 21 million tests have been conducted across Africa’s 54 countries.

___

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan police say 1,123 officers have tested positive for COVID-19 and 2,800 others have been quarantined amid a surge in cases in the capital and its suburbs.

Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said Thursday that the 2,800 have been quarantined at their quarters and in quarantine centers.

Health authorities have linked the police infections to a cluster of cases centered at the country’s main fish market near Colombo.

Sri Lanka has seen an upsurge in the disease since last month, when two clusters emerged — one at a garment factory and the other at the fish market.

The confirmed cases from the two clusters grew to 17,934 on Thursday. Sri Lanka’s total confirmed cases reached 21,468 on Thursday, including 96 fatalities.

___

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has recorded more than 500 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours for the first time in about eight months as health authorities struggle to contain a fresh surge of infections.

The Asian nation has been experiencing a spike in cases since it relaxed stringent social distancing rules last month. To deal with the latest surge, the country on Tuesday re-imposed tough distancing guidelines in Seoul and some other areas.

South Korea’s cases initially peaked last February and March, with officials reporting hundreds of fresh cases daily, mostly tied to a religious sect. Another major outbreak came during the summer, and was mostly tied to the greater Seoul area.

Officials say the latest bout is worrisome because there are many cluster infections tied to a variety of sources.

___

NEW DELHI — India has extended its restrictions on international flights until the end of the year as coronavirus cases surge in some states and its capital, New Delhi.

India’s aviation authority on Thursday said the restrictions will not apply to international cargo flights and those approved under “air bubble” pacts with some countries. Scheduled international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23.

India’s new overall infections have declined steadily after peaking in mid-September. On Thursday, it reported 44,489 new infections, bringing its total confirmed cases to 9.26 million, second behind the United States. Deaths rose by 524 to 135,223.

The situation in the capital, however, remains worrying. It recorded 5,246 new cases on Thursday.

In an effort to slow the virus, the home ministry has allowed states to impose local restrictions such as night curfews but has asked them to consult before imposing lockdowns at state, district, or city levels.

___

BEIJING — China is reporting nine new coronavirus cases in the vast Inner Mongolia region, where authorities have closed schools, suspended flights, shuttered public venues and banned banquets and other gatherings.

The cluster has been centered on Manzhouli, a city of more than 200,000 people on the border with Russia. Authorities ordered testing of all residents to detect new cases after the country’s latest local outbreak first emerged late last week. Ground transport to and from the city has been largely cut off and movement around the city restricted.

Elsewhere in China, local infections have also been reported lately in the financial hub of Shanghai and the northern port of Tianjin, although the government’s pandemic update Thursday listed no new cases in those cities.

___

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s two largest metropolitan areas are cracking down on restaurants that violate rules designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Kansas City’s authorities found two dozen bars and restaurants in violation of the city’s new pandemic restrictions after a weekend sweep of 185 establishments. Previously, the city relied primarily on complaints to enforce the rules.

The new rules limit bars and restaurants to 50% capacity and require closing by 10 p.m..

Meanwhile, officials in St. Louis County have sent certified letters to three dozen bars and businesses ordering them to cease indoor service or face lawsuits or criminal charges.

___

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Officials in Anchorage, Alaska, are imposing new pandemic restrictions for December that will prohibit bars and restaurants from offering indoor service, require employers to allow people to work from home if possible and limit many businesses to 25% capacity.

Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson said Wednesday that the rules are needed to deal with increasing coronavirus infections in Anchorage, which is Alaska’s biggest city. The rules take effect Tuesday and run through Jan. 1.

As of Wednesday, the city has recorded 15,100 coronavirus cases. Of those, 2,115 were reported in the last week. The city has had 66 deaths from COVID.19.

___

NEW YORK — A new government report says the U.S. is still missing nearly eight coronavirus infections for every one counted.

By the end of September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that as many as 53 million Americans had been infected. That is just under eight times the confirmed cases reported at the time.

Previously, the CDC estimated that one of every 10 infections were being missed.

The latest CDC calculation is meant to give a more accurate picture of how many people actually have caught the virus since the pandemic began. Of the 53 million estimated infections, the CDC says about 45 million were sick at some point and about 2.4 million were hospitalized.

___

SALEM, Oregon — Oregon’s governor says bars and restaurants can reopen for limited outdoor service next week but many restrictions will remain in place until a vaccine against the coronavirus is widely available.

In making the announcement Wednesday, Gov. Kate Brown urged Oregonians to stay safe during the Thanksgiving holiday and protect others by not ignoring safety protocols, like wearing masks and limiting personal contacts.

The revamped pandemic restrictions take effect when the current two-week “freeze” expires Dec. 3. Currently, only take-out restaurant service is allowed. The restaurant industry pushed hard against the restrictions as several eateries closed for good and others were at risk of doing so.

Categories: National/World