The Latest: NATO, EU health workers to help Czech Republic

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Tour guides wearing face masks are reflected in a window downtown Prague, Czech Republic, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. In another desperate attempt to slow the rise of coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic, Health Minister Roman Prymula has announced a ban on free movement of people in the country and a closure of many stores, shopping malls and hotels. At the same time, state offices will limit their opening hours. Prime Minister Andrej Babis says those measures should prevent the collapse of the health system in early November. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

PRAGUE — The Czech government has approved a plan for up to 300 military health personnel from NATO and EU countries to come to the Czech Republic to help treat the influx of coronavirus patients.

The day-to-day increase of new coronavirus infections soared to almost 15,000 on Wednesday. It is almost 3,000 more than the previous record set a day earlier.

Parliamentary approval is still needed for the plan because they are members of foreign armed forces. They will help their Czech colleagues at Prague’s military hospital and at a field hospital the armed forces have been building at Prague’s exhibition ground for 500 patients.

The first group of 28 National Guard doctors from the United States is scheduled to arrive in the county next week.

The government is acquiring 600 ventilators and other medical equipment needed at intensive care units. Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar says NATO will send another 60 ventilators.

The Czech Republic has been facing a surge for two months and a third of the cases have been recorded in last seven days. It has a total of 208,915 confirmed cases and 1,739 deaths.

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

— Oxford vaccine trial continues amid death report

— Regulators, experts take up thorny vaccine study issues

— Virus spikeshave officials looking to shore up hospitals

— Belgian Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes is hospitalized in intensive care with the coronavirus.

— Irelandis aiming to get the coronavirus under control or there won’t be much Christmas cheer this year in Galway, Cork or Dublin.

— Poland’s prime minister has signaled that the whole country faces the highest restriction level short of a full lockdown if number of cases don’t improve.

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

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

MADRID — Spain is mulling new restrictions and curfews to combat the resurgence of coronavirus cases, according to its health minister.

Spain has surpassed more than one million coronavirus infections.

With a 14-day rate of infection more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 residents, more than three times the country’s average, the northern Navarra region has ordered all bars and restaurants closed and for shops and businesses to close at 9 p.m. and banned all non-essential travel in and out of its regional borders.

Varying degrees of heightened restrictions are affecting almost every region in the country of 47 million.

“We are on the verge of winter, where most of the activities take place indoors, which favors the contagion and respiratory viruses,” health minister Salvador Illa told Spain’s Onda Cero radio, calling on the public not to lower their guard because the coming “five or six months are going to be tough, very tough.”

Spain has confirmed more than 34,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark recorded 760 coronavirus cases, the highest number registered with Statens Serum Institut.

The previous record of 678 came on Sept. 25. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen wrote on Facebook about the possibility of more restriction, saying the “virus is still the same. And it has far too good a grip. After all, the super weapon here is still to keep our distance. Seeing fewer people. Reduce social activities.”

Denmark restrictions include wearing face masks on public transportation and in bars and restaurants when standing, all eateries and cafes close at 10 p.m. and gatherings are limited to 50 people.

Denmark has 37,763 confirmed cases and 694 deaths.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A Norwegian cruise company with two coronavirus outbreaks on one of its ships along Norway’s coast in July is canceling its remaining Antarctica season.

The Hurtigruten cruise line was one of the first companies to resume sailing during the pandemic. But it says the coronavirus is “still affecting large parts of the world and travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are widespread and changing rapidly.”

The cruise company also says it will reduce capacity on the coastal service above the Arctic Circle along Norway’s coast where the cruise line often acts like a local ferry, traveling from port to port. It says the move was at the request of the Norwegian Transportation Ministry.

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LONDON — The University of Oxford says the late-stage trial of its COVID-19 vaccine in Brazil will continue following reports of a participant’s death.

The university said it can’t comment on specific incidents but an independent review found no reason to be concerned about the safety of the Brazilian trial.

It says an “independent review, in addition to the Brazilian regulator, have recommended that the trial should continue.”

The Oxford vaccine is being developed in conjunction with the international pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Trials are underway in the United States and the U.K., as well as Brazil, to determine whether the potential vaccine is safe and effective in humans.

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia’s confirmed coronavirus cases have soared to another daily record of 1,663, and the country has reported the deaths of five more people with COVID-19.

Neighboring Croatia also set a new daily record on Thursday with 1,563 new cases and 13 deaths, most of them in the capital, Zagreb.

Authorities in both countries have warned that if the infection rates continue to climb at their current pace, hospitals could run out of unoccupied beds.

Several general hospitals in Croatia have already been turned into facilities treating only COVID-19 patients and are preparing tents to accommodate more people.

Confirmed infections now constitute over 25% of all virus tests in Slovenia, well above the 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization.

Health officials have called on the Slovenian government to introduce stricter measures to combat the virus spread, including a complete lockdown of the small Alpine state of 2 million people.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates has broken its single-day record for new coronavirus cases with 1,578 confirmed.

The cases reported Thursday bring the country’s total in the pandemic to over 120,700, including 470 deaths. Despite an uptick in infections in recent weeks, authorities have pushed ahead with reopening the country.

Schools are back in session and Dubai, the region’s air travel hub, is welcoming back tourists. Earlier this week, authorities in Dubai allowed weddings and other major social events to resume under strict health conditions.

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BRUSSELS — Belgian Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes has been hospitalized in intensive care with the coronavirus.

Wilmes, who was in charge when the first wave of infections hit the country this spring, now serves in the new government led by Alexander De Croo.

Elke Pattyn, a spokesperson at the Foreign Ministry, told The Associated Press that Wilmes is in a stable condition and conscious. She said her condition “is not worrying.”

The 45-year-old Wilmes, who was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday evening, said last week she thought she got infected within her family circle.

Belgium, a country of 11.5 million inhabitants, has been severely hit by the coronavirus and is currently seeing a sharp rise in new cases. More than 10,000 people have died from coronavirus-related complications in Belgium.

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LONDON — U.K. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak is expected to announce increased help for bars, pubs and restaurants that have seen business collapse because of COVID-19 controls.

Hospitality businesses are under pressure because the measures severely limit social gatherings, even under the lower levels of restrictions imposed on areas with less severe outbreaks. That reduces the number of people who go out for dinner or to meet up with friends, reducing income and forcing employers to lay off workers.

But most can’t take advantage of current government aid programs, which are focused on businesses that are ordered to close under the highest level of restrictions.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street told the BBC that the support programs were designed with the assumption that the pandemic would ease, reducing the need for government assistance. That didn’t happen and infection rates are now rising across the country.

The government “didn’t expect us to be in a position through the autumn where we were having a rising level of the virus to this extent, so if you look at the design of the winter economy package, at the time that seemed rational but clearly events have moved very quickly.”

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BUDAPEST — The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Hungary has risen above 2,000 for the first time as health authorities increase testing capacities.

Hungary recorded 2,032 new infections, pushing the total number of active cases to 35,653. There were 16,361 tests carried out over the past 24 hours, which is also a record. The rate of identified infections stands at 12.4% of all tests, well above the 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization. The relatively high rate indicates that the testing capacity of the Hungarian health care system is still insufficient.

Over the Past day, 46 patients have died, slightly below the daily record of 48. A total of 1,305 Hungarians have died since the outbreak of the pandemic.

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland has broken another record for recorded daily infections, with over 12,100 reported by the Health Ministry Thursday and almost 170 deaths, in the nation of 30 million.

The government is expected to extend Poland’s highly restrictive local red zones to cover the whole nation, in a move just short of a lockdown. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has suggested he would like all Poland to be in a red zone starting Saturday.

The regulation means, among other things, wearing masks in all open public spaces, a ban on ceremonies and wedding parties, limits on number of customers in shops and passengers on public transport, shorter restaurant hours and closed gyms and swimming pools.

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BERLIN — Germany’s disease control center is reporting a new daily record increase in coronavirus infections, which rocketed past the 10,000 mark for the first time as the pandemic continues to spread.

The Robert Koch Institute said Thursday that it had recorded 11,287 new cases over the past 24 hours, shattering the previous record figure of 7,830 daily infections set on Saturday.

The news comes the day after Health Minister Jens Spahn tested positive for COVID-19 himself.

He has been quarantined at home and told Bild newspaper that so far he’s just suffering from “cold-like symptoms.”

The government says Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet members have always followed distancing, hygiene and mask rules, so there is no reason for other ministers to quarantine.

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NEW DELHI — Indian authorities are worried elections in the third-largest state and a religious congregation could spread the coronavirus.

India added fewer than 60,000 new cases for a third day. The Health Ministry reported 55,839 new cases, taking the total past 7.7 million. The 702 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours brought its total fatalities to 116,616 on Thursday.

The Election Commission issued a warning after political campaigning drew large crowds without masks and social distancing in eastern Bihar state where voting for state elections is due to begin next week.

Bihar is India’s third largest state with a population of about 122 million people.

Health officials also are concerned about the potential spread during religious festivals. In West Bengal state, a court limited the size of congregations during the Hindu Durga Puja festival.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Authorities in Sri Lanka have closed the country’s main fish market and widened the curfew in many parts of the island nation following a surge of coronavirus infections related to a new cluster centered on a garment factory.

The government imposed a curfew Thursday in parts of Colombo and some areas outside the capital. Officials already isolated at least six villages elsewhere in the same province, where the new cluster was discovered early this month.

Authorities also suspended operations at Sri Lanka’s main fish market after 49 traders tested positive. Health workers are conducting tests on hundreds of other traders at the market on the outskirts of Colombo.

Schools and key public offices are also closed, public gatherings banned and restrictions imposed on public transport.

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MEXICO CITY — Mexican health officials estimated the country has risen above 1 million coronavirus cases, though the figure includes both confirmed infections as well as suspected cases.

Officials put the country’s apparent deaths from COVID-19 at 102,293, again including cases in which patients were not tested for the virus.

The Health Department says its pandemic caseload tally has reached 1,005,938. That includes people who have displayed symptoms of COVID-19 but were not given tests or whose samples could not be processed. Test-confirmed cases total 867,559.

The agency attributes 102,293 deaths to the pandemic, adding in deceased patients who weren’t tested but had symptoms judged to be caused by COVID-19. Test-confirmed deaths stand at 87,415.

Mexico has a low testing rate for the coronavirus.

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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