The Latest: Memphis delays reopening as more cases recorded

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Health workers take a nasal swab sample from a girl during public testing for the new coronavirus conducted in Jakarta, Indonesia Monday, June 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis has stalled plans to move ahead with plans to reopen more businesses after an unexpected rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Shelby County’s health department reported an increase of 256 cases on Monday, the largest daily jump in reported COVID-19 cases since mid-March.

A total of 200 virus patients are being treated in Memphis-area hospitals, up from 192 on Friday, according to data provided to the city and county’s virus task force.

Officials said last week that Memphis and Shelby County could enter the next phase of reopening businesses on Monday. But plans to move ahead are being delayed due to a “disconcerting” upward trend in cases and increased hospitalizations, Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said during an online news conference Monday.

“It would not be prudent for Shelby County to move into phase three at the current time,” she said.

Restaurants, retail stores and other businesses would be allowed to increase capacity from the current 50% under phase two to 75% under phase three of the reopening plan.

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

— Beijing reinstates virus controls as another outbreak grows. It underscores the continuing threat.

— Borders opened up across Europeafter three months of closures. But many restrictions persist.

— Educators try to ensure students thrown off track during distance learning don’t fall more behind.

— An ambulance driver ‘s daily rush to save lives is exhausting, never-ending task in Mumbai, India.

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Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

ANKARA, Turkey — The daily number of new coronavirus cases in Turkey is continuing to rise, weeks after the country relaxed restrictions.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Monday reported 1,592 confirmed new infections over the previous 24 hours — 30 more than Sunday’s figure.

Koca also reported 18 new deaths due to the coronavirus, bringing the total to 4,825. Turkey has now recorded a total of 178,831 infections.

At the start of June, the government authorized cafes, restaurants, gyms, parks, beaches and museums to reopen and eased stay-at-home orders for the elderly and young. Turkey’s media is rife with reports of people flouting social distancing rules and ignoring advice to wear masks in public places.

Koca tweeted: “If we altogether abide by the mask + distance rule we can control the spread.”

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A coronavirus outbreak at a West Virginia church has grown to 28 cases, Gov. Jim Justice said Monday.

The outbreak that occurred last week at the Graystone Baptist Church in Lewisburg has led to additional available testing for the public in Greenbrier County.

Justice said during his daily news conference that the National Guard conducted decontamination efforts at the church Sunday. The governor said the outbreak was close to his Lewisburg home.

The church said the source of the outbreak is unknown.

It is the fifth virus outbreak involving a West Virginia church. Similar outbreaks have occurred in Boone, Hampshire, Jefferson and Marshall counties.

At least 88 people in West Virginia have died from the virus and about 2,300 have tested positive, state health data shows.

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LONDON — The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization said he “fully expects” China to share the genetic sequences from the resurgence of coronavirus that have recently hit Beijing, even though they have not yet done so.

Chinese officials said that their examination of the virus shows it originated in Europe, but they have not yet shared the sequences with WHO or the global scientific community.

“We fully expect our colleagues in China will share that information,” said Dr. Michael Ryan at a press briefing on Monday. Ryan said the finding that this virus genome “may represent a strain commonly transmitting in Europe” is significant but that verifying the hypothesis requires the sequences be shared. Ryan said the new cluster of cases in China was of particular concern given that Beijing had gone 50 days without a new case, but expressed confidence Chinese authorities would be able to contain it.

In a story published earlier this month, the Associated Press found China delayed sharing critical virus information with WHO for more than a week after three government labs had decoded the information.

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GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization says more than 100,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide each day over the past two weeks — mostly in the Americas and South Asia — and countries that have curbed transmissions “must stay alert to the possibility of resurgence.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted a new cluster of cases in Beijing, which went more than 50 days without a new case of COVID-19, and said the origin of that new series of cases is under investigation.

Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief, said the U.N. health agency has offered additional assistance to Chinese authorities and said WHO could be bolstering its team in China in the coming days as the investigation advances.

The outbreak first emerged late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Tedros noted that it took over two months to reach 100,000 reported cases — now that is a daily norm. Nearly three-quarters of each day’s new cases come from 10 countries, mostly in South Asia and the Americas, he said.

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ROME — The region in northern Italy where the country’s COVID-19 outbreak began in February accounted for some 85 percent of new cases in the 24-hour period ending on Monday.

According to data from the Health Ministry, Lombardy region registered 259 new cases out of the 303 for the entire nation since Sunday evening. All of Italy’s other regions had fewer than a dozen new cases, while several had none.

Italy has counted 237,290 COVID-19 cases since the and 34,371 deaths. The 26 deaths registered since Sunday is the lowest one-day number since early March, before the entire country went into lockdown to contain spread of infection.

Italy has been gradually removing lockdown restrictions, with movie houses and theaters able to reopen on Monday. But schools won’t be back this academic year, with pupils expected back in classrooms sometime in September.

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NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s office says four people who work at the presidential residence have tested positive for COVID-19.

Spokeswoman Kanze Dena says the four were found positive following a mass testing of staff on Thursday last week.

They have been admitted to the Kenyatta University Teaching Referral Hospital and their families are being tested.

Dena said the Kenyan president and his family are safe and free of the disease.

Kenya health ministry has announced it will start home care of asymptotic COVID-19 cases, as the country’s hospitals are becoming overwhelmed.

So far, 3,727 people have tested positive in Kenya and 104 have died in the country of 52 million, according to figures released Monday by Kenya’s Ministry of Health.

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — As borders open throughout Europe, Slovenia lifted travel restrictions with Italy on Monday, and two towns were particularly thrilled.

The mayors of Slovenia’s Nova Gorica and Italy’s Gorizia jointly removed a traffic sign that banned movement from one town to another during the lockdown period.

The two towns that lie on the two sides of the border are closely linked culturally and economically. The area was reunited after Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004 after the breakup of Yugoslavia.

The mayors say that the traffic signs that stopped people from crossing over during the outbreak will be placed in a local museum in Nova Gorica.

The Nova Gorica mayor Klemen Miklavcic says “fences are not the instrument to solve our problems.”

Gorizia’s mayor, Rodolfo Ziberna says “my hope is that Europe can see the void it has created … (which) was filled by the relationship between Nova Gorizia and Gorizia.”

Slovenia opened borders with other neighbors before doing so with Italy, the European country that was hardest hit with the pandemic. An Alpine nation of some 2 million people, Slovenia has lowered the number of new cases to none or one or two daily.

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BANGKOK — Thailand’s battered restaurant sector has two reasons to celebrate as the country further eased its restrictions Monday against the spread of COVID-19.

Bangkok’s many eateries, which reopened in May after being shut down for more than a month, are now allowed to serve alcoholic drinks again, and there is no longer a curfew constraining late-night dining.

Restaurant owners whose slim profit margins made operating untenable without the sale of drinks are pleased, but still fearful that the ‘new normal’ may not make their businesses sustainable. A slow comeback may force many to close for good.

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ROME — The head of Italy’s leading business lobby is denying that industrial interests opposed coronavirus lockdowns in the hard-hit Lombardy region, blaming instead mismanagement of the outbreak by political authorities.

Carlo Bonomi told reporters Monday that Confindustria was being scapegoated for political and ideological reasons and insisted that the lobby group always acted correctly. He said Confindustria’s main concern was how to reopen factories in safety, with protective gear and contact-tracing systems.

He said: “I’m sorry to see the production system being blamed when the reality it was the lack of management at the level of the public administration.”

Prosecutors in the Lombardy province of Bergamo are investigating the lack of lockdowns in the Bergamo towns of Alzano and Nembro, where positive cases were first recorded Feb. 23. The Superior Institute of Health recommended a lockdown on March 3, but no decision was taken until all of Lombardy was locked down March 7-8. The two towns are located in the industry-heavy Seriana valley.

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MADRID — The Spanish government is launching a 3.7-billion-euro ($4.1 billion) aid package to shore up its automobile manufacturing industry in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Details of the two-year package unveiled Monday include subsidies for the purchase of cars, plans to spur investment in the industry with the aim of producing more electric vehicles, and training for the workforce.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced the package on Sunday but the government presented the details on Monday during an event joined by representatives of workers unions and the automotive industry.

Car sales dropped during the strict lockdown imposed by the government. Just as the country was trying to go back to work, Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor Co. announced the closure of plants near Barcelona employing 3,000 people directly and more than 20,000 through suppliers. Central and regional authorities vowed to persuade Nissan to reverse the decision.

The car industry generates a tenth of the country’s GDP and nearly a fifth of its exports. Some 650,000 people work in the automobile manufacturing industry, according to official statistics.

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BERLIN — Germany’s official disease control institute is recommending resuming contact tracing for people who shared a flight with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19.

The Robert Koch Institute said Monday that the likely increase in air travel and the current low number of cases mean contact tracing for plane passengers should be resumed. The practice was suspended in mid-March as air travel came to a virtual standstill due to pandemic lockdowns around the world.

Border checks for most Europeans were dropped overnight in Germany and the government lifted its travel warning for much of the rest of Europe.

The Robert Koch Institute reported 192 new cases of COVID-19 in Germany on Monday, taking the total tally in the country to 186,461 since the start of the outbreak. At least 8,791 people with the virus have died in Germany.

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BERLIN — The German government is taking a 23% stake in a German company working on a potential vaccine for the coronavirus.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Monday that the state-owned KfW development bank will buy 300 million euros ($337 million) in CureVac shares. He said the aim is to give CureVac “financial security.”

Altmaier stressed the government’s desire to keep key companies in various sectors in Germany.

In March, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, said that German officials had had “very intensive contact” with Curevac and that there had been “thoughts of enticing it to the United States.” He didn’t elaborate on the nature of the U.S. interest.

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

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