SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has confirmed 97 new cases of the coronavirus, a modest uptick from the daily levels reported last week, just as officials ease social distancing restrictions after concluding that transmissions have slowed following a resurgence in mid-August.
The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Monday brought the national caseload to 24,703, including 433 deaths.
Sixty-three of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, where health workers have struggled to track infections tied to various places and groups, including churches, hospitals, schools, workers and troops.
Twenty-nine of the new cases were linked to international arrivals, including 13 passengers from Nepal, most of whom who came to South Korea for a Korean language program.
South Korea relaxed its social distancing guidelines beginning Monday, allowing high-risk businesses like nightclubs and karaoke bars to open as long as they employ preventive measures, such as requiring masks and keeping lists of visitors.
Spectators will also be re-allowed in professional sports, although teams will be initially allowed to only sell 30% of their seats in stadiums.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— The White House doctor says President Donald Trump is no longer at risk of transmitting the coronavirus but did not say whether Trump had tested negative. Some medical experts are skeptical that Trump could be declared free of the risk of transmitting the virus so early.
— Trump makes speech from White House balcony, 1st appearance since return to residence
— India’s coronavirus cases top 7 million, a re on track to surpass the United States
— As a second wave of coronavirus infections hit, European nations seem not to have learned their lessons from the first surge
— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismisses the latest White House offer in COVID-19 aid talks but remains hopeful progress can be made toward a deal.
— Queen Elizabeth II honors the work of doctors, nurses, delivery drivers, fundraisers and volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic.
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A “database extract error” resulted in an incorrect inflation of the number of reported COVID-19 cases in Missouri going back over several days, Missouri health officials said Sunday. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in a news release that it is in the process of migrating all COVID-19 testing and case data into one new consolidated system. Missouri incorrectly reported Saturday on its coronavirus website more than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases, more than double the previous single-day record. The agency said Sunday it is working urgently to resolve the issue and will update its website with the correct numbers once that is done. It said the problems with the data were limited to cumulative reporting on its Show Me Strong Covid-19 Public Health Dashboard.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The number of people hospitalized in Arkansas with the coronavirus hit a record-high on Sunday of 576. The Arkansas Department of Health said the number of people hospitalized rose by 22. Hospitalizations from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, reached records levels Tuesday through Friday before dropping by six on Saturday. The health department on Sunday reported 613 new cases for a total of 92,833 confirmed and probable cases. With 17 more deaths, the number of confirmed and probable deaths in the state so far rose to 1,569. Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN on Sunday that he was concerned about the increase in hospitalizations. “Right now, we do have capacity,” Hutchinson said, adding that they’re “watching it very carefully and taking it seriously.”
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky’s governor says he will be in isolation after a member of his security detail who drove with his family tested positive for the coronavirus.
Gov. Andy Beshear said Sunday that he and his family feel fine and have tested negative for the virus. Beshear’s wife and their two children also will stay isolated.
The governor has stressed the importance of following the advice of health experts to limit the virus’s spread and says that by going into isolation he will be “walking the walk, not just talking the talk.”
Beshear says his family was not in contact with anyone else following the exposure. He says that his family and the state police trooper who accompanied his family all wore facial coverings.
MIAMI — Florida officials have reported the state’s biggest one-day total of confirmed coronavirus cases since late August, a day after not releasing any pandemic data because of a problem with a private testing laboratory.
The Florida Department of Health said Sunday there were 3,700 new cases in the previous 24 hours and 1,790 for the day before that. It said there were 180 COVID-19 over both days.
Health officials say they received 400,000 previously reported test results late Friday from Helix Laboratory, which prevented them from processing and releasing the daily data report Saturday. Epidemiologists needed to verify results to make sure cases weren’t counted more than once.
Florida has reported 734,491 known cases of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic and 15,552 deaths.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek health authorities have announced a daily record of 13 deaths from COVID-19, along with 280 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections.
The country’s total number of cases since the pandemic started is 22,358, with 449 deaths.
New restrictions on the number of people allowed inside restaurants, museums and archaeological site are being imposed Monday in Athens and several regions around Greece where the incidence of new cases is considered particularly high.
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi has been infected with the coronavirus. The Palestine Liberation Organization announced the news Sunday.
The 74-year-old Ashrawi is a senior member of the PLO. Over the decades, the U.S.-educated Ashrawi has made frequent appearances in the international media defending the Palestinian cause.
Last week, another top Palestinian official — Saeb Erekat — also announced he had been infected with the coronavirus.
CARBONDALE, Ill. — U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois has tested positive for the coronavirus, the latest lawmaker to confirm being infected. He says he has experienced a mild cough and the loss of taste and smell.
The Republican from southern Illinois released a statement saying he tested positive Thursday night. He says he is suspending his public schedule while isolates himself and staff members with whom he has been in contact with will do the same.
Bost office says he is contacting constituents he has met with in recent days.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is imposing new restrictive measures in hopes of curbing a surge in coronavirus infections.
Starting Thursday, it will again be mandatory to wear face masks outside in all cities, towns and villages and there will be a ban on public events, including religious services in churches. Exceptions include weddings, funerals and baptisms with a limited number of participants.
Major professional sports competitions are allowed to continue without fans.
Fitness and wellness centers and public swimming pools will be closed. Restaurants are banned from serving meals indoors, and the number of people in stores and shopping centers is limited.
Starting Monday, all high schools across Slovakia will provide only remote teaching.
This past week, Slovakia reported new highs for confirmed coronavirus cases for four straight days, with a record 1,887 Friday. The country has had a total of 19,851 cases, with 61 deaths.
MILAN — Italian experts are meeting to consider new restrictions expected later in the week as Italy continues to pile on new coronavirus infections at a rate of more than 5,000 a day.
The number of new infections spiked by nearly 5,500 Sunday, slightly lower than a day earlier. After reaching lows of even 100 a day early in the summer, new infections have pushed up for the last 2½ months, causing concern among experts and officials.
The government last week mandated masks outdoors, with the exception of physical exercise. Nearly 100 anti-masks protesters in Rome were issued fines for failing to comply during demonstrations this weekend.
Officials reported 26 more deaths from COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours. That Italy’s pandemic death toll to 36,166, the second highest in Europe behind Britain. Italy has registered nearly 355,000 infections.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has announced its highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus — 251.
Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said Sunday that Iran’s total death toll from COVID-19 now stands at 28,544, making Iran the hardest-hit country in its region. It’s previous daily high for deaths of 239 came just four days earlier.
Officials reported 3,822 newly confirmed coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, raising its total during the pandemic to 500,075. Among those recently infected is the head of Iran’s atomic energy organization, the latest senior official to test positive for the virus.
The government has largely resisted imposing widescale lockdowns as the economy teeters from continued U.S. economic sanctions that effectively bar Iran from selling its oil internationally. Iran’s currency plunged to its lowest level ever Sunday.
MOSCOW — Russia’s coronavirus infections have hit a new record for a 24-hour period, with authorities reporting over 13,000 new confirmed cases in the highest daily spike since the beginning of the pandemic.
The 13,634 new infections registered Sunday brought the country’s total to nearly 1.3 million, the world’s fourth largest caseload. Russia has also reported over 22,500 deaths.
The Russian authorities have been reporting over 10,000 new cases every day this past week, but maintain there are no plans to impose a second lockdown. Russia has lifted most of the virus-related restrictions imposed in the spring.
At the same time in Moscow, which reported 4,501 new cases on Sunday, officials have recommended the elderly to self-isolate at home and have extended this month’s school holidays by a week. Moscow mayor also ordered employers to have at least 30% of their staff work from home.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey will start reporting its total number of coronavirus infection cases later this week, after coming under criticism for releasing only figures for patients showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in an interview published Sunday by the newspaper Hurriyet that asymptomatic cases will also be included in Turkey’s published data beginning Friday.
Turkey’s latest daily figures from Saturday showed 1,649 new patients and 56 deaths. The country has reported more than 334,000 coronavirus patients since the outbreak started, and 8,778 fatalities.
BEIRUT — Lebanon’s Interior Ministry has ordered a lockdown in 169 villages and towns as well as ordering all nightclubs and pubs to close around the country amid a sharp increase of coronavirus cases.
The Ministry said Sunday that the lockdown will begin Monday morning and last until Oct. 19. Pubs and nightclubs will be closed until further notice, it said.
The new lockdown comes a week after the ministry ordered a lockdown in 111 villages and towns that ends Monday morning. Some of those towns are included under the new restrictions.
On Saturday, Lebanon’s Health Ministry registered 1,388 new cases of coronavirus, raising the country’s confirmed total to 52,558 infections and 455 deaths.
Cases in Lebanon have been rising since early July when the country eased a nationwide lockdown and opened its only international airport. The numbers increased dramatically following an Aug. 4 blast in Beirut that killed and wounded many, as people gathered at hospitals, funerals and anti-government protests.
LONDON — One of the main medical advisers to the British government has warned that the country is at a “tipping point” in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic, a day before Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce fresh lockdown restrictions for virus hot spots in the north of England.
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said in a statement that the country is at a “tipping point similar to where we were in March.”
The U.K. has experienced Europe’s deadliest outbreak with more than 42,750 deaths.
Van-Tam laid out his hope that history won’t repeat itself in light of better testing and treatments, as well as greater knowledge of the virus itself.
Johnson is on Monday expected to impose additional restrictions in areas where the virus has been spreading fastest in recent weeks. Pubs and restaurants in northern cities like Liverpool or Manchester are expected to be closed.
NEW DELHI — India’s confirmed coronavirus toll has crossed 7 million with a number of new cases dipping in recent weeks, even as health experts warn of mask and distancing fatigue setting in.
The Health Ministry on Sunday registered another 74,383 infections in the past 24 hours. India is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country in coming weeks, surpassing the U.S., where more than 7.7 million infections have been reported.
The ministry also reported 918 additional deaths, taking total fatalities to at least 108,334. Experts say all reported numbers seriously understate the impact of the pandemic, due to limited testing, missed cases and in some instances, concealment by authorities.
India, which has nearly 1.4 billion people, saw a steep rise in cases in July and added more than 2 million in August and another 3 million in September. But it is seeing a slower pace of coronavirus spread since mid-September, when the daily infections touched a record high of 97,894.
It’s averaging more than 70,000 new cases daily so far this month.
WASHINGTON — The White House doctor says President Donald Trump was no longer at risk of transmitting the coronavirus but did not say explicitly whether Trump had tested negative for it. The diagnosis came as the president prepared to resume campaign rallies and other activities.
In a memo released Saturday night by the White House, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley said Trump met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for safely discontinuing isolation and that by “currently recognized standards” he was no longer considered a transmission risk.
The memo did not declare Trump had tested negative for the virus. But sensitive lab tests — like the PCR test cited in the doctor’s statements — detect virus in swab samples taken from the nose and throat. Dr. William Morice, who oversees laboratories at the Mayo Clinic, said earlier this week that using the PCR tests, the president’s medical team could hypothetically measure and track the amount of virus in samples over time and watch the viral load go down.
Some medical experts had been skeptical that Trump could be declared free of the risk of transmitting the virus so early in the course of his illness. Just 10 days since an initial diagnosis of infection, there was no way to know for certain that someone was no longer contagious, they said.
SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea says it’ll will ease its social distancing rules as its caseload has continuously displayed a slowing trend ever after the five-day Chuseok autumn holidays.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told reporters Sunday that South Korea has counted an average of 59.4 new cases each day in the past two weeks, compared with 91.5 cases in the earlier two weeks. Earlier Sunday, South Korea reported 58 new cases, taking the country’s total to 24,606 including 432 deaths.
Under relaxed distancing guidelines effective Monday, Park says some high-risk facilities like nightclubs and karaoke bars will be allowed to reopen but they’re required to follow anti-virus steps like wearing masks and keeping a list of clients.
Park says South Korea will lift a ban on the gatherings of more than 50 people indoor and more than 100 outdoor. He says community welfare centers will also be reopened while professional sports leagues can have a limited number of fans back, up to 30% of the stadium capacity.