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World COVID-19 News Roundup   10/22 07:25


   BRUSSELS (AP) -- 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


   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 

   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."


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

   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.


   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.


   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.


   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 

   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 

   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.


   PRAGUE -- Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic are on a steep rise, 
setting a new record for the second straight day.

   The Health Ministry says the daily increase soared to almost 15,000 on 
Wednesday. That's almost 3,000 more than the previous record a day earlier.

   The country has been facing a surge for the last two months. It has had a 
total of 208,915 confirmed cases while 1,739 have died. About a third of all 
the new cases have been recorded in last seven days.

   About 4,500 COVID-19 patients have filled up hospitals with the government 
expecting the health system will be overwhelmed by Nov. 11 if the surge doesn't 

   Further strict regulations are being imposed on Thursday, including limits 
on movement and the closure of many stores, shopping malls and hotels.

   Since Wednesday, it's mandatory again to wear masks outdoors and in cars.

   The seven-day rolling average in the Czech Republic has risen over the past 
two weeks from 29.59 per 100,000 people on Oct. 6 to 85.64 on Tuesday.


   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.


   SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has 121 new confirmed cases of the 
coronavirus, its first triple-digit daily jump in a week amid concerns about 
the country easing social distancing restrictions just last week to cope with a 
weak economy.

   The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Thursday that South 
Korea's caseload is now at 25,543 for the pandemic, including 453 deaths.

   Hundreds of recent infections have been tied to hospitals in major cities 
such as Seoul and Busan. Officials are testing 130,000 workers at hospitals, 
nursing homes and senior facilities in the Seoul metropolitan area hoping to 
reduce outbreaks.

   South Korea has enforced its lowest level of social distancing measures 
since Oct. 13, allowing high-risk businesses and karaoke bars to reopen and 
fans to return to professional sports.


   MEXICO CITY -- Mexican health officials estimated Wednesday that 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 an extremely low testing rate.


   LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says the state has more 
confirmed daily cases of the coronavirus than ever, and notes there has been a 
sharp increase since the state Supreme Court invalidated her sweeping 
restrictions earlier this month.

   Confirmed infections had been gradually rising for months prior to the Oct. 
2 ruling -- from a seven-day average of 119 in June to 984 -- as the governor 
loosened economic restrictions and allowed schools to reopen. Since the court 
decision, the seven-day average has nearly doubled to 1,818, although 
surrounding states without legal rulings have also seen similarly big spikes.

   Whitmer said Wednesday that "these numbers are moving in the wrong 
direction" and are putting Michigan "in a dangerous moment," though she did not 
indicate whether another lockdown might be necessary.


   COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- Health officials in Idaho say people with COVID-19 
in the northern part of the state soon may have to be sent for treatment in 
Seattle or Portland, Oregon, because the region's hospitals are nearing 

   Kootenai Health said in a statement Wednesday that its hospital is at 99% 
capacity for patients that need medical or surgical care. Chief Physician 
Executive Karen Cabell told KREM that the hospital nearing capacity is 

   Idaho is seeing its largest spike in confirmed coronavirus infections since 
the pandemic began. Newly reported cases have increased statewide by 46.5% over 
the past two weeks.

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