BEIJING — Numbers of new COVID-19 cases in China’s far northwestern region of Xinjiang are continuing to fall, with 28 reported on Monday.

China reported 43 new cases nationwide, seven of the imported and eight in the northeastern province of Liaoning. No new deaths were reported, leaving China’s total at 4,634 among 8,428 cases.

All the new cases in Xinjiang were in the regional capital and largest city of Urumqi, which has been at the center of China’s latest major outbreak since cases were first detected there in mid-July. The region has reported a total of 590 cases, all but four of them in Urumqi, where authorities have conducted mass testing, cut down on public transport, isolated some communities and restricted travel outside the city.

Yet, while mainland China’s latest outbreak appears to have peaked, authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese city of Hong Kong are struggling to contain a new wave of infections, with more than 200 new cases added over the weekend.

Italy’s tally of new virus cases down to 239

MILAN — The number of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Italy nudged lower to 239 in the last 24 hours, while all eight deaths were recorded in Lombardy, the epicenter of the country’s epidemic.

That brings the total number of cases in Italy to 248,070 and deaths to 35,154, according to Health Ministry figures released Sunday.

New cases were distributed in every region, with none at zero, and Emilia-Romagna, which has had several outbreaks, counting the most at 49.

The number of daily cases in Italy has hovered between 200-300 for weeks, mostly related to people arriving from outside of Italy, either foreign workers or migrants.

Italians have been filling beaches, particularly on the weekends, as the country enters the traditional holiday month of August.

A beach establishment in Sabaudia, south of Rome, was closed after a lifeguard tested positive. And Italian high-speed railway operators were forced to reverse plans to loosen distancing rules on trains after Health Minister Roberto Speranza passed an ordinance blocking a move by the transport ministry to allow all seats to be occupied.

Dr. Birx: U.S. has entered a ‘new phase’ of pandemic

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — White House coronavirus task force leader Dr. Deborah Birx says widespread coronavirus infections in urban and rural America mark a “new phase” for the pandemic as she doubled down on calls to wear face masks and observe social distancing measures.

Birx, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, said “What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread.”

The United States has the world’s biggest number of cases at 4.6 million, or one-quarter of the total, and 154,361 deaths. Birx said mitigation efforts across the west and the south are beginning to work but warned that people need to take the virus seriously and employ significant safety precautions when cases first begin to tick up.

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Speaker Pelosi says she does not have confidence in Dr. Birx

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she doesn’t have faith in White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, whom she ties to misinformation spread by President Donald Trump.

Pelosi was asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether she had confidence in Birx.

The California Democrat replied: “I think the president has been spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee so I don’t have confidence there, no.”

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Birx said she has respect for Pelosi and attributed the sentiment to a New York Times article in which Birx is described as embracing overly optimistic assessments of the coronavirus.

Birx said that she has “never been called Pollyannish or non-scientific or non-data-driven. And I will stake my 40-year career on those fundamental principles of utilizing data to really implement better programs to save more lives.”

Annual Sturgis rally expecting 250K, stirring virus concerns

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Sturgis is on. The message has been broadcast across social media as South Dakota, which has seen an uptick in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, braces to host hundreds of thousands of bikers for the 80th edition of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

More than 250,000 people are expected to rumble through western South Dakota, seeking the freedom of cruising the boundless landscapes in a state that has skipped lockdowns. The Aug. 7 to 16 event, which could be the biggest anywhere so far during the pandemic, will offer businesses that depend on the rally a chance to make up for losses caused by the coronavirus. But for many in Sturgis, a city of about 7,000, the brimming bars and bacchanalia will not be welcome during a pandemic.

Though only about half the usual number of people are expected at this year’s event, residents were split as the city weighed its options. Many worried that the rally would cause an unmanageable outbreak of COVID-19.

“This is a huge, foolish mistake to make to host the rally this year,” Sturgis resident Lynelle Chapman told city counselors at a June meeting. “The government of Sturgis needs to care most for its citizens.”

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South Africa passes half a million virus cases

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa exceeded half a million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, even as President Cyril Ramaphosa said he sees “promising signs” that the rapid growth of cases is stabilizing and that the country’s strained health system is managing to cope in most areas.

South Africa’s caseload represents more than 50% of all reported coronavirus infections in Africa’s 54 countries. Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize announced 10,107 new cases Saturday night, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 503,290, including 8,153 deaths.

South Africa, with a population of about 58 million, has the fifth-highest number of cases in the world, behind the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India, all countries with significantly higher populations, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the true toll of the pandemic worldwide is much higher than confirmed cases, due to limited testing and other reasons.

Ramaphosa, in a letter to the nation on Sunday, said that despite the high number of confirmed cases, he sees some positive developments, including that the daily increase in infections appears to be stabilizing in the provinces of the Western Cape, which includes Cape Town, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, which is home to Johannesburg and Pretoria.

South Africa’s hospitals have been stretched to the limit but in most provinces they are succeeding in providing treatment to COVID-19 patients, he said.

Indian official tests positive

NEW DELHI — Indian Home Minister Amit Shah says he has tested positive for the coronavirus and is getting admitted to a hospital on the advice of doctors.

Shah, 55, tweeted on Sunday that his health is fine and requested those who had come in his contact to isolate themselves and get tested.

Shah is No. 2 in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. He has been visiting hospitals and holding meetings with top officials as part of the government’s massive efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections in the country.

Pope urges politicians to create jobs

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called on politicians to create jobs so that economies can relaunch from the lockdowns imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The pope, speaking after the traditional Sunday blessing, said that ‘’without work, families and society cannot go forward. Let us pray for this, because this will be a problem in the post-pandemic period, the poverty and the lack of jobs. It requires lots of solidarity and lots of creativity to resolve this problem.’’

The pontiff also wished the faithful ’’some days of rest, and contact with nature, to recharge also in the spiritual dimension.”

The pope’s remarks follow a week in which officials released statistics showing a record plunge in both the U.S. and eurozone economies.

Infections surge past 100,000 in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — Coronavirus infections in the Philippines surged past 100,000 Sunday after medical groups declared that the country was waging “a losing battle” against the virus and asked the president to reimpose a lockdown in the capital.

The Department of Health reported a record-high daily tally of 5,032, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 103,185, including more than 2,000 deaths. The Philippines has the second-most cases in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.

President Rodrigo Duterte eased a tough virus lockdown in the capital, Manila, on June 1. After shopping malls and workplaces were partially reopened and limited public transport was allowed, infections spiked sharply with increased virus testing.

More than 50,000 infections were reported in less than four weeks and leading hospitals began warning that their coronavirus wards were fast being overwhelmed to capacity again, as they were when cases soared alarmingly in April.

After Duterte further relaxed quarantine restrictions and allowed more businesses, including gyms, internet cafes and tattoo shops, to reopen, leaders of nearly 100 medical organizations held an online news conference Saturday and warned that the health system may collapse as many medical personnel fall ill or resign out of fear, fatigue or poor working conditions.

Confirmed cases near record levels in Japan

TOKYO — Confirmed coronavirus cases are hovering at near record levels in Japan, raising worries the pandemic may be growing more difficult to control.

The Tokyo government reported 292 new cases Sunday, about half in their 20s. Japan in total reported 1,540 cases on Saturday— the second straight day the number was above 1,500.

Nationwide cases for Sunday will be tallied at midnight. Numbers are usually fewer over the weekend because of fewer tests.

Japan has avoided a total lockdown, encouraging business activity while urging people to wear masks, social distance and work from home.

Israeli cabinet minister says he tested positive

TEL AVIV, Israel — An Israeli Cabinet minister says he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Minister for Jerusalem and Heritage Rafi Peretz tweeted late Saturday that he received a positive result after being tested the previous day. He said he felt well.

Peretz is the second Israeli minister to have been infected with the virus. Israel’s former health minister, Yaakov Litzman, also contracted it and later recovered.

Israeli media reported that contact tracing was being conducted to determine whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or other legislators would need to self-isolate following Peretz’ diagnosis.

Israel is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases after having largely contained an earlier outbreak in the spring.

Hard hit Australian state declares emergency

MELBOURNE, Australia — The premier of Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state has declared a disaster among sweeping new coronavirus restrictions across Melbourne and elsewhere from Sunday night.

An evening curfew will be implemented across Melbourne from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Premier Daniel Andrews says the state of disaster proclamation gave police greater power.

He says 671 new coronavirus cases had been detected since Saturday, including seven deaths. It comes among a steadily increasing toll in both deaths and infections over the past six weeks in Victoria.

Melbourne residents will only be allowed to shop and exercise within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of their homes. All students across the state will return to home-based learning and child care centers will be closed.

The deaths in Victoria took the national toll to 208.

India’s caseload continues to spike

NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus caseload crossed 1.75 million with another spike of 54,735 in the past 24 hours.

The new cases are down from 57,118 on Saturday. The Health Ministry on Sunday also reported 853 deaths for a total of 37,364.

Randeep Guleria, a top government expert, said that New Delhi and Mumbai may have crossed their peak levels with declining trends.

The month of July alone has accounted for more than 1.1 million cases in India.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the case fatality rate was progressively reducing and currently stands at 2.18%, one of the lowest globally. Out of the total active cases, only 0.28% are on ventilators, 1.61% need intensive care support and 2.32% oxygen support.

Arizona Rep. confirms he has the virus

WASHINGTON — Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona says he has the coronavirus.

The Democrat says he tested positive for the coronavirus days after he sat close to another member, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, who announced a positive test this week.

The 72-year-old Grivalva is at least the 11th member of Congress known to have tested positive for the virus.

Gohmert, a Republican, has questioned the use of masks and often walked around the Capitol without one.

Grijalva released a statement, saying in part: “This week has shown that there are some members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously. Numerous Republican members routinely strut around the Capitol without a mask to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff, and their families.”

Greece reports 110 new cases

ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities say there were 110 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the fourth-highest daily figure and highest since April.

Authorities say 23 of the cases concerned employees at a meat processing factory in the northern city of Kavala. Tests on all 140 employees are still ongoing. Another 10 cases involved people who attended a wedding in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest.

Only nine of the cases involved incoming travelers.

Greece has 4,587 total confirmed cases and 206 deaths, with no deaths reported Saturday.

Federal judges allow ban on onsite drinking to continue

HEREBATON ROUGE, La. — Two Louisiana federal judges have refused to immediately stop enforcement of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ coronavirus order prohibiting bars from letting customers drink onsite.

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Lafayette on Friday denied the temporary restraining order requested by 11 Acadiana area bar owners who filed a lawsuit challenging Edwards’ decision limiting bars to takeout and delivery.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans rejected a similar restraining order sought by 22 southeast Louisiana bar owners who filed the same lawsuit in their regional federal court.

Feldman set an Aug. 14 hearing to consider further arguments in the New Orleans case. Summerhays set an Aug. 17 Lafayette hearing.

The bar owners argue the Democratic governor’s restrictions are unconstitutional, unlawfully targeting one business sector without enough evidence to back up Edwards’ assertion that bars are driving the spread of the COVID-19 disease more than any other businesses.

The governor and his health advisers say bars have shown to be specifically problematic because people tend to huddle closely together inside without masks while drinking and lapse in their virus precautions the more alcohol they consume.

The White House coronavirus task force recommended Louisiana close bars to reduce public health risks and lessen the spread of the virus.’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

Florida reports 179 new deaths

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida health officials have reported 179 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to more than 7,000.

The latest numbers came Saturday as Hurricane Isaias threatened Florida’s eastern coast, but no evacuations were immediately announced. The National Hurricane Center’s latest prediction had the storm scraping past Florida but not making landfall.

Hospitalizations for the coronavirus have been declining for the past week and a half, with fewer than 8,000 treated for the coronavirus on Saturday. That’s down from highs of more than 9,500 last week.

 


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