SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 279 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus, it’s highest daily jump since early March, as fears grow about a massive outbreak in the greater capital region.

The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sunday brought the national caseload to 15,318, including 305 deaths.

The number of new cases was the highest since 367 were reported on March 8, when the country was concentrating public health tools and personnel from nationwide to combat an outbreak in the less populated southern region.

The KCDC said 253 of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to 26 million people, where health authorities have been struggling to stem transmissions linked to various places and groups, including churches, nursery homes, schools, restaurants and door-to-door salespeople.

Infections were also reported in other major cities, such as Busan and Daegu, a southeastern city that was the epicenter of the country’s previous virus crisis in late February and March, when hundreds of new cases were reported each day.

Texas nears 10,000 deaths from coronavirus

AUSTIN, Texas — The death toll in Texas from the coronavirus inched nearer to 10,000 on Saturday, with 238 deaths bringing the total to 9,840.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said the number of reported cases increased by 8,245 to 528,838.

Health officials said Saturday that 6,481 people with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, were hospitalized. The number of hospitalizations has been decreasing since peaking in July at 10,893, and the number of newly reported cases is shrinking. But the virus is still spreading geographically.

Manhattan’s light display marking 9/ll back on

NEW YORK — New York’s annual light display honoring victims of 9/11 is back on, officials announced Saturday. They say health officials will supervise this year’s tribute to ensure workers’ safety amid concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that it is especially important this year to commemorate the lives lost and heroism displayed in the Sept. 11 attacks “as New Yorkers are once again called upon to face a common enemy.”

The announcement came days after the National September 11 Memorial & Museum canceled the Tribute in Light over concerns the coronavirus might spread among crews creating twin columns of light to represent the World Trade Center in the Manhattan sky.

Alice Greenwald, president and CEO of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, thanked former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Cuomo and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation “for their assistance in offsetting the increased costs associated with the health and safety considerations around the tribute this year.”

“This year, its message of hope, endurance and resilience are more important than ever,” she said in a statement.

Arizona reports 933 new cases, 69 deaths

PHOENIX — Arizona reported 933 confirmed coronavirus cases and 69 deaths on Saturday.

That increases the state’s totals to more than 192,000 cases and 4,492 deaths.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases decreased from 2,550 to 1,021 per day from July 30 to Aug. 13. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths decreased from 94 to 54 in the same time period.

The latest COVID-19-related hospitalization numbers posted by the state Department of Health Services were at levels last seen in early June.

The COVID-19-related hospitalizations in Arizona peaked about a month ago following Gov. Doug Ducey’s lifting of stay-home orders in May. Ducey re-imposed some restrictions and allowed local governments to impose mask requirements in late June.

South Africa lifts ban on cigarette, alcohol sales

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa is lifting its month-long ban on cigarette sales and will allow limited alcohol sales.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the country has passed the peak of coronavirus infections and a “ray of light is visible now on the horizon.”

The loosening of the lockdown on Monday will remove nearly all restrictions on economic activity, including the hospitality industry, and allow inter-provincial travel. But international travel restrictions are still in place and gatherings of more than 50 people are still banned.

South Africa has the world’s fifth-largest virus caseload with more than 583,000. The health ministry announced Saturday a total of more than 11,600 confirmed deaths.

Ramaphosa says in the past three weeks, confirmed cases have dropped from more than 12,000 a day to around 5,000. The president acknowledged the hardship of the lockdown and warned South Africans not to be complacent because of asymptomatic spread, when people don’t realize they have the virus.

Operations ongoing at nuclear waste repository despite outbreak

CARLSBAD, N.M. — Managers of the federal government’s underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico say operations are ongoing despite a recent increase in coronavirus cases among workers.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has had cases among employees and contract workers more than double in the last week. This week, the plant announced four new cases among employees of Nuclear Waste Partnership, the contractor hired to oversee daily operations at the facility.

The plant is in the second phase of resuming normal operations.

Alabama high schools cut fans at football games

OPELIKA, Ala. — Alabama high schools are limiting attendance at football games this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Opelika High School says it will cap attendance at about 30% of the stadium capacity of 8,000 so fans can maintain proper social distancing. Gulf Shores says attendance at athletic events will be cut by 50%.

Other schools are announcing attendance reductions or still working on plans. Some are skipping fall sports. The first football games are scheduled for this week, although some schools have delayed games after players or staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

The seven-day average number of daily cases in Alabama has dropped below 1,000, after reaching 1,800 in mid-July. The number of hospitalized patients has lessened from about 1,600 to 1,400, and the percent of positive tests has gone from 16.7% to 12.3%.

However, Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who heads the Alabama Hospital Association, says 89% of ICU beds are full.

Nearly half a million cited for not obeying lockdown in Italy

ROME — Some 455,000 people in Italy received citations or fines for not obeying early lockdown rules, according to Italian Interior Ministry figures released Saturday.

The government imposed a nationwide lockdown in a bid to slow the coronavirus on March 11. Citizens could go out for essential work or food shopping in a country that became the epicenter of the virus in Europe.

Authorities says they cited 1,117 people for violating quarantine through July 31. The numbers of cases and deaths have dramatically decreased since the peak in Italy.

Italy currently has 252,809 known cases. More than 35,000 people have died, sixth highest in the world.

Algeria relaxes one of the world’s longest confinement periods

ALGIERS, Algeria — Algeria reopened mosques, cafes, beaches and parks on Saturday for the first time in five months, relaxing one of the world’s longer virus confinement periods.

Curfews remain in place in more than half the country as Algeria tries to contain the virus.

Crowds packed beaches in the capital Algiers, celebrating the opportunity to swim in the Mediterranean amid the August heat. Restaurants reopened, and mosques that can hold more than 1,000 people must ensure social distancing measures.

However, mosques remain closed to all women, children and the elderly.

Algeria reported more than 37,000 total virus infections and 1,350 deaths on Friday. It’s the third-highest death rate reported in Africa, after South Africa and Egypt.

South Africa risk high, No. 5 in virus cases

JOHANNESBURG — A report in South Africa says there is a higher risk of Black or mixed-race patients dying of COVID-19 in the country’s hospitals than white patients.

A report by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases indicates the association but doesn’t go into detail. South Africa has released little data by race during the coronavirus pandemic.

The country has the world’s fifth largest virus caseload with more than 579,000 confirmed cases and ranks No. 13 with more than 11,000 deaths, according to the tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The report says overall, 18% of people with coronavirus admitted to hospitals die. Public hospitals are generally more poorly funded than private hospitals.

The report includes data from more than 150 public and private hospitals across the country. According to the 2011 census, 86% of South Africans are Black or mixed race, with 9% white.

Germany defends declaring Spain high risk

BERLIN — Germany’s health minister has defended the decision to declare all of mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands “risk areas” for coronavirus infection.

Travelers must undergo compulsory testing and two-week quarantine after arriving from there.

Health Minister Jens Spahn told Bild on Saturday that he knows “how much Germans love Spain as a vacation destination. But the numbers there are rising quickly, too quickly.”

The travel classification also includes the Spanish island of Mallorca, a popular destination for German tourists.

Germany is providing free testing for coronavirus at airports and those who test negative can avoid quarantining for the full 14 days.

The Robert Koch Institute says Spain’s Canary Islands weren’t deemed a risk area. That designation now covers most non-EU countries, including the United States, and several regions within the 27-nation bloc.

Pressure grows on French to mandate masks as infections surge

PARIS — Pressure is growing on the French government to require masks in all workplaces and in public as coronavirus infections surge.

Paris police stepped up mask patrols Saturday as the French capital expanded the zones where face coverings are required in public, including neighborhoods around the Louvre Museum and Champs-Elysees shopping district.

With cases in Paris rising particularly fast, police can now shut down cafes or any gathering of more than 10 people where distancing and other hygiene measures aren’t respected.

Masks are currently required outdoors in hundreds of French towns, but rules vary widely.

In an appeal published in the daily Liberation, a collective of medical workers urged a nationwide return to working at home, which France largely abandoned after two months of strict lockdown.

France recorded more than 2,800 new cases Friday, up from a few hundred daily cases a month ago. While the rise is partly attributed to increased testing, the rate of positive tests is also growing, and is now at 2.4%. However, the number of virus patients in French hospitals and intensive care units has not risen so far.

The rising infections prompted Britain to impose quarantine on vacationers returning from France starting on Saturday.

South Korea announces stricter social distancing requirements

SEOUL, South Korea— South Korea on Saturday announced stronger social distancing restrictions for its greater capital area where a surge in COVID-19 cases threatens to erase the hard-won gains against the coronavirus.

The two-week measures starting Sunday will allow authorities in Seoul and towns in neighboring Gyeonggi Province to shut down high-risk facilities such as nightclubs, karaoke rooms, movie theaters and buffet restaurants if they fail to properly enforce preventive measures, including distancing, temperatures checks, keeping customer lists and requiring masks.

Fans will once again be banned from professional baseball and soccer, just a few weeks after health authorities allowed teams to let in spectators for a portion of their seats in each game.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo revealed the steps hours after the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 166 newly confirmed cases, the country’s highest daily jump in five months.

New coronavirus cases in South Korea have reached the highest level in five months, and authorities fear infections are getting out of control in the Seoul region, which is home to half the country’s 51 million people.

Officials reported 166 newly confirmed cases Saturday. That was the highest since March 11, when South Korea reported 242 amid an outbreak in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby towns.

With 103 new cases reported Friday, this is the first time since late March that the daily increase surpassed 100 two days in a row.

Officials say all but 11 of the new cases were local transmissions, and most were in the Seoul area.

India passes 2.5 million cases with another spike

NEW DELHI — India’s confirmed coronavirus cases have crossed 2.5 million with another biggest single-day spike of 65,002 in the past 24 hours.

India is behind the United States and Brazil in the number of cases.

The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported another 996 deaths for a total of 49,036.

The average daily reported cases jumped from around 15,000 in the first week of July to more than 50,000 at the beginning of August.

The Health Ministry said the rise shows the extent of testing with 800,000 carried out in a single day. But experts say India needs to pursue testing more vigorously.

India’s two-month lockdown imposed nationwide in late March kept infections low. But it has eased and is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas. The new cases spiked after India reopened shops and manufacturing and allowed hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to return to their homes from coronavirus-hit regions.

Subways, schools and movie theaters remain closed.

Navajo Nation tourist destinations can open Monday

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Popular tourist destinations in the Navajo Nation, including Canyon de Chelly, can start welcoming back tourists Monday under the tribe’s reopening plan.

Much of the reservation has been closed since March as the new coronavirus swept through.

The tribe released a plan this week that allows parks and marinas to reopen with safeguards. Businesses can operate at limited capacity.

Tribal President Jonathan Nez says the Navajo Nation won’t rush to fully reopen, recognizing that cases could spike if residents become complacent.

Employees at tribal and national parks on the reservation say they will be busy this weekend preparing for tourists.

Victoria’s numbers continue to flatten

MELBOURNE, Australia — The Australian state of Victoria continues to flatten the curve in its wave of coronavirus infections and deaths.

The state on Saturday reported four more COVID-19 deaths and 303 newly confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours. It is the second-lowest daily figure reported in Victoria this month after 278 cases Thursday.

Victoria’s daily case numbers are gradually decreasing, with the seven-day average down to 344 from 521 a week ago.

But authorities warn there is more progress needed before lockdown restrictions in the city of Melbourne can be eased.

Melbourne residents and those in a nearby shire remain subject to strict night-time curfews, time limits on outdoor exercise, distance allowed from home, mandatory public mask wearing and shutdowns of non-essential industries.

Mexico’s confirmed cases cross 500,000

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 511,369, as health officials say they believe the country’s infections have peaked.

They reported 5,618 new confirmed cases Friday, and said 615 more deaths from COVID-19 had raised the pandemic death toll to 55,908.

Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell says Mexico had reached its peak of infections over the last three weeks, saying that “we have now had a maximum point in the curve.”

However, he predicts that second waves of outbreaks will continue around the world for time. He says that “this is a phenomenon that is going to be with us in the whole world for several years.”

Hawaii teacher’s union challenges school reopening plans

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s teachers union is challenging the state’s school reopening plans by filing a labor complaint.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association filed a complaint with the state Labor Relations Board over a change in working conditions from increasing COVID-19 infections.

Most public schools will start the academic year Monday with online instruction. The union is asking that all schools be online until at least the end of the first quarter.

The union says some schools are going forward with in-person instruction. The state Department of Education disputes that statement. The union is asking teachers to wear black on Monday.


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