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Mon. 10:47 a.m.: Latest world virus headlines — El Paso under curfew; Mexico acknowledges more deaths

Former NBA basketball player Dirk Nowitzki, of Germany, wearing a mask to prevent to spread of COVID-19, helps distribute food aid to the public during a North Texas Food Bank drive-thru event Thursday in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Here are summaries of the latest The Associated Press stories worldwide on the coronavirus pandemic, including:

• El Paso under curfew, sees hospitals overwhelmed;

• German district to implement lockdown amid virus;

• More UK restrictions expected in virus fight;

• Trump to intensify campaign schedule despite virus surge, new White House outbreak;

• Wary of angering public with restrictions, Iran has few ways to contain virus;

• Europe’s restaurants and bars are being walloped by new virus curfews and restrictions;

• Spain announces a state of emergency to tamp down surging virus infections;

• Mexico acknowledges far more deaths than officially confirmed.

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BERLIN — A second German district is to go into a de-facto lockdown as new coronavirus infections surge in the country and across Europe.

News agency dpa reported that local authorities in Bavaria’s Rottal-Inn county, on the border with Austria, said today that the restrictions will begin at midnight. Rottal-Inn follows Berchtesgaden, another Bavarian county in Germany’s southeastern corner, which introduced similar restrictions last week.

Schools and kindergartens will be closed and events canceled, and people told not to leave their homes without good reason.

Rottal-Inn has recorded well over 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the past seven days. In Germany, districts are required to take measures once new infections top the 50 mark, and many have done so in recent weeks — imposing measures such as early bar closures and requirements to wear masks outdoors in some public places.

Germany’s new infections have been increasing by sometimes record numbers over the past two weeks, though they are still considerably short of the numbers seen in many other European countries.

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EL PASO, Texas — Residents in the Texas border city of El Paso have been urged to stay home for two weeks as a spike in coronavirus cases overwhelms hospitals.

The uptick in virus cases has also prompted the state to dedicate part of the city’s civic center as a makeshift heath care center for the ill. On Sunday night, El Paso County’s top elected official issued a stay-at-home order that imposes a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Violators could be fined $500 under the order.

Earlier Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said 50 hospital beds will be set up in the city’s convention center and another 50 beds could be added if needed. The state has already sent over 900 medical personnel to El Paso, some of whom will be staffing the convention center site.

El Paso County health officials reported 772 new coronavirus cases Sunday, a day after a record 1,216 new infections were reported.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump plans to intensify an already breakneck travel schedule in the final full week of the presidential campaign, overlooking a surge of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and a fresh outbreak in his own White House.

Trump is expected to hit nearly a dozen states in his last-ditch effort to recover ground from Democrat Joe Biden, including Sunday’s trip to Maine and Tuesday’s to Nebraska. Both states award electoral votes by congressional district and could be crucial in a tight election. Trump will hold 11 rallies in the final 48 hours alone.

Biden is staying close to his Wilmington, Delaware, home today. But he plans to pick up his travel schedule later in the week, aiming to hit the six battleground states the campaign sees as key to his chances, some with socially distanced in-person events and others with virtual events. On Tuesday, the former vice president is traveling to Georgia, a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in more than a quarter-century but where polls show a tight race.

The final week of the campaign is colliding with deepening concerns about a public health crisis in the U.S. Trump is eager for voters to focus on almost anything else, worried that he will lose if the election becomes a referendum on his handling of the pandemic. Biden is working to ensure the race is just that, hitting Trump on the virus and presenting himself as a safer, more stable alternative.

The stakes were clear this weekend as the White House became the locus for a second outbreak of the virus in a month. Several close aides to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for the virus, including his chief of staff, Marc Short. Pence, though, was insistent on maintaining his aggressive political calendar, even though he was deemed a “close contact” of his adviser, claiming the privileges of being an “essential employee.”

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MADRID — Authorities in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia are considering a mandatory stay-at-home order for weekends only, one of the strictest measures being imposed across the country to combat a sharp resurgence of the coronavirus.

Under a new state of emergency declared by the national government on Sunday, Spain’s 17 regions and two autonomous cities can tailor restrictions that include a nationwide overnight curfew, a cap of six people on social gatherings and possible regional travel bans.

Only Spain’s Canary Islands, where the curve of contagion has been kept at bay, will be exempted from the 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. general curfew, which other regions’ officials can decide to push one hour earlier or later.

The aim is to rein in infections from gatherings of family and friends at home or in bars.

The Spanish government wants the state of emergency to be extended later this week until May with as many votes as possible in the country’s parliament.

Spain last week became the first European country to surpass 1 million officially recorded COVID-19 cases, although officials say that the real figure could be way above 3 million.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — As coronavirus infections reached new heights in Iran this month, overwhelming its hospitals and driving up its death toll, the country’s health minister gave a rare speech criticizing his own government’s refusal to enforce basic health measures.

“We asked for fines to be collected from anyone who doesn’t wear a mask,” Saeed Namaki said last week, referring to the government’s new mandate for Tehran, the capital. “But go and find out how many people were fined. We said close roads, and yet how many did they close?”

Namaki’s speech, lamenting the country’s “great suffering” and “hospitals full of patients,” clearly laid the blame for the virus’ resurgence at the government’s door — a stark contrast to the usual speeches from officials who point the finger at the public’s defiance of restrictions.

But one day later, the minister had a vastly different message.

“We should not cause panic for people in vain,” Namaki said in a speech carried by the semi-official ISNA news agency. “We should never announce that we don’t have empty (hospital) beds. We do have empty beds.”

The rhetorical about-face is typical of Iranian leaders’ inconsistent response to the pandemic that many see as helping to fuel the virus’ spread. Experts say the mixed messages reflect the fact that the leadership has little room to impose severe restrictions that would damage an already fragile economy — and thus stoke public anger.

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LONDON — British authorities are likely to tighten restrictions on more areas of the country this week, amid mixed signs about whether recent measures have stemmed a steep rise in coronavirus infections.

Government scientific advisers say there are some signs the increase has begun to level off since a three-tier virus risk system of restrictions came into effect, but that it’s too soon to be certain.

A large chunk of northern England, including the major cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield, has been placed in the top tier of “very high” risk, with pubs closed and people from different households barred from mixing.

The regional disparities are causing friction between local politicians in the north and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, which has been accused of not doing enough to support people and businesses hit by the local lockdowns.

The government says it is talking to local leaders in other areas, including the city of Warrington in northwest England and the central England county of Nottinghamshire, about moving into the highest tier.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have established their own public health rules, with Wales introducing the strictest measure: a 17-day lockdown for all its 3 million people.

Britain has Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with almost 45,000 confirmed deaths.

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican health authorities acknowledged Sunday that the country’s true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is far higher than thought, saying there were 193,170 “excess” deaths in the year up to Sept. 26, with 139,153 of those judged to be attributable to COVID-19.

That is about 50,000 more deaths than Mexico’s official, test-confirmed death toll of about 89,000, and about 56 percent higher than the previous estimate of 103,882 pandemic deaths.

Mexico has an extremely low testing rate, and officials had previously acknowledged that many people didn’t get tested or their tests were mishandled. Authorities had earlier presented the estimated COVID-19 death toll of 103,882 after taking into account mishandled tests and some other factors.

But the Health Department said experts had now analyzed databases of death certificates up to late September — the latest date for which complete data was available — to come up with the latest figure of 139,153. The analysis picked up symptoms related to COVID-19 mentioned on death certificates even if they weren’t listed as the cause of death.

Excess deaths are calculated by comparing the expected number of deaths from an average of previous years to those in 2020.

The department did not explain the other 54,000 “excess” deaths, but experts in other countries have suggested that more people may have died from non-coronavirus causes simply because hospitals were crowded with COVID-19 patients, or people were wary of seeking medical attention for other illnesses because they feared getting infected.

Mexico has a policy of testing only people who show serious symptoms of coronavirus infection, as well as a tiny sample of the wider population.

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PARIS — Virus patients now occupy more than half of France’s intensive care units, and some doctors are urging tougher restrictions after another record jump in confirmed infections.

Dr. Jean-Francois Delfraissy, head of the government’s virus advisory body, expressed surprise today at the “brutality” of the rise, after more than 52,000 new cases were reported Sunday.

Speaking on RTL radio, he floated the idea of local lockdowns or extending France’s 9p.m. to 6 a.m. curfews, which currently cover about half of the country and more than two-thirds of its people.

The number of people hospitalized in France with the virus has climbed sharply in recent weeks, putting renewed pressure on ICUs. COVID patients now fill more than two-thirds of the ICUs in the Paris region.

Dr. Eric Caumes, head of the infectious and tropical diseases department at Paris’ Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, told broadcaster Franceinfo today that “we have lost control of the epidemic, though it doesn’t date from yesterday.”

France has been among countries hardest-hit by the pandemic, reporting 34,761 virus-related deaths. It is currently registering more than 340 positive cases per 100,000 people nationwide each week.

Delfraissy warns that this latest wave of the virus could be “stronger than the first” and is spreading all around Europe.

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ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatia’s minister of tourism has tested positive for coronavirus as the small European Union nation continued to report a surge in the new cases.

The state Hina news agency said Nikolina Brnjac tested positive after attending a government meeting Saturday. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic tested negative, the government said today, but two ministers who sat next to Brnjac have been told to self-isolate.

Experts in Croatia and some neighboring countries blame the country’s summer tourist season for the rise in new cases, saying there was little or no distancing on Adriatic beaches or in nightclubs.

On Saturday, Croatia’s daily number of new infections soared past 2,000 for the first time.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — As of today, Denmark lowered the limit for public gatherings to 10 from a previous 50 and urged that the same number is respected for get-togethers in private homes.

There were a few exceptions, namely sporting events where there can be a maximum of 500 people inside a stadium and funerals where 50 people can gather.

Another new restriction is no alcohol can be sold after 10 p.m.

From Thursday on, it will be mandatory in Denmark to wear face masks in public places like supermarkets, libraries and theaters.

Earlier the government has ordered people to wear face masks on public transportation and when walking inside restaurants, bars or cafes.

Denmark has had 40,356 confirmed virus cases and 702 reported deaths.

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s former coronavirus hot spot Melbourne will largely emerge from lockdown after the city today recorded its first day without a new COVID-19 case in more than four months.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said from 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday all shops, restaurants, cafes and bars will be allowed to open and outdoors contact sports can resume.

From 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 8, Melbourne residents will no longer be restricted to traveling within 25 kilometers (16 miles) of their homes.

Melbourne, the nation’s second-largest city, has been under strict lockdown measures since early July and the state government has been accused of inflicting unnecessary economic damage by not relaxing restrictions sooner.

The last time Victoria recorded a 24-hour period without a single case was June 9 before a second wave of infections began. A week has passed since Victoria lost a life to COVID-19. The death of a man aged in his 90s on Oct. 19 brought the state’s death toll to 817. Only 88 people have died with COVID-19 elsewhere in Australia.

Victoria’s daily infection tally peaked at 725 in early August.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s Parliament has closed for the premises to be disinfected after COVID-19 was diagnosed in a police officer serving there.

A coronavirus cluster that began among garment factory workers earlier this month has grown to 4,400 cases, more than half the country’s total of 7,872. The death toll climbed to 16 on Sunday.

During the last 24 hours, 351 new patients have been detected and the majority are from the garment cluster.

To contain the spread, the government has closed schools and banned gatherings across Sri Lanka, and a curfew is in effect in many parts of Western province, where the infections have been concentrated.

Several thousand people have been asked to quarantine at home, while another 8,421 people are being quarantined at military-run centers.

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NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus cases are continuing to decline but rising air pollution and Hindu festivals are raising fears of new infections.

The Health Ministry said 45,148 new cases have taken India’s tally to 7.9 million today. It also reported 480 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising total fatalities to 119,014.

The Indian capital is seeing an upsurge with nearly 4,000 new cases, the highest in the past five weeks. Experts expressed concern over severe air pollution caused by farm fires, exhaust from diesel generators, dust from construction sites and burning of garbage.

“When you have high levels of air pollution you will see an increase of severe COVID-19 infections,” said Dr. Randeep Guleria, a government health expert.

The southern coastal state of Kerala is the second-worst state for active cases in the country. India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan blamed “gross negligence” during the 10-day Onam festival in late August.

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BERLIN — The head of the United Nations says that “the COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest crisis of our age.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened an online session Sunday of the World Health Summit with a call for worldwide solidarity in the global crisis and demanded that developed countries support health systems in countries that are short of resources.

The coronavirus pandemic is the overarching theme of the summit, which originally had been scheduled for Berlin. Several of the leaders and experts who spoke at the opening stressed the need to cooperate across borders.

“No one is safe from COVID-19. No one is safe until we are all safe from it,” said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “Even those who conquer the virus within their own borders remain prisoners within these borders until it is conquered everywhere.”

More than 42 million have been infected with the virus and over 1 million people have died of Covid.

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ROME — Italy’s one-day caseload of confirmed coronavirus infections jumped past 20,000 on Sunday, with more than a quarter of the new cases registered in Lombardy, the northern region which bore the brunt of the pandemic in the country earlier this year.

According to Health Ministry figures, there were 21,273 new cases since the previous day, raising Italy’s total of confirmed COVID-19 infections to 525,782.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the government’s latest crackdown on social freedoms, including closing restaurants in early evening and shuttering gyms, for the next 30 days, was warranted by the growth of the contagion curve worldwide, with a “very high wave” in all of Europe.

“Every choice brings sacrifices and renouncing” activities, Speranza said. “We must react immediately and with determination if we want to avoid unsustainable numbers.”

Italy’s confirmed death toll in the pandemic rose to 37,338, with 128 deaths since Saturday.

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PHOENIX — Arizona health officials on Sunday reported 1,392 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths. It’s the highest reported single-day coronavirus case total in the state since Sept. 17.

Arizona has continued to see a slow yet steady increase in the average number of COVID-19 cases reported each day as a decline that lasted through August and September reverses.

State Department of Health Services officials said the latest numbers increase Arizona’s totals to 238,163 known infections and 5,874 known deaths.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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