JOHANNESBURG — African governments have worked together to launch a digital platform to inform travelers about COVID-19 travel restrictions across the continent, as many countries ease restrictions on international travel.
Still reeling from nearly six months of a ban on international travel to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, major airports on the continent have now resumed international flights, but with specific restrictions.
The #Trusted Travel, My COVID Pass, will provide travelers in Africa with information about what requirements they will face going to different countries in the continent, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr.John Nkengasong, said Monday.
The digital platform will also offer links to laboratories where travelers will be able to get the COVID-19 test results that are required for entry into many African countries, said Nkengason on an Africa CDC internet press conference.
Some of the continent’s largest laboratory firms have backed the initiative. Chairman of South Africa’s Ampath Laboratories, Dr. Robbie Buck, said private labs across the continent can deliver test results in 24 hours. He discouraged travelers from trying to get tests at airports, saying the new platform for Africa could enable them to go to laboratories for screening and test results before they go to the airport.
To enter South Africa, for example, a traveler must produce a negative test result delivered within 72 hours of the departure of the flight. Other African countries have different requirements.
The new website is designed to inform travelers about the different requirements across the continent, said Nkengasong.
It will initially provide information for 12 countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Senegal, considered travel hubs as they have high air traffic volumes.
Director at Kenya Airways, Julius Thairu, said even though airlines are now allowed to operate, they have far fewer passengers than before the COVID-19 outbreak. Kenya Airways is currently operating with only 20% of the passengers it had before the travel bans were imposed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, he said.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— New Jersey governor: Trump fundraiser ‘put lives at risk’
— Kayleigh McEnany tests positive for COVID-19
— Americans fault US govt over foreign powers for virus crisis
— Trump, moving to show strength, aims for Monday release
— Biden campaign says Democratic presidential nominee tested negative for virus
— EU top official self-isolating after contact with virus case
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Saginaw man is home after more than six months in health-care facilities, all related to COVID-19.
John Curtis, 44, had abdominal surgery, seizures, sepsis, paralysis and more. He was released last week from his last stop: Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids.
“He’s been through a lot,” said Dr. Ralph Wang, a rehab specialist.
“I think COVID probably caused half of his problems,” Wang told WOOD-TV. “So it was very significant. I think it probably prolonged how much time he was on the ventilator and probably contributed to his seizures and brain damage.”
Curtis’ health was good until March when he woke up with a 104-degree fever and other problems.
He said his wife, Debi, was a “good supporter” throughout the ordeal.
“I wouldn’t have been anywhere else,” Debi Curtis said. “He needed his family and the love and that’s what we did.”
Wang predicted John Curtis can make a nearly full recovery with more work. He couldn’t walk when he arrived at Mary Free Bee but now moves with a walker. He previously worked as a sander at a glass company.
“I am not going to take life for granted anymore,” Debi Curtis said. “And I’m not going to take John for granted anymore.”
NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s ordering schools in certain New York City neighborhoods closed within a day in an attempt to halt a flare-up of the coronavirus.
The governor took the action a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio asked the state for permission to reinstate restrictions on businesses and schools in nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens where the virus was spreading more quickly.
Cuomo said the closures would take place by Tuesday, a day ahead of when the mayor wanted. The restrictions are aimed mostly at neighborhoods home to the city’s large Orthodox Jewish community.
MADRID — Spain has surpassed 800,000 cases for the new coronavirus, although the speed of new infections is waning with average daily confirmed cases down from a week ago, official data released Monday shows.
The health ministry has confirmed 23,480 new infections for the previous three days, bringing the total caseload since the beginning of the pandemic to 813,412. The two-week infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants has come down from a second wave peak of 286 cases on Sept. 23 to 254 on Monday.
“These are still very high incidence rates that are keeping us in a situation of high risk,” said Fernando Simón, the ministry’s top coronavirus experts, warning that weekend date could be underplaying the true extent of the virus spread.
Simón said that the goal is to reduce the caseload “below 50 cases” per 100,000 residents in 14 days.
Hospital admissions kept increasing slow but steadily, according to Monday’s figures, with over 9% of the normal beds and more than 18% of intensive care unit beds devoted to treating COVID-19 patients. The situation is far worse than the national average in the most affected areas by new outbreaks, with the Madrid region as the source of Europe’s fastest rising wave of infection.
With 139 new fatalities recorded on Monday, Spain’s confirmed death toll for the new virus reached 32,225, although thousands more died without being tested.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The children of a Tyson Foods worker who died of the coronavirus in April have filed a lawsuit claiming his plant took few safety precautions before he and others became infected in Iowa’s first major outbreak.
Pedro Cano, 51, worked on the kill floor elbow-to-elbow with others at Tyson’s pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, according to the lawsuit recently filed in Johnson County.
Cano developed COVID-19 symptoms April 2, four days before Tyson announced that two dozen workers had tested positive and that production would be suspended. The lawsuit says Cano was hospitalized April 10 and died April 14. The plant resumed production with new safety measures a week after his death.
Cano’s three adult children filed the wrongful death lawsuit, which claims their father worked less than six feet away from others with no barriers in between and wasn’t given a mask by Tyson.
In all, state records show that 522 of the plant’s 1,300 workers tested positive for coronavirus, two died and a dozen required hospitalization.
BURLINGTON, Vt. — Elected officials in Vermont’s largest city are considering a resolution to allow backyard fire pits in Burlington in what supporters say would be a good way to physically distance and socialize during the pandemic.
New England Cable News reported last week that the resolution would create a permitting process for fire pits.
City Councilor Joan Shannon says she is calling them “COVID fires.” Shannon and two other councilors believe fires would improve residents’ mental health by allowing them to socialize more during the pandemic.
The resolution asks the fire chief to come up with a permitting process, and applicants would have to meet certain safety requirements, like having a source of water nearby.
LONDON — Britain’s Royal Opera House is selling a David Hockney painting of its former boss to help it stay afloat as coronavirus-related restrictions keep many U.K. performing arts venues shuttered.
Christie’s auction house said Monday that “Portrait of Sir David Webster” will be offered for sale in London on Oct. 22, with an estimated price of between 11 million pounds and 18 million pounds ($14 million and $23 million).
Royal Opera chief executive Alex Beard said the company was facing “the biggest crisis in our history.”
He said the company, home to Britain’s Royal Opera and Royal Ballet, would also need to cut staff and costs and seek funding from supporters and the government to stay afloat.
British theater and music venues are struggling to survive because social distancing rules mean most can’t reopen with enough audience members to break even.
MILAN — The Italian government was scheduled to meet later Monday to discuss making mask-wearing mandatory outdoors nationwide and limiting the number of people who can gather indoors. The moves come as Italy adds 2,257 new positives in the last 24 hours, even with fewer swab tests, as is typical for the weekend. The government is also pushing for more people to download a contact tracing app, which has reached 7 million downloads but still far short of the threshold officials say is necessary to be effective. Italy’s number of virus positives hit 327,586, while the pandemic-total of known deaths is 36,002 — with 16 deaths registered Monday.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The European Union police agency says in a new report that cybercriminals are cashing in on the coronavirus crisis by targeting people and companies that are spending more time online due to work-from-home orders.
Europol issued its annual Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment Monday. It underscores earlier warnings by the Hague-based police organization to the EU’s 27 member states about cybercrime during the pandemic.
The assessment covers all aspects of cybercrime. It cautions that “many individuals and businesses that may not have been as active online before the crisis became a lucrative target” for cybercriminals who are able to quickly adapt existing online crime to fit emerging vulnerabilities.
Criminals also used the global pandemic to spread disinformation about the virus for financial gain.
The report says that distributing fake news online about potential cures or treatments “facilitated criminals seeking to sell items that they claim will help prevent or cure COVID-19.”
Another element of cybercrime that has risen during the pandemic is the online distribution of images of the sexual abuse of children and livestreaming abuse. The report says that the COVID-19 crisis “revealed an extra surge in online distribution” of such material.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The Danish Health Authority has called off the traditional Halloween routine where costumed children and adults go from house to house, asking for trick or treats, and said that such practices “may be associated with the risk of spreading the infection.”
In its latest recommendation, the government agency suggests organizing Halloween parties only with people who see each other often and “replace the door-to-door candy collection with other activities, such as carving out pumpkins (or) an outdoor treasure hunt” or making Halloween paper decorations.
“If you serve sweets, make sure they are wrapped or portioned,” the agency said.
In the past years, the Oct. 31 festivities have become rather big in Denmark that has seen 30,057 cases and 659 deaths.
DETROIT — Buses returned to Detroit streets Monday after a three-day work stoppage by drivers over coronavirus protections and disputes with riders.
Police officers will increase their presence as part of a deal between the city and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26. Riders must continue to wear masks and they must not cross a barrier or approach the driver.
Drivers “generally do not feel safe at work due to violent and threatening circumstances presented by customers and members of the public,” the memo states.
Detroit buses serve an average of 85,000 people a day.
A driver was suspended for 29 days for a fight with a rider who boarded without a mask. Mayor Mike Duggan said the strike, which began Friday, was in response to the suspension.
Duggan said video of the incident was “disturbing.”
Union leader Glenn Tolbert said Duggan’s remarks were insensitive to drivers.
“We’ve had drivers stabbed and punched,” Tolbert said. “I think that’s the narrative the city would have preferred than a driver protecting himself. I don’t think that driver acted improperly.”
LINCOLN, Neb. — More people are hospitalized with the coronavirus in Nebraska than ever before, and the number of deaths linked to the virus has topped 500 in the state.
The number of hospitalizations for the virus jumped to 249 on Saturday and remained at that level on Sunday. Previously, the number of people being treated in Nebraska hospitals peaked at 232 on May 27, according to the state’s online virus tracker.
But even with the high number of hospitalizations, Nebraska said 33% of the state’s intensive care beds and 78% of the ventilators remained available.
Last month, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts eliminated nearly all of the state’s social-distancing restrictions in favor of voluntary guidelines. Ricketts has said the hospital statistics show the state’s medical facilities have not been overwhelmed with virus cases.
The state reported four new deaths and 404 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday to give Nebraska 501 deaths and 47,807 cases of the virus since the pandemic began. Nebraska continues to report a high rate of virus cases. The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 11.86% on Sept. 20 to 13.49% on Sunday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
By The Associated Press