Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario public health units report 233 new cases in 24 hours; province pauses further reopening of economy for next four weeks
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
5:38 p.m. Ontario’s regional public health units are reporting more than 200 new COVID-19 cases for the first time in more than a month as the provincewide rate of new infections continues to rise.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the health units were reporting another 233 COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Star’s latest count. A handful of smaller regions did not report to their websites over the long weekend, meaning Tuesday’s total included at least some cases that had been discovered over the previous three days.
The total was nevertheless the most for any single day since July 13. The last time the health units reported more than 200 cases was 49 days ago on July 24, which saw 210 reported infections.
Also on Tuesday, Ontario’s seven-day average passed 150 daily cases, a threshold Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams last week said he was glad the province had been under.
The same seven-day average has nearly doubled since Aug. 16, when it hit a recent low of 85 cases daily.
Even with the recent increases, the rate of infection remains well below the worst of the pandemic; Ontario saw that seven-day case average reach a mid-April peak of nearly 600 cases daily.
As has been the case in recent weeks, the majority of new cases continue to come in the GTA, especially in Toronto and Peel Region. Toronto reported 58 new cases on Tuesday; Peel added 39, and York Region 10. Halton and Durham regions both reported multi-day totals that included the long weekend — 20 and 16 new cases, respectively.
One new fatal case was reported Tuesday, in the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.
The province has now seen a total of 45,682 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,854 deaths.
The vast majority of the province’s COVID-19 patients have since recovered, and the recent rise in cases has not yet resulted in a significant jump in hospitalizations or deaths. The province lists 1,527 active cases of the disease, a number that has been rising in recent weeks.
The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.
The province cautions its separate data, published daily at 10:30 a.m., may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”
5:10 p.m. Cadillac Fairview has confirmed a case of COVID-19 in a Uniqlo store at Toronto Eaton Centre. While the operator didn’t specify whether a customer or an employee tested positive, it confirmed in a statement Tuesday afternoon that the clothing store has been closed for the time being while the affected space undergoes a “deep clean.”
Eaton Centre itself remains open for service following the cleaning of “all elevator banks, food court tables, common area seating, doors and stair railings, and all other high-touch points in the complex.”
“At this point in time, no further action is required,” the company wrote.
4:37 p.m. Three Quebec cabinet ministers and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante are self-isolating after a suburban mayor contracted COVID-19.
Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, Transport Minister François Bonnardel and Chantal Rouleau, the minister responsible for the Montreal region, have been placed in isolation after learning Longueuil Mayor Sylvie Parent tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
All three ministers and members of their staff met with Parent last week and were to be tested Tuesday for COVID-19.
Plante says she had not met with Parent but did meet with Rouleau in the last few days.
3:52 p.m. Students across the U.S. ran into computer glitches Tuesday as they began the school year with online instruction at home because of the coronavirus threat, adding to the list of problems that have thrust many a harried parent into the role of teacher’s aide and tech support person.
The online learning platform Blackboard, which provides technology for 70 of the nation’s 100 biggest districts and serves more than 20 million U.S. students from kindergarten through 12th grade, reported that websites were failing to load or were loading slowly, and users were unable to register on the first day of school.
Three of Texas’s largest school districts — Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth — were hit with technical problems, as were school systems in places such as Idaho and Kansas. A ransomware attack forced schools in Hartford, Connecticut, to postpone Tuesday’s start of online and in-person classes.
3:43 p.m. At least 20 Alberta schools have reported cases of COVID-19 since students across the province started returning to classrooms a week ago.
Support Our Students Alberta, a non-partisan, non-profit public education advocacy group, has a COVID-19 tracker for kindergarten to Grade 12 schools on its website.
It suggests 22 schools have had cases — including seven in Calgary and four in Edmonton — based on recent letters and emails sent to parents.
Alberta Health Services says it is compiling a list of schools with confirmed cases.
None of the schools have declared outbreaks and all remain open.
2:47 p.m. Health officials in P.E.I. reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, saying both individuals had recently travelled abroad and were in self-isolation when they were diagnosed.
The Island’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, issued a statement confirming that the province’s total number of active cases stood at nine.
One of the new infections involves a male essential worker in his 30s who arrived in the province on Aug. 28.
The other case is a woman in her 30s who arrived in P.E.I. with her family on Aug. 27.
She is part of a family that includes two young children under the age of 10 who previously tested positive for the virus.
Morrison says all nine active cases continue to do well and remain in self-isolation as contact tracing is being completed.
She confirmed that the two new cases and four reported Monday were among people who travelled on four Air Canada flights between Aug. 25 and Aug. 28, two of which arrived on the Island.
Morrison says all passengers aboard these flights should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
She said there is no evidence of community spread of COVID-19 in Prince Edward Island and the risk of transmission in the province remains low.
2:47 p.m. Saskatchewan’s education minister expects the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to an increased demand for substitute teachers in schools.
But Gord Wyant says officials don’t know what the impact will be, so for now funding for substitutes isn’t considered a priority.
Thousands of Saskatchewan students are back to school for the first time since classes were cancelled because of the arrival of COVID-19 six months ago.
At the elementary school in Indian Head, a town east of Regina, all students are starting the year with online learning because a staff member tested positive for the virus.
The Prairie Valley School Division says other staff at the school have to isolate for 14 days and the plan is to start in-person classes next week.
Wyant says COVID-19 cases in schools are inevitable and that divisions have processes in place to respond when there are infections.
The government has outlined how it will spend about $40 million in provincial funding to help school divisions safely reopen schools. Wyant said Tuesday priority was given to sanitization supplies and helping immunocompromised students.
2:22 p.m. Canada’s chief public health officer says she won’t get ahead of an independent review of the early-warning unit in her agency that’s meant to flag potential pandemics.
Dr. Theresa Tam says the unit within the Public Health Agency of Canada continues to function.
The government ordered an outside review of the global health unit after the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that people in the unit had been reassigned just prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
The report also said warnings from scientists weren’t properly sent up the chain of command.
Tam says she doesn’t want to pre-empt the findings of any report, but will be looking closely at whatever recommendations come.
Tam also says that she received warnings about the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in China late last year, and that the information would have been passed on to provinces and territories.
2 p.m. Top executives of nine drugmakers likely to produce the first vaccines against the new coronavirus are promising they’ll be safe and effective.
The drugmakers’ chief executives say they’ll maintain the highest ethical and scientific standards in testing and manufacturing their vaccines. They also say they’ll make the well-being of those getting vaccinated their top priority.
The move is meant to boost public confidence. The announcement comes amid concerns the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be under political pressure to approve a vaccine before tests to prove it is safe and effective are finished.
The pledge was signed by the CEOs of American drugmakers Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer, and European companies AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi. BioNTech has partnered with Pfizer on one of the vaccines now in the final round of human testing.
2:19 p.m. Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health says the province is ready to deal with a second wave of COVID-19 should a resurgence occur.
Dr. Robert Strang says measures currently in place around border entry, the mandatory use of masks in most indoor areas and the required testing of students returning to universities and colleges has the province “well positioned for what’s to come.”
Strang says another key has been the response of the public, who he says acted quickly to comply with the measures imposed by health officials.
He says the public has been vigilant about keeping the virus at bay.
Strang made the comments during an appearance today before the legislature’s health committee.
Nova Scotia currently has three active cases of COVID-19.
2 p.m. Italy added another 1,370 coronavirus cases to its confirmed daily tally, while ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi remains hospitalized with the coronavirus.
Berlusconi’s personal doctor Alberto Zangrillo reported Tuesday that the patient was responding well to treatment and his condition was “reassuring.”
The 83-year-old Berlusconi tested positive for the virus on Sept. 2 and was hospitalized two days later with a lung infection.
The number of daily infections has topped 1,000 for several weeks and has reached 280,153. The Health Ministry reported 10 deaths in the past day, bringing Italy’s death toll to 35,563, the second highest in Europe after Britain.
1:47 p.m. Ontario’s courts are wading into the debate over sending students back to school during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with one judge ruling a nine-year-old boy should return to in-person classes despite his father’s objections.
In a decision released late last month, Ontario Superior Court Justice Andrea Himel said the case is one of many such disputes currently before the courts and seeking urgent resolution as schools prepare to reopen.
She says the parents, who are divorced and share custody of their son, disagreed on whether the boy should attend classes in person or continue with the remote learning system put in place when schools were forced to close in March.
The mother argued it was in the boy’s best interest to return to his French immersion school in person, partly because neither parent speaks the language well enough to help with school work, and because the child has struggled with isolation.
The father, meanwhile, countered that COVID-19 continues to pose significant risks that can be better managed through at-home, online learning.
Himel sided with the mother, saying the Ontario government is better placed than the justice system to assess and address the health risks of going to school.
(Updated) 1:25 p.m. Ontario won’t ease any pandemic restrictions for at least four weeks because of a recent spike in COVID-19 cases based on advice from chief medical officer Dr. David Williams.
“The latest trends have raised some concern,” Health Minister Christine Elliott told a news conference Tuesday. “We did not take this decision lightly.”
Ontario’s new cases of COVID-19 in the last few days are pushing toward 200, double the level of a month ago and at their highest since early July — but the number of patients hospitalized remains low and is not growing anywhere near the same pace.
The Ministry of Health reported 185 new cases Tuesday, on top of 190 on Monday, 158 on Sunday and 169 on Saturday, for a total of 702 new infections in four days.
Following a recent trend, most of the new cases are in the GTA and the nation’s capital.
Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson: Surge in COVID-19 cases means Ontario won’t ease restrictions for at least a month
1:24 p.m. Premier Doug Ford said at his daily briefing that more than 37 million pieces of personal protective equipment have been delivered to Ontario school boards, including 19 million masks.
12:47 p.m. Ontario’s new cases of COVID-19 in the last few days are pushing toward 200, double the level of a month ago and at their highest since early July — but the number of patients hospitalized remains low and is not growing anywhere near the same pace.
The Ministry of Health reported 185 new cases Tuesday, on top of 190 on Monday, 158 on Sunday and 169 on Saturday, for a total of 702 new infections in four days.
Following a recent trend, most of the new cases are in the GTA and the nation’s capital.
“Today, 28 public health units are reporting five or fewer cases, with 18 of them reporting no new cases. Toronto is reporting 48 cases with 42 in Peel and 37 in Ottawa,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.
Nevertheless, the rising case counts since mid-August — when there was a week in which new infections stayed below 100 daily — have been a cause for concern.
Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson: Ontario reports 185 new cases of COVID-19
12:11 p.m. Thousands more students returned to class under new pandemic precautions Tuesday, as public health officials in Ottawa said they were assessing the risk to 200 students and staff linked to a handful of cases.
The staggered start opened doors to elementary and high school students in six provinces where a host of COVID-19 protocols have reimagined everything from seating to lunch breaks to the playground.
But the reopening came with news of cases at five French-language Catholic schools in Ottawa, where some students returned earlier this month.
Ottawa public health says people connected to four elementary schools and one high school tested positive after catching the virus outside of the school setting. They say 193 students and seven staff members were told late Monday night to stay home.
Other boards in Ontario have delayed their restart over the next two weeks, with the country’s largest, the Toronto District School Board, set to begin a staggered opening next Tuesday.
12 p.m. Graduate students who teach classes were on strike Tuesday at the University of Michigan over in-person instruction during the coronavirus pandemic and other issues.
The strikers chanted and held umbrellas while marching in the rain. “I do not want my students and colleagues to get a chronic illness because this university decided it was most important to collect tuition,” Surabhi Balachander wrote on Twitter.
The Graduate Employees’ Organization, which represents more than 1,000 instructors, has called for a four-day strike.
Most classes at the University of Michigan have shifted to online. But the union says the university isn’t doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It robust plans for testing, contact tracing, and campus safety. It wants plans for testing and contact tracing, allowing graduate employees to work remotely and a more flexible childcare subsidy.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald says the strike is illegal under state law and the union contract, and the university plans to continue classes in the event of a strike.
12 p.m. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has reacted angrily to the local branch of World Health Organization voicing its opposition to his country’s possible plan to reduce contract tracing for the coronavirus.
The WHO says the situation in the Czech Republic “is concerning” and data shows “elevated and growing levels of transmission across many regions and districts.” It says the solution is not to stop tracing, but to rapidly scale up the service.
Babis tweeted the WHO should “keep quiet,” saying the country has one of the lowest death rates in Europe.
The Czech Republic has registered a surge of confirmed cases to record levels in recent days. Health authorities in Prague acknowledged they have reached their limit in contact tracing and up to 30% of contacts are not identified.
Health Minister Adam Vojtech says the plans is to make contact tracing more effective, not reduce it.
The Czech Republic has 28,716 confirmed cases and 437 confirmed deaths.
12 p.m. Turkey is requiring masks in all locations apart from homes, following a spike in the number of COVID-19 infections.
An Interior Ministry circular sent to the country’s 81 provinces on Tuesday says “citizens are obliged to wear masks without exception in all areas” excluding their residences.
Previously, the wearing of masks was mandatory in most public spaces, in shops and on public transportation, but not at workplaces.
On Monday, Turkey reported 1,703 new daily infections, the highest since mid-May.
Last week, Turkey barred social gatherings such as wedding and engagement parties and henna nights and restricted marriage ceremonies to one hour.
11:57 p.m. A major testing and contact-tracing operation at Greece’s largest migrant camp on the eastern island of Lesbos has so far detected 35 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the overcrowded facility’s 12,500 residents, authorities said Tuesday.
Health and migration ministry officials said medical teams have carried out 1,900 tests for the coronavirus on migrants at the Moria facility, which was initially designed to hold 2,800 people. Another 100 staff members have been tested, and none were found to have COVID-19.
Gkikas Magiorkinis, a member of a scientific committee advising the government, told a media briefing Tuesday that some optimism was allowed by the fact that most of the 35 migrants were relatively young and didn’t belong to high-risk groups.
“Although this doesn’t mean we should pay less attention and strive less to fight the epidemic” in Moria, he said. Out of the 35 cases, 18 were recorded Tuesday.
The camp has been quarantined until Sept. 15, with a police cordon to enforce the entry and exit ban.
Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said late Monday the infections were all linked with one Somali man who left the camp after being granted asylum in Greece, went to Athens but failed to find work and housing there and returned to Moria. Health officials weren’t immediately able Tuesday to confirm that the virus had been spread by the one man.
11:55 a.m. Porter Airlines Inc. is extending its suspension of all flights until Nov. 12, five weeks after its previously announced target to resume flying.
The Toronto-based airline grounded its fleet on March 21 amid the COVID-19 outbreak, with initial plans to take off again in early June.
Travel restrictions and plummeting demand have prompted the company to push back its relaunch date several times.
Porter says the Atlantic Canada travel bubble, travel restrictions limiting those who can come to Canada and the ongoing two-week quarantine requirement for those entering the country are factors in its delayed restart.
CEO Michael Deluce says all of its markets are affected by the travel ban on would-be visitors to Canada.
The pandemic has devastated the airline industry, with the International
11:53 p.m. The federal government is extending its commercial rent-relief program one last time.
The Liberals say the program that aims to help small businesses with their rent or lease costs will be extended for this month, unveiling the details one week after rent was due.
In a release, the government says the one-month lifeline is a “final extension” for the program and that officials are looking at other options to help small businesses.
The rent-relief program provides forgivable loans that cover half of rent for eligible small businesses, and also requires landlords to waive a further one-quarter of what they’d otherwise be owed.
Property owners have to apply for the help, but take-up has lagged expectations and spending is projected to fall far short of the nearly $3 billion the Liberals have budgeted.
The government says that as of the start of this week, the program had provided over $1.32 billion in aid to more than 106,000 small-business tenants.
11:20 a.m. Two new studies made the case recently for an alternative to the invasive COVID-19 tests that require collecting a sample from deep in the nose. Saliva samples, both studies found, were nearly as reliable and far less of a hassle.
Anne Wyllie, a researcher at the Yale School of Public Health who was the lead author of one of the studies, said she hopes the work helps quell some of saliva’s detractors.
“There’s been a lot of debate about saliva versus swab,” she said. “I think some of it is not entirely justified.”
The U.S. is more than six months into a global pandemic made worse by delayed and disorganized testing efforts and there’s still no clear consensus on who to screen, when to do it, or even what the best way to do so is. These studies suggest saliva could present a compelling alternative to other tests — one that does not necessarily require trained personnel to collect a sample and therefore use up valuable personal protective gear or put staff at risk. Even if the tests are marginally less accurate, the tradeoff may be worth it.
In a second study from Canada in Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers tested nearly 2,000 people with either mild symptoms of the virus or no symptoms but at a high risk of infection. Participants collected their own saliva and also took the traditional swab test: 34 came back positive in both tests. In 14 cases, virus was detected in the saliva sample, but not the nasal sample. In 22, the opposite was true.
Though the nasal sample had a slight edge in detecting infections, the University of Ottawa researchers said the study made a case for saliva samples.
11:11 a.m. Quebec health authorities are reporting 163 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths in the last 24 hours.
Previously, the province had seen two straight days with more than 200 new cases of the novel coronavirus.
The number of hospitalizations related to the virus remains at 105, while the number of patients in intensive care has dropped to 15.
Provincial Health Minister Christian Dube warned Quebecers ahead of the Labour Day weekend to maintain an adequate distance from others.
He is addressing the media this morning to discuss a regional alert system for COVID-19 cases.
Quebec has now seen 63,876 cases of COVID-19 and 5,770 deaths since the pandemic.
(Updated) 10:25 a.m. Ontario is reporting 375 new cases of COVID-19 over the past two days.
There were also 238 cases newly marked as resolved on Sunday and Monday in the provincewide report.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there were 185 new cases in the past 24 hours, with 190 recorded the day before.
The province is reporting two days worth of data today because of the holiday weekend.
The total number of cases in Ontario now stands at 43,536, which includes 2,813 deaths and 39,196 cases marked as resolved.
The province was able to complete nearly 45,000 tests over the past two days.
10:20 a.m. The Star’s Kristin Rushowy sat down with Evy Kwong from the Star’s audience team to answer questions about back to school sent by readers and listeners in a Q&A last week.
Usually, a day after Labour Day, many kids, parents and teachers are ready and eager — and a bit nervours — to go back to school. But this year, during a pandemic, that nervousness is at a new high. What will this school year be like? What happends if a child or teacher in school tests positive for COVID-19? What about bussing? Or playing? Kids are kids, after all.
We will all have more questions. But Kristin Rushowy has been covering education for over a decade and will get you up to speed.
Listen to the full This Matters podcast here: Your back-to-school questions, answered
10 a.m. India officials say Russia had approached it to conduct Phase 3 clinical trials for the experimental Sputnik V vaccine and for Indian companies to potentially manufacture it.
Russian scientists published results from early trials of the experimental Sputnik V vaccine on Friday. Developers say the vaccine appeared to be safe and prompted an antibody response in all 40 people tested in the second phase of the study within three weeks.
The vaccine received government approval last month but drew considerable criticism from health experts because the shots had only been tested on several dozen people.
Dr. V.K. Paul heads a government task force on vaccines and called the partnership a “win-win for India and the world.” He says Tuesday that Russia had asked for assistance to conduct more research, including Phase 3 clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in India.
Officials say some companies had already come forward.
10 a.m. The Dutch public health institute says 5,247 people tested positive on Tuesday, an increase of 1,830 from the previous week.
There were 17 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, seven fewer than the previous week.
The increased infections came after schools reopened in recent weeks, but the health institute say there was “no significant increase” linked to transmissions at schools. It says a few clusters at schools involved mainly adults infecting other adults.
The health institute says the percentage of positive tests rose to 2.8% compared to 2.2% in the previous week.
8:41 a.m. Students in Ontario will begin returning to the classroom in person today for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The province shuttered all schools on March 13 after cases of coronavirus disease began to rise.
This fall, boards will offer a mix of in-person classes and online learning for students who opt to stay home.
Some boards in different parts of the province will reopen schools today, while others will begin to restart over the next two weeks.
Last month, Education Minister Stephen Lecce gave boards permission to stagger school reopenings if they required more time to put pandemic safety protocols in place.
For instance, high school students will start orientation at the Peel District School Board today, with elementary students beginning Wednesday, while Toronto District School Board students will not begin returning to class until Sept. 15.
In Ottawa, where some students returned to class earlier this month, health officials say people at five French-language Catholic schools — four elementary and one high school — have tested positive for COVID-19.
Ottawa Public Health is reaching out to everyone who was in close contact with those infected and telling them to self-isolate and get tested, she said.
Follow the Star’s live coverage of the return to school today: Durham kids first in GTA to head back to school today
8:30 a.m. Students return to class in Manitoba and Saskatchewan today, and the differences this year due to COVID-19 begin with how they will arrive at school.
Parents in both provinces are encouraged to transport their children to school if they can, and in Saskatchewan children who ride the school bus may be assigned seats and a partition may separate the kids from the driver.
As far as mask wearing, Saskatchewan says it’s up to school boards to decide whether to make them mandatory, although the chief medical health officer advises Grade 4 to 12 students should wear them in busy areas such as hallways and on buses.
Manitoba, meanwhile, requires masks for grades 5 to 12 when physical distancing isn’t possible, and they will be required on the bus.
But kids in the Winnipeg School Division may not be able to ride the bus on their first day back, since the union representing the drivers have been preparing for a strike that’s to begin today.
The union and the school division have been bargaining since October 2019 after the drivers’ contracts expired in June of last year, and a spokeswoman for the division said late Monday there had been no movement on negotiations.
Students in Saskatchewan were originally scheduled to return to school as early as Sept. 1, but the province pushed back the date last month, explaining it wanted to give teachers and school staff a bit more time to prepare for a safe return.
8:06 a.m.: The U.N. agency for refugees says it has confirmed two coronavirus cases in the Azraq camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
They are the first infections to be detected among Syrians living in refugee camps in Jordan, which are home to more than 100,000 Syrians displaced by that country’s civil war.
The UNHCR says the two patients have been transferred to quarantine facilities and their neighbours have been isolated as more testing is carried out.
8 a.m. A retiree in Austria says he received a U.S. government coronavirus relief check for $1,200, despite not having lived in America for over half a century.
The check, with President Donald Trump’s name on it, is part of a massive federal stimulus program. But the money also has been sent to people who aren’t eligible — including deceased U.S. taxpayers.
Austrian public broadcaster ORF reports the 73-year-old man from Linz, who worked as a waiter in the United States for two years in the 1960s, was able to cash the check.
His wife, who never worked or lived in the United States, got one too.
ORF reports banks in Austria confirm they’ve cashed dozens of checks for residents of the Alpine country. It’s unclear how many were entitled to the money.
8 a.m. The Indonesian government announced the country has surpassed 200,000 coronavirus cases on Tuesday.
The National Task Force for COVID-19 Mitigation reported 3,046 new coronavirus cases in Indonesia, bringing the total to 200,035 confirmed cases. It reported 100 people died in the last 24 hours, reaching a confirmed death toll of 8,230.
National COVID-19 Mitigation Task Force spokesperson Wiku Adisasmito says, “We have to pay attention to our condition today as President Joko Widodo said that we have to take care of the health affairs first so the economic situation can get better.”
Indonesian government imposed large-scale social restrictions in the regions of the country in April. The regional governments lifted the restrictions and reopened the business activities in June.
8 a.m. Hong Kong is further relaxing social distancing measures, as the territory’s number of new coronavirus cases dwindles.
Hong Kong reported another six cases of the virus on Tuesday.
From Friday, the limit on public gatherings will be relaxed to four people, up from two people. Most indoor and outdoor sports facilities, as well as museums will be allowed to re-open.
The city has seen its coronavirus cases dwindle after a surge in locally-transmitted infections in July. Hong Kong has reported a total of 4,896 infections since the pandemic began, with 99 deaths.
Hong Kong officials said Tuesday that the city is in talks with 11 countries about setting up travel bubbles, which would allow residents to travel internationally even amid the pandemic.
Such travel bubbles would include a pre-flight coronavirus test that will be mutually recognized by both Hong Kong and the partnering country.
8 a.m. Austria’s leader says he wants to keep both ski resorts and schools open this winter as the country tries to keep coronavirus infections down while supporting the tourism industry.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said during a visit to Slovenia on Tuesday that the government will do everything to ensure that safe skiing is possible. The Austrian ski resort of Ischgl became an early European hot spot as the pandemic took off in March.
The Austria Press Agency reported that Kurz said that “we must try to lead as normal a life as possible in all areas of our life” and added that “winter tourism and skiing will be possible.” Asked whether skiing areas might have to be closed so that schools can remain open longer, he said: “I would not like to play schools the economy off against each other.”
Kurz said that post-skiing partying won’t be possible in the way it was previously, but didn’t give details.
8 a.m. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Egypt has passed 100,000.
The Health Ministry reported 178 new cases late Monday. Since the pandemic began Egypt has recorded 5,541 virus deaths.
Egypt has recently relaxed most of its restrictions taken to stem the speed of the virus.
7:35 a.m.: The 166 remaining Tour de France riders have been cleared to continue racing ahead of Tuesday’s Stage 10 after undergoing COVID-19 tests, but the race director is going home.
Tour organizers said that all the riders’ tests returned negative but announced that race director Christian Prudhomme tested positive along with four staff members from four different teams who have been dropped from the race bubble.
5:35 a.m.: The British government faced pressure Tuesday to act fast to keep a lid on coronavirus infections after a sharp spike in new cases across the U.K. over recent days stoked concerns about the pandemic’s prospective path during winter.
In the wake of figures Monday showing that the U.K. recorded nearly 3,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day running, government ministers and scientists voiced concerns that the easing of the lockdown during the summer has prompted many people, particularly young adults, to let their guard down in a country that has seen Europe’s deadliest virus outbreak.
4:16 a.m.: India reported today 1,133 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, its highest single-day total.
The Health Ministry also reported 75,809 new cases, raising India’s tally to nearly 4.3 million — second only to the United States and maintaining an upward surge amid an ease in nationwide restrictions to help mitigate the economic pain. The country’s death toll now stands at 72,775.
India has been reporting the highest single-day caseload in the world for more than a month.