The Latest: Tokyo confirms record-high 949 new virus cases
TOKYO - Tokyo has confirmed 949 new cases of the coronavirus, a new high for the Japanese capital as the country grapples with an upswing that spreads nationwide.
The Tokyo metropolitan government said Saturday the additional cases bring the prefectural total to 55,851. Japan had 3,823 new cases on Friday, with a national total of 213,547 and 3,155 deaths, the Ministry of Health said.
Japan has been unable to slow down infections despite the government urging people not to go out for dinner and parties before and during the holiday season.
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Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has ordered bars to close early and urged residents to avoid unnecessary trips. But many people keep commuting on crowded trains and going out for dinner and drinks.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
- A Christmas pandemic: services go online, people stay at home
- After early success, South Korea gets into a virus crisis
- Black doctor dies of COVID after racist treatment complaints
- Around 1,000 British soldiers spent Christmas Day cleaning up a huge backlog of truck drivers stranded in the south east of England.
- The normally joyful and lively Christmas celebrations in South Africa have been dampened by the surge in new cases and deaths due to the nationwide variant of COVID-19.
- Despite the continued spread of the coronavirus, U.S. factories have been bringing out goods at a rate remarkably close to normal.
Follow AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine, and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE HAPPENS WHAT ELSE HAPPENS:
CAIRO - Egypt has reported over 1,000 new coronavirus cases, the highest number in months as authorities urge people to adhere to preventive measures to avoid a lockdown.
The Ministry of Health reported 1,113 new cases and 49 deaths on Saturday.
The new numbers have brought the county's official record to more than 130,126 cases, including at least 7,309 deaths.
However, the actual number of cases in Egypt, the most populous county in the Arab world with over 100 million people, is believed to be far higher, partly due to limited testing.
Authorities have urged people to adhere to preventive measures, particularly wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, to avoid a lockdown that would have devastating economic consequences.
BEIJING - China's capital has urged residents not to leave the city during the upcoming New Year holidays and has put new restrictions in place after several coronavirus infections last week.
Two domestic cases were reported on Friday, a supermarket employee and a Hewlett Packard Enterprise employee. Another two asymptomatic cases were discovered in Beijing earlier this week.
Beijing is conducting limited testing in the neighborhoods and workplaces where the cases have been found.
To contain new outbreaks, the Beijing government has canceled large gatherings such as sporting events and temple fairs. It is said that applications for all major events are rigorously screened. Venues such as cinemas, libraries and museums must be 75% busy.
She also urged companies not to arrange business trips outside the city and abroad.
The lunar new year is February 12th.
Separately, officials in the northeastern port city of Dalian said on Friday that they had tested over 4.75 million people for the coronavirus this month after 24 confirmed infections.
Authorities have closed schools and all public spaces in five neighborhood departments in Dalian, and only essential workers can leave their buildings.
SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea has reported an additional 1,132 coronavirus cases as the Christmas week resurgence worsened, putting pressure on the government to enforce stricter distance controls.
The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the country's case count to 55,902. The country added 1,241 cases on Christmas Day, the largest daily increase. The total death toll was 793 after more than 220 COVID-19 patients died in the last 15 days alone as the surge left hospital capacity and medical staff became thin.
Around 780 of the new cases came from the greater Seoul area, where 26 million people lived. Health workers discovered a large virus cluster in a huge prison with more than 500 inmates and workers. The broadcasts in recent weeks have also been tied to hospitals, nursing homes, churches, restaurants and army units.
Government officials have restored some social distancing restrictions in the past few weeks after being lowered to the lowest level in October. Now private social gatherings are being restricted, ski resorts are being closed, hotel occupancy is being restricted, and restaurants are being fined if they accept large groups.
Officials plan to meet on Sunday to decide whether to shut down potentially hundreds of thousands of non-essential businesses. They have resisted such measures for weeks, saying they could create another shock to an already weak economy.
PARIS - French health officials have confirmed the country's first case of the virus variant, which led to tough new lockdown measures in the UK and global travel restrictions.
A Frenchman living in England arrived in France on December 19 and tested positive for the new variant on Friday, the French health department said in a statement. He had no symptoms and was isolated in his home in downtown Tours.
Authorities followed up the person's contacts and the laboratories analyzed tests from several other people who may have the new variant, the statement said.
Some other European countries have also reported cases of the new variant, which UK authorities say are more contagious and spreading quickly. The UK's December 19 announcement caused countries around the world to suspend flights from the UK and France banned all passengers and cargo from the UK for two days, causing massive traffic problems in the UK port of Dover.
France has reopened the border but is demanding a test from anyone entering from the UK that shows they do not have the new variant.
A second partial lockdown has slowed infections in France severely, but they have increased again in the past two weeks. France has among the world's highest virus deaths.
DALLAS - Coronavirus hospital stays in Texas were nearing a peak Friday, commensurate with the rise of summer, despite health officials warning that holiday gatherings and travel could put pressure on the virus and health services.
The state health department reported that 10,868 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were hospitalized in the state at Christmas, less than 30 off the record high in July. Intensive care units in several parts of Texas were full or nearly full, according to the Texas Department of Health.
Texas reported 200 more deaths from COVID-19 on Friday. There have been 3,123 newly confirmed cases of the virus and another 973 probable cases, according to the Health Department.
ATHENS - The first vaccines against the coronavirus have arrived in Greece.
The first 9,750 cans arrived overland at the Bulgarian border on Friday evening. The van carried her with six police cars, a video that was filmed at the border.
Vaccinations will begin on Sunday in five hospitals in Athens with medical staff and elderly residents of nursing homes.
Greece's president, prime minister and a total of 42 government, military and police officials, who are considered essential for the functioning of the state, as well as opposition leaders will also be vaccinated in the first few days.
Health officials announced 617 new infections in the past 24 hours and 50 deaths on Friday.
The numbers are lower than recent trends, but authorities are still vigilant of any possible spread during the holiday season.
Five subway stations in central Athens were closed on Friday afternoon to deter people from gathering in the capital's festively decorated central squares and avenues. A nightly 10 p.m. curfew is still in effect across the country.
ROM - For the fourth year in a row, Italy's new daily number of confirmed coronavirus infections has risen.
With 19,037 COVID-19 cases on Friday, the nation increased its total number of confirmed infections in the pandemic to 2,028,354.
Health Department's Christmas Day figures included 459 deaths recorded since Thursday. This means that the number of known pandemic deaths in Italy has risen to 71,359.
As in recent times, the northeastern Veneto region recorded the highest daily number of cases with just over 5,000 confirmed infections on Friday.
That's almost double what it is in neighboring Lombardy, the most populous region that has seen the most deaths and COVID-19 cases since Italy first fell in February.
TOKYO - The Japanese Ministry of Health has confirmed the country's first cases of infection with the new variant of the coronavirus identified in the UK.
The five people arrived between December 18-21, before Japan tightened border controls for participants from the UK on Friday. One man in his sixties developed fatigue, but the other four were symptom-free.
Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said the five were quarantined straight from the airports.
After testing positive for the virus, further analysis at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases found they had the UK variant, which is 70% more transmissible, the ministry said in a statement.
Shigeru Omi, head of the government task force, called for stricter border controls to prevent new variants.
MOSCOW - The Russian authorities have ordered people arriving from the UK to quarantine for two weeks.
Russia suspended direct flights from the UK earlier this week after a 70% more transmittable variant of the coronavirus spread across London and parts of England.
The order of the Sanitary Security Authority of Rospotrebnadzor, published on the official information portal on Friday, obliges all travelers from the UK to remain in isolation for 14 days after arriving in Russia. The measure applies from Saturday.
Dozens of countries have suspended flights from the UK or announced travel restrictions. The United States requires UK passengers to receive a negative COVID-19 test prior to their flight starting Monday.
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