British officials investigating reporting glitch

LONDON — The British government has launched an investigation into how nearly 16,000 new coronavirus infections went unreported as a result of a technical glitch.

The failing could have given fresh impetus to the country’s coronavirus outbreak and ultimately to an uptick in deaths.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told lawmakers Monday that 51% of those cases have now been contacted by contact tracers.

Hancock’s statement came after the weekend disclosure that a total of 15,841 virus cases weren’t tabulated from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s spokesman on health issues, slammed the government for its latest failing on testing “at one of the most crucial points in the pandemic.”


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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Trump says he’s leaving hospital for White House, feels good

— Some Orthodox Jews bristle at NYC’s response to virus surge

— Paris on maximum virus alert, closing bars, not restaurants

— 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

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Pastor Greg Laurie of the prominent California-based church Harvest Christian Fellowship confirmed he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Laurie said in an Instagram posting Monday that he tested positive on Friday and has been in quarantine since then with his wife, but so far all members of his family have tested negative.

“My symptoms have been mild so far, and I expect to make a full recovery,” he wrote. “I have always taken the Coronavirus seriously, and it has tragically taken many lives. At a time like this, we need to pray for those that have it and avoid politicizing it. If our President and First Lady can get COVID-19, clearly anyone can.”

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MONTPELIER, Vt. — A total of 26 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Vermont were in workers at Champlain Orchards, in Shoreham, the Vermont Health Department confirmed Monday as the state reported its largest one-day increase in cases since June 3.

The Health commissioner and Agriculture secretary planned a news conference in the afternoon to discuss the state’s investigation into the outbreak.

The cases linked to the orchard made up a majority of the 33 new confirmed cases the state reported Monday.

The total of number of deaths from COVID-19 in Vermont has remained at 58 for over two months.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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