The Latest: Vietnam postpones hosting Asian security forum
MANILA, Philippines — Vietnam has postponed its hosting of Asia’s largest security forum, which includes North Korea, and an annual meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers by a month to September due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Two Southeast Asian diplomats said Monday that Vietnam, which leads the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, hopes to hold face to face meetings in mid-September instead of doing them by online video due to travel restrictions if the annual gatherings were to be held as originally scheduled later this week.
The 10-nation bloc hosts the ASEAN Regional Forum, which brings together its top diplomats with counterparts from the United States, China, Japan, Russia, India, the two Koreas and other Asia Pacific countries to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and other security issues.
Most of about 1,300 ASEAN meetings this year have so far been shifted online due to the coronavirus pandemic, including an annual summit of ASEAN leaders last month. More sensitive talks, including secretive negotiations between China and ASEAN member states for a so-called “code of conduct” in the disputed South China Sea, have been delayed indefinitely, said the two diplomats, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authority to discuss the matter publicly.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— South Africa warns COVID-19 corruption puts ‘lives at risk’
— Spain takes aim at nightclubs and beaches as virus rebounds
— North Korean leader Kim Jong Un placed the city of Kaesong near the border with South Korea under total lockdown after a person was found with suspected COVID-19 symptoms, saying he believes “the vicious virus” may have entered the country.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump won’t be throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium next month after all.
Trump tweeted Sunday that he won’t be able to make the trip because of his “strong focus” on the coronavirus, vaccines and the economy. Trump said in the tweet: “We will make it later in the season!”
He had announced at a briefing Thursday on Major League Baseball’s opening day that he’d be at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 15 to throw out the first pitch.
Trump has been trying to show voters that he is taking the virus seriously by holding briefings and canceling Republican convention events set for Jacksonville, Florida. Florida is among several states where the virus is raging.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota health officials reported 871 newly confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, the fourth straight day the state has reported more than 700 new cases.
The spike in new daily cases was one of the largest in Minnesota since May, the Star Tribune reported. But the increase came on a volume of more than 16,000 completed tests, which is much higher than daily test tallies in May.
The new cases raise the total of confirmed infections in Minnesota since the pandemic started to more than 51,000.
Three new deaths also were reported Sunday, raising Minnesota’s death toll to 1,574. One of the newly reported deaths was a resident of a long-term care or assisted-living facility. Such residents make up more than three-quarters of the people who have died of COVID-19 in Minnesota.
A total of 273 patients were hospitalized Sunday, down from 287 on Saturday. The number of patients requiring intensive care remained at 115 on Sunday. Daily counts for hospitalized patients in Minnesota have been trending down or holding steady in recent weeks.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida surpassed New York over the weekend as the state with the second-most confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S.
More than 9,300 new cases were reported in the Sunshine State on Sunday, along with 78 new deaths.
Florida’s nearly 424,000 coronavirus cases as of Sunday are surpassed only by California, which has more than 450,000. With 39.5 million residents, California has almost double Florida’s population of 21.4 million.
New York, slightly less populous than Florida with 19.4 million residents, has close to 412,000 cases and was once the epicenter of the virus in the U.S. Texas, the only state besides California with more people than Florida, has about 390,000 cases.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis led pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly Sunday blessing in a round of applause for elderly people suffering from loneliness during the pandemic.
Francis, on the feast day for Jesus’s maternal grandparents Saints Anne and Joachim, urged the faithful to consider every elderly person his or her own grandparent.
‘’Don’t leave them alone,” he implored, urging the faithful to reach out with a phone call, video chat or a visit where possible under distancing rules to impede the virus’ spread.
’’I would like to invite young people to make a gesture of tenderness toward the elderly, especially those who are alone, at home and in residences, those who for many months have not seen loved ones,” the pope said.
’’Send them a hug,” the pope said. ‘’They are your roots.’’
The elderly have been especially vulnerable to the new coronavirus, and outbreaks in nursing homes have proven particularly deadly. In many places, the elderly are not permitted visits from loved ones, and are restricted to periodic phone calls and video chats, or at most a wave through a window.
SKOPJE, North Macedonia — Health authorities in North Macedonia reported that confirmed cases of the coronavirus surged above 10,000, meaning that almost 0.5 percent of the population of 2.1 million have been infected.
The number of new cases over the past day was 152, raising the total to 10,086. No fatalities were recorded for the first time in two weeks, but the number of deaths, 460, still puts Macedonia 19th globally (10th in Europe) in deaths per million.
MADRID — Spain says it is negotiating with Britain to exclude the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands from a 14-day quarantine imposed on travelers returning to Britain from Spain.
Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya said Sunday, hours after the British measure took effect, that “our efforts at the moment are focused on ensuring that the British authorities can exclude the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands from their quarantine measures.”
The emergence of clusters of the coronavirus has worried authorities in northeast Catalonia and Aragón but has not appeared in Spain’s two archipelagos, which are highly popular tourist destinations for British and other European visitors.
González Laya says that the islands are “highly controlled territories” and that their current epidemiological situation is not worse than that of Britain.
Tui, Britain’s biggest tour operator, said Sunday it has canceled all flights due to depart to mainland Spain, but it has maintained flights and travel packages for trips to Spain’s Balearic and the Canary Islands.
HONOLULU -- As Hawaii prepares for the onslaught of Hurricane Douglas, state health department officials contacted each of the 625 people who were currently in isolation or quarantine as of Friday because they are either COVID-19 positive or have been in contact with someone who is. Every one of those indicated they would shelter-in-place and not seek refuge at a hurricane shelter.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said that gives officials a sigh of relief.
Hawaii has some of the lowest coronavirus infection rates in the nation, but COVID-19 numbers have been rising in recent weeks. Every day since Thursday, Hawaii has reported record highs of newly confirmed cases, including 73 on Saturday.
Caldwell says 13 shelters were to open at 9 a.m. Sunday around Oahu, well ahead of the hurricane impacting the island, anywhere from midday into the evening. People will have to wear face coverings to be admitted, and will have to wear them unless they are eating, drinking or sleeping.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia has reported a record number of daily cases of the new coronavirus.
Health authorities said Sunday that 467 people have tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the outbreak. They said eight people have died.
Epidemiologist Darija Kisic Tepavcevic said, however, that there is reason to be optimistic because there have been fewer people in need of hospitalization.
Serbia has confirmed 23,730 cases of the virus while 534 people have died of COVID-19 in the country of some 7 million people.
Numbers of new infections spiked after the Balkan country fully relaxed lockdown measures in May that critics say was a maneuver to pave the way for a parliamentary vote in June. Authorities have denied this, but the government crisis team has faced calls to step down over its handling of the outbreak.
BERLIN — A popular resort town in Austria has ordered restaurants and clubs to close early and urged people to avoid going out as it grapples with a new outbreak of the coronavirus.
The dpa news agency reported Sunday that hundreds of people have already been tested in the town of St. Wolfgang, east of Salzburg, after the outbreak was first detected Friday. At least 44 of those have tested positive, at least 26 whom are interns working in the tourism industry, Austria’s Kurier newspaper reported.
They’re thought to have become infected while partying in the town’s bars, two of which have now been temporarily closed to prevent further spread. All have been ordered to close no later than 11 p.m. until further notice, the Kurier reported.
Austria had relaxed many coronavirus restrictions in recent weeks, but has seen a rise in the number of infections lately.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz last week announced that the country was reintroducing mandatory face masks again in supermarkets, smaller grocery stores, post offices and banks.
ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani health official is warning that the coronavirus curve that flattened last month could spike again in the country if people violate social distancing regulations during the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival.
The three-day festival will be celebrated in Pakistan starting July 31.
The health official, Zafar Mirza, said at a news conference Sunday that more than 80% of coronavirus patients have recovered in Pakistan. But he said the experience of other countries showed that COVID-19 cases could spike again in Pakistan if people don’t adhere to social distancing rules.
His comments came hours after Pakistan reported 1,226 new cases. The country has confirmed a total of 273,113 cases, including 5,822 deaths.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has announced more than 12,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases as the total in one of the world’s worst affected countries reaches 434,200 with 6,655 deaths.
South Africa makes up well over half the confirmed cases on the African continent, where experts say the virus could smoulder in areas poorly served by health services.
Africa now has more than 828,000 cases. The true number of cases on the continent of 1.3 billion people is unknown because of testing shortages and insufficient data.
The World Health Organization has said more than 10,000 health workers in Africa have been infected, many of them nurses, further challenging efforts to contain the virus spread.
HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam on Sunday reimposed restrictions in one of its most popular beach destinations after a second person tested positive for COVID-19, the first locally transmitted cases in the country in over three months.
Da Nang authorities in central Vietnam banned gatherings of more than 30 people in public places as well as all sport, cultural and religious events in the city of 1.1 million. Theme parks, beauty salons, bars and clubs were also ordered shut.
People were advised to practice social distancing, wear masks and wash hands regularly.
On Sunday, a 61-year-old man was confirmed to be infected, a day after a 57-year-old tested positive for the coronavirus. Both are in critical condition and require life support.
A team of doctors who successfully cured a British pilot from COVID-19 flew to Da Nang to direct the treatment of the two patients.
Health workers, however, have not been able to establish a connection between the two men, nor trace the source of infection. It’s reported that for the last month, they did not travel out of the city, where there’s been no case of COVID-19 since April.
BEIJING — China reported 46 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the highest daily tally in more than a month, as it took steps to stem recent outbreaks that have infected more than 160 people at opposite ends of the country.
Authorities confirmed 22 cases in Urumqi, a city in the Xinjiang region in the country’s far west, the official Xinhua News Agency said. That raised the total in the local outbreak to 137 since the first case was detected 10 days ago.
Another 13 cases were confirmed in Liaoning province in the northeast, bringing the total there to 25, almost all in the city of Dalian.
The National Health Commission also reported 11 imported cases in the latest 24-hour period, in people who had arrived from overseas.
China has recorded 83,830 cases and 4,634 deaths since the pandemic began. The Health Commission said that 288 patients remain in treatment, including 18 in critical condition.