The Latest: Germany hits 5,000 new cases, Merkel eyes action

BERLIN — The number of newly reported coronavirus cases in Germany has passed 5,000 for the first time since mid-April.

The country’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, said Wednesday that a further 5,132 infections and 43 deaths from COVID-19 were recorded over the past day.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting the governors of Germany’s 16 states Wednesday to discuss which measures to take in response to the growing case load.

Officials are particularly concerned that COVID-19 infections might increase among older people, who are more likely to suffer serious illnesses.

So far, some 620 people in Germany are receiving intensive care treatment for COVID-19.

Since the start of the pandemic, Germany has recorded a total of 334,585 coronavirus infections, of which almost 282,000 are considered to have recovered. There have been 9,677 deaths in the country from COVID-19.

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

— More masks, less play: Europe tightens rules as virus surges

— Possible safety issue spurs pause of COVID-19 antibody study

— AP-NORC poll: New angst for caregivers in time of COVID-19

— Lives Lost: Indian doctor embodied his family’s dreams

—— Despite virus fears, Texas sends most voters to the polls

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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:

LONDON — Health officials are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss whether to add areas of northern England, including Manchester and Lancashire, to the highest-risk tier, meaning additional anti-coronavirus measures such as closing pubs could soon be imposed there. Only Liverpool was placed in the highest-risk category when the plan was unveiled Monday.

The discussions come as the regional government in Northern Ireland prepares to announce even tougher measures, including a two-week school closure. Northern Ireland has the highest infection rate among the U.K.’s four nations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being criticized by all sides two days after announcing his three-tier approach to controlling the virus.

A report released Tuesday showed that the government’s science advisers have called for tougher measures, including a two- to three-week national lockdown. The opposition Labour Party has called for that advice to be followed, while members of Johnson’s Conservative Party say the measures already in place go too far and are damaging the economy.

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BERLIN — Berlin’s Staatskapelle orchestra under star conductor Daniel Barenboim has called off a three-country European tour planned for November because of the coronavirus pandemic and the difficulties of juggling different countries’ travel restrictions.

The Staatskapelle had planned to play Beethoven works in Paris, Athens and Vienna between Nov. 6 and 22.

The orchestra said Wednesday that it had proven impossible to go ahead with the tour, “not least because of the complex situation with travel to three countries, each with different travel and quarantine rules.” It said the orchestra hopes to be able to rearrange the concerts in the future.

The decision comes after new coronavirus infections hit a record daily increase last week across Europe.

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NEW DELHI — India has confirmed more than 63,000 new cases of the coronavirus, an increase of over 8,000 from the previous day but still far fewer than it was reporting a month ago, when the virus was at its peak in the country.

The Health Ministry reported 63,509 new cases on Wednesday, raising India’s total to more than 7.2 million, second in the world behind the U.S. The ministry also reported 730 fatalities in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 110,586. The country was seeing more than 1,000 deaths per day last month.

According to the Health Ministry, India’s average number of daily cases dropped to 72,576 last week from 92,830 during the week of Sept. 9-15, when the virus peaked. Over the last month, the country has been seeing a trend of declining cases on a week-to-week basis.

On Tuesday, India registered 55,342 new cases, its lowest single-day tally since mid-August.

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ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatia has reported a steep rise in new daily infections, which reached a record of 748 cases in the past 24 hours. Four people died of COVID-19 in the same period.

Health authorities on Wednesday said anti-virus measures must be implemented to stop the surge in infections. The previous record of 542 cases in 24 hours came earlier this month.

Croatia has introduced mandatory masks in closed spaces and limited gatherings and numbers of people in bars and restaurants to try and curb the spread of the virus.

The country has seen a rise in cases since the end of the summer, when hundreds of thousands of tourist visited the scenic Adriatic Sea nation of 4.2 million people.

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — An estimated 600 residents of the U.S. territory of American Samoa were away when the governor closed its borders in March to keep the cluster of Pacific islands free from the coronavirus. Most have not been allowed to return.

The governor has said he understands the plight of the stranded residents but has to protect against accidental virus transmission by people without symptoms. He is reviewing a petition by stranded residents demanding repatriation.

But amid a spike in coronavirus cases in Hawaii, he has asked the only air carrier with regularly scheduled service between Honolulu and Pago Pago to suspend flights through November.

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BEIJING — China says it has carried out more than 4.2 million tests in the northern port city of Qingdao, with no new cases of coronavirus found among the almost 2 million sets of results received.

The city has reported a total of 12 cases, six with symptoms and six without, since the new outbreak was first spotted over the weekend at a hospital.

China on Wednesday reported 27 new cases of coronavirus, including 13 new cases of local transmission and 14 cases brought from outside the country.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths among 85,611 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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BOISE, Idaho — Idaho health care experts say coronavirus is increasing as kids are returning to school — but most of the new infections aren’t happening in school buildings.

Instead, Dr. Joshua Kern with St. Luke’s hospitals in the Magic Valley says it’s likely because many people are treating the return to school like a return to normalcy and slacking off on good habits like social distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing.

A tally from Johns Hopkins University shows Idaho currently ranks sixth in the country for new cases per capita, with a total of more than 48,660 confirmed cases of coronavirus statewide. So far more than 500 Idaho residents have died of COVID-19.

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DENVER — Colorado is experiencing another surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, prompting Gov. Jared Polis to plead Tuesday with residents to wear masks, stay home as much as possible, and maintain social distancing practices.

As of Tuesday, Colorado’s three-day average positivity rate — the percentage of total tests coming in positive — was 5.4%, and the state recorded 1,000 new cases both on Saturday and on Monday, the highest daily numbers recorded during the pandemic, Polis said.

About 290 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest total since May 31, The Denver Post reported.

During a briefing on the pandemic, Polis didn’t suggest he was contemplating renewed mandatory restrictions on business or other activities to stem the surge. But he insisted: “If this continues, our hospital capacity will be in jeopardy.”

The World Health Organization recommends trying to keep the positivity rate below 5% of all tests. Higher rates suggest authorities are missing large numbers of infections.

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem has blamed South Dakota’s recent surge in coronavirus cases on an increase in testing, even as the state sees a new high in the number of people hospitalized by the virus.

There are currently no open general-care hospital beds in the southeastern part of the state, which contains the two largest hospitals, according to the Department of Health. Hospitals are dealing with both an increase in COVID-19 patients and people needing other medical care. The Sioux Falls hospitals do have about 41% of their Intensive Care Units available.

“We have triple the amount of testing that we are doing in the state of South Dakota, which is why we’re seeing elevated positive cases,” Noem said. “That’s normal, that’s natural, that’s expected.”

The Department of Health reports 302 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized — an all-time high in the state.

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Hospitalizations, virus spread and deaths continued at high levels Tuesday in Iowa on the eve of a campaign rally by President Donald Trump, where Gov. Kim Reynolds and thousands of other Trump supporters will likely defy the governor’s own emergency proclamation to keep distance between people in public places.

A public health emergency proclamation signed by Reynolds requires that organizers of mass gatherings “must ensure at least six feet of physical distance between each group or individual attending alone.” A White House Coronavirus Task Force report on Iowa from Oct. 4 said, “group gathering sizes should be limited.”

Officials at Des Moines International Airport, where the rally will be held in a cargo hangar, have been told to plan for up to 10,000 people.

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the event will be in an open-door airplane hangar, and temperature checks will be taken of all participants who will also be issued masks and instructed to wear them.

Photos and reporting from a Trump rally in Florida on Monday showed little apparent social distancing efforts, and most of those at the rally didn’t appear to be wearing masks. Trump, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 only a week ago, didn’t wear a mask while speaking.

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