PARIS — Paris hospitals are activating emergency measures to cope with COVID-19 patients, who are filling 40% of the region’s intensive care units.
The French health minister is expected to announce new restrictions Thursday for areas where hospitals are facing strain and infections are mounting. Authorities already shut down bars in Paris and several cities and limited private gatherings.
The emergency hospital measures can involve adding hospital beds and postponing non-urgent surgery. Such measures were taken in March and April when the pandemic first appeared in Europe.
France reported a record daily count of 18,700 new cases Wednesday, and COVID-19 patients now occupy a quarter of ICU beds nationwide.
France has recorded more than 693,000 cases and 32,463 confirmed deaths.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— British study finds 86% of people who tested positive showed no symptoms
— European Commission reaches deal for remdesivir
— India has registered 78,524 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours,
— The Commission on Presidential Debates says second Trump-Biden debate will be ‘virtual’ amid concerns about the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
— The Israeli government extends ban on public gatherings, including widespread protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who says he’s concerned about spread of coronavirus.
— Mike Pence, Kamala Harris spar over COVID-19 in U.S. vice presidential debate. Harris called 210,000 Americans dead “the greatest failure of any presidential administration,” while Pence said Trump has constantly put the American people first.
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
HONG KONG — Hong Kong reported 18 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, raising concerns among health officials.
Of the 18 infections reported, 14 were local, with at least one case with an unknown source of infection, according to health officials.
About 11 of the local infections were linked to a home for the disabled, just a day after a resident was confirmed to have the coronavirus.
In the last week, Hong Kong has seen clusters of infections linked to a bar, a school and at pharmacies.
Hong Kong has reported a total of 5,162 confirmed coronavirus infections and 105 confirmed deaths.
LISBON, Portugal — Portugal has surpassed 1,000 new daily coronavirus cases for the first time in six months.
The General Directorate for Health officially recorded 1,278 infections over the previous 24 hours. That’s the biggest daily jump since April 10.
Government health secretary António Lacerda Sales says officials are concerned about a possible difficult winter for the public health service.
On Wednesday, the official number of cases reached 944. The number of new daily cases in Portugal has exceeded 1,000 only twice, on March 31 and April 10.
The nation of 10 million has officially recorded 82,534 cases and 2,050 confirmed deaths.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s government has declared the entire country a yellow zone, requiring the wearing of masks in all public places effective Saturday.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki made the announcement Thursday, after the number of cases of reached a record of nearly 4,300. There were 76 deaths.
The yellow zone rules allow no more than 75 persons at events, strict social distancing in restaurants that must close at 10 p.m., masks worn on public transportation and in cars, if the passengers not from one household.
Morawiecki says “strict adherence to the rules is a condition for an effective fight against the rise in the cases of infection.”
In the summer, Poland registered about 500-600 new cases daily.
The nation of 38 million has nearly 112,000 confirmed cases and almost 2,900 deaths.
LONDON — A British study has found 86% of people infected with the coronavirus didn’t show the main symptoms on the day they were tested.
Researchers at University College London looked at data from a survey that has been testing thousands of U.K. households every week, regardless of whether the subjects had symptoms.
The study, released Thursday, looked at data for 36,061 people between April and June. Researchers found among those who tested positive, 86% didn’t have a cough, fever or loss of taste or smell.
Lead researcher Irene Petersen says while people may have had symptoms in the days before their test or developed them later, the study suggests many may be spreading the virus while asymptomatic. She says frequent and widespread testing of all individuals is needed to curb “silent transmission.”
BRUSSELS — The European Commission has secured another deal allowing its 27 member states to buy 200 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine.
The contract with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, is the third vaccine deal sealed by the EU’s executive arm following agreements reached with Sanofi-GSK and AstraZeneca for up to 700 million doses.
“The vaccine candidate is already in phase III of clinical trials,” the commission said. It added there were “successful exploratory talks” with three other companies: CureVac, BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna.
“More agreements will follow, and we remain determined in our search for a successful and safe vaccine to combat this deadly pandemic,” said Stella Kyriakides, the Commissioner for Health.
MADRID — A court in Madrid has struck down a national government order that imposed a partial lockdown in the Spanish capital and surrounding suburbs.
It sided with regional officials who had resisted stricter measures against one of Europe’s most concerning virus clusters. The judges say travel restrictions in and out of the cities and other limitations might be necessary to fight the spread of the virus but under the current legal form, they were violating “fundamental rights and freedoms.”
The decision means police can’t fine people for leaving their municipalities or businesses that want to close later than 10 p.m. for shops and 11 p.m. for restaurants and bars. It also leaves 4.8 million residents in Madrid and nine suburban towns wondering whether they can travel to other parts of Spain over a long weekend extended by Monday’s national day celebration.
The situation in Madrid has been at the center of a standoff between regional and national authorities of competing political camps that has irked many who see more partisan strategy than real action against the pandemic.
The Madrid region has a 14-day infection rate of 591 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, more than twice the national average (257) and five times the European average rate of 113 for the week ending on Sept. 27.
BRUSSELS — The European Commission says it has sealed a deal with pharmaceutical company Gilead to buy 500,000 treatment courses of remdesivir.
No treatment has yet proved able to prevent serious illness after a coronavirus infection but the antiviral drug also known by its commercial name Veklury has helped some COVID-19 patients recover faster.
Remdesivir was approved as a treatment for the coronavirus by the Commission in July.
The European Union’s executive arm said the joint procurement contract has been signed by 36 participants including all 27 EU countries and the UK. The agreement will allow countries to purchase the drug for immediate use and stockpiling needs, Gilead said.
“Today we secure access to Remdesivir for the treatment of up to 500,000 patients in need,” said Stella Kyriakides, the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Coronavirus infections in Slovakia are on a steep rise, surpassing 1,000 cases in one day for the first time.
The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase of people infected reached 1,037 on Wednesday, up from the previous record of 877 on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Igor Matovic calls the development “a serious moment for Slovakia.” His government imposed strict restrictive measures last week but they have not managed to contain the surge yet.
Slovakia has had a total of 15,726 cases of COVID-19, including 57 deaths, according to Health Ministry figures published on Thursday, still low numbers compared with other European countries.
Neighboring Czech Republic also registered a new record for the second straight day Wednesday with 5,335 new confirmed cases.
ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatia has reported a new record in daily infections with the new coronavirus.
Authorities said Thursday that 542 new cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the outbreak. One person has died.
Croatia has reported a surge in new infections since the end of the summer tourism season, in which hundreds of thousands of visitors flocked to the country’s Adriatic Sea coast.
So far, there have been 18,989 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus including 310 deaths in the country of 4.2 million people.
Croatia’s official HRT television says authorities are preparing a recreation area in the capital, Zagreb, to host people with COVID-19 who have nowhere to self-isolate.
BERLIN — Germany has recorded a sharp jump in new coronavirus cases in a sign that the pandemic is picking up pace in the country again.
Germany’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 4,058 additional confirmed infections and 16 deaths over the past 24 hours Thursday. This takes the total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 310,144, with 9,578 deaths.
Authorities urged people not to travel to and from regions with over 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past week. These regions include the cities of Bremen, Remscheid, Hagen, Hamm and parts of Berlin.
PRAGUE — Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have hit a record high for the second straight day, surpassing 5,000 cases in a day for the first time.
Health Ministry figures showed new confirmed day-to-day increase was 5,335 on Wednesday, almost 900 more than the previous day’s record.
The Czech Republic currently has more people testing positive daily than neighboring countries, including Germany with a population eight times higher.
The government is planning to announce a new measures to contain the surge on Friday.
The Czech Republic has reported 95,360 virus cases since the pandemic began, with 829 deaths. Currently, 43,764 are ill with the virus, with 1,563 hospitalized.
NEW DELHI — India has registered 78,524 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, driving the country’s total since the pandemic began to 6.8 million.
The Health Ministry on Thursday also reported 971 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 1,05,526.
India has witnessed a steady drop of confirmed coronavirus cases for three consecutive weeks now — from recording more than 86,000 daily cases in the last two weeks of September to an average of more than 70,000 cases daily so far this month. The numbers have also fallen sharply from earlier in September when daily cases averaged around 93,000 in India.
More than 1.1 million samples have been tested daily on an average so far in October, according to the Health Ministry.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Authorities in Sri Lanka have closed key government offices and further expanded a curfew to contain a surging coronavirus outbreak.
The foreign ministry closed the consular affairs office for the week and suspended all services to prevent the public from congregating. The ministry said Thursday it would only accept queries and documentation assistance related to deaths of Sri Lankans overseas, strictly by appointment.
Other departments providing services related to revenue, immigration, pensions, vehicle license and registrations also closed for the week, and a state-sponsored exhibition was canceled.
The outbreak that surfaced this week has grown to 1,034 cases with more than 2,000 others asked to quarantine at home.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has 69 new confirmed coronavirus cases, most of them in the Seoul region area where health workers are struggling to track transmissions tied to hospitals, churches, schools and an army unit.
The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Thursday brought the national total to 24,422 cases, including 427 deaths.
Forty-nine of the new cases were reported from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country’s 51 million people. The region has been at the center of a coronavirus resurgence since mid-August.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming has reported a new high for the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 amid a fall surge in coronavirus infections.
Forty-seven people were hospitalized Wednesday. That is up from 24 a week ago, which at the time was the most since daily hospitalizations peaked at 23 in April.
The 47 patients are at 14 hospitals around the state. Wyoming health officials say they are not worried about COVID-19 patients overwhelming any specific hospital. But they do worry about the small intensive-care capacity of most Wyoming hospitals.
Wyoming Medical Center in Casper has the most COVID-19 patients at 12, followed by Sheridan Memorial Hospital with five.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he wants everyday Americans to have access to the same experimental treatment he received for the coronavirus.
Trump has played down the threat of the virus since receiving VIP care, but he says in a new video taped in the White House Rose Garden that he wants “to get for you what I got” and will make the drug free.
Trump says he’s feeling “great” and “like perfect” and calls his diagnosis “a blessing in disguise.”
Trump received an experimental antibody cocktail made by Regeneron through a “compassionate use” exemption. The safety and effectiveness of the drug have not yet been proven. And there is no way for the president or his doctors to know that the drug had any effect. Most people recover from COVID-19.