COLUMBIA, South Carolina -- The nearly two-month spike in coronavirus cases in South Carolina has leveled off, but the death toll is catching up.
South Carolina reported 1,573 new coronavirus cases Tuesday and confirmed 52 more deaths. Nearly 84,000 people have tested positive for the virus during the pandemic and the death toll has topped 1,500, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
It says 60 more likely coronavirus deaths are under investigation.
Since early June, South Carolina had been in the top four in the nation in the 14-day average of new cases adjusted for population. The 14-day average as of Tuesday was 467 new cases per 100,000 people.
Many local school districts are working on reopening plans that must be approved by the state. Schools must reopen by the day after Labor Day. Gov. Henry McMaster has asked for districts to offer class five days a week. State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman can approve or reject local plans.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— US President Trump defends doctor who touts coronavirus cure
— Russian President Putin says coronavirus ‘may worsen’
— Muslim pilgrims wearing face masks and moving in small groups have begun a reshaped hajj
— U.S. officials say Russian intelligence services are using websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus, seeking to exploit a crisis ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.
— A new report says Brazil’s extreme poverty has decreased thanks to a monthly federal handout during the pandemic. But it threatens to return once the government ceases the stopgap welfare program.
— Mary Daniel took a part-time job washing dishes at the nursing home a few weeks ago just so she could visit her husband. Gov. Ron DeSantis is considering allowing visits if people can take a rapid-response virus test.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MADRID — Spain has reported the highest daily number of new coronavirus infections in almost three months with 1,153.
The Health Ministry says its the highest since early May and up from 905 new cases reported Tuesday. The northeastern regions of Aragón (424 new cases) and Catalonia (211), recorded the highest increases followed by the Madrid region (199).
Those regions have in recent days tightened restrictions on socializing, including limiting how many people can gather and nightlife venues hours. Masks are mandatory in public areas.
The recent increase has prompted countries such as Britain, France and Germany to discourage tourists from traveling to Spain.
Spain has officially recorded 282,641 coronavirus cases and 28,441 deaths.
MILAN — Italian lawmakers approved extending Italy’s state of emergency for the coronavirus through Oct. 15.
The move came as Italy counted 289 confirmed new positives, bringing the pandemic total to 246,776. Another six people died, bringing the death total to 35,129.
Premier Giuseppe Conte told lawmakers that if ideology was put aside, the extension “is an inevitable choice’’ to manage the virus and future spikes.
The head of Italy’s National Health Institute, Silvio Brusafero says Italy has been reporting 200-300 new infections each day in recent weeks. The peak of 6,500 new daily cases was hit on March 31.
NEW DELHI, India — India will lift on Aug. 1 a night-time curfew that has been in force since late March to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The 48,513 new positive cases reported Wednesday brings India’s nationwide tally beyond 1.5 million, trailing the United States and Brazil. There have been 34,193 reported deaths.
The Indian government says the country’s death rate is 2.23% -- the lowest since April 1.
BANJUL, Gambia — Gambia’s vice president has tested positive for the coronavirus and the president is going into quarantine for two weeks as a precaution.
A statement from Gambia’s State House says Dr. Isatou Touray had become infected with coronavirus.
The small West African country has reported only 326 confirmed cases and eight deaths.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s health minister has announced voluntary measures against the coronavirus for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Fahrettin Koca urged citizens to spend as little time as possible in sacrificial animal sale and butchering points and asked people above 65 and those with chronic illnesses to avoid them.
Koca also says citizens to bring their own prayer mats. Turkey reopened mosques for communal prayer in late May.
The minister says traditions like Eid visits, hand kissing and hugging should be postponed until the pandemic is over. He says there would be no nationwide lockdown unlike during Eid al-Fitr in May.
Daily infections hover near 900. The country reports nearly 228,000 confirmed cases and 5,645 deaths from COVID-19
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump defended his decision to promote Dr. Stella Immanuel, who pushed hydroxychloroquine as a cure for the coronavirus.
“I was very impressed with her and other doctors that stood with her,” Trump said Wednesday before leaving the White House for Texas.
Trump lashed out at social media companies for labelling her comments misinformation and removing the video that featured her: “I was very impressed by her. I know nothing about her, I had never seen her before, but certainly you could put her up and let her have a voice. So what they did is they took down their voice. Now, they seem to never take down the other side. They only take down conservative voices.”
“And with hydroxy, all I want to do is save lives,” Trump added.
TORONTO — Restaurants in Toronto can serve customers indoors and gyms will reopen as the city enters phase three amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ontario government announced indoor service can begin July 31, after other parts of the province were allowed to open this month.
Toronto Mayor John Tory says delaying was the prudent thing to do. Toronto reported just one new coronavirus case on Tuesday. Ontario Premier Doug Ford is urging everyone to follow public health advice, saying the province has made tremendous progress but noted the danger of COVID-19 remains.
ROME — The Lazio region is carrying out coronavirus screen at a Rome bus station, focusing on people arriving from Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine.
Health officials Alessio D’Amato says 70% of passengers on a bus arriving from Romania at midday Wednesday consented to the voluntary anti-body test and all were negative. All passengers are subject to a 14-day quarantine period under Italian rules aimed at containing a resurgence of the virus.
According to D’Amato, the three nationalities were singled out because half of new cases in the region are from people arriving from outside Italy. He reported 34 new cases on Wednesday, most of those among Bangladeshis.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the government to prepare for a possible uptick in coronavirus cases, saying that the situation “remains difficult” and “may worsen.”
Speaking at a government meeting on Wednesday, Putin urged officials to be cautious with easing virus-related restrictions, ensure stable functioning of the health care system and take preventive measures to avoid another lockdown.
“It is necessary to do everything to try to avoid re-imposing restrictions, especially large-scale ones, through preventive and proactive measures,” the president said.
Russia has reported more than 828,000 coronavirus cases and 13,673 confirmed deaths. The number of daily new infections has been decreasing since mid-May. But they remain relatively high, with health officials reporting more than 5,000 new cases every day.
JOHANNESBURG — The U.S.-based company Cepheid is pushing back against the allegation by medical charity Doctors Without Borders that it is “profiteering” in the coronavirus pandemic by overcharging for a rapid test.
Spokeswoman Darwa Peterson in an email says the request to lower the cost of the company’s cartridge to $5 from nearly $20 is “not realistic when that continues to be below our cost to manufacture.”
She adds, “global demand for tests is still much greater than supply – for all test manufacturers.”
The tests are used on Cepheid’s testing platforms, which are widely used in diagnosing other infectious diseases.
Shortages of testing materials for the coronavirus remain a challenge across Africa and other regions. Only about 8 million tests have been conducted in Africa, with a population of 1.3 billion.
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Corrections is moving the state’s prisoner intake operations from the St. Cloud prison, where the number of coronavirus cases has spiked.
The intake function will move to the Lino Lakes prison north of the Twin Cities this week. Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell says it will allow the St. Cloud facility to stabilize.
The St. Cloud prison reported 122 positive coronavirus cases on Tuesday, increasing from just two cases in late June. Schell says many of those tested didn’t have symptoms.
Schnell compared the spike at the St. Cloud facility to an outbreak at the Faribault prison, where the number of positive cases topped 200 this month. ———
LONDON — The European Commission says it signed a 63 million euro ($72 million) deal to secure thousands of doses of remdesavir, the only licensed experimental drug to treat people with severe COVID-19.
The European Commission says it had bought enough remdesivir, sold by Gilead Sciences as Veklury, to treat about 30,000 patients with serious coronavirus illness for member countries and the United Kingdom.
This month, the U.S. announced it had signed a deal with Gilead to buy nearly all of the company’s production of the drug through September. Numerous public health experts slammed the agreement, calling the U.S. move selfish and warned other countries could lose out.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will allow fitness gyms, internet cafes, drive-in cinemas, massage parlors and tattoo shops to reopen at 30% capacity on Aug. 1 despite coronavirus infection spikes.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration eased a lockdown in the congested capital in June and quarantine restrictions elsewhere in the country after the economy contracted in the first quarter and headed toward a recession.
Health officials on Thursday reported more than 85,400 confirmed infections and nearly 2,000 deaths.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — Voters don’t have to leave their vehicles to vote in the primary election in western Wisconsin.
Officials in Eau Claire have set up drive-thru service for absentee voters in the parking lot behind City Hall to reduce contact during the coronavirus pandemic.
Voting started Tuesday and will run weekdays through Aug. 7. Wisconsin’s partisan primary is Aug. 11.
City officials say people don’t need to arrive in a vehicle to vote in the parking lot. They can also walk up and cast their ballot, the Leader-Telegram reported.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A Bosnia minister for veteran affairs has died after testing positive for the coronavirus. He was 53.
Salko Bukvarevic died Wednesday in a COVID-19 hospital in Sarajevo, where he was admitted last week with pneumonia and breathing problems.
He had served in the government of Bosniak-Croat federation since 2015. The region’s prime minister, Fadil Novalic, was also hospitalized with COVID-19, but was released Tuesday following two weeks of treatment.
So far, Bosniahas tallied over 10,700 virus cases and 297 deaths.
Nearly 80% of all cases in the country of 3.5 million were registered since mid-May, when a strict nearly 2-month-long, coronavirus lockdown was lifted.
LONDON — A committee of British lawmakers says the government’s decision to advise English hospitals to discharge thousands of patients into care homes without knowing if they had the coronavirus was a “reckless” and “appalling” policy error.
The Public Accounts Committee says discharging around 25,000 patients to free up beds was an example of the government’s “slow, inconsistent and at times negligent” approach to social care.
In a report, it voiced concerns that the Department of Health and Social Care continued with the policy “even once it was clear there was an emerging problem.”
The U.K. has the highest official coronavirus death toll in Europe, with around 46,000. The actual figure is thought to be far higher as it does not include those who died after contracting the virus but were not tested, including many in care homes.
PRAGUE — The Czech capital has registered the highest day-to-day increase in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
The health authority says 101 people tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.
It says Prague has had over 24 infected per 100,000 people in last seven days. Overall, the entire Czech Republic recorded 275 new cases on Tuesday.
In reaction to the recent surge in Prague, authorities reimposed mandatory masks at out-patient clinics and pharmacies.
Face coverings are also required in the city’s subway network while authorities said Wednesday masks might become mandatory again in the entire public transport possibly at the end of summer.
The Czech Republic has had 15,827 confirmed cases with 373 deaths.
TOKYO — The commander of U.S. forces in Japan says strict measures are in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus by American military personnel entering Japan.
Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki has voiced worries about an outbreak spreading from the heavy U.S. military presence on the southern island.
According to Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, the commander of U.S. troops in Japan, positive cases among the service members and other base employees have gone down over the last five days from 189 to 139. Most of the cases were in Camp Hansen and Futenma, both on Okinawa.
Schneider say the U.S. military is not changing its operations or planned movement of personnel because of the pandemic, but measures are being taken to protect their health and prevent the spread of the virus.
He says each individual arriving from the U.S. to Japan is quarantined for 14 days, then tested for the virus, and allowed to leave and start work only if they’re virus-free.