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World News

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks make their way through Waterloo station during the morning rush hour, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

Surge in cases in Wisconsin, new cluster in Brooklyn

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Tuesday declared a new public health emergency and extended a face mask mandate into November to fight a coronavirus flareup in his state, as the number of people who have died across the United States since the pandemic began passed 200,000.

In-person social gatherings have led to cases in Wisconsin skyrocketing among people aged 18 to 24, Evers said and pleaded with students who returned to colleges for the fall semester to stay out of bars and wear masks.

“We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus,” the governor said in a statement announcing his decision.

Meanwhile, in New York City health officials identified a new cluster of COVID-19 cases in the borough of Brooklyn, and noted a marked uptick in infections there and in some other neighborhoods.

Canada at ‘crossroads’

COVID-19 infections have surged in Canada and if people do not take stringent precautions, they could balloon to exceed levels seen during the first wave of the pandemic, health officials warned on Monday.

“Canada is at a crossroads and individual action to reduce contact rates will decide our path,” the Public Health Agency said in a statement.

According to a worst-case scenario outlined by the agency, cases could rise more than 1,000 per day to 155,795 by Oct. 2, with the death toll hitting 9,300. On Monday, Canada had reported 145,415 total cases and 9,228 deaths.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will unveil on Wednesday what he says is a far-reaching plan to help the economy recover from the pandemic while ensuring efforts to fight the outbreak do not falter.

Britain’s new COVID measures met with scepticism

The British government on Wednesday defended its new, stricter coronavirus measures against criticism that they did not got far enough, saying it was trying to balance supporting the economy while protecting health.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told citizens on Tuesday to work from home if possible and ordered restaurants and bars to close early, in an effort to slow a fast-spreading second wave of COVID-19, saying restrictions would likely last six months.

A decision by Scotland’s semi-autonomous government to take more stringent measures, such as banning any socialising between households, cast doubt over whether the steps taken in more populous England would be sufficient.

Airlines look to tests that give results in minutes

European airlines are pinning hopes on pre-flight COVID-19 tests that deliver results as fast as pregnancy tests to help restore passengers’ confidence in taking to the skies in confined spaces with shared air.

Germany’s Lufthansa, at the mercy of government bailouts for survival, is in talks with Swiss drugmaker Roche over deploying so-called antigen tests, according to two people familiar with the discussions, and the airline aims to make them available next month.

Unlike laboratory-based molecular tests health authorities have relied on during the pandemic, antigen tests do not require machines to process them.

Lawsuits filed over outbreak at Austrian ski resort

A consumer rights group said on Wednesday it had filed civil lawsuits against the Austrian government over a coronavirus outbreak at the ski resort of Ischgl last winter, but it held off on a class-action suit for the time being.

The outbreak at Ischgl, which calls itself the “Ibiza of the Alps”, was Austria’s biggest and helped spread the virus across Europe. Hundreds of Austrians were infected and thousands of foreign tourists say they were too as the virus found a breeding ground in crowded apres-ski bars in February and early March.

Ischgl’s first case was detected on March 7, days after Iceland said that tourists had been infected there and 11 days after Austria’s first infections were confirmed. Austria’s public health agency has since said it believes the virus arrived in Ischgl far earlier, on Feb. 5.

Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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