CANBERRA, Australia — Australia announced on Monday it had struck supply and production agreements with pharmaceutical companies worth 1.7 billion Australian dollars ($1.2 billion) over two potential COVID-19 vaccines.
Under the agreement, Britain’s University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca and Australia’s University of Queensland working with CSL will provide more than 84.8 million vaccine doses for Australia’s population of 26 million people, almost entirely manufactured in the Australian city of Melbourne, a government statement said.
Australians would have access to 3.8 million doses of the University of Oxford vaccine in January and February, it said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said both vaccines would need to be proven safe and effective and meet all necessary regulatory requirements before being made available to the public. Any vaccine would be free to all Australians.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— Pandemic turns summer into European tourism’s leanest season
— As the pandemic raged, roadways became speedways
— States are planning for cuts as Congress deadlocks on virus aid
— As coronavirus cases fall in the U.S., governors in hard-hit states are rethinking lockdown orders on bars.
— Cutbacks in credit insurance are creating a dilemma for suppliers, caught between potentially going unpaid and losing customers. That could affect retailers as they approach the critical holiday season._
— Some colleges are turning campus sewage into a public health tool. At least two schools in Utah and Arizona have quarantined students after tests showed the presence of genetic material from the new coronavirus in wastewater.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea has added 119 more cases of the coronavirus, its lowest daily jump in more than three weeks amid a downward trend in new cases.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday the additional figures took the country’s total to 21,296 with 336 deaths.
It’s the fifth straight day the country’s daily jump has stayed under 200. The 119 additional cases are the lowest in kind since mid-August.
South Korea’s caseload had risen since early last month, with many associated with churches, restaurants and schools and an anti-government street rally in the greater Seoul area. In late August, South Korea’s daily jump once marked over 400.
But the caseload has gradually slowed down, largely thanks to toughened social distancing rules that restricts at dining at restaurants and bans gatherings at churches, night spots, after-school academics and fitness centers.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University has suspended 29 members of a fraternity house for not following health and safety orders related to the coronavirus pandemic.
A Theta Chi fraternity member, who tested positive for the virus and had been ordered into isolation, attended a party at the fraternity house on Friday, the university said in a statement. In addition, all residents of the fraternity house had previously been notified by the university to isolate or quarantine due to confirmed virus cases and close contacts.
The university said the 29 students received notifications letters of the interim suspensions Sunday stating they have been banned from campus and cannot take classes, including those offered online.
“Their flagrant disregard for the health and safety of their classmates, our campus and the entire Morgantown community will not be tolerated,” Dean of Students Corey Farris said.
The university also is investigating photos and videos from a large party hosted by another fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi. Neither fraternity is recognized by the university.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s hot spot Victoria state on Monday recorded its lowest count of new COVID-19 cases in more than 10 weeks.
The state reported 41 news cases and nine deaths in the latest 24-hour period. That was the lowest infection tally since 37 were recorded on June 26 in the early days of the state’s second wave of infections.
The state on Sunday announced a slight easing of restrictions in Melbourne that began in early August, but the country’s second-largest city will remain in lockdown until at least Oct. 26.
The new infections bring the 14-day average in Victoria to 96 a day. Victorian Premier Danial Andrews said the average would have to be brought below 50 before restrictions can be relaxed.
“This is not about eradicating it,” Andrews said. “We will finish up with cases and outbreaks in 2021, but they’ll be of such low numbers that we can probably put the lid on those and not have to put restrictions back on,” Andrews said.
JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced overnight curfews on some 40 cities and towns hit hard by the coronavirus.
But he backed away from reported calls for full lockdowns after an uproar by powerful religious politicians.
The measures were announced late Sunday after hours of consultations with decision-makers. The government has been forced to take new action after failing to contain an outbreak that has claimed more than 1,000 lives and remains at record levels of new infections. The curfews will go into effect Monday at 7 p.m. and will be in effect until 5 a.m. It was not known how long they will remain in place.
HAVANA — A small outbreak of COVID-19 cases has prompted authorities to reclose schools in a central Cuban province only a week after they opened.
Ciego de Avila schools director Bárbara Rodríguez said 75 of the province’s 90 schools would return to televised teaching on Monday. Students had returned to classrooms only on Sept.1 after a six-month break.
The province has reported 30 new infections with the new coronavirus over the past 15 days. Cuba as a whole has reported 4,309 infections and 100 deaths from the disease since March.
The largest outbreak has been in the capital, Havana, which remains under a nighttime curfew.
Cuba’s baseball season is scheduled to start on Saturday before stadiums without spectators.
LONDON — Britain has recorded its highest daily number of new coronavirus cases since May, with 2,988 new infections announced on Sunday.
Like other European countries, the U.K. is seeing the number of infections rise as society reopens after lockdown.
Some of the increase can be accounted for by expanded testing, which is identifying people who have mild or no symptoms. The number of hospital admissions and deaths has so far not shown a corresponding rise. Two new deaths were reported Sunday.
The increased number of cases comes as British schoolchildren return to class, a milestone in the resumption of normal life.
Britain’s confirmed coronavirus death toll stands at 41,551, the highest in Europe.
YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar on Sunday reported 166 confirmed new cases of the coronavirus, topping the previous single-day high of 107 reported on Aug 31 and bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,419. The total number of dead from the disease has risen to eight after two new deaths were announced over the weekend.
Myanmar had its first confirmed case in late March, but a surge in the western state of Rakhine has roughly doubled the total in the past week alone.
The government has responded by imposing new lockdowns along with other restrictions in Rakhine and in major urban areas in other parts of the country. In Yangon, police have begun strictly enforcing a late-night curfew implemented several months ago, arresting more than 1,000 people since late last week.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek health authorities announced 144 new cases of the coronavirus Sunday, 24 from international arrivals, and four deaths.
The total number of cases is 11,544, with 284 deaths. While the median age of those who got sick is 39, that of those who died is 78.
Although the latest numbers are well off the recent highs, when the number of new daily cases reached nearly 300, authorities are stepping up controls and fines for people not wearing masks in closed spaces or not keeping social distancing.
TIRANA, Albania – An Albanian restaurant owner has been arrested after repeatedly violating the government ban on wedding gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s the first time authorities have made such an arrest.
Police reported on Sunday that the 52-year old was arrested in the port city of Durres, about 35 kilometers (20 miles) west of the capital, Tirana, after organizing a wedding. He had earlier been fined twice for the same offense.
Albanian authorities have banned mass activities such as weddings and funerals to impede spread of the virus.
The country has reported 10,255 confirmed virus cases and 316 deaths as of Sunday.
ROME — Silvio Berlusconi’s doctor says that the hospitalized former Italian premier is responding “optimally” to COVID-19 treatment, but that he belongs to the most vulnerable category of patients and is in “the most delicate phase” of the virus.
Dr. Alberto Zangrillo, who is head of intensive care at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, repeated Sunday that he nevertheless remained “cautiously optimistic” about Berlusconi’s recovery.
“The patient is responding optimally to treatment,” he said. “This doesn’t mean we can claim victory because, as you know, he belongs to the most fragile category” given his age. He also suggested Berlusconi would not be released anytime soon, recalling that the virus “requires adequate treatment and takes its time.”
The three-time premier turns 84 in a few weeks and has had a history of heart problems that required being fitted with a pacemaker several years ago. He checked into San Raffaele Friday after testing positive for the virus earlier in the week. Zangrillo said at the time that he had the early stages of a lung infection.
Data from Italy’s Superior Institute of Health indicates men aged 80-87 have the highest COVID-19 lethality rate among all cases in Italy, at 47%.
Berlusconi spent some of his summer vacation at his seaside villa on Sardinia’s Emerald Coast. Many of Italy’s recent cases of COVID-19 have been linked to clusters in people who vacationed on Sardinia.