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US to buy initial antibody doses from Eli Lilly and Co.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government has agreed to buy initial doses of an experimental COVID-19 antibody drug from Eli Lilly that patients could receive if federal regulators allow it on an emergency basis.

Lilly has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow use of the drug in mild to moderately ill patients, based on partial results from a mid-stage study suggesting it may help them clear the virus sooner. There were hints the drug might help avoid hospitalization, but more study is needed.

Under the agreement, the government will spend $375 million to buy 300,000 vials of the drug. How many doses that would provide is unclear. Each vial contains 70 milligrams and that dose proved ineffective in the early results. It took four times that amount — 2,800 milligrams — to show any effect.

Earlier this week, the government stopped a study of Lilly’s drug in hospitalized patients after it seemed the drug was not helping those more seriously ill patients.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. is also seeking emergency use for its experimental two-antibody treatment. President Donald Trump received it when he was ill with the coronavirus earlier this month.

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(This item has been corrected to 300,000 vials in third paragraph.)

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

— Task force member Giroir: Cases, hospitalizations, deaths up in US – not just testing

— Germany, France gear up for new lockdowns as virus surges

— UN: More than 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases in just 1 week

— Belgium and Czech Republic top Europe’s highest number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 citizens, ahead of hotbeds France and Spain.

— European Union official urges the 27 member states to introduce common rules to test for coronavirus and contact trace to help prevent further damage to their economy.

— Love blossoms amid pandemic for two TikTok creators in Los Angeles, using goofy dance videos, heartfelt vlogs and affirmations.

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— Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BOSTON — Boston’s Logan International Airport has a coronavirus testing site.

The site opened in Terminal E and is operated by health and wellness company XpresSpa Group.

It’s available for airport and airline employees at first but will test travelers in mid-November. The facility will offer three types of tests — quick test that returns results within 15 minutes; a nasal swab test; and a blood antibody test. The company says it will process about 400 tests a day.

It already operates coronavirus testing facilities at Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

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GENEVA — Switzerland is closing restaurants and bars earlier and expanding mask-wearing rules following a rise in coronavirus cases.

Government officials say bars and restaurants will close at 11 p.m. and discos will close altogether. Events involving more than 50 people and “sports and cultural leisure activities” with more than 15 people will be banned.

Universities will switch to remote learning on Monday and masks must be worn in busy outdoor locations and high school classes.

President Simonetta Sommaruga says the measures start Thursday because “we have no time to waste.”

There’s been 8,616 confirmed cases reported in the last 24 hours. Overall, Switzerland has more than 135,000 cases and 2,158 deaths in a nation of 8.6 million.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece had a record 1,547 coronavirus cases in the last day and 10 more deaths.

Authorities have gradually increased localized restrictions to curb the outbreak. Four Greek regions are currently at the highest alert of Level 4, which means lockdown-type restrictions. Athens and the second-largest city of Thessaloniki are at Level 3, which means a night-time curfew, compulsory facemasks outdoors and limits on gatherings.

The total confirmed cases in the country of 11 million is nearly 34,300 and 603 deaths

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WASHINGTON — A member of the White House coronavirus task force says the increase in U.S. cases isn’t just because of more testing.

Admiral Brett Giroir says the proof of the increase is the uptick in hospitalizations and deaths nationwide from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump has been saying the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic. The president also contends the news media spends too much time focused on the health crisis.

Giroir, who was put in charge of coronavirus testing by Trump, says the nation is at “another critical point” in the response to the pandemic.

He is urging people to keep wearing masks, wash their hands and practice social distancing. Giroir says a safe and effective vaccine is “around the corner.”

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JOHANNESBURG — South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced he’s in quarantine after contact with a dinner guest who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The president’s spokesman says the contact occurred at a fundraising dinner of 35 people in Johannesburg last weekend. He says Ramaphosa is not showing any symptoms and the guest who tested positive is getting medical care.

South Africa reported 1,092 new infections and 48 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours. It reported an average of 2.79 cases per 100,000 people for the week ending Tuesday.

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PRAGUE — Some Czechs have rallied in Prague to protest the restrictive measures imposed by the government, a day after the nation hit a record 15,663 coronavirus cases.

On Wednesday, a nationwide night curfew will begin and all stores will close on Sundays.

Gatherings of more than two people are banned if not from the same family. However, up to 100 people can still demonstrate if they are divided into separate groups of 20 and all wear face masks.

After some 100 gathered at the Republic Square, police sealed off the crowd. Others who wanted to join the protest had to remain beyond the police cordon.

Some of the protesters were not wearing face masks. One person was detained.

The Czech Republic has 284,033 confirmed cases, with over a half registered in the last two weeks. There’s been more than 2,500 deaths.

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BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania set highs for coronavirus cases and deaths in the past day.

The nation recorded 5,343 confirmed and 107 deaths. The number of patients treated in intensive care units stood at 861, also a record.

The Romanian capital and five other counties remain in red zone after the rate of infections exceeded 3 people per 1,000 inhabitants. It requires the closure of bars, restaurants, cinemas, theaters and schools.

Romania has a total of more than 222,500 cases and more than 6,000 deaths.

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ZAGREB, Croatia — Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia are reporting daily records of coronavirus cases.

Slovenia registered 2,605 infections and at least seven confirmed deaths in the country of 2 million. Nearly 35% of all tests came back positive in the last 24 hours, health officials say.

Croatia had 2,378 cases and 23 deaths, with Health Minister Vili Beros warning he couldn’t rule out a “collapse” of the health system.

Bosnia announced 1,562 new cases and 34 deaths.

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MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines closed cemeteries and memorial parks on Wednesday to enforce a ban aimed at preventing the annual influx of millions of Filipinos on All Saints’ Day that could spark coronavirus outbreaks.

The Philippines has been a coronavirus hotspot with more than 375,000 confirmed infections, the second highest in Southeast Asia, and at least 7,114 deaths.

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LONDON — The World Health Organization says countries globally reported more than 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases last week — the shortest time for such an exponential increase.

In a weekly analysis of COVID-19, WHO says for the second consecutive week, the European region accounted for the biggest proportion of new cases, with more than 1.3 million reported cases or about 46% of the worldwide total. The U.N. health agency says deaths were on the rise in Europe, with about a 35% spike since the previous week.

“Although the number of deaths is gradually increasing, the proportion of deaths to cases remains relatively low, compared to the early phase of the pandemic in the spring,” according to WHO.

The agency also noted hospitalizations and ICU occupancy due to COVID-19 increased in 21 countries across Europe. It estimated about 18% of COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, with about 7% needing ICU support or breathing machines.

Globally, WHO says the countries reporting the highest numbers of cases remain unchanged as for the past three weeks: India, United States, France, Brazil and Britain.

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PARIS — France is bracing for a potential new lockdown as the president prepares a televised address aimed at stopping a fast-rising tide of virus patients filling French hospitals and a growing daily death toll.

French markets opened lower on expectations that President Emmanuel Macron will announce some kind of lockdown Wednesday, though the government has not released details amid ongoing discussions about what measures would be most effective.

Many French doctors are urging a new nationwide lockdown, noting that more than half of intensive care units are now occupied by COVID patients and medical staff are under increasing strain.

Business owners and some politicians are pushing for a compromise, such as local lockdowns in hard-hit areas or a lockdown that would allow schools to stay open.

France reported 523 virus-related deaths in 24 hours Tuesday, the highest daily tally since April. It is reporting tens of thousands of new infections per day, and more than 380 new cases each week per 100,000 people.

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PRAGUE — Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have increased again to record levels amid new restrictive measures imposed by the government to curb the spread.

The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase hit a new high of 15,663 on Tuesday in the nation of over 10 million. It’s over 400 more than the previous record set on Friday.

The hard-hit country had 284,033 confirmed cases, with over a half registered in the last two weeks. So far, 2,547 have died — with a record 139 deaths on Monday.

The country’s hospitals have been under pressure, with the number of COVID-19 patients higher than 6,000 and almost 900 in serious condition.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from 52 new cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 13 to 120 on Tuesday.

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BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing for a partial lockdown as the number of newly recorded infections in the country hit another record high Wednesday.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control agency, says 14,964 new cases were recorded across the country in the past days, taking the total since the start of the outbreak to 449,275. Germany had 27 COVID-related deaths, raising its overall death toll to 10,098.

Merkel meets Wednesday with the governors of Germany’s 16 states and senior government officials say she will demand they introduce measures to drastically reduce social contacts, echoing her repeated public appeals to citizens over the past two weeks that have so far not resulted in a drop in new cases.

Owners of restaurants and bars planned to stage a protest over concerns their establishments will be closed for several weeks, further hurting Germany’s already ailing hospitality industry.

Schools across Germany have been preparing to shift at least some of their teaching online, in anticipation of possible partial closures.

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has blamed “this lady called COVID” for forcing him to keep his distance from the faithful during his general audience, which was far smaller amid soaring coronavirus infections in Italy.

Francis again eschewed a protective mask Wednesday even when he greeted a few maskless bishops at the end of his audience. While the prelates wore masks throughout the hour-long audience, they took them off when they lined up to shake Francis’ hand and speak briefly with him one-on-one.

A Vatican official who is a key member of Francis’ COVID-19 response commission, the Rev. Augusto Zampini, acknowledged Tuesday that at age 83 and with part of his lung removed, Francis would be at high risk for complications if he were to become infected.

Francis has only been seen wearing a mask in public twice: On Sept. 9 as he entered and exited his general audience, and last week during a two-hour interfaith prayer service in downtown Rome.

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STOCKHOLM — Coronavirus is spreading in 17 of Sweden’s 21 counties, according to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.

Worst hit is Scania, Sweden’s southern region around Malmo, the country’s third-largest city, where national authorities have urged people to avoid shopping centers and shops and stay away from public transportation.

Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist who is credited with being behind Sweden’s much-debated approach of keeping large parts of society open, said the country is about ”to reach a critical point,” as he announced the restrictions for Malmo, which took effect immediately for at least a three weeks.

Also, the counties of Orebro, west of Stockholm, and Kronoberg in southern Sweden have been warnings of strains on hospitals due to the number of COVID-19 patients.

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland hit a record in daily infections with more than 18,800 cases and also 236 COVID-19-related deaths.

The news Wednesday reported by the Health Ministry was much more than the expected 15,000 daily cases, a figure that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has described as a “worst case scenario” that would totally overwhelm the country’s underfunded health care system.

Total number of registered infections is almost 300,000 in the nation of 38 million. Many cities are building temporary hospitals and the government says there are enough beds and ventilators, but the system is short of trained medical personnel.

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NEW DELHI — India’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases is moving closer to 8 million, with 43,893 new cases reported for the latest 24-hour period.

The total reported Wednesday includes the highest single-day number of cases for the Indian capital of New Delhi — 4,853.

The Health Ministry also reported 508 deaths from coronavirus across India in the past 24 hours, raising the total for the pandemic to 120,010.

India’s caseload is second in the world behind the United States, which has over 8.7 million positive cases.

In September, India hit a peak of nearly 100,000 positive cases in a single day, but since then daily infections have fallen by more than half and deaths by about a third.

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