As surges of new coronavirus cases continued Monday, Australia and the Philippines enacted tighter lockdown measures in virus hot spots.
Mexico’s Education Secretary Esteban Moctezuma Barragan and executives from the country’s largest television networks presented in broad strokes a plan to put educational instruction on television.
Moctezuma said that risks to in-person education continue being too high. Officials fear children could become coronavirus carriers, infecting relatives at home.
“We wanted to return to in-person classes, but it is not possible, nor prudent,” Moctezuma said.
Students will not return to classrooms until the government’s version of a stoplight to evaluate the pandemic’s risk is safely at green.
Gallery: Coronavirus pandemic
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Mexico has reported more than 439,000 covid-19 infections and nearly 48,000 deaths.
Throughout Latin America, nearly all schooling is being carried out online or through television as the pandemic continues to surge. School districts around the world are struggling with the decision, knowing that for most students there is no substitute for in-person instruction.
Moctezuma cited several countries that had opened schools and then had to close them as infections spread.
The Norwegian cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen is moored Monday in Tromso, Norway, after 40 people, including four passengers and 26 crew members, tested positive for the coronavirus and were admitted to a hospital. The line’s operator says it was stopping all cruises for its three vessels.
(AP/NTB Scanpix/Terje Pedersen)
Students continue attending schools in Nicaragua and students are scheduled to return to classrooms in Cuba on Sept. 1. In Bolivia, the government announced Sunday that it was ending the school year because it was impossible to guarantee free and universal education in a country where most rural areas lack access to the internet.
Victoria state, Australia’s coronavirus hot spot, announced Monday that businesses will be closed and scaled down in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said nonessential businesses will close starting late Wednesday in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.
The new restrictions followed Andrews on Sunday declaring a disaster in Melbourne and introducing an evening curfew for six weeks. Andrews predicted the latest restrictions would cost 250,000 jobs.
Victoria announced Monday 429 new infections and 13 more deaths overnight. Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the infection rate would continue at 400 or 500 new covid-19 cases a day without the new restrictions.
Industries that will have to close on-site operations for six weeks include most retail and manufacturing.
In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte is reimposing a moderate lockdown in the capital and outlying provinces after medical groups appealed for the move as coronavirus infections surge.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Monday that metropolitan Manila, the capital region of more than 12 million people, and five densely populated provinces will revert to stricter quarantine restrictions for two weeks starting today.
Mass public transport will be barred and only essential travel will be allowed. Leaders of nearly 100 medical organizations held an online news conference Saturday and warned that the health system has been overwhelmed by infection spikes and may collapse as health workers fall ill or resign from exhaustion and fear.
The number of covid-19 cases in the Philippines surged past 106,000 on Monday, the second-most in Southeast Asia.
CRUISE SHIP OUTBREAK
Also on Monday, a Norwegian cruise ship line halted all trips and apologized for procedural errors after a coronavirus outbreak on one ship infected at least five passengers and 36 crew. Health authorities fear the ship also could have spread the virus to dozens of towns and villages along Norway’s western coast.
The confirmed virus cases from the MS Roald Amundsen raise new questions about safety on all cruise ships during a pandemic even as the devastated cruise ship industry is pressing to resume sailings after chaotically shutting down in March. In response to the outbreak, Norway on Monday closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks.
The Hurtigruten cruise line was one of the first companies to resume sailing during the pandemic, starting cruises to Norway out of northern Germany in June with a single ship, then adding cruises in July to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.
The 41 people on the MS Roald Amundsen who tested positive have been admitted to the University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle, where the ship currently is docked. The cruise line said it suspended the ship and two others — the MS Fridtjof Nansen and the MS Spitsbergen — from operating for an indefinite period.
Information for this article was contributed by Christopher Sherman, Jan M. Olsen, Jim Gomez, Colleen Barry, Angela Charlton, Dee-Ann Durbin, Kiko Rosario, Iya Forbes, Andrea Rodriguez, Carlos Valdez and staff members of The Associated Press.