New Covid restrictions in north-east England – as it happened

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Summary

As Australia wakes up, here are some of the key developments from the last few hours.

  • Tighter restrictions are set to be imposed on large parts of the north-east of England from Friday as Covid-19 cases continue to rise. The restrictions - which will reportedly apply to Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland - are expected to include a 10pm curfew on pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises, and a ban on different households mixing, whether indoors or outdoors. A full announcement is expected on Thursday morning. Our story is here.
  • Latin America is opening up too early and the pandemic still requires major interventions, the WHO’s regional director Carissa Etienne warned. With coronavirus cases and deaths continuing to climb in the region, Etienne said resuming normal social and public life and reopening to tourism can lead to major setbacks, as has happened in the Caribbean. “We must be clear that opening up too early gives this virus more room to spread and puts our populations at greater risk. Look no further than Europe,” she said.
  • The average age of people infected with Covid-19 is coming down, according to a WHO expert. Dr Maria Van Kerkhove told a Q&A that incidences of hospitalisation among those aged 15 to 49 years are increasing.
  • France reported it third-highest number of daily additional infections on record. Health authorities reported new 9,784 confirmed cases and 46 more deaths.
  • Hungary expects a second wave of the pandemic to peak in December or January, its prime minister Viktor Orbán said. The country will maintain border closures and make the wearing of face masks mandatory in cinemas, theatres and social institutions.
  • For the second successive day, the Netherlands recorded its worst increase in the number of new infections. The country saw 1,542 more on Wednesday after an increase of 1,379 on the previous day.
  • The Madrid region is to introduce targeted lockdowns and other restrictions on movement. The measures will come into effect in one of the worst-hit areas of Spain on Friday.
  • The US government plans to begin distributing a vaccine within one day of any regulatory authorisation. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide how initial, limited vaccine doses will be allocated and distributed.
  • India’s coronavirus cases passed 5 million, testing the country’s feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages. The health ministry reported 90,123 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the nation’s confirmed total to 5,020,359, about 0.35% of its nearly 1.4 billion population. It said 1,290 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 82,066. India’s total coronavirus caseload is closing in on the US’s highest tally of more than 6.6 million cases and expected to surpass it within weeks.
  • US president Donald Trump claimed Covid-19 would go away without a vaccine. This would happen because of “herd mentality”, he said in an ABC town hall. It is unclear whether he meant herd immunity, as he repeated the phrase several times. “It would go away without the vaccine, George,” he said speaking to ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos. “With time it goes away. And you’ll develop like a herd mentality. It’s going to be herd developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.”
  • New Zealand reported a second consecutive day of no new community cases of Covid-19.
  • Half the world’s schoolchildren are still unable to attend classrooms due to the pandemic. Around 872 million – more than half of whom have not been able to study remotely – are not allowed to attend school in person, Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore said.
  • Nearly a fifth of South Africans may have contracted coronavirus, the country’s health minister has said. South Africa has recorded 650,749 cases, but the actual number of infections could be “about 12 million”, Zweli Mkhize said.

The IMF has approved the release of another $1bn in lending for Angola as its economy struggles with the Covid-19 downturn and global drop in crude oil prices, AFP reports.

The Washington-based crisis lender also increased by $765m the size of the three-year aid programme for the southern African nation to help it deal with the pandemic’s impact on the economy, the IMF said in a statement.

Facing high debt levels and inflation, Angola, one of the largest producers of crude in Africa, reached an agreement with the IMF in December 2018 on a $3.7bn Extended Fund Facility. The latest disbursement brings to $2.5bn the total released.

Angola has been hard hit by slumping oil prices since the coronavirus pandemic struck, caused by a global slowdown in demand and a price war between major producers. The IMF in July projected that Angola would see its GDP shrink by 4% this year, its fifth straight year of economic contraction.

IMF deputy managing director Antoinette Sayeh said in a statement:

The Angolan authorities remain committed to sound policies under the IMF-supported program despite a deteriorated external environment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, including negative impacts on public health, social protection, the budget and public debt.

The authorities adopted a conservative supplementary budget for 2020, taking measures to increase non-oil revenue, and reining in non-essential expenditure. Despite the crisis, fiscal consolidation will continue, while creating space for adequate spending on health and social safety nets.

Updated

Chile’s health minister has urged Chileans to celebrate the country’s independence day holiday on Friday “prudently” amid fears that a special permit allowing people to hold and attend family gatherings could result in a surge in coronavirus cases.

The day is normally marked by exuberant communal fairs to which Chileans flock in large numbers to watch horseback displays and traditional dancing, while consuming large quantities of barbecued beef, stuffed empanada pastries, and alcohol.

This year, as Chile seeks to maintain an upper hand over the virus, the authorities have cancelled the fairs.

But Chileans can apply for a special “party at home” permit from police that allows a household to host an additional five people for up to six hours. The permit will only be granted to people in communities out of full lockdown.

The health minister Enrique Paris said Chileans had earned some enjoyment after months of lockdown but urged them not to throw away the gains against the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Chile recorded the lowest number of deaths in 90 days. Overall, it has had over 12,000 Covid-19 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Let’s be careful and responsible, let’s comply with the rules, let’s beat the virus. Just as our forefathers won freedom for Chile and gave us that freedom with effort and sacrifice, hopefully our citizens today will also take up that baton.

Paula Daza, the health ministry undersecretary, stressed people should continue to wear masks and avoid sharing utensils during the festivities.

It had been a mistake for the government not to discuss how to handle the holiday more broadly with its scientific advisory group, said Izkia Siches, the president of Chile’s College of Medics. The result might have been more “cautious,” she said.

This is from Jessica Elgot, the Guardian’s deputy political editor.

And here is Kevan Jones, the Labour MP for North Durham, telling Sky News that “testing in the North East is a complete shambles”.

I have constituents being sent hundreds of miles for tests. We have local test centres which have got capacity that aren’t being used because they’re being told they can’t handle the number of results.

And Nadine Dorries [UK health minister] this afternoon gave us no confidence that the government is going to put a proper test-and-trace system in. That needs to be given to local authorities and directors of public health, which should have been done from the start instead of trying to micromanage the system nationally with private companies - which is just not working.

And here is our story from my colleagues Josh Halliday and Jessica Elgot.

Here is the UK communities secretary Robert Jenrick confirming reports that further restrictions will be imposed on parts of the north-east of England.

He said the measures will come into play “from midnight on Thursday evening” and a full announcement will be made tomorrow.

Updated

Tighter restrictions expected for parts of north-east England from Friday

The North East appears set to become the latest area in England to come under greater restrictions amid growing concern over rising Covid-19 infections.

Writing on Twitter, the leader of Newcastle city council Nick Forbes said “additional, temporary” measures are being planned to avoid another full lockdown in the region.

Reports suggest 22 MPs were briefed by the UK health minister Nadine Dorries earlier on Wednesday. Forbes said he expected the UK health and social care secretary Matt Hancock to make an announcement on Thursday morning.

Chronicle Live reported that measures are expected to include a 10pm curfew on pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises, and that people will be banned from socialising with anyone outside their own household, whether indoors or outdoors.

It also reported care home visits will be restricted to essential visitors, and people will be advised to avoid public transport at peak times except for essential journeys, and to avoid car-shares.

Chronicle Live understands the plan is for measures to come into force just after midnight on Friday.

The restrictions will reportedly apply to Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland - which have all seen rises in cases, according to the latest weekly figures.

The most recent numbers show Newcastle has recorded a sharp increase in its weekly rate, up from 51.2 to 64.1, with 194 new cases in the seven days to 13 September.

It comes after local measures in the likes of Greater Manchester and Birmingham have been put in place in an effort to stem rising infection rates.

Updated

The United States could have a capacity of 3m tests per day this month, and scale as high as 135m a month by October, a top health official has told a US Congress panel.

Half of the three million tests would be rapid point-of-care tests, said Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Updated

Soldiers wear masks during the Independence Day military parade at Zocalo Square in Mexico. This year El Zocalo remains closed for general public due to coronavirus restrictions.
Soldiers wear masks during the Independence Day military parade at Zocalo Square in Mexico. This year El Zocalo remains closed for general public due to coronavirus restrictions. Photograph: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

'Look no further than Europe' - WHO warns Latin American opening up too early

Latin America has started to resume normal social and public life at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic still requires major control interventions, World Health Organization regional director Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday.

Coronavirus cases in Colombia’s border area with Venezuela have increased ten-fold in the last two weeks, Etienne said in a virtual briefing from Washington with other Pan American Health Organization directors.

Death rates are climbing in parts of Mexico, and similar trends are seen in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Bolivia, with similar patterns also emerging in areas of Argentina, she warned.

Although the entire world is racing to develop new tools to prevent and cure Covid-19, a safe and effective vaccine that can be manufactured and delivered at scale is not around the corner.

We must be clear that opening up too early gives this virus more room to spread and puts our populations at greater risk. Look no further than Europe.

Etienne said governments must monitor travel very carefully because reopening to tourism can lead to setbacks. That has happened in the Caribbean, where several countries that had virtually no cases have experienced spikes as tourism resumed.

According to a Reuters tally, Latin America has recorded around 8.4 million coronavirus cases, and over 314,000 deaths, both figures being the highest of any region.

Updated

Good evening from London! I’m Lucy Campbell, I’ll be bringing you all the latest global developments on the Covid-19 pandemic for the next few hours. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tip to share.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @lucy_campbell_

Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • The average age of people infected with Covid-19 is coming down, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) expert. Dr Maria Van Kerkhove told a Q&A that incidences of hospitalisation among those aged 15 to 49 years are increasing.
  • France reported it third-highest number of daily additional infections on record. Health authorities reported new 9,784 confirmed cases and 46 more deaths.
  • Hungary expects a second wave of the pandemic to peak in December or January, its prime minister Viktor Orbán said. The country will maintain border closures and make the wearing of face masks mandatory in cinemas, theatres and social institutions.
  • For the second successive day, the Netherlands recorded its worst increase in the number of new infections. The country saw 1,542 more on Wednesday after an increase of 1,379 on the previous day.
  • The Madrid region is to introduce targeted lockdowns and other restrictions on movement. The measures will come into effect in one of the worst-hit areas of Spain on Friday.
  • The US government plans to begin distributing a vaccine within one day of any regulatory authorisation. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide how initial, limited vaccine doses will be allocated and distributed.
  • India’s coronavirus cases have passed 5 million, testing the country’s feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages.The Health Ministry reported 90,123 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the nation’s confirmed total to 5,020,359, about 0.35% of its nearly 1.4 billion population. It said 1,290 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 82,066. India’s total coronavirus caseload is closing in on the US’s highest tally of more than 6.6 million cases and expected to surpass it within weeks.
  • In the US, at least seven people have died in connection to an outbreak in Maine following a wedding reception held over the summer that violated state virus guidelines, public health authorities said.
  • US president Donald Trump said Covid-19 would go away without a vaccine. This would happen because of “herd mentality”, he said in an ABC town hall. It is unclear whether he meant herd immunity, as he repeated the phrase several times. “It would go away without the vaccine, George,” he said speaking to ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos. “With time it goes away. And you’ll develop like a herd mentality. It’s going to be herd developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.”
  • New Zealand reported a second consecutive day of no new community cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday.
  • Half the world’s schoolchildren are still unable to attend classrooms due to the pandemic. Around 872 million – more than half of whom have not been able to study remotely – are not allowed to attend school in person, Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore said.
  • Dáil reconvenes after Irish minister tests negative for Covid-19. Ireland’s minister for health, Stephen Donnelly, has told RTE that his Covid-19 test has come back negative.Earlier today, Irish cabinet ministers were told to restrict their movements as a precaution after Donnelly contacted his GP to request a test after feeling unwell.However, ministers no longer need to do this following the negative test result and were back in the chamber by 8pm.
  • Nearly a fifth of South Africans may have contracted coronavirus, the country’s health minister has said. South Africa has recorded 650,749 cases, but the actual number of infections could be “about 12 million”, Zweli Mkhize said.

The head of Ireland’s Covid-19 modeling group on Wednesday said he was more concerned about the rise in cases of the disease in the country than at any time since its first peak in April and warned of “exponential growth.”

Prof Philip Nolan, the chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modeling Advisory Group, told journalists:

Case numbers appear to be growing exponentially and are likely to double every 10 to 14 days if every one of us does not immediately act to break chains of transmission of the virus.

Ireland’s health service has reported 254 new cases and three new Covid-related deaths, bringing the total death toll since the start of the pandemic to 1,788.

France sees third-worst daily caseload increase

French health authorities reported new 9,784 confirmed cases on Wednesday, the third-highest number of daily additional infections on record since the disease started to spread in the country at the end of the winter.

The number of people in France who have died from Covid-19 infections was up by 46, at 31,045 and the cumulative number of cases now totals 404,888.

Updated

The US supreme court will remain closed to the public and will conduct its October oral arguments by teleconference as it extended its coronavirus-related restrictions into its new term, its spokeswoman Kathy Arberg has said.

The court’s announcement means that members of the public cannot tour the building and lawyers will present their oral arguments by phone instead of in the courtroom itself. The court for the first time heard arguments by teleconference in May as a precaution against the spread of the pathogen. Arberg said:

The court will continue to closely monitor public health guidance in determining plans for the November and December argument sessions.

The US has confirmed 34,240 new cases and suffered 961 more deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That takes the total numbers to 6,571,867 and 195,053, respectively.

The reopening of beaches and bars as Rio de Janeiro heads into the heady summer season risks a second spike, experts have warned, even as Brazil’s second-largest city dismantles much of its emergency healthcare capacity.

Pictures of dense parasols rolling carpet-like over Rio’s famed beaches and rowdy street-side drinking have gone viral in recent weeks, alarming epidemiologists, who fear the reopening may have come too soon, Reuters reports.

Part of the problem, they say, is that Rio’s decision to ease restrictions was based partly on incorrect data showing a fall in deaths, which later turned out to only be a bureaucratic delay in their notification. Deaths were in fact still stable, at a high plateau. Americo Cunha, a professor of mathematics and statistics at Rio de Janeiro State University who has been tracking the outbreak, said:

There’s no guarantee the situation has permanently stabilised. There are still a lot of people susceptible to the virus in the city. If there aren’t adequate containment measures, you could see a so-called second wave.

Updated

Hospitalisations of 15-49-year-olds infected with Covid-19 increasing, says WHO

The average age of people infected with Covid-19 is coming down, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) expert, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove. She has told a Q&A that incidences of hospitalisation among those aged 15 to 49 years are increasing.

She also said it was possible for the same person to be infected with influenza and Covid-19, adding that the WHO was looking into the prevalence of that.

Appearing alongside her, Dr Mike Ryan said the flu season in the southern hemisphere had been relatively light, though he stressed it could easily worsen. “It may offer some hope in the north”, but there is no guarantee, he said.

Ryan said we were seeing a “stabilisation” in South America, though numbers were still high, and a “stable pattern” in Africa. The virus is still taking a heavy toll and we do not yet know its full effects, he said.

Updated

Earlier, we posted that the Czech Republic had reported its highest daily count since the beginning of the pandemic. The country’s health minister, Adam Vojtěch, has told its parliament the government plans to ban stand-up indoor events as of Friday to help stabilise the situation.

Inevitably the numbers in the coming days will be very similar to the current increases.

The government put the current reproduction rate of the virus at 1.59, meaning that every infected person passes on the virus to more than one other. Vojtěch said:

We have to calculate with that, although we are hoping for a certain decline or at least stabilisation from the measures adopted.

The Czechs were quick to order universal face-mask wearing and shut down borders and retail businesses in March, bringing the epidemic under control. But they were also quick to lift restrictions and are reluctant to bring them back. Masks were made compulsory again indoors last week, and bars in the capital Prague were required to close at midnight.

Public health officials have reported they are stretched in tracking contacts of infected people. The government has said it was raising testing capacities and that hospitals were prepared to cater to multiples of the 333 people hospitalised as of Tuesday. The health ministry said on Tuesday there were 1,086 empty intensive care beds and 7,870 beds with oxygen supply.

Updated

Hungary expects second peak in December or January – Orbán

Hungary will maintain border closures and make the wearing of face masks mandatory in cinemas, theatres and social institutions, its prime minister has said.

Viktor Orbán predicted that a second wave of the pandemic will peak some time around December or January, adding that his government has imposed a cap on the price of Covid tests at 19,500 forints (£48.56, $64.36, €53.43) each.

New high in Netherlands' infections

The number of new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands increased by 1,542 on Wednesday, a daily high for the second successive day, data from health authorities showed.

The jump followed an increase of 1,379 recorded on the previous day and took the total number of confirmed infections in the Netherlands to 86,320.

Updated

Everyone in the New York City mayor’s office, including the mayor himself, will be furloughed for one week beginning 1 October to close a budget shortfall created by the pandemic, mayor Bill de Blasio announced today.

The coronavirus outbreak had caused the city to lose $9bn (£6.8bn) in revenue and forced a $7bn cut to the city’s annual budget, De Blasio told reporters.

Updated

US to distribute vaccine as soon as one's ready

The US government plans to begin distributing a vaccine within one day of any regulatory authorisation, an official from the Department of Health and Human Services has said.

Government officials also said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide how initial, limited vaccine doses will be allocated and distributed.

Staff at about 20 health testing clinics in southern France have gone on strike, saying the outbreak has left them overworked and at risk without being properly compensated.

Some of the clinics, operated by the firm Biofusion, had to close their doors, union representatives said, though the main testing centre was still open.

The strike action demonstrates the stress the testing system is under: At many sites, people are queuing round the block to get tests, some test results are delayed because laboratories are overwhelmed, and the French government is demanding more and faster testing.

A representative of Biofusion did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Stéphanie Antoine, one of the striking workers, said testing was performed by short-term hires who were not striking but that the epidemic had a knock-on effect on other staff. She said secretaries at the clinics were having to deal with a vast number of calls from anxious patients trying to find out if they have tested positive.

Her clinic carried out between 800 to 1,000 tests a day, she said, and two shifts of security guards had been set up in front of her clinic to handle the press of patients trying to get in for a test.

She said some staff were worried about their safety dealing with frustrated patients who might become violent. “Psychologically, you need to hold out,” she said.

Some staff had been paid a €250 (£224.78, $291.95) bonus, said Antoine, but they were seeking a €1,000 bonus for all staff and better pay for long-serving employees.

In the US, consumer spending in August appeared to slow as extended unemployment benefits were cut, offering more evidence that the economic recovery is faltering.

Core retail sales, which correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product, fell 0.1% last month after a downwardly revised 0.9% increase in July, the US Commerce Department has said.

This category, which excludes automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, was previously reported to have advanced 1.4% in July. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast core retail sales rising 0.5% in August.

Overall retail sales increased 0.6% in August, in part as higher fuel prices supported receipts at service stations.

Trinity College Cambridge has been accused of taking punitive measures after telling students they could be abruptly removed from their accommodation in the event of a coronavirus outbreak, Anna Menin and Richard Adams write.

Trinity College, which has reported assets of £1.5bn, has told students living in the college’s halls of residence to sign a new contract that warns they will be “required to move, without help from college, to alternative college accommodation, or out of college, at very short notice”. The agreement states:

If college accommodation is withdrawn from you, you must return home or find alternative accommodation elsewhere, at your own cost. The college will provide temporary alternative safe accommodation at another location only if there is a truly exceptional reason as to why you cannot obtain alternative accommodation.

Updated

Summary

Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • The Madrid region is to introduce targeted lockdowns and other restrictions on movement. The measures will come into effect in one of the worst-hit areas of Spain on Friday.
  • India’s coronavirus cases have passed 5 million, testing the country’s feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages.The Health Ministry reported 90,123 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the nation’s confirmed total to 5,020,359, about 0.35% of its nearly 1.4 billion population. It said 1,290 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 82,066. India’s total coronavirus caseload is closing in on the US’s highest tally of more than 6.6 million cases and expected to surpass it within weeks.
  • In the US, at least seven people have died in connection to an outbreak in Maine following a wedding reception held over the summer that violated state virus guidelines, public health authorities said.
  • US president Donald Trump said Covid-19 would go away without a vaccine. This would happen because of “herd mentality”, he said in an ABC town hall. It is unclear whether he meant herd immunity, as he repeated the phrase several times. “It would go away without the vaccine, George,” he said speaking to ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos. “With time it goes away. And you’ll develop like a herd mentality. It’s going to be herd developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.”
  • New Zealand reported a second consecutive day of no new community cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday.
  • Half the world’s schoolchildren are still unable to attend classrooms due to the pandemic. Around 872 million – more than half of whom have not been able to study remotely – are not allowed to attend school in person, Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore said.
  • Dáil reconvenes after Irish minister tests negative for Covid-19. Ireland’s minister for health, Stephen Donnelly, has told RTE that his Covid-19 test has come back negative.Earlier today, Irish cabinet ministers were told to restrict their movements as a precaution after Donnelly contacted his GP to request a test after feeling unwell.However, ministers no longer need to do this following the negative test result and were back in the chamber by 8pm.
  • Nearly a fifth of South Africans may have contracted coronavirus, the country’s health minister has said. South Africa has recorded 650,749 cases, but the actual number of infections could be “about 12 million”, Zweli Mkhize said.
  • The Netherlands has hit a daily record of new coronavirus cases. A total of 1,379 new infections – the majority reported in Amsterdam and The Hague – were recorded in the country on Tuesday.

Updated

The Financial Times is reporting that the proportion of people in England being told they have tested positive within a day has collapsed from 63% at the beginning of the month to just 8% this week. The paper reports:

The collapse in testing speeds, first reported by statistician Chris Drake, meant that on Tuesday, half of those receiving a positive result had taken the test at least three days earlier, and for a quarter of the cases the news took four days or more to come.

Government ministers in Westminster have come under increasing pressure over Britain’s testing crisis, with the health secretary Matt Hancock admitting it could take weeks to resolve.

The number of new infections in Romania has risen by 1,713 in the past day, the worst on record. It takes the cumulative total to 107,011 cases, the government said. Since the outbreak, 4,285 people have died and about 50,000 recovered.

The president Klaus Iohannis ordered a strict lockdown across the country of 20 million in March and while restrictions have been eased, masks have been compulsory in public transport and indoor public spaces since 15 May.

About a third of cases have been concentrated in four areas – the capital Bucharest, Transylvania’s medieval city of Brasov and in the counties of Arges and Prahova.

The spikes have been among Europe’s fastest, together with Spain, France, Malta, Croatia and the Czech Republic, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The Romanian government reopened schools for 2.8 million children on Monday after a six-month closure, ordering pupils to wear face masks. It scheduled a ballot to elect about 3,000 mayors across the country, under strict health and safety rules, on 27 September.

Updated

Some US college students are doing the once-improbable, Reuter reports: blowing the whistle on classmates who break rules aimed at stemming the spread of the virus.

At the University of Missouri, one senior is posting photos and videos on a “University of Misery” Twitter account that shows students gathered in large groups at pools, outside bars and other places – few of them wearing masks.

The university has a form on its website where violations of the school’s guidelines can be anonymously reported, but posting on Twitter “adds a different level of accountability”, said the student. “When it’s up there publicly and people are retweeting it, and the university’s getting tagged over and over – then they have to reply,” said the student, who sometimes posts videos and photos of non-compliance sent by other students and asked Reuters for anonymity to avoid a backlash.

Christian Basi, spokesman for the University of Missouri, which has about 30,000 students, said there has been good compliance on campus during daytime hours but problems arise once students leave campus.

Where we’re seeing our issues have been off campus, when individuals go home to their private residences.

The university said it has expelled two students and suspended three following “flagrant violations” of its rules.

Updated

The EU needs greater powers to deal with health crises in the wake of the pandemic, the president of the European commission has said.

Ursula von der Leyen, who has led the EU executive throughout the crisis, said the virus has “laid bare the strains on our health systems and the limits of a model that values wealth above wellbeing”.

We need to strengthen our crisis preparedness and management of cross-border health threats.

Any attempt to strengthen European powers over health could trigger conflict with the EU’s 27 member states, who zealously guard national competences to run healthcare services and safeguard public health.

In a speech to MEPs, Von der Leyen said the crisis showed the need for more coordinated action. Calling for the issue to be on the agenda of an upcoming EU citizens dialogue, she said:

It is clearer than ever that we must discuss the question of health competences.

Von der Leyen, a former German government minister and a trained medical doctor, said the EU would build an agency for biomedical advanced research and development; acting as an equivalent to the US agency funding vaccine research: BARDA.

She also said existing EU agencies – such as the European Medicines Agency, which is responsible for authorising medicines on the EU market, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which works to combat infectious diseases – need additional powers, without spelling out details.

Europe was the first continent to experience the full force of the pandemic after the virus left China; an experience that strained relations between member states as countries closed borders and imposed export bans on medical equipment.

Having criticised EU governments in the past for failing to show solidarity, Von der Leyen has now struck a more optimistic note, saying member states have overcome their differences; including by agreeing a €750bn (£688bn, $891bn) recovery plan.

Europe has done more together than ever before.

European action to protect jobs remained important, she said, “in the middle of a pandemic that shows no signs of running out of steam or intensity”.

Updated

Madrid to introduce targeted lockdowns in areas with high cases

The Madrid region, one of the worst hit in Spain, is to introduce targeted lockdowns and other restrictions on movement on Friday in areas with high numbers of cases, local authorities have said.

Madrid accounts for about one-third of the country’s active caseload, with a higher incidence in high-density and low-income neighbourhoods, mainly in the south of the city. Antonio Zapatero, the head of Covid-19 response in Madrid, told reporters:

We are taking measures but it is not enough … Nothing will work if we are not responsible. There has been a relaxation of behaviour that we cannot afford.

He said people were organising parties, drinking in the street and not respecting quarantine rules. Zapatero did not give details of the measures to be announced on Friday, but said the health department was considering locking down areas with the highest incidence of the virus.

Since restrictions on movement were lifted and mass testing began in late June, infections have risen in Spain from a few hundred a day to thousands, outstripping other hard-hit nations such as the UK, Italy or France.

Spain’s cumulative number of cases, at 603,167, is the highest in western Europe, while the number of deaths exceeded 30,000. Authorities in Madrid hope to start using quick tests from next week, which would help track cases faster.

Updated

Hello, I’m taking over from Amy Walker for the next few hours. If you’d like to draw my attention to anything, your best bet is usually Twitter, where I’m KevinJRawlinson.

Passengers flying between Rome and Milan will from Wednesday have to present negative results for coronavirus as part of an experiment by the Lazio region that could be rolled out on international flights.

Travellers leaving either city will have to take a rapid test for coronavirus at the airport before boarding “Covid-free” flights or within 72 before departure.

Nicola Zingaretti, the president of Lazio, described the initiative as a “European novelty”.

“The Lazio model is [for those] with a [flight] ticket to have a quick swab test to ensure the flights are absolutely safe and do not carry people who are positive,” he wrote on Facebook. “It will be a great help to the economy and a model for tourism that we want to replicate on international routes.”

Updated

Authorities in Myanmar are racing to build a field hospital to cope with a surge of coronavirus infections that doctors fear could overwhelm the country’s fragile health system.

The south-east Asian nation reported 307 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, its highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic in March, and another 134 on Wednesday morning, taking the total to 3,636 cases and 39 deaths.

Workers construct a field hospital on a football pitch in Yangon, Myanmar, on Tuesday.
Workers construct a field hospital on a football pitch in Yangon, Myanmar, on Tuesday. Photograph: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

Myanmar had gone weeks without a case of local transmission before an outbreak in mid-August in the western region of Rakhine that has spread across the country.

Three hospitals in Yangon, the site of most of the cases and now under a second lockdown, have been repurposed to treat Covid-19 patients and the government is building a field hospital with 500 beds on a football pitch.

Health workers register residents at a mobile health clinic on a bus in Yangon as part of Myanmar’s contact tracing campaign.
Health workers register residents at a mobile health clinic on a bus in Yangon as part of Myanmar’s contact tracing campaign. Photograph: Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images

“We have no more space to accommodate a huge outbreak,” Kaung Kyat Soe, the chief of the new temporary field hospital, told Reuters on Tuesday.

“The situation will get worse if we can’t accept patients, that’s why we are building the shelters urgently.”

Decades of neglect by Myanmar’s formerly ruling military junta led the health system to be ranked the worst in the world by the World Health Organisation in 2000, the last time it published ratings.

The health budget was around 0.3% of GDP prior to the start of democratic reforms in 2011.

As of March, the World Bank said Myanmar had just 383 ICU beds for a population of 51 million and 249 ventilators, compared with 6,000 beds and more than 10,000 ventilators in neighbouring Thailand, a country of 69 million. Since then, more ventilators have since been donated to Myanmar.

Updated

Russia’s sovereign wealth fund has agreed a deal to sell 100m doses of its Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik-V, to a major listed pharmaceutical company in India, a source close to the deal has told Reuters.

A medical worker inoculates a volunteer with “Sputnik V” during the Covid-19 vaccine phase-3 clinical trials in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday.
A medical worker inoculates a volunteer with Sputnik V during the Covid-19 vaccine phase-3 clinical trials in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Clinical trials of the Russian vaccine in India are expected to follow and to be held jointly with this firm, the source said.

Both the trials and supply deal depend on domestic regulatory approval.

Updated

A number of countries have published daily Covid-19 total cases and deaths over the past few hours.

  • Indonesia reported its biggest daily rise in infections, with 3,963 new cases and a further 135 virus-related deaths on Wednesday.
  • The Philippines recorded an additional 3,550 infections and 69 more deaths.
  • Russia reported 5,670 new infections and 132 new deaths.

Updated

More on the UK’s Covid-19 testing crisis. The justice secretary, Robert Buckland, has insisted that while the government faces “real challenges”, it will do “whatever it takes” to get the system working properly.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to make sure we have that capacity,” he told the BBC. “We know where the pressure points are, we are piloting new walk-in test centres.”

Workers in NHS test and trace jackets at a Covid-19 testing centre in Bolton, north-west England
Workers in NHS test and trace jackets at a Covid-19 testing centre in Bolton, north-west England, on Tuesday. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

His comments came as Britons turned up at hospital A&E departments on Tuesday to try to get a coronavirus test due a lack of available bookings online.

“Laboratory capacity has been an issue. We’re working our way through that, we’re increasing the number of test centres – we’ve got 400 test centres, getting it up to 500 – but clearly there are still real challenges,” Buckland said during another interview with Sky News on Wednesday.

He also suggested schoolchildren and their parents would be the next priority for testing after health and social care workers.

Updated

As India’s coronavirus caseload surpasses 5 million, some hospitals in the country are dealing with unreliable supplies of oxygen needed to treat tens of thousands of critical patients.

In the worst-affected states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, demand has more than tripled, prompting urgent calls for help.

“Desperate patients have been calling me through the night but I don’t know when I will get stock,” Rishikhesh Patil, an oxygen supplier in the western city of Nashik, told Reuters.

India has the world’s fastest growing coronavirus epidemic and added its last million infections in just 12 days. It is only the second country in the world to have more than 5 million cases, after the US.

A worker refills an oxygen cylinder at a hospital in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, on Tuesday.
A worker refills an oxygen cylinder at a hospital in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, on Tuesday. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

At least 6% of India’s nearly 1 million active cases need oxygen support, health ministry official Rajesh Bhushan told reporters. Supplies were adequate but state governments should monitor usage and flag shortages, he said.

“The problem happens at a facility level if there is no inventory management. Every state should ensure this,” Bhushan said.

In the capital of India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, the total requirement of oxygen cylinders stood at 5,000 cylinders compared with 1,000 cylinders in normal times, a government official said. Meanwhile, an official in Maharashtra said the state had decided to reduce supply to neighbouring states to meet its growing demand.

Ravindra Khade Patil, a doctor who manages two private hospitals on the outskirts of Mumbai, said that two days ago his oxygen supplier did not turn up at the usual time.

Patil made frantic calls to the supplier and then to nearby hospitals and lawmakers, knowing that if the oxygen didn’t arrive soon, it would be too late for some of his most critical patients.

Finally, past midnight, thanks to pressure from a government official, the oxygen tanks arrived.

“If they had arrived even a couple of hours late, we could have lost five or six patients,” Patil told Reuters.

Updated

If you’re scratching your head having woken up to the news that Donald Trump has claimed Covid-19 will “go away” without a vaccine, here’s a recap.

During an interview on ABC News on Tuesday, the US president said this would happen because of “herd mentality”. It remains unclear if he meant herd immunity, having repeated the phrase several times.

“It would go away without the vaccine, George,” he told journalist George Stephanopoulos. “With time it goes away and you’ll develop like a herd mentality. It’s gonna be herd developed, that’s gonna happen.”

He also moved to blame his Democratic election opponent, former vice-president Joe Biden, for not instituting a national mask mandate during the pandemic.

Updated

The UK’s Boris Johnson is set to face a grilling over the “failure” of the country’s test and trace system from MPs at prime minister’s questions (PMQs) on Wednesday.

As the system struggles to cope with soaring demand, people in the worst-hit areas of the UK have been turning up at accident and emergency departments at hospitals to ask for a Covid-19 test.

Boris Johnson at the House of Commons in Westminster on Monday.
Boris Johnson at the House of Commons in Westminster on Monday. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA

On Tuesday, health secretary Matt Hancock admitted it might be “a matter of weeks” before the crisis is resolved.

Johnson is set to face the opposition’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, during PMQs while the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, remains in isolation as he waits for a Covid test result for a member of his family.

He will then be questioned by select committee chairs who make up the liaison committee.

With his government facing challenges on multiple fronts, Johnson will be asked about its response to the pandemic, as well as Brexit negotiations and the integrated review of foreign policy, defence, security and international development.

Updated

The Czech Republic reported 1,677 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday – its highest daily count since the beginning of the pandemic.

As of Tuesday evening, health ministry data showed the overall number of cases in the country – which has a population of 10.7 million – stood at 38,896.

In Ukraine, a record 76 coronavirus-related deaths were registered in the past 24 hours, the national security council said on Wednesday.

The country’s previous record – 72 – was registered last week. The council said 162,660 cases were recorded in the country as of 16 September, with 3,340 deaths and 72,324 people recovered.

Updated

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for today. Thanks for following along.

Here is our global report:

Summary

Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • India’s coronavirus cases have passed 5 million, testing the country’s feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages.The Health Ministry reported 90,123 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the nation’s confirmed total to 5,020,359, about 0.35% of its nearly 1.4 billion population. It said 1,290 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 82,066. India’s total coronavirus caseload is closing in on the United States’ highest tally of more than 6.6 million cases and expected to surpass it within weeks.
  • In the US, at least seven people have died in connection to an outbreak in Maine following a wedding reception held over the summer that violated state virus guidelines, public health authorities said.
  • US president Donald Trump said Covid-19 would go away without a vaccine. This would happen because of “herd mentality”, he said in an ABC town hall. It is unclear whether he meant herd immunity, as he repeated the phrase several times. “It would go away without the vaccine, George,” he said speaking to ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos. “With time it goes away. And you’ll develop like a herd mentality. It’s going to be herd developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.”
  • New Zealand reported a second consecutive day of no new community cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday.
  • Half the world’s schoolchildren are still unable to attend classrooms due to the pandemic. Around 872 million – more than half of whom have not been able to study remotely – are not allowed to attend school in person, Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore said.
  • Dáil reconvenes after Irish minister tests negative for Covid-19. Ireland’s minister for health Stephen Donnelly has told RTE that his Covid-19 test has come back negative.Earlier today, Irish cabinet ministers were told to restrict their movements as a precaution after Donnelly contacted his GP to request a test after feeling unwell.However, ministers no longer need to do this following the negative test result and were back in the chamber by 8pm.
  • Nearly a fifth of South Africans may have contracted coronavirus, the country’s health minister has said. South Africa has recorded 650,749 cases, but the actual number of infections could be “about 12 million”, Zweli Mkhize said.
  • Sweden has recorded its fewest daily Covid-19 cases since March. The country’s rolling seven-day average of new cases stood at 108 on Tuesday, its lowest level since 13 March.
  • The Netherlands has hit a daily record of new coronavirus cases. A total of 1,379 new infections – the majority reported in Amsterdam and The Hague – were recorded in the country on Tuesday.

Updated

The government of the state of Victoria in Australia is facing three class-action lawsuits over the lockdowns imposed during Melbourne’s second wave of coronavirus, with potentially thousands of plaintiffs seeking damages.

Victoria reported 42 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday and eight people died of Covid in the preceding 24 hours.

This week a Melbourne legal firm, Carbone Lawyers, filed a claim on behalf of workers who had lost income or suffered psychological damage due to strict social distancing laws. The managing partner, Tony Carbone, told Guardian Australia more than 100 plaintiffs had signed on prior to Wednesday:

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,901 to 263,663, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday.

The reported death toll rose by six to 9,368, the tally showed.

Mexico reported 4,771 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 629 additional fatalities on Tuesday, bringing its totals to 676,487 infections and 71,678 deaths, according to updated Health Ministry data.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely to be significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

A woman in a traditional Mexican attire and wearing a protective face mask poses for a photo the day before the commemoration of the 210th anniversary of the Mexican Independence in Mexico City, on 15 September 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A woman in a traditional Mexican attire and wearing a protective face mask poses for a photo the day before the commemoration of the 210th anniversary of the Mexican Independence in Mexico City, on 15 September 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Claudio Cruz/AFP/Getty Images

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said a vaccine against the deadly coronavirus could be three or four weeks away, underscoring predictions made by US public health officials and Pfizer Inc earlier this month, Reuters reports.

Trump, speaking at a town hall hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia, defended his handling of the coronavirus crisis, and said a vaccine could be ready for distribution soon.

“We’re very close to having a vaccine,” he said. “If you want to know the truth, the previous administration would have taken perhaps years to have a vaccine because of the FDA and all the approvals. And we’re within weeks of getting it you know could be three weeks, four weeks.”

India passes 5 million coronavirus cases

India’s coronavirus cases have passed 5 million, testing the country’s feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages.

The Health Ministry reported 90,123 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the nation’s confirmed total to 5,020,359, about 0.35% of its nearly 1.4 billion population.

It said 1,290 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 82,066.

India’s total coronavirus caseload is closing in on the United States’ highest tally of more than 6.6 million cases and expected to surpass it within weeks.

A healthcare worker puts a pulse oximeter on a woman’s finger to check her oxygen level during a coronavirus survey on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, on 15 September 2020.
A healthcare worker puts a pulse oximeter on a woman’s finger to check her oxygen level during a coronavirus survey on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, on 15 September 2020. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

Restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus in the UK has driven stress, anxiety and depression far above normal levels and may do again in coming months if widespread lockdowns are re-imposed, researchers say.

A major study into the mental health impact of the pandemic found that in the early stages of lockdown 57% of those who took part reported symptoms of anxiety, with 64% recording common signs of depression.

While the mental health problems improved as restrictions eased, scientists warn they may worsen again as infections rise and more aggressive nationwide lockdowns are considered over the autumn and winter:

Mainland China reported 12 new Covid-19 cases on Sept 15, up from 8 a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Wednesday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that all of the new cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic infections rose to 16 from nine a day earlier, but China does not count them as confirmed cases.

Total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the mainland now stands at 85,214, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

Australian deputy prime minister Michael McCormack has shifted responsibility for repatriating more than 26,000 stranded Australians back on to the states, demanding that leaders jointly increase their arrival caps by 2,000 a week.

McCormack, whose infrastructure and transport portfolio gives him responsibility for the arrival caps, has written to the states asking them to increase the cap of 4,000 arrivals a week to 6,000:

Moving on from Trump now: more than a thousand student teachers in New Zealand will graduate this year without having completed their classroom practice requirements amid the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand said Covid-19 had forced it to think creatively, because many student teachers had been unable to complete the required number of practical hours due to seven weeks of lockdown; and more in Auckland.

Council chief executive Lesley Hoskin said the impact of the lockdown was “unfair” on student teachers, but she was confident they would be ready for classrooms nonetheless:

Get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

Donald Trump falsely claimed he did not downplay the coronavirus pandemic at a town hall Tuesday night, saying, “Actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action.”

His remarks came in response to an uncommitted voter at the ABC News event, who asked Trump why he would “downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities”. The president said he did not minimize the threat of the virus: “My action was very strong. I’m not looking to be dishonest. I don’t want people to panic.”

Trump’s misleading response comes one week after the investigative journalist, Bob Woodward, revealed that the president explicitly admitted to downplaying the virus in interviews with him. Woodward has reported that, although Trump’s national security adviser gave him a “jarring” warning in January about the virus, calling it the “biggest national security threat” of his presidency, Trump continued to understate the risks in public statements:

Asked by a first-time voter “If you believe it’s the president’s responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities?”

Trump responded: “Well, I didn’t downplay it, I ‘up-played’ it in terms of action,” and yet again cited his bans on travel from Europe and China. At the time of the bans, public health experts said that once a disease has begun circulating within a community, banning outsiders is mostly futile.

The US has the highest number of infections and coronavirus-related deaths of any country on earth, with 6,595,476 cases and 195,735 people who have died.

Updated

In the town hall, Trump also criticised Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for not implementing a national mask mandate.

“He didn’t do it. He never did it,” he said. He added that “a lot of people did not want to wear masks.”

He gave the example of waiters who touched their face to adjust their masks and then touched plates.

Updated

Trump says Covid-19 will 'go away' because of 'herd mentality'

US President Donald Trump has given a town hall in which he said that Covid-19 would go away without a vaccine.

This would happen because of “herd mentality,” he said. It is unclear whether he meant herd immunity, as he repeated the phrase several times.

“It would go away without the vaccine George,” he said speaking to ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos. “With time it goes away. And you’ll develop like a herd mentality. It’s going to be herd developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.”

Updated

The government of Taiwan has given a third automatic extension to foreign tourists still inside its borders, “considering the current state of the global pandemic is still grim”.

Taiwan - where it is not grim thanks to their successful pandemic response - this week announced the third 30-day extension to visitors who arrived in Taiwan on or before 21 March this year, and who hadn’t overstayed their 180-day visa.

The National Immigration Agency said the extensions had been granted “ in order to prevent international movement of population leading to further outbreaks, as well as to reduce the burden of epidemic prevention on local neighbourhoods”.

Taiwan, which has a population of around 23.8 million, acted early on reports of the new coronavirus, and has recorded just 499 cases and seven deaths.

New Zealand sees second consecutive day with no new cases

Charlotte Graham-McLay reports for the Guardian:

New Zealand reported a second consecutive day of no new cases of Covid-19 spread in the community on Wednesday.

A single new case diagnosed in the country on Wednesday, health officials said, was uncovered in a traveler returning to New Zealand who is in quarantine at a managed isolation facility.

But another person has died of the virus in hospital, bringing New Zealand’s Covid-19 death toll to 25.

The news of a second day of no reported domestic cases comes two days after Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, announced current coronavirus restrictions on social gatherings would remain in place until next Monday – at which point, her government will begin to ease them if community spread of the virus appears to be controlled.

New Zealand already vanquished the virus once, in June – at one point there were no active cases of Covid-19 in the country – but a resurgence in the largest city, Auckland, led to a second lockdown, which is now being eased.

Health officials said Tuesday that there are 79 cases of Covid-19 in the country – a number that is slowly falling as more people recover than there are new cases diagnosed -- with 52 of them in the community and 27 imported cases in quarantine facilities. Three people are in hospital with the virus.

A total of 1,451 cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed in New Zealand.

A UN-led aviation task force aims to make a recommendation by late October on the use of Covid-19 testing to reduce long quarantine requirements that have decimated air travel, two sources said, following a meeting of the group on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

Airlines and airports have asked the task force to recommend countries accept a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test from passengers within 48 hours of traveling from countries with high Covid-19 infection rates as an alternative to 14-day quarantines.

The International Civil Aviation Organization-led CART task force plans to make a non-binding recommendation for countries on the use of testing at an October 29 meeting, although such efforts could be delayed, the sources said. It’s not yet clear what recommendation would be made over testing.

Apple Inc rolled out a new virtual fitness service and a bundle of all its subscriptions, Apple One, focusing a holiday-season product launch on services that are the backbone of Apple’s growth strategy and that cater to customers working at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, Reuters reports.

Apple also introduced a new Apple Watch Series 6 that monitors blood oxygen and will cost $399 and a more basic Apple Watch SE for $279.

But the bevy of incremental updates to existing hardware and subscription price tinkering disappointed investors, with Apple shares closing up 0.2%.

The Apple One bundle will cost $15 per month for an individual plan or $20 per month for a family plan and include television, music and games. Apple is also offering a bundle for $30 per month that adds news, the fitness service and more storage.

Apple’s top streaming music rival Spotify Technology criticised the bundle, saying Apple was abusing its dominant market position by favouring its own Apple Music service. Spotify, which is pursuing an antitrust case against Apple in the European Union and has spoken with U.S. authorities probing the iPhone maker, charges $10 a month for its streaming service that competes with Apple but will not be eligible for Apple’s bundle.

In the US, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Tuesday a $1.5 trillion coronavirus relief proposal from a bipartisan group of moderate lawmakers does not align with administration priorities but could provide a “real opening for further discussions.”

“It’s a very thoughtful proposal. It certainly doesn’t align with a view of the priorities that the president has,” Meadows told Reuters.

“But it’s certainly worth discussion and worth consideration and if that’s something that the speaker is willing to kind of quasi-embrace, I think it provides a real opening for further discussions,” he said.

China has suspended imports from an OK Foods poultry plant in Fort Smith, Arkansas, because of coronavirus cases among workers, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

China, the world’s top meat importer, has blocked products from some plants in foreign countries as part of an all-out effort to control the spread of Covid-19.
The OK Foods plant is the second U.S. poultry facility to be blocked because of an outbreak among employees, after Beijing suspended imports from a Tyson Foods Inc plant in June.

“We don’t think that either one of these two are justified, especially considering the fact that the virus cannot be transmitted in poultry meat,” said Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.

Chinese customs authority GACC suspended imports from the OK Foods facility, he said.

OK Foods, owned by Mexico’s Industrias Bachoco , did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Arkansas plant became ineligible to ship products to China on 13 September, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Since the start of the pandemic, 234 plant workers had tested positive for Covid-19 as of 31 August, the Arkansas Department of Health said. The facility no longer has more than five active cases, according to the department, which publishes outbreak data on its website.

Even though Scientific American had never endorsed a presidential candidate in the magazine’s 175-year history, its top editor said Tuesday there was little internal debate over a decision to back Democrat Joe Biden, AP reports.

Editor-in-Chief Laura Helmuth said President Donald Trump’s administration was much worse for the scientific community than the magazine had feared.

The magazine’s endorsement was posted online Tuesday, a day after Trump questioned the science of climate change in relation to the California wildfires.

Helmuth said the timing was coincidental and the editorial was written during the past two months.

Scientific American said that the evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has basically damaged the United States and its people because he rejects evidence and science.

Virus death toll linked to Maine wedding grows to 7

At least seven people have died in connection to a coronavirus outbreak that continues to sicken people in Maine following a wedding reception held over the summer that violated state virus guidelines, public health authorities said.

AP reports that the August wedding reception at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket is linked to more than 175 confirmed cases of the virus, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

Maine authorities have identified overlaps between the wedding reception and outbreaks elsewhere in the state. An employee of the York County Jail attended the wedding, Maine CDC officials have said. Maine health officials have also said a staff member from a Madison rehabilitation center, which is the site of six of the seven deaths, attended the event.

The virus cases stemming from the wedding have spanned hundreds of miles in a state that had largely controlled the spread of the coronavirus through the summer. Maine has reported less than 5,000 cases of the virus in total since March.

But the growing number of cases related to the wedding, which exceeded the state’s guidelines of 50 people or less at indoor gatherings, could undo some of that progress if it continues to swell. Authorities have said more than 65 people attended the wedding.

The six people from the Madison rehabilitation facility who died were all residents of that facility and none of them attended the wedding reception, said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine CDC.

Half the world’s schoolchildren still unable to attend classrooms

Around 872 million school children – or half of the world’s student population – are still unable to attend schools in person because of the pandemic.

Henrietta Fore, executive director of Unicef, said schools had closed their doors in 192 countries at the height of the pandemic, sending 1.6 billion students home.

“Millions of these children were fortunate enough to learn remotely online through radio, television broadcasts, or through the internet. However, Unicef data shows that for at least 463 million children whose schools closed during Covid-19, there was no such thing as remote learning,” Fore told a WHO briefing on the impact of Covid-19 on children.

She added:

The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is nothing short of a global education emergency.”

World still at the beginning of the pandemic, WHO expert warns

The world is still at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, a World Health Organization special envoy on Covid-19 has said.Dr David Nabarro described the situation as “grotesque” during a sitting of the UK’s foreign affairs committee.He told MPs:

It’s much worse than any of the science fiction about pandemics. This is really serious - we’re not even in the middle of it yet. We’re still at the beginning of it.

“And we’re beginning to see what damage it’s going to cause the world. And it’s getting nastier as we go into this particular phase in Europe of watching the thing come back again.”

He added: “None of us find the present situation anything other than horrible, grotesque, really embarrassing.

“It’s a terrible situation, a health issue has got so out of control it’s knocking the world into, not just a recession, but a huge economic contraction which would probably double the number of poor people, double the number of malnourished, lead to hundreds of millions of small businesses going bankrupt.”

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coronavirus coverage.

I’ll be bringing you the latest pandemic news for the next few hours. Get in touch on [email protected] or via email: [email protected]

The world is still at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, a World Health Organization special envoy on Covid-19 has said.

Dr David Nabarro described the situation as “grotesque” during a sitting of the UK’s foreign affairs committee.

He told MPs:

It’s much worse than any of the science fiction about pandemics. This is really serious - we’re not even in the middle of it yet. We’re still at the beginning of it.

“And we’re beginning to see what damage it’s going to cause the world. And it’s getting nastier as we go into this particular phase in Europe of watching the thing come back again.”

Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • Half the world’s schoolchildren are still unable to attend classrooms due to the pandemic. Around 872 million – more than half of whom have not been able to study remotely – are not allowed to attend school in person, Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore said.
  • Dáil reconvenes after Irish minister tests negative for Covid-19. Ireland’s minister for health Stephen Donnelly has told RTE that his Covid-19 test has come back negative.Earlier today, Irish cabinet ministers were told to restrict their movements as a precaution after Donnelly contacted his GP to request a test after feeling unwell.However, ministers no longer need to do this following the negative test result and were back in the chamber by 8pm.
  • Nearly a fifth of South Africans may have contracted coronavirus, the country’s health minister has said. South Africa has recorded 650,749 cases, but the actual number of infections could be “about 12 million”, Zweli Mkhize said.
  • Sweden has recorded its fewest daily Covid-19 cases since March. The country’s rolling seven-day average of new cases stood at 108 on Tuesday, its lowest level since 13 March.
  • The Netherlands has hit a daily record of new coronavirus cases. A total of 1,379 new infections – the majority reported in Amsterdam and The Hague – were recorded in the country on Tuesday.

Updated

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