Poland suffers worst day
Poland reported its worst daily death toll on Tuesday, as the country’s health ministry said 58 people had died. The official data showed sharp increases in the number of ventilators and hospital beds devoted to Covid-19 patients.
The country reported 2,236 new cases on Tuesday, close to Saturday’s 2,367 – the worst daily total yet. With a population of 38 million, Poland has reported 104,316 cases overall and 2,717 deaths.
The ministry said that, as of Tuesday, there were 263 ventilators and 3,719 hospital beds devoted to Covid-19 patients, compared with 141 and 2,399 respectively a week ago.
Italy is considering making the use of masks outdoors mandatory nationwide, its health minister, Roberto Speranza, has said. He told a parliamentary hearing:
We are working on a proposal to make the use of masks nationwide compulsory.
After a steady decrease in daily cases during the summer, Italy reported new infections rising in the past weeks although its figures are still lower than those registered in other big European countries.
Australia will spend A$4bn over the next year to pay businesses that hire those under the age of 35, the country’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has said, as part of an ambitious plan to boost jobs and growth.
Australia has been widely lauded for limiting the spread of Covid-19. But strict lockdown measures forced shut entire sectors of the economy, sending unemployment to a 22-year high of 7.5% in July.
The impact on younger Australians is even worse, with recent data showing the unemployment rate for people aged 15 to 24 was hovering near 20%.
As part of the government’s hiring credit scheme, Canberra will pay businesses A$200 a week for the next a year if they employ a person under 29.
Businesses will get A$100 per week if they employ a person aged between 30 and 35. Eligible employees will have to work for at least 20 hours a week.
Chinese vaccines to be assessed – WHO
China is in talks to have its locally produced vaccines assessed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a step towards making them available for international use, a WHO official has said.
Reuters reports that hundreds of thousands of essential workers and other groups considered at high risk in China have been given locally developed vaccines even as clinical trials had not been fully completed, raising safety concerns among experts.
Socorro Escalate, the WHO’s coordinator for essential medicines and health technologies in the Western Pacific region, told a news conference conducted online that China had held preliminary discussions with WHO to have its vaccines included in a list for emergency use.
The body’s emergency use listing procedure allows unlicensed vaccines and treatments to be assessed to expedite their availability in public health emergencies. This helps assist the member states and UN procurement agencies to determine the acceptability of the vaccines. Escalante said:
Potentially through this emergency use listing the quality and safety of these vaccines and efficacy could be assessed … and then this could be made available for our licensees.
Indonesia has reported 4,056 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to 311,176, data from the country’s Covid-19 task force show. The number of deaths rose by 121, the highest daily increase since 30 September, to take the tally of fatalities to 11,374.
The Philippines’ health ministry has confirmed 2,093 new infections and 25 more deaths, the lowest number of fatalities reported in 15 days. The ministry said total confirmed cases in the Philippines have increased to 326,833, the highest in south-east Asia, while the number of deaths have reached 5,865.
Workers were clearing undergrowth from wasteland on Tuesday to add 400 graves to the Indian capital’s oldest functioning cemetery beside the ruins of historic city walls, as the coronavirus death toll grows.
Reuters reports that, with more than 100,000 deaths nationwide, India’s tally of infections has passed 6.6m. But there is little sign of any sustained fall in daily numbers.
Since its first virus burial in April, the Islamic graveyard of Jadid Qabristan has had more than 700 funerals on a patch of adjoining wasteground designated for pandemic victims.
“We weren’t expecting that we will have to clear more land for the graves,” said the head gravedigger Mohammad Shameem, a 38-year-old in a pale green traditional tunic, who is the third generation of his family to work in cemeteries. “But bodies just keep arriving.”
A respite in infections has cut virus burials to about four a day, from 10 in the summer, but Shameem said the graveyard, founded in 1924, would soon be at capacity.
The way things are moving, I think we will clear the last remaining patch of land for graves in the coming months.
Hindus, who make up the majority of India’s population of about 1.4 billion, are typically cremated after death. But its estimated 200 million Muslims typically bury their dead.
Like the workers at a nearby crematorium for Hindus, Shameem said he often faced difficult conditions.
We are doing so much work for the last eight months, but there has been hardly any help from the government, in terms of personal protective equipment.
China and 25 other nations have called for the immediate lifting of sanctions by the US and other western countries to ensure an effective response to the pandemic, the Associated Press (AP) has reported.
Speaking on behalf of the 26 countries at a meeting of the UN general assembly’s human rights committee, China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun said unilateral coercive measures violate the UN charter, multilateralism, and impede human rights by hindering the well-being of the population in the affected countries and undermining the right to health.
Global solidarity and international cooperation are the most powerful weapons in overcoming the pandemic, the joint statement said.
We seize this opportunity to call for the complete and immediate lifting of unilateral coercive measures, in order to ensure the full, effective and efficient response of all members of the international community to Covid-19.
Among the countries that backed the statement were half a dozen that face sanctions by the US, European Union or other western nations, including Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Syria and Venezuela.
The statement notes that both the UN secretary general, António Guterres, and the body’s human rights chief Michelle Bachelet have called for the waiving of sanctions that undermine a country’s capacity to respond to the pandemic.
The AP said there was no immediate response to an email seeking comment from the US mission.
Germany’s UN ambassador, Christoph Heusgen, addressed the sanctions issue at a security council meeting on Syria in May saying EU sanctions do not affect the delivery of humanitarian aid or medical goods to limit the effects of Covid-19, citing specific EU guidance on ensuring aid gets to the Syrian people.
Russia’s daily tally of new cases rose on Monday to its worst since 11 May, as authorities reported 11,615 new infections nationwide; including 4,082 in Moscow.
Authorities said 188 people had died overnight, pushing the official death toll to 21,663. The total number of cases registered since the beginning of the outbreak stands at 1,237,504, they said.
More than half the people living in extreme poverty in the Paris region, in particular migrants, have been infected, the French aid group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has said.
According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency, the positivity rate stood at 55% in emergency shelters and food distribution centres where MSF carried out tests in late June and early July – compared with 12% among the wider Parisian population.
MSF said it was the first study in Europe to focus on a region’s poorest residents, including people who have moved to the country from abroad, who represented 90% of the more than 800 people tested.
“The results show an extremely high prevalence. The main reason is the conditions at shelters and being packed together, which leads to clusters [of infection],” Corinne Torre of MSF told AFP.
Authorities put hundreds of migrants in gyms and other temporary shelters to get them out of makeshift camps and off the streets during the two-month nationwide lockdown from mid-March to mid-May.
In two centres housing migrant workers the test positivity rate reached 89%, MSF said.
The French health agency said the country’s overall positivity rate was hovering at 5% to 10% last week. The country has again tightened social distancing rules and other restrictions for Paris and its nearest suburbs to slow the outbreak, with all bars in the capital closed for at least two weeks.
This year, the end-of-summer dread feels different. Fears of an impending second wave coinciding with the stress of back-to-school, flu season and increasingly shorter days make for a wicked case of seasonal affective disorder, apocalypse edition. Add to that the wildfires ravaging the western US, and an upcoming presidential election that in many ways feels like a matter of life and death, and you have a perfect recipe for mass anxiety, Kate Mooney writes.
For some, the notion of hunkering down inside again as the weather gets colder resurfaces the pain of the early months of lockdown. It also threatens to upend what for many became a pandemic coping mechanism: a summer of socially distanced, outdoor interaction with others. What are we going to do when it’s too cold to see each other in a low-risk setting?
The French government is ready to do more to support bars and restaurants, the finance minister has said. The sector has been one of the worst hit by the pandemic.
Bruno Le Maire told franceinfo radio details could be unveiled next week. Paris bars have been ordered to close for two weeks from Tuesday to try to contain a renewed spread of the disease.
Tensions are growing between Israel’s ultra-Orthodox and secular communities over perceived adherence to the country’s pandemic measures, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
After a revered rabbi died this week, Israeli police thought they had worked out an arrangement with his followers to allow a small, dignified funeral that would conform with public health guidelines under the lockdown.
But, when it was time to bury the rabbi on Monday, thousands of people turned up, ignoring social distancing rules, and clashed with police who tried to disperse the mass gathering.
Such violations of lockdown rules by segments of the ultra-Orthodox population have angered a broader Israeli public that AP reports is largely complying with the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the disease.
The defiance on display has confounded public health experts, tested prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s longstanding political alliance with religious leaders and triggered a new wave of resentment from secular Israelis who fear for their health and livelihoods. The media personality Judy Shalom Nir Mozes wrote on the Ynet news site:
We’ve been asked to go into this lockdown, with its insane economic cost, that is causing people to go insane, because of the increase in coronavirus which is mostly occurring in the ultra-Orthodox sector and in large part because of criminal negligence. There are two sets of laws here. One for us and one for them.
The ultra-Orthodox community claims it is being unfairly targeted by they authorities. They point to large weekly protests, mainly by secular Israelis, against Netanyahu’s handling of the pandemic that have continued throughout the summer. The government last week placed limits on the size of the protests, citing violations of public health guidelines. Israel Cohen, a commentator with the ultra-Orthodox radio station Kol Barama, said:
We are at the closest point to an explosion in terms of the mistrust.
Apathy towards Covid-19 is rising across Europe, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data.
Fatigue has been measured in different ways across 27 countries but is “now estimated to have reached over 60%” of the population in some places, said the body’s regional director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P Kluge.
He set out three strategies for addressing the slide towards apathy. Regular community consultation, including with local authorities as well as “expertise beyond the medical and public health sectors”, should be promoted, he suggested.
There had been positive responses when Scandinavian countries asked the public to help devise “reasonable guidance”, which Dr Kluge said is “a good example of recognising that people are experts in their own environment”. He added:
Citizens are at the heart of a solution to the pandemic and policymakers should treat them as such.
New ways of meeting with friends and family are also to be encouraged, with Dr Kluge citing the example of how community groups found safe ways of breaking the fast during Ramadan by doing so virtually or with delivered meals for distanced celebrations.
A courageous approach, with empathy at its core, will get us through this crisis. We have an opportunity to maximise our community insights into behaviour, to integrate real community participation into public health policy on a scale that has not been done before.
Hello, I’ll be taking over for the next few hours. Thanks to Martin Farrer for guiding us this far.
If you’d like to draw my attention to anything, your best bet is probably Twitter, where I’m KevinJRawlinson.
I am handing over to my colleagues in London shortly so here are some of the key developments in the pandemic so far today:
- Donald Trump has left Walter Reed hospital after three nights and returned to the White House. He wore a mask as he left but removed it to pose for photographs on the balcony of the White House.
- Trump tweeted a video in which he said he felt well and told Americans: “Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it.” Coronavirus has already killed 210,117 Americans – or one in every 1,560 people in the country.
- Trump’s personal physician said the president was “not entirely be out of the woods yet” although he met the discharge requirements. The president still has the virus and is still contagious. Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert, said Trump could have a “reversal” in his condition.
- Mexico has record increase in deaths and daily cases on Monday jumping by 2,789 and 28,115 respectively. But the deputy health minister dismissed it as a one-off event caused by a new method of classifying infections.
- Japan and South Korea plan to open business travel between the two countries this week. Papua New Guinea is opening its borders to people from four countries including Japan and Singapore.
- MPs in Britain are expected to rebel this week during votes on controversial pandemic curbs such as the rule limiting gatherings to six people and the 10pm pub curfew. The votes come amid anger at a data blunder that has left officials scrambling to trace 50,000 Covid contacts.
- Stock markets in Asia have recovered some lost ground after Trump’s positive comments about his health. The FTSE100 in London is expected to open up about 0.2%.
You can follow more on the Trump story at our other live blog here:
Crowds showcase China’s recovery
An interesting tweet here from Bloomberg’s David Ingles about the massive crowds travelling around China this week, a holiday known as “golden week”.
The movement of hundreds of millions of people showcases how the country has recovered from the pandemic. There were 12 new cases on the mainland yesterday.
British MPs are expected to signal growing discontent with the government’s coronavirus restrictions at votes on the regulations this week.
Conservative and Labour MPs say they could withdraw backing for the rule of six on social gatherings and the curfew at votes expected this week.
It follows growing calls for the government to publish the scientific advice behind the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants in the UK.
Here is our full story:
Donald Trump says he’s never felt better for 20 years, but Dr Anthony Fauci says he might have relapse after being discharged from hospital on Monday night Washington time. If you need another catch-up on what is going on with the US president’s health, my colleague Helen Sullivan has compiled this all-you-need-to-know guide to his coroanvirus case.