The US House speaker Nancy Pelosi has called on the Trump administration to boost their offer for more financial aid amid the pandemic, saying she planned further talks with US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday.
Pelosi, in an interview on MSNBC, said the two had spoken briefly on Sunday and that she still hoped Democrats and the White House could find common ground, adding: “He has to come back with much more money to get the job done.”
Spain’s tally of confirmed cases reached 748,266 on Monday, rising by 31,785 from Friday’s total, health ministry data shows.
The cumulative death toll reached 31,411 from 31,232 on Friday. Daily deaths are now around their highest levels since early May, but are well below the late March level of nearly 900.
In a press conference, the World Health Organization’s director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said the tests are to be priced at a maximum of $5 (£3.83, €4.23) per unit for poorer countries, which is cheaper than current alternatives.
The quick and easy but high-quality tests will allow mass screening of health workers, who are dying in disproportionate numbers in low income countries.
Wealthy countries that have signed up to the Access to Covid tools initiative (ACT accelerator), as the UK has, will also be able to order the tests. The initiative was launched in March by the WHO, the European commission, the Gates Foundation and the French government.
In return for a volume guarantee from the Gates Foundation, the companies are making 20% of their production available to low- and middle-income countries and 80% to the rest. Germany has already ordered 20m tests and France and Switzerland are following suit.
Rapid Covid tests to be made available
Tests for Covid-19 that show on-the-spot results in 15 to 30 minutes are about to be rolled out across the world, potentially saving many thousands of lives and slowing the pandemic in both poor and rich countries.
In a triumph for a global initiative to get vital drugs and vaccines to fight the virus, 120m rapid antigen tests from two companies will be supplied to low- and middle-income countries for $5 (£3.90) each or even less.
The tests, which look like a pregnancy test, with two blue lines displayed for positive, are read by a health worker. One test has received emergency approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the other is expected to get it shortly.
There is no need to change the European Union’s deficit rules that are currently suspended to help member states cope with the pandemic, the German finance minister Olaf Scholz has said.
We have shown that we have the necessary flexibility during this crisis. The current rules are working.
The remark came in response to comments last week by France’s European affairs minister Clément Beaune, who said Paris “cannot imagine putting the same pact back in place” after the worst of the pandemic is over.
The EU’s deficit and public debt rules are on hold at the moment, giving governments free rein to stimulate their economies with major spending programmes to fight a historic recession.
The rules theoretically limit a government’s annual public deficit at three percent of gross domestic product, and debt at 60 percent, though the ceilings are frequently violated.
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta has extended the nationwide curfew put in place to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, but said it would end two hours later at 11pm.
Kenyatta, who said the Covid-19 infections curve had been flattened, also lifted a ban on the sale of alcohol in restaurants and bars.
A clash between Madrid’s regional authorities and the Spanish government over how to contain the city’s surging coronavirus caseload is provoking growing discontent among residents in poorer areas who say they have been unfairly targeted.
Daisy Mencia, a resident of the working-class Vallecas neighbourhood, which is entering its second week of confinement measures, said:
The politicians can’t agree among themselves and the poor are always the worst affected.
Madrid extended a partial lockdown on Friday to a total of 45 districts with high infection rates, the majority of which are in low-income neighbourhoods, prompting accusations of class discrimination.
But the region’s conservative leaders reject the left-wing national government’s recommendation to reimpose city-wide restrictions.
The regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso told Antena 3 television on Sunday night:
Total confinement isn’t possible. We’re destroying ourselves … I don’t know how many companies continue to lose jobs and opportunities every single day.
Over the past days, the national and regional governments have traded barbs over what to do and who was to blame for the growing number of cases in Madrid and its periphery, taking the political polarisation that has characterised much of the response to the pandemic over the past months to new heights.
Pensioner Victor Rubio told Reuters that was deplorable:
They aren’t looking at things with a view to fixing the problem but from a political perspective. They’re just attacking an area where people opposed to the [regional] government live.
Since the onset of the pandemic Spain has reported 716,481 cases of the virus, more than any other western European nation, while a total of 31,232 deaths have been recorded, according to data released on Friday. Madrid is the worst-hit region in Spain.
Dutch may restrict travel to Amsterdam and close bars early as cases rise
The Netherlands is considering restricting travel to and from its biggest cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, as part of a raft of measures to counter a second wave of coronavirus infections, the broadcaster NOS reported on Monday.
The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, said on Friday he was considering further “regional” measures as the country’s Covid-19 outbreak rose from low levels in late August to more than 2,500 cases a day, more than at the peak of the first wave in April.
Rutte has rejected the idea of a second lockdown or making face masks mandatory.
The NOS cited a list of measures it had obtained that are under serious consideration, though not all may be adopted. Rutte is to address the nation later on Monday.
The measures include strengthening current “work at home” guidelines, possibly shutting down offices that are allowing in too many non-essential staff, according to the NOS report. Bars and restaurants could be ordered to shut by 10pm, fans banned from sports events, and gatherings further limited, including in personal homes.
The National Institute for Health (RIVM) on Monday reported 2,914 new cases, just shy of Sunday’s all-time record of 2,995. Hospital admissions and deaths are at a much lower rate than in April, but the head of the country’s intensive care units warned that non-essential procedures would be delayed again to make way for patients with Covid-19 starting this weekend.
Dutch coronavirus policy centres on keeping distance between people. Schools remain open and masks are not required except on public transport.
Azerbaijan has extended some of its lockdown restrictions until 2 November and decided to keep its borders closed after a rise in the number of new coronavirus cases, the government said on Monday.
The country introduced measures to stem the coronavirus on 24 March and has extended them several times.
As of Monday, the country of about 10 million people in the South Caucasus had registered 40,061 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 588 deaths.
Azerbaijan declared martial law on Sunday after clashes with Armenia flared in Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region that is inside Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians.
Oman will reopen mosques for prayers on 15 November, with strict measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus, state media reported on Monday, citing a statement from the Islamic affairs ministry.
France launched a free-spending budget plan on Monday, saying a new rise in new Covid-19 cases justified its unprecedented loosening of the purse strings.
After €460bn (£410bn, $537bn) of emergency spending this year to save the economy from the virus fallout, the government built its 2021 budget plan around a €100bn “recovery plan”, first announced this month and partly funded by EU money.
On Saturday, France’s health services reported 14,412 new cases over the previous 24 hours – only slightly lower than the record 16,000 registered on both Thursday and Friday.
Łukasz Szumowski, Poland’s former health minister who had become synonymous with the country’s fight against Covid-19 before his resignation last month, has tested positive for the disease, website Onet.pl said on Monday, as daily infections hover near the worst levels seen.
Szumowski was rated Poland’s most trusted politician at the height of the national lockdown in April. He resigned in August after scandals surrounding the purchase of ventilators and masks dented his reputation. He denies any wrongdoing.
Reuters reported that Szumowski could not immediately be reached on Monday to confirm the Onet.pl report, which said that members of his family had also been infected. The health ministry declined to comment on the report.
Poland weathered the first wave of Covid-19 infections that swept Europe in the spring relatively well but is now battling a second wave. It reported 1,587 new cases on Friday, the biggest daily tally since the country’s epidemic started in March.
The country of 38 million people has reported 88,636 cases, including 2,447 deaths.
The head of a top US government health agency gave a grim assessment of the pandemic that contradicts that of the president Donald Trump, saying “We’re nowhere near the end,” NBC News has reported.
Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who has been rebuked by Trump for less rosy assessments of the recovery, also expressed concern that Trump’s late addition to the task force, Dr Scott Atlas, is sharing inaccurate information with the president.
“Everything he says is false,” Redfield said in a telephone call Friday on a plane from Atlanta to Washington, NBC reported.
Redfield later told NBC the threat from the pandemic was far from over, contradicting Trump’s assertion as he seeks re-election 3 November that the country was “rounding the corner”. Redfield said:
We’re nowhere near the end.
Trump publicly dismissed congressional testimony by Redfield earlier this month on when a vaccine could be broadly rolled out, calling him “confused”. The US president, who was reluctant to urge Americans to wear masks until recently, also criticised Redfield for saying wearing a mask can be just as effective as a vaccine. The CDC director made his position clear, telling NBC:
If every one of us did it, this pandemic would be over in eight to 12 weeks.
The CDC did not immediately return a request for comment on Redfield’s reported remarks.
Atlas is a neuroradiologist with no background in infectious diseases whose views on handling the pandemic have been denounced by his peers at Stanford University’s medical school.
Here are the key developments from the last few hours:
- The known number of infections worldwide passed 33 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The death toll has moved closer to 1 million and stands at 998,372.
- The total number of cases in Ukraine exceeded 200,000. The death toll stood at 3,996, the country’s security council said.
- The UK government came under pressure to scrap its 10pm closing time rule. The mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, said there needed to be an “urgent review of the emerging evidence” after city centre supermarkets were “packed” after closing time.
- New rules came into effect in Paris and 11 other French cities. All bars must close at 10pm and remain closed until at least 6am. Restaurants can stay open later.
- Children have 44% lower odds of catching Covid-19 than adults. According to an analysis led by the president of Britain’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, there is preliminary evidence that those younger than 10 to 14 years have lower susceptibility.
- India’s confirmed coronavirus tally reached 6 million cases on Monday, keeping the country second to the United States in number of reported cases since the pandemic began. The Health Ministry on Monday reported 82,170 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, driving the overall tally to 60,74,703. At least 1,039 deaths were also recorded in the same period, taking total fatalities up to 95,542 since the pandemic began.
- South Korea confirms lowest cases since 11 August. South Korea on Monday reported 50 new coronavirus cases, the lowest since 11 August, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said. Of the new cases, 40 were domestic and 10 imported. The numbers were the lowest since a new wave of outbreaks emerged from a church whose members attended a large political rally in Seoul on 15 August, KDCA data showed.
- Northern England and possibly London facing new lockdown. The UK government is planning to impose a total social lockdown across most of northern England and potentially London, to combat a second coronavirus wave, the Times reports. Under the new lockdown measures being considered, all pubs, restaurants and bars would be ordered to shut for two weeks initially, the report said, citing a senior government source. The report added that households would also be banned indefinitely from meeting each other in any indoor location where they were not already under the order.
- There have been a further 5,693 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data, taking the total to 429,277. Government figures show a further 17 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Sunday. This brings the official UK toll to 41,988.
- Travel between New Zealand and some states of Australia is possible before the end of the year, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. Plans for a travel ‘bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand has been in discussions for months as both nations slowed the spread of the coronavirus, but they were disrupted after a resurgence of Covid-19 in Melbourne, Australia, followed by a second wave of infections in Auckland.With the virus largely contained in New Zealand, and as cases continue to decline in Australian regions, talks of a travel bubble with some states have been revived.
- Greece has recorded its first coronavirus fatality among its large migrant community. Health authorities described the victim as a 61-year-old Afghan man, saying the father-of-two succumbed to Covid-19 in Athens’ Evangelismos hospital after being moved from Malakassa, a refugee camp east of the capital.