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As states scramble to put out fires, Fauci and other top U.S. health officials go back before Congress.

Two days after U.S. deaths surpassed 150,000, three familiar federal health officials, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, returned to Capitol Hill to testify in front of a new audience: the House’s special select committee investigating the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.

Dr. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, was joined on Friday morning by Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health and the administration’s point person on coronavirus testing.

Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the top Democrat on the House committee charged with overseeing the response to the coronavirus, kicked off the hearing by demanding that the Trump administration put forth a “comprehensive national plan” to control the pandemic.

“It is clear that the administration’s approach of deferring to the states, sidelining the experts and rushing to reopen has prolonged this virus and led to thousands of preventable deaths,” said Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the Democratic chairman of the House select committee overseeing the coronavirus responses.

The top Republican on the panel, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, chided Mr. Clyburn for advancing a political narrative. Turning to the witnesses, he said: “You wouldn’t even be here today if there wasn’t a plan”

The three witnesses last testified a month ago before lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Senate, when the subject was school reopening.

But the Democrat-led House select committee has had a hard time securing Dr. Fauci and his colleagues as witnesses. The Trump administration initially refused to make them available.

The hearing is taking place as states across the country are reimposing limits in response to a resurgence of cases — a turn of events reflected in the title lawmakers gave the hearing: “The Urgent Need for a National Plan to Contain the Coronavirus.”

With President Trump clearly intent on announcing promising vaccine news, it has fallen to Dr. Fauci to offer reassurances that the federal government is moving quickly but safely.

Dr. Fauci reassured Congress that the United States would likely have a vaccine by the end of this year or early in 2021, and said Americans would not have to depend on other countries for coronavirus immunization.

He cast doubt on some foreign efforts, saying, “I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they’re administering the vaccine to anyone.”

The coronavirus panel was established this spring by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in large part to put a check on how the federal government is spending the trillions of dollars in emergency aid. But its mandate has broadened to include a panoply of issues, including racial disparities in the pandemic and nursing home outbreaks.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send all Covid-19 patient information to a central database in Washington, a move that alarmed health experts who feared the data will be politicized or withheld from the public.

Dr. Redfield testified that “we weren’t directly involved in the final decision” to strip his agency of authority to collect the data, and said, “I was told actually when the secretary’s office made the decision.”

Some of the House’s fieriest members are on the panel, including Representative Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican who has been a regular skeptic of Dr. Fauci and public health mandates, including mask wearing.

Dr. Fauci and Mr. Jordan had a testy exchange when Mr. Jordan pushed Dr. Fauci to say that protests should be limited or shut down over virus concerns in crowds. “I’m not going to opine on limiting anything,” Dr. Fauci said, adding, “I don’t judge one crowd versus another crowd.”

Several of the panel’s prominent Democrats are also not known for shying away from conflict, including Mr. Clyburn and Representative Maxine Waters of California.

The French drug maker Sanofi said on Friday that it had secured an agreement of up to $2.1 billion to supply the United States government with 100 million doses of its experimental coronavirus vaccine, the largest such deal announced to date.

The arrangement brings the Trump administration’s investment in coronavirus vaccine projects to more than $8 billion. This sprawling, multiagency effort, known as Operation Warp Speed, is placing bets on multiple vaccines and is paying companies to manufacture millions of doses before clinical trials have been completed.

“The global need for a vaccine to help prevent Covid-19 is massive, and no single vaccine or company will be able to meet the global demand alone,” Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head of Sanofi Pasteur, the company’s vaccine division, said in a statement.

Under the deal announced, Sanofi and its partner, the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, will receive federal funding to pay for clinical trials as well as for manufacturing the vaccine. Sanofi said the deal also includes an option for the company to supply an additional 500 million doses. The company expects to begin clinical trials to test for safety in September, followed by late-stage efficacy trials before the end of this year. Sanofi said it could apply for regulatory approval in the first half of next year.

If the vaccine is successful, it would be made available to Americans at no cost, other than what providers charge to administer it, the federal government said in a statement.

The head of Operation Warp Speed, Moncef Slaoui, is a former GSK executive who as of May held just under $10 million in GSK stock. Dr. Slaoui’s financial ties to some of the companies that are pursuing coronavirus vaccines have raised questions about conflicts of interest.

Sanofi and GSK did not say how much of the federal money would go to each company — only that Sanofi would receive the most. GSK did not comment on whether Dr. Slaoui had recused himself from negotiations over the deal. A senior administration official said all agreements were negotiated by federal “acquisition professionals” and that Dr. Slaoui did not play a role in the negotiations.

Here are 5 key developments you may have missed on Thursday.

  • The pandemic’s toll on businesses in the United States became emphatically clearer as the government detailed the most devastating three-month economic collapse on record, which wiped away nearly five years of growth. Read more on the economic crisis.

  • Mr. Trump, whose unsteady handling of the virus has left him trailing in the polls, floated the idea of changing the date of the presidential election — a suggestion he has no authority to enact, and which instantly drew rare rebukes from top Republicans. Read more on Mr. Trump’s words and the reaction to them.

  • U.S. lawmakers failed to extend jobless benefits that are expiring today. On Thursday, the Senate dissolved into partisan bickering over a sweeping economic stabilization package, clashing over dueling proposals. Tens of millions of Americans have depended on the $600-a-week unemployment aid for months. Read more about the impasse.

  • Herman Cain, who ran for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and was a recent contender for a top Federal Reserve job, died after being hospitalized with the coronavirus. Read Mr. Cain’s obituary.

  • Cases in New Jersey are rising again. Just a week ago, the state recorded its lowest seven-day average of new daily cases — 224 — since the numbers peaked in the state in early April, according to a database maintained by The New York Times. But the state has averaged 416 cases per day over the past week. Read more about the uptick in cases in New Jersey.

Europe’s economic contraction is its worst on record.

The European economy tumbled into its worst recession on record in the second quarter, as quarantines across the continent brought business, trade and consumer spending to a grinding halt.

From April to June, gross domestic product fell by 11.9 percent from the first quarter in the 27 member states of the European Union, and by 12.1 percent in the core group of countries that use the euro currency, according to figures released on Friday by Eurostat, the E.U. statistics agency.

On an annualized basis, European Union economies shrank by 14.4 percent, and eurozone economies by 15 percent, the sharpest contractions since statistics started being kept in 1995.

Over the same period, the United States economy shrank by 9.5 percent on the previous quarter and by 32.9 percent on an annual basis, according to figures published on Thursday.

But in Europe, there were signs that the worst may have passed, and that a tentative recovery has been gaining some traction as governments unleash enormous stimulus spending. Lengthy lockdowns, while painful for business and industry, have helped curb a widespread resurgence of the pandemic in most countries, easing reopening.

The figures were especially grim for nations on Europe’s southern rim, which were among the worst affected by the virus and which faced longer quarantine periods than northern European countries.

In Spain, which has had one of Europe’s highest death tolls, the economy shrank by a staggering 22.1 percent from a year ago and by 18.5 percent from the first quarter. France, the eurozone’s second-largest economy, shrank by 19 percent from a year ago and by 13.8 percent from the first quarter; and Italy, the third-largest economy in the zone, contracted by 17.3 percent from a year ago and by 12.4 percent from the first quarter. France is officially in recession, with three straight quarters of contraction.

On Thursday, the authorities reported that the German economy, Europe’s largest, shrank by 11.7 percent from the same period last year and by 10.1 percent from the previous quarter.

European Union leaders last week agreed to a landmark stimulus of 750 billion euros, or about $884 billion, to rescue their economies and to anchor a mild turnaround that had started to take hold after lockdowns began to be lifted.

But risks abound as surges in new cases are reported, increasing the possibility of more quarantines.

“The hard part of this recovery is set to start about now,” Bert Colijn, senior economist for the eurozone at ING Bank, said in a note to clients.

New York City public schools, the nation’s largest school system, will be able to reopen its school buildings in September only if the city maintains a test positivity rate below 3 percent, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday. That conservative threshold is even lower than the 5 percent test positivity rate which has been set by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as a cut-off for school reopening and recommended by public health experts.

The average positivity for New York City has generally remained lower even than the new city threshold, according to city and state figures. But even a modest uptick in cases over the next few weeks could nudge that rate closer to the new threshold, which raises fresh questions about whether city schools will open part-time on Sept. 10 as planned in a hybrid model.

“I want to set that very very tough standard,” the mayor said, adding, “this is a way of proving that we will do things the right way.”

New York is one of the only large districts in the country that is currently planning to reopen its buildings at all: Children will report to school one to three days a week to allow for social distancing. All staff members will be asked to take coronavirus tests before the start of school, with expedited results. Education officials in the city laid out a plan on Thursday for what would happen in the seemingly inevitable event that cases are confirmed in a classroom.

The protocol means it is likely that at many of the city’s 1,800 schools, individual classrooms or even entire buildings will be closed at points during the school year.

Officials said confirmed infections among students, teachers and staff members would be treated the same. One or two cases in a single classroom would require those classes to close for 14 days; all students and staff members in that classroom would be ordered to self-quarantine, and students would learn remotely. The rest of the school would continue to operate.

But if two or more people in different classrooms in the same school tested positive, the entire building would close while disease detectives from the city’s Department of Health were brought in to investigate the cases, which could take several days. Depending on the results of the investigation, the building could reopen, but the classrooms with positive cases would remain closed for 14 days.

If disease detectives were not able to find a link between two or more confirmed cases in a building, including exposure to the virus outside of school, the entire building would remain shuttered for two weeks.

Mr. de Blasio’s administration faced enormous criticism for waiting until mid-March to close schools, after the virus had already begun to spread significantly throughout the city, which soon became a global center of the crisis. Throughout March, when a student or staff member tested positive, the school would automatically close for 24 hours for cleaning, a protocol that many parents and teachers said was too lax.

Other states, including California, have announced less stringent policies for how to manage positive cases in schools. But most California school districts will begin the academic year exclusively online because of the high numbers of cases in their communities.

Native Americans appear to be hit particularly hard by the virus, though the data is incomplete.

Even with significant gaps in the available data, there are strong indications that Native American people have been disproportionately affected by the virus.

The rate of known cases in the eight counties with the largest populations of Native Americans is nearly double the national average, a New York Times analysis has found. The analysis cannot determine which individuals are testing positive for the virus, but these counties are home to one in six U.S. residents who describe themselves in census surveys as non-Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska Native.

And there are many other smaller counties with significant populations of Native Americans that have elevated case rates, including Yakima County, Wash. The Times identified at least 15 counties that have elevated case rates and are home to sizable numbers of Native American residents, ranging from large metropolitan areas in Arizona to rural communities in Nebraska and Mississippi.

“I feel as though tribal nations have an effective death sentence when the scale of this pandemic, if it continues to grow, exceeds the public resources available,” said Fawn Sharp, the president of the Quinault Indian Nation and of the National Congress of American Indians.

The trends are troubling enough that congressional leaders have asked the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to examine them.

In New Mexico, Native American and Alaska Native people have accounted for nearly 40 percent of virus cases, though they make up 9 percent of the population.

Hospitalization rates published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggest that Native American people are overrepresented among those who become seriously ill from the virus. Federal data tracking individual coronavirus cases often omits race and ethnicity information.

Native Americans — particularly those living on reservations — are more prone to contract the virus because of crowded housing conditions that make social distancing difficult, said Allison Barlow, director of the Center for American Indian Health at Johns Hopkins University. And years of underfunded health systems, food and water insecurity and other factors contribute to underlying health conditions that can make the illness more severe once contracted.

The Hong Kong government said on Friday that it would postpone the city’s September legislative election by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, a decision seen by the pro-democracy opposition as a brazen attempt to thwart its electoral momentum and avoid the defeat of pro-Beijing candidates.

“It is a really tough decision to delay but we want to ensure fairness, public safety and public health,” said Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive.

The delay was a blow to opposition politicians, who had expected to ride to victory in the fall on a wave of deep-seated dissatisfaction with the government and concerns about a sweeping new national security law imposed on the city by Beijing. And it was the latest in a quick series of aggressive moves by the pro-Beijing establishment to sideline the pro-democracy movement.

On Thursday, 12 pro-democracy candidates said they had been barred from running, including four sitting lawmakers and several prominent activists like Joshua Wong. Mr. Wong said he was barred in part because of his criticism of the new security law. He called the disqualifications “the most scandalous election fraud ever in Hong Kong history.”

Even as Hong Kong cast the decision as one made for public health reasons, to curb the spread of the virus, the pro-democracy opposition has accused the government of using social-distancing rules to clamp down on the protest movement that began more than a year ago.

Britain has barred millions of people in northern England from meeting other households at their homes, paused reopenings set for Aug. 1 and moved to make face masks mandatory in more places, after a day on which it reported 38 new coronavirus deaths and nearly 900 known new infections, its highest case numbers in a month.

At a news conference on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had promised to put on the brakes at any sign of an increase in cases, and added: “Our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal.”

Britain — which has suffered Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with nearly 56,000 confirmed deaths — has been gradually easing restrictions, with pubs, restaurants, museums and hair salons allowed to reopen early this month.

On Saturday, the government had planned to allow reopening of higher-risk settings in England including casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks, and to permit small wedding receptions and some indoor performances. All that will now be pushed back until at least August 15.

“We simply cannot take the risk,” Mr. Johnson said. “We will of course study the data carefully and pay attention to open up as soon as we can.”

Measures to encourage more people to return to their places of work would go ahead, he said. Mr. Johnson also added that mask wearing, already mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England, would be extended to include more indoor settings where social distancing was not an option.

The moves came suddenly, with the restrictions in northern England implemented at midnight, less than three hours after the authorities’ initial announcement Thursday night, and with official guidance on what the rules cover not published until the following morning.

Those restrictions affect Manchester and its surrounding towns and suburbs, plus areas in East Lancashire and West Yorkshire.The announcement came just before Eid al-Adha, and several of the affected areas have large Muslim communities. Places of worship will remain open with social distancing measures but the authorities recommended praying outdoors.

Here are other developments from around the globe:

  • Vietnam, which has been fighting a fresh virus outbreak after more than three months without reporting a locally transmitted case, has announced its first death from the coronavirus. The victim was a 70-year-old resident of the city of Hoi An who had been living with kidney disease for more than a decade. The man was admitted to a hospital on July 9 with chest tightness and fatigue, and tested positive for the virus on Sunday. He died Friday morning.

  • On Friday, Japan announced 1,305 new cases, breaking a record set the day before. As cases spike in Tokyo, Gov. Yuriko Koike has requested that karaoke venues and bars and restaurants serving alcohol close by 10 p.m. from Aug. 3 through the end of the month. Businesses that cooperate will be offered 200,000 yen, or about $1,900.

Many African countries are testing too little to track the virus, an aid group warns.

A stark lack of testing in many African countries has kept officials from being able to track the pandemic, prompting fears that a recent surge in cases across the continent may be just the “tip of the iceberg,” according to the International Rescue Committee.

Each country in Africa where the committee works has conducted fewer than 8,000 tests per million people, the group said. By contrast, Britain has conducted 205,782 tests per million, the United Arab Emirates 472,590 per million, and Singapore 199,904 per million, the committee said.

The committee cited Tanzania (63 tests per million), Niger (373 tests per million), Chad (383 tests per million), Democratic Republic of Congo (467 tests per million) and Burundi (563 tests per million) as having the lowest testing rates among the African countries where it works.

The committee, a global humanitarian aid organization, said that testing in many African countries was falling far short of the rate of at least one test per 1,000 people per week recommended by the World Health Organization.

The organization said many African nations needed international support to increase their testing capacity or the continent could face “an undetected and uncontrolled spread — and a response fighting with a hand tied behind its back.”

“The testing shortfalls make it nearly impossible to understand the extent of the pandemic — let alone put measures in place to stop it,” Stacey Mearns, a senior technical adviser on emergency health at the committee, said in a statement.

Reporting was contributed by Liz Alderman, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Kate Conger, Robert Gebeloff, Michael Levenson, Eshe Nelson, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Richard C. Paddock, Elian Peltier, Matt Phillips, Austin Ramzy, Motoko Rich, Eliza Shapiro, Megan Specia, Eileen Sullivan, Katie Thomas, Neil Vigdor, Mihir Zaveri.



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Bougainville’s Youth Pursue Break From Bloody Past at Presidential Vote | World News

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Young people in the South Pacific islands of Bougainville are seizing the opportunity to help reshape the future of the autonomous region of Papua New Guinea as they head to the polls this month to elect a new leader.

The general election is the first since Bougainville voted overwhelmingly for independence from Papua New Guinea at the end of last year, and the winner will preside over negotiations on the terms of separation.

For Bougainville’s younger “lost generation”, who grew up either under or in the shadow of a bloody 10-year civil war, it gives them a chance to break from the past and elect a civilian president with no ties to the previous unrest.

Two decades after combatants snapped arrows to signal the end of hostilities, there is anger among the younger generation that there has been little economic progress for the resources rich region.

“It has been wasted on mere politics, and there’s nothing on the ground to show for it,” Pajomile Minaka, a 37-year-old law student, told Reuters by telephone.

“In terms of bringing sustainable economic development there is nothing. Young people like me believe the government has failed the people.”

Bougainville’s 250,000 strong population has a median age of just 20, a demographic that’s likely bad news for the ex-combatants among the open field of 25 candidates vying for the top political office.

Younger voters are likely to push for a fresh face, even though prominent figures from the conflict had the advantage of wide-spread name recognition, said Paul Barker, executive director of Port Moresby-based think tank the Institute of National Affairs.

“There is a strong element of the lost generation missing out and wanting change,” Barker told Reuters, ahead of two weeks of polling that begins on Wednesday for the five-yearly election.

Bougainville descended into a decade-long conflict in 1988, triggered by a dispute over how the profits from the lucrative Panguna gold and copper mine should be shared and the environmental damage it had caused. As many as 20,000 died during the fighting between the region’s rebel guerilla army and PNG forces, and Panguna was closed.

Last year’s non-binding independence poll was part of the peace process that ended the conflict, but competing claims over development rights to Panguna still hang over its future.

Bougainville Vice President Raymond Masono said Panguna should “play a major role in revitalising Bougainville’s economy.”

Younger voters, like Augustine Teboro, 30, said it was time to dispense with the “old view” that Bougainville’s future relied on re-opening Panguna when it should be making use of its physical and natural beauty by cultivating its tourism, agriculture and fisheries industries.

“Our hope is that this generation will transform our society and not be a generation that will make the same mistakes of the past,” said Teboro, who heads a Bougainville youth federation.

“We are looking for a civilian leader with integrity.”

With no formal political polling and a diverse list of candidates to replace long-serving president John Momis, the election is considered an open race.

Among the old guard candidates are former president and combatant James Tanis and government-backed candidate Thomas Raivet. Other candidates include Fidelis Semoso, who served in the national PNG parliament, lawyer Paul Nerau and businessman and former sports administrator Peter Tsiamalili Junior. There are also two female candidates, health care professional Ruby Mirinka and former Bougainville MP Magdalene Toroansi.

Polling is likely to be complicated by the first recorded case of COVID-19 in Bougainville, a 30-year-old man who returned from Port Moresby last week.

The coronavirus pandemic has also thrown a cloud over whether international observers will be able to attend. The United Nations said in a statement the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner had asked the PNG government to invite diplomatic missions in Port Moresby to observe the vote.

“This election will determine the future political status of this emerging nation,” Masono said. “The next government must consult with the national government on independence – nothing more, nothing less.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Barrett; editing by Jane Wardell)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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EU to review ties with Belarus, mulls action over crackdown | World News

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Maria Kolesnikova, a representative of Viktor Babariko, speaks at a news conference in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. “It’s very difficult to resist pressure when your family and all your inner circle have been taken hostages,” said Maria Kolesnikova, a top figure in Tsikhanouskaya’s campaign.

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Today’s coronavirus news: Three employees at Mississauga Longo’s test positive for COVID-19; Blue Jays open temporary home in Buffalo Tuesday night

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The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

9 a.m. Another lawsuit has been filed against a long-term-care home operator in Mississauga.

The negligence and wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Viet Do and seeks $20 million from Schlegel Villages, alleging that the company failed to keep residents and staff safe at its Erin Mills Lodge facility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Do’s father, Minh Do, 88, lived at Erin Mills Lodge from 2014 until his death on April 24, 2020, according to the lawsuit’s statement of claim. His family was notified that Minh Do developed COVID-19 symptoms on April 23, the claim said.

The claim, which has not been proven in court, alleges that Schlegel didn’t comply with directives issued by the province and health authorities, including not isolating individuals with COVID-19 from non-infected people and failing to provide staff with “proper personal protective equipment in a timely manner.”

“When provided, Erin Mills Lodge directed staff to repeatedly use the same personal protective equipment — despite contamination,” the claim alleges.

8 a.m. The Blue Jays will play their first game at Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday night when they open a two-game series against the Miami Marlins at Sahlen Field.

The Blue Jays were baseball nomads to start the season after the federal government denied them permission to play games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre due to concerns over players travelling in and out of the country from American states ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After stadium-sharing deals with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles didn’t come to fruition, the Blue Jays settled on Sahlen Field as a temporary home base for the shortened 2020 season.

But the home of Toronto’s triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, needed some upgrades before being ready for the big leagues, meaning the Blue Jays had to play their scheduled home games in their opposition’s ball park until today.

Toronto enters its home opener with a 5-8 record.

7:19 a.m. The City of Vaughan told York Region Media that it “temporarily” laid off about 1,100 employees due to “shortage of work in some departments” after declaring a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

After these “extraordinary circumstances,” the City said the decision was “difficult but necessary.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic and declared State of Emergency in Vaughan and the Province of Ontario have impacted City services in a number of unexpected ways, including the temporary closure of City facilities to the public and the cancellation of some programs,” it said.

While the City continues to conduct essential services including fire and emergency response, waste collection, water/wastewater services, to bylaw and enforcement services, it says, “As this situation evolves, it will be necessary for the City to continue assessing the operational and financial impacts of these unprecedented times.”

7:16 a.m. Three separate employees at a Mississauga Longo’s grocery store have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Longo’s store tracker.

Management at Longo’s became aware that three employees at their Ponytrail location, on Rathburn Road, had tested positive on Aug. 8.

The employees’ last days of work were Aug. 4, 5 and 6. Each store undergoes a deep cleaning and sanitization once a Longo’s employee contracts the disease.

All employees who may have been in contact with the sick workers have been instructed to stay home and monitor their health for any symptoms. Longo’s claims they pay each employee in full during this time.

Their tracker states that it is not necessary for shoppers who recently visited the Ponytrail location to self-isolate, taking advice from public health officials.

5:46 a.m. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday that authorities have found four cases of the coronavirus in one Auckland household from an unknown source, the first cases of local transmission in the country in 102 days.

Ardern said Auckland, the nation’s largest city, will be moved to Level 3 from midday Wednesday, meaning that people will be asked to stay at home and bars and many other businesses will be closed.

She said the rest of the country will be raised to Level 2.

4:56 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that a coronavirus vaccine developed in the country has been registered for use and one of his daughters has already been inoculated.

Speaking at a government meeting Tuesday, Putin said that the vaccine has proven efficient during tests, offering a lasting immunity from the coronavirus.

Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests. He added that one of his two daughters has received a shot of the vaccine and is feeling well.

Russian authorities have said that medical workers, teachers and other risk groups will be the first to be inoculated.

Russia is the first country to register a coronavirus vaccine. Many scientists in the country and abroad have been skeptical, however, questioning the decision to register the vaccine before Phase 3 trials that normally last for months and involve thousands of people.

3:06 a.m. The number of coronavirus cases topped 20 million on Tuesday, more than half of them from the U.S., India and Brazil.

Health officials believe the actual number is much higher than that tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40 per cent of those who are infected have no symptoms.

It took six months or so to get to 10 million cases after the virus first appeared in central China late last year. It took just over six weeks for that number to double.

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An AP analysis of data through Aug. 9 showed the U.S., India and Brazil together accounted for nearly two-thirds of all reported infections since the world hit 15 million coronavirus cases on July 22.

Tuesday 3:02 a.m. India reported 53,601 new cases of coronavirus Tuesday as its total infections neared 2.3 million.

The Health Ministry also said 871 deaths were newly reported, raising total fatalities to 45,257.

India has been posting an average of around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June.

Its total infections are third in the world, behind the United States and Brazil. The three countries account for half of the world’s 20 million cases. The true numbers around the world are thought to be much higher because of factors including low testing and the possibility the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms.

Monday 6:15 p.m. Only two theatres, two drive-ins and an open-air cinema will physically show movies during the Toronto International Film Festival.

The festival announced the limited venues on Monday, which include the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the Isabel Bader Theatre, the Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView, the RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place and the West Island Open Air Cinema at Ontario Place.

TIFF says most festival selections this year will be screened online via its Bell Digital Cinema.

In keeping with physical distancing measures required due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be reduced capacity at the Lightbox cinemas, the Isabel Bader and the outdoor screens.

But TIFF says even the online screenings will have limits.

The digital screenings are geoblocked to Canada and will be viewable on home TV screens using Chromecast or a new TIFF app, which will be available in the Apple App Store on Sept. 9. Digital movies will be watermarked, either “forensically” or visibly, to prevent piracy, the festival says.

5:54 p.m. As of 5 p.m. Monday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 42,224 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,824 deaths, according to the Star’s latest count.

The province-wide increase in the last 24 hours, up 133 reported infections, was the largest single-day count since late July.

Daily cases reports have been falling steadily since the province saw a brief spike late last month, and had been at its lowest rate of new infections since before the pandemic first peaked in Ontario in the spring.

That rate jumped slightly Monday, up to an average of 95 cases per day over the last seven days — still well down from a mid-April peak of nearly 600 daily.

The day saw double digit-case counts in Ottawa, with 20 new cases, Toronto (18 cases), Peel Region, Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent (all at 11 cases) and in Hamilton (10 cases).

Several of Ontario’s health units do not report case data on weekends, which means Mondays can often see higher than normal case counts.

Meanwhile, the province once again reported no new fatal cases Monday.

The vast majority of the province’s COVID-19 patients have recovered; the province lists fewer than 4,000 active cases of the disease.

The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

The province cautions its separate data, published daily at 10:30 a.m., may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”

Monday: Toronto is more than two weeks into Stage 3, and an ongoing low trend in daily COVID-19 numbers seems to have held steady.

Across Ontario, new reports of the novel coronavirus have slowed, meaning the embattled Windsor-Essex region can finally join the rest of the province in Stage 3. The province might be experiencing a “basement” in cases, one epidemiologist said, meaning that while we might not drive cases any lower than this, we can likely expect an uptick in the fall.

The Star asked two infectious disease experts — Anna Banerji from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Raywat Deonandan of the University of Ottawa — to weigh in on the data the Star has collected on the state of the COVID-19 crisis in Ontario. Read more from reporter Jenna Moon here.

Read more of Monday’s coverage here.



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