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Switzerland Should Tighten Coronavirus Restrictions Again, Government Advisor Says | World News

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ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland should tighten restrictions to curb the coronavirus again following a recent spike in cases, in order to prevent the need for much harsher lockdown measures in future, the new head of the country’s coronavirus taskforce said.

Switzerland has seen the number of new cases of COVID-19 surge to more than 200 a day recently after an average of 35 per day in June.

Martin Ackermann, who heads the body that provides scientific advice to the Swiss government, said the country was on the brink of a big increase in infections and had little room to manoeuvre.

“We should intervene early to prevent exponential growth,” Ackermann told newspaper SonntagsZeitung. “Otherwise there’s a risk of drastic and expensive restrictions. This must be prevented under all circumstances.”

Switzerland has lifted a partial lockdown that was imposed in March, when shops, bars and restaurants were ordered to close to prevent the spread of the virus which has infected 35,000 people and killed 1,707 in the country of 8.6 million people.

Ackermann, who took over as head of the taskforce on Saturday, said he supported making it mandatory to wear face masks indoors. Face masks are currently only compulsory on public transport and at political demonstrations.

The government has relaxed restrictions on gatherings, although it still bans events of more than 1,000 people.

The size of public gatherings should be limited again, said Ackermann, who is an expert in microbiology.

“I also believe that the size of public events should now be reduced to 100 participants, as there is a risk of an exponential increase in the number of cases,” Ackermann told the newspaper.

He said it was difficult to say whether large scale events were fuelling the epidemic.

“Initial data …shows that where large numbers of people gather, there are also many infections,” he said.

“Exact data on who is infected and where (they) are infected is absolutely vital. Without this data we are flying blind.”

(This story has been refiled to fix typo)

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Susan Fenton)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Halloween kids event goes ahead at White House despite pandemic – World News

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Halloween at White House

The Canadian Press – | Story: 314482

With a bit of rejiggering, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump played host Sunday to hundreds of superheroes, unicorns, skeletons and even a miniature version of themselves as part of a Halloween celebration at the White House.

In years past, the president and first lady personally handed out candy to the costume-clad kids. This year, the treats were provided separately as participants walked along a path on the South Lawn.

The kids still briefly met the president and first lady, who waved and offered words of encouragement from a safe distance about how much they liked the costumes. Trump and the first lady have both recently recovered from COVID-19.

Trump was particularly pleased with a young boy with a distinctly Trump head of hair and a partner who did her best Mrs. Trump impersonation. The president motioned for them to turn and pose for the cameras, and they happily agreed.

Another tot, a true princess it appeared, was so smitten with the cameras that she kept waving at them as she walked along, never noticing the VIPs behind her.

The spooky celebration was changed up a bit as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Guests older than 2 were required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. The same went for all White House personnel working the event, while any staff giving out candy also wore gloves.

The South Portico of the White House was decorated with bright-colored leaves in various shades of autumn, chrysanthemums and pumpkins, while a military band set the mood by playing songs such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

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Coronavirus live news: China confirms 137 local cases as Spain enters state of emergency | World news

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UK health secretary says tier 4 restrictions can’t be ruled out

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France may be experiencing 100,000 new Covid cases a day

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That’s it from me for today. Thanks for following along – Amy Walker will be with you for the next few hours of pandemic news.





The news was greeted with tears, cheers and, at the afternoon school pick-up, a spontaneous concert of parents honking car horns in celebration.

In Australia, as the state of Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, announced at 3.30pm on Monday that Melbourne’s months-long lockdown would (largely) come to an end, residents rejoiced.

Osman Faruqi
(@oz_f)

Everyone was at home Brigid https://t.co/RG4W6pGOId


October 26, 2020

From midnight on Tuesday cafes, restaurants, bars and beauty services will reopen, subject to patron limits, and people will be able to leave their home for any reason.

It was a moment of high anticipation.





With the US election just over a week away, millions of Americans have been heading to the polls this fall with healthcare and drug prices as their top voting issue.

The United States’ massive, largely private and very expensive health industry has ranked as a top voter concern for years, and helped drive Democrats to victory in the midterm elections of 2018, when the party took control of the House of Representatives.

While over the last six months of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 Americans, Covid-19 eclipsed healthcare as the top issue of the election, many health voters argue the two are inseparable:





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Australia’s lockdown prevented about 400 deaths from other illnesses – research paper

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The Green party won in Auckland by reaching beyond its own bubble | Green Party

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I was making toast in my tiny apartment kitchen four weeks ahead of election day. Not that I really had track of the days. They had melded into one ever-extending runway as Auckland went through its second Covid-19 lockdown and New Zealand’s election date was pushed back a month.

We were a few months into an insurgent campaign for an electorate seat at the centre of the country’s largest city. We’d built a team of hundreds of people – particularly young people, some so young they couldn’t even vote yet – who, despite their claims to the contrary, were all doing a lot more than the least they could do. They were about to make history.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, a “minor” party hasn’t won a general electorate seat in well over 20 years without the tacit or explicit endorsement of one of the two “major” parties. So, it confounded more than a few commentators when at around 11.50pm on Saturday 17 October, with 100% of the preliminary votes counted, it was confirmed that a Green party candidate had won Auckland Central. Especially because we ran a campaign on an unapologetically progressive platform of urgent climate action, guaranteed minimum income, and wealth tax to pay for it. We flew in the face of two major opinion polls, the “red tide” of the Labour party’s majority win, and conventional wisdom.

There are still half a million or so special votes (that is, overseas and on-the-day enrolments) to be counted, so the results cannot be taken for granted.

But what can be granted is that so-called convention in our politics is disappearing.

Convention is the echo of repetition to the point of predictability. Mainstream approaches to electoral politics have lost the right of convention. Mechanisms of conventional, incremental political change – literally the least we can, and know how to, do – have failed to rise to the challenges that the deeply entrenched and inextricable crises of climate change and social and economic inequality present.

Citizens are smart enough to recognise the need for an alternative. It’s in this alternative where we can continually redraw the boundaries of the possible, because possibility in politics is only ever defined by the willingness of those in power.

In these “unprecedented” times, the centre-left Labour party won a historic single-party majority, growing its nationwide vote to previously unimaginable heights under New Zealand’s proportional representation voting system. But so too has our Green party grown our own vote, shaking off the convention of give-and-take amongst the parties of the left bloc.

In Auckland, we flipped a seat Green, which had been held by centre-right National party politicians for 12 years.

We did it by bursting our own bubble.

In our bubble, we can’t fathom that working-class people would vote against their own self-interest for a strong-man built on strawman logic. It’s wild to reckon with how policies to fairly tax millionaires are warped through talkback radio to scare tradies and hospo workers into thinking their jobs are on the chopping block. In our bubble, it’s slanderous to question the orthodoxy of our university educations and how the vernacular they normalise may alienate the very people we say we want to help.

Chloe Swarbrick holds street corner meetings in Ponsonby.
Chloe Swarbrick holds street corner meetings in Ponsonby. Photograph: Emma McInnes

But we’ve graduated from the once-derided online “slacktivism” to regularly showing up at protests in solidarity, to shutting up when it’s obvious our lived experience isn’t the one requiring a platform, and to organising our way into mass-scale conversations with people we’d never share a Facebook feed algorithm with. We’ve still got a way to go in self-reflection, but more urgently, we’ve got to create a place in our movement where people – so many of whom already have the inkling that the status quo is not working – can belong.

Right until the end of the Auckland Central campaign, we kept expanding our community. That mess of human reality and social evolution, changing and challenging ideas cannot be delivered through a Twitter feed, but meets you at the doorstep. At the polls, we heard they were running out of on-the-day enrolment forms for people who had not planned to vote but decided to turn up.

You don’t grow a movement with perfection. You don’t spread an idea when only one person can articulate it. You don’t empower communities when they don’t have a place to belong.

Our local campaign was one small proof-of-concept microcosm of work that Indigenous organisers, climate activists, and justice advocates have been doing for decades. It’s based on a radical notion in increasingly individualised societies: grassroots organising, human connection and conversation changes our world.

What if we all did the least we could do? And what if we did it together?

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