Chile Surpasses 500,000 COVID-19 Cases On Eve Of Referendum

Doctor Moyra Lopez holds an iPad for a terminal patient to listen to a farewell message from his relatives, at the so-called ‘humanized farewell’ room at the Barros Luco Hospital, in Santiago, July 22, 2020. Martin BERNETTI / AFP

 

Chile’s coronavirus case total has now surpassed half a million, authorities said Saturday, as the country prepares to go to the polls for a referendum on whether to replace the Pinochet-era constitution.

“We have to act with much responsibility in this plebiscite,” health undersecretary Paula Daza told reporters as she delivered an update on the pandemic on the eve of the vote.

The health ministry registered 1,631 new infections and 48 deaths in the past 24 hours, meaning Chile has recorded 500,542 cases and nearly 14,000 deaths since March 3.

The situation has remained stable in recent months, though infections are increasing in rural areas in the south.

Authorities have introduced special health measures in voting stations to try to ensure public safety during Sunday’s referendum.

Tables, chairs and other furniture have been disinfected, and voting hours have been extended to give people more time to enter and leave polling centers and avoid overcrowding.

At the National Stadium in Santiago, which is expected to welcome around 300,000 voters, disinfection teams have been spraying the facilities with copper nanoparticles, which have proved effective in destroying the virus.

“This, the largest voting center in the country, is being sanitized to assure people that they can attend tomorrow without fear of getting infected,” said Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica.

Every voting table will be equipped with disinfectant gel, and staff at the centers will wear a mask, gloves and a face shield.

Voters must enter the center unaccompanied, and bring their own pen to mark their choice.

Chile is slowly emerging from more than seven months of lockdown, but borders and schools remain closed and night curfews remain in place.

AFP

Coronavirus Survives On Skin Five Times Longer Than Flu – Study

In this file picture taken on March 26, 2020 a researcher works on the diagnosis of suspected coronavirus COVID-19 cases in Belo Horizonte, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. – Clinical trials in Brazil of a Chinese-made vaccine against COVID-19 have shown “promising” results, and a widespread vaccination campaign could begin as early as December, the governor of Sao Paulo state said on September 9, 2020. (Photo by Douglas MAGNO / AFP)

 

The coronavirus remains active on human skin for nine hours, Japanese researchers have found, in a discovery they said showed the need for frequent hand washing to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pathogen that causes the flu survives on human skin for about 1.8 hours by comparison, said the study published this month in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal.

“The nine-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus strain that causes Covid-19) on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV (influenza A virus), thus accelerating the pandemic,” it said.

The research team tested skin collected from autopsy specimens, about one day after death.

Both the coronavirus and the flu virus are inactivated within 15 seconds by applying ethanol, which is used in hand sanitisers.

“The longer survival of SARS-CoV-2 on the skin increases contact-transmission risk; however, hand hygiene can reduce this risk,” the study said.

The study backs World Health Organization guidance for regular and thorough hand washing to limit transmission of the virus, which has infected nearly 40 million people around the world since it first emerged in China late last year.

AFP

Fauci Says Trump Campaign Ad Twists His Words On Virus

Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine COVID-19, "focusing on lessons learned to prepare for the next pandemic", on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 23, 2020. KEVIN DIETSCH / POOL / AFP
Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine COVID-19, “focusing on lessons learned to prepare for the next pandemic”, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 23, 2020. KEVIN DIETSCH / POOL / AFP

 

Top government scientist Anthony Fauci said Sunday that an ad aired by Donald Trump’s reelection campaign was edited to make him seem to endorse the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate,” Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement to CNN.

The 30-second campaign ad cites Trump’s personal experience with the virus — “President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America,” it says — before including a brief clip in which Fauci appears to praise the president’s response to the pandemic.

“I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more,” Fauci is shown as saying, creating the clear impression he is referring to Trump.

 

 

But a complete clip of Fauci’s comments, made during an interview in March with Fox News, shows the doctor saying: “I have been devoting almost full time on this. I’m down at the White House virtually every day with the task force. It’s every single day. So, I can’t imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more.”

In his statement Sunday, Fauci said, “The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.”

As a leading member of the White House task force on the coronavirus, the 79-year-old doctor has frequently had to walk a fine line in attempting to clarify — or correct — the president’s often incautious assertions about the disease or the treatments and vaccines being developed against Covid-19.

Fauci has at times aroused Trump’s ire, as when the president in April retweeted a message containing the hashtag #FireFauci — before publicly insisting the doctor was doing a great job.

AFP

No New COVID-19 Deaths As Nigeria Records 118 Fresh Cases

 

No new COVID-19 deaths were recorded on Tuesday in Nigeria, making it the third consecutive day that no deaths were recorded in the country.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed this in its daily statistics on Tuesday.

Nigeria, however, recorded 118 fresh cases of the virus, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 59,583.

According to the agency, the latest figure was recorded in the following 14 states: Lagos (41), Rivers (19), Osun (17), Nasarawa (13), Kaduna (5), Anambra (5), three each in Edo, Ogun, Kwara and Ondo, two each in Katsina and Niger, and one each in Plateau and Akwa Ibom.

Read Also: No New Cases In Lagos As Nigeria Records 120 Fresh COVID-19 Infections

Tuesday’s record is one of the lowest in recent times, as the country continues to see a decline in new infections.

On Monday, Lagos which remains the epicentre of the virus with a total of 19,651, recorded no new cases along with a few other states.

 

Trump Contracts COVID: Here’s What We Know And What We Don’t

US President Donald Trump wears a mask as he visits Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland' on July 11, 2020. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)
File photo: US President Donald Trump wears a mask as he visits Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland’ on July 11, 2020. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)

 

President Donald Trump’s diagnosis as COVID-19 positive adds extraordinary drama to an already fast-moving and tumultuous US election campaign.

Here is a summary of the current state of events:

– Where is Trump now? –

Trump will spend the coming days in a military hospital just outside Washington to undergo treatment for the coronavirus, but will continue to work, the White House said Friday.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Trump “will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days.”

The president’s campaign manager Bill Stepien said earlier in the day that all previously announced campaign events ahead of the November 3 election would be held virtually or postponed.

The positive Covid-19 test also raises questions about whether two debates with Democrat Joe Biden later this month will go ahead as planned.

– What treatment is he receiving? –

White House physician Sean Conley said that the president was “fatigued but in good spirits” and was taking an experimental Covid-19 treatment.

Trump received a single dose of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail, Conley said in a letter.

The treatment is undergoing clinical trials but is not yet approved by regulators.

Later on Friday, McEnany said Trump was receiving the anti-viral drug Remdesivir following consultation with specialists. The president was “not requiring any supplemental oxygen,” she said in a statement late Friday.

Earlier in the day Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows said that the president had “mild symptoms.”

As a 74-year-old man, Trump is “at higher risk for severe illness” from the virus, according to the US health agency CDC.

Trump will be monitored closely for the wide range of common symptoms which include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle ache and headache.

– What are his symptoms? –

On Thursday, Trump did not immediately isolate after his close aide Hope Hicks tested positive.

Instead, he boarded a plane to New Jersey, where he attended a fundraiser at his golf club and delivered a speech surrounded by dozens of people before returning to the White House.

The New York Times quoted unnamed sources saying Trump showed mild symptoms at the Thursday night event, seeming lethargic.

One source told the paper he had displayed cold-like symptoms.

– How did he get it? –

It is unknown how Trump contracted the coronavirus, but he has defied medical advice by seldom wearing a mask and often meeting with large groups of people.

White House alarm bells started to ring when Hicks tested positive. She is a central figure in Trump’s inner circle and travelled with him several times over the last week.

She was also closely involved in his preparations for Tuesday’s debate against Biden. At the televised event, many of Trump’s guests did not wear masks.

– Who else in the White House has it? –

Vice President Mike Pence, who would step in if Trump falls seriously ill, tested negative on Friday, as did Trump’s teenage son Barron.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law who are top White House advisors, also tested negative, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Former White House top aid Kellyanne Conway, however, announced late Friday she had tested positive with “mild” symptoms.

Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, tested positive several days ago, it was announced Friday.

Trump’s campaign manager 42-year-old Stepien also said Friday he had tested positive, US media reported, and was in quarantine with mild symptoms.

Many other senior politicians, officials and military officers who work or visit the White House were getting tested on Friday.

Nigeria Records 201 New COVID-19 Cases

 

 

Nigeria has recorded 201 new COVID-19 cases.

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) announced this on Wednesday.

Of the new cases, Lagos recorded 77, Rivers recorded 37, Plateau 25, 13 in the FCT, 12 in Kaduna and Ogun 12, eight in Adamawa,seven in Taraba, four in Imo, two each in Kwara and Osun and one each in Abia and Oyo State.

The new cases bring the total number of infections recorded in the country to 58,848.

Of the total cases, 50,358 have been discharged while 1,112 have died.

Bayern, Rivals Await Champions League Draw As Pandemic Riddle Remains


Hoffenheim’s Croatian forward Andrej Kramaric (C) celebrates scoring the 4-1 goal from the penalty spot during the German first division Bundesliga football match TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v FC Bayern Munich on September 27, 2020 in Mainz, southern Germany. Daniel ROLAND / AFP.

 

Less than six weeks Bayern Munich won last season’s delayed final behind closed doors, the draw for the group stage of the next Champions League takes place on Thursday with the threat of the coronavirus pandemic again hanging over the competition.

Bayern were crowned European champions for the sixth time after beating Paris Saint-Germain beating Paris Saint-Germain at an empty Estadio da Luz in Lisbon in August. The surreal occasion represented a triumph of sorts for UEFA.

European football’s governing body succeeded in playing its flagship competition to a conclusion despite the long shutdown caused by the health crisis, but the final rounds were not the same.

“A game like this without supporters is not the football that we know,” lamented Bayern coach Hansi Flick. “Perhaps they can be back again in the future.”

Thursday’s draw is part of a ceremony which will also see the best men’s and women’s player of last season crowned.

UEFA had to ditch plans to stage the event in Athens and instead moved it to its own headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, where the draw will go ahead without guests.

It is further evidence that, after the battle to get last season finished, things are not about to return to normal in Europe yet, and virus cases are exploding again.

But this time the football, it seems, will go on.

Both Bayern and PSG will be in the first pot of seeds along with Liverpool, Real Madrid, Juventus, Porto, Zenit Saint-Petersburg and Sevilla, the Europa League winners.

There is the prospect of plenty of enticing match-ups, with Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund and both Manchester clubs all in the second pot, and Inter Milan, Atalanta, RB Leipzig and Marseille among the lower seeds.

But the excitement of the draw will be quickly tempered.

First, there is the realisation that almost all the leading clubs will make it through to the last 16 anyway, as they always do, removing much of the jeopardy from the early games.

– Pitfalls ahead –

As the pandemic continues to cast a shadow, it seems hard to imagine the final going ahead as scheduled in Istanbul next May in a full stadium.

UEFA experimented with the return of fans when around 15,500 attended last week’s Super Cup between Bayern and Sevilla in Budapest.

“Health is the number one priority but we want to bring hope,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin. He added: “Fans and players are the essential part of football.”

But with rules on large gatherings varying considerably from country to country, UEFA must decide how to approach the issue of crowds attending games in the Champions League and Europa League, the draw for which is on Friday.

UEFA’s current stance is that games will be behind closed doors “until further notice”.

It has adapted its rules. In the face of travel restrictions, it will allow matches on neutral territory. If a club suffers a Covid-19 outbreak, a game can go ahead as long as each team has at least 13 fit players including one goalkeeper.

The group stage starts on October 20, more than a month later than usual, and all six rounds of games will be packed into eight weeks.

However, in the event of more delays, UEFA has set January 28 as the deadline to complete the group stage.

Pitfalls lie ahead, but the draw offers a brief return to something like normality.

AFP

Nearly 280,000 US Schoolchildren Have Contracted Coronavirus – Study

File photo: STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT – SEPTEMBER 23: Children including kindergartner Anderson Moore (L), 5, the photographer’s son, walk to a bus stop before school on September 23, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.  John Moore/Getty Images/AFP

 

Almost 280,000 school-aged children were infected with the novel coronavirus between March 1 and September 19, according to detailed data released Monday in a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The figure accounted for roughly four per cent of the total US caseload over this period, with children aged 12-17 approximately twice as likely to be infected as those aged 5-11.

The rate of new cases rose steadily during the spring and then shot up over the summer, peaking on July 19 with an average weekly incidence of 37.9 per 100,000.

The new cases then plateaued for several weeks before declining in late August — though it appears they are now rising again towards summer levels.

The authors wrote that the data helped establish a baseline for monitoring trends of Covid-19 infection as some schools return to in-person learning now and in the coming months.

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT – SEPTEMBER 23: Masked school children wait to have their portraits taken during picture day at Rogers International School on September 23, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.  John Moore/Getty Images/AFP

 

“School studies suggest that in-person learning can be safe in communities with low SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates, but might increase transmission risk in communities where transmission is already high,” they said.

The report provides more data for trends that were already known, such as that Hispanic and black minority groups are at heightened risk of developing severe Covid-19, as are children with underlying conditions.

Overall, 277,285 children were infected, 3,240 hospitalized (or 1.2 percent); 404 admitted to intensive care (0.1 percent); and 51 died (0.01 percent).

The real rates of hospitalization, intensive care admission and death are likely to be even lower in reality because the actual number of children infected was probably far higher and not recorded, given the number of asymptomatic cases.

Though the risk to children is relatively low, health experts are more worried about the onward transmission risk children could present to their parents or grandparents.

Children in the 5-11 group accounted for 101,503 cases and 20 deaths while those in the 12–17 group accounted for 175,782 cases and 31 deaths.

Chronic lung disease — which includes asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), for example — was the most prevalent underlying condition.

The rates of infection varied greatly from region to region and the authors emphasized that local authorities should closely monitor the situation to arrive at the best decision about in-person learning.

AFP

G20 Summit To Be Held Virtually – Saudi Hosts

A handout picture provided by the G20 Media on April 19, 2020 shows the G20 Health Ministers holding a virtual meeting on COVID-19. AFP PHOTO/ HANDOUT/G20 MEDIA.

 

Saudi Arabia said Monday it will hold the G20 summit virtually in November, instead of having leaders of the world’s richest nations converge on Riyadh as planned before the coronavirus crisis.

The pandemic has forced all of the group’s meetings to be held by videoconference since March.

In that month, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman chaired an emergency virtual summit of leaders to discuss a global response to the crisis which has ravaged global economies.

“The 2020 G20 Leaders’ Summit will be held virtually on November 21-22 and will be chaired by His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,” the kingdom said in a statement.

“The upcoming G20 Leaders’ Summit will focus on protecting lives and restoring growth, by addressing vulnerabilities uncovered during the pandemic and by laying down the foundations for a better future.”

Saudi Arabia had been attempting to repair its frayed global image ahead of its hosting of the summit.

The conservative kingdom, under fire over human rights abuses, has accelerated investment in glitzy sports and entertainment events in a bid to soften its profile and boost jobs and investment.

However, human rights groups have urged G20 member states to exert pressure on the kingdom over its intensifying crackdown on dissent, which has seen women activists, journalists and political dissidents jailed.

New York city’s mayor Bill de Blasio recently pulled out of a Saudi-hosted Urban 20 mayors’ conference, amid calls for a boycott of the event that coincides with the anniversary of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

Khashoggi’s 2018 killing, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, battered the reputation of the kingdom and of 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who controls all major levers of power.

AFP

India COVID-19 Cases Pass Six Million

A health worker (C) wearing a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suit collects a swab sample from another health worker for Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a testing centre in Siliguri on August 29, 2020. (Photo by DIPTENDU DUTTA / AFP)

 

India reported its six millionth coronavirus case on Monday as it surged closer to the United States as the most-infected nation, and authorities pressed ahead with reigniting the economy.

The vast nation is home to 1.3 billion people, some of humanity’s most densely populated cities and a feeble health care system, and for several weeks it has reported around 90,000 new cases daily — the highest in the world.

Health ministry data showed a rise of 82,000 cases on Monday, taking the total to 6.1 million and closing the gap on the United States, which has recorded 7.1 million infections. India could leapfrog the US in the coming weeks.

India has a much lower death rate than other worst-hit nations with almost 100,000 fatalities so far — fewer than half the grisly toll of 205,000 recorded in the US, which has roughly a quarter of the population. Brazil has meanwhile recorded 140,000 deaths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called on people to keep wearing face coverings when they ventured outside of their homes.

“These rules are weapons in the war against corona. They are potent tools to save the life of every citizen,” Modi said during his monthly radio address on Sunday.

The virus initially hit major metropolises including financial hub Mumbai and capital New Delhi, but has since spread to regional and rural areas where healthcare systems are even more fragile and patchy.

“In several of the pockets where the transmission is active, the infection has gone into the community,” former national health secretary Sujatha Rao told AFP.

“It is difficult to control transmission in such situations and a dramatic turnaround can perhaps be possible only through a rigorous implementation of a lockdown and preventive measures like mask wearing.”

– No Lockdown 2.0 –

The government is unlikely to reimpose major restrictions after a lockdown in March battered the economy and wrecked the livelihoods of millions of people, particularly the poor.

Some schools have now reopened, and trains, metros, domestic flights, markets and restaurants have been allowed to operate with some restrictions. The Taj Mahal also opened again for tourists this month.

Anand Krishnan, a community medicine professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, said authorities should focus on treating people who contract the virus.

“The only thing that we can do is take care of people who are ill — identify them faster and treat them better. And follow the social-distancing norms,” he told AFP.

“Beyond that, I don’t think there is anything specific that can be done.”

Some locals in Delhi told AFP that while they remained cautious, their worries about the pandemic had lessened since the start of the year.

“I’m out of the house all day because of my work. I don’t step out of the house for anything else,” said 23-year-old medical store worker Umang Chutani.

“The future is uncertain but one can only be cautious and follow all safety protocols.”

Himanshu Kainthola, 61, who recovered from the virus last month after testing positive with two other relatives, said his family’s fears “have reduced substantially”.

“We have made peace with it. We take the necessary precautions and invest in increasing our immunity rather than being anxious or scared of it.”

Creative writing student Santosh added that the virus was now “part of our lives”.

“You cannot shutdown every business, because the economy cannot collapse… Covid-19 is not going to pay the rent,” he said.

AFP

Merkel ‘Deeply Concerned’ By Rapid Rise In COVID-19 Infections

In this file photo taken on August 31, 2015 German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a press conference in Berlin stating “We can do this!” on the controversial decision to open Germany’s doors to tens of thousands of migrants. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

 

Chancellor Angela Merkel is deeply worried about sharply rising new coronavirus infections in Germany, her spokesman said Monday, urging citizens to keep to strict hygiene measures including masks if social distancing cannot be maintained.

“The development of infection numbers is of great concern to us,” Steffen Seibert said. “We can see from some of our European friends where that could lead.”

In a meeting with her CDU party’s top brass, Merkel warned that new infection numbers — currently at around 2,000 a day — could leap to 19,200 daily by Christmas if the trend “continues in this way,” party sources told AFP.

The chancellor’s warning came a day before she is due to hold a video conference with the premiers of Germany’s 16 states on the next measures to take to keep infections down.

Germany began to ease stringent measures including shop closures or limits to the numbers of people meeting from late April, after weeks of lockdown brought new infections down from the peak of around 6,000 daily.

But with travel picking up again, particularly during summer holidays, and larger gatherings taking place, contagion has returned swiftly.

During the CDU meeting, Merkel also reportedly cited where priority would lie in terms of which sectors to keep open while fighting the pandemic.

“We must set priorities — keeping the economy running, schools and kindergartens open. Football is secondary,” she said, according to Germany’s top-selling Bild daily.

AFP

Nigeria’s COVID-19 Recoveries Inch Towards 50,000 With 126 New Cases

 

 

Nigeria on Sunday confirmed 126 new cases of COVID-19, with the recovery inching towards the 50,000 mark – 49,794

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in its latest data on COVID-19, tweeted on Sunday evening that the new cases were confirmed from eleven states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and takes the country’s infections to 58,324.

A look into the new figures for the virus shows that the FCT had the highest number of infected persons – 30 – and is followed by Lagos State with 24 new cases.

Rivers also reported 23 new infections, Ogun State -13, Katsina – nine; Plateau – nine; Ondo – six; Kaduna – four; Kwara – four; Imo – two; Bauchi – one and  Edo – one.

Although the number of fresh cases has been on a decline in recent months in Nigeria, the coronavirus has claimed 1,108 lives so far in the West African nation.

As the country battles to contain the pandemic and reopen an economy it imposed a lockdown on at the onset of the disease, the fight against COVID-19 appears to be yielding results as 49,794 people who contracted the virus have been fully treated and discharged.