US Daily COVID-19 Cases Hit New Record, Topping 99,000 – Johns Hopkins

A health worker wearing a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suit tests a swab sample for COVID-19. NOAH SEELAM / AFP

 

More than 99,000 coronavirus cases were recorded in the United States in the past 24 hours, a new daily record, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The country reported 99,660 new infections between 8:30 pm Tuesday and 8:30 pm Wednesday (0130 GMT), and 1,112 deaths, the tally by the Baltimore-based school showed a day after American’s went voted to choose their next president.

More than 9.4 million people have been infected and 233,000 have died in the US so far during the pandemic, by far the worst tolls in absolute terms globally.

Resident Doctors Begin Indefinite Nationwide Strike

Logo of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

 

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has embarked on a nationwide strike to press home its demand.

The union says the strike is coming on the heels of the inability of the Federal Government to meet its yearnings in June this year.

The demands by the doctors include a pay rise, better welfare, and adequate facilities, union leaders said.

The industrial action by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), which represents some 40 percent of doctors, is the latest in a string of stoppages by medics to hit Africa’s most populous nation as it struggles to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have kicked off the strike today,” NARD president Aliyu Sokomba told AFP, adding that medics treating virus cases would join the action this time around.

“There will be no exemptions,” he said.

READ ALSO: Amid COVID-19, Nigeria’s Revenues Have Fallen By Almost 60 Percent – Buhari

Sokomba said long-standing issues such as provision of life insurance, a pay rise, payment of salary arrears as well as provision of adequate facilities for doctors were the reasons for the strike.

“We have arrears of 2014, 2015, 2016, salary shortfalls that were supposed to have been paid over six years ago, still pending,” he said.

“These are the issues we have and they appear not to have been addressed up till this day,” he said.

“It is an indefinite strike,” Sokomba said, adding that it would be called off only when the union’s demands were met.

Strikes by medics have been common in Nigeria where the health sector is underfunded.

The authorities fear any reduction in capacity could severely hamper its ability to tackle the pandemic as the number of cases continues to rise.

In June, NARD staged a week-long strike over welfare and inadequate protective kits but doctors treating virus cases remained on the job.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of 200 million inhabitants, has recorded over 55,000 Covid-19 cases and 1,057 deaths.

Resident Doctors To Embark On Indefinite Nationwide Strike From Monday

 

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has announced that it will embark on an indefinite nationwide strike from Monday.

The National Executive Council of the resident doctors said this was part of its resolutions at a virtual meeting held on Wednesday.

The meeting which was attended by over 200 doctors – NOC, NEC, past presidents, caucus leaders, committee chairmen, and observers, was held to review the 21-day ultimatum issued to government which elapsed on August 17.

The NEC noted that in spite of the inclusion of the residency funding in the revised 2020 budget, the government has not made plans to implement the payment after several promises by stakeholders.

It also noted the failure of the Federal Government to procure group life insurance and death in service benefits for all health workers.

Another observation the council made was that though an agreement has been reached between the government and stakeholders in the health sector to pay COVID-19 inducement allowance for 6 months (April – September), payment was only made for April, May and June in some institutions and the process was, thereafter, abandoned.


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“NEC observed the insincerity of the government in determining the revised hazard allowance for all health workers which was supposed to commence in September 2020,” the council said.

“NEC noted nonpayment of the outstanding salary shortfall of 2014, 2015, 2016 under the guise of the so called appeal of the National industrial Court decision that granted the judgment in favor of the payment in the first place by Federal Ministry of health.

“NEC observed the plight of her members in state tertiary hospitals such as the nondomestication and non-implementation of Medical Residency Training Act at the state level, the non-implementation of appropriate salary structure, and the nonpayment of owed salaries.”

 

The resident doctors and the Federal Government have been in a long drawn battle over the payment of hazard allowance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of July, no fewer than 200 doctors in Lagos State alone contracted the coronavirus in the line of duty.

 

They, thereafter, resolved, among other things, to proceed on an indefinite nationwide strike action from 8:00 am on Monday until some conditions are met.

One of the conditions includes the immediate payment of the Medical Residency Training funding to all her members as approved in the revised 2020 budget.

Another condition stated by the NEC, is the provision of genuine group life insurance and death in service benefits for all health workers, as well as, the payment of the outstanding April/May and June COVID-19 inducement allowance to all health workers.

Other conditions to be met include: “Determination of the revised hazard allowance for all health workers as agreed in previous meetings with relevant stakeholders.

“Immediate payment of the salary shortfalls of 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“Doctors working under the various tertiary health institutions to be placed on appropriate salary grade level and universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act of 2017 in all State tertiary health institutions.

“Payment of all arrears owed our members in Federal and States tertiary health institutions, arising from the consequential adjustment of the National minimum wage”.

They also appealed to Nigerians to “bear with us during this period of industrial disharmony”, while calling on relevant stakeholders to intervene in the issue to ensure speedy resolution.

US Hits 5 Million COVID-19 Cases As Trump Is Criticised Over Relief Package

In this collage, US President Donald Trump arrives for a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, Lisa Taylor receives a COVID-19 vaccination, Medics with Austin-Travis County EMS transport a nursing home resident with coronavirus symptoms and Boxes of food are distributed by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank to people facing economic or food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The United States on Sunday reached the extraordinary milestone of five million coronavirus cases as President Donald Trump was accused of flouting the constitution by unilaterally extending a virus relief package.

The US has been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic, recording nearly 163,000 deaths — by far the highest of any country, ahead only of Brazil, which on Saturday became the second country to pass 100,000 deaths.

The global death toll is at least 727,288 since the novel coronavirus emerged in China last December, according to a running tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

Nearly 20 million cases have been registered worldwide — probably reflecting only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

As around much of the globe, the small African country of Malawi on Sunday imposed tight social restrictions to try to contain the disease, shutting all bars and churches, while hot weekend weather drew crowds in Europe to the beach.

In Washington, the new virus relief package — announced by Trump on Saturday after talks between Republican and Democrat lawmakers hit a wall — was “absurdly unconstitutional,” senior Democrat Nancy Pelosi told CNN.

Fellow Democrat and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, appearing on ABC, dismissed Trump’s unilateral measures as “unworkable, weak and far too narrow.”

But with the nation’s economy still struggling to dig itself out of an enormous hole, Democrats appeared skittish about any legal challenge to a relief package they see as seriously inadequate.

READ ALSO: Trump Signs Orders Extending Economic Relief For Americans

The four executive orders Trump signed Saturday at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey will, among other things, defer payroll taxes and provide some temporary unemployment benefits.

The president was seen as keen to show himself taking decisive action ahead of a November 3 election that could see him ousted from office, with polls showing a large majority of voters unhappy with his handling of the crisis.

On Sunday night, Trump blamed what he called Democratic stubbornness for his being forced to take executive action.

“The Democrats were unwilling to do anything,” Trump told reporters as he boarded Air Force One to return to Washington.

“It was time to act,” he said. “We have to get money out to the people.”

Summer crowds

Democrats say the president’s orders infringe on Congress’s constitutional authority over the federal budget.

But Pelosi demurred when asked about possible legal action, saying, “Whether (it was) legal or not takes time to figure out.”

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow defended the new measures.

“Maybe we’re going to go to court on them. We’re going to go ahead with our actions anyway,” he said.

Trump’s Democratic opponent in the presidential election, Joe Biden, tweeted that five million coronavirus cases was “a number that boggles the mind and breaks the heart.

“It shouldn’t have gotten this bad,” he said.

The US on Sunday had added 47,197 new cases in 24 hours, with 532 additional deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

US fatalities now total 162,913, and the number of infections is 5,041,473, the Baltimore-based university said.

Elsewhere, growing infections in and around Paris prompted French officials to make face masks compulsory outdoors in crowded areas and tourist hotspots in the city and surrounding areas from Monday.

The mask will be obligatory for all those aged 11 and over in “very crowded zones,” said a police statement, including the banks of the Seine River and more than 100 streets in the French capital.

As temperatures soared across western Europe, holidaymakers crowded beaches at the weekend despite warnings about the risk of infection.

Local authorities in Germany warned that some beaches and lakes would be closed if there were too many people.

Belgian police meanwhile arrested several people Saturday at the resort of Blankenberge after a brawl broke out on a beach between officers and youths they had told to leave for refusing to respect virus safety measures.

Around 5,000 people demonstrated in Vienna for increased financial support for nightlife and relaxing coronavirus regulations.

In Peru, indigenous people armed with spears and angry over what they consider government neglect of their communities in the pandemic assaulted a settlement for oil workers deep in the Amazon, triggering a clash with police that left three natives dead, the government said Sunday.

Back in the US, in another burst of defiance over health warnings, thousands of bikers converged on a town in South Dakota for what is billed as the largest cycle gathering in the world.

In past years, the 10-day rally in Sturgis has drawn hundreds of thousands of bikers to socialize, drink and party together — raising fears among some locals that this year’s version could be a superspreader event.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – AUGUST 03: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Medics with Austin-Travis County EMS transport a nursing home resident with coronavirus symptoms on August 03, 2020 in Austin, Texas. Texas has had the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the United States, following Florida and California. John Moore/Getty Images/AFP
PARAMOUNT, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 06: Boxes of food are distributed by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank to people facing economic or food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic on August 6, 2020 in Paramount, California. Around 2,500 motorists were expected to collect the food boxes which included a pamphlet urging recipients to complete the 2020 census as the spread of the coronavirus continues. The problem of food insecurity is increasing with almost 30 million respondents telling the U.S. Census Bureau they did not have enough to eat at some point during the week ending July 21. Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP
HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA – AUGUST 07: Lisa Taylor receives a COVID-19 vaccination from RN Jose Muniz as she takes part in a vaccine study at Research Centers of America on August 07, 2020 in Hollywood, Florida. Research Centers of America is currently conducting COVID-19 vaccine trials, implemented under the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed program. The center is recruiting volunteers to participate in the clinical trials, working with the Federal Government and major Pharmaceutical Companies, that are racing to develop a vaccine to potentially prevent COVID-19. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP
HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA – AUGUST 07: A patients blood samples are seen during a COVID-19 vaccination study at Research Centers of America on August 07, 2020 in Hollywood, Florida. Research Centers of America is currently conducting COVID-19 vaccine trials, implemented under the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed program. The center is recruiting volunteers to participate in the clinical trials, working with the Federal Government and major Pharmaceutical Companies, that are racing to develop a vaccine to potentially prevent COVID-19. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP
AUSTIN, TEXAS – AUGUST 07: Medical personnel train to receive Covid-129 patients at the Austin Convention Center on August 07, 2020 in Austin, Texas. The cavernous facility was prepared for use as a field hospital for Covid-19 patients, if Austin hospitals were to become overwhelmed. In recent weeks, however, Texas has seen the number of new Covid-19 hospitalizations decrease, even as pandemic-related deaths remain high. John Moore/Getty Images/AFP
AUSTIN, TEXAS – AUGUST 07: Austin-Travis County EMS medics transport a man with possible Covid-19 symptoms to the hospital on August 07, 2020 in Austin, Texas. Nationwide the African American community continues to be disproportionally affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Texas has seen the number of new Covid-19 hospitalizations decrease, even as Covid-19 deaths continue. John Moore/Getty Images/AFP
US President Donald Trump arrives for a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 5, 2020. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – AUGUST 08: General view of Atmosphere during Rick Ross Partners With Co-Founders of Feed Your City Challenge Music Industry Legend Tony Draper and Ricky Davis To Combat COVID-19 at Calder Casino on August 8, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Feed Your City Challenge/Tony Draper /AFP
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – AUGUST 08: General view of Atmosphere during Rick Ross Partners With Co-Founders of Feed Your City Challenge Music Industry Legend Tony Draper and Ricky Davis To Combat COVID-19 at Calder Casino on August 8, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Feed Your City Challenge/Tony Draper /AFP

Trump Says US Coronavirus Vaccine ‘Possible’ By Election

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he departs for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from the White House on July 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images/AFP
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he departs for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from the White House on July 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images/AFP

 

President Donald Trump on Thursday said that a vaccine may be produced ahead of the US presidential election on November 3 — a more optimistic timeline than given by his top infectious diseases doctor.

Asked by radio talk show host Geraldo Rivera whether a vaccine could come by the election, Trump said: “I think in some cases, yes, possible before. But right around that time.”

Trump said the vaccine would be ready “sooner than the end of the year. Could be much sooner.”

“We have a lot of vaccines under study by the way. We look like we’re going to be really good on vaccines and therapeutics also,” he said.

READ ALSO: China Accuses US Of ‘Political Suppression’ Over TikTok, WeChat Ban

A more careful note was sounded on Wednesday by Dr Anthony Fauci, a lead government official on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Fauci said he was “cautiously optimistic” of success and that “somewhere towards the end of the year, the beginning of 2021, we will know whether they have a safe and effective vaccine.”

The Trump administration is pouring federal funds into vaccine development, seen as the only way to stop the virus and end the mass shutdowns and social distancing that have crippled economies around the world.

AFP

DR Congo Ends Virus Health Emergency, Borders To Reopen

 

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has lifted a health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak and ordered a reopening in three stages of business activities, schools, and borders.

The vast country of more than 80 million people has recorded 8,534 infections including 196 deaths since March 10.

Tshisekedi said the figures place the Democratic Republic of Congo as ninth worst-hit country in Africa in terms of the number of cases and 12th in terms of deaths, “putting paid to all catastrophic forecasts for our country at the start of the epidemic.”

Tshisekedi’s government proclaimed a health emergency on March 24 in which borders were closed, as well as schools, bars and restaurants.

In a televised speech late on Tuesday, the president announced an end to the emergency.

He said that from Wednesday all shops, banks, restaurants and bars would be allowed to reopen, public transport can resume and large gatherings are permitted.

Schools and universities can reopen on August 3, and airports, ports, borders and places of worship on August 15.

But he warned that “the end of the state of emergency does not mean the end of the COVID-19 epidemic in our country,” reminding citizens to wear masks in public and wash their hands frequently.

Macron Clashes With Rutte And Kurz At EU Summit

Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte (L) looks on next to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel ( 2nd L), President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (2nd R) and France's President Emmanuel Macron prior the start of the European Council building in Brussels, on July 18, 2020, as the leaders of the European Union hold their first face-to-face summit over a post-virus economic rescue plan. Francisco Seco / POOL / AFP
Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte (L) looks on next to Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel ( 2nd L), President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (2nd R) and France’s President Emmanuel Macron prior the start of the European Council building in Brussels, on July 18, 2020. Francisco Seco / POOL / AFP

 

Tempers flared as the deadlocked EU coronavirus summit rolled over from Sunday into Monday, with French President Emmanuel Macron upbraiding his Dutch and Austrian colleagues and threatening a walk-out.

Frustration had been building for three days as the 27 leaders wrangled over the size and form of an up to 750-billion-euro ($860-billion) package of loans and grants to lift virus-ravaged countries out of recession.

An alliance of so-called “frugals”, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria, has been resisting calls for the bulk of the funds to be doled out as non-repayable grants.

READ ALSO: I Almost Killed My Daughter, Kanye West Reveals At Chaotic Opening Of Presidential Bid

Macron, according to witnesses, bashed the table, attacked Kurz for leaving the room to make a call, and accused Rutte of behaving like former British premier David Cameron — whose strategy “ended badly”.

Cameron often took a hard line at EU summits seeking concessions for Britain, but ended up losing a Brexit referendum — and his job.

According to a European source Kurz was offended by Macron’s behaviour.

A member of the French delegation told AFP that some of the accounts of what had happened has been “a little caricatured” but confirmed that Macron had “taken a hard line on their inconsistencies”.

According to officials, Macron had denounced the two leaders for their insistence that the recovery funds take the form of loans with strict conditions attached, rather than as grants — and had said he would rather walk away than make a bad deal.

France wants at least 400 billion euros to be available as grants, but the Frugals want to cut that back substantially.

US Records 63,872 New Virus Cases In 24 Hours – Johns Hopkins

 

The United States on Sunday recorded 63,872 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours, Johns Hopkins University reported in its real-time tally.

That put the total number of cases in the US, the nation hardest hit by the global pandemic, at 3,762,081, the Baltimore-based university said at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Monday).

Another 514 deaths were reported, bringing total fatalities to 140,474.

READ ALSO: I Almost Killed My Daughter, Kanye West Reveals At Chaotic Opening Of Presidential Bid

The US has recorded more than 60,000 new cases every day for the last six days, peaking at a record 77,638 infections on Friday.

President Donald Trump, in a Fox News interview broadcast on Sunday, again defended his handling of the pandemic, claiming that the US was “the envy of the world” on testing. Referring to his early prediction that the virus would disappear, he said, “I’ll be right eventually.”

He again opposed any national mandate for mask-wearing, saying, “I want people to have a certain freedom.”

President Of Bolivian Football Federation Dies After Contracting COVID-19

 

The president of the Bolivian Football Federation (FBF), Cesar Salinas, died Sunday after being hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month, officials said.

The federation confirmed his death in a statement that highlighted his “dedication and commitment to national and international football.”

Salinas, 58, had chaired the FBF since 2018.

READ ALSO: Ligue 1 Club Monaco Sack Coach Moreno

He was a director of The Strongest in La Paz, a century-old Bolivian soccer institution. His wife, head of the same club, also tested positive for COVID-19.

“My condolences to the family and friends of Cesar Salinas, president of the Bolivian Football Federation. They have all my support in these hard times,” wrote the interim president of Bolivia, Jeanine Anez, on Twitter.

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said: “Conmebol and the South American soccer family deeply regret the death.”

Salinas had recently met with authorities to plan to restart football in Bolivia after the virus shutdown. With 11 million inhabitants, Bolivia has registered 58,136 cases and 2,106 deaths.

Bollywood Superstar Aishwarya Rai Tests Positive For COVID-19

 

 

Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai has tested positive for the coronavirus, a Mumbai city authority official told AFP Sunday, just a day after her actor father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan said he was in hospital with the infectious disease.

Her eight-year-old daughter, Aaradhya, was also COVID-19 positive, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation official, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

Bachchan’s actor son Abhishek, Rai’s husband, said he too was positive but that both their cases were mild.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan took the Miss World crown in 1994 and made her acting debut in the late 1990s.

She went on to become one of the most famous Bollywood faces abroad as well as in India and has been a regular on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. She married Abhishek Bachchan in 2007.

The elder Bachchan, 77 — idolised in India and affectionately known as “Big B” — has a more than four-decade-long career in the film industry.

He was voted “actor of the millennium” in a BBC online poll in 1999 and became the first Indian actor to gain a lookalike at London’s Madame Tussauds waxworks museum.

India on Sunday reported its highest single-day virus tally of more than 28,600 cases, for a nationwide total of just under 850,000 infections.

The nation of 1.3 billion people is the third-worst infected in the world after the United States and Brazil.

AFP

As Virus Rages In US, Trump Finally Wears A Mask

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

 

US President Donald Trump wore a face mask in public for the first time Saturday, finally yielding to intense pressure to set a public health example as the coronavirus rampages across America.

Trump had on a dark mask featuring the presidential seal as he walked through the corridors of Walter Reed military hospital outside Washington to meet with wounded veterans.

Trump strode past reporters and did not stop to speak to them about what had become a hotly anticipated moment — would he have a change of heart on a practice recommended by the government’s own medical experts, even as he resisted?

“I’ve never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place,” Trump said as he left the White House.

News reports this week said aides practically begged the president to relent and wear a mask in public — and let himself be photographed — as coronavirus cases soar in some states and as Trump trails Democrat Joe Biden badly in polls ahead of the November election.

Trump has steadfastly defended his administration’s handling of the pandemic even though the US is the hardest-hit country in the world.

The country has recently seen several days of more than 60,000 new cases, nearly 135,000 people have died and states have been left to figure out on their own how to reopen without a clear and coherent strategy from the White House.

Masks ‘a great thing’

To wear a mask or not has become a sort of political fulcrum for a deeply divided America.

Conservatives who back Trump often refuse to don one on grounds it impinges on their freedom, while progressives tend to back the practice as a show of collective responsibility at a time of a life-or-death crisis.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people wear masks in public when they cannot engage in social distancing.

But Trump — at political rallies, media briefings and elsewhere — has repeatedly avoided wearing a mask, even after staffers at the White House tested positive for the virus and as more aides, including Vice President Mike Pence, have taken to wearing them.

In May Trump even made fun of Biden when the latter started wearing a mask in public, sharing a tweet that featured an unflattering photograph of the former vice president in a black face covering.

Trump has reportedly told aides that wearing a mask would make him look weak and he could not stomach the idea of letting the media photograph him in one.

Even Saturday as he left the White House to head to Walter Reed, Trump made it sound like he would wear a mask only because he would be in a hospital — not that he had come around and embraced the idea of donning one regularly.

“I think when you’re in a hospital, especially in that particular setting, where you’re talking to a lot of soldiers and people that, in some cases, just got off the operating tables, I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask,” Trump told reporters.

Usman Outclasses Masvidal As UFC Debuts On ‘Fight Island’ In UAE

 

Kamaru Usman put on a ‘Fight Island’ masterclass Sunday to retain his Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight world title by grinding down a brave Jorge Masvidal in Abu Dhabi.

“I’m at the top of the mountain and everyone’s looking at me,” declared the 33-year-old Usman after scoring a unanimous points decision 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 on the three judges’ cards.

The Nigerian-American Usman (17-1) looked the fresher with Masvidal (35-14) having taken the UFC 251 headline bout at just six days’ notice when Brazil’s Gilbert Burns (19-3) tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to travel.

The Las Vegas-based UFC pulled off a power-packed schedule with three world title fights to kick off a series of mixed martial arts cards.

It helped fulfil supremo Dana White’s vision of a coronavirus-free ‘Fight Island’, something he first floated when the pandemic caused a global shutdown of sport in March.

UFC has decamped to Abu Dhabi’s locked down Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates until the end of July to isolate fighters from the threat of the COVID-19 and ensure the shows roll on.

Strict protocols mean athletes and staff are tested twice before leaving for the UAE, and twice again on arrival, before spending 48 hours in quarantine — measures that caught out Usman’s original opponent Burns (19-3).

Usman never gave the 35-year-old replacement Masvidal the space to land the combinations for which he is noted, and he monstered Cuban-American when the action hit the cage, and the canvas.

“Gamebred (Masvidal) is the biggest, baddest dude out there right now and I had to take him,” said Usman.

“I know a lot of noise was made about him preparing on short notice but all these guys are preparing for one guy and that’s me.

“I’m just at a level better. I have more tools in the tool box and when I need to I can pull them out and use them.”

The pair had exchanged heated words via social media in the lead-up to the event -– Masvidal claiming his opponent had “crossed lines” – and they were chipping away at each other in between rounds.

But there were smiles at the end when the judges ruled overwhelmingly in favour of Usman with Masvidal, who was without his coach Mike Brown who had also tested positive for COVID-19, applauding his opponent.

Usman’s 12-0 UFC welterweight record is equalled only by future Hall of Famer Georges St-Pierre (26-2).

The headline fight and the two other title fights delivered on the hype that had been built around the “Fight Island” showpiece.

Australian featherweight world champion Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) edged the tightest of split decisions 48-47, 47-48, 48-47 in a thrilling rematch against former champion from Hawaii, Max Holloway (21-6).

Brazil’s former three-time world champion Jose Aldo (28-7) was stopped in the fifth by relentless Russian Petr Yan (15-1) who claimed the vacant bantamweight crown.

The 27-year-old Yan rained in blows on his 33-year-old opponent for three minutes before the referee stepped in to save the veteran.

“Aldo is a legend. I have only respect for him,” said Yan. “It was a good knockout. I liked it.”

Before those title fights came a brutal women’s strawweight rematch between America’s Rose Namajunas (10-4) and the Brazilian Jessica Andrade (20-8).

Andrade had stripped the title from Namajunas in May 2019 by pile-driving her to the canvas for a knockout.

This time the pair traded blows before the 28-year-old Namajunas, her face bloodied, edged a split decision 28-29, 29-28, 29-28.

The 38-year-old Namajunas will now likely get a world title shot against champion Zhang Weili (21-1) from China, who took the title from Andrade 11 months ago.