Robert Lewandowski bagged his 26th league goal this season as leaders Bayern Munich maintained their four-point lead by brushing aside Union Berlin 2-0 behind closed doors on Sunday on the Bundesliga’s restart weekend.
Lewandowski netted a first-half penalty and defender Benjamin Pavard added a late header in Berlin after the Bundesliga became the first top European league on Saturday to resume during the coronavirus pandemic.
A rapid coronavirus test touted by President Donald Trump and used to test White House officials produces false negatives in almost half of all cases, according to a new study by researchers at NYU Langone Health.
The test by Abbott Laboratories, which returns positive results in five minutes and negative in 13 minutes, as compared with machines that have a turnaround time of 45 minutes.
The researchers found that the Abbott test produced false negatives about a third of the time when the virus sample is taken using a nasal swab was transported in a liquid solution, and 48 percent of the time when the swab was dry, which is the method recommended by the company.
The results of the study — which has not yet been peer-reviewed and was posted on a medical preprint site — were contested by Abbott, which told AFP it was unclear that the samples were taken correctly.
“Abbott has distributed more than 1.8 million ID NOW tests and the reported rate of false negatives to Abbott is at 0.02 percent,” Scott Stoffel, a spokesman for the company said.
He added that another study from the University of Detroit had found the test to be 98 percent accurate.
The NYU study’s authors said they decided to investigate the test because the speed with which it produced results was seen as useful for their own institution, particularly the medical center’s emergency department.
By comparison, a test made by Roche returns results in 3.5 hours while one by Cepheid takes 45 minutes, and both have similar reliability, said the study authors.
These tests look for the virus’ genetic material and use a method that quickly makes copies to amplify an initially small sample to a level that is detectable.
The authors wrote their study “revealed low sensitivity with high false-negative results by Abbott ID NOW platform,” adding this raised concern about “its suitability as a diagnostic tool for symptomatic patients.”
The test received wide attention when it received regulatory approval and was shown off by Trump at the White House at the end of March.
Protests have erupted in the western Malian city of Kayes after a police officer shot a youngster dead, escalating simmering anti-government sentiment in the area.
Young men were riding motorbikes on Monday night — soon after Mali lifted an unpopular night-time curfew — when an off-duty police officer attempted to stop them and subsequently shot and killed an 18-year-old named Seyba Tamboura, according to government officials.
Mamadou Zoumana Sidibe, the governor of the Kayes region, said Tamboura’s friends torched a police station during the night in response.
They then had barricaded themselves on a bridge in the city, where they remained on Tuesday.
“This morning tension is still high,” Sidibe said.
Security Minister Salif Traore has travelled to Kayes to oversee the police operation. “We have asked the forces not to use force,” he said.
The unrest follows a string of anti-government protests in Kayes, concerning both Mali’s legislative election and its coronavirus restrictions.
The West African state held a long-delayed parliamentary election in March in which the results for dozens of seats were disputed.
Protesters took to the streets in several cities, including Kayes, when the Supreme Court declared the winners of the contested seats in late April.
City residents had also demonstrated against a night-time curfew meant to stem the spread of coronavirus, which the government lifted on Saturday.
Seydou Diallo, the regional director of Kayes police force, apologised for the killing of Tamboura and said the offending officer had been arrested.
“We cannot tolerate such indiscipline,” he said. “This is an unfortunate incident for the police”.
The United States has logged a second consecutive day of fewer than 900 coronavirus deaths, as the World Health Organization hailed global progress but warned of the need for “extreme vigilance” against a second wave.
Optimism was tempered by the increasingly dire economic situation, with France showing a huge fall in activity last month and a warning that a major US airline would likely go under because of the pandemic, as jobs vanish and businesses go to the wall.
The virus has now killed more than 285,000 people, according to a tally compiled by AFP. The number of infections has surpassed 4.1 million.
Infection rates in many countries have started to slow, the World Health Organization (WHO) noted, with weeks of lockdown paying dividends.
“The good news is that there has been a great deal of success in slowing the virus and ultimately saving lives,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing.
But the global health body warned of a second wave of transmission, with emergencies chief Michael Ryan lamenting that some governments were choosing to “drive through this blind” by not ramping up capacity to test and trace.
Swathes of the US have opened up in recent days, despite warnings that the virus is not fully under control in the world’s worst-hit country.
There was some qualified good news for Americans on Monday, with a tally showing 830 deaths in 24 hours — a second consecutive day of fewer than 900.
Nevertheless, more than 80,000 people are known to have died from the disease since it hit America’s shores.
The true human cost could be much higher.
In a study, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of dead in worst-hit New York could be around 30 percent more than the official toll.
– White House fears –
The virus appeared to have gained a foothold in the White House over the weekend, with a second confirmed case in the West Wing.
Staff there were told Monday they had to wear masks at work, and Donald Trump said he might limit contact with his deputy after an aide to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive.
Trump, who is desperately seeking to reboot the economy ahead of the November election, said the US was making “tremendous strides” in ramping up testing and the number of virus infections is “coming down very rapidly.”
He said it was essential to get the country reopened.
“The people want our country open,” the president said.
But Trump’s top infectious diseases expert, Anthony Fauci, was set to warn the Senate Tuesday of “needless suffering and death” if that re-opening happens too quickly, according to the New York Times.
“We risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal,” he told the paper.
In California, which retains many of the restrictions dispensed with by other states, Tesla’s outspoken boss Elon Musk said he would defy local rules and get his plant back in action.
“Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules,” Musk said in a tweet.
“I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
Musk’s impatience — reflected in anti- lockdown protests throughout the US — comes as new figures showed the pain being felt all around the world.
On Tuesday, France reported a 27 percent plunge in economic activity for April compared with pre-pandemic forecasts.
Japanese auto giant Toyota said it expected a 79.5 percent drop in annual operating profit this fiscal year, calling the effect of the virus “wide-ranging, significant and serious.”
Industry chiefs say the business landscape could look very different in the future.
“It’s most likely,” Boeing CEO David Calhoun told a reporter when asked if a major US airline could go bust over the coming months.
“You know something will happen in September,” Calhoun said. “Traffic levels will not be back to 100 percent, they won’t even be back to 25.”
– ‘Very emotional’ –
In Europe, where infection rates and death tolls have significantly tailed off, millions of people have begun emerging from lockdown.
Spaniards revelled in being able to visit outdoor terraces and cafes after months under one of the world’s toughest lockdowns, although virus hotspots such as Madrid and Barcelona remain under wraps.
“It’s very emotional, almost as if we were opening for the first time,” said a smiling Raffa Olivier after setting up tables outside his ice-cream parlour in the seaside town of Tarragona.
Shopping strips were once again populated in Greece, while in other parts of Europe — from the Netherlands to Switzerland and Croatia — youngsters headed back to the classroom after weeks at home.
In Asia, normal life was also getting back on track with trains restarting in India later Tuesday.
Shanghai Disneyland reopened at the start of the week, and many workers returned to offices in Hong Kong.
There was also light at the end of the tunnel for sports fans.
Italian football’s Serie A clubs are set to return to team training from May 18, and Germany’s Bundesliga will kick off on Saturday — but without fans.
“It’s a good feeling. We are now looking forward to being able to resume playing,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
It is “an important and wonderful signal for the Bundesliga.”
Britain’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped to 26,097 on Wednesday — the second-highest in Europe behind Italy and third-highest in the world — as the government took into account fatalities outside hospital, including care homes, for the first time.
The increase came after surprise news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had become a father again at age 55, several months earlier than expected, and just weeks after he was taken to hospital with COVID-19.
Downing Street announced that his partner, Carrie Symonds, 32, gave birth to a healthy baby boy, prompting messages of congratulation from across the political spectrum at home and abroad.
The rare good news was soured however by the additional 4,419 deaths in the overall coronavirus death toll, just as Johnson, who returned to work on Monday, is under pressure to ease a month-long lockdown.
Until now, Britain had reported only deaths of people who had tested positive for COVID-19 in hospital but there has been mounting concern about high numbers of unreported victims in the wider community.
On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics said deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending April 17 were running at roughly double the five-year average and were the highest weekly total since 1993.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday said there were an additional 3,811 deaths included in the outbreak since the start of March, on top of figures from the last 24 hours.
“They don’t represent a sudden surge in the number of deaths,” he told reporters.
According to an AFP tally from official sources at 1300 GMT on Wednesday, Britain has now leapfrogged the tolls in France and Spain and is the second-worst affected country in Europe, behind Italy’s 27,359 deaths.
The United States has the world’s worst death toll with 58,355.
Britain has widened its testing regime for COVID-19 to care homes, the over-65s and people unable to work from home, as part of increased measures to curb the outbreak.
A total of 85 frontline workers in the state-run National Health Service (NHS) have died from the coronavirus, and 23 in social care, according to the government.
There remain questions about the provision of personal protective equipment to medics and others dealing with patients, and the availability of testing.
Raab, who has deputised for Johnson during his illness and recovery, warned the government is not yet ready to ease lockdown restrictions.
“This issue of a second spike and the need to avoid it, it’s not a theoretical risk,” he said.
“Having relaxed restrictions in Germany over the last week, they’ve seen a rise in the transmission rate of coronavirus.
“We’re in a delicate and dangerous moment. We’re coming through the peak, but we’re not there yet.”
‘Relief and joy’
Britain shut non-essential shops and services, and ordered people to stay at home except to shop for groceries and medicines, on March 27.
A review of the measures is expected on May 7, amid dire warnings about the economic impact and indications of frustration at the continued confinement.
Johnson held a lunchtime telephone call with the leader of the main opposition Labour party, Keir Starmer who has called for more clarity on the lockdown exit plan.
Starmer earlier joined well-wishers in congratulating Johnson on becoming a father again, particularly after his recent experience. Symonds also displayed COVID-19 symptoms but was not tested.
“Whatever differences we have in this house, as human beings we all recognise the anxiety the prime minister and Carrie must have gone through in these past few weeks,” he told parliament.
“I really hope this brings them incredible relief and joy.”
Johnson had to spend three nights in intensive care, and later admitted his illness “could have gone either way”.
He was present for the birth at an unnamed NHS hospital in London and would be taking some paternity leave later in the year, his spokesman said.
Johnson has at least five other children, including four with his second wife, Marina Wheeler, from whom he split in 2018.
He also had a daughter as a result of an extra-marital affair while he was mayor of London, according to a 2013 court case.
The news of his youngest child’s birth came as a surprise, as Symonds was not thought to be due for several weeks.
Both she and the baby were said to be doing “very well”.
As with other poor countries in the region, there are fears that it is ill-equipped to handle a large outbreak.
Nabiam said that a “good number” of members of an interministerial coronavirus committee had caught COVID-19, suggesting that this was because they have been “at the forefront” of fighting the disease.
Health Minister Antonio Deuna told AFP that three other government ministers had been infected in addition to the premier.
Interior Minister Botche Cande has tested positive, he said, as well as Secretary of State for Public Order Mario Fambe, and Secretary of State for Regional Integration Monica Boiro.
Deuna added that several ministers and government officials were tested after the country reported its first coronavirus death on Sunday, in Senior Police Commissioner Biom Nantchongo.
A police officer assigned to the interior ministry, who requested anonymity, said that ministry staff are in close contact and often converse without wearing masks.
Britain’s health minister said Tuesday he was “very worried” at signs of a coronavirus-related syndrome emerging in children but stressed it needed more research and remained very rare.
The state-run National Health Service (NHS) issued an alert at the weekend about a small number of children presenting an unusual set of symptoms, including abdominal pain and inflammation around the heart.
They have required admission to intensive care, according to a report in the Health Service Journal.
“I’m very worried about the early signs that in rare cases, there is an impact of an auto-immune response in children that causes a significant disease,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LBC radio.
He added: “It’s a new disease that we think may be caused by coronavirus and the COVID-19 virus.”
But Hancock said that while some of the children who have this new disease tested positive for the virus, others had not.
“We’re doing a lot of research now. What I would also stress is that it is rare. Although it is very significant for those children who do get it, the number of cases is small,” he said.
The Guardian newspaper reported that there had been at least 12 cases.
According to the Paediatric Intensive Care Society, the NHS alert warned of common overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and atypical Kawasaki disease and blood parameters consistent with severe COVID-19.
TSS is a serious illness associated with infections while Kawasaki causes blood vessels to become inflamed and is mostly found in children under the age of five.
The national medical director for NHS England, Stephen Powis, said on Monday it was “too early to say” whether the new disease was linked to coronavirus but the issue was being looked into urgently.
England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said it was “entirely plausible” that it was linked to COVID-19.
Children have died from coronavirus but serious complications are rare.
“Evidence from throughout the world shows us that children appear to be the part of the population least affected by this infection,” said Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
But he added: “New diseases may present in ways that surprise us, and clinicians need to be made aware of any emerging evidence of particular symptoms or of underlying conditions which could make a patient more vulnerable to the virus.”
The organisers of the French Open, who were criticised for unilaterally moving the tournament to a September start without consulting other tennis federations, could delay the event by another week, a report said Friday.
The claycourt Grand Slam could now start on September 27 instead of September 20, preceded by a week of qualification matches, Le Parisien newspaper said.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) declined to confirm the report, but said in a statement: “The FFT is in contact with the international bodies, the ATP, WTA and ITF, and is waiting for the calendar to be confirmed by them.”
The FFT caused surprise in the tennis world by announcing in mid-March, just as France was going into lockdown because of the pandemic outbreak, that it was moving from its original May 24-June 7 slot to the September date.
If the tournament is delayed until September 27, it would give a two-week pause after the US Open, which is currently scheduled to finish on September 13.
Wimbledon, which was to have been played from June 29 to July 12, has been cancelled.
President Donald Trump’s administration said Friday it would sell ventilators to at least four developing countries to fight the coronavirus, saying US needs were being met.
Trump said he spoke by telephone to the presidents of Indonesia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Honduras and promised that the United States would send the vital medical equipment.
“We will be sending them desperately needed Ventilators, of which we have recently manufactured many, and helping them in other ways,” Trump wrote on Twitter of his call to President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador, which has seen a spike in coronavirus cases.
Michael Kozak, the top US diplomat for Latin America, confirmed the United States was selling the ventilators.
“We’re seeing our own needs met; we can become an exporter again,” Kozak told reporters.
“I think in many of these cases that the countries just want to buy them. They aren’t asking us for financing,” he said.
But Kozak said some countries may use assistance from the United States to make the purchases.
Governors led by New York’s Andrew Cuomo said they were seriously short of ventilators at the start of the pandemic and had faulted the federal government.
But Cuomo last week said New York would send ventilators to Michigan and Maryland as the situation had stabilized in his own state — the worst-hit by the pandemic that has killed more than 50,000 people in the United States.
With companies such as Ford and General Motors switching to ventilator production, Trump has boasted that the country as a whole is in good shape and said foreign leaders were asking him for supplies.
“No country is equipped like we are. We have 11 different places making ventilators,” Trump told reporters Thursday.
“Our country, as you know, doesn’t need them now. Our governors are very happy,” Trump said.
In his tweets, Trump praised Honduras and El Salvador for helping curb emigration to the United States — a signature issue for the mogul-turned-president.
Guatemala is also a major source of migrants but has temporarily stopped accepting deported citizens from the United States due to coronavirus infections.
Kozak said that Guatemala — not mentioned in Trump’s tweets on ventilators — was not being punished.
“There isn’t some hard linkage here between cooperation on removals and ventilators. We’re trying to get medicine and medical supplies to anybody who needs them”
Britain’s banking sector on Wednesday scrapped billions of pounds (dollars) in shareholder dividends and share buybacks after the Bank of England requested the move to boost liquidity and help cope with the coronavirus crisis.
The British central bank said in a statement that its Prudential Regulation Authority division had asked lenders to stop the payments until the end of the year.
It also said it expected them not to pay any cash bonuses to top staff.
In response, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Standard Chartered all stated that they will scrap dividends and not pursue buybacks.
“The PRA welcomes the decisions by the boards of the large UK banks to suspend dividends and buybacks on ordinary shares until the end of 2020, and to cancel payments of any outstanding 2019 dividends in response to a request from us,” the regulator said in a statement.
“The PRA also expects banks not to pay any cash bonuses to senior staff, including all material risk takers, and is confident that bank boards are already considering and will take any appropriate further actions with regard to the accrual, payment and vesting of variable remuneration over coming months.”
Britain’s top banks have enough capital to weather severe recessions in both Britain and globally, as markets brace for a potentially huge downturn driven by the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the regulator.
“Although the decisions taken today will result in shareholders not receiving dividends, they are a sensible precautionary step given the unique role that banks need to play in supporting the wider economy through a period of economic disruption, alongside the extraordinary measures being taken by the authorities,” it said.
The UK lenders have become the latest corporate giants to scrap dividends as big global businesses scramble to save cash and safeguard against worsening virus turmoil.
The news, combined with the worsening COVID-19 crisis, sent banking shares tumbling on London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index, which sank three percent overall in early morning deals.
“UK banks, as many businesses across the world, are scrapping dividends due to an increased need of cash to survive the coronavirus crisis in the short run,” said Swissquote Bank analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya.
“Even if we may see a negative knee-jerk reaction from investors, the decision to hold onto the cash is the right one from a medium- and long-term perspective.
“In this respect, we expect to see a certain level of tolerance for ditched dividends,” Ozkardeskaya told AFP.