North Korea warns China desert dust could spread Covid-19, tells citizens to stay indoors




North Korea has warned its citizens to stay indoors, saying seasonal yellow dust blowing in from China might carry the new coronavirus into the country.“As the new coronavirus infections continue to spread around the world, the need to deal with the yellow dust and take thorough measures has become more critical,” North Korea’s official party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said on Thursday.How a President Joe Biden would rethink US strategy on North KoreaThe claim that the virus that causes Covid-19…



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Two Victorian schools closed as COVID cases spread to social housing block, Alerts for Bathurst 1000 visitors after virus found in raw sewage, Coronavirus cases surge across US, Australia death toll at 905


“This timeframe allows for the department to ensure the community is aware of the situation and for residents to get tested and get their results back before determining what the next steps are,” Victoria’s commander of testing and community engagement, Jeroen Weimar, said.

“We’re asking all these residents to come forward for asymptomatic testing at the dedicated testing station on site.”

The East Preston Islamic College has been closed for deep cleaning after it was revealed a student who was supposed to be self-isolating as they were a close contact of a positive case had attended school due to a misunderstanding.

“The college has taken positive steps to manage this situation and is working closely with us. It has been closed for deep cleaning,” Mr Weimar said.

“We need everyone working together to tackle this virus, and that’s exactly what the school community is doing. Staff and students who are close contacts – and their households – have been identified and are quarantining for 14 days.

“Extensive contact tracing is underway and we expect that as part of this work, additional cases will be detected.”

The Dallas Brooks Primary School has also been closed for deep cleaning.

A text message was sent to residents in the northern suburbs, urging them to get tested if they experienced any symptoms.

Pop-up testing sites and a community outreach program will be launched today.

Banyule Community Health and Himilo Community Connect will doorknock the area on Thursday to alert residents to the outbreak and provide information about testing and supports like financial assistance for missing work.

“We’re asking everyone who lives in this area or who has loved ones linked to these suburbs to please get tested if they have symptoms and to share this information within their families and broader community,” Mr Weimar said.



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Could Trump Spread Coronavirus at Town Hall? Likely Not, Experts Say


When President Trump makes his appearance on Thursday night on NBC News, he is expected to speak, probably maskless, with the moderator, Savannah Guthrie, and the audience sitting at least 12 feet away. But he is unlikely to transmit the coronavirus to any of those people, multiple experts said.

Since Mr. Trump first announced his diagnosis this month, questions about his infectiousness have swirled because it is still unclear exactly when and how he became ill or how severe his symptoms have been.

“From a safety standpoint, and a public health standpoint, I think it’s probably fine, although we don’t have all the information that I would like to have in order to make that call,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, an infectious disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Mr. Trump announced his positive test in the early hours of Oct. 2, and was given several powerful treatments in rapid succession, including monoclonal antibodies to give his immune system a boost and a steroid that prevents dangerous inflammation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that infected patients isolate for at least 10 days if they had mild or moderate illness, and for up to 20 days if they had severe symptoms. The steroid Mr. Trump received, dexamethasone, can also prolong the duration of infectiousness.

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But without information about Mr. Trump’s oxygen levels or scans of his lungs, it’s impossible to know how severe his illness has been, doctors said. Based only on the information available, “it sounds like ultimately, he had mild to moderate disease,” Dr. Walensky said.

After a hospitalization of four days, Mr. Trump has recuperated mostly at the White House, but he has appeared at several public events, including a rally on Tuesday in Johnstown, Pa.

The chief White House physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, has sometimes provided cryptic reports on the president’s recovery. On Monday, for example, Dr. Conley said that Mr. Trump had tested negative multiple times on the Abbott BinaxNOW test, which is not intended to confirm the absence of the virus. The doctor also alluded to other results not provided by any commercial test.

But on Tuesday, at the insistence of NBC News, the White House provided Mr. Trump’s result from a P.C.R. test — the gold standard lab diagnostic for the coronavirus — to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Clifford Lane, a clinical director at the National Institutes of Health.

Mr. Trump’s P.C.R. test had a cycle threshold, or surrogate for viral load, of 34.3, Dr. Fauci has said. According to data provided by the C.D.C., people with a threshold over 33 carry little to no live virus. Dr. Fauci and Dr. Lane also looked at results from attempts to grow live virus from Mr. Trump’s samples.

After reviewing the data, they cleared Mr. Trump to attend the town hall event. “We feel confident that we can say with a high degree of confidence that he is not transmissible,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview on Wednesday.

Other experts agreed with that assessment. “We actually have multiple bits of data that suggest that the president is not infectious, and that it would be safe for him to go and participate in the town hall,” said Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease physician at Columbia University.

Still, some experts questioned Mr. Trump’s decision to hold a live event so soon after his illness.

“It’s also about the appearance of what it means when a rich and powerful person can have access to all these technologies to potentially break out of public health isolation,” said Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center.

Even if Mr. Trump is unlikely to transmit the virus to others, NBC News should act with extreme caution, she said, adding, “The onus now falls on the organizers of the town hall to ensure that there is a level of public health mitigation — efforts put into place like wearing masks, keeping physical distance, ensuring good ventilation in the room.”



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Wall Street falls on disappointing US jobs data, Europe coronavirus spread


“The stimulus talk continues to be a little negative, and the virus outbreak in Europe that’s going to probably cause more shutdowns in various cities and countries, that’s a little bit of a negative, too,” said Scott Wren, senior global market strategist, Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

Still, Wren added, the market is expecting Washington will deliver another round of stimulus at some point, and continues to expect that various efforts to develop COVID-19 treatments and vaccines will pan out, eventually. If that wasn’t the case, the recent pullback in stocks would be much more severe, he said.

“The market is still pretty convinced we’re going to see good news on both fronts, it’s just not sure when,” Wren said.

The government’s latest weekly tally of unemployment claims underscores how the economy continues to be hobbled by the pandemic and recession that erupted seven months ago. The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to 898,000, a historically high number that exceeds analysts forecasts.

The report follows recent data that have signalled a slowdown in hiring. The economy is still roughly 10.7 million jobs short of recovering all the 22 million jobs that were lost when the pandemic struck in early spring.

The 10-year Treasury yield was down to 0.72 per cent from 0.73 per cent late Wednesday.

Investors continued to weigh the latest batch of earnings reports from major U.S. companies. Several reports so far have been better than expected, but the health crisis continues to cloud the outlook.

Londoners face new travel restrictions.Credit:Bloomberg

United Airlines slumped 4.7 per cent Thursday after reporting that its revenue plummeted over the summer. Morgan Stanley was up 1 per cent after the investment bank said its third-quarter profit jumped 25 per cent thanks to a surge in trading revenue and higher fees. Walgreens Boots Alliance rose 3.4 per cent after the drugstore chain’s latest quarterly results topped Wall Street’s forecasts.

Across the S&P 500, analysts are expecting companies to report another drop in profits for the summer from year-ago levels. But they’re forecasting the decline to moderate from the nearly 32 per cent plunge from the spring as the economy has shown signs of improvement.

A resurgence in coronavirus infections in Europe has also given investors cause to turn cautious. Fears are rising that Europe is running out of chances to control the new outbreak, as infections hit record daily highs in Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy and Poland. France slapped a 9 pm curfew on many of its biggest cities and Londoners face new travel restrictions as governments take increasingly tough actions.

The limits on public life are not as strict as the full lockdowns imposed during the spring, but will stunt or even reverse the economy’s recovery from recession, experts say.

European markets fell broadly after France imposed a curfew on many of its biggest cities and Londoners faced new travel restrictions. Germany’s DAX lost 2.5 per cent. The CAC 40 in France slid 2.1 per cent. The FTSE 100 in London fell 1.7 per cent.

AP

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Walmart to spread out deals to avoid Black Friday crowds – Long Island Business News


Walmart says it will spread out its traditional one-day Black Friday deals over three weekends in November in an effort to reduce crowds in its stores during a pandemic.

The nation’s largest retailer said Wednesday that more of its doorbuster deals will be reserved for online, as a way to steer more shoppers away from its stores.

The discounter, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, will kick off the deals online Nov. 4, with new deals in stores on Nov. 7. The second event will begin online Nov. 11, followed by a similar sales event in stores Nov. 14. It will wrap up its discounts online Nov. 25 with new discounts in stores Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional Black Friday.

Walmart said it will go back to limiting the number of customers inside its stores to 20% of the store’s capacity during the three big store events, as it had during the early phase of the pandemic. The stores will open at 5 a.m. during the three Black Friday events. It said customers will form a single line to enter the store. And workers will hand out sanitized shopping carts to customers. There will be so-called Health Ambassadors placed at entrances to greet customers and remind them to put on a mask.

For the first time, the discounter will also offer shoppers curbside pickup at its stores for Black Friday orders.

The details offer the first glimpse from a major retailer of what a reinvented Black Friday will look like during a pandemic. Other retailers like Macy’s have said that their Black Friday deals will be spread out and will encourage more online shopping, but none have given specific details.

The day after Thanksgiving has been losing its luster as the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season for the past several years. That’s because retailers started to usher in deals on Thanksgiving and then increasingly offering holiday discounts throughout the month. Still, despite the competition from other days, Black Friday has remained the busiest day of the year, according to ShopperTrak, which uses cameras in a range of stores to count traffic.

This holiday season, many stores are starting their holiday deals in October. Amazon, which usually holds its annual Prime Day sales event in mid-July, delayed it to this week. Other stores like Target and Walmart have joined in and are holding holiday sales that align with the event. Many stores, including Walmart, will not open their doors on Thanksgiving Day this year.

As shoppers avoid physical stores and focus more on online shopping, foot traffic at retail stores is expected to be down 22% to 25% during the six key weeks of the holiday season compared to the same year-ago period, according to a forecast from ShopperTrak.

And ShopperTrak expects the 10 busiest days this year will account for 34.2% of all holiday traffic, compared to 46.5% in 2019. As a result, the typical holiday traffic peaks will flatten, with more days having importance throughout the season, according to Brian Field, a senior director of the retail consulting practice at ShopperTrak, part of Sensormatic Solutions. Field said he still expects Black Friday will be the busiest day of the year.

The challenge for stores will be to get shoppers to buy earlier.

“If the deal is right, customers are willing to shop earlier,” Scott McCall, chief merchandising officer at Walmart, told The Associated Press.

McCall noted that Walmart was forced to rethink Black Friday when the pandemic was declared. He noted that many of the holiday items destined for the stores were rerouted to the e-commerce fulfillment centers.





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Protests Spread Across Indonesia Over Jobs Law


JAKARTA, Indonesia — Riot police officers fired tear gas and water cannons in Indonesia’s capital on Thursday as they tried to disperse large crowds of people protesting a sweeping new law that slashes protections for workers and the environment.

In cities and towns throughout Indonesia’s vast archipelago, tens of thousands of workers took part in the third day of a national strike against the deregulation law. Workers marched on foot and rode in motorbike parades as sound trucks blared protest messages. Union leaders denounced Parliament and President Joko Widodo for pushing the measure through.

In the center of Jakarta, the capital, protesters assembled in defiance of a city ban on gathering during the pandemic and tried to march to the presidential palace. Some threw rocks at the police and set fires in the city center, burning a police post and two transit stops. The police said officers had detained more than 800 people in Jakarta, while leaders of the national strike distanced themselves from the violence and said that the city’s protests were not affiliated with the labor action.

Around the country, the strike has been largely peaceful, although protesters clashed with the police in some cities. Organizers said protests were held in more than 60 locations, stretching from Aceh Province in the west to Papua Province more than 3,000 miles east. They estimated that about one million people joined the walkouts each day, though that figure could not be verified.

Opponents of the new statute, a 905-page omnibus measure that amends more than 75 laws, say that it benefits the wealthy elite by allowing companies to cut workers’ pay, eliminate days off and hire contract workers in place of permanent employees.

“The president is paying back the financiers who helped him win the election, not ordinary people who voted for him,” said Ermawati, 37, a leader of a factory strike in East Java who like many Indonesians uses one name. “They are killing us with the omnibus law.”

Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country, has the largest economy in Southeast Asia but has found itself at a disadvantage when competing with some of its neighbors for foreign investment, particularly Vietnam, a centralized Communist state that can move swiftly to offer investors land and incentives.

Indonesia, which has been a democratic country since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship more than two decades ago, every five years holds the world’s largest direct presidential elections. But its decentralized government is notoriously bureaucratic and difficult to navigate.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the country harder than any other in the region, infecting more than 320,000 people and throwing an estimated six million out of work, adding to the seven million already unemployed. The government expects the economy to contract this year for the first time since the Suharto era.

Bahlil Lahadalia, the head of the government’s Investment Coordinating Board, said the new law would make it easier for jobseekers to find work, including another three million people who enter the work force annually.

He said that 153 companies were ready to invest in Indonesia once the law takes effect, creating many new jobs.

“This is a law for the future, not the past,” he said. “There are complaints from businesspeople that it is difficult to get permits due to overlapping regulations, expensive land and expensive workers,” he said. “This job creation law is the answer to that.”

President Joko, a onetime furniture manufacturer and mayor, casts himself as a man of the people who has their interests at heart. As president, he has focused on economic development, particularly building roads, ports and airports.

But many opponents of deregulation feel betrayed by Mr. Joko, who won a second term last year, and are urging him to issue a regulation canceling the most damaging provisions of the law.

Workers say their viewpoint was not considered during deliberations.

The deregulation law is also opposed by environmentalists who say it will exempt many projects from environmental review, derailing efforts to halt the burning of rain forests and adding to carbon emissions that fuel climate change.

Disappointment was evident after Parliament approved the law, and the phrase #pindahnegara — shorthand for “move to another country” in the Indonesian language — trended on Twitter. Major news outlets posted tips on how to emigrate.

Last year, opponents staged mass protests against another omnibus bill that would have criminalized sex between unmarried people — effectively outlawing gay relations — and succeeded in getting Mr. Joko to withdraw that measure.

But persuading the president to withdraw this year’s bill is unlikely, since it was Mr. Joko and his government who pushed for the law’s approval, ending with its easy passage on Monday. Opponents are urging Mr. Joko either to not sign the law or to use his power to prevent the contentious provisions from taking effect.

If Mr. Joko does not yield, the union will go to court and try to block the law’s implementation, said Said Iqbal, the president of the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation and a leader of the strike.

On Batam, an island near Singapore, Djafri Rajab, a machinist, helped lead a three-day walkout of 60 workers, nearly a third of the employees at PT Djitoe Mesindo, which makes machines for manufacturing cigarettes.

He worries about the potential loss of his job as the economy sinks and a provision in the law that would allow companies to reduce severance pay from 32 months’ to 19 months’ pay.

“There’s no worker who’s not afraid of layoffs, especially in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mr. Djafri, who has three children, including a 5-month-old baby. “Indonesia is in recession. Getting a new job is very difficult.”

He is also concerned about younger workers who may not be able to find jobs that provide pensions and other benefits as they enter the work force.

“We also hope as many as possible investors come to Indonesia, but don’t castrate the workers’ rights,” he said. “Government exists to guarantee the rights of every citizen to have a decent life.”



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Covid-19 Live Updates: World Breaks Three-Day Record for New Cases, as Virus’s Spread Accelerates


Credit…Yirmiyan Arthur/Associated Press

The world recorded more than one million new cases of the coronavirus in just the last three days, the highest total ever in such short span, a reflection of resurgences in Europe and the United States and uninterrupted outbreaks in India, Brazil and other countries.

The number of new cases is growing faster than ever worldwide. Deaths and hospitalizations in some countries are also beginning to rise, a warning signal of the widespread impact of the current wave. The pandemic has sickened nearly 37 million people and more than one million people have died globally, according to a New York Times database.

A hot spot has emerged in the United Kingdom, which has suffered the highest number of virus-related deaths in Europe. Spain and France, which set a record Friday with 20,339 new cases and then again Saturday with 26,896, are also experiencing a second wave of soaring cases. Argentina, which has seen more than 90,000 new cases in the past seven days, is a hot spot in South America, as are Brazil and Colombia.

However, the United States is one of the largest contributors to the surging global tally. On Friday, the country recorded more than 900 new deaths and more than 58,500 new cases, the highest number of new cases it has reported in a single day since mid-August. That tally included single-day case records in nine states: Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. Five of those states announced more cases this week than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic, as did Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin.

Within the United States, uncontrolled outbreaks continue to spread in the Upper Midwest and Rocky Mountains, and the Northeast is seeing early signs of a resurgence. In Wisconsin, a long-dormant field hospital at the state fairgrounds is being readied for patients. In New York, officials fear clusters in some neighborhoods and suburbs could spread further.

Still, the number of new cases nationally remains below the levels seen in late July, when the country averaged more than 66,000 per day. Deaths, though still well below their peak spring levels, averaged around 700 per day in October. That is far more than the toll in early July.

The new highs in the United States come one week after President Trump himself tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized. Though he has returned to the White House and said repeatedly that he feels “great,” he has continued to play down the effectiveness of masks and routinely sidelined his own public health experts. Mr. Trump plans to resume his schedule of campaign rallies and events, which often violate local guidelines on social distancing. He hosted a large outdoor gathering at the White House on Saturday.

Globally, the United States has led the ranking of nations with the highest number of coronavirus infections since late May. However, the spread of the virus in India — which has roughly four times the population of the United States — has put the country on course to overtake the United States. Infections are rippling into the rural corners of India, with more than 500,000 cases in the past seven days among the nation’s 1.3 billion people. In comparison, U.S. has added more than 330,000 cases over the same period of time, according to a New York Times database.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senate Republicans revolted over the contours of a $1.8 trillion relief proposal that is the Trump administration’s latest and largest offer to House Democrats, further jeopardizing already dim prospects for an agreement on a broad stimulus bill before Election Day.

Even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted that the contours of the offer remained inadequate, many Republican Senators lashed into the administration’s approach to the revived negotiations during a conference call on Saturday morning between close to half of the chamber’s Republicans and top administration officials.

The $1.8 trillion proposal that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin put forward on Friday was the administration’s biggest offer since bipartisan negotiations began in late summer. The proposal came just days after President Trump abruptly ended negotiations and then, facing a backlash, reversed course began urgently seeking to secure Democratic support for a deal.

The stark divisions between most Senate Republicans and the White House undercut the potential for an agreement before Nov. 3, even as the country’s economic recovery continues to falter and tens of thousands of Americans, businesses and schools struggle to weather the pandemic without federal relief.

The Republican criticism on Saturday was so severe that Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, at one point told the senators on the conference call that he would relay their concerns to Mr. Trump, but that then “you all will have to come to my funeral.” (Mr. Mnuchin concurred.)

Details of the call were described in some manner by seven people briefed on the discussion, who all insisted on anonymity to disclose details of a private conversation.

Most of the senators who spoke on the call signaled an openness to continuing negotiations. However, there was widespread dissatisfaction with how expensive the administration’s offer had become, as well as with the perception that Mr. Mnuchin, in talks with Ms. Pelosi, was relying far more on the Democrats’ proposed $2.2 trillion plan as a baseline than the two more limited proposals put forward by Senate Republicans.

“There’s no appetite right now to spend the White House number or the House number,” Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said on the call, reflecting longstanding concerns among senators eager to protect their credentials as fiscal hawks and stave off primary challengers in the next election cycle.

Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee warned that accepting a bill with Ms. Pelosi’s support would amount to a “death knell” for Republican ambitions to retain their majority in the Senate and would “deflate” the party’s base.

Ms. Pelosi, for her part, informed Democratic lawmakers on Saturday that she found elements of Mr. Mnuchin’s proposal to be inadequate, writing in a letter that “this proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back.”

“When the president talks about wanting a bigger relief package, his proposal appears to mean that he wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold,” Ms. Pelosi wrote, adding “at this point, we still have disagreement on many priorities.” She ticked off a number of unresolved issues, including what she said was insufficient funding for unemployment benefits, child care, funding for state and local governments and “reckless” liability protections that Republicans have insisted are a priority.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump, whose progress in recovering from Covid-19 remains unclear, stood on a White House balcony on Saturday afternoon to greet several hundred supporters gathered on the South Lawn, his first in-person event since announcing that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I’m feeling great!” Mr. Trump told the crowd.

Regarding the pandemic, which is flaring up in several states and around the globe, he once again insisted: “It’s going to disappear. It is disappearing.”

Outside medical experts had issued cautions about the gathering, saying that an inappropriately expedited return to the public arena could endanger the president’s own health and risk infecting others.

The White House has not been transparent about the severity of Mr. Trump’s illness, which makes it hard to know how much longer C.D.C. guidelines would suggest he should remain in isolation. Mr. Trump was hospitalized Oct. 2 and received some treatments typically reserved for those who are severely ill, an indication that he may need to isolate until Oct. 21.

The White House physician has not released any update about President Trump’s health since Thursday, nor has the White House made public the results of his latest coronavirus test, which he claims he took on Friday.

White House officials said the president would speak for 30 minutes, but he kept his remarks to just 18 minutes in total. A typical Trump rally, in contrast, often runs for at least 90 minutes. A large bandage on top of his right hand was a reminder of the treatments and infusions he has received over the past week.

Attendees at the South Lawn event were supposed to fill out a screening questionnaire and also have their temperature taken before they could join the crowd. Masks were required, and many in the crowd complied.

Some White House advisers did not, however. Dr. Scott W. Atlas, the commentator whose views playing down the threat of the coronavirus have been solicited by Mr. Trump, was seen standing about 20 feet from the crowd with no face covering.

The gathering was also the latest effort by the president to show he was not as sick as news outlets, including The New York Times, reported last weekend, when he was said to have been administered supplemental oxygen. In a Fox News interview on Friday night, Mr. Trump denied that he had experienced any trouble breathing and said he was no longer taking any medications.

In several phone calls last weekend from the presidential suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Mr. Trump shared an idea he was considering: When he left the hospital, he wanted to appear frail at first when people saw him, according to people with knowledge of the conversations. But underneath his button-down dress shirt, he would wear a Superman T-shirt, which he would reveal as a symbol of strength when he ripped open the top layer. He ultimately did not go ahead with the stunt.

Saturday’s event was the first large-scale gathering held at the White House in two weeks. On Saturday, Sept. 26, a large ceremony was held to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and the following day, Gold Star families were honored. After those events, infections among White House staff, military officials and other attendees were announced almost daily.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, said the White House had held a “super spreader event,” an apparent reference to the nomination ceremony.

Both the nomination ceremony and Saturday’s event violated Washington, D.C.’s mandates prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people. But because the White House is on federal property, it is exempt from such rules.

In the week after the nomination ceremony for Judge Barrett, the White House also decided not to trace the contacts of guests and staff members.

Credit…Daniel Leal-Olivas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Trump administration is considering reducing the time that travelers from abroad must quarantine when landing in the United States by providing tests at airports, a move that could lead to the easing of travel restrictions on foreign nations.

The administration is considering partnering with other countries on a pilot program that would require travelers to be tested at their airports of departure on the day they fly and again a week after they arrive in the United States, according to the draft documents obtained by The New York Times. Travelers who receive a negative test result four to seven days after arriving in the U.S. would be allowed to end their quarantine.

American citizens or permanent residents and their children traveling from more than two dozen European countries, as well as from China or Iran, are currently required to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the U.S. Foreigners from those nations have been barred from traveling to the U.S.

But that could soon change.

“This pilot is expected to be a partnership between the U.S. government, a trusted foreign government and the air transport industry,” the draft briefing said. “It is intended to test whether the air transport industry can adequately reduce the risk of disease transmission and importation by incorporating a testing program into its existing predeparture process.”

The briefing, which was presented to officials in the Department of Homeland Security this week, listed New York City and London as two cities that could participate in the pilot, a development previously reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The Homeland Security Department’s public affairs office issued a statement saying the agency was in “the early stages of working with our interagency partners, the industry, and our international partners for means to safely encourage trans-Atlantic travel while mitigating public health risks.”

The program would begin with just three flights to “gather data on participation and outcomes,” according to the documents. After assessing those findings, the administration could expand the program and potentially remove travel restrictions on some countries.

Officials wrote in the briefing that it remained unclear whether the departing traveler would need to pay for the test at the airport before boarding a flight. American citizens returning to the United States would still have the option of not taking the tests and quarantining for 14 days.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

This article was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

The Navy on Friday night abruptly shut down the church, schools, gym and most places where people congregate at its base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, returning to the strict restrictions it had imposed earlier in the coronavirus pandemic.

The base was “awaiting results from tests sent off site,” a spokeswoman, Nikki L. Maxwell, said Saturday night. She declined to say how many residents were suspected of being infected by the coronavirus at the base of 6,000 residents. The military generally declines to disclose infection figures at specific sites but has made exceptions in the Pacific.

On Thursday, base officials closed the Bayview fine-dining restaurant in the officers’ club complex, citing “some key staff feeling under the weather,” although Ms. Maxwell said those illnesses were unrelated to the virus. The next night, the base health department announced that “as an extra precautionary measure,” it was imposing a protection level of Charlie, which the military defines as signifying the risk of “sustained community transmission” in the pandemic.

Base notices reminded residents to stay at home and to call the hospital rather than go there “if you feel sick, have a fever, cough or experience any shortness of breath.”

By Saturday, base officials had closed the school for the sailors’ children, gyms for prison guards and other residents, the church complex, the barbershop, ball fields and swimming pools and were requiring restaurants to offer only takeout. The commissary remained open, with shoppers limited in number.

Hundreds of troops and Navy families have arrived at the base throughout the pandemic and have spent their first two weeks in quarantine as a protective measure.

Most of the estimated 240 students on the base had returned to the classroom last month for the first time since early spring. Over the weekend, the school told families it would revert to remote learning, with elementary classes delayed until Wednesday.

Credit…Bronte Wittpenn/Austin American-Statesman, via Associated Press

Despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s loosening of coronavirus restrictions this week, two top fellow Republicans and hundreds of others participated in a “Free Texas” protest outside the governor’s Austin home on Saturday, calling for a complete reopening of the state.

Among those gathered were Allen West, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, and Sid Miller, the state’s agriculture commissioner, a Republican elected official.

“Quite frankly, governor, your cure is worse than the disease,” Mr. Miller said during a speech at the event, according to a Texas Tribune report.

Over the past week, there have been an average of 4,416 cases per day, an increase of 3 percent from the average two weeks earlier.

This week, Mr. Abbott issued an executive order that would allow all business establishments that had previously been allowed to operate at 50 percent to open at 75 percent capacity, except businesses in “areas with high hospitalization” rates which are only allowed to operate at 50 percent.

Mr. Abbott has faced Republican-led protests over restrictions before, as coronavirus cases in Texas fluctuated over the last few months. He has closed bars, then opened, then closed them again. His latest order allowed bars, which had been closed since July, to operate at 50 percent capacity. This change will be effective Oct. 14, he said, and each county has the ability to opt in or out of the openings.

“Even with additional business openings, even with more students returning to school and more gatherings like football games, Texans have shown that we can contain the spread of Covid,” Mr. Abbott said in a Facebook video announcing the latest order.

An executive order in July made masks mandatory around the state, but in footage of the “Free Texas” protest there did not appear to be many attendees wearing face coverings.

It has been a tough 24 hours for Mr. Abbott, whose move to limit Texas counties to one ballot drop-off site each was blocked by a federal judge on Friday. The Texas League of United Latin American Citizens and other civil rights organizations had sued the governor over the order, which the judge ruled “likely violates their fundamental right to vote.”

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump on Wednesday portrayed the experimental antibody cocktail he took as a miracle “cure” for his case of Covid-19, which had landed him in Walter Reed National Medical Military Center just days before. Mr. Trump returned to the White House three days after taking the drug.

But the antibody treatment, made by the drug company Regeneron, has not yet been proven effective against the coronavirus by rigorous clinical trials in people.

Dr. Taison Bell, a critical care physician at the University of Virginia, noted that it was not yet possible to tell whether the treatment actually “cured,” or even significantly benefited, the president.

Doctors administered it to Mr. Trump alongside other therapies, including an antiviral called remdesivir and a steroid called dexamethasone.

“From a scientific standpoint, it makes it extremely hard to figure out what benefit came from which of the three medications,” Dr. Bell said.

Medical experts were also quick to point out that Mr. Trump’s touting of the treatment was at least the third time this year that the president has exaggerated the benefits of an unapproved Covid-19 therapy. He had previously promoted hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma, and on Wednesday advocated making the antibody treatment “free” for anyone who needed it.

Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency medicine physician at Brown University, said that the endless cycle of talking up new treatments — many of which might not pan out — could erode public trust in science and medicine.

“It’s like the boy who cried wolf,” she said. “It’s going to make it more difficult to get the real changers.”

Credit…Pool photo by Alex Edelman

Pressure is mounting on the leaders of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to speak publicly against the White House’s manhandling of C.D.C. research and public health decisions, with demoralized career scientists talking of quitting if President Trump wins re-election.

The situation came to a boiling point this week when William H. Foege, a giant in public health who led the C.D.C. under Democratic and Republican presidents, called for its current director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, to “stand up to a bully” — he meant Mr. Trump — even at the risk of being fired.

“Silence becomes complicity,” he said in an interview, after a private letter he wrote to Dr. Redfield leaked to the news media.

Dr. Redfield’s recent memo clearing Vice President Mike Pence to participate in the vice-presidential debate on Wednesday, even as the White House became a coronavirus hot spot, infuriated health experts. Nearly a dozen current and former C.D.C. officials called the letter highly inappropriate.

And Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the Senate health committee, said she told Dr. Redfield in a private telephone conversation last month that he had to take a stand.

“What I said to him was that my concern was about the agency’s credibility today — and the agency’s credibility that we need as a country in the future,” Ms. Murray said in an interview. “This isn’t just about right now. If we lose all the really good scientists there, if people don’t believe the C.D.C. when they put out guidance, what happens in the next flu outbreak? What happens in the next public health crisis?”

C.D.C. scientists know that their work will invariably collide with politics, but they have never seen anything quite like what is happening under Mr. Trump.

The White House successfully pressured the agency to revise guidelines on matters like school reopenings, church gatherings and whether cruise ships can sail. The C.D.C. was forced, over the objections of its own scientists, to post guidelines that suggested asymptomatic people should not be tested. (That was ultimately reversed.) And the White House thwarted a C.D.C. plan to require individuals to wear masks on all U.S. commercial transportation.

“What has happened at C.D.C. has been horrifying to see,” said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who pioneered public health research into gun violence at the C.D.C. but was pushed out after Republicans in Congress effectively cut off funding for his work. “It’s been terribly demoralizing to people who have been working 16 and 17 hour days for weeks or months at a time while taking on Covid-19.”

Dr. Redfield declined to comment.

Current C.D.C. employees contacted would not speak on the record for fear of reprisal, but the sense of despair is clear. Many view public health as a calling, and remain at the agency knowing that they could earn much higher salaries working in industry.

Most current and former C.D.C. officials acknowledge that Dr. Redfield is in a terrible position, working for a president who regards the agency’s scientists as members of a so-called deep state out to get him. Unlike Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top epidemiologist, he is a political appointee and lacks Civil Service protections. And unlike the F.D.A. commissioner, he cannot turn to a powerful industry constituency like pharmaceuticals to back him up.

Some say it would be unwise for him to step down, for fear of his successor.

“What happens if 50 of the top scientists at C.D.C. say, ‘We’ve had it, we’re leaving?’ Does that leave the country better off or worse off?” asked Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, who served as the C.D.C. director under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and regularly met Dr. Redfield for lunch before the pandemic. “I suspect that Dr. Redfield is asking himself the same question.”

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Trump’s campaign has started airing a television ad focused on his coronavirus infection, an attempt to reset the way voters view the president on a major issue in the election.

A majority of voters have a negative view of Mr. Trump’s handling of the virus, according to public opinion polls. The spot seeks to use his release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as evidence that he is on top of a virus he has repeatedly played down.

“President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America,” the ad’s narrator says. “Together, we rose to meet the challenge, protecting our seniors, getting them lifesaving drugs in record time, sparing no expense. President Trump tackled the virus head-on, as leaders should.”

The ad then cuts to an interview with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci from the end of March, when the virus was just starting, saying, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.” Dr. Fauci, the country’s top epidemiologist, has tangled with the White House for much of the year over its coronavirus response.

The ad concludes: “We’ll get through this together. We’ll live carefully, but not afraid.”

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, said in a tweet on Saturday that he had been released from the hospital that morning, one week after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Mr. Christie is one of at least a dozen people who tested positive in the days after attending a Sept. 26 Rose Garden event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett and had huddled with President Trump and his close advisers during debate preparations just days before Mr. Trump tested positive.

Mr. Christie, who is overweight and has a history of asthma, said last week that he had checked himself into Morristown Medical Center in consultation with his doctors.

“I am happy to let you know that this morning I was released from Morristown Medical Center,” he wrote on Twitter. “I want to thank the extraordinary doctors & nurses who cared for me the last week. Thanks to my family & friends fro their prayers.”

He ended his message with an intriguing pledge: “I will have more to say about all of this next week.”

Since the early days of the pandemic, the White House has regularly used rapid coronavirus tests to screen staff members and guests for the coronavirus because they are fast, portable and easy to operate.

These tests, however, frequently miss infections in people without symptoms. Nevertheless, those who tested negative would often skip other precautions, like wearing a mask or social distancing.

And while officials had given the impression that Mr. Trump was getting tested every day, the White House has since conceded that tests were not as frequent and has refused to reveal the last time Mr. Trump tested negative.

Guests at the reception for Judge Barrett were said to be tested. Part of the event was indoors, and photographs show few masks among the guests there, or later in the larger outdoor portion.

The president also huddled with advisers for maskless preparation sessions ahead of the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.

Several of those involved besides Mr. Christie have said they have since tested positive, including Kellyanne Conway, a former White House adviser; Hope Hicks, a current adviser; and Bill Stepien, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager.

Credit…Kevin Hagen for The New York Times

In Palm Tree, N.Y., a town of 26,000 residents where life revolves around family, religious services and prayer, the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive is at least 15 percent, among the highest in New York. There are more than 200 active cases, enough to place this Orthodox Jewish community northwest of New York City into a state-ordered “red zone” with strict new restrictions on synagogue capacity and public gatherings.

Yet on Wednesday, as men and boys streamed out of prayer services at Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar for the holiday of Sukkot, most were not wearing face masks.

Dina Aker, 67, walked by the synagogue, also not wearing a mask. Her husband, 73, caught the coronavirus in May, despite being mainly confined to their home, she said. That left her feeling that there was no utility to masks and that new lockdown measures would only prolong the disease’s spread.

“I pray every day, ‘Please, my lovely God, make it finish,’” she said.

The peaceful scenes during Sukkot, where families gather in open-air, leaf-covered booths in a celebration of the fall harvest, were interrupted by a loudspeaker atop a town police car outside a shopping center, with a recording in Yiddish and English warning of a spike in cases in the area and emphasizing the importance of wearing masks.

A police officer standing near the car handed out disposable masks.

Public health officials and experts say that factors driving an uptick in the ultra-Orthodox enclaves north of the city include a distrust of scientific messaging and secular authority, a dedication to communal life, dense living conditions, and fatalism about the virus brought by a traumatic spring of death and sickness.

Credit…Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

What faint hopes remained that Europe was recovering from the economic catastrophe delivered by the pandemic have faded as the virus has resumed spreading rapidly across much of the continent.

After sharply expanding in the early part of the summer, Britain’s economy grew far less than anticipated in August — 2.1 percent compared with July, the government reported on Friday, adding to worries that further weakness lies ahead.

Earlier in the week, France, Europe’s second-largest economy, downgraded its forecast for the pace of expansion for the last three months of the year from an already minimal 1 percent to zero. The national statistics agency predicted that the economy would contract 9 percent this year.

The diminished expectations are an outgrowth of alarm over the revival of the virus, which has prompted President Emmanuel Macron to announce new restrictions, including a two-month shutdown of cafes and bars in Paris and surrounding areas.

In July, with infection rates down and lockdowns lifted, many European economies expanded strongly as people returned to shops, restaurants and vacation destinations. The most optimistic economists began celebrating a so-called V-shaped recovery, featuring a bounce-back just as steep as the plunge that preceded it.

But Spain’s central bank governor said this week that new restrictions to slow the virus’s accelerating spread could produce an economic contraction of as much as 12.6 percent this year.

And the European Central Bank’s chief economist said on Tuesday that the 19 countries that share the euro currency might not recover from the disaster until 2022, with those that are dependent on tourism especially vulnerable.

Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Under pressure from the federal government, Nevada health officials rescinded a statewide order directing nursing homes to halt the use of two government-issued rapid coronavirus tests that the state had deemed to be inaccurate.

The reversal was shortly after the United States Department of Health and Human Services issued a threatening letter, dated Oct. 8, to Nevada’s department of health. The federal document noted that swift punitive actions could be taken if the state did not promptly revoke its ban, which Adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration’s testing chief, called “unwise, uninformed and unlawful” and a violation of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act.

In a statement released on Friday, Dr. Ihsan Azzam, Nevada’s chief medical officer, said that he and his colleagues were “very disappointed by the letter received today.”

The two brands of rapid tests, manufactured by Quidel and Becton, Dickinson and Company, had been shipped en masse to nursing homes around the country in August to address the delays and equipment shortages that for months had stymied laboratory testing. Both companies reported no false positives from their products.

But among a sample of 39 positive antigen test results collected from nursing homes across Nevada, 23 were found to be false positives when confirmed by a more accurate laboratory test.

The false positives that had emerged, Adm. Giroir said, were not only expected but “actually an outstanding result.” No test is perfect, he said.

The state’s nursing facilities can resume use of BD’s and Quidel’s products, according to a new Nevada directive issued on Oct. 9. But Nevada’s department of health also recommended that all antigen test results, positive or negative, be confirmed by a laboratory test that relies on a slow but very accurate and reliable technique called polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R.

“We need to better understand the issue before encouraging mass use of such tools among our most vulnerable citizens,” Dr. Azzam said. “We are not saying the tests have no use, we are just saying pause for further review and additional training.”

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

This week, Joseph R. Biden Jr. dismissed President Trump’s reluctant attitude toward wearing masks as “this macho thing.”

Tomi Lahren, a conservative commentator and Fox Nation host, countered that Mr. Biden “might as well carry a purse with that mask.”

Some experts who study masculinity and public health say the perception that wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines are unmanly has carried a destructive cost. The virus has infected more men than women and killed far more of them.

Men’s resistance to showing weakness — and their tendency to take risks — was demonstrated by scientists long before Covid-19. Studies have shown men are less likely than women to wear seatbelts and helmets, or to get flu shots. They’re more likely to speed or drive drunk. They are less likely to seek out medical care.

Some initial research indicates a similar pattern is playing out with the coronavirus. Surveys have found that women are more likely than men to wear masks in the United States.

If you wear a mask, said Peter Glick, a professor of social sciences at Lawrence University, “the underlying message is: ‘I’m afraid of catching this disease.’”

This is not a new problem for those who work in public health messaging.

It tends to be more difficult to reach those who identify strongly with traditional masculine characteristics. As an example, the more someone identifies with those masculine traits, the less likely that person will be to use condoms during sex, according to Stacey Hust, an associate professor of communication at Washington State University.

“I think that translates really clearly into why some men choose not to wear masks,” she said. “It’s really about not wanting to show weakness or fear, not wanting to show any vulnerability.”

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted a sweeping order last month requiring all passengers and employees to wear masks on all forms of public and commercial transit in the United States, but it was blocked by the White House, according to two federal health officials.

The order would have been the toughest federal mandate to date aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, which continues to infect more than 40,000 people in America each day. The officials said that it had been drafted under the agency’s “quarantine powers” and that it had the support of the secretary of health and human services, Alex M. Azar II, but the White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, declined to even discuss it.

The two officials said the order would have required face coverings on airplanes, trains, buses and subways, and in transit hubs such as airports, train stations and bus depots.

A task force official said the decision to require masks should be left up to states and localities.

The thwarting of the mask rule is the latest C.D.C. action to be stalled or changed by the White House. Late last month, the coronavirus task force overruled an order by the agency’s director to keep cruise ships docked until mid-February. That plan was opposed by the tourism industry in Florida, an important swing state in the presidential election.

Political appointees at the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services have also been involved in rewriting the agency’s guidelines on reopening schools and testing for the virus, bypassing the agency’s scientists.





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Crews fight Sydney warehouse fire; Health alert over White House event where virus spread; Concerns over new virus clusters in Sydney and Victoria; Albanese delivers budget reply; Trump refuses virtual debate


In an extraordinary step, the Washington, DC, Department of Health has released an open letter appealing to all White House staff and anyone who attended an event on September 26 in the Rose Garden to seek medical advice and take a COVID-19 test.

The letter indicates a lack of confidence in the White House medical team’s own contact tracing efforts regarding an ongoing virus outbreak that has infected President Donald Trump, multiple senior staff members and two US senators, among others.

Co-signed by nine other local health departments from neighboring jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, the letter flatly states a belief that contact tracing on the outbreak has been insufficient.

It says the public appeal is based on, “our preliminary understanding that there has been limited contact tracing performed to date, there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to COVID positive individuals.”

It asks all White House employees, anyone who attended the Sept. 26 event and anyone who may have been in contact with those people to “contact your local health department for further guidance/questions regarding your potential need to quarantine.”

The letter represents a rising level of concern and a clear shift in strategy by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s government, which had previously remained publicly hands-off and said it trusted the White House’s robust medical operation to handle its own contact tracing and follow-up.

Bowser said earlier this week that repeated attempts to contact the White House over the outbreak had received a “very cursory” response but that she believed the necessary steps were being taken.

“There are established public health protocols at the White House that are federal in nature,” Bowser said on Monday. “We assume that those protocols have been engaged.”

A Health Department spokeswoman did not respond to questions on whether the letter had been directly sent to any White House employees or people who attended the Sept. 26 event, or if the D.C government had been provided with a list of attendees.

The move highlights the public health dilemma faced by Bowser’s government regarding the current outbreak.

The Trump White House has operated for months in open violation of several DC virus regulations, hosting multiple gatherings that exceeded the local 50-person limit and in which many participants didn’t wear masks.

It shines a further spotlight on the Rose Garden ceremony to introduce Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

Multiple attendees, including Trump and Notre Dame University President Rev. John Jenkins, who flew in from Indiana for the ceremony, have now tested positive.

Washington’s local virus regulations don’t apply on federal property, but the current outbreak has blurred those distinctions.

Trump inner-circle members like former counselor Kellyanne Conway, who has also tested positive, are DC residents, as are many of the staffers, employees, Secret Service members and journalists who have had close contact with infected officials.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said on Monday that the White House “has established a robust contact tracing program led by the White House Medical Unit with CDC integration to provide appropriate recommendations.”

On Wednesday, White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern detailed the in-house contact tracing regime to reporters.

“We look back 48 hours to find people who may have been within six feet (of an infected person) for at least 15 minutes. And the purpose is to mitigate further transmission of the virus, correct? It’s not to go back and identify patients zero. I understand that people are very curious about that I’m curious too,” he said. “It’s sort of an unknowable question as to where it entered the environment.”

The District of Columbia has reported 15,765 positive COVID-19 cases, with 634 deaths. Bowser on Wednesday announced she was extending the local state of emergency, which was scheduled to expire Oct 9, until Dec 31.



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World Bank praises efforts to arrest COVID-19 spread in Mumbai’s Dharavi


WASHINGTON: The World Bank on Wednesday praised the efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus in Mumbai’s Dharavi, one of the world’s largest slums, saying its success stemmed from a combination of “customised solutions”, community involvement and perseverance.

Dharavi, which is located in India’s commercial capital Mumbai, is spread over an area of 2.5 square kilometres and has a population of 650,000. People live in shanties and dilapidated buildings with narrow lanes and open sewers.

The first COVID-19 patient in Dharavi was detected on April 1, nearly three weeks after Mumbai recorded its maiden positive case on March 11.

The Washington-based global lender, in its biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity report, said that in the space of three months, by July 2020, reported cases in the area had been cut to 20 per cent of their peak in May.

Observing that effective approaches have tapped the skills and dedication of community members, the World Bank said that in Mumbai, city officials were able to stem the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Dharavi, one of the city’s largest urban settlements, by mobilising community members and staff from private medical clinics for a strategy based on mass screening for fever and oxygen levels.

To help poor families during the lockdown, foundations, nongovernmental organisations and volunteers provided thousands of households with ration kits.

Dharavi’s success stemmed from a combination of “customised solutions, community involvement and perseverance”, it said.

On Tuesday, a Mumbai civic body official said that the COVID-19 tally in Dharavi slum colony rose to 3,280 with the addition of 22 fresh cases.

Of the total 3,280 cases, 2,795 patients have been recovered from the infection, he said, adding that the slum now has 192 active patients.

In July, the World Health Organisation (WHO) also praised the efforts taken to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in Dharavi, underscoring the need for community engagement along with national unity and global solidarity to turn the pandemic around.

According to the Union Health Ministry data, India’s COVID-19 tally of cases climbed to 67.57 lakh with 72,049 new cases in a day, while 57,44,693 people have recuperated so far, pushing the national recovery rate to 85.02 per cent on Wednesday.

The total coronavirus cases mounted to 67,57,131, while the death toll climbed to 1,04,555 with the novel coronavirus virus claiming 986 lives in a span of 24 hours in the country, it said.

According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the contagion has infected over 35 million people and killed more than 1 million across the world.

The US is the worst affected country with over 7.5 million cases and more than 2,10,000 deaths.

The COVID-19, which originated in China’s Wuhan city in December last year, has also battered the world economy with the International Monetary Fund saying that the global economy is bound to suffer a “severe recession”.





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India gang rape: Balrampur woman dies from alleged attack as protests spread


Both women, from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, were Dalits — the lowest-ranked in India’s caste-based hierarchy, according to the All India Mahila Congress, the women’s wing of India’s main opposition party. Dalits, who were referred to as “untouchables” in the past, still experience severe discrimination in India.

The 22-year-old woman’s family told police in a statement that she didn’t return home, in the city of Balrampur, until late Tuesday night; when they tried to call her, they couldn’t reach her.

“Some time later the woman came home in a rickshaw and had a tube attached to her arm which is typically used to administer glucose, she seemed to be in a bad state so the family took her to the hospital but she died on the way,” said Dev Ranjan Verma, Superintendent of Police in Balrampur, on Wednesday.

Two men have been arrested for alleged rape and murder, Verma said. The woman’s family has been given 600,000 rupees (about $8,165), and has been assured that the police and district would provide any assistance necessary, Verma added.

The news of the 22-year-old’s death broke as public anger was already building over the earlier case of the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who also died on Tuesday after being allegedly gang raped two weeks ago. Her rape had also taken place in Uttar Pradesh, but she was later transferred to a hospital in New Delhi due to the severity of her injuries.

Four men have been arrested and booked for rape and murder in the 19-year-old’s case, according to the police in Hathras district. All four were from an upper caste community and have also been booked for crimes against minorities, according to the statement.

India’s caste system was officially abolished in 1950, but the 2,000-year-old social hierarchy imposed on people by birth still exists in many aspects of life. The caste system categorizes Hindus at birth, defining their place in society, what jobs they can do and who they can marry.

According to human rights organizations including the United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to caste-based violence and discrimination.

The 19-year-old’s death sparked protests across Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, which spread to major cities including New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, and are still ongoing.

Hundreds of angry protesters chanted and waved banners as they marched through the streets of Hathras. Some demonstrators gathered outside the Delhi hospital where she died; another protest took place near the Indian President’s residence, where several dozen people were detained for violating pandemic restrictions.

Public anger intensified after allegations that the victim’s body had been cremated by Hathras police without her family’s consent — which the police and district magistrate denied. The magistrate, Praveen Kumar Laxkar, told reporters on Tuesday the family had been present at the cremation.

The state government announced Wednesday that a special investigation would look into the 19-year-old’s rape allegations, and that the investigative team will have seven days to submit their report. Once the investigation concludes, the four men’s hearings will take place in a fast-track court, according to state government spokesperson Mrityunjay Kumar.

The woman’s family has also been granted a compensation of about $34,000, a government job for a family member and a new house in the village, he added in a statement.

CNN’s Swati Gupta contributed to this report.



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