The mayor of Mexico City, the country’s largest city, called on residents to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people as the capital grapples with a surge of coronavirus hospital admissions.
Health authorities have been warning that large gatherings, such as the November 1-2 Day of the Dead festivities that usually draw hundreds of thousands of people nationwide, could prompt another wave of infections.
The pandemic has led to more than 874,000 infections and killed nearly 87,900 people in Mexico.
Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said that from October 10 to 19, total coronavirus hospitalizations in the capital rose to 2,775 from 2,565, still far below the peak of 4,575 hospitalized patients in late May.
She added that six out of 10 beds hospital beds are still available for COVID-19 patients.
Mexico City will remain at the second-most restrictive level on a four-level scale of health measures but cemeteries that typically host Day of the Dead celebrations will be closed for the holiday, Sheinbaum said.
“We’re not at the level to return to ‘red,’” Sheinbaum told reporters, referring to the strictest level of containment measures. “But we’re also not in a situation to open new activities.”
She recommended that gatherings be limited to no more than 10 people after large weddings, baptisms and other celebrations in which proper health measures were not observed led to the spread of the virus.
Large wildfires may be linked to increases in Covid-19 cases and deaths in the San Francisco area, according to a paper in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences.
Researchers found that between March and September, increases in smoke particles, other wildfire pollutants and carbon monoxide levels corresponded to increases in daily virus diagnoses and total deaths.
While correlation does not necessarily mean causality, co-author Sultan Ayoub Meo, of King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, said air pollution provides a means for viruses to move around the environment.
These tiny pollution particles, along with the micro-organisms they carry, “can easily be inhaled deep into the lungs and cause infections,” Meo said.
“Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic gas which can damage our lungs, resulting as a triggering factor for an increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths in the wildfire region,” he told Reuters.
Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine trial will resume very soon after investigators concluded a participant’s illness was unrelated to the vaccine, the Washington Post reported.
Fake coronavirus marshals and phoney medical professionals in the UK are pretending to be genuine to get inside people’s homes.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said the scam is an updated form of one in the summer involving fake healthcare professionals offering bogus Covid-19 tests on doorsteps.
Covid-secure marshals were announced as part of the government’s plan to enforce stricter rules on social gatherings.
They have no formal powers and do not have the right to enter anyone’s home.
Katherine Hart, CTSI’s lead officer for doorstep crime, said: “Since March we have seen so many different instances of fraudsters using the pandemic as an opportunity to defraud the public.
These scams are shifting in their theme as the rules and regulations change with individuals now pretending to be Covid-19 secure marshals.
“Covid-19 secure marshals will never come to your door unannounced and do not have the right of entry, or the right to issue fines.
“This type of scam appears in many forms, and I have also received information about individuals pretending to offer flu vaccinations on the door, a concerning development as we enter flu season.
“I am particularly concerned that elderly and vulnerable individuals may be at risk to this scam.”
Dr Anthony Fauci, the US infectious disease expert said the White House coronavirus task force’s meetings have become less frequent, even as infections rise in dozens of US states.
Turkey will evaluate possible new measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus as the outbreak flares nationwide, President Tayyip Erdogan said.
Turkey reported another 2,165 people with Covid-19 symptoms on Friday, the highest one-day figure since May when Ankara imposed a series of restrictive measures. The death toll from the virus rose to 9,658 on Friday, health ministry data showed.
“Our health minister is visiting various provinces … We are working on what sort of measures we will take there,” Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul.
“As of now, what sort of measures are to be taken will be conveyed to us from the science team, and we will take our steps according to that,” he said.
Health minister Fahrettin Koca said earlier that 40% of the total cases across the country were reported in its largest city, Istanbul, where there were five times more than in the capital Ankara.
Speaking to reporters after meeting local officials in five provinces in north-west Turkey, Koca said there had been a risky spike in the Covid-19 case numbers, and the second peak is underway in some cities.
Iran is planning new restrictions, including state employees working every other day in the capital, Tehran, after a record surge in coronavirus cases on Friday, a senior official said.
Iran’s health ministry reported 6,134 new cases for the previous 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 556,891 in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country.
“One decision by the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce is for staff at state bodies to be cut by 50% next week, and coming to work every other day,” taskforce head Alireza Zali told state news agency Irna.
He said authorities were also looking into having various job categories start work at different times to ease crowding and traffic.
The restrictions were expected to last for about a month in Tehran, where the coronavirus spread has been particularly alarming, Zali added.
Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari earlier told state TV that 335 people had died of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing total fatalities to 31,985, as Iran fights a third wave of the disease.
Meanwhile, flag-carrier IranAir said it was resuming European flights which had been suspended in March because of the pandemic.
The EU’s disease control agency joined health workers across Europe in sounding the alarm about the surge in coronavirus infections as the World Health Organization warned of an “exponential” rise in cases.
Several countries in Europe are reporting infection rates higher than during the first wave of the pandemic in March and April, with Spain saying it has now more than three million cases.
Governments across the continent are slapping urgent new restrictions on daily life, with France extending a curfew to cover 46 million people and Ireland locked down again.
“The continuing increases in Covid-19 infections… pose a major threat to public health, with most countries having a highly concerning epidemiological situation,” said Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
The agency said all EU countries except Cyprus, Estonia, Finland and Greece fell into a “serious concern” category, as did the United Kingdom, up from just seven a month ago.
The WHO said the northern hemisphere was facing a crucial moment in fighting the pandemic.
“Too many countries are seeing an exponential increase in Covid-19 cases and that is now leading to hospitals and intensive care units running close to or above capacity – and we’re still only in October,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Federal health regulators have decided to allow the resumption of US studies of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate from AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
Covid-19 was the main cause of death for 543 people in Moscow in September, up 21% from August, the Russian capital’s healthcare department said, as the spread of the coronavirus widened.
Moscow, the city worst hit by the pandemic in Russia, said it had recorded 11,159 total deaths in September, 1,441 more than in September 2019 and 1,702 more than the average of the previous three years.
Earlier on Friday, authorities said Russia’s daily tally of new coronavirus cases had hit a record 17,340, including 5,478 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 1,480,646 since the pandemic began.
They said 283 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 25,525 in Russia.
Colombia’s vice-president, Marta Lucia Ramirez, has tested positive for coronavirus, the government said, but is asymptomatic and in good health.
Ramirez, 66, took a test on Thursday before her planned attendance at a conference with provincial governors, her office said in a statement.
“The result was positive,” the statement said.
“The vice-president has no symptoms and is in good health, carrying out the corresponding isolation.”
Contact tracing will be conducted, it added.
Ramirez appeared on President Ivan Duque’s nightly television broadcast on Monday.
Duque was also tested for coronavirus on Thursday and his result was negative, his office said.
Denmark is lowering the limit on public gatherings to 10 people from 50 and banning the sale of alcohol after 10pm to curb the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
The Nordic country, which has seen infections surge, will also make wearing masks obligatory in all indoor public spaces such as supermarkets, Frederiksen told a news briefing.
Denmark on Friday reported a record 859 new daily infections. The country has registered a total of 697 coronavirus-related deaths.
“We must prepare for an immediate and drastic increase in the number of hospitalisations,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said at the briefing.
The limit on public gatherings will be in place for four weeks, while the ban on alcohol sales and the mask requirement will be in place from Monday until 2 January.
Denmark has secured enough future Covid-19 vaccine shots from drug companies for its entire population of 5.8 million, Heunicke said. A new agreement with Johnson & Johnson Denmark has been secured.