New Zealand’s finance minister, Grant Robertson, who is giving today’s press briefing, said Auckland is still on track to move down alert levels on Sunday, as testing has occurred in record numbers and the city’s residents have largely complied with restrictions.
Robertson urged Aucklanders to get tested this weekend if showing any cold or flu-like symptoms. Pop-up test sites had been deployed to get as many Aucklanders tested as possible, to ensure there was no “undetected spread” occurring in the community.
“No-one invited Covid in, but there has been a huge amount done in the last few days to keep it out,” Robertson said.
“We’ve done a great job, we’re almost there, let’s finish the job.”
Restrictions on gatherings will apply in Auckland, with only 10 allowed at church gatherings and the like, and 50 for funerals/tangi.
There are five new confirmed community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, and 7 new imported cases. All of the new five cases are related to the Auckland cluster, and four out of five are in one family.
The seven imported cases all arrived on the same flight on 27th August and are now in isolation.
There are 161 people linked to the community cluster that are in quarantine in Auckland. Eleven people are being treated in hospital, with three in intensive care.
On Thursday, 11,010 tests were processed.
Australia’s second most populous state of Victoria has reported 113 new cases in the past 24 hours, the same figure as the previous day. Twelve more people died. The state has been at the centre of the country’s toughest lockdown, which appears to be stabilising the spread of the virus. We are expecting an update from the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, shortly.
Australia’s largest state of New South Wales reported 13 new cases, including six linked to a cluster in the centre of Sydney.
Meanwhile the north-eastern state of Queensland has reported three new positive cases, taking the number of cases linked to the cluster between the Brisbane youth detention centre and the corrections training academy to 15.
The state’s premier also announced the annual end-of-school celebration on the state’s Gold Coast, south of Brisbane, known as “schoolies”, has been cancelled.
Annastacia Palaszczuk said:
It poses a high risk. High risk, not only the people who attend, all the young people, but also all the people they come in contact with, and of course their families and their friends and their grandparents.
So, we’ve had to take that very tough decision. So there will be, unfortunately, no concerts, no organised events, because there can be no mass gatherings.
You can stay up to date on all of the developments in Australia on our Australian live blog below.
China has reported nine new Covid-19 cases, compared with eight a day earlier, the country’s health authority said on Friday.
The National Health Commission said in a statement that all new infections were imported cases involving travellers from overseas, marking the 12th consecutive day of no local transmissions.
The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 85,013, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.
To put that figure in context, India recorded 75,760 cases yesterday alone.
Mexico’s health ministry on Thursday reported 6,026 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, bringing the total in the country to 579,914 cases. It reported the same number of accumulated deaths registered the day before, 62,076.
Several US Midwest states reported record one-day increases in the number of new coronavirus cases as the nationwide death toll passed 180,000, and cases approached six million.
Reuters reports that Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota all recorded on Thursday the biggest one-day increases in new infections since the pandemic started.
North Dakota, where cases rose 30% last week, reported a record 333 new cases on Thursday. Neighbouring South Dakota, where cases rose 50% last week, reported a record 623 new infections. Iowa reported 1,288 new cases on Thursday after seeing infections rise nearly 7% last week. Minnesota reported 1,154 new cases and saw its new cases rise 4% last week, according to a Reuters analysis. Cases were also rising in Illinois.
The Midwestern state records came as governors of several other states said they would not reduce testing as recommended the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which this week advised that people who were exposed to Covid-19 but not symptomatic did not need to be tested. Critics said the change was based on political pressure and not science.
California, Connecticut, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and New York all planned to continue to test asymptomatic people who have been exposed to Covid.
The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut slammed the CDC’s move as “reckless” and “not based on science,” and said they would not change testing guidelines in their states.
The CDC and Department of Health “have not shared their scientific rationale for this change in policy, which substitutes sound science-based public health guidance with the president’s misinformation,” they said in a joint statement.
President Trump has lauded his own record on coronavirus and will speak at the Republican convention in the next couple of hours.
Spanish schoolchildren aged six and over must wear masks to class, the government announced on Thursday, unveiling a plan to reopen schools just days before the start of the new academic year.
The health minister, Salvador Illa, said that, while closing down schools could become necessary if multiple cases of the virus were detected across different classrooms, that would be the last resort.
“It would have to be studied on a case by case basis. This is not black and white,” he said at a joint news conference with the ministers for education and regional policy.
Spain’s health ministry reported 3,594 new infections on Wednesday and has logged nearly 83,000 in the past two weeks. Nearly 29,000 people have died since the onset of the pandemic.
Asked whether concerned parents would have the right to keep their children at home, education minister Isabel Celaa said schools were safer than other places.
“It is mandatory to go to class. For anyone who is afraid, I must say that we have been working since day one for a safe environment,” she said, acknowledging there was no place with “zero risk.”
Prior to the announcement, Spain’s 17 regions had prepared their own back-to-school plans, all featuring variations of mask wearing, hygiene measures and reduced class sizes.
The WHO is setting up a committee of independent experts to consider changing the rules on declaring an international health emergency, following criticism of its Covid-19 pandemic response.
The world body declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) over the new coronavirus on 30 January – at which time the respiratory disease had infected fewer than 100 people outside China, and claimed no lives beyond its borders.
But under the current International Health Regulations (IHR) governing preparedness and response for health emergencies, there are no lower, intermediate levels of alert beneath a full PHEIC, either on a global or regional scale.
WHO experts had met on 22-23 January, but at that point did not conclude that the outbreak merited the high state of alert of a full PHEIC.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference on Thursday that the Covid-19 pandemic had been an “acid test” for countries as well as for the IHR.
Tedros that even before the coronavirus pandemic, emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo had exposed flaws in the IHR.
Such emergencies showed that “some elements of the IHR may need review – including the binary nature of the (alert) mechanism,” Tedros said.
The committee will present a progress report to the World Health Assembly – the WHO’s decision-making body, made up of member states – in November, and a full report to the assembly in May.
One of Europe’s most iconic event, the Tour de France, is in doubt after the race’s starting region, the Alpes-Maritimes, was put on red alert.
The Guardian’s Jeremy Whittle reports that tensions surrounding the race ramped up further still on Thursday evening after the Lotto-Soudal team announced two of their team’s support staff has tested “non-negative” for Covid-19 and had been sent home from Nice. “Safety remains priority number one,” the statement read.
“Only world wars have stopped the Tour de France,” the Tour director, Christian Prudhomme, said in March this year, but the rapidly growing concerns over the wisdom of going forward with this year’s race led to a cross-examination of the prime minister, Jean Castex, by journalists on Thursday.
“We have taken numerous precautions and health protocols and I’d remind you that this is an open-air event,” Castex said. “The places where the virus spreads and there is transmission have no organisation. The Tour has an organiser.”
Confirming that Nice was one of 19 new regions to be placed under red alert, Castex stated that “the pandemic is regaining ground and now’s the time to intervene”, adding: “France must do everything to prevent a new lockdown.”
With uncertainty over race gripping the Grand Départ bubble of riders, some teams have hinted they will race day by day, while others have insisted it will not change their long-term tactics.
“We don’t have a strategic plan to be in the lead in case the race stops after one and a half weeks,” Tom Dumoulin, former Giro d’Italia champion, and teammate to Primoz Roglic, said.
On Thursday France reported its second-highest level of cases ever and a new post-lockdown high, with 6,111 cases. The highest daily total of 7,578 was set on 30 March.
You can read Jeremy’s full report on the Tour below.
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s continuing live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, with me, Alison Rourke.
The Tour de France, which is scheduled to start in Nice on Saturday, is in doubt after the Alpes-Maritimes region, site of the opening stages of the race, was placed on red alert owing to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Stages one and two both finish in central Nice on Saturday and Sunday and are sure to attract large numbers of roadside fans. They also include several of the major mountain climbs just inland from the city. The French prime minister, Jean Castex, said “numerous precautions” and health protocols had been implemented, adding that: “France must do everything to prevent a new lockdown.”
On Thursday France reported its second-highest level of cases ever and a new post-lockdown high. Over the past 24 hours, 6,111 cases were recorded, the highest level since lockdown ended and the second-highest ever since the 7,578 high set on 30 March at the height of the epidemic.
In other coronavirus developments:
- The WHO says it will set up a committee to review the rules on declaring an international health emergency, following criticism of its Covid-19 pandemic response. The global health body declared a public health emergency of international concern for coronavirus on 30 January – at which time the respiratory disease had infected fewer than 100 people outside China, and claimed no lives beyond its borders.
- Spanish schoolchildren aged six and over must wear masks to school, the government announced on Thursday, unveiling a plan to reopen schools just days before the start of the new academic year. With Spain diagnosing thousands of new cases every day, there had been speculation the new term might be postponed in the worst-affected areas.
- Several US midwestern states reported record one-day increases in the number of new coronavirus cases on Thursday as nationwide deaths from the virus topped 180,000. Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota all recorded on Thursday the biggest one-day increases in new infections since the pandemic started.
- Italy recorded its highest number of daily cases since May. A further 1,411 people tested positive for Covid-19, the country’s highest tally since 6 May.
- The UK on Thursday recorded its highest daily tally of cases since 12 June. Another 1,522 cases were reported and the UK’s cumulative death toll based on the government’s statistics reached 41,477.
- Poland will introduce a ban on flights from 46 countries. The flight ban, including France and Spain, will take place from 2 September, according to a draft regulation.
- Netherlands to close mink farms after coronavirus outbreaks. More than 100 mink farms in the Netherlands will be ordered closed by March after animals at dozens of locations contracted the coronavirus, Dutch news agency ANP has reported.
- United Airlines has announced biggest pilot furloughs in its history. United Airlines is preparing for the biggest pilot furloughs of its history after announcing on Thursday the need to cut 2,850 pilot jobs this year, or about 21% of the total, without further US government aid.
- Pret a Manger cuts almost 2,900 UK jobs as sales plummeted. The cuts fuelled concerns about the economic impact of sustained remote working.
Read the original article at The Guardian