News and current affairs from USA and around the world | FT

TOP STORIES, World News,german news,european news,african news,Asian news,current affairs,Germany,European Union,breaking news

Coronavirus latest: Public support drops over pandemic response

Last Updated on

A survey of six countries has found growing skepticism over governments’ handling of the health crisis. Meanwhile, Germany is racing to solve issues with its virus tracing app.

  • A survey of six countries finds that the public widely believes death rates are higher than recorded
  • Germany’s coronavirus tracing app reportedly is not working properly on Apple as well as Android devices
  • The state premier of Saxony says the second wave of infections has already hit Germany
  • The US reports over 1,000 deaths for the fourth day in a row

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

14:00 Jair Bolsonaro has tested negative for the novel coronavirus. “Good morning everyone,” Bolsonaro wrote on Facebook after reporting that his latest test was “negative.”

It was Bolsonaro’s fourth test since he said July 7 that he had caught the virus. The Brazilain leader didn’t say when he took the new test. On Wednesday, he had tested positive for the third time.

Bolsonaro also posted a photo of himself with a box of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which he has been promoting as an effective medicine against the virus without any scientific proof.

The president has downplayed the severity of the pandemic since it broke out in the South American country in March. On Thursday, Bolsonaro was photographed without a mask while talking to some workers in his presidential residence.

Brazil is the second country most affected by COVID-19, behind only the US. As of Friday, the country had registered 85,238 coronavirus-related deaths and 2,343,366 confirmed cases. The real numbers are believed to be higher.

On Monday, two more ministers in Bolsonaro’s cabinet tested positive for the novel coronavirus: the 65-year-old minister of citizenship, Onyx Lorenzoni, and Milton Ribeiro, the 62-year-old minister of education.

Bolsonaro’s administration last week completed two months without a health minister.

13:00 Former Spain and Barcelona footballer Xavi Hernandez has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The 40-year-old midfielder, now the coach of Qatari club Al-Sadd, said he was tested according to the Qatar league protocol. The latest test showed he had contracted COVID-19.

 “Fortunately, I’m feeling OK, but I will be isolated until I am given the all-clear. When the health services allow it, I will be very eager to return to my daily routine and to work,” Xavi said on Instagram.

Qatar has recorded 109,036 positive cases and attributed 164 deaths to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

11:30 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted to mistakes in his government’s handling of COVID-19, in a media interview on Saturday marking one year since he took office.

“Of course … there are things we get wrong and we’re learning the whole time,” Johnson told Sky News. “You’ve got to learn from your mistakes as fast as possible,” the Conservative leader said, predicting that the worst of the health crisis will be over “by the middle of next year.”

The UK has been the hardest-hit country in Europe in terms of coronavirus cases, with many experts predicting a second wave of infections in the autumn.

Johnson’s government has come under fire for its coronavirus response, which a number of experts have said was too late and misguided. The prime minister himself was hospitalized with COVID-19, but has since recovered.

In an interview with the BBC aired on Friday evening, Johnson admitted, “We didn’t understand the virus in the way that we would have liked in the first few weeks and months.”

11:09 The Chinese Super League (CSL) football season has kicked off after a long break due to the pandemic. Before the start, players held a minute’s silence and bowed their heads to remember virus victims and healthcare personnel.  On Saturday, Fabio Cannavaro’s reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande faced FA Cup winners Shanghai Shenhua.

The opening match of the badly delayed campaign was being played behind closed doors in the city of Dalian, which along with Suzhou is hosting CSL games for the next two months. 

Eight teams are accommodated in hotels at each of the two locations and are completely shielded from the public. A strict curfew applies to players. Meetings with family are taboo. They are not even allowed to have food delivered to their hotels.

Although the stadiums will remain empty of fans, the league has come up with a number of ideas to make the matches more appealing for television viewers. A computer is filling the empty stands with virtual spectators and recorded fan chants are being broadcast. 

Although the pandemic has been brought largely under control according to China, where the outbreak started, authorities are being cautious with sports.

The Chinese government has ruled out staging most international competitions this year to stop the spread of the virus. On Friday, all top-level tennis tournaments penciled in for 2020 in China were canceled, including the WTA Finals and Shanghai Masters.

10:23 A surge in coronavirus cases in Germany has prompted government officials to issue warnings against a second COVID-19 wave in the country.

The government’s infectious diseases institute has raised alarm at the situation, saying it is very concerned about a rise in cases.

Michael Kretschmer, premier of the eastern state of Saxony, told Saturday’s edition of the Rheinische Post newspaper that “the second coronavirus wave is already here.”

“It is already taking place every day. We have new clusters of infection every day which could become very high numbers,” Kretschmer said.

The politician from the center-right CDU party said that Germany’s federal system federal system, which devolves health decisions to the 16 states, allows the country to respond effectively to the situation.

“Coronavirus is the best proof that this country has grown together,” said Kretschmer.

Uptick in daily cases and deaths

His comments come a day after the government’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) noted a significant rise in daily new infections, from around 500 to over 800 at one point last week.

“This development is very worrying and will continue to be monitored very closely by the RKI,” a spokeswoman told dpa news agency on Friday evening.

“A further exacerbation of the situation must be avoided,” she added.

On Friday, Germany’s health authorities reported 781 new infections in the 24 hours to midnight (2200 GMT), according to RKI. On Thursday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases stood at 815.

Overall, at least 204,964 people in Germany have caught coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, the RKI reported Saturday morning. At least 9,118 people have died of the virus, with seven coronavirus-related deaths reported on Friday.

The latest reproduction rate, which measures the disease’s ability to spread, was 1.08, up from 0.93 on Thursday, meaning that on average an infected person infects roughly one other person.

The German government has repeatedly emphasized that the reproduction rate must remain below 1 for the outbreak to gradually subside.

The latest seven-day R-value, which is less subject to daily fluctuations, was recorded at 1.16, up from 1.05.

However, Germany’s coronavirus recovery rate is one of the best in the world; an estimated 189,800 people had recovered from the virus by Saturday morning.

Returning travellers, large celebrations

More than 60% of the new cases are due to an uptick in infections in the western state of North Rhine Westphalia and in the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, according to RKI.

Health officials say that new COVID-19 clusters have been traced to larger celebrations, leisure activities and places of work, or from visits to community and health facilities. The increasing number of cases is also being traced to returning travellers.

08:34 Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio that he was checking the legal position on mandatory coronavirus tests for travelers coming from high-risk areas.

The politician from the center-right CDU party said he wanted to see whether travelers want to be tested voluntarily and are fulfilling their own responsibility. It is important to prevent the coronavirus from spreading again in Germany, he added.

The health ministers of the federal and state governments in Germany agreed Friday that all returning travelers will be tested for coronavirus free of charge, but stopped short of ordering mandatory testing, despite demands from some politicians.

The coronavirus test center at Frankfurt Airport confirmed that it has tested around 25,000 people – 80% of whom were returning travelers – since the end of June, adding that almost all infected people came from non-risk countries.

08:01 India has started the first human trials of a coronavirus vaccine candidate, as the world’s second-most populous country recorded nearly 49,000 new cases.

Overall, the number of COVID-19 infections in India has surpassed 1.3 million as of Saturday, with surges seen in a quarter of the country’s 36 states and union territories.

The South Asian country has so far reported 31,358 deaths, including 757 in the last 24 hours. India is behind only the US and Brazil in the overall tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi said Friday it administered the first dose of a trial COVID-19 vaccine. The candidate vaccine, Covaxin, is among nearly two dozen that are in human trials around the world.

AIIMS is among the 12 sites designated by the Indian Council for Medical Research for conducting the Covaxin clinical trials.

07:36 At least 10 Chinese engineers and workers were admitted to a hospital in Pakistan’s Bahawalpur city after testing positive for coronavirus on Friday, according to local media.

Dawn newspaper reported that the Chinese nationals were working on a power project near Khairpur Tamewali, about 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Hasilpur Road where they contracted the virus.

Doctors said the condition of the engineers was stable and that their health was being monitored by the hospital staff.

China has invested heavily in Pakistan’s development projects under the massive China Pakistan Economic Corridor project (CPEC), which is part of Beijing’s multinational Belt and Road Initiative.

Pakistan has so far reported over 271,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 5,778 related deaths.

07:06 The German government has reported a software problem for its coronavirus tracing app on many smartphones, saying they have resulted in some users receiving infection warnings late or not at all.

The Corona-Warn-App has been downloaded more than 15.5 million times in Germany since it was launched last month.

The Bild newspaper reported Thursday that automatic warning notifications didn’t function properly on some Android phones in the first five weeks because the app’s background update function switched off automatically to save power when the app wasn’t open.

According to media reports on Saturday, the coronavirus app is also not working properly on iPhones. On many iPhones, the contact tracing function has a fault, and users were sometimes not informed by the app for weeks whether they had been in contact with infected people or not.

The software manufacturer SAP, which co-developed the app, has admitted the error.

The country’s Health Ministry says the new version of the coronavirus app allows users to more easily activate the background update function, ensuring they will be alerted to any infected contacts.

06:37 A new survey reveals that governments are fast losing support for their handling of the coronavirus health crisis.

According to the survey of six countries, the public widely believes that the COVID-19 cases and related deaths could be much higher than official statistics.

Support for the US government dropped by 4% from mid-June, with 44% respondents saying they were dissatisfied with the coronavirus response, said a report by the Kekst CNC communications consulting group on Saturday. The report was based on an opinion poll conducted over five days in mid-July.

In Britain, only a third of respondents showed satisfaction over their government’s response.

“In most countries this month, support for national governments is falling,” the report said.

Respondents in the US believe that almost a tenth of their country’s population has died of the novel coronavirus – more than 200 times the real toll, while Germans thought their tally was 300 times higher than what has been reported.

Such views, according to the report, “will be impacting consumer behavior and wider attitudes – business leaders and governments will need to be conscious of this as they move to restart economies and transition into living with coronavirus for the medium to longer term.”

Only in France, the approval rate rose by 6%, with a dissatisfaction rate of 41%.

In Sweden, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s rating has shrunk from a positive 7% to a neutral zero, the poll found.

The survey also revealed that fear of a second coronavirus wave is growing in these countries, with a large number of people believing the pandemic impacts will last for more than a year.

People “are becoming resigned to living with coronavirus for the foreseeable future, and looking to leaders and business to pave the way forward,” said the report, which also included trends in Japan.

05:12 Travelers arriving in Austria from Covid-19 hotspots will have to provide more recent test results upon entry, according to a new ordinance by the Health Ministry in Vienna that will go into effect on Monday. Coronavirus tests that are no longer than three — and not four — days old will be required. 

The ministry published a list of 32 destinations with heightened infection risk on Friday night, after concluding that the recent rise in domestic cases was partly linked to arrivals from abroad.

The list includes most Balkan countries, which have been the source of a number of infection clusters in Austria in recent weeks. Sweden and Portugal are also on the list, as well as the United States, Brazil and India.

People arriving from these 32 destinations must show a negative virus test at the border, or take a test within two days after entering the country.

Austria is also tightening its rules for those arriving from within Europe’s borderless Schengen zone. Such travelers previously faced a 14-day quarantine but were allowed to go free as soon as they showed a negative test. 

The new ordinance mandates a test as well as a quarantine that cannot be cut short.

04:58 Vietnam is back on high alert for the novel coronavirus after medical officials in the central city of Danang detected what appears to be the first local COVID-19 case for three months.

Thanks to strict quarantine measures and an aggressive and widespread testing program, Vietnam has kept its virus total to an impressively low 415 cases, and had reported no locally transmitted infections for 100 days.

But on Friday, the health ministry said in a statement that a 57-year-old man from Danang, a popular tourist hotspot, had tested positive three times for the virus, prompting the isolation of 50 people he came in contact with.

One hundred and three people connected to the patient were tested for the virus but all returned negative results, the statement said.

The country’s ban on international commercial flights is still in place, but foreign experts and skilled workers have been able to enter Vietnam during the pandemic provided they undergo mandatory centralized quarantine.

04:09 Sao Paulo’s mayor Bruno Covas has announced that the city’s carnival celebrations for February 2021 have been canceled. The four-day celebration might eventually be held between May and June next year, said the mayor.

The new date will be agreed upon by the samba schools that take part in the parade.

This year’s festivities saw more than 15 million people celebrating on the streets of Brazil’s most populous city.

Organizers for Rio de Janeiro’s more famous annual parade are still debating about postponing the event.

Meanwhile, Brazil recorded over 50,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus in a 24-hour period for the third day in a row.

The health ministry in the capital Brasilia reported an increase of 55,891 cases was announced, as well as 1,156 more deaths from the virus.

In total, more than 2.3 million infections have been registered in the largest and most populous country in Latin America. At least 85,238 people have died.

02:32 South Korea has reported 113 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the first time in nearly four months that the country’s daily infection tally has gone above 100. 

The rise was expected, however. Health authorities had predicted a temporary spike in infections due to a number of imported cases among cargo-ship crews as well as hundreds of South Korean construction workers coming from Iraq, where there is a significant outbreak of COVID-19.

According to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest tally brings total national infections to 14,092, including 298 deaths. 

Among the new cases are 27 local transmissions and 86 cases that arrived from abroad. Imported cases include 26 South Korean workers returning from Iraq and 32 crew members of a Russia-flagged cargo ship currently docked in the southern harbor of Busan. 

02:08Inspired by the culture of drive-in movies, a Brazilian art gallery owner has created a drive-thru art exhibition in Sao Paulo as an alternative to galleries and museums shuttered by the coronavirus.

The exhibition “DriveThru.Art” presents artworks by different artists on 18 panels measuring 10 meters (33 feet) wide by 5 meters (16.5 feet) high in a massive shed that was once home to a metal works business.

It takes approximately one hour to circle through the shed, which is only accessible by car. To prevent a build-up of deadly exhaust fumes, only 20 cars are allowed to enter the shed at a time. Visitors are not allowed to get out of their vehicles. 

The panels include paintings, photographs, videos and graffiti that were created during the coronavirus pandemic. Viewers can access audio explaining the works via a QR code.

“As it is an exhibition inside the car and at a time when there is nothing to do, an audience that is not a consumer of culture, may come here,” said Luis Maluf, curator of the exhibition and owner of the Luis Maluf Art Gallery.

“Art brings reflections, very important discussions, especially during this chaos that we are experiencing,” Maluf said. “The exhibition tries to bring a gesture of hope, but also issues that are happening now.”

Over 2 million people in Brazil have been infected with the coronavirus and more than 85,000 people have died.

01:36A cruise ship has set sail from a German port for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak slammed the industry.

Leaving from the northern city of Hamburg, the “Mein Schiff 2” (My Ship 2) set sail on a three-day round trip in the North Sea.

With a normal capacity of 2,900, the vessel had around 1,200 passengers aboard. Cruise ship operator Tui had said 1,740 passengers would be allowed to sail, but the quota was not reached. 

Guests will spend the weekend at sea with no stops on land, eventually returning to Hamburg on Monday morning.

Passengers will be required to observe strict social distancing and hygiene measures on board. They were required to fill out a health questionnaire before boarding, and will not be allowed to serve themselves food at the buffet table. 

Several cruise operators intend to relaunch trips for tourists in the coming weeks, after suffering massive financial losses brought about by the pandemic.  

Germany and other EU countries began opening their borders in mid-June in an attempt to reinvigorate the travel sector during the crucial summer months.

Germany’s health ministers have agreed to a federal framework that would require people returning from trips abroad to undergo testing for COVID-19. Testing facilities are to be set up at airports and harbors so that travelers can be screened

The Mein Schiff 2 (My ship 2) leaves Hamburg on its first post-travel ban cruise

00:52 Losing weight might help you survive COVID-19, according to the officials working for the Public Health England (PHE) agency in the UK.

“The current evidence is clear that being overweight or obese puts you at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19, as well as from many other life-threatening diseases,” said PHE chief nutritionist Alison Tedstone.

Almost 63% of adults in England are either overweight or obese, according to the agency.

Commenting on the issue on Friday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to tackle the crisis, claiming that he himself had lost over 14 pounds (6.35 kilograms) since he was hospitalized with COVID-19 in April.

“I’m not normally a believer in nannying, bossing politics but the reality is that obesity is one of the comorbidity factors,” he said.

00:50 For the fourth day in a row, the US has reported over 1,000 deaths from COVID-19.

US coronavirus fatalities went up by at least 1,019 in the past 24 hours to a total of 145,352 deaths since the outbreak began. Total infections in the US rose by at least 68,800 to over 4 million.

Despite deaths in the US rising for the second week in a row, fatalities are currently well below levels seen in April, when 2,000 people a day on average died because of the coronavirus. Outbreaks at nursing homes were particularly severe in March and April, while younger, healthier people have made up a larger share of the infections recorded this summer. Hospitals have also improved their treatment of the virus, for example by putting patients on their bellies and making use of the antiviral drug Remdesivir.

00:38The need to always wear a face mask has not been proven scientifically, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said. 

According to Obrador, doctors told him that “I do not need a face mask if I keep a healthy distance and in places where it is necessary or is a norm, not to say mandatory, there put it on.”

“On the plane, they ask for it and I put it on,” he said at a press conference, where he was not wearing a face mask. 

“In the office I constantly receive citizens, leaders of all social, civil, political, religious, economic organizations and what we do is also to keep a healthy distance,” Lopez Obrador said. The president criticized the “authoritarianism of politicians” who impose mandatory lockdowns. He said Mexicans “have behaved very well” under voluntary quarantine and that there were signs that the pandemic “is losing strength little by little” in Mexico.

Mexico’s Health Ministry reported 7,573 new cases of coronavirus and 737 additional fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing the total infections in the country to 378,285. A total of 42,645 people have died.

The government has said the real number of infections is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. 

00:20 The president of Chile has signed into law a plan that allows citizens to withdraw 10% of their pension savings, a measure intended to provide quick access to cash to millions of Chileans put out of work due to an economic shutdown aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

The office of President Sebastian Pinera said the president had signed the bill, but made no comment on its content. The law had been approved by two-thirds of legislators earlier this week.

 Pinera’s center-right government had opposed the relief measure, saying it would have a negative long-term effect on already low average pension payouts.

But the public was widely in favor of the move, with queues already forming on Friday outside the offices of Pension Fund Administrators. According to opinion polls, nearly nine in 10 Chileans planned to take advantage of the measure, with most saying they would use the money to pay for basic goods and services.

00:10 The second wave of coronavirus “has already reached Germany,” Saxony state premier Michael Kretschmer has said. 

The second wave of coronavirus is already here. It is happening every day,” the center-right leader of the eastern German state the Rheinische Post daily. “We have new outbreaks of infection every day, which could turn into very high numbers.”

It is necessary to work with health authorities to break this wave every single day, he added. 

This works “astonishingly well” in Germany, Kretschmer said. He credited the country’s federal system with Germany’s success in containing the spread of the coronavirus, saying that the individual German states can react much more precisely to outbreaks than centrally governed countries like France or Poland can. 

“This is only possible with federalism,” he said. 

Kretschmer also expressed a positive perspective on the pandemic, saying it had brought the people of Germany together.

“The coronavirus pandemic is the first shared crisis experience in Germany. The best part is that people in the East and West are acting the same way in this crisis,” he said. “The coronavirus is the best proof that this country has grown together.” 

shs,kp/dj (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa) (DW)