Coronavirus: WHO chief in quarantine after close contact with positive case

World wrap: Global fatalities top 1.2m in deadliest week for pandemic since April

World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty

World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty

 

The director-general of the World Health Organisation has said he is isolating after being identified as a contact of someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “well and without symptoms” but would still self-quarantine “over the coming days, in line with WHO protocols” and would work from home.

“It is critically important that we all comply with health guidance. This is how we will break chains of Covid-19 transmission, suppress the virus, and protect health systems,” the 55-year-old wrote on Twitter.

“My WHO colleagues and I will continue to engage with partners in solidarity to save lives and protect the vulnerable. Together!”

The Eritrean, who is a graduate of the University of London and the University of Nottingham, is the first non-physician and the first African to become chief of the WHO.

Last month he criticised world leaders who have undermined scientists during the pandemic.

He said: “Where there has been political division at the national level, where there has been blatant disrespect for science and health professionals, confusion has spread and Covid-19 cases and deaths have mounted.

“A pandemic is not a political football. Wishful thinking or deliberate diversion will not prevent transmissions or save lives.

“What will save lives is science, solutions and solidarity.”

It comes as global fatalities topped 1.2 million, after the deadliest week for the pandemic since April. Daily cases are surging, with the US seeing a bigger wave than in the spring as it approaches Tuesday’s election.

United States

US president Donald Trump has threatened to fire Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, during a midnight rally in Florida 24 hours before the presidential election.

As crowds at the Miami Opa-Locka airport chanted “Fire Fauci”, Mr Trump allowed the chants to continue for several seconds before responding: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice. I appreciate it.”

He continued: “Nah, he’s been wrong on a lot. He’s a nice man though. He’s been wrong on a lot.”

Mr Fauci, one of the world’s foremost infectious diseases experts, has served for over three decades as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

He is one of the lead experts on Mr Trump’s coronavirus taskforce and has frequently offered frank public health guidance in contrast to the president’s repeated falsehoods on the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Trump’s rally in Florida, a critical swing state he needs to hold to win the election, was held as Covid-19 cases in the state continued to surge. Like countless Trump campaign rallies there was no social distancing and thousands of attendees did not wear face masks.

Miami-Dade county, where the event took place, has a midnight curfew to mitigate the spread of the virus. The county ordinance states the curfew is “necessary to safeguard life and health, as parties and gatherings late at night have the potential to spread Covid-19”. Trump’s speech continued well past midnight and attendees were still leaving the venue after 1am.

More than 9.2 million have tested positive for coronavirus in the US and more than 230,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins university.

The U.S. added 78,157 new cases on Saturday, after two straight days of national records that pushed the daily case count near 100,000. The 0.9 per cent rise matched the average daily increase of the previous seven days, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

Average daily cases in the last week of October were about 35,000 higher than in the last week of September, an indication of the virus’s spike at the close of the presidential race. An additional 826 people died, down from the previous day’s 1,029, but in line with average daily increases of the previous week.

North Dakota, ranked with the U.S.’s biggest outbreak per capita, recorded a fourth day with cases more than 1,000. The state reported 1,128 new infections Sunday, a day after hitting a record, as hospitalizations continued to tick up. Health officials have warned the medical system is being overwhelmed

United Kingdom

A month-long partial lockdown announced by British prime minister Boris Johnson late Saturday might have to be extended if it fails to contain the spread of the coronavirus, cabinet office minister Michael Gove said.

Mr Johnson said the new restrictions would come into effect on Thursday as virus cases spike and government scientists warn the health system faces being overwhelmed. All but essential shops will close, as will restaurants and bars, though schools and universities will remain open.

State payments to furloughed workers will cover of as much as 80 per cent of their wages through the new lockdown period, Mr Johnson said.

Prince William contracted Covid-19 in April, around the same time as his father Prince Charles, the BBC reported, citing people familiar within Kensington Palace.

France

Infections rose by more than the seven-day trailing average in France, which has accumulated the most cases in Europe. The rate of positive Covid-19 tests, a gauge of the pandemic’s spread, increased to 20.4% in Sunday’s data from 20.2% a day earlier, according to national health agency data.

Two days after a nationwide limited lockdown went into effect, France reported 46,290 new cases, more than the average of about 42,000 a day over the previous week. An additional 231 people died from virus-related illness, bringing the toll to 37,019.

China

China is doubling down on safeguards to ensure people traveling from abroad do not bring the coronavirus. Statements posted on websites of Chinese embassies in countries including the US, UK, France, Italy and New Zealand over the weekend ask for negative antibody test results in addition to negative results from nucleic acid tests within 48 hours of boarding flights.

The requirement for double negative results will be effective on November 7th, according to the statements.While nucleic acid tests can detect the virus on a sample taken from a person’s respiratory track, there is a chance the result could give a false negative if the viral load where the swab was taken is below the lowest threshold for detection.

An antibody test could indicate that a person is in the acute phase of infection when testing positive for IgM antibody, which is the first wave of antibodies generated to fight infections. – Agencies