Coronavirus: Dr Anthony Fauci calls White House attempts to undermine him ‘bizarre’

World round-up: EU calls for member states to launch early flu immunisation campaigns

US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has said he did not understand the White House effort to discredit him and urged an end to the divisiveness over the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying "let's stop this nonsense".

 

US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci on Wednesday called the White House effort to discredit him “bizarre” and urged an end to the divisiveness over the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying “let’s stop this nonsense”.

Dr Fauci, who has become a popular and trusted figure during the coronavirus outbreak, came under criticism from US president Donald Trump and some of his Republican allies after cautioning against reopening the US economy too soon.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday reported 60,971 new cases of Covid-19 in the US, bringing the total number of confirmed cases there to 3,416,428. It also said that the number of deaths from the disease in the US had risen by 773 to 135,991.

The US is the worst-hit country in the pandemic, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

More than 13.3 million people have now been infected worldwide, and 578,000 have died.

Levels of childhood immunisations against dangerous diseases such as measles, tetanus and diphtheria have dropped alarmingly during the Covid-19 pandemic, putting millions of children at risk, UN agencies said on Wednesday.

“The avoidable suffering and death caused by children missing out on routine immunisations could be far greater than Covid-19 itself,” World Health Organisation director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a joint report with Unicef.

The European Commission urged member states on Wednesday to launch earlier and broader vaccination campaigns against the flu this year to reduce the risk of simultaneous influenza and Covid-19 outbreaks in the autumn. The commission wants to head off the risk of hospitals being again overwhelmed by a surge of patients, as happened at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe in March and April.

Reimposing measures

Lifted lockdowns are being reimposed, shutting businesses and curbing people’s social lives again, as communities around the world try to stop a resurgence of coronavirus before it spins out of control.

Residents of Australia’s second-largest city were warned on Wednesday to comply with lockdown regulations or face tougher restrictions.

Melbourne’s 5 million people and part of the city’s semi-rural suburbs are a week into a new, six-week lockdown to contain a new outbreak there.

People wearing face masks are seen at the entrance of the Menarock Life aged care facility in Melbourne. Photograph: William West/AFP
People wearing face masks are seen at the entrance of the Menarock Life aged care facility in Melbourne. Photograph: William West/AFP

“The time for warnings, the time for cutting people slack, is over,” Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews said.

“Where we are is in a very serious and deadly position.”

Renewed restrictions took effect in Hong Kong on Wednesday, with public gatherings limited to four people, restaurants limited to takeaway after 6pm, and a one-week closure for gyms, karaoke bars, and selected other businesses.

Masks also are mandatory on public transport there for the first time, with the non-compliant being fined.

Barcelona may bring back some restrictions on daily life after the number of coronavirus cases there tripled in a week, its mayor said on Wednesday, as about 160,000 people in another part of Catalonia went back under lockdown to stem a new surge in cases.

Authorities in Majorca have ordered the closure of bars and nightclubs in beachfront areas popular with foreign visitors, amid concerns over stopping the spread of coronavirus, Regional authorities issued the order for all establishments along “Beer Street” and “Ham Street”, as the popular party areas near the beach of Palma de Mallorca are known, and another boulevard in nearby Magaluf.

Scenes of boozy Majorca visitors ignoring social distancing rules and going without face masks went viral on social media in recent weeks.

Possible vaccines

Of the nearly two dozen possible Covid-19 vaccines in progress, candidates from the US, China and Britain are entering final testing stages.

The first one tested in the US revved up people’s immune systems just the way scientists had hoped, researchers reported on Tuesday, as they are poised to begin key final testing.

Recent coronavirus spikes in Tokyo and other major cities in Japan have prompted local governments there to take action.

About 100 infections on US military bases on the southern island of Okinawa prompted governor Denny Tamaki to demand the US military seal off the affected bases.

The US military said the affected bases have been placed under a lockdown. Defence minister Taro Kono said “a number of problems” have been found in the US military’s handling of coronavirus.

In Tokyo, officials have largely identified night-time entertainment districts as hotbeds of the recent rises in Covid-19 cases and said shutdown requests were possible.

France

The French tourism industry received a further boost on Wednesday with the partial reopening of Disneyland Paris and the opening up of the top floor of the Eiffel Tower.

Disneyland Paris, Europe’s most frequented theme park resort, has been closed for four months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The park in Marne-la-Vallée, to the east of the French capital, is opening its doors in a phased way, starting on Wednesday with Disneyland Parks and the Walt Disney Studios.

It will feature enhanced safety measures, including managed attendance, reduced capacity in order to support social distancing, and bolstered cleaning and disinfection of rides and spaces. – Agencies