In Australia, Victorian protesters are being urged to stay at home as police vow to shut down anti-lockdown rallies planned for Saturday.
Early on Saturday, police raided the home of James Bartolo, who runs conspiracy website The Conscious Truth Network, and charged him with incitement.
Bartolo, who posted footage of his arrest online, is the fifth Victorian arrested over plans for the illegal “Freedom Day” rally.
“Woke up this morning, jumped on the dunny, heard some knocks on the door,” Bartolo wrote on social media.
“It was all the cops, they broke down the door, arrested me, they took computers, laptops (and my) phone.“It is a bit of a pain in the ass. They stole my shit. Whatever. I’m fine.”
Bartolo told supporters to not attend today’s rally because he believed it was “a trap”
“It is the worst possible thing to do. It is a set-up from the get go. It is all just terrible. Don’t go to that one. What is going to happen, Dan Andrews will blame the protest for the lockdown extension. Don’t go to the protest.”
Brazil records 50,000 cases in 24 hours as death toll passes 125,000
Brazil recorded 50,163 additional confirmed cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, as well as 888 deaths from the disease, the health ministry said on Friday.
Brazil has registered nearly 4.1 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 125,502, according to ministry data.
After recording its highest single-day rise in Covid-19 cases (see 13.54), Iraq has warned hospitals may “lose control” of the virus.
The health ministry attributed the spike to recent large gatherings that took place without recommended safety measures. That included the marking on 30 August of Ashura, a major Muslim day of mourning that commemorates the killing of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Hussein in 680AD.
According to the Iraqi health ministry, 5,036 new coronavirus infections were confirmed on Friday, bringing the total number of cases across the country to 252,075, of which 191,368 had recovered, but 7,359 had died.
Mozambique will next week lift the state of emergency imposed in April to try limit the spread of coronavirus, President Filipe Nyusi announced in a television address.
Nyusi said the state of emergency would end on Sunday night as infections have not increased much compared to neighbouring countries in the region.
“We are proud of the measures we have taken that have allowed the spread of the disease to be contained,” said President Nyusi.
Diagnosed coronavirus cases in Mozambique stood at 4,265 including 26 deaths, much lower than neighbouring South Africa which has topped 635,000 infections.
The southeastern country will also re-open its borders on Monday allowing international flights.
Beaches will also re-open while religious services of up to 250 people will be permitted.
Smoking appears to increase the genetic contribution to Covid-19 infections, a small study suggested.
The new coronavirus enters the body by hijacking proteins on the surface of healthy cells, in particular a protein called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2).
In adult lungs, just three cigarettes can increase the activity of genes with the information for building ACE2, according to an international research team led by Alen Faiz of Australia’s University of Technology Sydney.
Faiz told Reuters that ACE2 levels were lower in people who had stopped smoking for more than a month.
“Our preliminary data suggest that second-hand smoke exposure of 1-year-old children … increased ACE2 expression in their airways,” he said.
His team also found higher levels of the ACE2 genes in the nose compared to the lung airways, indicating the nose may be more easily infected.
But while it is known that the coronavirus uses ACE2 to break into cells, there is as yet no proven link between higher expression of the genes and the severity of Covid-19 infection, Faiz said.
Liberia’s president George Weah has sacked the country’s top health official over his handling of coronavirus testing in the impoverished West African state.
Mososka Fallah, director general of the Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), was removed from his post for “breaches in the health and administrative protocols that guide the issuance of Covid-19 test results,” Weah’s office said in a statement.
The decision was made on the recommendation of a committee set up especially to investigate the matter.
The exact nature of the allegations against Fallah was not revealed but Weah, a former AC Milan footballer, promised to publish the committee’s report at a later date.
NPHIL is in charge of handling epidemics such as coronavirus, which has killed 82 people and infected 1,306 in Liberia so far, according to the latest official data.
An internal source within the institute, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Fallah had been sacked for refusing to attend meetings of an anti-coronavirus taskforce because he had not been put in charge of it, AFP reported.
He was also suspected of issuing “Covid-19” travel permits without the taskforce’s knowledge, the source said.
Police forces in the UK are dealing with thousands of potential violations of quarantine rules involving holidaymakers who may not be self-isolating after trips abroad, the Guardian can reveal.
The requests for “further action” have been raised by Border Force officials and public health authorities, who have been tasked with ensuring that people returning from abroad are abiding by regulations designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The details emerged as leading scientists warned that the UK is fast approaching a pivotal moment. With another surge in the number of positive cases recorded on Friday, they urged people to keep following the rules or risk the return of widespread lockdown across the UK.
Egypt has been urged to release two jailed journalists, including one with Covid-19, after Human Rights Watch said four inmates had died in Egyptian custody within 72 hours.
The Committee to Protect Journalists urged, a New-York based press freedom advocacy group, called on authorities to immediately free Hany Greisha and El-Sayed Shehta, who were both arrested from their homes last month.
The CPJ said Greisha was charged with spreading false news and joining a terror group, charges regularly invoked against dissidents, while it was unclear whether Shehta faces charges.
It said Shehta, who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, is currently handcuffed to a hospital bed in the intensive care unit of a public hospital about an hour outside of Cairo.
“Egyptian authorities should be urgently releasing journalists from its prisons because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Coordinator.
“Instead, it is diligently rounding up more to throw in jail – including now one who was sick and in quarantine.”
Cuba welcomed the first planeload of tourists to arrive on the island in months.
An Air Canada plane arrived at midday at the Cayo-Coco airport on the northcentral coast. Air Canada Vacations, the airline’s tour business, said it would now fly weekly to Cuba and biweekly beginning next month.
Cuba closed its airports in March due to the pandemic. While some hotels are open under international sanitary regulations at resorts in isolated areas such as Cayo-Coco, there is no indication when Havana and other cities might allow foreign visitors to return.
The nation has managed to control the pandemic in most of the country. But it is currently trying to contain a new outbreak in Havana, along with lesser outbreaks in a few other provinces.
It has reported nearly 4,300 COVID-19 cases to date and 100 deaths.
The World Health Organization (WHO) insists it would never endorse a vaccine that has not proven safe and effective amid concerns over the rush to develop a jab for Covid-19.
Under normal procedures, test administrators must wait for months or years to verify that vaccine candidates are safe and efficacious.
But as the pandemic continues to take a devastating toll, there has been massive pressure to roll out a vaccine quickly, sparking concerns that testing standards could be lowered.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus insisted that was not the case.
“WHO will not endorse a vaccine that is not effective and safe,” he told a virtual briefing.
He also took issue with the so-called anti-vax movement that has been stoking fears about the vaccines in development.
They might be able to “build narratives to fight against vaccines, but the track record of vaccines tells its own story,” he said.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
If and when we have an effective #COVID19 vaccine, we must also use it effectively.
I will repeat again: vaccine nationalism will prolong the pandemic, not shorten it. pic.twitter.com/lPlqvakkyh
September 4, 2020
Here is more from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden who accused President Donald Trump of failing to “feel” the economic pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic after data showed US job growth slowing.
He said: “The painful truth is, we just have a president who just doesn’t see it, he doesn’t feel it, he doesn’t understand, he just doesn’t care.
“He thinks if the stock market is up, then everything*s fine,” Biden said during a speech in his home base of Wilmington, Delaware.
The Labor Department reported that non-farm payrolls increased by 1.37 million jobs last month, fewer than in July.
Trump and his fellow Republicans highlighted the fall in the unemployment rate in August to 8.4% as a sign that the economy is improving after the shock from coronavirus lockdowns that have devastated small businesses from restaurants to gyms and hair salons.
Former Vice President Biden, who leads Trump in opinion polls, called on the president to bring congressional leaders together to restart stalled negotiations for another coronavirus economic relief package.
He said: “Bottom line: Mr. President, do your job. Get off your golf course and out of your sand bunker. Call your leaders together and sit in the Oval Office. Make a deal.”
Joe Biden has disclosed publicly for the first time he has been tested at least once for Covid-19 and promised he will be tested regularly during his election campaign against US President Donald Trump.
The Democratic presidential nominee told reporters of his testing protocol during a news conference in which he criticised Trump for downplaying the coronavirus.
“They’re going to do it on a regular basis,” Biden said of the testing.
He noted the Secret Service agents assigned to protect him and everyone else who comes into his home is tested already.
Biden said he didn’t know specifically when his next test would be.
“I just, yes, sir, show up and put my head back,” he said.
“I imagine it will be sometime this week, but it will be a regular basis.”
At a rally on Thursday, Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask, to which Biden replied: “It’s hard to respond to something so idiotic.”
This is a Reuters exclusive from Aislinn Laing:
Johnson & Johnson will seek 20,000 volunteers for late-stage human trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in hard-hit Latin America, one-third of the planned global total, one of its public health chiefs in the region said.
Josue Bacaltchuk, the vice-president of medical affairs for Latin America for Janssen, J&J’s Belgian unit developing the vaccine prototype, said countries hosting the trials would also probably get preferential access to vaccines once ready.
We expect the majority in Brazil because it’s the biggest country and also the one most affected by the pandemic so we expect a lot of people volunteering, but we expect also high numbers in Colombia and in Argentina.
It’s the intention of the company to prioritise the countries that contribute to the development of the vaccine and that will have patients participating in the trials, yes.
J&J’s vaccine is one of more than 100 worldwide being developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected nearly 26.5 million people and led to 869,323 deaths. Latin America has become the centre of the pandemic.
The drugmaker is carrying out tests in the US and Belgium, and has added Chile, Argentina and Peru to a list of Latin American countries where it plans to conduct phase III trials along with Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. Its trials globally will include 60,000 volunteers.
The Latin American countries all have high infection numbers, making them attractive testing sites for vaccine developers since it is easier to obtain dependable trial results in areas with high rates of active transmission and infection.
Bacaltchuk said the decision to spread trials so widely was motivated in part by the challenge of securing sufficient volunteer numbers in a region crowded with other pharmaceutical companies conducting trials of their own prototypes. He said:
I think this is a potential risk and that’s why we are going to a number of centres that is higher than the other companies to cover geographies that are not covered by the other studies.
He said the response from volunteers in the region has been “quite positive” which he hoped would continue.
This is impacting everybody and it’s going to continue to impact even after this is over. The consequences will continue so we need to try and stop it as early as possible.
at 6.58pm BST
The statistics agency of Russia has said there were 10,079 deaths of people with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 in July.