Rallies and protests present infection risk; Brazilian city to exhume bodies to free up more space; fresh domestic cases cause alarm in Beijing
Dr Anthony Fauci, a senior US infectious disease official, has warned of the dangers of holding Trump election rallies during the pandemic, adding that rising coronavirus hospitalisations in some states could get out of control unless robust contact-tracing regimes were in place.
Fauci warned there was a risk of either “acquiring or spreading” the virus for those who attend the president’s planned rally in Oklahoma next week, although he said he had not raised the issue with him.
“I have not specifically spoken to him about that, but the principles that I have been espousing hold true,” he told CNN, urging anyone attending to wear a mask at all times.
Globally, there are now more than 7.6 million cases, with more than 425,000 deaths recorded, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. In the US, there have been 2,048,986 cases and 114,669 deaths.
In a separate interview with Yahoo, Fauci raised the risks at Black Lives Matter protests. “You’re having crowds, and we recommend not to go in crowds. Physical distancing is impossible,” Fauci said. “When people get animated, they get involved in the demonstration, they start chanting and shouting and screaming, very often they take their mask off.”
Texas and North Carolina on Friday reported their highest hospitalisation rates since the pandemic began. Officials in both states pointed out they also had among the lowest death rates.
Fauci underscored that increased hospitalisations was a worrying trend, however, and a sign that “maybe we need to slow down a little” on reopening the US.
“But when you start seeing more hospitalizations, that’s a sure-fire sign that you’re in a situation where you’re going in the wrong direction,” Fauci said.
Texas has been at the forefront of state efforts to reopen their economies and governor Greg Abbott on Friday said it would remain that way “because we have so many hospital beds available to anybody who gets ill”.
“For every person in a hospital bed, there are 10 open, available hospital beds available for them,” Abbott said. “So there’s plenty of hospital capacity to be able to deal with Covid-19.” He added that there was “no real need to ratchet back the opening of businesses in the state”.
In Brazil, the city of São Paulo has said it will exhume bodies buried years ago and store their bagged remains in large metal containers in a bid to free up space during the crisis.
The municipal funeral service said in a statement on Friday the remains would be placed in numbered bags, then stored temporarily in 12 containers it has bought. The containers would be delivered to several cemeteries within 15 days
The country marked a grim milestone the same day, overtaking the UK to become the country with the second-highest Covid-19 death toll in the world.
In Argentina, a pastor turned his church into a bar in protest at the uneven easing of restrictions in his Santa Fe province. Church leaders were dressed as waiters carrying Bibles on their trays in a mock service. Pastor Daniel Cattaneo said: “So, apart from the breaded veal headed for table four, here goes the word of God.”
India reported its biggest daily jump in cases on Saturday, adding 11,458 confirmed infections and taking the its total count to more than 300,000, according to data from the federal health ministry.
India is the fourth-worst affected country in the world, having passed the UK on Friday, with cases steadily increasingly despite a nationwide lockdown that began in late March and has since been loosened.
China reported 11 new cases on Saturday, including six domestic cases in the capital, Beijing, that raised concerns about a resurgence. Most of China’s cases in recent months have been overseas nationals tested as they returned home. The new cases have prompted Beijing officials to delay the return of students to primary schools and suspend all sporting events and group dining. City authorities on Friday also closed two markets visited by one of the known cases.
The first new case in Beijing after two months – who had no recent travel history outside the city – was reported on Thursday, and authorities confirmed two more infections the next day. The other five cases reported Saturday were brought in from overseas.
New Zealand has now gone for 22 days in a row without recording a new case. Following the recovery of an Auckland woman on Monday, it has no known active cases of Covid-19, and no one is in hospital with the virus.