Coronavirus Live News: Global Updates


As mass testing and contact tracing are rolled out in some nations, others are way ahead.

The push for large-scale coronavirus testing and contact tracing has been at the core of the World Health Organization’s guidance for stopping the coronavirus. And as some nations bring in new track-and-trace systems designed to prevent a second major wave of infections, others’ experiences offer case studies — and cautionary tales.

The latest such effort, in Britain, is being rolled out on Thursday. People with potential Covid-19 symptoms will be tested and, if positive, be asked to list everyone they have recently been in close contact with for at least 15 minutes. Those people will, in turn, be contacted and asked to isolate themselves for 14 days.

The country’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, said this week that the program aimed to replace a nationwide lockdown with individual isolation or smaller localized restrictions if new cases emerge.

In Japan, where the government limited tests to the most severe cases and instead focused on contact tracing, medical experts worried that the approach would allow cases to explode. But Japan continues to have a relatively low Covid-19 death rate.

Years of neglect had hobbled Mexico’s health care system, leaving it dangerously short of doctors, nurses and equipment to fight a virus that has overwhelmed far richer nations.

The shortages have had devastating consequences for patients, health workers across Mexico say. Doctors and nurses recounted dozens of preventable deaths in hospitals — the result of neglect or mistakes that never should have happened.

“We have had many of what we call ‘dumb deaths,’” said Pablo Villaseñor, a doctor at the General Hospital in Tijuana, the center of an outbreak. “It’s not the virus that is killing them. It’s the lack of proper care.”

Patients die because they are given the wrong medications or the wrong dose, health workers said. Protective gloves at some hospitals are so old that they crack the moment they’re slipped on, nurses said.

“You hear of one patient dying because he didn’t get the proper care — and then another one and another one — and you try not to become paralyzed,” said Dr. Villaseñor, a rheumatologist who said he had to learn how to suit up to treat coronavirus patients by watching a video on YouTube.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, offers both a cautionary tale for how dithering leadership can thwart public health and a medical puzzle for why an unprepared nation’s hospitals have so far not been overwhelmed by the coronavirus.

With thousands of islands straddling a section of the Equator wider than the continental United States, Indonesia has counted on its sprawling archipelago and youthful population to slow the contagion. And the government has said that national coronavirus restrictions, already a scattershot effort, must be relaxed to save the economy.

In early May, Indonesia had recorded fewer than 12,000 coronavirus cases, with about 865 deaths. By Thursday, the number had increased to 23,851 confirmed cases and 1,473 deaths, and health experts say even this near doubling of cases reflects the limits of testing rather than the true caseload.

In a glimpse of what could be runaway transmission, a sampling of 11,555 people in Surabaya, the country’s second largest city, found last week that 10 percent of those tested had antibodies for the coronavirus. Yet the entire province of East Java, which includes Surabaya, had just 4,142 officially confirmed cases as of Wednesday.

“Massive infection has already happened,” said Dono Widiatmoko, a member of Indonesia’s Public Health Association. “This means it’s too late.”

The fire ravaged a makeshift Covid-19 isolation unit that had been built outside United Hospital in Dhaka, the capital. Hospital officials said that three of the patients were confirmed coronavirus patients,and that the victims’ ages ranged from 45 to 75.

Muneer-ul-Islam, who runs a grocery shop in the neighborhood, said people in other parts of hospital, one of the biggest in Dhaka, started running out of the building after the makeshift compound caught fire.

“People feared the entire building would catch the fire,” he said.

The fire, in Dhaka’s upscale Gulshan area, was brought under control around 10 p.m., officials said. Hospital officials said in a statement that the cause appeared to be an electrical short circuit.

Debashis Bardan, a fire department official, said the government had set up a four-member committee to investigate the cause of the fire.

Bangladesh has a poor record on fire safety. Most buildings rely on cheap and often compromised designs, and risks are often compounded by poor enforcement and unscrupulous management.

Bangladesh has reported 544 coronavirus deaths and more than 38,000 cases, but some health experts say the actual number of cases could be far higher because testing is scant. Many hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients.

The first confirmed coronavirus infections in Europe and the United States, discovered in January, did not ignite the epidemics that followed, according to a close analysis of hundreds of viral genomes.

And the authors say that the outbreak’s relatively late emergence means that more lives could have been saved by early action, such as testing and contact tracing.

The new analysis is not the last word. Scientific understanding of the virus is evolving almost daily, and this type of research yields a range of possible results, not complete certainty.

Many infections in Washington State appear to have occurred earlier in February, and other models suggested that the epidemic there began before the middle of the month. But a number of virus experts said the new report convincingly ruled out a connection between the first confirmed cases and the later outbreaks.

“This paper clearly shows this didn’t happen,” said Kristian Andersen, a computational biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego who was not involved in the research.

The latest claims may not only be a result of fresh layoffs, but also evidence that states are working their way through a backlog. And overcounting in some places and undercounting in others makes it difficult to measure the layoffs precisely.

“When we think about what to do when benefits expire, it would be helpful to know how many people are actually getting them,” said Elizabeth Pancotti, a research assistant at the National Bureau of Economic Research. The Labor Department reports may be the best source of information, she said, but they offer an “incomplete picture.”

Myanmar’s government is abusing regulations aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus by routinely sentencing people to prison for violating curfew, quarantine and social distancing requirements, human rights activists say.

In the last two months, at least 500 people have received prison sentences ranging from two weeks to a year over violations of the public health measures, according to Human Rights Watch and the Myanmar-based rights group Athan.

Some found guilty of breaking the virus rules have been fined up to $35 and then jailed because they couldn’t afford to pay. Myanmar’s prisons are notoriously overcrowded and unsanitary.

“Throwing hundreds behind bars in crowded, unhygienic prisons defeats the purpose of containing the spread of Covid-19,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

To encourage the public to take precautions, Myanmar’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has posted videos of herself washing her hands and sewing a face mask.

In addition to those sentenced to prison for violating the public health rules, at least 500 others face charges, including many who are in jail awaiting trial, said Athan’s co-founder and research manager, Ko Ye Wai Phyo Aung.

He said the rules were often applied unevenly. In one case, he said, a violator was fined the equivalent of 4 cents while another was sentenced to a month in jail for a similar offense. Meanwhile, he said, officials who break the rules are not charged at all.

This won’t be the year for that. Even before professional play has had a chance to begin in 2020, China’s top leagues have lost more than a fifth of their teams, the result of longstanding financial woes compounded by the coronavirus shutdown.

The Super League will have 16 teams this year, the association said, with Shenzhen Football Club replacing Tianjin Tianhai in the league’s ranks. A start date to its season has not been announced.

Some of the Chinese clubs that are out this year began folding months ago, before the epidemic led to the suspension of professional play and ticket sales.

China has no shortage of passionate soccer fans. Emboldened by Mr. Xi’s support for the game, investors have piled into Chinese clubs, helping them spend on expensive foreign talent, including the Brazilian forward known as Hulk. But the three leagues’ popularity has fallen short of owners’ lofty dreams, particularly for lower-division clubs.

One mask depicts a middle finger, stuck defiantly upward, silk-screened in black ink on a blue background. Others feature sunflower seeds, a surveillance camera or creatures from ancient Chinese mythology.

An assortment of Mr. Ai’s masks, made of nonsurgical cloth, will be sold on eBay for Charity, from Thursday until June 27, to raise money for humanitarian and emergency relief efforts around the coronavirus pandemic.

People wanted to know where they could get one. “I wanted to do something,” he said. “I didn’t want to just be sitting there and waiting for the time to pass.”

More than 1.6 million people in the country have been infected, and while hard-hit northeastern states have reported decreases in new cases in recent days and the pace of deaths nationwide has fallen, health experts warn of a possible resurgence as lockdowns are lifted.

Three big men lock arms. Three from the other team do the same. At the referee’s signal, they lunge toward each other, their faces inches apart.

Often there is a rule violation of some kind, and they have to get up and do it again. And maybe again.

Scrums would not be barred outright, but World Rugby is advising that they not be reset repeatedly by the referee. Tacklers will have to come in low, not upright, another situation with the potential for close face-to-face contact.

The group also recommended barring huddles and spitting. And it is advising that at halftime the ball be washed and players don new uniforms.

Mr. Galante died on March 29 in a Madrid hospital. He was 71. His partner, Justa Montero, said the cause was Covid-19.

Reporting was contributed by Ian Austen, Hannah Beech, Aurelien Breeden, Stephen Castle, Choe Sang-Hun, Ben Dooley, Jack Ewing, Sophie Haigney, Mike Ives, Natalie Kitroeff, Stephen Kurczy, Mark Landler, Victor Mather, Raphael Minder, Saw Nang, Richard C. Paddock, Amy Qin, John Schwartz, Megan Specia, Muktita Suhartono, Paulina Villegas, Sameer Yasir, Raymond Zhong and Carl Zimmer.



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