Covid-19 Global Live Tracker – The New York Times

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The first time New Zealand thought it had eliminated the coronavirus from its isolated shores, a mysterious outbreak in its largest city shattered any sense of victory over a tenacious foe.

Now, after a second round of strict lockdown, the country believes — if a bit more tentatively this time — that it has effectively stamped out the virus once again.

On Wednesday, New Zealand moved to lift the last of its restrictions in Auckland after 10 days with no new cases linked to a cluster that first surfaced in August. The government will now allow unrestricted gatherings, and trips on public transit without social distancing or masks, in the city of 1.6 million people.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is facing re-election next week, called the reopening a validation of the country’s “go hard, go early” response. The strategy is aimed at eradicating the virus with a swift science-based policy, one that trades weeks of lockdown and sacrifice for an emergence to full economic activity.

“Our team of five million, a little more battle-weary this time, did what national teams do so often. We put our heads down, and we got on with it,” Ms. Ardern told reporters in Christchurch on Monday as she announced that the restrictions would be loosened, referring to the total number of people in New Zealand.

“You only had to look around the world to see the alternative to our approach here in New Zealand,” she said, adding that there was a 95 percent probability that the country had eliminated local transmission of the virus.

Experts cautioned that New Zealand’s small population and isolation meant it was uniquely positioned to manage the disease. But its success presents a stark contrast to many other parts of the world as deaths from the pandemic have surpassed one million.

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With reduced financial support from the British government, colleges and universities are pushing to stay open to retain tuition and room fees and placing students into severe lockdowns even as coronavirus infections rise in their dorms.

Students at Manchester Metropolitan University have taken to calling one of their residences H.M.P., for Her Majesty’s Prison, because of strict protocols that have left trash piled up in shared kitchens and students washing their clothes in bathroom sinks. Security guards stalked the gates, keeping anyone from leaving or entering.

Parties at the beginning of the school year led to the virus tearing though student suites, and the university largely left students on their own: It imposed such a draconian lockdown that students had to nurse roommates back to health, parents drove hours to deliver food and lawyers offered pro bono help.

The outbreaks have shone a harsh light on Britain’s decade-long campaign to turn higher education into a ruthless market. Cuts in state grants left schools dependent on tuition fees and room rents, leading them to jam more students onto campuses.

For Britain, where the Covid-19 death toll stands at 58,000, the highest in Europe, the pandemic has forced a reckoning with the government’s treatment of higher education, even as the country’s universities make crucial advances in the race for a vaccine.

“Students are money in the bank, and as long as we’re on campus they’ll worry about the consequences later,” said Aslan Warburton, a freshman at Manchester Metropolitan. “The financial side has taken priority over student well-being and the greater good.”

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Orthodox Jewish and other religious leaders lashed out at Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday over new coronavirus restrictions on schools, businesses and houses of worship, as protests broke out in Brooklyn overnight, leading to scenes of chaos and the injury of at least one person.

The new restrictions, announced by Mr. Cuomo on Tuesday, are intended to combat worrisome outbreaks of the coronavirus in Brooklyn, Queens and New York City’s northern suburbs. The rules, which will go in place on Friday — a day before an important Jewish holiday, Shemini Atzeret — seem to specifically target Orthodox synagogues that have become scenes of large gatherings of worshipers clustered together, with many not wearing face coverings.

Other religious leaders from communities affected by the new rules were also outraged. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, which has 1.5 million followers and 210 churches in Brooklyn and Queens, said it was taken by surprise by the governor’s announcement. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn condemned the new rules as “outrageous” in a statement on Tuesday night.

Orthodox Jewish leaders, who also said they were not consulted before the governor announced the new restrictions, said they were “appalled” by the action. In a letter posted late Tuesday from four Orthodox Jewish lawmakers representing the areas affected by the shutdown, said Mr. Cuomo “has chosen to pursue a scientifically and constitutionally questionable shutdown of our communities.”

Their frustration was reflected on the street, where video shared widely on social media showed hundreds of Hasidic men, most of them without masks, gathering after midnight and setting fires along 13th Avenue in the Borough Park neighborhood.

The crowd soon turned violent. One man can be heard yelling “Snitch!” in a video as the crowd beats a man the mob believed to be disloyal.

The pandemic has killed more than one million people around the world, including at least 210,000 in the United States alone. The illness has infiltrated the White House and infected the president.

On today’s episode of “The Daily,” we offer an update on measures to fight the coronavirus and try to predict the outbreak’s course, with Donald G. McNeil Jr., a science and health reporter for The New York Times.

He says the virus “is not going to be over by fall” but that there are reasons for optimism about a vaccine and other interventions.

Listen to ‘The Daily’: Where Is This Pandemic Headed?

The coronavirus “is not going to be over by fall,” our health reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. said. But on vaccines and other interventions, he found reasons for optimism.

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Dr. William Foege, a legendary figure in public health circles who served both Democratic and Republican presidents, has written an extraordinary private letter to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling on him to expose the Trump administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic — even if it means getting fired.

In the Sept. 23 letter, obtained and published Tuesday evening by USA Today, Dr. Foege, who served as director of the C.D.C. under former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, called on the current director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, to admit to the administration’s failures or risk presiding over the ruin of the public health agency’s reputation, and his own.

“Dear Bob, I start each day thinking about the terrible burden you bear,” he began, making clear that this was not the first conversation the two men have had about the administration’s response and Dr. Redfield’s role in it.

“As I have indicated to you before, resigning is a one-day story and you will be replaced,” Dr. Foege wrote, adding that if Dr. Redfield remained silent, the White House would simply “blame you for the disaster” and move on.

He suggested another course: “You could, upfront, acknowledge the tragedy of responding poorly, apologize for what has happened and your role in acquiescing, set a course for how C.D.C. would now lead the country if there was no political interference.”

“Don’t shy away from the fact this has been an unacceptable toll on our country,” he added. “It is a slaughter and not just a political dispute.”

Dr. Foege, 84, has worked in the field for more than half a century. He is credited with devising the strategy that led to the successful eradication of smallpox in the 1970s, and played a key role in improving immunization rates in developing countries in the 1980s. He told Dr. Redfield he needed to lift morale at the C.D.C. and restore the agency’s reputation.

“When they fire you,” he concluded, “this will be a multi-week story and you can hold your head high. That will take exceptional courage on your part. I can’t tell you what to do except to revisit your religious beliefs and ask yourself what is right.”

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

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Bars, restaurants and other businesses in Berlin will be forced to close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., starting this weekend, in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

With four districts of the capital registering more than 50 cases per 100,000 over a week, Berlin senators decided on Tuesday that stricter measures were required.

The rules, which are in place until at least the end of the month, are also designed to discourage private parties, which are thought to be a culprit in many of the recent transmissions. During the curfew only five people from two households are allowed to meet outdoors.

The famous Berlin Spätis, the corner stores that are often the center of ad hoc nightlife in the city, will also be forced to close early. Certain businesses, like pharmacies and gas stations, will be allowed to remain open, although the latter will not be allowed to sell alcohol.

“Our message is: The time of conviviality is over. The situation in Berlin is serious,” the senator responsible for health, Dilek Kalayci, said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the city of Frankfurt announced similar measures in the likely case that infections in the city rise above 50 per 100,000 in a week, closing restaurants and bars at 10 p.m. and banning the consumption of alcohol in public places, including parks.

Under Germany’s federal system, each state decides its own rules to slow the spread of the virus.

In addition, the national rail service announced that more police and security personnel would be checking trains to catch and fine people without masks.

The health authorities registered 2,828 new infections across Germany on Tuesday, a figure not seen in the country since April.

In other developments around the world:

  • More than 130 police checkpoints have been set up across Ireland to deter people from breaking new restrictions aimed at curbing the virus. The alert level was raised across the country to Level 3 on Wednesday, with residents encouraged not to travel outside their region. While the police in Ireland do not have the power to enforce the rules, throughout the pandemic the country has used checkpoints to dissuade people from making non-essential journeys. Ireland confirmed 432 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, as the prime minister and public health experts clashed over what measures would be most effective.

  • As part of tightened restrictions in Belgium, bars must close at 11 p.m., rather than 1 a.m., starting Friday, and a maximum of four people will be allowed at one table. Residents must also limit their social interactions to three people outside of their households. “The spreading of the virus is rapidly accelerating, and we have to do everything we can to stop that acceleration as soon as possible,” said Alexander De Croo, Belgium’s new prime minister during a news conference on Tuesday. Additionally, the regional government of Brussels, where the spread of the virus is particularly rapid, announced Wednesday that all bars and cafes would be closed for a month. Restaurants will remain open.

Credit…Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune, via Associated Press

As President Trump returned from the hospital, still telling Americans not to be afraid of Covid-19, the coronavirus has exploded in North Dakota. In the past week, North Dakota reported more new cases per capita than any other state.

Hospitalizations for the virus have risen abruptly, forcing health care officials in some towns to send people to faraway hospitals, even across state lines to Montana and South Dakota.

Officials have huddled with hospital leaders in recent days to contemplate ways to free up more hospital beds even as they contend with broader turmoil over virus policy in a state that has seen resignations of three state health officers since the pandemic’s start.

The rise in cases and deaths — September was by far the deadliest month for North Dakota since the start of the pandemic — reflects a new phase of the virus in the United States. States in the Midwest and Great Plains, many of which had avoided large outbreaks in earlier months when coastal cities were hard hit, are seeing the brunt. And in rural portions of the hardest-hit states, medical resources are quickly stretched thin for residents who can live hours from large hospitals.

Still, partly because these outbreaks were slow in coming, public health officials say they have struggled to convince the public that the situation is urgent or that limits like mask rules make sense. North Dakota is one of fewer than 20 states with no statewide mask mandate and many counties have resisted restrictions. But as the state reaches a boiling point, health officials say they hope people now will start to take the virus more seriously.

“If there’s anything that should get our population’s attention, it’s this: how perilously close we are to the edge,” Vern Dosch, who leads contact tracing efforts for North Dakota, said last week.

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The Food and Drug Administration released updated, stricter guidelines on Tuesday for coronavirus vaccine developers — a step that was blocked for two weeks by top White House officials. The guidelines make it highly unlikely that a vaccine could be authorized by Election Day.

The move, which was cleared by the Office of Management and Budget, appeared to be an abrupt reversal a day after The New York Times reported that White House officials, including Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, were blocking the guidelines.

The new recommendations, which do not carry the force of law, call for gathering comprehensive safety data in the final stage of clinical trials before an emergency authorization can be granted.

On Tuesday evening, President Trump showed his displeasure at the action of his own White House, and charged that the new guidelines were a conspiracy against his re-election prospects.

“New F.D.A. Rules make it more difficult for them to speed up vaccines for approval before Election Day. Just another political hit job!” he tweeted, tagging Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the F.D.A. commissioner.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the F.D.A. has said that it has been seeking ways to accelerate the development of vaccines without sacrificing safety. In June, the agency released an initial set of guidelines to give vaccine developers a better idea of how the F.D.A. would decide if a vaccine were acceptable, either for an emergency use authorization or for a full license.

Four vaccines have reached the final stage of testing, known as a Phase 3 trial, in the United States. A fifth is expected to start this month. President Trump has repeatedly suggested that a vaccine would be ready by Election Day, if not before.

But with public confidence declining in opinion polls about what could be a rushed coronavirus vaccine, the F.D.A. submitted a new set of guidelines to the White House for approval on Sept. 21.

Among the recommendations, the agency advised vaccine makers to follow volunteers for a median of two months after the final dose. The F.D.A. also expected vaccine makers to document five cases of severe infection in people who received the placebo instead of the vaccine.

The White House objected that the guidelines would add more time before a vaccine could be authorized.

The F.D.A., however, continued to share parts of this guidance with vaccine developers in response to questions they submitted to the agency.

On Tuesday, the F.D.A. published the guidelines at the end of a document the F.D.A. prepared for the meeting on Oct. 22 of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. The committee will be discussing the development, authorization and licensing of Covid vaccines.

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Kenya has begun a phased reopening of schools almost eight months after authorities suspended classes because of the pandemic.

The country’s education secretary, George Magoha, announced on Tuesday that public and private would reopen for students in grades four, eight and 12 starting Monday. After completing their studies, eighth and 12th graders are scheduled to take their national standardized tests next March.

Kenya closed schools last March, just days after reporting its first case of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and introduced some remote learning. But the move was widely criticized after education experts said many students didn’t have access to the necessary technology, leading the education ministry to suspend the school year.

To reopen the schools, the ministry mandated wearing masks, hand washing and monitoring the temperatures of all those coming into educational facilities. Mr. Magoha acknowledged that physical distancing would remain a challenge in the schools but said that “should not be used as a bottleneck to keep any child away from school.”

Kenya has reported nearly 40,000 cases of the virus and 743 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

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With coronavirus cases surging in Malaysia to their highest levels since the pandemic began, the prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, has placed himself in quarantine and acknowledged that a recent election campaign was one of the causes of the spike.

In an address to the nation on Wednesday, Mr. Muhyiddin stopped short of calling for a renewed lockdown. But casting himself as the nation’s “Abah,” or daddy, he said he would have to “use the rotan,” or cane, on those who violate mask and social-distancing rules. Caning miscreants is a well-known punishment in Malaysia.

The country of 32 million people, which by June had largely succeeded in containing the virus, reported 691 new cases on Tuesday and 432 the day before, its two highest daily totals. More than 10 percent of the country’s total number of cases have been reported in the past three days.

The prime minister went into quarantine on Monday after attending a cabinet meeting with his religious affairs minister, Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, who later tested positive for the virus. More than a dozen other cabinet members and top officials who attended the meeting also went into quarantine.

It was the second round of isolation for Mr. Muhyiddin, a cancer survivor, who went into quarantine in May after meeting with another official who later tested positive.

The Sept. 26 election in Sabah State, on Borneo Island, became the nexus for contagion as it drew people together for the campaign, including politicians and cabinet members allied with Mr. Muhyiddin who traveled to the state from Peninsular Malaysia.

Despite Sabah’s higher rate of infection, many of those returning to Peninsular Malaysia did not quarantine on their return. Some, including Mr. Zulkifli, traveled widely and met with numerous people in the days after.

“I admit the campaigning for Sabah elections is among the reasons for the recent spike of cases,” Mr. Muhyiddin said in a speech broadcast from his home.

Managing the coronavirus had been a bright spot for Mr. Muhyiddin, whose hold on power has been tenuous.

He was named prime minister in March by Malaysia’s king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, without a vote from Parliament, and faces pressure from the opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, who claims to have the backing of a majority of Parliament.

When an 80-year-old man at a bar near Buffalo, N.Y., noticed a fellow customer not wearing a face mask, he confronted him. The customer responded by swiftly pushing him to the ground, the police said. Five days later, the man was dead.

On Monday, the customer, Donald Lewinski, 65, of West Seneca, N.Y., was arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of the 80-year-old, Rocco Sapienza. The case is believed to be one of the first of its kind in New York State.

Mr. Lewinski pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in court in Erie County. The charge carries up to four years in prison.

The encounter followed months of tension and often vitriolic confrontations across the United States over masks. Disputes have escalated to violence: Retail employees have broken up fistfights between customers, and in New York City dozens of transit workers have been attacked after trying to enforce the rules.

John J. Flynn, the Erie County district attorney, said he believed the confrontation between Mr. Sapienza and Mr. Lewinski — who apparently had exchanged terse words before the shove — was one of the first disputes over face coverings that had led to someone’s death in New York State. He said preliminary autopsy results showed that Mr. Sapienza died from blunt force trauma to the head.

“It’s beyond sad,” Mr. Flynn said. “These kinds of situations have continued to escalate, and this should cause everyone to pause and think twice now about how we as a society want to conduct ourselves during this pandemic.”

Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

A bicycling craze has swept the United States during the pandemic, sending bike sales soaring and triggering a nationwide bicycle shortage.

In many cities, but perhaps most notably in New York, much of that growth has been driven by a surge in the number of women who took to bicycling after lockdown orders eliminated the main barrier that research has shown keeps them from cycling: streets that often feel perilous for cyclists.

In New York, there were an estimated 80 percent more cycling trips in July compared with the same month last year, with biking by women rising by 147 percent and increasing by 68 percent among men, according to data from Strava Metro, a mobility tracking application used by 68 million people globally.

But now traffic is rising again, and it remains unclear whether the momentum will continue. Cycling advocates say the city should build on what has happened during the outbreak and do more to create a transportation network that prioritizes cycling as a greener way to travel.

New York’s system of bike lanes is often disjointed and obstructed by cars, and lacks bike parking, which has discouraged cyclists.

Whether women remain on bikes will be a test for city officials who are under pressure to reduce space for cars to make more room for cyclists and pedestrians. Other cities face similar challenges in a country where biking has never come close to the levels seen in some European and Asian nations.

“There is no way we will get to high rates of cycling if we don’t solve the gender gap,” said Jennifer Dill, a professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University. “The big question now is how this will change behavior in the long term.”

“This is a great opportunity if cities take advantage of it,” she added.

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The most prominent religious leader in Montenegro, who once described a pilgrimage as “God’s vaccine,” has tested positive for the coronavirus and is in stable condition, his representatives said on Wednesday.

Amfilohije Radovic, the Serbian Orthodox metropolitan bishop of Montenegro and the Littoral, was given the diagnosis Tuesday after a routine health check, and was taken to Podgorica, the capital. The metropolitan, who is 82, was feeling well and was under the “constant care of doctors,” a statement on his website said.

The Serbian Orthodox Church, by far the largest Christian denomination in Montenegro, has more than 8 million adherents worldwide, most of them in Bosnia, Montenegro or Serbia. About three-quarters of Montenegrins are Serbian Orthodox.

During a sermon in May, as pilgrims honored a 17th-century bishop in Podgorica, Metropolitan Radovic told believers that while a coronavirus vaccine would be welcome, “there’s a vaccine here which has acted through the centuries,” Reuters reported. The metropolitan was seen forgoing a face mask at public events.

A controversial figure who wields significant influence, Metropolitan Radovic has clashed with civil authorities in the country over allegations that some religious services have violated coronavirus restrictions. Earlier this year, he organized protests against a much-debated law that gave the state ownership of some religious buildings and estates. Antigovernment feeling roused by the protests played a part in unseating the Democratic Party of Socialists, led by President Milo Djukanovic, in elections in August.

The virus is spreading as quickly now in Montenegro as it has at any time during the pandemic. With a population of about 625,000 people, the country has reported 12,584 coronavirus cases — 2,009 of them in the last week — and 188 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

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