Authorities ordered the lockdown of more than 100 towns and villages across Lebanon after hundreds of people tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days and amid a shortage of hospital beds.
Outgoing Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi said in a statement the complete lockdown of 111 towns and villages will go into effect on Sunday morning and last until October 12.
Lebanon has witnessed a sharp increase of cases in recent weeks with more than 40,000 cases registered since February in the small country of 5 million. The country has registered 386 deaths so far.
On Friday, a new daily record was registered with 1,291 new cases over 24 hours, including 12 deaths, according to Lebanons Health Ministry. The total registered cases now stand at 42,159.
The World Health Organization reported this week that the occupancy rate of beds in intensive care units dedicated to coronavirus cases has reached 84%, while the occupancy rate for regular beds reached 63%.
The Trump campaign said all previously announced campaign events involving US President Donald Trump would be moved to a virtual setting or temporarily postponed after he tested positive for Covid-19.
The campaign also said that previously announced events involving members of the Trump family are temporarily postponed, with other events being considered on a case-by-case basis.
Vice President Mike Pence, who has tested negative for the coronavirus, plans to resume his scheduled campaign events, the statement said.
It has emerged that the US supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett had Covid-19 in the summer.
It comes as questions are pouring in about the event at the White House last Saturday where Donald Trump announced the federal judge as his nominee for the supreme court, to fill the seat left vacant after the death of the liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg two weeks ago.
South African soldiers deployed to enforce one of the world’s strictest lockdowns have returned to barracks as new coronavirus infections slowed, the military has said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa initially mobilised 2,820 soldiers in late March to help police enforce the confinement measures. But a month later he deployed 73,000 extra troops to help implement the nationwide lockdown.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said its deployment had expired on 30 September. The soldiers had “successfully contributed” to “the national effort to mitigate the spread of Covid-19”, it said in a statement.
“Deployed forces will be confined to operational bases until further notice, with contingencies to render assistance in the event of a second wave,” SANDF added.
Some security forces have been accused of heavy-handedness in enforcing South Africa’s lockdown rules. Military medical staff were also dispatched to some state hospitals to help shore up the health service, which was buckling under rising number of cases during the peak in July.
Despite its strict lockdown, South Africa has been relatively hard-hit, with more than 676,000 infections and 16,866 deaths recorded to date – just under half the total number of cases detected on the continent.
More than 12,000 Covid infections in 24 hours in France
France reported 12,148 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, the French health ministry said.
Friday’s figure is lower than Thursday’s 13,970 and well below highs of more than 16,000 recorded last week.
France also reported 136 new deaths from coronavirus, taking the country’s death toll to 32,155.
Hospital admissions for Covid-19 rose by 106 to 6,758 and intensive care admissions by 11 to 1,276, continuing to rise from recent weeks.
Joe Biden tests negative
The Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, and his wife, Jill, have tested negative for coronavirus, their doctor said in a statement on Friday.
“Vice-president Joe Biden and Dr Jill Biden underwent PCR testing for Covid-19 today and Covid-19 was not detected,” Dr Kevin O’Connor said in a statement.
After the result was announced, Biden headed to the airport, where he was scheduled to travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a campaign event.
“I’m happy to report that Jill and I have tested negative for Covid,” Biden said on Twitter. “Thank you to everyone for your messages of concern. I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.”
Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO emergencies programme, said the outbreak at the White House must be “investigated and those individuals who might be at risk need to be advised. This is epidemiology 101.”
He said he was confident that was happening, not least because many Americans “taught the world epidemiology 101”.
But he refused to be drawn on whether Joe Biden was likely to have caught Covid from Trump during this week’s presidential debate. “We absolutely trust the US public health authorities to make the appropriate decision and advise those individuals whether they may be at risk,” he said.
Dr Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the director of the WHO, said it was hard to say why Spain had been so hard hit by the second wave while Italy had fared rather better.
It was partly “bad luck” on Spain’s part, he said, “because in both countries you’ve got very, very impressive responses and very well trained people”.
He warned that in parts of Italy, cases were “heating up”, with the Italian authorities “moving very, very quickly to try and address that”.
“We are dealing with a biological process and we don’t understand everything about this virus and everything about why it takes off in some places and doesn’t in others,” he added.
WHO grants approval to new rapid Covid test
The WHO has today finalised approval for a second antigen-based rapid diagnostic test, giving it emergency use listing.
“These tests are simple to use and provide reliable results in approximately 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days, at a lower price,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
About 2 million cases of Covid-19 are currently being reported around the world, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), has said.
In a televised press conference, Ghebreyesus said: “This is a critical moment in the outbreak response. We urge every single leader to strengthen their response, to target measures in place that we know can suppress the spread.”
He added: “Where we are able to successfully control it, it’s important governments keep going, stay vigilant and be ready and keep investing in your national health systems, including contact tracing.”
The UK reported 6,968 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, up from Thursday’s figure of 6,914 but below the peak of 7,143 on Tuesday.
There were 66 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, up from Thursday’s level of 59 but lower than numbers earlier in the week.
Donald Trump’s youngest son, Barron, 14, has tested negative for Covid-19, the White House said.
“Barron tested negative and all precautions are being taken to ensure he’s kept safe and healthy,” said Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff for Melania Trump. She said the first lady was doing well.
Meanwhile, the US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said the president has “very light symptoms” after testing positive for Covid-19. He will brief Trump later on Friday on negotiations with congressional Democrats for additional federal coronavirus aid.
Scotland has recorded a further 775 cases over the past 24 hours, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed. This takes the total number of positive cases in Scotland to 30,687.
Here is a breakdown of new cases:
- NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde: 324
- NHS Lothian: 164
- NHS Lanarkshire: 102
The remaining cases are spread another nine of Scotland’s 14 health boards.
Four people have died after testing positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 2,526 deaths in Scotland.