Live Coronavirus Global News Updates

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The F.D.A. withdrew emergency approval for malaria drugs promoted by Trump.

The Food and Drug Administration said Monday that it was revoking emergency authorization of two malaria drugs to treat Covid-19, saying that they are “unlikely to be effective.”

The drugs, hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, were heavily promoted by President Trump after a handful of small, poorly controlled studies showed that they could work in treating the disease.

Mr. Trump even took hydroxychloroquine after he was exposed to two people who had tested positive for the coronavirus. The agency said that after reviewing some data, it had determined that the drugs, particularly hydroxychloroquine, did not demonstrate benefits that outweighed their risks. Earlier this year, the F.D.A. issued a warning that the drugs could cause alarming heart arrhythmias.

In March, the F.D.A. authorized stockpiles of the drugs to be used in hospitals to treat patients with the virus. But in a letter Monday revoking the authorization, the agency said that further studies have shown that the two drugs were unlikely to be effective in stopping the virus, and that current national treatment guidelines don’t recommend using them outside of clinical trials.

According to the letter, written by Denise M. Hinton, the F.D.A.’s chief scientist, the request to revoke the authorization came from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services that is in charge of supplying treatments in public health emergencies.

Members of Congress have questioned increases in the F.D.A.’s granting of emergency use authorizations during the pandemic for certain drugs as potential treatments. They have also questioned authorizations for antibody and diagnostic tests whose data had not been thoroughly vetted before approval, and for certain types of masks and other devices. Some Democratic lawmakers have criticized the Trump administration for pressuring the agency into issuing too many emergency approvals.

In the rush to improve virus treatments, some medical journals are losing prestige.

Recent retractions from respected medical journals are alarming scientists worldwide who fear that the rush for research on the virus has overwhelmed the peer review process and opened the door to fraud, threatening the credibility of prestigious publications when they are needed most.

Two publications recently retracted two coronavirus studies that delivered astounding results and altered the course of research into the pandemic. The research is happening at an unprecedented pace because of the urgent need to publish new findings to improve treatments for desperately ill virus patients.

Peer review is supposed to safeguard the quality of scientific research, a process that used to take many months, or even a full year, to scrutinize and edit a complicated study. The system, widely adopted by medical journals in the middle of the 20th century, undergirds scientific discourse around the world, but some critics have long worried that the safeguards are cracking, and have called on medical journals to operate with greater transparency.

Journals used to take many months, or even a full year, to scrutinize and edit a complicated study, a process that included several weeks for outside experts to peer review the research. But now peer review may be condensed to as little as 48 hours, and some studies deemed of vital importance to patients may be published online within 20 days of submission.

Of two high profile retractions, one study undercut Mr. Trump’s claim that certain antimalarial drugs can treat Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus, concluding that the medications in fact were dangerous to patients. (A separate clinical trial found that the drug did not prevent infections.) The other found that some blood pressure drugs did not increase the risk of Covid-19 and might even be protective.

A wave of cases in Beijing causes officials to lock down a section of the city.

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Credit…Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A section of Beijing was locked down on Monday as the government rushed to contain a new outbreak of coronavirus infections — an unnerving breach in the capital, which President Xi Jinping of China had said should be a fortress against the pandemic.

City officials said they had tracked down 79 infections in Beijing over the previous four days, including 36 confirmed on Sunday. All appeared ultimately traceable to the vast, bustling Xinfadi food market in the south of Beijing.

The World Health Organization on Monday called the outbreak a “significant event” and said that Chinese government has shown an appropriate level of concern.

“Certainly in China, when you have spent over 50 days without having any significant local transmission, a cluster like this is a concern and it needs to be investigated and controlled,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the W.H.O., “and that is what the Chinese authorities are doing.”

Until the infections from the market began to emerge on Thursday, Beijing had gone 56 days without new, locally borne cases. Its main worry appeared to be Chinese people returning from abroad with the virus.

While a few dozen new cases seems slight compared to the hundreds or thousands of infections reported daily by other countries, the new outbreak has jolted China, which had appeared to have largely stifled the virus after it emerged late last year from Wuhan, a city in the country’s center.

“We feel this is dangerous,” Chen Xiaoxi, who owns a shop near the market, said by telephone. He said he was waiting for the results of a test to check if he had the virus. “It is a worry, everyone is worried. This is no ordinary disease. We’re waiting at home and can’t go out.”

Some Chinese disease control experts had said Beijing appeared to respond to the outbreak quickly. Even so, this failure in the capital’s defenses appeared to rile Mr. Xi’s subordinates. Two local officials and the general manager of the Xinfadi market were dismissed on Sunday for what the city leadership said was a failure to move quickly enough against the infections.

“The market is densely packed with many moving around, and the risks are high that the outbreak will spread,” Sun Chunlan, a vice premier overseeing health policy, said at a meeting on Sunday, according to Xinhua, an official news agency. “Take firm and decisive measures to thoroughly prevent its spread.”

KEY DATA OF THE DAY

The virus makes inroads in South Carolina, including with one of its members of Congress.

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As the number of virus cases in South Carolina has risen steeply in recent days, Representative Tom Rice, a Republican, announced Monday that he had contracted the virus, becoming the latest member of Congress known to become infected.

South Carolina — whose governor was among the last to issue a stay-at-home order when the virus first struck and was also among the first to begin opening up his state — has seen a sharp rise in cases in recent days. The state allowed some retail stores to begin reopening with social distancing back on April 20, and has continued to allow more businesses to reopen, with Mr. McMaster giving the green light Friday to bowling alleys.

The state recorded its highest number of new cases yet in one day on Sunday, according to a New York Times database: 840. The tally made South Carolina the state with the seventh-highest number of new cases in the country that day, with more new cases reported there than in New York. And while some states make incomplete reports on weekends, the trajectory in South Carolina has been going up for days.

The state is now logging almost six times as many cases each day as it did when it began reopening. The week leading up to April 20, when it began reopening, it was averaging 142 new cases a day. All told there have been at least 18,795 cases of the virus in South Carolina, according to the database, and as of Monday morning at least 600 people had died.

In his statement on allowing bowling alleys to reopen, Gov. Henry McMaster said Friday: “Businesses simply can’t be closed indefinitely, but they can operate in a safe way with our collective knowledge of the virus.”

Mr. Rice announced on Facebook that he and his wife and one of their sons had contracted the virus and that they were all improving, including his son, who had the most severe case.

“I was lucky, and it was not bad for me,” Mr. Rice wrote. “I had a low fever and a mild cough. It was gone by Thursday. I never stopped eating or drinking or working or moving. The only bad thing is I have completely lost sense of taste and smell. CAN’T TASTE BACON!!!”

U.S. ROUNDUP

After employees test positive, some Florida bars close down again.

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Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

A number of Florida bars — including in Naples, St. Petersburg and the Orlando suburbs — have told customers that they are voluntarily shutting down their dining rooms because employees have tested positive.

The Galley, a St. Petersburg gastropub, said in a Facebook post that several staffers were quarantined, adding that it would reopen once it could test all employees. St. Petersburg’s mayor, Rick Kriseman, urged other businesses to also close if any of their workers get sick.

Florida reported its highest single-day number of cases since the outbreak began — 2,581 — on Saturday. The Department of Health reported another 2,016 cases of the virus on Sunday, and 1,758 on Monday, bringing the cumulative total to 77,326 cases and 2,938 deaths.

Dr. Lawrence Antonucci, the president and chief executive officer of the Lee Health hospital system in Fort Myers, attributed the increase in cases to the economic reopening. “This increase in the cases was expected as restaurants, businesses and beaches reopened,” he said on Thursday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has pushed back against the suggestion that the reopening that began on May 4 has led to the surge in the past week or so. He attributed the increase to expanded testing and outbreaks in agricultural communities, prisons and nursing homes.

In Pinellas County, Fla., which includes St. Petersburg, the chairwoman of the Board of County Commissioners, Pat Gerard, last week raised the specter of another clampdown on businesses to contain the latest outbreaks. “I think it’s only a matter of time before the public sees those numbers and starts emailing us that we need to shut down again,” she said during a board meeting.

In several parts of the country, officials have been talking about pausing their reopening plans amid warnings that the virus is not going anywhere. Here’s a look at some of them:

  • On Monday, New York’s governor repeated his calls for local governments to enforce the state’s restrictions after widespread reports of violations over the weekend. A day earlier, he had warned that if local officials did not crack down on such behavior, the state could be forced to suspend reopening plans in those areas. He said Monday that Phase 3 of reopening, in which up to 25 people will be allowed to gather, is expected to be put in place by the end of the week in all of the state except for New York City and its suburbs.

  • Utah’s governor said last week that he would pause reopening plans after seeing cases rise. “I don’t want to go forward and then take a step backward,” he said.

  • Oregon’s governor said last week that her state was placing county applications for reopenings on hold for a week. She described the move as a “yellow light.”

  • In Nashville, where case numbers have been trending upward, the mayor said last week that the city would wait before moving into further phases of reopening.

Porous borders and haphazard health efforts are complicating efforts to stop the spread of the virus in Africa.

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Credit…Kim Ludbrook/EPA, via Shutterstock

For months, many African nations managed to stave off, or at least slow, the spread of the coronavirus, partly by closing borders early and banning public gatherings.

The virus is now racing across Africa, aided by public health measures that are being applied either haphazardly — or not at all.

At a Central African Republic border town this week, dozens of truck drivers dutifully pulled over by a tent to be tested for the virus before they could proceed.

In the meantime, ordinary people drifted back and forth across the border, often unchecked.

When the authorities did pull over a bus for a spot check as it neared the capital, one passenger who admitted to feeling “malarial” was pulled off. He tested positive for the virus and was sent to a hospital, but the conditions were so bad there that he ran away, he said later.

“They are still looking for me,” he said, “and I think that they would like to punish me. But they will never get me.”

Last week the World Health Organization said Africa’s confirmed cases had doubled in 18 days to reach 200,000.

“Africa needs to intensify its efforts to slow the spread of the pandemic,” experts from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an article published in the journal Nature.

But with what the authors said was a “catastrophic shortage” of health professionals and medical supplies, that will not be easy. Even basic safety measures are sometimes being ignored.

Arts & SPORTS Roundup

And the Oscars will be … delayed.

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Credit…Noel West for The New York Times

The next Oscars ceremony will be pushed back to April 25 from Feb. 28 because of the pandemic, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Monday.

With the virus shuttering movie theaters across the country for months, and forcing studios to delay openings, the Academy said it would extend the eligibility window for films to Feb. 28 instead of Dec. 31. The organization did not say whether the April 25 show would involve the usual red carpet and live audience.

The goal was “to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control,” the academy’s president and the organization’s chief executive said in a statement. “For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year.”

The academy said that its Governors Awards, at which lifetime achievement Oscars are handed out and which is not televised, would not take place this fall as planned. More information about the ceremony and the honorees would be provided at a later date. The academy also pushed back the opening for its long-delayed museum in Los Angeles; it will now open on April 30.

For its part, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences said on Monday that its Creative Arts Emmys, at which the majority of Emmys are awarded annually, would be held virtually in September. The main Emmys telecast remains scheduled for Sept. 20 on ABC. The television academy said that discussions are underway “regarding the format.”

Elsewhere, in the world of sports:

  • The W.N.B.A. and its players’ union agreed on a plan for a 22-game regular season beginning in late July, as well as a full playoff schedule, the league announced Monday. The season is expected to be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The players who participate will receive 100 percent of their 2020 salaries, assuming the league is able to complete the full season. The athletes have until June 25 to decide whether to play.

  • The United States Tennis Association is set to announce this week that it will hold the 2020 United States Open with the support of the men’s and women’s tours. The tournament is expected to run as originally scheduled from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13, but without spectators, at the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, according to four tennis officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans had not been announced and formal government approval had yet to be secured.

  • In New Jersey, the governor said Monday that low-risk sports, including tennis, could begin again next week. As the state began allowing outdoor dining and in-person shopping to resume with limits on Monday, he said that he expected to lift further restrictions in a matter of “weeks, not months.” There were an additional 52 deaths.

Stocks rebound as the Fed’s new bond-buying plan trumps second-wave concerns.

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Credit…Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

A rout on Wall Street turned into a rally on Monday, with stocks crossing into positive territory for the day after the Federal Reserve said it would start to buy debt issued by individual companies in a new effort to keep credit flowing.

The S&P 500 was up about 1 percent by midafternoon, after having spent most of the day in negative territory. Though stocks had already recouped the worst of their losses — the index fell as much 2.5 percent earlier — shares jumped after the Fed’s new plan was released.

The Fed’s earlier intervention in financial markets, aimed at smoothing out the functioning of credit markets, was credited by many investors for driving a 45 percent rally in stocks from their March lows. The expansion of its program to include individual companies is meant to ensure businesses have access to borrowing.

The turnaround on Monday comes as sentiment in financial markets has grown somewhat unsteady after the run-up from those March lows. Stocks plunged Thursday as warnings that the economic recovery would be slower than hoped for, and the prospect of a second wave of infections, seemed to shift the focus back to risks.

In other economic news:

A month after reopening, Pakistan records 100,000 new cases, and panic is rising.

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Credit…Sohail Shahzad/EPA, via Shutterstock

Pakistanis stricken by the virus are being turned away from hospitals that have simply closed their gates and put up signs reading “full house.” Doctors and nurses are falling ill at alarming rates — and are also coming under physical assault from desperate and angry families.

When Pakistan’s government lifted its lockdown on May 9, it warned that the already impoverished country could no longer withstand the shutdown needed to mitigate the pandemic’s spread. But now left unshackled, the virus is meting out devastation in other ways, and panic is rising.

Before reopening, Pakistan had recorded about 25,000 infections. A month later, the country recorded an additional 100,000 cases — almost certainly an undercount. At least 2,729 people have died, according to a Times database.

Pakistan is now reporting so many new cases that it is among the W.H.O.’s top 10 countries where the virus is on the rise. The W.H.O. wrote a letter criticizing the government’s efforts on June 7 and recommended that a lockdown be reimposed, stating that Pakistan did not meet any of the criteria needed to lift it.

Compounding the dire situation, medical workers across Pakistan are being assaulted on a near-daily basis for not being able to admit patients or having to tell families that their loved ones had died.

“Our hospitals are completely exhausted,” said one doctor, who asked for his name to be withheld because he is a government employee.

Medical professionals now expect the virus to peak in July or August and infect up to 900,000, adding further strain to an already shaky health care system that some warn may collapse.

But government officials have ruled out the possibility of a further lockdown and dismissed the W.H.O. recommendations.

Charter schools have accepted at least $50 million in virus aid meant for small businesses.

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Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Charter schools, including some with healthy cash balances and billionaire backers like Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, have quietly accepted millions of dollars in emergency virus relief from a fund created to help struggling small businesses stay afloat.

Since their inception, charter schools have straddled the line between public schools and private entities. The pandemic has forced them to choose.

And dozens of them — potentially more because the Treasury Department has not disclosed a list — have decided for the purpose of virus relief that they are businesses, applying for aid from the Paycheck Protection Program even as they continue to enjoy funding from school budgets, as well as tax-free status.

Parents, activists and researchers have identified at least $50 million in forgivable loans flowing to the schools, which, like all schools, are facing steep budget cuts next year as tax revenue, tuition payments and donations dry up.

“To me, either you’re a fish or a fowl — you can’t say you’re a public school one day, but now because it’s advantageous, say you’re a business,” said Carol Burris, the executive director of the Network for Public Education, a group that scrutinizes charter school management, and whose early donors included a teachers’ union.

Charter leaders say traditional schools have long benefited from capital that they cannot obtain.

“Those who are questioning our eligibility for this program are those who question whether we should get money at all,” said Nina Rees, the president and chief executive of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

European countries reopen their borders as they gingerly return to public life.

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Credit…Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA, via Shutterstock

Europe’s internal borders, closed three months ago in a frenzy of panicked uncertainty, are opening again. In the delicate global stutter-step to restart stalled economies and save whole industries from financial ruin, the return of free and unfettered movement of people across the continent is a significant moment — one fraught with risk as new infections surge around the world.

France, Germany and Switzerland are among the nations that lifted restrictions on Monday for all arrivals from within the European Union and nations that fall under the border-free Schengen zone. They joined Spain, Italy, Belgium and other countries in trying to move to a new phase in the struggle to balance public health imperatives, economic realities and shifting public attitudes.

In order to facilitate navigating between different national rules, the European Commission launched “Re-open EU,” a site dedicated to information on travel to and within the European countries, including quarantine rules and information on tourist facilities.

For Europe, lifting internal border restrictions has important financial implications and deep symbolic resonance. Open borders — free from checkpoints and armed soldiers checking papers — have long been at the heart of the European project. Here are other international developments.

  • W.H.O. officials on Monday warned that the pandemic’s strain on laboratories and disruption of international transportation has led to a sharp decline in information about circulating influenza strains, which is critical to developing seasonal flu vaccines.

  • Commercial flights will resume to all of Egypt’s airports on July 1. Passengers from countries with high infection rates will be required to submit a lab test proving they are virus-free, the civil aviation minister, Mohamed Manar, said at a news conference on Sunday. Three coastal provinces — the Red Sea and South Sinai in the northeast, and Matrouh on the Mediterranean coast — will reopen to tourists, said Khaled el-Enany, the tourism minister. Egypt has registered more than 44,500 virus cases, and about 1,575 deaths.

  • The president of Moldova, Igor Dodon, has deployed the army to enforce virus-related restrictions after a surge in infections. The country has recorded nearly 12,000 cases and more than 400 deaths. Army officers are to enforce social distancing and the use of face masks in indoor public spaces and on public transport. But restaurants were still on course to reopen on Monday.

  • More than five million migrant workers from former Soviet republics are stranded in Russia as a result of the pandemic, with many living in increasingly dire circumstances. Russia has been battered by the virus, and migrants were the first to lose their jobs — and often the last to get medical help.

  • In India, the Tamil Nadu state government said it would reimpose a lockdown on about 15 million people in the city of Chennai and neighboring districts amid concerns that new infections are surging, the Times of India reported. The country has reported more than 330,000 cases and nearly 10,000 deaths.

Read tips on how to gather safely with friends and family.

In the United States, Father’s Day is a week away, and July 4 is also drawing near. Here are some tips on celebrating safely with family and friends.

Reporting was contributed by Maria Abi-Habib, Mike Baker, Brooks Barnes, Pam Belluck, Dan Bilefsky, Chris Buckley, Christopher Clarey, Michael Cooper, Michael Gold, Erica L. Green, Anatol Magdziarz, Salman Masood, Patricia Mazzei, Constant Méheut, Raphael Minder, Jesse McKinley, Ivan Nechepurenko, Aimee Ortiz, Elisabetta Povoledo, Nada Rashwan, Zia ur-Rehman, Roni Caryn Rabin, Dana Rubinstein, Dagny Salas, Marc Santora, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley, Katie Thomas, Carlos Tejada, David Waldstein and Karen Zraick.

Source: nytimes.com

Tags: health

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