The number of coronavirus cases worldwide passed 30 million on Friday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, as the World Health Organization said daily case numbers were growing at an “alarming rate” in Europe.
The global death toll stands at 943,203 people and is expected to pass 1 million by 1 October.
The US accounts for than 22% of global cases, at 6.67m, and nearly 200,000 fatalities. The Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, again criticised the President Trump’s handling of the pandemic as “close to criminal”, in particular Trump’s supposedly intentional downplaying of the severity of the virus.
Biden also questioned Trump’s claims on a vaccine: “I don’t trust the president on vaccines,” he said, adding that he trusted Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading US infectious diseases expert sidelined by Trump.
Roughly one in every 50 Americans is infected, and one in every 1,600 has died since the start of the pandemic.
Reports emerged late on Thursday that guidance about the novel coronavirus testing posted last month on the website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was not written by the agency’s scientists and was posted despite their objections. The New York Times reported the story, citing people familiar with the matter and internal documents.
The guidance said it was not necessary to test people with no symptoms of Covid-19, even if they had been exposed to the virus. The agency’s previous position recommended testing all people who had close contact with anyone diagnosed with Covid-19. The reversal shocked doctors and politicians and prompted accusations of political interference.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of “alarming rates of transmission” of Covid-19 across Europe and cautioned countries against shortening quarantine periods. The WHO said the number of coronavirus cases in September “should serve as a wake-up call for all of us”.
France confirmed a new 24-hour record late on Thursday, registering 10,593 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours and pushing the cumulative number to 415,481. The previous high was 10,561 new cases in a day, recorded on 12 September. The sharp increase is a result of a higher infection rate but also of a massive increase in testing, Reuters reported.
Extra measures to curb the epidemic in the cities of Lyon and Nice were announced by the health minister on Thursday, adding to the three other regions already deemed as virus “red zones”.
Israel is preparing to enter a second national coronavirus lockdown on Friday, becoming the first country to re-enter nationwide restrictions. The unpopular lockdown is expected to last at least three weeks, upending a normally festive period filled with Jewish holidays.
Meanwhile, the Chinese city of Wuhan, ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak, is reopening for international flights, ending an eight-month moratorium. China stopped international flights in March as Covid-19 swept the world, but has now largely brought the disease under control at home through travel restrictions, testing and lockdowns.