Pope Francis on Saturday made his first trip since the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown, though it was a solitary affair for the crowd-loving Argentine due to pandemic precautions.
Francis visited the central Italian town of Assisi, the birthplace of his namesake saint, where he signed his new encyclical – a document laying out the pope’s views on key issues – called “Fratelli tutti” on the importance of fraternity and social friendship, particularly during the pandemic.
The pope’s last trip was to the southern Italian port city of Bari on 23 February for a meeting with Mediterranean bishops, AFP reports.
As the virus began to spread around the world earlier in the year, Francis instead reached out through a live-streamed mass, performed alone on Saint Peter’s Square.
“Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities,” he said in the historic March address, describing the coronavirus “tempest” as having put everyone “in the same boat”.
Pope Francis waves from the seat of a car as he leaves the lower Basilica of San Francesco, in Assisi, Italy, on 3 October 2020. Photograph: Gianluigi Basilietti/EPA
Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, has said he was worried that Boris Johnson would die after the prime minister was taken into intensive care with coronavirus in April.
Raab, who stood in for Johnson when he became unwell, told the Conservative party conference on Saturday that he was often asked how he felt during that time, and admitted he was “really worried that we might lose him”.
He said coronavirus had affected every community and nearly taken the life of Johnson, whom he called a “friend as well as a leader”.
Ireland is seeing a “significant escalation” in coronavirus infections, the acting chief medical officer said on Saturday after reporting the highest daily death toll since May and the third-highest number of daily cases recorded to date.
Like most of Europe, Ireland has seen a steady increase in infections since the end of July and has tightened restrictions as a result, including banning all indoor restaurant dining and most trips in and out of the capital, Dublin, Reuters reports.
The 613 new cases on Saturday was the highest daily total since late April, when the country was still in a full lockdown.
Ten more people died, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths to 1,810.
“The numbers being reported today and over the past week represent a significant escalation in the profile of Covid-19 in Ireland,” acting chief medical officer Ronan Glynn said in a statement.
Glynn urged people over the age of 70 and those who are medically vulnerable to Covid-19 to limit the number of people they meet to a very small core group of family members, carers or friends, and for short periods of time.
Ireland has reported just over 100 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days, the 16th-highest Covid-19 infection rate out of 31 European countries monitored by the European Centre for Disease Control.
People attend an anti-mask protest organised by Health Free Ireland at Custom House in Dublin on Saturday, 3 October, 2020. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
Ukraine’s former president Petro Poroshenko has been hospitalised in Kiev with double pneumonia, days after he tested positive for Covid-19, AFP reports.
“Petro Oleksiyovych [Poroshenko] was hospitalised,”, his wife, Maryna Poroshenko, said in a video on Facebook. “Despite the fact that my husband has double pneumonia, he is strong-willed and is demonstrating this in the fight against the disease.”
Poroshenko, 55, announced on Tuesday that he had tested positive for coronavirus and said he was receiving treatment at home.
Poroshenko, who is currently a member of the Ukrainian parliament, suffers from diabetes, which is associated with an increased risk of developing complications from the coronavirus.
He led Ukraine after Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the outbreak of a conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in the east of the country. In 2019 he was easily beaten in presidential elections by Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian with no previous political experience.
Ukraine, one of Europe’s poorest countries, with a population of 40 million, has reported more than 222,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 4,300 fatalities.
Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Zelensky’s wife both contracted the virus, but have recovered.
So less than 5 minutes after the president’s doctor said he has been doing just fine, Trump’s own chief of staff appears to give the pool an entirely different account — off the record. https://t.co/fTY2raDFta
US president Donald Trump is “doing very well” and is fever-free at a military hospital on Saturday a day after he tested positive for coronavirus, the president’s doctor said on Saturday.
But a person familiar with the situation said some of Trump’s vital signs over the last 24 hours were concerning, and that the next 48 hours would be critical in terms of his care.
Trump was moved to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington on Friday just hours after his diagnosis.
White House doctor Sean P Conley told reporters outside the hospital on Saturday that Trump had not experienced difficulty breathing, and had not been given supplemental oxygen. “The team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made,” he said.
It was, however, pointed out immediately that Conley’s exact words were that the president wasn’t on oxygen “right now”.
This from the Sunday Times’ Tim Shipman:
Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound)
Clarification: Doctor repeatedly said Trump not on oxygen "right now". Suggests he did have it at some point. Let the evasive leader doing well press farago begin for the second time this year https://t.co/9JK1J346qd
The White House has said Trump, 74, will work in a special suite at the hospital for the next few days as a precautionary measure.
During the press conference, Dr Brian Garibaldi, who is involved in the president’s care, told reporters: “About 48 hours ago, the president received a special antibody therapy directed against the coronavirus […] Yesterday evening he received his first dosage of Remdesivir and our plan is to continue a 5-day course.”
This from the ABC’s Jonathan Karl:
Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl)
“About 48 hours ago the president received a special antibody therapy directed at the coronavirus” - Dr Garabaldi, Walter Reed.
48 hours ago? Thursday morning? Before he tested positive?
The 72-hour timeline that Conley just gave - that Trump tested positive for the virus 72 hours ago - means he would have known of his diagnosis when he went to the fundraiser in New Jersey and when he went on Hannity and downplayed the virus.
Italy reports highest rise in infections since April
Italy on Saturday reported 2,844 new coronavirus cases, its highest daily tally since April, when the country was still in lockdown.
Twenty-seven more people have died with the virus in the last 24 hours, and the death toll now stands at 35,968. The country’s total number of confirmed cases has reached 322,751.
Italy’s government has announced new measures to halt the outbreak to be introduced this month, including making wearing masks compulsory in public at all times.
Interior minister Luciana Lamorgese said the government was also considering using the military to help to enforce the new crackdown. But despite the surge in Covid cases, the government insists there are no plans for a new lockdown.
A local police officer checks people and tourists in front of the Fontana di Trevi during the first day since the wearing of protective masks outdoors has become mandatory in the Lazio region amid the coronavirus pandemic in Rome, Italy, on 3 October 2020. Photograph: Angelo Carconi/EPA
A further 42 people who tested positive for coronavirus were reported to have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 30,138, NHS England said on Saturday.
Patients were aged between 44 and 100 years old.
Three patients, aged between 49 and 82, had no underlying health conditions.
The deaths occurred between 8 August and 2 October.
Eight other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
Schools, libraries, mosques and other public institutions in Tehran will be closed for a week as part of measures to stem a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases, Reuters reports.
The closure plan – which will also affect universities, seminaries, libraries, museums, theatres, gyms, cafes and hair salons – came after Alireza Zali, the head of Tehran’s coronavirus taskforce, called for the shutdown to help control the epidemic.
Zali said in an interview on state television that if the spread of the continued at the current rate in the Iranian capital, there would be as much as a five-fold increase in cases and a rise in the fatality rate to between 1.5% and 3%.
Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 179 on Saturday to 26,746, and identified cases by 3,523 to 468,119, the health ministry said.
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, speaks at a meeting in Tehran. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said anyone concealing a Covid-19 infection would face a severe penalty.
“Anyone who feels ill and it’s clear to them that they are ill, must not hide their illness,” Rouhani said in televised remarks. Otherwise they will be committing “the highest offence” that will demand “the highest punishment”.
Those not wearing a mask in public will be fined, he said. Government employees who fail to observe regulations face measures ranging from warnings to a one-year suspension from their posts.
Government offices where people go for services should not serve people who do not observe health protocols, such as wearing masks. Businesses that flout regulations could face closure.
Rouhani said penalties would be most severe in Tehran, where in recent weeks the daily death toll from the coronavirus has been more than 100 compared with less than 10 at the end of the first wave of the virus earlier this year, according to Zali.
Iran has registered more than 3,500 new cases in each of the past six days, with a record 3,825 cases announced on Thursday, official statistics showed.
Joe Biden has urged the US public to be patriots by wearing masks.
“Wearing a mask will protect you. But it will also protect those around you — your mom, your dad, your son, your daughter, your neighbour, your co-worker,” the Democratic presidential candidate tweeted.
Joe Biden (@JoeBiden)
Be a patriot. Do your part.
Wearing a mask will protect you. But it will also protect those around you — your mom, your dad, your son, your daughter, your neighbor, your co-worker.
Don’t just do it for yourself. Do it for the people you love.
UK Covid testing cutoff quietly extended to eight days after first signs
The government has quietly changed its guidance on the number of days within which people with coronavirus symptoms should get tested, the Guardian has learned.
On the government website people are now told: “On day eight, you need to go to a test site,” after an apparent change on Friday morning. Earlier in the day it was quoted as saying: “You need to get the test done in the first five days of having symptoms.”