France passes 1m cases
France has become the second country in Western Europe to record more than 1m coronavirus infections, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
The current total is 1,000,357. France has recorded 34,075 deaths.
There are now seven countries worldwide with more than one million cases:
- US: 8,329,044
- India: 7,651,107
- Brazil: 5,273,954
- Russia: 1,438,219
- Argentina: 1,037,325
- Spain: 1,005,295
- France: 1,000,357
Updated at 11.19pm EDT
German cases rise by over 10,000 for first time in pandemic
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by more than 10,000 in a single day for the first time, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday.
The institute recorded 11,287 new cases in its daily update for a total of 392,049. The previous day’s increase was 7,830.
The previous highest one-day total was on 20 October, according to Johns Hopkins University, with over 8,500 new cases.
The reported death toll rose by 30 to 9,905, the tally showed.
While Germany’s infection rates are lower than in much of Europe, they have been accelerating rapidly since the onset of cooler weather, with politicians warning that stricter social distancing rules may be needed if the trend continues.
Health Minister Jens Spahn tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday.
Updated at 10.52pm EDT
Puerto Rico shuts down 911 call centres after several staff test positive for Covid
All of Puerto Rico’s 911 call centers were shut down Wednesday night after several employees tested positive for the coronavirus, officials announced.
AP reports that Public Safety Secretary Pedro Janer said people should call the island’s emergency management agency at 787-724-0124 or police at 787-343-2020 in an emergency. He said both agencies are operating 24 hours a day.
However, people calling the first number that Janer provided get a recording asking them to call 911 for an emergency. Then the recording provided callers with a directory.
“This is serious,” Nazario Lugo, president of Puerto Rico’s Association of Emergency Managers, told The Associated Press. He said he was shocked at the government’s temporary plan to handle emergencies in the U.S. territory of 3.2 million people.
Lugo said officials should patch 911 calls through to another number, rather than forcing people to call a long number that they would have to read read or hear about on the news.
Updated at 10.40pm EDT
And now a quick break from coronavirus news:
Two “masked” intruders broke into a California bank using a method straight out of the movies: crawling along air ducts – only to fall through the ceiling tiles and onto the floor.
The raccoons were caught on camera by a customer who noticed the heist while he was withdrawing money outside the bank in Redwood City on Wednesday, ABC Eyewitness News reported.
In photographs, the raccoons can be seen prowling the halls and sitting at a desk. In one image, one of the raccoons – who appears to be the leader – holds out a paw, apparently directing his accomplice to the next target within the bank.
Unfortunately for them, someone raised the alarm and called the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
Helen Sullivan (@helenrsullivan)
what kills me about the racoons who broke into a bank is this image where the leader is telling his accomplice what to do next: pic.twitter.com/KjChQmGG9FOctober 21, 2020
Number of US states seeing record one-day deaths rises to six
The number of US states that reported record day-over-day increases in Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday has now risen to six, according to a Reuters analysis, as infections rose across the Midwest and elsewhere, prompting new clampdowns on residents, schools and businesses.
Deaths attributed to Covid-19 hit daily records in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Kansas, Hawaii and Wisconsin, Reuters found. Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Colorado and Ohio reported record daily increases in new infections, the tally showed.
The number of patients in U.S. hospitals suffering from the virus hit 40,000 for the first time since August on Wednesday, according to the analysis.
“Folks, please stay home,” Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said in a statement on Wednesday. “Help us protect our communities from this highly-contagious virus and avoid further strain on our hospitals.”
Evers said a week-old field hospital in the Milwaukee suburbs had admitted its first patient.
Wisconsin is a pivotal battleground state in the 3 November election between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 221,000 people in the United States and thrown millions out of work. Opinion polls show Trump’s handling of the pandemic has hurt his re-election prospects.
Podcast: US election 2020 – can we trust the polls?
The Guardian US data editor, Mona Chalabi, casts a sceptical eye over the US polling industry that is once again predicting defeat for Donald Trump. Has it learned lessons from 2016?
Barack Obama has delivered a stinging rebuke of president Donald Trump in a speech delivered in Philadelphia while campaigning for Joe Biden. Obama criticised Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis as well as divisive behaviour including retweeting conspiracy theories that you wouldn’t tolerate from anyone “except from a crazy uncle”.
The former president also praised the positivity shown during the pandemic and recent Black Lives Matter movement . “We see that what is best is us is still there, but we’ve got to give it voice.”Barack Obama likens Donald Trump to ‘crazy uncle’ in Joe Biden rally speech – video
Magda Szubanski was targeted by a coordinated “avalanche of hate” from rightwing extremists online after appearing in a Victorian government ad encouraging mask use, Australia’s e-safety commissioner, Julie Inman-Grant, has said.
In late August, when Victoria was reporting Covid-19 cases of close to 200 a day, Szubanski was one of several celebrities to appear in ads encouraging social distancing and compliance with mask rules.
Szubanski brought back her Kath & Kim character Sharon Strzelecki for the promotion, and quickly found herself on the receiving end of an online trolling campaign:
Barack Obama returned to the campaign trail on Wednesday to deliver a scathing – and occasionally humorous – condemnation of his successor while envisioning an America led by his former vice-president, Joe Biden.
Sleeves rolled and wearing a black mask that read VOTE, Obama assailed Donald Trump over his response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 Americans and infected millions more, including the president.
“Eight months into this pandemic, cases are rising again across this country” Obama said at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia less than two weeks before election day. “Donald Trump isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us. He can’t even take the basic steps to protect himself.”
Declaring this “the most important election of our lifetime”, Obama stressed the importance of voting and urged Americans to make a plan for casting their ballots. “What we do now these next 13 days will matter for decades to come,” he said:
Residents in five suburbs in Australia’s second-largest city have been put on alert and people living in a public housing block urged to self-isolate after a new coronavirus case in a school sparked fears of a fresh outbreak, Reuters reports.
Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, is just emerging from a second wave after a hard lockdown since July helped bring down daily Covid-19 cases to single digits in recent days from a peak of 700 in early August.
Authorities have asked people in the affected suburbs and 120 residents living in a public housing block to get tested if they experienced any flu-like symptoms.
Coronavirus cases could spread rapidly in the densely populated public housing buildings and in early July, nine high-rise housing blocks in Melbourne were placed on a hard lockdown for several days.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Victoria health authorities were responding effectively to the new virus clusters in the state.