In response to President Trump, the head of the W.H.O. said politicizing the epidemic would lead to “many more body bags”.
Responding to President Trump’s criticism, the head of the World Health Organization on Wednesday launched a passionate appeal for solidarity, warning that the politicization of the coronavirus pandemic would result in “many more body bags.”
Trump launched a tirade against the organization on Tuesday, accusing him of acting too slowly to sound the alarm and treating the Chinese government too favorably. While the president, who threatened to end US funding for the W.H.O., spoke in unusually harsh terms, he was not the only one to criticize in this way.
Asked Wednesday about Mr. Trump’s comments, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, W.H.O. The CEO said, “We want to learn from our mistakes,” but added, “For now, the focus should be on fighting this virus. “
“Please don’t politicize this virus,” said Dr. Tedros. “If you want to be exploited and you want to have a lot more body bags, then you do. If you don’t want a lot more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it. ”
He said the disease was new, adding, “There are many unknowns and we don’t know how it will behave in the future. “
While some critics called on Dr. Tedros to resign, he said that he was not deterred and could resist “three years” or “three hundred years” of personal attacks. He did not quote Mr. Trump by name.
He said for the first time that he had been targeted in months with racist language and death threats.
Critics say the W.H.O. put too much faith in the Chinese government, which first tried to hide the epidemic. Others blamed the organization so as not to go faster in declaring a global health emergency.
In Japan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Taro Aso, recently noted that some people were referring to the W.H.O. as “the Chinese Health Organization” because of what he called its close ties to Beijing.
Taiwan officials say the W.H.O. ignored their first warnings about the virus because China refuses to allow Taiwan, an autonomous island that Beijing claims to be its territory, to become a member.
Advocates for the agency say its powers over any government are limited.
In a statement released Wednesday, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called the W.H.O. “Absolutely critical” to defeat the virus.
“Once we finally turn the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly around the world, and how everyone involved reacted to the crisis, ”said Dit Guterres.
The epidemic is hitting the Saudi royal family hard.
More than six weeks after Saudi Arabia reported its first case, the coronavirus is spreading terror among the kingdom’s ruling family.
According to someone close to the family, as many as 150 members of the royal family inside the kingdom had contracted the coronavirus, including members of the lower branches of the family.
Doctors at the elite hospital that treats the Saud clan are preparing up to 500 beds for a planned influx of royal family members and their relatives, according to an internal “high alert” sent Tuesday evening by officials of the ‘hospital.
“The guidelines must be ready for VIPs across the country,” operators of the elite facility, King Faisal Specialty Hospital, wrote electronically to experienced doctors. A copy was obtained by the New York Times.
“We don’t know how many cases we will receive, but a high alert,” said the message, stating that “all chronic patients should be removed as soon as possible,” and sick staff will be treated elsewhere, to make sure room for the royal family.
The Saudi senior who is the Governor of Riyadh, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is in intensive care with Covid-19, according to two doctors linked to King Faisal Hospital and two others close to the royal family. Prince Faisal is King Salman’s nephew.
King Salman, 84, has isolated himself in an island palace near the city of Jeddah on the Red Sea. Her son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 34-year-old de facto leader, with many of his ministers, withdrew to the remote site on the same coast.
Like the British Prime Minister’s hospitalization this week or the death last month of several senior Iranian officials, the affliction of the Saudi royal family reminds us that the rich and powerful are not immune and that they have a better access to tests and expert care.
As the the global coronavirus toll is increasing – 1.4 million confirmed infections and more than 82,000 deaths – nations on all continents are struggling to come to terms with the new standard and overcome the aftermath of the pandemic.
But the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic started, lifted its lock on Wednesday, allowing 11 million residents to leave the city without special permission for the first time in more than 10 weeks.
The overthrow of Wuhan is a powerful symbolic victory for China, which will be closely watched by the rest of the world, even if the contagion continues to spread elsewhere – including the United States, which is approaching 400,000 known infections. It can provide a window into how other places might start to restart damaged supply chains and return to a semblance of normalcy.
While most countries in Europe, India, the United States and many other countries have been ordered to close businesses and most people stay at home, the economies have been crippled and million people have been laid off.
In Europe, where the spread of the virus has started to slow down in hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain, some countries are now moving towards loosening the tight lockdown measures that have been in place for almost a month.
But virologists and public health officials argue that easing restrictions too quickly could produce the catastrophic scenario that the closures have so far kept at bay.
Elsewhere, the numbers have not yet peaked. As Britain awaited updates on the condition of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spent a second night in the Intensive care unit with complications from the virus, officials warned that the peak could be in 10 days.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is stable and “reacts to treatment” of the coronavirus, but remains in intensive care, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
Mr. Johnson was admitted to London’s St. Thomas Hospital on Sunday and transferred to the intensive care unit the following day, where he received oxygen but was not placed on a ventilator. He does not have pneumonia, his officials said on Tuesday, but his illness has raised concerns about the government’s ability to make important decisions during the crisis.
Downing Street declined to comment on Wednesday’s treatment, although he reiterated previous claims that he was breathing on his own except for oxygen.
The office said it was in a good mood, but said Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, originally asked to replace Johnson “if necessary,” is now doing it full time. The Prime Minister can talk to people if necessary, but does not work.
Raab is already chairman of a key pandemic committee as the government strives to control the epidemic and stabilize an economy hit hard by the foreclosure measures it imposed.
The government is expected to review next week the measures that have shut down much of the economy, although there are no signs of any easing at the moment.
” I think we are far from lifting the lockdown, “London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a BBC interview on Wednesday. “I speak regularly to experts. We think the peak, which is the worst part of the virus, is probably in a week and a half. “
The Nightingale, an emergency hospital which was built in less than two weeks in a London conference center, received its first patients on Tuesday, a spokesman said on Wednesday. It will be able to provide ventilation treatment to more than 2,800 patients.
A night marathon teleconference of European finance ministers ended on Wednesday without agreement on eurozone measures to counter the economic disaster caused by the pandemic.
The 4 pm meeting was to produce recommendations for collective action by the 19 European Union countries that use the euro, in addition to the policies adopted by the various countries. While some ideas have been widely supported, such as a $ 109 billion unemployment benefit fund, others have been more controversial.
Italy and Spain, the countries most affected, want the group to issue joint debts, called eurobonds or coronabonds. And they want loans from the bloc’s bailout fund to come without conditions of economic overhaul or austerity. The wealthiest countries in the north have resisted these movements.
Analysts predict the worst recession in generations – an economic contraction of around 13% in the 19 European Union countries that share the euro.
The greatest scientist in the European Union has resigned after failing to persuade his superiors to create a major scientific program to fight the virus. Colleagues said he was asked to leave.
Dr Mauro Ferrari, who became president of the European Research Council in January, resigned Tuesday in a letter to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
“I was extremely disappointed with the European response to Covid-19,” he said in a statement to the Financial Times. “I arrived at E.R.C. a staunch supporter of the EU, “he wrote, but” the Covid-19 crisis has completely changed my perspective. “
Dr. Ferrari said he started pushing for a special virus program in early March, but was prohibited by block rules. He said he worked with Ms. von der Leyen on an alternative, but it was apparently blocked by the bureaucracy of the commission.
On Wednesday, the Research Council rejected Dr. Ferrari’s version of events, saying he was forced to leave in part because he had spent half his time in the United States and had missed important meetings.
In the United States, which had its highest virus rates death toll in a single day Tuesday, the crisis has shaken the economy and the political landscape.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced Wednesday that he abandoned the Democratic presidential race. Sanders had spent the past few weeks on the sidelines, while facing calls from fellow Democrats to quit the race and help unify the party behind former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
And in a grim signal of the crisis the country is facing, New York State now has more confirmed cases than Spain or Italy hard hit, and has more cases than any other country. of the world outside the United States.
Democratic leaders in Washington said on Wednesday that they would push to double the size of a $ 250 billion emergency measure requested by the Trump administration this week for loans to troubled businesses, adding money for hospitals, states and food aid.
The request could slow what the White House and Republican congressional leaders said they hoped would be a swift passage at the end of the week of an interim relief plan to supplement the $ 2,000 billion stimulus law. promulgated last month.
Stocks in the United States On Wednesday morning, investors weighed the data showing the extent of the economic damage caused by the pandemic against signs of progress in efforts to contain it. The S&P 500 rose less than 1%, while the main indices in Europe were slightly lower.
Death toll in the United States nearly 13,000, about half of which are in New York and New Jersey. Among the latest deaths announced was John Prine, 73, an American country singer who died on Tuesday in Nashville.
Commentary on Wednesday on Xinhua, the official news agency, said that “the prudent unblocking of Wuhan is far from a final victory over the health threat,” but made the city the symbol that “World victory will ultimately be achieved” through determination and hard work.
In scenes reminiscent of the last moments before isolation was imposed in January, passengers in oversized raincoats, goggles and masks rushed to a station to board the first trains out of town, as did the travel restrictions have been lifted.
However, the government has encouraged residents of Wuhan to stay at home. Guard posts outside apartment complexes and neighborhoods continued to record the whereabouts of residents. Some regions continued to prevent people from leaving their premises. The older quarters remained closed, usually with blue cladding sheets, to ensure that people could not escape the checkpoints.
The busiest recently reopened businesses appeared to be the banks, where many people, particularly older residents, unfamiliar with online banking, lined up to make deposits, transfer funds or verify accounts. Banks and other large companies carried out temperature checks before allowing people to enter in limited numbers.
Children were a less common sight, with many parents still worried about allowing them to go out while the risk of infection persisted.
Some have found the official projection of the city’s return to normal life higher than the reality on the ground.
“It seems like all the excitement only exists on the Internet,” wrote a Weibo user. “After all, we are still trapped in our neighborhoods. “
Food has turned out to be the universal language, many on social media sharing photos of their first meal after the lockdown – most often the city’s famous hot dry noodles and beef noodles – or pictures of their cravings. ‘be satisfied as soon as possible.
While news from the Joaquín Rosillo nursing home on the outskirts of Seville filtered that a few residents had tested positive for coronavirus, worried families rushed to get information.
But in the middle of a nationwide lock, with their limited movements, there were no clear answers. Manuel Borrego, whose mother lives at home, learned from contacts that people were dying. But the management of the nursing home told him it was “fake news.”
He said his mother was alive, but suffered from dementia and had not been tested for the virus, to his knowledge.
“We are in crisis, but you cannot leave someone without clear information about their mother or where she lives,” said Borrego. “I don’t think anyone really understood what was going on inside the retirement homes. “
Frustrated relatives have been forced to sue to shed light on the situation. Finally, on Monday afternoon, the Andalusian regional health minister, Jesús Aguirre, revealed that 24 people had died in the facility, “possibly directly related” to the coronavirus.
Aguirre, speaking at a press conference, did not say when the deaths occurred. Some residents were transferred to a nearby hotel in late March, one of many converted to field hospitals to treat patients with coronavirus.
The Seville tragedy is the last to hit Spanish retirement homes, which have been in the spotlight since the country’s defense minister revealed last month that soldiers deployed to disinfect homes had found abandoned or elderly people. dead in their beds.
And the crisis in Spain is far from over. The health ministry announced a further increase in the death toll – with 757 overnight deaths – bringing Spain’s death toll to 14,555 since the start of the epidemic on Wednesday.
France’s flagship military aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, was returning to port after some sailors on board showed symptoms of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday.
Forty sailors on board have “symptoms compatible with a possible Covid-19 infection,” the ministry said in a statement. declaration. The sailors, who have shown symptoms “recently”, have been isolated, the ministry said.
“No worsening has been observed with these patients,” said the ministry. “Everything is currently underway to ensure the safety of the crew members. “
The statement said the “sanitary measures” on board have been “strengthened”, including regular cleaning of the common areas, limited meetings and masks for symptomatic crew members.
A team will be sent on board with kits to test the sailors and try to prevent the spread of the virus, the ministry added.
the Charles de Gaulle, who can carry up to 2,000 sailors, is deployed to the Atlantic Ocean and returns to his home port, Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast of France, sooner than expected, the ministry said.
The death toll in France has exceeded 10,000 this week, with 10,328 deaths recorded in hospitals and retirement and care homes. Nearly 80,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the country.
Paris, the capital, has banned jogging and all other outdoor sports from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. to reduce social interaction.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo told Franceinfo that she does not want to ban jogging, but limit it only to “times when there will be fewer people on the street”. She continued, “During the day, you have people who do their shopping – and that’s normal, because you have to eat – and you have people who go to work. “
Even the bike has been stopped in France, but professionals are asking for a waiver, claiming that their livelihoods are at stake.
Some Americans living in African countries watch the pandemic has spread across the United States, and decide that they had better stay put.
Mask shortages in hospitals. Inadequate diagnostic tests. Medical supplies have arrived from abroad. And an international charity setting up a field hospital in Central Park.
“Africa felt better,” said John Shaw, who has lived in Nairobi, Kenya for two years, with his wife and two sons. “There are many unknowns about how the Americans will handle this crisis. It was not at all obvious to us that everything would be fine there. “
As the pandemic spreads and infections spread around the world, many Americans working or studying abroad have returned home. US embassies have organized evacuation flights for citizens seeking to flee countries that have long been criticized for their shabby health care systems and government misinformation.
The virus has taken a long time to settle in many parts of Africa, but as confirmed infections and deaths increase, the continent’s willingness to cope with a pandemic is questioned. The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that the number of cases on the continent has increased to more than 10,000, with more than 500 deaths.
The United States has reported a considerably higher number – at least 397,000 cases, the highest total in the world. With the collapse of the health care system and the downturn in the economy, some American citizens – especially those living abroad – are beginning to see their country in a new and disturbing light.
As a result, some Americans decided to stay in Africa, which was one of the places that President Trump notably described with a disparaging and vulgar epithet.
By mid-March, northern Italy had become the center of a global pandemic. The coronavirus has infected tens of thousands of Italians, devastating the country with the oldest population in Europe. In the region of Lombardy, where the virus first exploded in the West, a the health system suddenly became a war zone.
Hospitals have expanded intensive care capacity, lining entire rooms with overcrowded ventilators and hallways with oxygen tanks and beds. Doctors, nurses, paramedics and volunteers had no choice but to fight day and night with little rest. Italian civilians were quarantined at home and took note. They cheered from their balconies and shared photos of nurses collapsed at a desk or wearing bruises from tight masks on the web.
These images were sent to photographer Andrea Frazzetta in the Milan apartment, where he was hiding there with his wife and 4-year-old son, who had recovered from pneumonia several months earlier. Mr. Frazzetta strongly encouraged his mother and father to do the same.
But like many in and around Milan, they took the threat lightly and only stayed at home when the central government in Rome ordered the closure, first in the north and then across the country. Looking at the selfies of these bruised nurses, Ms. Frazzetta decided to document the historic struggle that was going on around him.
As the locks clear the Indian sky, an American study links air pollution to higher coronavirus death rates.
The normally dirty sky over India has cleared in recent days, locks intended to stifle the pandemic have limited car traffic, significantly reduced air travel and closed factories and construction sites.
One result is the emergence of something rare: pure blue sky.
“I don’t know how long it will last,” said Sudhir Kumar Bose, a retired English teacher in New Delhi, the capital. “But right now, I feel much better. “
These clear skies could do more than just lift people’s spirits.
Numerous studies have shown that exposure to fine particles puts people at increased risk for lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes and even premature death. But new study by researchers at Harvard University – the first of its kind in the United States – shows a statistical link between dirty air and death or serious illness from Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
In an analysis of 3080 US counties, the study authors found that a small increase in long-term pollution exposure could have serious consequences related to coronaviruses, even taking into account other factors such as smoking rates and population density. A person living for decades in a county with high levels of fine particulate matter, for example, was 15% more likely to die from the virus than a person in an area with slightly lower air pollution.
This is worrisome for countries where pollution is far worse than that of the United States – including India, where the number of coronavirus cases now exceeds 4,000 and doubles every four days.
“Most countries do not take it seriously enough and do not do it enough given the extent of the damage that air pollution does to all of our health,” said Beth Gardiner, journalist and author of a book on the subject.
Eight doctors in Britain died from the coronavirus. All were immigrants.
In a country divided by Brexit and the anti-immigrant movement that gave birth to it, the deaths of doctors – from Egypt, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Sudan – testify to the extraordinary dependence of the precious British health service on foreign workers.
Their work is more dangerous than ever. Britain recorded its highest daily death rate on Wednesday, nearly 1,000 people, bringing the total death toll to over 7,000.
Dr Adil el-Tayar, 64, from Sudan, was among the first doctors to die from coronavirus in Britain. His cousin, Dr. Hisham el-Khidir, said better protection equipment and screening protocols could have saved him.
“In our morbidity analyzes, we look at each case and ask,” Was it preventable? Was it avoidable? “, He said. “Even with all the difficulties, I must say that the answer must be yes. “
Britain is not the only country to rely on its debt to foreign doctors. In the United States, where immigrants make up more than a quarter of all doctors but often face long waits for green cards, New York and New Jersey have already paved the way for medical school graduates abroad.
As the coronavirus pandemic sets off the worst global crisis in decades, China has been locked in a public relations tug of war on the international stage.
For months, the Chinese government’s propaganda machine had dismissed criticism of Beijing’s management of the coronavirus epidemic, and it finally seemed to find an audience. Voices as diverse as the World Health Organization, the Serbian government and rapper Cardi B hailed China’s approach as decisive and responsible.
But China could not savor the praise for a long time. In recent days, foreign leaders – even in friendly countries like Iran – have questioned the infections and deaths reported in China. A senior European diplomat warned that aid from Beijing was a mask for its geopolitical ambitions, while a Brazilian official suggested that the pandemic was part of a plan to “dominate the world”.
Critics of China, including the Trump administration, have accused the authoritarian Communist Party leadership of exacerbating the epidemic by first trying to hide it. But China is trying to rewrite its role, taking advantage of its increasingly sophisticated global propaganda machine to present itself as the responsible and magnificent leader who has triumphed where others have stumbled.
The prevailing narrative has implications far beyond an international blame game. When the epidemic subsides, governments around the world will face paralyzed economies, an unknown death toll and a profound loss of confidence among their populations. Whether Beijing can enter this void or be pilloried may determine the fate of its ambitions for world leadership.
The coronavirus has given rise to a a flood of conspiracy theories, misinformation and propaganda, eroding public confidence and undermining health officials.
Claims that the virus is a foreign biological weapon, a partisan invention or part of a plot to reorganize the population have replaced a stupid virus with more familiar and understandable villains. Each statement seems to give a senseless tragedy some sense, even a grim one.
The belief that one is aware of prohibited knowledge provides feelings of certainty and control, say psychologists, and sharing this information can give people a sense of agency during a crisis that shook the world.
Groundless rumors and allegations are spread by people whose critical faculties have simply been overwhelmed by feelings of confusion and helplessness, experts warn. But false allegations are also promoted by governments seeking to hide their failures, partisan actors seeking political gain, ordinary crooks and, in the United States, a president who has pushed unproven remedies and lies deviating the reproaches.
They have led people to consume lethal home remedies and flout social distancing advice. And they disrupt radical collective actions, such as staying at home or wearing masks, necessary to contain the virus.
“We have not faced a pandemic in a time when humans are as connected and have as much access to information as they do now,” said Graham Brookie, who heads the Atlantic’s Digital Forensic Research Lab Council.
The reports were provided by Benjamin Mueller, Richard Pérez-Peña, Karen Zraick, Max Fisher, Javier C. Hernández, Dionne Searcy, Ruth Maclean, Stephen Castle, Chris Buckley, Elaine Yu, Steven Erlanger, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Mark Landler, Megan Specia, Jeffrey Gettleman, Vivian Wang, Raphael Minder, Aurelien Breeden, Iliana Magra, William Grimes, Neil Genzlinger, Abdi Latif Dahir, Tariq Panja, Vanessa Friedman, Raymond Zhong, Katrin Bennhold, Mike Ives, Russell Goldman, Dan Levin, Andrea Frazzetta, Jason Horowitz, Rick Gladstone, Victor Mather, Catherine Porter, Lisa Friedman, Ian Austen , David D. Kirkpatrick, Ben Hubbard and Constant Meheut.