July 5 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Jenni Marsh, Laura Smith-Spark, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 0010 GMT (0810 HKT) July 6, 2020
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12:01 a.m. ET, July 5, 2020

Brazil marks 50 days without a Health Minister ... during a pandemic

From Marcia Reverdosa in São Paulo and CNN's Radina Gigova in Atlanta 

Passengers wearing face masks ride a subway car in downtown Sao Paulo on June 29, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Passengers wearing face masks ride a subway car in downtown Sao Paulo on June 29, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

Brazil marked 50 days without an official Health Minister on Saturday, as the coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 1.5 million of its citizens, and killed at least 63,000, continues to grip the country.

The position has been temporarily filled by Army General Eduardo Pazzuello, who has no medical experience, since the last Health Minister, Nelson Teich, quit on May 15.

Teich, who spent less than a month in office, left amid criticism from President Jair Bolsonaro that he was "too timid in the push to reopen the economy and to advocate for the use of chloroquine." Teich didn't provide a reason for his resignation.

Teich's predecesor, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who advocated for social distancing measures and the use of masks was fired by Bolsonaro. 

Bolsonaro, who frequently defies social distancing guidelines recommended by most health experts and has dismissed the virus as "a little flu," has been widely criticized for downplaying the severity of the virus. 

On Friday, Bolsonaro vetoed parts of a law that mandates wearing face masks in public during the pandemic. The use of masks in shopping malls, stores, religious temples, educational establishments and other closed places where people gather will no longer be mandatory, but individual states and municipalities can enforce those measures. 

Brazil has the second highest number coronavirus cases and deaths globally after the US. 

11:55 p.m. ET, July 4, 2020

English pubs are reopening. Here's what it's like

By Rob Picheta, CNN

Pubs are the beating heart of Britain.

The revered English poet William Blake once purportedly likened an English pub to a church, with two important caveats: "a pub is warmer, and there's more conversation."

For the writer Samuel Johnson, there was "nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern." And the sentiment was captured by Shakespeare, too: a character in "Henry V" wishes he were "in an alehouse in London," reasoning: "I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety."

But for the first time since World War II, ale and safety have become mutually exclusive commodities -- and millions have been locked out of their locals since mid-March as a result.

"I've missed going to the pub with my mates, as any British person would," says Akwasi Akoto, 25.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the UK's 60,000 pubs to close 15 weeks ago to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Arguably, nothing has symbolized the country's subsequent social and cultural paralysis more than the sight of boarded up taverns on every high street.

But England finally returned to the pub on Saturday, the first day of the country's latest, most significant easing of lockdown restrictions. Those in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales must wait longer to return to their local.

Read more here:

1:02 a.m. ET, July 5, 2020

3,000 people in public housing put under "hard lockdown" in Australian state, with police guards outside 9 tower blocks

From Angus Watson in Sydney, Australia

Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews speaks during a press conference on July 5, in Melbourne, Australia.
Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews speaks during a press conference on July 5, in Melbourne, Australia. Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

About 3,000 people in nine public housing estates in Melbourne, Australia, were put under what the state premier called a "hard lockdown" on Saturday evening, after a spike of cases in the city.

Residents will not be allowed to leave their homes, after Covid-19 cases were discovered in the densely populated blocks. Police have been stationed outside the tower to enforce the order.

At least 23 people across the 9 towers have reported positive for the virus, according to CNN affiliate Nine News.

Everybody in the towers will be tested except those who have already returned a positive result, said Victorian State Premier Daniel Andrews, adding that those who refuse to be tested would be risking an extension to the lockdown. 

The lockdown was imposed on Saturday night, giving residents little notice. Abdirahman Ibrahim, a father-of-five, told CNN affiliate SBS he learned about the lockdown on the evening news, giving him no time to stockpile food for his children.

On Sunday morning local time, Andrews said residents would be provided with free rent and financial support.

He acknowledged that many residents of the public housing units were in "poor health” and that “this is not going to be a pleasant experience."

“There has been an enormous amount of work going on right throughout the night to provide food, essentials and support,” Andrews said, listing medical, psychological, drug, alcohol and family violence support services on offer.

Many residents are “culturally and linguistically diverse,” Andrews said, adding that “all support will be provided in a culturally appropriate way, linguistically appropriate way."

But Emma King, CEO of chief executive officer of Victoria Council of Social Services, said the lockdown would "scare many people, and trigger memories of past trauma."

Some public housing tenants have fled war or family violence. Some are dealing with mental health challenges. Many don’t speak English as their first language. Many others work casual or insecure jobs," said King.

Victoria has experienced a second wave of coronavirus cases in recent weeks, prompting authorities to impose a fresh lockdown in parts of Melbourne. 

Mass testing in the state identified 74 new Coronavirus cases on Saturday, according to Premier Andrews. That figure is down from the 108 cases detected in Victoria on Friday. 

There are 43 active cases in Victoria with 26 people in hospital and 3 in intensive care.

11:52 p.m. ET, July 4, 2020

Trump baselessly claims 99% of coronavirus cases "are totally harmless"

From Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Bohn

US President Donald Trump speaks during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, on July 4, in Washington DC.
US President Donald Trump speaks during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, on July 4, in Washington DC. Patrick Semansky/AP

US President Donald Trump claimed without evidence on Saturday that 99% of coronavirus cases "are totally harmless" during remarks on the White House South Lawn, in which he sought to downplay the recent surge of Covid-19 cases.

“Now we have tested, almost 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases -- 99% of which are totally harmless -- results that no other country can show because no other country has testing that we have. Not in terms of the numbers, or in terms of the quality,” he saidonce again also falsely claiming that rising cases are caused by increased testing.

There have been more than 2.8 million cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 129,000 people in the United States have died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s latest tally.

Some people who become ill have only mild symptoms, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 35% of cases are asymptomatic, but even people with mild or no symptoms can spread the virus to others.

While the World Health Organization has said the global fatality rate is like less than 1%, the WHO also said about 20% of all people who are diagnosed with Cornoavirus aresick enough to need oxygen or hospital care.

 The White House has not returned a message seeking comment. 

11:54 p.m. ET, July 4, 2020

As US sets records in coronavirus cases, Trump says "we've made a lot of progress"

From CNN's Kevin Bohn and Daniella Mora

As many states continue to see spikes in the number of coronavirus cases, US President Donald Trump touted the progress the country has made combatting the virus.

“There and then we got hit by the virus that came from China. And we've made a lot of progress our strategy is moving along well. It goes out in one area, it rears back its ugly face in another area. But we've learned a lot. We've learned how to put out the flame,” Trump told a crowd of supporters gathered on the White House’s South Lawn to celebrate July 4.

He said the nation has now made “tens of thousands” of ventilators and have now started distributing them overseas.

On testing, pointed out the country has now almost 40 million people. However, experts have said more tests are needed to get a full picture of the virus.

“Results that no other country can show because no other country has testing that we have. Not in terms of the numbers or in terms of the quality," Trump said.
“We have the most and finest testing anywhere in the world, and we are producing gowns and masks and surgical equipment in our country.”

Trump has recently complained about how many tests are being conducted in the nation because he has claimed that is the reason for the larger amount of cases -- a contention disputed by health experts. He recently said the country should do less testing. While administration officials contended Trump was joking, he later said he doesn’t joke.

11:59 p.m. ET, July 4, 2020

WHO discontinues studies of hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized Covid-19 patients

From CNN Health’s Gisela Crespo

A bottle and pills of Hydroxychloroquine sit on a counter at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20.
A bottle and pills of Hydroxychloroquine sit on a counter at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20. George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Saturday it would no longer continue studying the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir as treatments for Covid-19.

WHO made the decision based on the Solidarity Trial's interim results, which show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in deaths of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, WHO said in a statement. 

“For each of the drugs, the interim results do not provide solid evidence of increased mortality,” WHO said, but there were “some associated safety signals" that will be reported in the peer-reviewed publication of the findings.

This decision applies only to the trial in hospitalized patients, and does not affect studies of prevention or treatments in non-hospitalized patients.

WHO paused the hydroxychloroquine study in May due to safety concerns, then later restarted it. The drug has often been touted by President Trump, but several studies have found no benefits to treating Covid-19 patients with the antimalarial drug. 

The US Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization for both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment of Covid-19, saying the drugs are unlikely to be effective in treating the virus based on the latest scientific evidence. 

The National Institutes of Health announced last month it was halting its clinical trial of the drug.