Melbourne tower will remain in "hard lockdown," with residents unable to leave for any reason
From Angus Watson in Sydney
A Melbourne apartment block that has been identified as an epicenter of the city's new coronavirus outbreak will remain in a "hard lockdown."
The building at 33 Alfred Road in North Melbourne and eight other public housing towers have been subject to strict restrictions since Saturday, with a total of 3,000 residents unable to leave their homes for any reason.
33 Alfred Road is the only block that will remain under the hardest measures, the Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said Thursday.
“We’ll continue to support these Victorians with food, back to school resources, and any other kind of assistance they might need as they stay home and stay safe," a statement from Andrews' office said. A police presence will remain at all towers, to assist in managing the restrictions.
Health authorities have now tested all residents of the nine towers. Of the 2,515 tests conducted, 158 came back positive.
5:16 a.m. ET, July 9, 2020
Chinese Foreign Minister says Pompeo is creating "fake news" to smear Beijing over virus response
From journalist Isaac Yee in Hong Kong
China's Foreign Ministry has accused US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of “making up all sorts of fake news” to smear China and damage the country's international relations.
For some time Pompeo kept making up all sorts of fake news to attack and smear China and try to poison relations between China and other countries,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Thursday.
Zhao’s comments come after Pompeo said on Wednesday that “Beijing claimed for months that it reported the outbreak of the virus to the WHO. Now we know that’s not true, too.”
Pompeo also said China's ruling Communist Party "has an enormous credibility problem, They failed to tell the world the truth about this virus, and now hundreds of thousands of peoples all across the world are dead.”
Zhao said that China informed WHO of the latest information about the virus outbreak at the earliest possible opportunity.
He also urged Pompeo to “correct his mistakes," and "stop spreading political viruses before he becomes a laughing stock of the international community.”
4:45 a.m. ET, July 9, 2020
China recorded fewer than 10 cases for the 9th consecutive day yesterday
From journalist Vanesse Chan in Hong Kong
China recorded nine new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the country's National Health Commission (NHC) said.
This was the ninth consecutive day in which mainland China only record a single-digit number of cases.
Out of the new cases, three were reported in Liaoning, three in Shanghai, two in Guangdong and one in Sichuan, according to the NHC.
There were no new cases reported in Beijing on Wednesday for the third day in row. The Chinese capital was forced into a partial lockdown last month when a cluster of new cases linked to a wholesale food market emerged.
Six new asymptomatic cases were also registered in the country, the NHC said. A total of 112 asymptomatic patients are still under medical observation.
4:20 a.m. ET, July 9, 2020
Just 30 of this Australian state's 165 fresh Covid-19 cases have been linked to known outbreaks
From CNN's Angus Watson and Sophie Jeong
The Australian state of Victoria recorded 165 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the state's health department announced today.
Of the new cases, 30 have been linked to known outbreaks -- while 135 remain under investigation, the department said.
The announcement came just hours after Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city and the state capital, went into lockdown. The state border with neighbouring New South Wales has also been shut to stop the virus from spreading further.
Victoria has had 3,098 Covid-19 cases with 22 related deaths since the pandemic began.
New South Wales recorded 13 new cases on Wednesday, the state's Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Thursday.
3:32 a.m. ET, July 9, 2020
Coronavirus spikes again in rush to reopen. But lockdowns are more complex second time around
From CNN's Emma Reynolds
From English pubs to the Spanish seaside, local lockdowns are cropping up all over the world as countries ease restrictions only to encounter new coronavirus outbreaks.
After months of closures, governments are eager to reopen schools and businesses to allow people to get on with their lives. But fresh clusters of infection have forced leaders to reimpose restrictions in some hotspots -- even as rules are eased elsewhere in the same country.
Beijing re-entered a partial lockdown in mid-June after a new coronavirus outbreak linked to a food market in the Chinese capital, while at least 24 states in the US are pausing or rolling back their reopenings as cases accelerate, amid fears that earlier restrictions were relaxed too fast.
The threshold for imposing new lockdowns -- as well as their size and scope -- varies dramatically between countries, from a single building in Italy, to several Rwandan villages, to a community of 200,000 in Spain's northeast and a coastal area of 70,000 in its northwest, to the whole of Israel.
There are hopes this approach could minimize the economic damage of large-scale shutdowns. In Portugal, for example, 19 boroughs on the outskirts of Lisbon have shut down, while the capital's downtown area has continued its reopening, along with the rest of the country.
US FDA warns of more hand sanitizer products with potentially dangerous methanol contamination
From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman
The US Food and Drug Administration has added more types of hand sanitizer to its growing list of products that are either confirmed or potentially contaminated with toxic methanol.
More than two dozen hand sanitizer products sold by Mexico-based 4E Global -- many carrying the Blumen label -- contain high levels of methanol and have been recommended for recall, the agency said.
The FDA said it has seen an increase in products containing ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, that tested positive for potentially poisonous methanol contamination.
Methanol can be life-threatening if ingested and toxic if absorbed through the skin. States have also reported cases of blindness, hospitalizations and deaths in adults and children after drinking hand sanitizer products tainted with methanol, the FDA said.
Methanol, or wood alcohol as it’s often known, is used in antifreeze and fuel production. Exposure can also cause nausea, headaches, dizziness, agitation, amnesia, coma and seizures, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC advises people to frequently wash their hands with soap and water to avoid contracting the novel coronavirus. If soap and water are not available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol.
The FDA is urging consumers to check their hand sanitizers to find out if they are on the list of bad products posted on the agency's website and to report any adverse events or quality problems.
8:23 a.m. ET, July 9, 2020
Cloth masks don't work as well as medical-grade versions, researchers say
From CNN's Maggie Fox
Cloth masks are better than nothing at protecting wearers and the people around them from disease, but they are not equivalent to medical-grade masks and shouldn’t be recommended for health care workers, researchers said Wednesday.
The researchers, from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, said their results showed cloth versions don’t work as well.
“In 2015, we conducted a randomized controlled trial to compare the efficacy of cloth masks with that of medical masks and controls (standard practice) among healthcare workers in Vietnam,” Dr. Abrar Chughtai, an epidemiologist, and colleagues wrote in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. They checked the workers for influenza-like illnesses, which include a range of respiratory infections.
“Rates of infection were consistently higher among those in the cloth mask group than in the medical mask and control groups. This finding suggests that risk for infection was higher for those wearing cloth masks,” they added. “The mask tested was a locally manufactured, double-layered cotton mask. Participants were given five cloth masks for a 4-week study period and were asked to wash the masks daily with soap and water. The poor performance may have been because the masks were not washed frequently enough or because they became moist and contaminated.”
The team also reviewed 19 other studies of masks and found the fabric used is important.
“Filtration effectiveness of cloth masks depends on many factors, such as thread count, number of layers, type of fabric, and water resistance,” they wrote. “Current evidence suggests that multilayered masks with water-resistant fabric, high number of threads, and finer weave may be more protective.”
The researchers said that for coronavirus, all frontline health care workers should wear medical masks or N95 respirators.
“During a pandemic, cloth masks may be the only option available; however, they should be used as a last resort when medical masks and respirators are not available,” they concluded.
2:01 a.m. ET, July 9, 2020
India just recorded 100,000 coronavirus cases ... in five days
From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi
Authorities in India have recorded more than 100,000 cases of Covid-19 in the last five days, according to figures released by the country’s health ministry.
The ministry announced Thursday it had identified 24,879 new cases in a single 24-hour period -- India's highest in a single day since the pandemic began.
A total of 767,296 cases have now been identified in the country. More than 476,000 people have recovered, while 21,129 have died after contracting it.
A steady rise: The total number of daily new infections has been steadily rising in India, with the country registering more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases daily in the past week.
On Monday, India surpassed Russia to become the world's third-worst hit nation. Only the US and Brazil have identified more cases.
2:09 a.m. ET, July 9, 2020
More than 58,000 cases of Covid-19 were reported in the US Wednesday
From CNN's Joe Sutton
A total of 3,054,699 cases of coronavirus have been identified in the United States since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally. At least 132,300 people have died in the country after contracting the virus.
On Wednesday, Johns Hopkins reported 58,601 new cases and 820 deaths.
The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.