July 9 coronavirus news

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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

Authorities take food to residents in a locked-down public housing estate in Melbourne, Australia, on July 9.
Authorities take food to residents in a locked-down public housing estate in Melbourne, Australia, on July 9. William West/AFP/Getty Images

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.

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2:55 a.m. ET, July 9, 2020

US FDA warns of more hand sanitizer products with potentially dangerous methanol contamination

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

A large bottle of hand sanitizer near a pool in Spring Township, Pennsylvania, on June 13.
A large bottle of hand sanitizer near a pool in Spring Township, Pennsylvania, on June 13. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/Getty Images

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 made by Fort Bend County Jail inmates in Richmond, Texas.
Cloth masks made by Fort Bend County Jail inmates in Richmond, Texas. Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP

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. 

Track cases in the US here:

8:23 a.m. ET, July 9, 2020

Trump is now in open dispute with US health officials

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Nick Valencia

Five months into a still-raging pandemic that has killed more than 130,000 Americans, simmering tensions between President Donald Trump and the health experts who staff his government have escalated from private griping to open dispute.

The result, people at those agencies say, is a new sense of demoralization as they continue their attempts to fight a once-in-a-generation health crisis while simultaneously navigating the whims of a President who has shown little interest or understanding of their work.

That Trump does not trust nor follow the advice of experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, is hardly new. The President has not attended a meeting of his coronavirus task force in months and recently its sessions have been held outside the White House, including on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Department of Education. Fauci was told to participate in the meeting remotely by videoconference, preventing him from participating in a midday task force press briefing.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said later it's a "decision for the task force" who appears at coronavirus briefings. Asked if the President still has confidence in Fauci, McEnany said Trump "has confidence in the conclusions of our medical experts."

Still, the President has complained to aides in meetings for months that Fauci's television appearances -- which have been sharply curtailed by the White House -- often seem to contradict his own message. As early as March, Trump was growing frustrated that Fauci's forecasts for the virus seemed less optimistic than his own, but largely avoided public rebukes.

At the same time, many of Trump's aides have viewed the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with deep skepticism for months, believing its role in early testing missteps to have been a critical failure and viewing more recent leaks of draft guidance from the agency as attempts to circumvent the White House.

Yet as cases surge across the country and Trump's handling of the crisis causes his reelection prospects to dim, he is taking his quarrels with Fauci and the CDC public in striking new fashion.

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12:47 a.m. ET, July 9, 2020

Hong Kong authorities warn of "exponential growth" in new Covid-19 cases

Authorities in Hong Kong, a city lauded for its quick and effective coronavirus response, are now warning of potential "exponential growth" in new Covid-19 cases after a surge in local transmissions.

Since Sunday, 65 patients have been diagnosed -- including 31 locally transmitted cases in what has been dubbed a "third wave" of the pandemic in the global financial center.

Taxi drivers, restaurant workers, a medical clinic employee and a retirement home resident -- some of the people most vulnerable to the virus and likely to spread it -- have been diagnosed.

"It is possible there could be a major outbreak," Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, the head of Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection (CHP) Communicable Disease Branch said Wednesday. "There could be a sudden exponential growth of cases."

Hong Kong has recorded only 1,324 coronavirus cases and seven virus-related fatalities since the pandemic began.

The city's success in containing Covid-19 has been attributed to the government's vigilant enforcement of quarantine for overseas arrivals, efficient contact tracing and residents' willingness to practice good hygiene, wear masks and practice social distancing.

While the new caseload and total number of people diagnosed with Covid-19 is very low compared to the United States and Brazil, experts say the latest rise shows the virus still poses a threat despite even the most stringent anti-epidemic controls.

"This virus will find every chink in your armor," said Dr. Sarah Borwein, a Hong Kong-based physician experienced in infectious diseases and epidemiology. "We've seen that in Beijing, in Singapore, in South Korea and now in IsraelAustralia and elsewhere."

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11:55 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Border community straddling Australia's two most populous states cleaved in two by lockdown

From CNN's Angus Watson in Albury, Australia, and Nectar Gan in Hong Kong

As Australia shut the border between its two most populous states to contain the spread of the coronavirus, tens of thousands of people living close to the dividing line have found their community cleaved in two.

Located on each side of the Murray River separating New South Wales and Victoria, the twin cities of Albury and Wodonga, more commonly referred to as Albury-Wodonga, have long operated as one community and one economy.

Many of their 100,000 residents cross the border every day. The two cities even share the same hospital, located in Albury on the NSW side but covered by Victoria's health system.

But that border was sealed on Wednesday, as authorities scrambled to prevent a second wave of infections spreading across the country. Over the past few weeks, Victoria has struggled to contain a sudden reemergence of coronavirus in Melbourne, as case numbers there continued to rise.

Authorities blocked major roads between Victoria and NSW after midnight -- the first time the border has closed since the Spanish flu pandemic a century ago.

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