October 29 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton and Luke McGee, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, October 30, 2020
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7:45 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

United Airlines to offer free Covid-19 tests for passengers on select routes

From CNN's Pete Muntean

In what could be a glimpse into the future of air travel, United Airlines will begin offering free coronavirus tests to passengers on select routes. United hopes the move will not only increase traffic on mostly empty transatlantic flights, but also spark international cooperation to break down travel restrictions. 

“We firmly believe that testing is a key component of a multi-layered approach to safely opening travel across the globe,” United’s managing director of operations policy and support Aaron McMillan told reporters in a briefing call. “The pilot program will guarantee that essentially everyone on board just tested negative for COVID-19.”

The four-week trial run begins November 16 on United Flight 14, which departs for London Heathrow from Newark Liberty International Airport three times each week. United says passengers must arrive at least three hours before the 7:15 p.m. flight to receive a required rapid molecular Abbott ID Now test which United says produces results within 20 minutes. United says those who test negative for coronavirus will be allowed to board the flight. Those who test positive will be isolated by clinicians and either refunded or rebooked at a later time.

“It would be a requirement for everyone on board to have that negative test result prior to flight,” said McMillan.

While the move does not allow travelers arriving in the United Kingdom to bypass its mandatory 14-day quarantine, United hopes the trial will serve as a proof of concept.

“United will share customer feedback of this pilot with governments on both sides of the Atlantic to further demonstrate the effectiveness of these programs as an alternative to mandatory quarantines or duplicative travel restrictions,” said a company news release.

Last week, airline industry groups sent a letter to the Trump Administration pleading for the federal government to standardize pre-departure virus screening and contact tracing to ease restrictions that are “decimating our industry.”

7:32 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Singapore to lift border restrictions for Mainland China and Australia's Victoria State

Singapore is lifting its border restrictions for Mainland China and Australia's Victoria State beginning November 6.

Singapore's Civil Aviation Authority (CAAS) said on Thursday that visitors from these countries can apply for an "Air Travel Pass (ATP)" granting entry into Singapore as long as they've stayed in either Mainland China or Victoria State for 14 days prior to entry.

Visitors will be required to take a Covid-19 test after arriving at the airport, but will not need to serve a Stay-Home Notice.

"This latest initiative follows the earlier lifting of border restrictions for visitors from Australia (excluding Victoria State), Brunei Darussalam, New Zealand and Vietnam," the CAAS said.

"As of 29 October 2020, 1200 hours, we have approved 1,375 applications from these places, and received 602 visitors. None of the visitors tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival."

7:16 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Poland's total number of coronavirus cases tripled in less than a month

From CNN's Antonia Mortensen and Lauren Kent

A medical worker in Warsaw, Poland, waits at a Covid-19 testing center on October 22.
A medical worker in Warsaw, Poland, waits at a Covid-19 testing center on October 22. Czarek Sokolowski/AP

Poland's total number of coronavirus infections has tripled in less than a month, reaching 319,205 total cases, according to the Polish Ministry of Health on Thursday. 

The death count in Poland has reached 5,149 -- more than double the total deaths reported by the Ministry of Health at the start of October (2,543 deaths).

Poland reported another record-high number of new coronavirus infections on Thursday, with 20,156 cases, according to government data. Poland also reported a record-high number of daily deaths, with 301 deaths on Thursday.

10:20 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

More than a million sign Marcus Rashford's free school meal petition for children in England

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok and Aimee Lewis in London

Marcus Rashford, England and Manchester United striker, speaks at a press conference in Surrey, England, on October 13.
Marcus Rashford, England and Manchester United striker, speaks at a press conference in Surrey, England, on October 13. Eddie Keogh for The FA/Shutterstock

More than a million people have signed England and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford's online petition, which proposes that free school meals for low-income families in England are provided over school holidays.

The petition was launched by Rashford on 15 October.

"Covid-19 has been tough on us all but Government should ensure children don’t pay the price," the footballer wrote in the petition, explaining that 14% of parents and 10% of children in the UK had experienced food insecurity in the past 6 months.
"32% of families have lost income as a result of Covid-19," Rashford went on to say.

The striker had called for the UK government to extend a scheme to provide 1.5 million children with food vouchers during holidays until Easter 2021, but the proposal was voted down last week by lawmakers in the House of Commons.

Rashford, who was recently awarded an MBE for his work tackling food poverty, has promised to keep pressuring politicians to back his campaign.

On Wednesday night, Rashford came off the bench to score his first senior hat-trick for Manchester United in their 5-0 victory of RB Leipzig in the Group Stages of this season’s UEFA Champions League. The 22-year-old tweeted minutes after the game was over:

"3 goals, 16 minutes, 1,030,000 signatures. Can’t stop smiling, I’ve waited a long time for that. Just wish the fans were in to experience it with me."

6:20 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Russia reports new record daily increase in coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Zahra Ullah and Anna Chernova in Moscow 

Medical staff at a hospital in Moscow work to treat Covid-19 patients on October 28.
Medical staff at a hospital in Moscow work to treat Covid-19 patients on October 28. Sergei Bobylev/TASS/Getty Images

Russia has reported 17,717 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, setting a new record in daily increases since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the country’s coronavirus response center.

Russia also reported a new record number of coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, with 366 people dying.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Russia as of October 29 is 1,581,693 with an overall death toll of 27,301.

Russia’s coronavirus situation continues getting complicated, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said on Wednesday in a video conference meeting with President Vladimir Putin and senior government officials.

Golikova said there was a critical situation in 16 Russian regions, where hospital beds were at more than 90% capacity and in five regions, more than 95% of the bed capacity is occupied.

Russia announced a nationwide mask mandate earlier this week as daily increases in Covid-19 cases remain high. People across the country must wear masks in public spaces, public transport, parking lots and elevators.

Russia’s health and consumer rights regulator Rospotrebnadzor also recommended that restaurants and bars close between 11pm and 6am.

6:02 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

A second lockdown in the UK is not inevitable, claims government minister

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

A second national coronavirus lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus is not "inevitable," the UK's housing minister Robert Jenrick told the BBC on Thursday.

When asked whether the UK will be going towards a national lockdown as France and Germany announced on Wednesday, Jenrick said, "I don't think anything is inevitable," adding that "if we all take action in our own daily lives that will help to tilt the balance in favor of our current approach, which is taking action in places where the virus is most concentrated and avoiding some of the actions you see happening in continental Europe."

The minister defended the UK government's "regionalized approach" to try and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country, saying that a national lockdown "should be reviewed as a last resort."

"The judgement that we're making today is that if we follow the regionalized approach, we've got a good prospect of getting this under control," Jenrick said. "Because the alternative, we know, is very destructive and damaging to people's livelihoods."

"If we go for a full national lockdown, it may not be for a short period of time as someone has suggested," he added.

The UK government introduced a three-tier system of restrictions this month, with the worst affected areas facing the tightest measures to control the spread of the virus.

5:50 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Angela Merkel slams populists who call virus harmless

From CNN's Claudia Otto in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks on October 29 in Berlin.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks on October 29 in Berlin. Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Populists who call coronavirus harmless are "dangerous and irresponsible," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday, adding that disinformation damages the fight against coronavirus.

Merkel's latest comments follow her announcement that Germany is set to impose impose a partial lockdown, which will see restaurants, bars and clubs closed as COVID-19 cases grow in order to avoid a national health emergency.

"Lies and disinformation, conspiracy, and hatred damage not only the democratic debate, but also the fight against the virus," Merkel said on Thursday. "It is only with solidarity and transparency that we will be able to confront the pandemic."

Merkel's speech on Thursday was disrupted by shouts from opposition parliamentarians, with lawmakers from Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party interrupting several times.

Merkel also warned the coronavirus situation in Germany is worsening and if the current trajectory continues, intensive care units could be overwhelmed in the coming weeks. She added that schools and kindergartens should remain open with increased hygiene measures.

"The measures we take now are suitably necessary and proportionate," Merkel said.

"Freedom is not doing what everybody wants but freedom is responsibility," she said. "We are in a dramatic situation -- it affects us all."

5:32 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Analysis: Trump bet against science, and voters are casting judgment

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at iG Flight Services, in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, on October 26.
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at iG Flight Services, in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, on October 26. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

The failed bet laid by President Donald Trump to ignore science and prioritize his political goals early in the pandemic, revealed Wednesday in fresh detail by new Jared Kushner tapes, is backfiring in devastating fashion at the critical moment of his reelection bid.

Dark warnings by scientists and new data showing a nationwide explosion in a virus Trump says is going away, crashing stock markets and real-time examples of the White House's delusions about its failed response are consuming the President as tens of millions of early voters cast judgment.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden, leading in the polls with five days of campaigning to go, is accusing the administration of surrendering to the virus and offering to shoulder the nation's grief in the grim months to come.

The extent to which the country's worsening trajectory has overtaken the final days of the campaign emphasizes how the election has become a personal referendum on Trump and how he mishandled the worst domestic crisis in decades.

The roots of his current difficulties were bedded down months ago.

"Trump's now back in charge. It's not the doctors," the first son-in-law and White House adviser, Kushner, said back in April in tapes of interviews with Bob Woodward, obtained by CNN.

To win next Tuesday, the President will have to convince sufficient Americans to build an Electoral College majority that his populist anti-Washington message, cultural themes, hardline "law and order" rhetoric and claimed expertise in rebuilding the ravaged economy are more important than his botched choices on a pandemic that is getting worse every day.

Read the full analysis:

4:56 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

More than 40 US states are reporting an increase in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

The US is adding an average of more than 74,000 new Covid-19 cases to the national total every day -- a record high in a pandemic that experts say is likely to worsen.

The seven-day average is part of a fall surge that has brought the national case count to more than 8.8 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Four of the five highest number of cases in a single day were recorded in the past seven days, with the top two reported on Friday and Saturday. And 41 states are reporting at least 10% more cases compared to the week before.

When it comes to the climbing metric, the US is "not in a good place," director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a virtual Q&A on Wednesday. Health experts have pushed measures against the virus to bring the baseline of infections down before colder months drove them back up. But rising records of cases and hospitalizations are making up "a bad recipe for a tough time ahead," Fauci said.

Rising hospitalizations: In the Midwest, residents are being impacted by the rising cases with spiking rates of hospitalizations.

Indiana and Wisconsin reported their peak levels of coronavirus hospitalizations. And Kansas saw the most ICU hospitalizations of the virus in one day, the same day the state surpassed 1,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

Read the full story: