Coronavirus Newsbites

CDC pressured by White House to change testing guidance
The fallout from the CDC’s change to its coronavirus testing guidance continues after it was revealed yesterday that pressure from the Trump administration led to the move.

Earlier this week, the CDC announced that it was no longer recommending coronavirus testing for most people without symptoms of Covid-19. The administration’s testing czar, Adm. Brett Giroir, told reporters the guideline change had approval from Dr. Anthony Fauci and other members of the White House coronavirus task force.

But Fauci told CNN he was not at the meeting as he was undergoing surgery, and warned that the guidance would “give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern.”

Asymptomatic people play a major role in spreading the virus, and the Infectious Disease Society of America and IDSA’s HIV Medicine Association called for the immediate reversal of the revision on Wednesday. California said it would defy the new CDC testing guidelines.

Woman may have caught coronavirus in airplane toilet, researchers say
Researchers say they have evidence that a woman caught the coronavirus on a flight -- perhaps in the plane’s restroom. The 28-year-old woman was one of roughly 300 South Koreans evacuated from Italy at the height of the pandemic in March. She wore a mask on the flight, except when she used the toilet which was shared by passengers seated nearby – including an asymptomatic patient.

Officials who organized the flight had put into effect full infection control measures and tested everyone before they boarded. All the passengers and crew were quarantined when they got to South Korea. Six passengers tested positive soon after arrival, the woman developed symptoms eight days after the flight.

There has been very little evidence about whether people can catch the virus on planes, although airlines have changed their policies -- and evidence already shows aircraft ventilation systems can clean the air thoroughly.

Berlin bans planned coronavirus protests
In Berlin, authorities have banned a protest planned for this weekend over the government’s coronavirus restrictions. Organizers had planned to march through the center of the German capital on Saturday and as many as 17,000 participants had been expected to take part.

EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan resigns after breaching coronavirus restrictions
And in Brussels, EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan became the latest -- and one of the most high profile -- politicians to resign after breaching coronavirus-related restrictions. The Irish politician attended a political golf event in Galway in mid-August with 80 other people, a day after Ireland’s government imposed new restrictions to tackle a surge of cases. “Golfgate” has prompted the resignations of several other Irish politicians.

This video does not show a Covid-19 patient who was nearly buried alive
A video viewed thousands of times claims to show a Covid-19 patient in a Kenyan village who was “nearly buried alive” during his own funeral. The claim is false; county officials confirmed to AFP Fact Check that while the video was indeed taken during a burial ceremony, the man seen lying on the ground wearing protective gear had fainted and is a relative of the deceased.

Covid-19 poses risks to children, and health authorities recommend they wear masks
A flyer shared on Facebook claims children have little chance of dying of Covid-19, they have essentially no chance of spreading the disease asymptomatically, and that they face a series of risks from wearing face masks. This is misleading; doctors say children can die from the disease and can also spread it, and US health authorities recommend that most youngsters over the age of two wear masks.

All grades in South Africa are scheduled to complete the school year, not repeat it
Facebook posts shared in South Africa claim that some grades will be repeating the current school year in 2021. However, this is false; no such announcement has been made, and the school year calendar has in fact been amended by the education department in an attempt to recover the time lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eric Trump says that all Democrats 'can talk about' is 'COVID, COVID, COVID' as US death toll exceeds 180,000
  • Eric Trump said Thursday that Democrats only care to talk about the coronavirus pandemic.
  • "All they can talk about, Steve, is COVID," Trump told Fox News host Steve Doocey in an interview. "COVID, COVID, COVID, and how [President Donald Trump] is a bad man."
  • The younger Trump's comments came as the US death toll inched past 180,000 this week.
  • The US currently has the highest number of confirmed cases in the world and makes up almost 25% of the total number of cases despite having just 4% of the world's population.
  • Nearly six million Americans have been infected with the disease and millions have lost their jobs as states across the country keep schools and businesses closed to curb the spread of the disease.

No mask for Mike Pence

No mask for Mike Pence
As the United States' pandemic death roll reached 180,000 lives on Wednesday night, White House coronavirus task force chief, Mike Pence, was out fist-bumping crowds at the Republican convention in Baltimore.

The vice president was seen fist-bumping with members of the audience without wearing a face mask, just moments after he praised the Trump administration on its handling of the crisis.

With the United States recording more cases and deaths than any other nation, the irony did not go unnoticed on social media.

It comes just days after health authorities in Charlotte, North Carolina, complained to the RNC that it was concerned about low levels of social distancing and mask wearing during some convention events.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention - of course - recommends the use of masks to slow the spread of the virus, which has now infected some 5.8 million Americans.

Photos show crowd of around 1,500 packed together and maskless on White House South Lawn for Trump's speech at the RNC

Maskless
  • During the final night of the Republican National Convention Thursday, a crowd formed on the White House South Lawn to hear President Donald Trump speak, with little social distancing or mask wearing.
  • With a crowd estimated at around 1,500, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said "a number of people" on site would be tested for COVID-19, according to Bloomberg News.
  • An official release from the Trump campaign did not specifically mention masks or testing, saying that the company Patronus Medical is conducting "strict protocols" that will be "in full compliance with multiple guidelines."