Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Wednesday
- U.S. CDC issues halt to renter evictions to prevent coronavirus spread.
- Trudeau conducts virtual regional outreach as pandemic shuts down travel.
- India’s total coronavirus cases pass 3.7 million as government eases pandemic restrictions.
- German prosecutors say anti-lockdown protesters can be called “Covidiots” after complaints against politician.
- Uzbekistan stages outdoor exams for 1.4 million university applicants.
- Thailand hits 100 days with no local virus transmissions.
- Ukraine reports record daily rise in coronavirus cases.
- China will resume direct international flights to Beijing from eight countries including Canada.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday issued a sweeping nationwide order temporarily halting millions of U.S. renters from being evicted, in a bid to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The order covers all 43 million U.S. residential renters as long as they meet income eligibility requirements, although an administration official said the government does not expect an “overwhelming” use of the program.
The order lasts through Dec. 31 and applies to individual renters who do not expect to earn more than $99,000 US this year or $198,000 for joint filers. It also applies to renters who did not report income in 2019 or received a stimulus cheque earlier this year.
The National Apartment Association said the CDC order risked further harm to the economy and would amplify the housing affordability crisis and destroy the rental housing industry. Without payments “owners face a financial crisis of their own,” it said.
Renters must file sworn declarations warning eviction would leave them homeless or force them into a “shared living setting” and attest they have done all they can to get government assistance for rent or housing.
The administration warned renters could be “prosecuted, go to jail, or pay a fine” if they lie in declarations.
An administration official told reporters the order was not an invitation to stop paying rent and said renters should pay a portion of rent if possible. Renters will still owe accrued rent and face penalties for failing to pay.
The CDC order also said renters can “still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a House of Representatives panel earlier the measure was to ensure people “don’t get thrown out of their rental homes.”
In July, a firm estimated more than $21.5 billion in past-due rent is owed by Americans.
As unemployment surged to levels unseen since the aftermath of the Great Depression, a patchwork of federal, state and local eviction bans has kept renters who could not make payments in homes.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Aug. 8 directed the CDC to consider if temporarily halting residential evictions was “reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.”
The U.S. leads the world in confirmed cases of coronavirus, passing the six million mark on Monday. The daily number of infections has been in decline across most of the country in recent weeks, with 36,263 reported on Monday, less than half of the mid-July peak, according to a Reuters tally.
Exceptions include Midwest states such as South Dakota, where hundreds of thousands of motorcycle riders gathered for a rally in August, and Iowa.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 129,558 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 114,744 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,169.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t letting the COVID-19 pandemic stop his usual practice of travelling to various regions of the country during the summer — he’s just doing it virtually this year.
The leader is spending much of Wednesday in meetings with British Columbia political, business, environmental and academic leaders, all from the comfort of his office in Ottawa. And he’ll do a similar virtual tour of the Atlantic provinces on Thursday.
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The summer is usually an opportunity for the prime minister and other federal political leaders to travel widely and engage in outreach with community leaders and voters outside the Ottawa bubble.
Among other things, Trudeau usually convenes a cabinet retreat and attends a Liberal caucus retreat outside the nation’s capital each year before Parliament resumes in the fall. He, his ministers and Liberal MPs use those events to fan out into the host communities, listen to local concerns, make some announcements and generally promote the government’s message.
But the need to curb the spread of COVID-19 has put the kibosh on much of that in-person travel this year.
In other developments, Health Canada is willing to consider approving home COVID-19 tests to screen for the virus, a spokesperson for the minister of health has told Reuters, in a win for public health experts and doctors who have argued that frequent and inexpensive testing could beat back the pandemic.
The health ministry had previously said it was concerned that people might misuse home tests or misinterpret the results.
“In response to the evolution of the pandemic, Health Canada is now considering applications for home testing devices for screening purposes,” Cole Davidson, spokesperson for the minister of health said in a statement.
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In June of this year, Health Canada had indicated that it would not review applications for home test kits, as at that time, “the Department’s position was in relation to the use of home tests for diagnostic purposes,” the statement said.
Screening tests are meant to monitor large groups of seemingly healthy people for illness, while diagnostic tests investigate symptoms.
The change could allow for self collection, where samples are sent to a lab for processing, and spur the development of new tests to detect the virus at home.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 25.7 million. More than 858,000 people have died, while 17.1 million have recovered.
In Germany, prosecutors said Wednesday that anti-lockdown protesters and face-mask refusers can be called “Covidiots,” dismissing legal complaints against Social Democrat co-leader Saskia Esken who used the term on Twitter.
Prosecutors in Berlin, who had received hundreds of complaints accusing Esken of slander, said she was exercising her constitutional right to express her opinion. Esken’s party is the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative-led ruling coalition.
In an Aug. 1 tweet, Esken said protesters at a Berlin march threatened the health of others by violating physical distancing rules and ignoring requirements to wear face masks.
Ukraine registered a record 2,495 new coronavirus cases and 51 related deaths in the past 24 hours, the national security council said on Wednesday.
Ukraine has imposed a temporary ban on most foreigners entering the country until Sept. 28 and extended lockdown measures until the end of October to contain a recent spike in cases.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said this week the government predicted the number of new coronavirus cases would continue to rise there in September and could reach 3,000 a day by the end of this month.
The country has so far reported a total of 125,798 infections and 2,656 deaths.
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Tens of thousands of youngsters headed to sports arenas across Uzbekistan on Wednesday to sit university entrance exams in the open air due to the pandemic.
The massive exercise, which will span two weeks, will see more than 1.4 million applicants take a three-hour test while seated at desks on the running tracks or walkways of the stadiums. They are competing for some 150,000 university places under a centralized admissions system.
The Central Asian nation of 34 million has just ended its second national lockdown after a mid-summer surge in cases stretched its health-care system to the limit. The former Soviet republic has confirmed 42,370 COVID-19 cases with 324 deaths.
India registered 78,357 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, raising its total over 3.7 million as the government eases pandemic restrictions nationwide to help the battered economy.
India, a nation of 1.4 billion people, is fast becoming the world’s coronavirus epicentre. It has been reporting the highest daily increases in new cases for more than three weeks, and at its current rate is likely to soon pass Brazil and ultimately the United States in total reported cases.
The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported 1,045 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 66,333. It now has the third-most deaths after recently passing Mexico’s toll, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The country’s testing capacity of nearly 100,000 tests per day has been increasing, but experts say it is not enough. On Wednesday, the Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s top medical research body, said the country had conducted nearly 44 million tests for the virus since the pandemic began.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Wednesday congratulated his citizens on the nation having achieved 100 days without a confirmed locally transmitted case of the coronavirus, even as security along the border with Myanmar is being stepped up as a measure against the disease.
Thailand has sustained relatively light health damage from the pandemic even though in January it was the first country outside China to confirm a case. But its economy has been devastated by the absence of foreign tourists, who are banned from entry, and a drop in exports.
Thai health authorities reported eight new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, all from abroad, bringing the country’s total to 3,425, including 58 deaths.
China’s aviation regulator said on Wednesday it will resume direct flights to Beijing from eight countries including Canada, Thailand, Cambodia, Greece, Denmark and Sweden from Sept. 3.
In March, Chinese authorities ordered all international flights to Beijing to be diverted to other airports as their first port of entry, as the capital stepped up measures to battle imported infections.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China said load factors on such flights would be strictly controlled and it would reimpose measures to curb the virus if more than three passengers test positive for the coronavirus upon arrival.
Australia’s most-populous state reported the biggest daily jump in coronavirus infections in two weeks on Wednesday but said there were no plans to cancel New Year’s Eve fireworks show over Sydney Harbour, as new cases also ticked up nationally.
New South Wales (NSW) state reported 17 new cases, the biggest one-day jump since Aug. 12, while nationally the count rose to 109 cases from 85 a day earlier.
Victoria state remained the hardest-hit region with 90 cases, although this was well down from its daily peak of more than 700 in early August at the height of a second wave of infections. Victoria on Wednesday extended its state of emergency for another six months.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state was pushing ahead with plans to host large events such as the New Year’s Eve fireworks over Sydney Harbour.
“We should be hosting events we’ve hosted before, but it will be different,” Berejiklian told reporters. “I think for a lot of people the fireworks represent hope.”