Fauci warns next two weeks ‘will be critical’ to slow US COVID-19 surges


But Fauci and three other top US public health officials and members of Trump’s coronavirus taskforce testified that Trump had not asked them to slow down testing.

“We will be doing more testing,” Fauci told the House committee.

Fauci said that, while some states like New York were “doing very well” in controlling the spread of the virus, the surge in other states was “very troublesome to me”.

“We’ve been hit badly,” said Fauci, saying he was “really quite concerned” about rising community spread in some states.

“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges we are seeing in Florida, Texas, Arizona and other states,” Fauci said.

He said he believed “it will be when and not if” there will be a COVID-19 vaccine and that he remained cautiously optimistic that some will be ready at the end of the year.

Experts have raised concerns that the reopening of the US economy could lead to a fresh wave of infections.

The US recorded a 25 per cent increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the week ending June 21, compared to the previous seven days.

For a second consecutive week, Texas, Arizona and Nevada have set records in their coronavirus outbreaks, and 10 other states from Florida to California were grappling with a surge in infections.

Texas reported more than 5000 new infections on Monday, a single-day record for the state. It has also seen COVID-19 hospitalisations hit record highs for 11 days in a row. The Texas Children’s Hospital is admitting adult coronavirus patients due to a spike in serious COVID-19 cases in the Houston area.

US health officials last week warned that states seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases may need to reimpose strict restrictions similar to what was implemented in March.

Judge orders Bolsonaro to wear face mask

A Brazilian federal judge has ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to comply with local rules to wear a face mask whenever he is outdoors in the capital of Brasilia.

During recent weekends, a sometimes unmasked Bolsonaro has joined throngs of people protesting against Brazil’s Congress and Supreme Court.

Jair Bolsonaro rides a horse during a rally in support of his presidency amid the coronavirus pandemic.Credit:Getty

He has often visited bakeries and outdoor food stalls, drawing crowds around him.

Judge Renato Coelho Borelli said in his ruling that Bolsonaro “has exposed other people to the contagion of a disease that has caused national commotion”.

Brazil’s federal district requires people to wear face masks in public to help control the spread of the coronavirus. Failure to comply carries a possible daily fine of $US390 ($561).

Bolsonaro often does wear a mask at public events, unlike some other heads of state in the Americas including Trump, Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Argentina’s Alberto Fernandez.

Djokovic tests positive

Novak Djokovic tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday after taking part in a tennis exhibition series he organised in Serbia and Croatia.

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The top-ranked Serb is the fourth player to test positive for the virus after playing last week in Belgrade and last weekend in Zadar, Croatia. His wife also tested positive.

“The moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested. My result is positive, just as Jelena’s, while the results of our children are negative,” Djokovic said in a statement.

Djokovic has been criticised for organising the tournament and bringing in players from other countries.

Viktor Troicki said on Tuesday that he and his pregnant wife have both been diagnosed with the virus. Grigor Dimitrov, a three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist from Bulgaria, said on Sunday he tested positive for the virus.

Dimitrov played Borna Coric played on Saturday, and Coric said on Monday he has also tested positive.

South Africa opens field hospital in car plant

South Africa has opened a 3300-bed field hospital in a converted car manufacturing plant as the country braces for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases.

The field hospital was built in the city of East London in the Eastern Cape province, one of the country’s coronavirus hotspots. South Africa has reported a total of 101,590 virus cases and 1991 COVID-19 deaths as of Tuesday.

The new field hospital brings the number of hospital beds nationwide to just above 27,000, including existing facilities and new field hospitals, according to the government. The new facility’s beds come with equipment to administer concentrated oxygen.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the facility also will help boost laboratory testing capacity in South Africa.

Lockdown loosened in Egypt

Egypt is gradually loosening its partial coronavirus lockdown amid a steady increase of daily infections in recent weeks.

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said on Tuesday that his government would reopen mosques and churches starting on Saturday and the ban on Friday’s Muslim prayers at mosques and Sunday’s masses at churches would remain in place for now.

He says restaurants, coffee shops, clubs and theatres will allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity.

Madbouky says Egypt’s beaches and parks remain closed until further notice.

The gradual reopening was announced as the the daily number of new coronavirus cases in Egypt has often surpassed 1000 in recent weeks.

The Arab world’s most populous country has officially reported around 57,000 confirmed cases, including at least 2278 deaths.

Britain’s pubs to reopen

Millions of people in Britain will be able to go to the pub, visit a movie theatre, get a haircut or attend a religious service starting on July 4, but they will have to wait to see a concert, get a tattoo or go to the gym.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a major loosening of coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Tuesday that will allow a swath of businesses to reopen. They include restaurants, bars, hotels, hairdressers, cinemas and museums.

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Places of worship can hold services, but choirs and congregations won’t be permitted to sing since the virus can spread through open mouths. Live music and theatre performances are remaining off-limits for the same reason.

Indoor gyms, pools, spas and tattoo parlours also have to stay shut for now.

The government also announced that social-distancing rules will be relaxed. From July 4 people will be advised to stay at least one metre apart, rather than two metres – as long as they take other measures to reduce transmission of the virus, such as wearing a mask in enclosed spaces.

The changes only apply in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all following slightly different measures.

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