Covid-19 wrap: Bolivian TV broadcasts virus death, China releases genome data from Beijing outbreak

  • A TV channel sparked controversy in Bolivia after it broadcast live the final minutes of a Covid-19 patient's life.
  • China has released genome data for the coronavirus found in a new outbreak in Beijing.
  • The United States lost another 687 people to the new coronavirus in the 24 hours.

Outrage after Bolivian TV broadcasts Covid-19 death

A TV channel sparked controversy in Bolivia on Thursday after it broadcast live the final minutes of a Covid-19 patient's life while doctors tried desperately to save him.

The "No Lies" programme said it took the decision to show a Covid-19 patient's death in a hospital in the eastern city of Santa Cruz to jolt into action authorities who had neglected the health services.

The programme airs nightly on the Santa Cruz-based PAT channel, in a region with some 60% of Bolivia's 21 000 cases and around half its 679 deaths.

The programme showed the patient's death over a 30-minute period as doctors tried to resuscitate the patient.

The country's ombudswoman, Nadia Cruz, slammed the broadcast for "sensationalism", saying it "repeatedly and morbidly " exhibited "images showing cardiopulmonary treatment being carried out on a person, which unfortunately ended in death".

The broadcast "evidently conflicts with the national legal order", Cruz said, adding that it "can generate a kind of collective fear".

Her office is an independent body appointed to investigate complaints against the government or public organisations.

The broadcast was widely criticised on social networks, including by prominent journalists.

"What a lack of respect for the family, for the deceased. We lost a lot of things with this virus, including empathy," said journalist Maria Trigo, from the newspaper El Deber de Santa Cruz, in a Twitter message.

Fabiola Chambi, a journalist with the Cochabamba daily Los Tiempos said broadcasting the death showed "a lack of respect and humanity".

The government has yet to comment on the controversy.


China releases genome from Beijing virus cluster as cases near 200         

China has released genome data for the coronavirus found in a new outbreak in Beijing, which state experts suggest share similarities to European strains, as the number of cases neared 200 on Friday.

Initial findings suggest it "came from Europe", but is different from what is currently spreading there, said Zhang Yong of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"It is older than the virus currently circulating in Europe," Zhang said in a report published by the Communist Party's anti-corruption watchdog on Friday.

Ben Cowling, a professor at the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health, told AFP "it is possible that the virus now causing an outbreak in Beijing had travelled from Wuhan to Europe and now back to China."

But he said the first case has not yet been identified and it may be too late to find out how this outbreak started.

Francois Balloux of University College London wrote on Twitter that - based on the data shared - there had been local transmission for some time before the outbreak was identified.

There are now 293 people ill with Covid-19 in China, the highest number since early May.


Fauci confident in vaccine efforts, predicts no more US lockdowns

The United States does not need more widespread lockdowns to bring its Covid-19 outbreak under control, despite the fact that the national daily infection rate has stayed flat, leading government expert Anthony Fauci said on Thursday.

Speaking to AFP, the physician-scientist added he was optimistic the world would soon have a vaccine that would end the pandemic, calling early trial results "encouraging".

"I don't think we're going to be talking about going back to lockdown," he said when asked whether places like California and Texas that are seeing a surge in their caseload should reissue stay-at-home orders.

On the treatment front, Fauci said he was "very impressed" with results from a British trial into the steroid dexamethasone, which was found to reduce deaths among Covid-19 patients on ventilators by a third.

However, given it works by suppressing the abnormal immune response that damages the body's organs, rather than attacking the virus, Fauci cautioned it should not be prescribed too soon after a person was infected.

The 79-year-old has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 and has overseen the nation's response to every epidemic from HIV onward.


US sees nearly 700 more virus deaths in 24 hours

The United States lost another 687 people to the new coronavirus in the 24 hours leading up to 00:30 on Thursday, according a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

It marks the eighth day in which the daily toll from the virus has been fewer than 1 000, even as the US remains the country hardest-hit by the pandemic with a total of 118 381 deaths out of a total of 2 187 876 official cases.

Some 20 states have seen a rebound in infections as the epicentre of the country's outbreak has moved from New York and the country's Northeast to the South and West.

But the White House's chief infectious disease expert said on Thursday he does not think new widespread containment measures will be necessary.

"I don't think we're going to be talking about going back to lockdown," said Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, when asked if some states should re-issue stay-at-home orders.

"I think we're going to be talking about trying to better control those areas of the country that seem to be having a surge of cases."


Californians ordered to wear face masks in public

Californians ordered to wear face masks in public

California's Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered all Californians to wear face masks in public in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

"Science shows that face coverings and masks work," Newsom said in a statement. "They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy."

His order came following a decision last week by officials in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, to rescind an order requiring people to wear masks in public.

"Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered - putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease," Newsom said. "California's strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations."

Under Newsom's statewide order issued on Thursday, Californians or visitors must wear face coverings inside any indoor public space, while using public transport, in a taxi or in a ride-sharing vehicle.

They must also wear them at work or while outdoors in public spaces.

Children two and under are exempt as are people with medical or mental health concerns or developmental disabilities that prevent them from wearing a face covering.


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