While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Oct 31

Supporters listen as US President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Michigan, on Oct 30, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

With election looming, US faces record surge of coronavirus cases

A record surge of coronavirus cases in the United States is pushing hospitals to the brink of capacity and killing up to 1,000 people a day, the latest figures show, with much of the country's attention focused on Tuesday's presidential election.

The US recorded its 9 millionth case on Friday, nearly 3% of the population, with almost 229,000 dead since the outbreak of the pandemic early this year.

The country broke its single-day record for new coronavirus infections on Thursday, reporting at least 91,248 new cases, as 17 states reported their highest daily number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients since the pandemic started, according the tally.

More than 1,000 people died of the virus on Thursday, marking the third time in October that milestone has been passed in a single day.


Rising Covid-19 cases in Britain ups pressure for virus strategy change

Covid-19 infections are rising so persistently in the United Kingdom that unless something can be done to reduce infections, the "reasonable worst case" scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded, scientists said on Friday.

Britain has recorded more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day on average over the last week, but the government has resisted a new national lockdown even as France and Germany reintroduce country-wide restrictions.

British government scientists said that numbers were heading in the "wrong direction".


Protesters clash with Spanish police over Covid-19 restrictions in Barcelona

Protesters who deny the existence of Covid-19 and object to restrictions to curb the pandemic's spread clashed with police in Barcelona on Friday.

About 50 demonstrators threw bricks and fireworks at police in the centre of Spain's second largest city, police said.

Police repelled the protesters but did not charge, a spokesman for the Mossos d'Escuadra, the Catalan regional police, said.


Covid-19 tests should play bigger role in international travel: WHO expert

Covid-19 tests should be more widely used in international travel than quarantines, the chair of the World Health Organisation's Emergency Committee said on Friday.

Didier Houssin, chair of the independent panel of experts advising WHO on the Covid-19 pandemic, said it was important for the UN agency to provide fresh guidance on safe international air travel.

WHO's top emergency expert Mike Ryan said that travelling was now "relatively safe" and posed a "relatively low" health risk, but that "there is no zero risk".


US judge blocks Commerce Department TikTok order

A US judge in Pennsylvania on Friday blocked a US Commerce Department order set to take effect on Nov 12 that would have effectively barred Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok from operating in the United States.

US District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone enjoined the Commerce Department from barring data hosting within the United States for TikTok, content delivery services and other technical transactions.

The Trump administration contends TikTok poses national security concerns as personal data collected on 100 million Americans who use the app could be obtained by China's government.


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