Coronavirus live news: France facing difficult decision, say experts; India reports over 95000 new cases – The Guardian

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The US Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, said on Thursday that Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was “almost criminal” as the fallout continued over book revelations that the president admitted in early February that the disease was “deadly stuff” but deliberately played it down, writes Joanna Walters for the Guardian US.

As the death toll from Covid-19 nears 200,000 in the US, the world’s highest, Biden excoriated his opponent in November’s election, in an interview with CNN, over the way he did not address the dangers of the pandemic early and fully.

“He waved the white flag. He walked away, he didn’t do a damn thing, think about it, and it’s almost criminal,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview scheduled to be aired in full on Thursday afternoon.

The journalist Bob Woodward’s new book, Rage, highlights of which were revealed in the Washington Post on Wednesday, features many one-on-one interviews with Trump from late 2019 and into the early summer of 2020, covering the start and the peak of the pandemic in the US.

Julian Assange’s extradition case has been paused until Monday so that a member of one of the legal teams can be tested for Covid-19 after potential exposure, writes Ben Quinn in London.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser granted an adjournment at the request of lawyers for the WikiLeaks co-founder and the US government.

“We should not really be here today. Covid would be in the courtroom,” said Edward Fitzgerald QC, who is representing Assange in his struggle to resist extradition to the US, where he could face a prison sentence of up to 175 years if convicted on all charges.

His request for an adjournment was backed by James Lewis QC, acting for the US government, who addressed the Old Bailey via video link.

Baraitser said she had been told on Wednesday night that a member of one of the legal teams may have been exposed to Covid-19. She said she had intended to take matters one step at a time, but after hearing from both sides she had decided to accept that the hearing should be postponed.

Belgium has been cited by the UK health secretary, Matt Hancock, as a model for getting coronavirus under control – just as its public health body recorded a 15% rise in the number of daily infections compared with the previous week, writes Daniel Boffey, the Guardian’s Brussels bureau chief.

Despite a dip in the number of new infections in August, after a tightening of rules by the Belgian prime minister, Sophie Wilmès, the most recent data suggests the country’s success may be short-lived as people return to work and school.

An average of 509.7 people a day have newly tested positive during the past seven days, according to the latest figures by from Belgium’s scientific institute for public health.

Thursday marked the fifth successive day that the number of people newly infected rose.

Hospital admissions are also up. Between 3 and 9 September, an average of 20.6 new admissions per day was recorded, an increase from 16.7 the week before.

Hancock had praised Belgium as he sought to justify strict new laws on social gatherings in England, including the so-called rule of six people, limiting the size of social groups.

The health secretary said the UK was learning from the experience of other European countries that had recorded an increase in coronavirus infections in recent months.


Matt Hancock says rise in UK coronavirus cases is concerning – video

France’s government will announce new Covid-19 measures tomorrow, we have learned, after Emmanuel Macron hosts a defence council meeting, writes Kim Willsher, the Guardian’s Paris correspondent.

Ministers are saying nothing is excluded, but we know the president and prime minister are opposed to a national lockdown, which they say would be catastrophic for the economy.

The countries of central Europe, having come out of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in much better shape than most of their western European counterparts, are now facing higher numbers than during the spring peak of Covid-19, as restrictions return to the region, write Robert Tait in Prague and Shaun Walker, the Guardian’s central and eastern Europe correspondent.

On Tuesday, the Czech Republic passed the milestone of more than 1,000 Covid-19 cases in a day for the first time, while Hungary has closed its borders for September to counter rapidly rising daily infection rates. Cases rose in Poland in August too, though numbers have since dropped.

The rise in the Czech Republic is a sharp setback for a country previously hailed as among Europe’s most successful in tackling the pandemic, prompting the authorities to intensify face-mask requirements.

A record 1,164 new infections were documented in the nation of 10.7 million on Tuesday, and over the past 14 days, the country has seen one of the highest infection rates in Europe when adjusted for population, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Czech officials have attributed the rise to a sharp increase in testing. They also insist most of the new cases are mild and among otherwise healthy young people. Some 168 cases were traced to a party at a Prague nightclub in July.

The prime minister, Andrej Babiš, told the World Health Organization to “keep quiet” after it voiced concern over reports that Czech officials planned to reduce contact tracing and testing because many of the new cases were asymptomatic.

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