The World Health Organization (WHO) has changed its advice on face masks, saying they should be worn where COVID-19 is widespread and physical distancing is difficult.
"In light of evolving evidence, WHO advises that governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where there is widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult," WHO’s Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday. It’s a shift for the agency, which had previously advised the general public that only people who were ill or caring for someone who was ill needed masks.
Many major retailers have made face masks mandatory for shoppers in the United States. Many transit systems around the world are requiring masks for their riders.
Speaking to reporters Friday at the White House, President Donald Trump said that the U.S. was "largely through" the pandemic and called again on governors to ease lockdown measures in their states.
The COVID-19 pandemic killed more than 900 people in 24 hours in the United States Friday, according to Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
Data tracking worldwide by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at JHU show that the United States has suffered the largest number of COVID-19 deaths by far, with a total of about 109,000, about a third of them in New York state.
According to the center, Britain comes in second with about 40,000 deaths, followed by Brazil with just over 34,000 and Italy with just under 34,000.
The U.S. has also recorded the highest number of COVID-19 infections – nearly 1.9 million. Brazil comes in second with about 615,000, Russia with nearly 450,000 and Britain with about 285,000.
The global number of deaths stands at about 395,000 and total confirmed cases at 6.7 million.
The Group of 20 rich and emerging economies pledged billions of dollars to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the group said in a statement Saturday.
"The G-20, with invited countries, has coordinated the global efforts to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, G-20 members and invited countries have pledged over $21 billion to support funding in global health," the statement said, adding that the fund will be directed toward diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, and research and development.
Earlier in the week, a report by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said emergency room visits for non-coronavirus illnesses plummeted in April at the peak of the pandemic.
The agency released an analysis Wednesday that the declines were greatest among children 14 and younger, women, and for people living in the Northeast U.S. The CDC noted a steep drop in the number of people seeking emergency care for chest pain, including heart attack, along with declines in children needing help for conditions like asthma.
The Trump administration has selected five companies as the most likely candidates to produce a coronavirus vaccine. The companies have been identified as Massachusetts-based Moderna; AstraZeneca, which is partnering with Oxford University; and the pharmaceutical giants Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert and the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Tuesday he is “cautiously optimistic” that scientists will come up with an effective vaccine by the start of 2021, saying he hopes to have “hundreds of millions of doses.” But, he added, “there’s never a guarantee.”
“It could take months and months and months” before researchers find out if a vaccine works, Fauci said.
Fauci also warned that a new vaccine may not provide long-term immunity against COVID-19.
A new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota say hydroxychloroquine, the treatment that Trump highly touts as an effective COVID-19 treatment, does not keep healthy people exposed to the virus from getting sick.
The report in The New England Journal of Medicine said the drug was no more effective than a placebo in clinical trials.
The scientists carried out their tests on 800 people exposed to someone with the coronavirus.
Hydroxychloroquine is a malaria drug which Trump called a “game-changer” in the fight against COVID-19. He had said he’s taken the drug himself.
But some doctors said the drug could have serious side effects, including heart rhythm problems or even death.
The World Health Organization has suspended the use of hydroxychloroquine in tests for a coronavirus treatment. France has outlawed its use altogether.