Coronavirus Live Updates: Scientists Will Urge WHO To Take Airborne Spread More Seriously

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and its effects.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

Vast Majority ‘Do The Right Thing’ As UK Pubs Reopen After 15 Weeks — 7/06/20, 7:50 a.m.

Most people who went out on so-called Super Saturday as coronavirus restrictions were eased in England “acted responsibly,” the U.K. health secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said most people were “doing the right thing” as pubs, restaurants, cafes and other venues reopened for the first time in three months, marking a major milestone in Britain’s efforts to restart the economy.

But it came after the chairman of the Police Federation said it was “crystal clear” that drunk people are unable to follow the 1 meter-plus social distancing rules amid images of streets packed with drinkers in Soho, London.

Many establishments chose to remain closed Saturday, and those that did open offered customers a very different pub experience, with staff decked out in gloves and face masks, plastic screens installed above bars and tables spaced at least one meter apart.

Some pubs required patrons to book tables in advance and order drinks via a smartphone app, in order to control crowds and reduce face-to-face contact with staff.

The death toll in Britain from confirmed COVID-19 cases rose by 22 to 44,220 on Sunday, the third-highest in the world. Read more.

— James Martin

Australia Closes Key State Border For First Time In 100 Years — 7/06/20, 7:05 a.m.

The border between Australia’s two most populous states will close from Tuesday for an indefinite period after a fresh spike in coronavirus cases.

The decision marks the first time the border between Victoria and New South Wales has been shut in 100 years, with officials last blocking movement between the two states in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Victorian capital Melbourne has surged in recent days, prompting authorities to enforce strict social distancing orders in 30 suburbs and put nine public housing towers into lockdown.

Victoria reported 127 new COVID-19 infections overnight, its biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began. It also reported one death, the first nationally in more than two weeks, taking the country’s total tally to 105. Read more

— James Martin 

Egypt Arrests Doctors, Journalists Who Criticize President’s Handling Of Outbreak — 7/6/2020, 6 a.m.

At least 10 doctors and six journalists have been arrested over criticism of the Egyptian government’s handling of the outbreak since the coronavirus first hit Egypt in February, the Associated Press reports. Other health workers say they have been told to keep quiet or face punishment.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has described critics of the government’s handling of the crisis as “enemies of the state.” As of Monday, Egypt has recorded 76,253 infections, including 3,343 deaths — the highest death toll in the Arab world. Read more

— Liza Hearon

Scientists Will Urge WHO To Take Airborne Spread Of Virus More Seriously — 7/6/2020, 3:40 a.m.

A group of 239 scientists plans to urge the World Health Organization to more seriously consider the threat that the novel coronavirus may be spread by microscopic particles in the air, The New York Times reported this weekend.

In an open letter set to be published later this week, the international coalition will warn of growing evidence that tiny aerosols can linger in the air indoors and result in new infections. WHO has maintained that the virus spreads mainly through larger respiratory droplets or contact and has primarily urged people to wash their hands and socially distance to prevent infection.

If airborne transmissions present a significant threat, it could dramatically impact safety guidelines, meaning people could need to wear masks inside areas with poor ventilation among other measures.

— Nick Visser

At Least 121 University Of Washington Students Test Positive In ‘Greek Row’ Outbreak — 7/6/2020, 3:30 a.m.

Seattle’s University of Washington said this weekend at least 121 students that live in fraternity houses near the college have tested positive for the coronavirus in what officials described as a “Greek Row outbreak.”

The surge in cases near the university was first announced on June 30. Residents of at least 15 of the school’s 25 fraternity houses have tested positive and the system houses about 1,000 students. The houses are independent organizations and are not run by the school.

The University of Washington plans to reopen by the end of September using a hybrid model of teaching, but the outbreak reflects the difficulty some schools may have as the pandemic continues to surge around the nation.

— Nick Visser

New Jersey Governor Calls For Nationwide Mask Requirement — 7/5/20, 2:47 p,m. ET

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) suggested that a nationwide mask requirement be enacted as people emerge from their homes during the summer months.

“It’s become almost not even debatable,” Murphy told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “If you’re leaving your house, put on a mask. I think it ought to be a national … requirement.”

New Jersey is in its second stage of reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, the state began allowing restaurants to resume outdoor dining and stores to open again. In July, casinos were allowed to open, and gyms were allowed to operate with outdoor spaces or by appointments indoors. All people are required to wear masks when shopping indoors.

“This thing is lethal. New Jersey’s paid an enormous price,” Murphy said of the coronavirus outbreak in the state. “We went through hell. We cannot go through hell again. We need a national strategy right now, and masking has to be at the core of that.”

The governor reported 303 new coronavirus cases in the state and 25 additional deaths. So far, New Jersey has seen 173,033 cases since the start of the pandemic.

—  Carla Russo

For more on the pandemic, go here.

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