French universities will reopen in September after nearly six months but students will be encouraged to wear face masks, the ministry of higher education has announced.
Universities in France closed on 16 March as part of the new coronavirus restrictions. Schools gradually reopened on 11 May but the country’s 74 universities have remained shuttered.
“The wearing of masks in classrooms is highly recommended,” the ministry said, asking universities and leading higher education institutions “to let in a greater number of students while respecting health regulations”.
“We are working in tandem with these establishments to put in place measures …. to protect teachers, personnel and students from the virus,” higher education minister Frederique Vidal said.
She said social distancing would be observed with a metre maintained between each student in classrooms. Facemasks will be mandatory in libraries.
Closed spaces will be aired twice a day and pedestrian traffic will be regulated in busy areas, it said.
A rise in the Covid-19 infection rate in Ireland is a “serious concern,” a leading health official has said.
The reproduction value, or the number of people who become infected from each positive case, has increased to 1.8 from 1.3 a week ago, professor Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said.
A reproduction number of almost 2 is a serious concern, and although we have not yet seen a significant increase in community transmission, there is a significant risk this could develop over the coming days and weeks.
US lifts global health coronavirus travel advisory
The US has lifted a global health advisory imposed in March that advised US citizens to avoid all international travel because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The State Department said in a statement:
With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice.
New daily cases in France over 1,600 again
France reported 1,604 new Covid-19 infections over 24 hours, the total staying above the 1,600 threshold for the second day running, health ministry data showed on Thursday.
In a statement, the ministry also said the number of patients in intensive care units for the disease was on the rise again, at 390 versus 384 on Wednesday.
Dutch PM calls on tourists to avoid busy parts of Amsterdam
The Netherlands’ prime minister said on Thursday the country does not need to undergo a second lockdown, despite a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus cases.
“The virus is making a dangerous advance and we’re at risk of losing the gains we’ve made together in the past month,” Mark Rutte said after an abrupt return from summer vacation.
“We don’t want a second lockdown and we don’t have to have one, but that won’t happen by itself,” he said, asking tourists to avoid busy parts of Amsterdam and the country’s youth to obey social distancing rules.
The Netherlands’ National Institute for Health reported 601 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, up from 426 a day earlier.
Nigeria will reopen for international air travel in a matter of weeks, the aviation minister said on Thursday, without giving a specific date for the resumption after months of closure amid the pandemic.
“It will be in weeks rather than in months,” the minister of aviation Hadi Sirika told a regular briefing in the capital Abuja on coronavirus.
Nigeria began to close its airports in March, a month after Africa’s most populous country confirmed its first coronavirus case. Domestic air travel restarted last month.
The country has 44,890 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 900 deaths, figures from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control show.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday reported 4,802,491 cases of coronavirus, an increase of 53,685 from its previous count, and said the number of deaths had risen by 1,320 to 157,631.
The CDC reported its tally of cases of Covid-19 as of 4pm ET on 5 August versus its previous report a day earlier.
The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.
‘Vaccine nationalism will not help us,’ says WHO director-general
Economic recovery around the world could come faster if any Covid-19 vaccine is made available to all as a public good, the World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday.
“Sharing vaccines or sharing other tools actually helps the world to recover together. The economic recovery can be faster and the damage from Covid-19 could be less.
“Vaccine nationalism is not good, it will not help us,” he said in an allusion to the competitive scramble of nations and pharmaceutical researchers to come up with an effective vaccine and order as many doses as possible in advance.
Tedros had said on Monday that while Covid-19 was the biggest health emergency since the early 20th century, the international scramble for a vaccine was also “unprecedented”.
“We must seize this moment to come together in national unity and global solidarity to control Covid-19,” he told Thursday’s forum.
No country will be safe until we are all safe.
The WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan, asked about a proposed Russian vaccine, told the panel that trial data was needed to ensure any vaccines are safe and effective.
Ryan also said authorities should be able to demonstrate the efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine via traditional clinical trials rather than “human challenge” studies. He was referring to the intentional exposure of vaccinated volunteers to a virus to see whether the drug works.
The US president Donald Trump said on Thursday that it was possible the United States would have a coronavirus vaccine before the November election – a more optimistic forecast than timing put forth by his own White House health experts.
Trump has accused the WHO of becoming a puppet for China – where the coronavirus outbreak first surfaced late last year – during the pandemic and given notice that the United States will quit the agency in a year’s time.
Tedros, who has denied that the WHO answers to China or any other country, told the panel that the US move to abandon the WHO was not primarily a financial issue. He said:
The problem is not about the money, it’s not the financing… it’s actually the relationship with the US. That is more important for the WHO – the void, not the financial. And we hope then US will reconsider its position.
The UK government said 46,413 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Wednesday, up by 49 from the day before.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 56,600 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The government also said that in the 24-hour period up to 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 950 lab-confirmed cases. Overall, a total of 308,134 cases have been confirmed.
More on our UK coronavirus live blog:
Austria’s foreign ministry on Thursday warned against trips to Spain with the exception of the Balearic and Canary Islands, as concerns grow that holidaymakers could catch the coronavirus and spread it once they return.
The measure will take effect from Monday, and people returning to Austria will be required to present a negative test for Covid-19, the ministry said.
Norway will on Saturday reimpose a 10-day quarantine for all travellers from France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in those countries, its public health institute said on Thursday.
Norway will also reimpose quarantine for people travelling from Monaco and from certain regions in neighbouring Sweden, while lifting quarantine for other regions.
The prime Minister Erna Solberg said Norway would put on hold a planned ease of existing coronavirus restrictions and reimpose others to prevent a full lockdown of society as experienced earlier this year.
“We need to slow down now to avoid a full stop down the road,” Solberg told reporters.
Norway, which is not a member of the EU but belongs to the passport-free Schengen travel zone, had some of the strictest travel restrictions in Europe in the early phase of the pandemic before gradually lifting them from June.
Other countries in Europe are considering what measures, if any, to impose to prevent a new wave of infections. Germany announced on Thursday mandatory tests for travellers returning from high-risk regions after new coronavirus cases breached the 1,000-a-day threshold for the first time since May.
Norwegian authorities are also discussing whether to update guidelines on the wearing of face masks in crowded spaces.
For now, Norway and other Nordic countries, unlike many other European nations, are not recommending people wear face masks in public spaces, but authorities have said they are reviewing their advice in the wake of rising cases in Europe.
The country of 5.4 million has seen an uptick in the number of Covid-19 infections with 9,409 cases reported as of Thursday, up 12 cases from the day before. The total number of deaths was unchanged at 256.
Our coronavirus global report is now live , courtesy of Jon Henley and Sam Jones. They write
Germany has recorded its highest rate of infections in three months, France cannot keep up with demand for tests and Finland warned of an “extremely delicate” situation as Covid-19 case numbers continued to tick up across the continent.