For the health of the nation, shouldn’t Johnson’s medical fitness for office be scrutinised? | Catherine Bennett | Opinion

Just six words, Doctor Who said, would be enough to bring down the unprincipled prime minister Harriet Jones. “Don’t you think she looks tired?”

Would it work on a man? Time to find out. “I have read a lot of nonsense recently, about how my own bout of Covid has somehow robbed me of my mojo,” Boris Johnson said in his party conference speech. Was he thinking of the Daily Telegraph, where he appeared“strangely out of sorts”, or of the protracted lament by a former fan, the Spectator’s Toby Young: “What on earth happened to the freedom-loving, twinkly-eyed, Rabelaisian character I voted for?” Young cited one theory, “that the disease actually damaged his brain in some way”.

Covid-19 damage featured again in a Times report detailing the exhaustion of a miserable and forgetful prime minister, who was also struggling with his latest infant, whose exact age recently escaped him. “Physically, I think Covid has had huge impact, definitely,” a source said.

“Of course,” Johnson told conference, “this is self-evident drivel, the kind of seditious propaganda that you would expect from people who don’t want this government to succeed.” This seems unnecessarily harsh on some recently prized supporters, yet more unkind to the elderly huntsman Sir Humphry Wakefield, father-in-law of Dominic Cummings, who reportedly said that Johnson is so unwell he will step down in months and should not have gone back to work early because you’d never do that with a horse.

Johnson added, presumably for the benefit of the imaginary seditious propagandists to whom, in dreams, he shows scant mercy: “I could refute these critics of my athletic abilities in any way they want: arm-wrestle, leg-wrestle, Cumberland wrestle, sprint-off, you name it.” And if protecting the population in a pandemic ultimately came down to the prime minister’s victory in next summer’s Lakeland Games, while a non-catastrophic Brexit depended upon the physical humbling of Michel Barnier in a series of tap-room challenges, hopefully excluding the more cerebral skittles or darts, that might indeed have been one of Johnson’s more impressive performances since, well, maybe that time he identified as the Incredible Hulk?

Alas, the most convincing rebuttal of unkind post-Covid-19 “Don’t you think Johnson looks tired/sick/thick/dishevelled/shifty/dandruffy/unRabelaisian” commentary is the one line Johnson can’t deploy: what the hell did you think he was like before?

As it is, Johnson’s affirmation of undiminished mojo seems to have been roughly as effective as reports of Donald Trump’s alleged plan to prove his potency by ripping off his shirt to reveal a Superman T-shirt. Like Trump’s accompanying protestations of perfect health and eternal youth, the (unrealised) stunt only added to his critics’ case for invoking the 25th amendment, which allows Congress to rule a president unfit for office. Regular medicals, even if these duly descended into farce under Trump, also mean that, at least in theory, US politics legitimises public interest in a leader’s physical and intellectual fitness for the job.

However idiotic, Johnson’s boasting about Hulk-level athleticism suggests a measure of respect

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Belgium Becomes EU Nation With Highest Rate of COVID-19 Infections | World News

By Yves Herman and Marine Strauss

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The Belgian government will convene on Friday to decide on a potential new national lockdown with the country now suffering the highest rate of coronavirus infections per 100,000 citizens, according to official data.

The nation of 11 million people had 1,390 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control showed on Tuesday.

The Czech Republic is next with 1,379 per 100,000, while many other European countries are reporting soaring infection rates in a second wave of the global pandemic abetted by the onset of cold, damp winter weather.

New daily infections in Belgium, where the European Union and NATO have their headquarters, hit a peak of more than 18,000 on Oct. 20, almost a 10-fold rise from the high of a spring wave of the pandemic.

The number of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) is doubling every eight days – to 809 as of Monday – with 5,260 people in hospitals, which risk running out of beds. Belgian foreign affairs minister and former PM Sophie Wilmes was still in intensive care in Brussels, after testing positive to COVID-19 last week.

In Liege, the Belgian city with the highest number of COVID-19 infections, hundreds of patients are admitted daily, its main hospital said in a Facebook post.

If the rate of hospitalisation continues at this rhythm, the hospital said it would head “straight into a wall,” according to the Facebook post.

“What’s complicated is that we constantly have to open new units, put in place new teams of nurses and doctors, to take care of those patients, and this flow of patients is in the end continuous,” Christelle Meuris, an infectious disease specialist who oversees a COVID-19 unit at the hospital, told Reuters.

With 10,899 total deaths, Belgium has one of the highest per capita COVID-19 fatality rates in the world.

The federal cabinet will meet on Friday to further tighten measures to curb COVID-19 contagion, a week after tightening curbs on social contacts by banning fans from sports matches and limiting numbers in cultural spaces.

The government of the Wallonia region imposed a longer night curfew while in the capital Brussels, all sport and cultural facilities were ordered on Saturday to close and residents were subjected to a longer curfew from Monday.

(Reporting by Yves Herman and Marine Strauss with additional reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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It Was the Worst Day of the Pandemic. The Nation Is Almost There Again.

Raymond Embry saw the worst of the coronavirus pandemic up close.

His small Arizona medical clinic had been giving about five coronavirus tests a day. That grew to dozens a day, and then came the surge: There were 4,192 people lined up for tests to find out if they had the coronavirus in a single day.

That was on July 16.

That day, arguably the worst of the pandemic in the United States to that point, set records nationwide. By the end of that 24-hour period, a staggering 75,687 new cases had been reported around the country, the highest count on a single day over the past seven months.

Now the nation is approaching that record once more.

Thursday ended with 75,064 new cases, the second-highest number of cases on a single day, and the cases continued to mount on Friday, nearing the record amid a new surge of outbreaks as cold weather sets in. The latest cases, tracked by The New York Times using reports from state and local health departments, were scattered across the country in states like Illinois and Rhode Island, experiencing a second rush of cases, and in places like Montana and South Dakota, enduring their first.

Thirteen states have added more new cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch. Two states have set weekly records for new deaths. Wisconsin had its deadliest day of the pandemic on Wednesday, with 47 total deaths announced.

Testing has become more available since months ago, and more testing often uncovers cases that might otherwise go unnoticed. But indications of a new surge of the virus have grown clear in recent days.

The geography of the coronavirus has constantly changed since the first cases showed up in this country last winter. It struck the Northeast in the spring, the Sun Belt in the summer and now the states of the Midwest and the West, which hold the 10 counties in the country with the most recent cases per capita.

Mr. Embry knows all too well what some of those other places are now going through. By July 16, as the nation was hitting its worst day, Arizona was leading the nation in recent deaths per capita.

“It was just overwhelming trying to find gloves and masks, when especially back then people are telling you P.P.E. is widely available and that’s just a lie,” Mr. Embry said, referring to shortages of the personal protective equipment that health workers need to safely do testing.

On the Texas-Mexico border, mid-July was a nightmare. Johnny Salinas Jr., the owner of Salinas Funeral Home, was handling six to seven funerals a day, a number he would usually see over a week before the pandemic. Some of those included family members and relatives of employees.

Local health officials had said they had managed to control the spread of the virus through the spring, until Texas lifted social distancing restrictions right before Memorial Day. Then the numbers skyrocketed. In July, Hidalgo County, where

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North Dakota leads nation in per capita cases

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota leads the nation with 978 new cases of coronavirus per capita in the last two weeks.

That’s according to the COVID Tracking project, which reports cases per 100,000 people. Health officials confirmed 877 new cases and 18 more deaths on Friday.

The surge in cases and deaths statewide resulted in Republican Gov. Doug Burgum raising the coronavirus risk level in several North Dakota counties this week. However, he issued no mandated restrictions and mask use is voluntary.

The deaths reported Friday include 10 women and eight men, all in their 60s or older. All had underlying health conditions.


North Dakota, with a population of fewer than 800,000, has 30,000 confirmed cases and 388 deaths.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— France records 30,000 virus cases, highest single-day rise

— WHO study finds remdesivir didn’t help COVID-19 patients

— U.S. testing 3 drugs to try to tamp down coronavirus

— Coronavirus cases are rising in key U.S. presidential battleground states ahead of Election Day.

— White House puts political operatives at CDC to try to control virus information

— Thousands arrive in Hawaii on first day pre-travel testing allowing no quarantine

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— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

MADRID — Spain’s health ministry has reported 15,186 new infections for the coronavirus.

The ministry says 6,591 cases were diagnosed in the last 24 hours. The remainder of the new cases were diagnosed in recent days but not reported until Friday.

Spain leads Europe with 936560 confirmed cases. With 222 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, Spain’s total has reached 33,775.

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DENVER — Denver’s mayor says the city will enforce stricter mask mandates and limits on group gatherings.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock says the mask mandate will include outdoor settings with exceptions for individuals who are outside alone or those with people in their households. Denver is also limiting the number of non-related people gathering from 10 to five through Nov. 16.

Colorado’s Department of Public Health Executive Director Bob McDonald says enforcement will include issuing summons to appear in court. Hancock emphasized the importance of personal responsibility to keep others safe and help protect the economy.

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GENEVA — A large study led by the World Health Organization suggests that the antiviral drug remdesivir didn’t help hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

That’s in contrast to an earlier study that made the medicine a standard of care in the United States and many other countries. The results announced Friday don’t negate the previous ones, and the WHO study wasn’t as rigorous as the earlier one led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

But they add to concerns about how much value the pricey drug gives since none of the studies have found it can improve survival. Remdesivir is among the treatments U.S. President Donald Trump received when he was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Oct. 1.

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LONDON — Prime Minister Boris

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‘A fraud on the nation’: critics blast Indian government’s promotion of traditional medicine for COVID-19 | Science