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While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Oct 28

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Almost half a million Americans contract Covid-19 in past week as infections surge

Nearly half a million people in the United States have contracted the novel coronavirus in the last seven days, according to a Reuters tally, as cases and hospitalisations set fresh records in hot spots in the Midwest.

More than 5,600 people died from the virus nationwide in the last week, with hospitalisations shooting up 13%, a Reuters analysis showed.

Illinois, which has emerged as a hot spot in recent weeks, reported over 31,000 new cases in the last seven days, more new infections than any other state except Texas.

Outbreaks are worsening in hotly contested “battleground” states in next week’s election like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.


Belgium reports highest rate of Covid-19 infections in EU

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.

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.


Airplane Covid-19 risk ‘very low’ with face mask usage but risks remain: Harvard report

Transmission risks of Covid-19 during airline flights are very low and below other routine activities during the pandemic such as grocery shopping or going out to dinner when using face coverings and taking other steps, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health said Tuesday.

The report found transmission risks can be “reduced to very low levels through the combination of layered infection control measures”.

The report, funded by Airlines for America, comes as US airlines lose billions of dollars a month as passenger demand remains down 65% year on year because of the coronavirus.


China blasts ‘bully’ US ahead of Pompeo’s Sri Lanka stop

China warned the United States not to “coerce and bully” Sri Lanka as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived on a sensitive visit seeking to draw the strategic island away from Beijing.

Pompeo is expected to ask Colombo to make “difficult” choices on its relationship with China, which has provided key investment and diplomatic backing in recent years.

“We are firmly opposed to the United States taking the opportunity of the State Secretary’s visit to sow and interfere in China-Sri Lanka relations, and to coerce and bully Sri Lanka,” China’s embassy said in a statement.


Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigns after Messi row

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned from the club on Tuesday ahead of a vote of no confidence that was due to be held next month after some 20,000 fans signed a petition demanding that he step down.

The rest of the board of directors also resigned.

“It’s a thought-out, serene, informed decision” to resign, Bartomeu said in a televised speech.


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