W.H.O. Halts Coronavirus Trials on Malaria Drug: Live Coverage

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Leaders face increasing scrutiny over their own adherence to lockdown rules.

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As top officials revisit their response to the constantly shifting coronavirus pandemic, they are coming under increasing scrutiny not just for their broader policy approaches but for their personal willingness — or not — to abide by the restrictions they’ve imposed.

In Britain, the apparent breach of lockdown rules by Dominic Cummings, a top aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has ignited a political firestorm. Mr. Cummings held a news conference on Monday to confirm reports he traveled more than 250 miles from his home with his wife and child during the lockdown, but he pointedly declined to apologize. Mr. Johnson has defended him.

The issue has opened a rift in the governing Conservative Party, with at least 20 lawmakers from the party condemning Mr. Cummings and a junior government minister resigning his post on Tuesday in protest.

Earlier this month, Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist who was advising the British government, stepped down after it was revealed that he had broken lockdown rules to meet his married lover.

The Polish government had to apologize last week after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted photos of himself sitting down a meal with three colleagues at a recently reopened restaurant and encouraged others to visit local establishments. Observers soon pointed out he was not observing required social distancing.

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s caretaker prime minister, was targeted by some tabloids and critics on social media and accused of violating his country’s lockdown rules when he picnicked in a Dublin park over the weekend with his partner and friends.

But the government rejected claims that Mr. Varadkar, who reactivated his registration as a medical doctor to help with the coronavirus response, had broken the rules. Mr. Varadkar’s outing was within the five kilometer travel limit from the government lodge where he is staying, the government said, and social distancing rules were observed.

Other leaders have kept strictly to lockdown rules despite difficult personal circumstances. Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands was largely unable to visit his dying mother because he obeyed restrictions that he imposed, although he was able to see her on her final night, in keeping with Dutch practice.

Mr. Biden, 77, and his advisers have said they intend to abide by the public safety recommendations that have, so far, made rallies and other campaign events impossible.

Citing safety concerns, the W.H.O. paused tests of a drug Trump said he had taken.

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Hydroxychloroquine had been one of several drugs and drug combinations that the World Health Organization was testing against Covid-19. The test, called the Solidarity Trial, has enrolled nearly 3,500 patients so far from 17 countries, officials said.

Dr. Tedros noted that the concerns related to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, another malaria drug, were specifically about their use by Covid-19 patients. “I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria,” he said.

The Food and Drug Administration had issued a safety warning about hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in April. It said they could cause dangerous abnormalities in heart rhythm in virus patients, and should be used for such patients only in clinical trials or hospitals where patients could be closely monitored.

Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the W.H.O. emergencies unit, warned at a news briefing on Monday that if nations let up too quickly on social distancing measures to curb the spread of the virus, it could rapidly bounce back and reach “a second peak.”

A young doctor’s death ignites public outrage in Egypt.

For months, Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic. Now the strain is showing.

The death of a young doctor who was refused treatment for Covid-19 at an overwhelmed hospital has triggered a revolt by medical staff over the government’s failures to provide protective equipment and training for front line workers.

Egypt’s health system is veering toward catastrophic collapse, the main doctors’ union warned, in a statement that accused the ministry of “criminal” negligence — strong words in a country where the authorities have strictly policed any criticism of their response to the virus.

Relatives of the doctor who died at the weekend, Walid Yehia, 32, issued pleas on Facebook for greater care, noting that he had been unable to access emergency treatment as his condition declined.

The swift admission of a prominent actress, Ragaa el-Gedawy, after she showed symptoms of the disease, further fueled public anger and perceptions that the care of elite Egyptians is prioritized.

Egypt’s health minister, Hala Zayed, said that the government was “following up to provide the best possible care” to its doctors, and that at least 20 beds in every hospital treating the virus would be reserved for sick medical staff.

As well as assuaging doctors, the government has sought to silence them. On Monday, the state-run Al Ahram newspaper sought to discredit a doctor who had resigned on Facebook in protest at the death of his colleague, portraying the doctor as a supporter of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The doctor’s Facebook account has since been closed.

A top adviser to Boris Johnson fends off calls to resign amid furor over his travel.



‘I Don’t Regret What I Did,’ Cummings Says of Trip During Lockdown

Dominic Cummings, a top aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, denied he broke the country’s lockdown rules by driving 260 miles to his parents’ home while experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

I don’t regret what I did. As I said, I think reasonable people may well disagree about how I thought about what to do in these circumstances. But, I think that, I think that what I did was actually reasonable in these, in these circumstances. And I think the way that I dealt with it was the least risk to everybody concerned, if my wife and I had both been unable to look after our 4-year-old. I don’t think I’m so, I don’t think I’m so different. And I don’t think there’s one rule for me and one rule for other people. As I said, I think that I looked at the, I knew what the guidance was. It talks about exceptional circumstances with small children. And I think that in all the circumstances I behaved reasonably and legally, as I said.

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Dominic Cummings, a top aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, denied he broke the country’s lockdown rules by driving 260 miles to his parents’ home while experiencing coronavirus symptoms.CreditCredit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

Facing a political firestorm over his breach of lockdown rules, a key adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain asked for public sympathy — but made no direct apology — at a highly unusual news conference in Downing Street on Monday.

The decision has already had repercussions within the Conservative Party, with several Conservative lawmakers criticizing the move and one junior minister resigning in protest on Tuesday.

Dominic Cummings, Mr. Johnson’s closest aide, admitted driving more than 250 miles from London to Durham, in northeast England, while the country was on lockdown. He made the journey with his wife, who was ill, and his 4-year-old son.

Mr. Cummings said that he had done so to ensure care for his young son with relatives in Durham should both he and his wife fall ill with Covid-19. Mr. Cummings added that because of his high profile, he had been “subject to threats and violence” at his home in London.

“I’m not surprised many people are very angry,” Mr. Cummings said, adding that he had not consulted Mr. Johnson, who has defended him, before leaving London. “I don’t regret what I did; I think what I did was reasonable in these circumstances.”

About an hour after Mr. Cummings spoke, Mr. Johnson tried to put the furor behind him by announcing new measures to ease the lockdown. Among other steps, outdoor markets and car dealerships will be allowed to open June 1; department stores and small shops will follow on June 15. Still, the prime minister said he regretted the anger that the Cummings episode had stirred up and noted that he had not known in advance about his plans.

“My conclusion is that he acted reasonably,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that “people will have to make their minds up.”

At least 18 lawmakers from Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party have now criticized Mr. Cummings, as have a number of Church of England bishops, opposition lawmakers and members of the public. Some scientists and opposition politicians have warned that the episode risks undermining the credibility of government public health messages on the pandemic.

Fearing the spread of disease, China zeros in on a ubiquitous utensil: chopsticks.

Credit…Giulia Marchi for The New York Times

Amy Qin is a China correspondent for The New York Times covering the intersection of culture, politics and society.

The coronavirus has forced us all to rethink our everyday habits, including things we once took for granted like shaking hands or wearing shoes inside the house.

Growing up in a Chinese household in the United States, we almost always ate family-style, using our personal chopsticks to reach into dishes of food that had been placed in the middle of the table. Some of my most vivid memories from childhood involve my mom, in the well-established tradition of Chinese mothers, piling food onto my plate, urging me to “eat more, eat more.”

Sure, there were occasions when serving chopsticks and spoons were used — like potlucks, for example, or meals with strangers. But at home and between friends, sharing was caring. Eight years of living and eating out in China only served to reinforce the habit.

But then came the new coronavirus. Almost overnight, habits changed. For perhaps the first time, serving spoons and chopsticks appeared at our family’s Lunar New Year dinner. In Beijing in March, during one of my first meals out after the city’s restriction began to loosen, my friend and I asked for serving chopsticks for each of the dishes we ordered. It felt strange at first, but we quickly got used to it.

After the immediate threat of the virus fades, though, it remains to be seen whether or not these new habits will stick in China. As Liu Peng, 32, an education consultant from the coastal city of Qingdao, told me: “Maybe using serving chopsticks is more hygienic but eating is the time for us all to relax, and we don’t want to be bothered by all these little rules.”

Ireland’s leader rejects tabloid claims that picnic outing violated lockdown rules.

Credit…Pool photo by Leon Farrell

The Irish government has rejected claims that the country’s leader, Leo Varadkar, breached Ireland’s coronavirus lockdown rules when he was pictured socializing with his partner and two friends in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on Sunday.

Images circulated on social media showed a shirtless Mr. Varadkar picnicking with his partner, Matthew Barrett, and two other men, prompting some on social media and some tabloid newspapers to accuse him of breaking his own government’s rules.

Mr. Varadkar and Mr. Barrett are both doctors, and while Mr. Varadkar gave up medicine when he entered full-time politics, he re-registered to work part time on a virus screening telephone service during the pandemic.

A statement issued on Mr. Varadkar’s behalf on Monday said that his outing was within the five kilometer travel limit from the government lodge where he is staying, and that social distancing rules, which stipulate a minimum separation of two meters, were being observed.

Ireland’s lockdown conditions were recently eased as the country’s outbreak has come under control and now allow up to four people to meet outdoors, as long as travel limits and social distancing are observed. The statement noted that there was no ban on picnics or eating outdoors.

The government’s response on Monday came as Ireland recorded no new deaths from the Covid-19 virus for the first day since March 21.

Putin’s promised cash bonuses to Russian doctors have been slow to come. But it is risky to complain.

Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Assailed by critics as an absentee leader at the start of the outbreak, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia re-emerged with a splash on state television last month to show that he cared and was taking charge.

He promised cash bonuses of up to $1,100 a month for each doctor, nurse and other front-line health workers involved in fighting the virus.

But for an all-powerful leader whose every word must be taken as a command, Mr. Putin has had a surprisingly hard time making his voice heard, Andrew Higgins reports from Moscow. More than a month after Mr. Putin spoke, the money has yet to materialize for many. Instead, some doctors have received visits from police investigators and prosecutors demanding to know why they complained publicly about not getting their bonuses.

A promise meant to showcase Mr. Putin’s proudest achievement — the revitalization of the Russian state after the chaos of the 1990s — has sunk into a swamp of recrimination, security service intimidation and bureaucratic buck-passing.

The Kremlin holds more than $500 billion in various rainy day funds, so Mr. Putin has all the money he needs to deliver on his promises. But in a system rife with corruption, many officials live in permanent fear of being criticized — or worse, investigated — for spending state money that was not included in their previously approved budgets.

So when it came to doling out the cash, they hesitated, took the liberty of making deductions for time health workers spent on nonvirus patients or perhaps skimmed some of the money.

In the southern region of Krasnodar, a widely respected head doctor at a hospital was fired after his staff staged a small protest. A doctor in the nearby town of Abinsk who helped organize public complaints over nonpayment of Mr. Putin’s bonus received a letter from the police warning that he faced prosecution for “carrying out extremist activities.”

Yulia Volkova, a Krasnodar doctor who leads the local branch of Doctors’ Alliance, an independent trade union, said in a telephone interview that medical workers had rejoiced at Mr. Putin’s promise of extra cash. Now, though, they are “terrified of being investigated” if they complained about the president’s orders falling on deaf ears, she said.

The pandemic upends Ramadan, Islam’s holiest month.

Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

The holiday is celebrated from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next, with daytime fasting and nighttime merrymaking that culminates in Eid al-Fitr, which this year fell on Sunday.

But with a need to maintain public health, Zoom calls and socially distant food drives have replaced family gatherings and community prayers.

“For a lot of people, it has been very tough on them mentally and emotionally,” said Abdul Aziz Bhuiyan, the chairman of the Hillside Islamic Center on Long Island. “Some of the Islamic centers were able to go online to do programs, but people living in more distressed communities don’t have access.”

The weight of the pandemic has fallen disproportionately on immigrant and minority populations with high poverty levels. Muslim leaders say the Bangladeshi community in New York, one of the city’s fastest growing immigrant groups, has been devastated by the virus.

Data released by the city has shown the hardest hit areas in New York are also those most popular among Bangladeshi immigrants, including the Queens neighborhoods of Jamaica, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.

Many Bangladeshi immigrants have public-facing low-wage jobs and then return to small apartments where they live with large families or several room mates, which had left many “very exposed” to the virus said Raja Abdulhaq, the executive director of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York.

Reporting and research was contributed by Thomas Erdbrink, Megan Specia, Ed O’Loughlin, Stephen Castle, Mark Landler, Andrew Higgins, Niraj Chokshi, Amy Qin and Liam Stack.

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