What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Fauci, Redfield testify at U.S. Senate hearing on coronavirus response in Washington

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

J&J pauses vaccine trials

Johnson & Johnson said it had temporarily paused its COVID-19 vaccine candidate clinical trials due to an unexplained illness in a study participant, delaying one of the highest profile efforts to contain the pandemic.

The participant’s illness is being reviewed and evaluated by an independent data and safety monitoring board as well as the company’s clinical and safety physicians.

J&J said that such pauses are normal in big trials. It said the “study pause” in giving doses of the vaccine candidate was different from a “regulatory hold” required by health authorities.

Fauci urges masks, avoiding mass gatherings

As President Donald Trump held his first campaign rally since disclosing he contracted the coronavirus, top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said the United States faced a “whole lot of trouble” if it did not encourage universal wearing of face masks and avoid mass gatherings.

“We have a baseline of infections now that varies between 40 and 50,000 per day. That’s a bad place to be when you’re going into the cooler weather of the fall and the colder weather of the winter,” Fauci told CNBC.

“We’ve got to turn this around.”

No lockdowns in Russia despite spike

Russia on Tuesday reported record high daily coronavirus cases and deaths, pushing total infections to 1,326,178, but authorities said they do not plan to impose lockdowns across the vast country.

Anna Popova, head of the consumer safety watchdog, said Russia saw no need to impose restrictions on economic activity in response to the spike in cases.

“Despite a growing number of cases, today in Russia we are not talking about blocking the economy, suspending some business activities, some sectors of the economy, because we see no reason to do this.”

France and Netherlands mull more curbs

President Emmanuel Macron met senior cabinet ministers on Tuesday to discuss possible further restrictions to tackle a second coronavirus wave sweeping across France.

The country reported more than 1,500 COVID-19 patients in intensive care on Monday, a level not seen since late May.

Prime Minister Jean Castex has refused to rule out local lockdowns. “Nothing should be off the table when you see the situation facing our hospitals.”

A new round of social restrictions will be announced by the Dutch government on Tuesday evening, including the possible closure of cafes and restaurants.

Virus spreads in Argentina

Argentina surpassed 900,000 cases of coronavirus on Monday, with strong growth of infections in large populated centers in the interior of the country after months of the virus being concentrated in Buenos Aires and its suburbs.

The government late last week tightened restrictions on the movement of people in 18 provinces for two weeks due to the growth of cases.

More than 90% of the intensive-care beds at the Centenario hospital in the city of Rosario, 300 km north of Buenos Aires, are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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