(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
The U.S. states that won’t cut testing
Several large U.S. states are not heeding new federal health officials’ calls to reduce COVID-19 testing of some exposed to the virus, joining a broad rebuke of the Trump administration by public health leaders.
Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey and New York all plan to continue to test asymptomatic people who have been exposed to COVID-19, despite new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggesting that such tests may not be needed.
The CDC said this week that people exposed to COVID-19 but not symptomatic may not need to be tested, shocking doctors and politicians and prompting accusations the guidance was politically motivated.
New reckoning for WHO vaccine plan
The World Health Organization will next week receive a raft of pledges of support for its plan for COVID-19 vaccines for all. But the agency has already had to scale back its ambition.
The United States, Japan, Britain and the European Union have struck their own deals to secure millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for their citizens, ignoring the U.N. body’s warnings that “vaccine nationalism” will squeeze supplies.
If other countries that can afford it pursue a similar approach, the WHO’s strategy for fighting the coronavirus pandemic globally and equitably risks coming undone, experts warn.
“If that were to happen, it’s fairly clear that there would be insufficient volumes of vaccine available for any other countries, particularly in the first six to nine months,” said Alex Harris, head of global policy at the Wellcome Trust health charity.
Merkel says pandemic will worsen
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the coronavirus pandemic is likely to worsen in coming months, and that her government will respond by prioritising the welfare of society as a whole, notably its children, and the economy.
The government will be “doing everything so that our children are not the losers of the pandemic. School and daycare need to be the most important things”, she told reporters at a news conference.
Germany has managed to keep COVID-19 cases and deaths relatively low compared with some other large European countries. But the number of new daily infections has been rising since early July and has accelerated in recent weeks.
UK workers urged to return to the office
Britain’s government will urge people to return to offices and other workplaces where it is safe to do so to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, transport minister Grant Shapps said.
“Our central message is pretty straightforward: we are saying to people it is now safe to return to work.”
According to data from the Centre for Cities, only 17% of workers in British cities had returned to their workplaces by early August, underscoring the challenge facing Prime Minister Boris Johnson in steering the country away from its coronavirus shutdown.
Paris tries to clear up mask confusion
Cyclists and people taking exercise in Paris will be exempt from a new requirement to wear masks outdoors to combat a surge in coronavirus infections, police said.
The city’s police department said officers would issue verbal warnings before imposing fines as many people were confused by changes in the rules on face coverings.
From Friday, authorities have made it compulsory to wear masks everywhere in Paris. Until now, masks were mostly required in crowded areas of the city. The new measures apply to pedestrians as well as people riding scooters and motorcycles in Paris and its suburbs.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Giles Elgood)