Coronavirus update: COVID-19 adds new uncertainty to campaign for White House

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US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden have been searching for places to accept their parties’ presidential nominations as the spread of the coronavirus adds fresh uncertainty to the campaign for the White House.

Meanwhile, Vietnam moves closer to completing the conversion of a sports stadium into a 1,000-bed field hospital in its new coronavirus epicentre Da Nang.

This story will be updated throughout Friday.

Friday’s key moments:

Coronavirus adds uncertainty to White House campaign

At the last minute, US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden have been searching for places to impressively yet safely accept their parties’ presidential nominations as the spread of the coronavirus adds fresh uncertainty to the campaign for the White House.

Mr Trump said he was considering giving his August 27 acceptance speech on the grounds of the White House, a move that could violate ethics law.

Mr Biden has scrapped plans to accept the Democratic nomination on August 20 in Milwaukee, where the party has spent more than a year planning a massive convention.

Presidential conventions are a staple of American politics and have played out against national traumas as significant as the Civil War and World War II.

But the pandemic’s potency has proven to be a tougher obstacle, denying both candidates crucial opportunities to connect with supporters in the final stretch before the November 3 election.

The campaigns have been looking for alternative ways to deal with the virus and still reach millions of Americans through television and virtual events.

Vietnam turns Da Nang stadium into field hospital amid virus outbreak

Vietnam has been close to completing the conversion of a sports stadium into a 1,000-bed field hospital in its new coronavirus epicentre Da Nang.

Aggressive contact-tracing, targeted testing and strict quarantining had helped Vietnam halt an earlier contagion, but it is now racing to control infections in the central city and beyond after a new outbreak ended a run of more than three months without domestic transmission.

Da Nang’s Tien Son Sports Palace will from Saturday be used to treat an overflow of infected patients should the city’s hospitals become overwhelmed.

A healthcare worker stands in an orange-lit room where thousands of face masks hang on drying shelves.
The facility would be used to isolate people who were in direct contact with a positive case, as part of Vietnam’s centralised quarantine programme.(Reuters: Kham)

Da Nang has reported more than 200 cases since the virus reappeared there on July 25. Authorities have said the situation was “under control” and the outbreak would likely peak in the next 10 days.

If infection numbers stabilise, the facility would be used to isolate people who were in direct contact with a positive case, as part of Vietnam’s centralised quarantine programme, Sun Group said.

The health ministry reported 34 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, taking Vietnam’s total cases to 747, with 10 deaths.

Ten countries account for 80 per cent of Africa COVID-19 testing

Ten countries account for 80 per cent of the new coronavirus testing taking place across Africa.

COVID-19 confirmed cases across Africa have accelerated and are close to hitting a million this week and experts say low levels of testing in many countries means infection rates are likely to be higher than reported.

Some governments across the continent are too poor or conflict-ridden to carry out widespread testing, while others have been reluctant to share data or to expose their crumbling health systems to outside scrutiny.

South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Mauritius have each conducted more than 200,000 tests.

So far, nearly 9 million tests have been conducted across the continent.

Brazil police bust alleged coronavirus corruption racket in Sao Paulo

Brazil’s federal police said it had carried out six search and arrest warrants as part of an operation into alleged coronavirus-related corruption in the city of Sao Paulo.

The federal police did not say who the operation had targeted but said it involved alleged irregularities in the purchase of disposable aprons to supply hospitals managed by the city of Sao Paulo.

The value of the purchases, made without public tender, was $11.1 million reals ($288,090), police said.

The alleged crimes included tendering fraud, criminal association, corruption and embezzlement, the police said.

The Sao Paulo mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did the city’s health department.

With large amounts of federal and state cash deployed to tackle the coronavirus crisis, fears have risen of increased corruption in Brazil, where graft is already a deep-seated issue.

ABC/wires

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