Three top U.S. health officials will quarantine after White House staff members tested positive.
In the latest sign of worry that the coronavirus could be spreading through the senior ranks of the Trump administration, three top public health officials have begun partial or full self-quarantine for two weeks after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive.
Representatives for Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, confirmed the precautions on Saturday.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed a CNN report that he had begun a “modified quarantine” after what he called a “low risk” contact.
The actions came as Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago and its closest suburbs, added more cases of the virus than any other county in the United States on some recent days. On Friday, Cook County added more new cases than the five boroughs of New York City combined.
In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Saturday that three young children had died of a mysterious, toxic-shock-like inflammation syndrome with links to the virus. Mr. Cuomo has asked parents to be vigilant in looking for symptoms such as prolonged fever, severe abdominal pain, change in skin color, racing heart and chest pain.
In a development that promised to expand the nation’s testing capacity, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the first antigen test that can rapidly detect whether a person has been infected. Unlike commonly available coronavirus tests that use polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., antigen diagnostics work by quickly detecting fragments of the virus in a sample. The tests can provide results “in minutes,” the F.D.A. said, adding that it expected to grant emergency clearance for more antigen tests in the near future.
The health authorities in northeast China have reported a new cluster of infections in a town near the Russian border, a flare-up that shows the continuing difficulties in stopping the coronavirus even for countries that have been largely successful in curbing the pandemic.
China has begun to reopen after a widespread lockdown put in place to control the coronavirus, which first emerged in the city of Wuhan late last year. But small outbreaks have persisted. Parts of northeast China increased controls last month after a spate of new cases that was traced to people returning from Russia.
China reported 14 new cases in total on Saturday, including one in Hubei Province and two that arrived in Shanghai from overseas. It was the first double-digit increase in new cases since May 1, when 12 were recorded.
South Korea, which has also managed to all but halt its outbreak, has also ramped up controls after new cases were discovered. On Saturday, bars and nightclubs in Seoul were ordered closed after dozens of new infections were reported among people who visited nightspots and their close contacts. The country on Sunday reported 34 new cases.
Days earlier, the country had begun to implement a new phase of its coronavirus response, encouraging people to cautiously resume their daily lives while keeping guard against new cases.
Starting before dawn, more than 1,500 people joined a food line that stretched half a mile or more through Geneva on Saturday, marking the hardship inflicted on poor workers and migrants by measures to control the coronavirus in one of the world’s richest and most expensive cities.
“They had to wait several hours to get a bag with about $20 worth of food in it, that’s a sign of the state people are in,” said Djann Jutzler, a spokesman for the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, which supported the distribution organized by a local charity.
With the number of virus cases decreasing, Switzerland will continue easing its lockdown on Monday, allowing primary schools, shops, restaurants and bars to open and public transport to restart.
More than 30,000 Swiss have contracted Covid-19 and more than 1,500 have died of it, but officials recorded only 43 new cases of infection on Friday, marking a steady downturn.
Demonstrations against the lockdown in Bern, the capital, and other cities on Saturday showed mounting public frustration; and Geneva’s food lines attest to the growing hardship.
Saturday’s food handouts in Geneva were the second in a week organized by Geneva Caravan, a local charity that looks after the homeless and poor, and attracted far bigger crowds than the first. A survey of several hundred people at that event found many with no legal status and more than half without medical insurance.
The lines may have raised awareness of the mounting needs. Organizers, which have relied entirely on donations for the handouts of rice, pasta, vegetable oil and other basic commodities, are seeing a swelling public response. “People are getting more and more generous,” Mr. Jutzler said.
The Trump administration is imposing new restrictions on Chinese journalists working in the United States, escalating its conflict with China over the news media as tensions rise over the coronavirus.
The Department of Homeland Security said on Friday that Chinese journalists working for non-American news outlets would be limited to 90-day work visas — a significant reduction from the open-ended, single-entry stays that the agency previously granted to most journalists with Chinese passports and a valid entry visa. They will be allowed to apply for extensions, although those will also be limited to 90 days.
The latest action is part of a monthslong clash between the United States and China over each other’s media presence abroad — fueled by deteriorating diplomatic relations. Tensions between Washington and Beijing have escalated during the coronavirus pandemic, which began in China.
Chinese journalists in the United States who try to do independent journalism privately expressed worries about the future of their work, and said they did not want to be caught in the middle of such a conflict. American journalists in China have voiced similar concerns.
The new rules in the United States also apply to the handful of Chinese citizens working for non-Chinese foreign outlets. The new American rule goes into effect on Monday.
The relationship between China and the United States had already frayed under President Trump and President Xi Jinping. In 2018, Mr. Trump started a protracted trade war. But the pandemic has unleashed a new level of vitriol and recrimination.
Mr. Trump and his aides have repeatedly emphasized China’s early attempts to cover up the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, which emerged in the city of Wuhan, and have cast doubt on the veracity of China’s reported death toll.
Mr. Trump has also suggested that the United States could seek damages from China for the pandemic’s economic wreckage and deadly toll. Critics say the Trump administration’s campaign to blame China is mainly aimed at distracting from the White House’s own deep failures during the outbreak.
Beijing, for its part, has seized on the crisis as an opportunity to cast itself as an alternative to the United States for global leadership. Chinese diplomats have repeatedly compared the official death toll in China to the soaring numbers in the United States, which was slow to respond to the threat of the virus.
That was why it let go almost half of its 1,274 workers in late March, the factory’s managing director said in response to protesters who arrived at the factory’s doors to denounce the dismissals.
Three fired sewing operators, however, said the factory was taking an opportunity to punish workers engaged in union activity. In an interview, the operators — Maung Moe, Ye Yint and Ohnmar Myint — said that of the 571 who had been dismissed, 520 had belonged to the factory’s union, one of 20 that make up the Federation of Garment Workers Myanmar. About 700 workers who did not belong to the union kept their jobs, they said.
Myan Mode’s South Korea-based owner did not respond to requests for comment, and did not provide details about the firings.
Mr. Moe, 27, was the factory union’s president and had organized several strikes. Mr. Yint, 30, was the union’s secretary, while Ms. Myint, 34, had been a union member since its founding in June 2018.
“The bosses used Covid as an opportunity to get rid of us because they hated our union,” Mr. Moe said. He said he and other union members had been in discussions with the factory managers before the firings, demanding personal protective equipment and that workers be farther apart on the factory floor. “They thought we caused them constant headaches by fighting for our rights and those of our fellow workers.”
Union-busting — practices undertaken to prevent or disrupt the formation of trade unions or attempts to expand membership — has been serious problem across the fashion supply chain for decades. But with the global spread of Covid-19 placing fresh pressures on the industry, it is a particular issue in South Asia, where about 40 million garment workers have long grappled with poor working conditions and wages.
Hong Kong’s live music scene was all but silenced by the coronavirus. Some infections had been linked to what the government called a “bar and band” cluster in nightclubs. Music venues, including bars, were ordered shut as part of a broad package of restrictions. On Friday, bars were allowed to reopen, but they still can’t host live music.
That has meant unemployment for the singers, guitarists, pianists, drummers and bassists who power the live music scene — many of whom come from the Philippines.
One musician, Charles Tidal, said he typically sent about $1,300 back to the Philippines each month to support his five children. His gigs dried up in February, and a new part-time job as a clerk isn’t making up the difference.
“It’s hard,” he said. “I owe money to lots of people right now to survive and feed my kids.”
Musicians from the Philippines have been performing across Asia for decades, known for playing covers of Western pop songs. Filipino cover bands in Hong Kong have astonishingly wide repertoires, spanning rock, reggae, R&B and much else. A case in point is Icebox, the main house band at Amazonia in the Wan Chai district, which covers everything from Frank Sinatra to Iron Maiden.
“Everything’s there, and it’s cool,” said its frontman, Spike Cazcarro, 52, explaining how the band got its name.
Reporting was contributed by Austin Ramzy, Michael Levenson, Michael Crowley, Vivian Wang, Edward Wong, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Mitch Smith, Andrew Jacobs, Edgar Sandoval, Mike Ives, Elizabeth Paton and Nick Cumming-Bruce.