US reputation takes hit after Trump’s botched virus response

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Trump’s botched virus response sends US reputation to record lows

Reuters

The international reputation of the United States has declined further in the wake of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research Tuesday from the Pew Research Centre.

In some of the 13 countries surveyed, favourable views of the US have fallen to record lows. Pew started polling on the topic nearly two decades ago.

Although the international image of the US has been in decline since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, Pew found it has been dented further by what is perceived to be a badly handled response to the pandemic. Pew found that a median of just 15 per cent of respondents say the US has done a good job during the crisis, in contrast to perceptions around the World Health Organisation or the European Union, both of which enjoy majority approval.

After denying the virus and touting unscientific cures, Donald Trump has caused a record drop in the US’s international standing. AP

The country has the world’s highest official virus-related death toll with around 195,000 deaths. Much of the blame internationally appears to have been laid at Trump’s door..

The international declines that Pew gauged were widespread, including among the US’s traditional allies. In the UK, for example, Pew found that just 41 per cent of people express a favourable opinion of the US, the lowest recorded rate.

In France, only 31 per cent see the US positively, matching the low level recorded in 2003 when the two countries were at loggerheads over the US-led war in Iraq. Germans are particularly negative in their views of the US, with only 26 per cent of those polled viewing the country favourably, just above the 25 per cent level in 2003, when Germany, like France, opposed the Iraq war.

Pew also gauged opinions surrounding Trump, who is facing a tough re-election battle in November against his Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden.

The president’s ratings were low across the board, particularly in Belgium where just 9 per cent of those polled had a favourable view of Trump. The Japanese were the most positive, though even there only 25 per cent expressed confidence in Trump.

UK’s creaking COVID-19 test system puts health services at risk

Reuters

Britain’s testing system for COVID-19 was creaking on Tuesday as a bottleneck prevented people including medics from getting a test in a potential threat to key health services, with the government saying it may take weeks to resolve the problem.

In an attempt to slow one of the highest coronavirus death tolls in the West, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised in May to create a “world beating” system to test and trace people exposed to the virus.

Phil Sands, a medical engineer, who builds and repairs medical equipment at University College Hospital in London, said he has been off work for the last two days after one of his daughters developed a cold over the weekend.

Sands said he has tried more than 50 times to log on to the government’s website to book a test, but each time it either said there are none available or the system crashes.

“It is frustrating that I can’t work, I have no symptoms, there is nothing with me, but following the guidelines I have to stay home until I can prove that I don’t have COVID-19 or the [quarantine] time has passed,” he told Reuters.

Attempts by Reuters reporters to get a COVID-19 test on Tuesday were greeted with a notice on the government’s website saying: “This service is currently very busy. More tests should be available later.”

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts in England, said a growing number staff were unable to come to work because they or someone they live with had COVID-like symptoms but couldn’t get tested.

He said hospital bosses were working in the dark as they did not know why there were shortages, how long they were likely to last, how geographically widespread they were nor what priority would be given to healthcare workers.

German officials blast ‘stupidity’ of American who broke quarantine to visit bars, causing outbreak

Reuters

Authorities in southern Germany said Tuesday they have recorded three more cases of COVID-19 in people who frequented bars visited by a 26-year-old American woman suspected of flouting quarantine rules in the Alpine resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

The latest cases take the total number of recent infections there to 59, including 25 staff at a hotel resort that caters to US military personnel and at which the woman worked.

Anton Speer, who heads the county administration, told reporters that authorities are still waiting for the results of about 300 tests conducted on Monday and it was too soon to give the “all-clear.” The three new cases emerged from 740 tests conducted over the weekend.

Bavaria’s governor, Markus Soeder, called the outbreak in Garmisch-Partenkirchen “a model case of stupidity” because the 26-year-old had gone partying despite having COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting a test result.

Soeder said Monday that “such recklessness must have consequences” and suggested the woman, who hasn’t been named, could receive a stiff fine.

Welcome to the blog

Welcome to the blog for Wednesday, 16 September.

  • South Australia will reopen its borders to the ACT tonight and regional Victoria will reopen on Thursday as the state records no new deaths for the first time in two months.

  • A pilot Telstra program to identify and reject illegitimate phishing text messages that are impersonating myGov and Centrelink has been launched.

  • Boris Johnson’s government acknowledged its COVID-19 testing program is coming under strain, amid reports of tests being unavailable even where they’re most needed in the country’s biggest virus hotspots.

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