Hanks slams US over virus as Brazil’s president tests positive


Tom Hanks has hit out at Americans over the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There's a darkness on the edge of town here, folks," Hanks said during an appearance on the Today show in the US.

"Let's not confuse the fact. It's killing people. You can say, 'Well, traffic accidents kill a lot of people too.'

"But traffic accidents happen because a lot of drivers aren't doing their part. They're not using their turn signals. They're driving too fast, they're not paying attention."


Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, pictured while they were hospitalised for coronavirus in Queensland. Picture: Instagram
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, pictured while they were hospitalised for coronavirus in Queensland. Picture: Instagram


Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-March while filming Baz Luhrmann's Elvis Presley biopic in Queensland, a development that drove home the ubiquity of the virus at a time when it seemed like an abstraction. While the couple recovered and don't have lingering effects, Hanks said the state of affairs in the US is not especially encouraging, though he did not go after individual political leaders or institutions. Rather, he described the let-down as societal, reports the New York Post.



"The idea of doing one's part should be so simple," he said. "It's such a small thing. … It's a mystery to me how somehow that has been wiped out of what should be ingrained in us all."

The actor, who turns 64 on Thursday, has been promoting Greyhound, the World War II submarine movie he wrote and stars in, which will premiere Friday on Apple TV+.

The pandemic meant that an initial screen release had to be quashed. Asked about the experience of opening a movie online rather than movie theatres, Hanks winked at Apple as a "benevolent streaming service" but then made a sincere case for streaming. "It's going to be available. It's going to be viewable," he said. "Otherwise, we would have languished in a vault."


Tom Hanks compared the coronavirus fight to World War II. Picture: Twitter
Tom Hanks compared the coronavirus fight to World War II. Picture: Twitter


The World War II era depicted in the film offers lessons for today, Hanks said. "There was a sensibility then that permeated society, which was: 'Do your part,'" Hanks said. "There was a tiny bit of stuff that you could do to aid the effort." During the war, "They didn't know when it was going to come to an end, and we don't know what's going to happen with COVID-19."


Meanwhile, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has revealed he has tested positive for coronavirus - but removed his mask as he told reporters he felt "perfectly well".

Mr Bolsonaro, who has constantly played down the severity of the virus and mixed with crowds despite social distancing rules, said his fourth coronavirus test had come back positive but insisted he had only mild symptoms.

"I'm well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can't due to medical recommendations," said Mr Bolsonaro.





The polarising political leader has caused huge controversy in Brazil for repeatedly flouting containment measures and minimising the risk of the virus, which has killed 65,000 people in the South American giant and infected 1.6 million.

The test "has come out and it's positive," Mr Bolsonaro said in a television interview from his residence in capital Brasilia, adding that he was taking hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to treat the illness.

Hydroxychloroquine is a medication usually used to treat malaria and lupus, while azithromycin is an antibiotic that can be used to treat pneumonia.

Mr Bolsonaro, 65, said he started feeling unwell on Sunday and got worse on Monday, feeling "tiredness, illness and a fever of 38 degrees" (celsius).

But he insisted he was feeling "good, calm" and took off his face mask to emphasise the point.


Jair Bolsonaro has regularly appeared in public and mingled with supporters without a mask. Picture: Getty Images
Jair Bolsonaro has regularly appeared in public and mingled with supporters without a mask. Picture: Getty Images


"Life goes on. We're going to take care, particularly of old people and those with illnesses that are a risk factor," he added before repeating his mantra that the "collateral effects" of the virus should not be worse than the illness itself.

On Monday, he announced he had taken a test and told CNN Brazil that he underwent an X-ray of his lungs at a military hospital as a precaution.

Local media said he had cleared his schedule for the week.

Since the beginning of the virus outbreak, Mr Bolsonaro has minimised the risks of what he initially called "a little flu" and flouted social distancing rules and containment measures, such as wearing a mask in public.




Brazil is the second worst-hit country in the world by the pandemic after the United States.

Mr Bolsonaro had been tested three times previously - all came back negative. On Monday, he watered down for a second time a law that would require citizens to wear face masks in public.

On Saturday, Mr Bolsonaro published photos on social media in which he is not wearing a face mask at a lunch with the US ambassador and several ministers celebrating the July 4th holiday.

The World Health Organisation sent him their best wishes for a speedy and full recovery. "It brings home for us all the reality of this virus: no-one is special," said the WHO's emergencies director Michael Ryan.

"Whether we're prince or pauper, we're equally vulnerable."



Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday (local time) it would study fresh evidence on airborne transmission of the coronavirus, after an international group of scientists concluded it could spread far beyond two metres.

WHO said it would put out a new scientific brief within days, rounding up the knowledge about how the virus can be transmitted and ensuring its guidance stays in line with the evidence.

The two-metre physical distancing guideline has been a major factor in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 538,000 people and infected over 11.6 million since the outbreak emerged in China last December.

However, the new coronavirus can spread through the air far beyond two metres, an group of 239 international scientists said on Monday.

When an infected person exhales, they expel droplets. Droplets under five micrometers in size can become suspended in the air for several hours and travel up to tens of metres, they said.

Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO's technical lead on infection control, told a virtual press conference: "We acknowledge that there is emerging evidence in this field.

"And therefore we believe that we have to be open to this evidence and understand its implications regarding the modes of transmission and also regarding the precautions that need to be taken," she said.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's COVID-19 technical lead, said the UN health agency was producing a scientific brief consolidating the growing knowledge around transmission.

"It is important that what we know fits into the guidance that we have," she said.

"We will be issuing our brief in the coming days, and that will outline everything that we have in this area."

Meanwhile WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic was showing no signs of slowing down, as 400,000 new cases were reported over the weekend.

It took 12 weeks for the world to reach the first 400,000 COVID-19 cases.

"The outbreak is accelerating and we've clearly not reached the peak of the pandemic," Tedros said.

"While the number of deaths appears to have levelled off globally, in reality some countries have made significant progress in reducing the number of deaths, while in other countries deaths are still on the rise." The virus has "taken the world hostage", he concluded.


A villager in East Java protects against the coronavirus. Picture: Getty Images
A villager in East Java protects against the coronavirus. Picture: Getty Images



It comes as Victoria has been placed into a six-week lockdown after it recorded 191 COVID-19 cases.

The state recorded a recorded the new cases of coronavirus overnight, adding to the total of 2824 across the state.

Premier Daniel Andrews emerged from crisis talks and announced Stage 3 restrictions will be introduced for all of Melbourne from midnight Wednesday.

"All of those metropolitan government areas, plus Mitchell Shire, will be the subject of the stay at home order from midnight tomorrow night," he said.

"That is to say much like the settings that apply to those 12 lockdown postcodes, we have seen more positive cases in those postcodes and we have also seen leakage out of those postcodes and infections in other parts of Melbourne and then when you add all those together and get an aggregate picture, we're on the cusp of something very, very bad if we don't take these steps today."

Mr Andrews said unlike the first lockdown, workers will be able to go to work if necessary to go shopping if they need supplies.

He said Victorians cannot leave metropolitan Melbourne to do daily exercise. All community sport has been cancelled.

"You can't be going fishing outside the metropolitan area, down into regional Victoria," he said.

School holidays will also be extended for some students.


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media with the latest news on the state's COVID outbreak. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media with the latest news on the state's COVID outbreak. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw


"There will be five pupil free days next week. Teachers will be at work, at school and they'll be doing two things - preparing for whatever the balance of the term may look like and we'll make further announcements once we see more data and once things are a little more settled days. Giving parents as much notice as we can," he said.

From Monday, those in Year 11 and 12, VCE students and Year 10 students doing VCE subjects will return to school as normal.

Mr Andrews said specialist schools will also reopen after holidays end.

"Every Victorian needs to understand this is not over. It is not something you can pretend and wish away. It is here and it is going to be with us for a very long time," he said.

The actual total has increased by 164, after 27 cases were reclassified - largely due to duplication, the Department of Health and Human Services reported.

A total of 37 new cases are linked to outbreaks and 154 are under investigation.

No cases have been detected in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

To date, 438 cases may indicate community transmission, 772 cases are active in Victoria and 35 cases of coronavirus are in hospital, including nine in intensive care.

While 2028 people have recovered from the deadly virus.

Medical staff prepare to enter the Flemington public housing estate after it was put into lockdown on Saturday. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Medical staff prepare to enter the Flemington public housing estate after it was put into lockdown on Saturday. Picture: Andrew Henshaw


Thirteen more cases are linked to the North Melbourne and Flemington public housing towers, with the total now 69.

Twelve new cases were linked to the Al-Taqwa College outbreak, with the total now 90; four new cases have been linked to the Northern Hospital in Epping, with the total now nine; and one case has been linked to Aitken Hill Primary School in Craigieburn, with the total at 10.

A new case has also been confirmed in a staff member at the Assisi Aged Care facility in Rosanna. The staff member did not work while infectious. Widespread testing of staff and residents at the facility will begin today.

The disturbing development comes after two Victorians died from coronavirus yesterday, the same day the state recorded its highest daily number of new cases since the pandemic started.

The two men, aged in their 60s and 90s, died in hospital.


Health Minister Greg Hunt says "rings" of containment and further lockdown restrictions are the key to tackling Victoria's coronavirus crisis, and he is not ruling out further restrictions being imposed across the state.

Speaking on Nine's Today, Mr Hunt said "rings" to curb the spread of coronavirus were being extended to the borders because of the worrying levels of community transmission in Melbourne's north and western suburbs.

"I don't think that anybody can rule out that if the disease continues to spread, there could be further restrictions," he told Today.

"I think it is very important to be open and honest about that."


Health Minister Greg Hunt. Picture: AAP
Health Minister Greg Hunt. Picture: AAP

Speaking in a separate interview on the ABC today, Mr Hunt said the federal government had anticipated the need for so-called ring fencing for months.

"Right from the start, in February, we've talked about the concept of rings of containment, whether it's been suburbs, broader areas such as northwest Tasmania, or when it's required to take that step," Mr Hunt said.

"Now is the moment when we believe that step, for the first time, is required, and necessary and it relates specifically and exclusively to the challenges that Victoria is facing.

"And so the concept of rings of containment, of isolating areas, has always been part of it."

Underlying cases of community transmission in Victoria, coupled with people ignoring social distancing as restrictions began to ease and hotel quarantine breaches is behind the outbreak.

Victoria yesterday recorded its worst day with 127 new confirmed cases in 24 hours.






Originally published as Hanks slams US over virus as Brazil's president tests positive