Covid-19 News Info Latest Covid-19 Articles, Coronavirus News and Stats Tue, 07 Jul 2020 20:52:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 175596917 Ghanaian Covid-19-inspired fashion print designs launched Tue, 07 Jul 2020 20:52:53 +0000
Some of the designs have padlocks to symbolise lockdown measures

A Ghanaian fabric company has launched a new line of designs inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“[We] put a positive twist on a negative phenomenon” Stephen Badu, from Ghana Textiles Printing (GTP), told BBC Focus on Africa radio.

The new fabrics have symbols like padlocks, keys and planes to reflect some of the measures implemented to curb the spread of coronavirus.

African prints are popular in Ghana and many workers wear them on Fridays.

Two of Ghana’s main metropolitan areas were in lockdown in April – and nationwide there was a ban on public gatherings and the closure of borders.

Restrictions have since been eased – though strict social-distancing measures are in place, especially in churches – and it is a criminal offence not to wear a face mask in public.

The West African nation has reported more than 20,000 cases of Covid-19, with at least 129 people dying from the virus.

The capital, Accra, and the city of Kumasi were put into lockdown for three weeks

“We are a business that tells stories and we tells our stories through our designs,” Mr Badu, GTP’s marketing director, said.

“We believe that it is going to leave a mark in the history of the world, and it’s important that generations that come after us get to know that once upon a time, such a phenomenon occurred.”

Some of the new GTP designs have glasses on them – similar to the signature ones worn by Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, who has been giving regular updates on the virus.

The round spectacles look like those worn by the president

“He has iconic spectacles that he wears and when you watch him on television that is what stands out,” Mr Badu said.

President Akufo-Addo’s signature glasses have been a constant during lockdown updates

“Another design shows a symbol of a plane, it indicates that during the lockdown one of the measures that Ghana took was to close the borders, so no flights,” he added.

Flights were stopped during the lockdown

In 2004, the government started a campaign to get people to wear national dress on Fridays to support the local textile industry, yet a lot of the fabric worn is not made by African firms

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The designs were created by Ghanaians

Ghana Textiles Printing, despite its name, is owned by Dutch company Vlisco.

But Mr Badu said the new designs were all about Ghanaians telling their own history.

“The designs which we print now are all originated by Ghanaians and printed by Ghanaians, so behind every design we produce it’s our value systems, our sense of art, and how we communicate,” he said.

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Nurse documented her coronavirus death in harrowing video Tue, 07 Jul 2020 19:50:30 +0000

A New Jersey emergency room nurse who died from the coronavirus spent the last three weeks of her life documenting her battle in a harrowing video — showing how a fever she began treating at home turned into a vicious, full-body attack that left her gasping for air in an overwhelmed hospital.

“Hello all, today I have a fever that I can’t get rid of but I am resting comfortably in my bed, I’m not going to the ER, I’m going to manage my symptoms at home,” Pamela Orlando, 56, says at the start of the video, which was taken at the end of March but was recently shared by social media content company “It’s Gone Viral.”

It was just the beginning of Orlando’s symptoms and she appeared relatively healthy and chipper, confident she’ll be able to fight the virus from home.

But by “day two,” her face appears grey and her demeanor is notably different as she says into the camera “boy do I feel like crap.”

“Back pain. Fever that won’t break and then when it does break, it’s just a very uncomfortable feeling,” Orlando said, still at home.

The following day, the nurse — who worked at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey, according to CBS — films herself from a hospital bed breathing with a nasal cannula.

“Day three of this wonderful virus, I hear day nine is worse, I’m just happy to be okay for now,” Orlando says, hopeful her condition will improve.

By day four, the clips take on a darker tone as it shows Orlando filming herself at 3:30 a.m. from her hospital bed.

“Oh my God, this is no joke, I am so uncomfortable,” she says while lying in bed.

The next clip depicts the overwhelmed state of the hospital as Orlando complains that she is yet to see a nurse.

“9:20 and I still have not seen a nurse or a nurse practitioner, I called them for pain meds and I called to speak to my nurse practitioner and I still have not seen or heard from anyone except the tech,” the ER nurse says, noticeably breathless.

The mom’s condition continues to worsen as the video goes on, eventually getting to the point where she doesn’t know what day it is.

“I don’t even know what day this is but I feel horrible,” Orlando said as she coughed.

“Like so bad like almost like I’m not going to make it,” she goes on.

“Please God, help me.”

The following clip shows Orlando writhing in bed with a breathing tube over her face, speechless.

“I’m not sure what day is it?” Orlando then manages to say in the next clip, while gasping for air.

Pamela OrlandoCBS

“I think it’s Saturday, yes it’s Saturday at 9:15 at night. Today is not a good day,” she goes on, taking a moment to catch her breath.

“I can’t even move without being short of breath. Just pray that I’m ok.”

The last two clips show Orlando coughing into an oxygen mask over her face, begging those watching to pray for her.

“I’m not getting better yet,” she says.

Orlando passed away on April 16, 24 days after she fell ill, according to CBS.

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The US government just released the names of hundreds of thousands of small businesses that received emergency coronavirus bailouts Tue, 07 Jul 2020 18:49:34 +0000
A store closure in New York City.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The US government on Monday released the names of many Paycheck Protection Program loan recipients. 

In total, the Small Business Administration made 4,885,388 loans, totaling $521.4 billion at an average size of $106,744.

The names of businesses that received more than $150,000 — a minority of applicants that represents the majority of funding — were released.

Multiple companies listed in the dataset said they did not apply for or receive any funding, contrary to the SBA’s release. An official told Business Insider this was likely because of lenders not officially canceling applications. 

Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

After pressure from members of Congress, the US Small Business Administration on Monday released the names of hundreds of thousands of small businesses that received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program.

The $670 billion federal program, approved in March as part of emergency economic measures amid the coronavirus pandemic, was criticized early on for a rocky rollout and unclear rules that led to some large companies receiving loans.

The program has made 4,885,388 loans totaling $521.4 billion at an average size of $106,744, according to the newly released data.

The specific data released Monday “strikes the appropriate balance of providing the American people with transparency, while protecting sensitive payroll and personal income information of small businesses, sole proprietors, and independent contractors,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a press release.

Included are company names and the categorical loan amount they each received (in five tranches), as well as ZIP codes, number of jobs supported, and other self-reported demographic data. Business names will not be revealed for companies receiving less than $150,000.

While only 14% of PPP borrowers accessed loans above $150,000, they account for nearly 75% of total loans issued, the SBA previously said. To secure loan forgiveness, borrowers have 24 weeks to spend the money (originally eight weeks), and 60% must go toward payroll, down from the initial 75% requirement.

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The loose self-declaration for applicants also meant some large businesses — including publicly traded ones — had access to the program. Despite companies like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse returning loans, more than 300 other publicly listed firms received $954 million that they have not returned, according to an analysis by FactSquared.

Large private firms also received loans, according to Monday’s data. Many fast-food franchisees for chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s took funding, as did smaller restaurants like Chopt Creative Salad Co., P.F. Chang’s, and Ted’s Montana Grill.

Throughout the day on Monday, several large businesses said they were listed in the SBA’s release but had not received any funding. A senior SBA official told Business Insider that this was likely because of the lender not officially canceling a loan after it was returned. 

Still, other companies said they never even applied for PPP relief funds, while others appear in the database multiple times, raising questions about the accuracy of the SBA’s release. 

In June, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, urged for more transparency on the program to judge its effectiveness.

“The American people deserve to know how effective the PPP was in protecting our nation’s small businesses and the tens of millions of Americans they employ,” he said at the time. “That is the standard by which we must measure the success of the PPP: how many paychecks were protected.”

You can view and download the loan data here.

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The dying man was sent back to his cell. A look at how COVID-19 kills Florida prisoners Tue, 07 Jul 2020 17:40:52 +0000

On April 5, when Florida’s positive coronavirus cases were one-sixteenth the number they are today, 69-year-old Jeffrey Sand went to the infirmary at Blackwater River Correctional Facility, a privately managed state prison near Pensacola.

He complained of shortness of breath — and of a cough and diarrhea. Four days later, he was put back in his cell. He died there that same day, found sprawled on the floor of his cell, next to the door. The medical examiner says it was COVID-19, the first such death in the state prison system — but far from the last.

Until Monday, all the public knew was his name, and only because reporters confirmed it with the medical examiner in Santa Rosa County shortly after. No one knew that he was sent back to his cell by the infirmary while apparently on the verge of death. Sand was one of 2,443 inmates in the state who tested positive for COVID-19 and one of 25 who died.

Department of Corrections officials divulge precious little information about the circumstances under which inmates die, making it nearly impossible to determine whether inmates received adequate care. There were 361 such deaths in the first 10 months of the just completed fiscal year, and the only information the department shares on its mortality database is name, prison, date of death, cause (homicide, suicide, natural…) and status of investigation.

The medical examiner data, released after the Herald and other news organizations threatened a public records lawsuit, fills in some of the gaps. Although the COVID-19 victims are nameless in the ME records, short narratives and other data relating to each death provide clues that allow at least some of the victims to be identified as inmates.

Jeffrey Sand

All names used in this article were confirmed by the Miami Herald with medical examiners, family members or inmate advocates.

The medical examiner records detail a 53-year-old at Liberty Correctional Institution who had a fever, dry cough, shortness of breath and body aches for three days before being taken to the Calhoun Liberty Emergency Room, where he tested positive for coronavirus and died shortly after. Also revealed: How a 68-year-old inmate at Sumter Correctional Institution who was put into medical isolation with fever and shortness of breath died of COVID-19 four days later.

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In another case, a 67-year-old inmate at Union Correctional Institution was taken to Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville with stomach pain. There, he suffered kidney failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome and went into septic shock. He was intubated and later transferred to hospice, where he died.

The medical examiner records provided by FDLE account for only 16 of the state’s 25 COVID-related deaths in prison, which corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady says is likely a result of a lag in reports from medical examiners’ offices. The Department of Corrections reports deaths of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, not inmate deaths ruled COVID-19-related by medical examiners.

It’s also unclear whether medical examiners may be omitting the prison connection in their notes. Details provided by medical examiners vary greatly from district to district.

“FDC is releasing information on deaths of inmates who tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of the cause of death,” Glady told the Miami Herald in an email. “The district medical examiner is responsible for determining the cause of death for any person who dies in a prison, and that determination is releasable by the medical examiner.”

The inmate deaths reported by the medical examiner trend older, with an average age of 61. The youngest inmate to die of COVID-19 was 41-year-old Tyra Williams, a prisoner at Homestead Correctional Institution. Williams, who died June 25, was one of two women to die of COVID-19 in prison so far.

Florida’s aging prison population, like the state as a whole, is threatened by the highly contagious virus, which has had an outsized impact on older people. There are currently about 23,000 Florida inmates over 50, a segment of the prison population that has increased by 12.5% over the past five years as the overall prison population has shrunk. Their care is expensive, even when there isn’t a pandemic, because many abused drugs before prison and they tend to be in poor health. Prison healthcare, not known for its excellence, can make matters worse.

In 2018, elderly inmates — in the prison environment, “elderly” equates to all those 50 and over — accounted for half of all hospital admissions, despite making up just 24.2% of the population.

During the 2020 legislative session, lawmakers proposed bills to help streamline the process of releasing sick or elderly inmates — populations most at risk of dying from the disease. Both bills went nowhere. St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes put forward one bill to create a streamlined process for the release of inmates with terminal or debilitating illnesses, and another would have established a conditional release program for inmates over 65 who had served at least 85% of their sentence.

In some states, frail or older inmates are being released as a solution to curbing the spread among the most susceptible population, but Florida is not among them. Currently, some inmates deemed “terminally ill” or “permanently incapacitated” and not a danger to themselves or others can be referred by the Department of Corrections to have their cases heard by the three-person Florida Commission on Offender Review.

When asked about the process earlier this year, FDC Secretary Mark Inch said in a statement that releasing an inmate is a “complex process” that involves a proper post-release plan for medical services and housing options that can take months of planning.

“For these reasons, I believe accelerated early release creates significant risk,” he wrote. “As Secretary, I promise to remain diligent and focused on doing all I can to protect those who work and are housed in our correctional institutions.”

Ryan Andrews, a Tallahassee-based attorney who represents Florida inmates, said the facilities are simply not set up to deal with treating the illness, much less stopping the spread. He said so many inmates are rushed to the hospital in their final days because the best treatment in prison happens if there’s a thought the inmate could die. He compared it to the prison system’s handling of Hepatitis C, where the state only began to treat inmates with urgency when some started dying of liver failure in the late stages of the disease.

Based on conversations with inmates, Andrews says sick people are frequently mixing with the healthy and there is a lot of misinformation spreading about how to protect against the highly contagious disease.

“There is only so much prisons can do,” he said. “They are waiting until it gets bad or the person looks like they are dying. … Their families just find out after they’re dead.”

In some cases, members of the public are stepping in to try to help curb the disease. Debra Bennett, a former inmate and current prisoner advocate, has organized donations of masks, gloves, bleach, face shields, soap, toilet paper and other necessities to Homestead Correctional Institution, where 302 inmates are infected. When she drops off supplies, she notices that guards are sometimes not wearing masks or any other personal protection equipment.

On the day of her latest delivery, two women at Homestead died of COVID-19 — both women Bennett knew well.

“These are my friends. I can’t describe what it felt like to see [Tyra Williams] in an open casket. I couldn’t handle it,” she said. “My frustration is the Department of Corrections takes coronavirus as seriously as [Florida] Gov. [Ron] DeSantis does. It’s not taken seriously.”

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Coronavirus Relief Checks by Month’s End? Mitch McConnell Thinks So. Tue, 07 Jul 2020 16:39:09 +0000

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In backing up President Donald Trump’s recent comments, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expects Congress to pass one final coronavirus rescue package later this month.

“I think the country needs one last boost,” McConnell said during a recent press conference in Kentucky.

McConnell added that he is “pretty sure” that a bill, which will be put together in his office with consultation from the Trump administration, should be ready to go within the next couple of weeks.

In May, the Democratic-run House passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill—which essentially represents an opening offer in discussions with Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate. The Heroes Act would include a second direct payment to individuals and households of up to $1,200 per family member, capped at $6,000 for a family of five.

Senate Republicans have largely dismissed that plan and are in talks regarding a package that includes as much as $1 trillion in total spending.

McConnell noted that it will be more difficult to garner the unanimous Senate support that came with the previous bill—the $2.2 trillion Cares Act.

“The atmosphere has become a bit more political than it was in March,” he said.

In addition to measures that would help reopen schools and support job growth and health care, direct payments to individuals are also on the table, McConnell said.

He admitted that the people who have been hurt the most by the COVID-19 pandemic are hospitality-industry workers making about $40,000 or less.

Trump stated during a recent interview with Fox Business Network that not only does he support another round of coronavirus stimulus payments, but that he wants the direct payments to be even bigger.

“I do, I support it, but it has to be done properly,” Trump told a Fox journalist at the White House, when asked whether he was in favor of sending out another round of COVID-19 stimulus checks.

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“I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats.”

Trump, however, seemed less enthusiastic about continuing the enhanced $600-per-week federal unemployment benefits, which are set to expire at the end of this month.

Regarding the wearing of face masks, McConnell took on a different tone compared to Trump.
“Look, the single most important thing each of us can do to not only help ourselves but protect our friends and neighbors and everyone around us is not complicated—to wear a mask,” he said.

“It ain’t confusing. It’s really simple.”

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

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Up to nine in 10 infected nurses and doctors caught coronavirus in hospitals at peak of crisis Tue, 07 Jul 2020 15:38:25 +0000
PHE only updated its infection control guidance advising trusts on how to keep workers socially-distanced on May 18 – Peter Byrne/PA

Up to 90 per cent of nurses and doctors who caught coronavirus during the height of the pandemic picked it up in hospitals, research suggests. 

Modelling by Public Health England (PHE) also suggests one in five patients who got the virus became infected on wards.

Scientists have called for a war to be waged on Covid-19 transmission within hospitals, in the same way the NHS has previously successfully battled superbugs such as MRSA.

They warned that a lack of physical distancing between staff – not just on wards, but also in canteens, offices, and corridors – could be fuelling the spread of the virus. 

A report by the Royal Society’s Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics (Delve) group, which provides advice to the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), examined a number of studies.

Among them is modelling by PHE, dated May 20, which suggests that “approximately 20 per cent of infections in inpatients, and 89 per cent of infections in healthcare workers, were due to nosocomial [hospital-acquired] transmission”.

Despite widespread advice to the public to practice social distancing, it was not until May 18 that PHE updated itsown infection control guidance advising trusts on how to keep workers apart, and it was not until June that all hospital staff were advised to wear masks. 

Researchers from Delve said their own estimates, which covered a period after the peak, suggested that in the six weeks from April 26  to June 7 around 10 per cent of all Covid-19 infections in England were among frontline health and care workers.

The study also suggests that, during that period, at least one per cent of patients with the virus acquired it in hospital. 

Dr Guy Harling, from University College London, said: “We can see things like inconsistent use of masks and PPE. We can see a lack of physical distancing … between staff, between patients and between staff and patients. So not just on wards or in theatres but also in canteens, and offices in corridors.”

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Dr Nigel Field, the chairman of the Delve working group, said: “We’d like to see a really ambitious and comprehensive approach to the prevention of Covid transmission in hospitals and care settings of the kind that was really successfully implemented for MRSA.”

Researchers said shortages of PPE, lack of testing of staff and the failure to advise general mask-wearing may have fuelled the spread , but added that there was a lack of data to show the impact of any particular interventions.

They said staff would also have been at greater risk of Covid-19 than the general public because they were more mobile and likely to be using public transport to get to work during lockdown.

Professor Dame Anne Johnson, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London, said: “In the beginning, we really didn’t understand the extent of the asymptomatic issue and the difficulties of staff social distancing.

“They were aware they were using PPE – once it got going – in these very acute settings, but because there was less recognition of infection that was in other parts of the hospital then of course there was transmission going on in those environments.”

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Coronavirus herd immunity may be ‘unachievable’ because antibodies disappear after a few weeks in some people Tue, 07 Jul 2020 14:37:13 +0000
La Boqueria market in Barcelona, Spain, was quiet on Thursday.

Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

A major new study in one of Europe’s worst affected countries for the coronavirus finds no evidence of widespread immunity to the virus developing.

Just 5% of Spaniards were detected to have antibodies to the virus.

Fourteen percent of people who previously tested positive for antibodies tested negative just weeks later.

The study suggests people who experience mild symptoms do not have long-lasting protection.

“Immunity can be incomplete, it can be transitory, it can last for just a short time and then disappear,” Raquel Yotti, the director of Spain’s Carlos III Health Institute, said.

Another scientist involved said: “In light of these findings, any proposed approach to achieve herd immunity through natural infection is not only highly unethical, but also unachievable.”

Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Related video: Can you get the COVID-19 coronavirus twice?

Population-wide immunity to the novel coronavirus could be “unachievable” with antibodies to the virus disappearing after just a few weeks in some patients, according to a major new Spanish study.

The Spanish government teamed up with some of the country’s leading epidemiologists to discover what percentage of the population had developed antibodies that could provide immunity from the coronavirus.

The study found that just 5% of those tested across the country maintained antibodies to the virus, in findings published by the medical journal The Lancet.

The study also found that 14% of people who had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in the first round of testing no longer tested positive in subsequent tests carried out weeks later.

“Immunity can be incomplete, it can be transitory, it can last for just a short time and then disappear,” Raquel Yotti, the director of Spain’s Carlos III Health Institute, which helped conduct the study, said.

Other researchers said the study corroborated findings elsewhere that immunity to the virus might not be long-lasting in people who develop only mild or no symptoms.

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“No symptoms suggests a mild infection, which never really gets the immune system going well enough to generate immunological ‘memory,'” Ian Jones, a professor of virology at the University of Reading, said.

Jones added: “Anyone who tests positive by antibody test should not assume they are protected. They may be, but it is not clear.”

The study’s lead author, Marina Pollán, told CNN: “Some experts have computed that around 60% of seroprevalence might mean herd immunity. But we are very far from achieving that number.”

The study found that despite Spain being one of the worst affected countries by COVID-19, “prevalence estimates remain low and are clearly insufficient to provide herd immunity.” More than 28,000 people in Spain have died after catching the coronavirus.

As CNN noted, The Lancet published commentary by two other scientists, Isabella Eckerle and Benjamin Meyer, who said the Spanish study, along with similar studies in the US and China, showed that herd immunity could not be achieved.

The “key finding” is that “most of the population appears to have remained unexposed” to the coronavirus, “even in areas with widespread virus circulation,” Eckerle and Meyer said.

Eckerle heads the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, while Meyer is a virologist at the University of Geneva.

They said: “In light of these findings, any proposed approach to achieve herd immunity through natural infection is not only highly unethical, but also unachievable.”

As found in antibody studies elsewhere in the world, Spain’s most densely populated areas — the cities of Madrid and Barcelona — had the highest levels of antibody prevalence. It was over 10% in Madrid and 7% in Barcelona.

Evidence against herd immunity is piling upSwedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.


The Spanish study, which tested more than 61,000 people, is the latest to pour cold water over the idea of herd immunity.

A study published in May suggested that just 7.3% of people in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, had developed coronavirus antibodies, despite Sweden’s government adopting a novel and contentious strategy of not imposing a strict lockdown.

Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Lofven, last week ordered an inquiry into the country’s handling of the virus, telling reporters “we have thousands of dead” and “now the question is how Sweden should change, not if.”

Unlike most European countries, Sweden did not implement strict, wholesale lockdown measures in response to the pandemic. Instead, it largely allowed businesses and hospitality to remain open and students to attend school.

In May, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, justified this response by saying that countries that imposed strict lockdowns would most likely suffer large second waves later in the year, whereas Sweden’s would be smaller.

The new Spanish study, however, casts doubt on the idea that Sweden, which has reported nearly 5,500 coronavirus deaths and has one of the highest per capita death tolls in the world, may not be any better prepared to avert a second wave.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s UK government has denied initially trying to pursue a strategy of herd immunity before being warned that it would lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

An Italian health minister last month claimed that Johnson revealed his intention to pursue herd immunity in a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti on March 13, a little more than a week before the UK entered a countrywide lockdown.

On the same day, Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser to the UK government, said he believed the UK would be able to achieve herd immunity.

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WHO reviewing report urging new guidance over airborne spread of coronavirus Tue, 07 Jul 2020 13:31:56 +0000

By Stephanie Nebehay and Julie Steenhuysen

GENEVA/CHICAGO (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) is reviewing a report urging it to update guidance on the novel coronavirus after more than 200 scientists, in a letter to the health agency, outlined evidence the virus can spread in tiny airborne particles.

The WHO says SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads primarily through small droplets expelled from the nose and mouth of an infected person that quickly sink to the ground.

But in an open letter to the Geneva-based agency, published on Monday in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in.

Because those smaller particles can linger in the air, the scientists are urging WHO to update its guidance.

“We are aware of the article and are reviewing its contents with our technical experts,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said on Monday in an email.

How frequently the coronavirus can spread by the airborne or aerosol route – as opposed to by larger droplets in coughs and sneezes – is not clear.

Any change in the WHO’s assessment of risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping 1-metre (3.3 feet) of physical distancing. Governments, which rely on the agency for guidance policy, may also have to adjust public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Although the WHO has said it is considering aerosols as a possible route of transmission, it has yet to be convinced that the evidence warrants a change in guidance.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, said the WHO has long been reluctant to acknowledge aerosol transmission of influenza, “in spite of compelling data,” and sees the current controversy as part of that simmering debate.

“I think the frustration level has finally boiled over with regard to the role that airborne transmission plays in diseases like influenza and SARS-CoV-2,” Osterholm said.

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Professor Babak Javid, an infectious disease consultant at Cambridge University Hospitals, said airborne transmission of the virus is possible and even likely, but said evidence over how long the virus stays airborne is lacking.

If it can hang in the air for long periods of time, even after an infected person leaves that space, that could affect the measures healthcare workers and others take to protect themselves.

WHO guidance to health workers, dated June 29, says SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets and on surfaces.

But airborne transmission is possible in some circumstances, such as when performing intubation and aerosol-generating procedures, the WHO says. They advise medical workers performing such procedures to wear heavy duty N95 respiratory masks and other protective equipment in an adequately ventilated room.

Dr. William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said the report under review at the WHO “makes many reasonable points about the evidence that this mode of transmission can happen, and they should be taken seriously.”

But how often airborne transmission happens, which is unknown, also matters.

“If airborne transmission is possible but rare, then eliminating it wouldn’t have a huge impact,” he said in emailed comments.

Officials at South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control said on Monday they were continuing to discuss various issues about COVID-19, including the possibility of airborne transmission. They said more investigations and evidence were needed.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Julie Steenhuysen; Additional reporting by Sangmi Cha in Seoul; Editing by Alex Richardson and Tom Brown)

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WHO annual assembly expected to be overshadowed by geopolitical rivalries | DW News Tue, 07 Jul 2020 09:39:40 +0000

Latest video release about Coronavirus. Have a look at this “WHO annual assembly expected to be overshadowed by geopolitical rivalries | DW News” video below:

Health experts and diplomats are preparing for days of tense talks at the World Health Assembly, which starts today. The annual meeting is the governing body …..(read more)

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India and Pakistan face worst locust plague in 30 years | DW News Tue, 07 Jul 2020 07:37:28 +0000

Latest video updates regarding Coronavirus. Check out this “India and Pakistan face worst locust plague in 30 years | DW News” video below:

India and Pakistan are facing their worst plague of locusts in decades. Authorities in both countries fear a food security crisis. And even as Pakistan struggles with the economic fallout of the coronavirus lockdown, its agricultural sector says the insect infestation poses a greater challenge:

For more news go…..(read more)

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White House defiant as Covid-19 deaths approach 130,000 Tue, 07 Jul 2020 06:04:02 +0000

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appeared on “Fox and Friends,“ touting the likelihood of a coronavirus vaccine that health officials say remains months away .“We have to adjust our personal lifestyle in a temporary basis, because help is on the way,” he said.

Meadows said Trump would be willing to wear a mask in tight quarters, but said mask mandates should be a state issue.

Thirty-two states saw their coronavirus cases increase during the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The increases are fueled by spikes in California, Florida and Texas, where hospitalizations approached record highs.

On Sunday, Florida’s total case count passed 200,000. The same day, California set the single-day state record for recorded coronavirus cases with 11,786.

The increase in coronavirus cases comes amid a rise in testing. But experts say the uptick in Covid-19 cases is not simply due to the expansion of testing, which is rising more slowly than the number of new infections.

Yet as cases trend upward, death rates are declining. The number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 in the United States is now around 600 a day, compared to as many as 3,000 a day in April and May.

While a subsequent increase in deaths may come weeks after a rise in positive coronavirus tests, experts say the current decreasing death rates are caused by widespread testing, improved treatments and the virus affecting greater numbers of younger Americans.

Trump celebrated the decline in death rates in a series of weekend tweets.

New China Virus Cases up (because of massive testing), deaths are down, “low and steady”. The Fake News Media should report this and also, that new job numbers are setting records!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2020

“In a certain way, our tremendous Testing success gives the Fake News Media all they want, CASES,” he wrote on tweeted. “In the meantime, Deaths and the all important Mortality Rate goes down.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday touted the lower mortality rates as a sign of success.

“This president takes Covid seriously, but we should note the mortality rate and how well we‘re doing vis-à-vis to the rest of the world,“ McEnany told Fox News.

The administration‘s pushback came as American medical organizations urged the public to wear masks and physically distance as coronavirus cases spike.

“This is why as physicians, nurses, hospital and health system leaders, researchers and public health experts, we are urging the American public to take the simple steps we know will help stop the spread of the virus: wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing, and washing hands,” read a letter signed by the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association.

“We are not powerless in this public health crisis, and we can defeat it in the same way we defeated previous threats to public health — by allowing science and evidence to shape our decisions and inform our actions,” the organizations wrote.

Local officials in states with surging cases, meanwhile, scrambled to deal with the growing strain on hospitals.

In Florida‘s Miami-Dade County, Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Monday signed an emergency order closing gyms, party venues and ballrooms, and allowing restaurants to operate only with takeout and delivery services.

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Coronavirus outbreaks in India's overcrowded prisons | DW News Tue, 07 Jul 2020 05:36:22 +0000

Latest video updates related to Coronavirus. Have a look at this “Coronavirus outbreaks in India's overcrowded prisons | DW News” video below:

India is seeing a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, with officials reporting around 10 thousand new infections today. The total number of cases stands at …..(read more)

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