"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 19th Mar 2020

News Highlights

  • Top UK COVID-19 expert self-isolates after developing symptoms
  • NHS Trusts gave staff wrong advice on self-isolation
  • Shortage of face masks, swabs and basic supplies threatening challenge for U.S.coronavirus testing
  • Bergamo laments a generation lost to the coronavirus
  • UN FAO working on tasks at hand, but since Tuesday, all remotely
  • Liechtenstein school lessons moving online
  • Darmstadt taking advantage of new online platform from start-up founder
  • UK - evictions of renters falling behind with landlords will be suspended during crisis
  • Russia's 'silence' on coronavirus outbreak starting to cause increasing concern
  • As China's new virus cases reach zero, experts look to second wave from 'imported cases'
  • UK faces massive shortage of ventilators - says Swiss manufacturer
  • Danish supermarket invents new way of stopping people hoarding goods
  • Chinese say Avigan effective in treating coronavirus patients
  • Confusion over where to take Ibuprofen or not for COVID-19 symptoms
  • Italian tests on the effectiveness of Tolicizumab for 33 coronavirus patients to start
  • Europe is repeating errors made in Wuhan, say Chinese medics
  • Top 60 coronavirus treatments under development
  • Everyone in Iceland to be tested for the coronavirus
  • 99% of those killed by the coronavirus in Italy had other underlying pathologies says study
  • Spain worried that it does not have enough virus diagnostic kits and protective medical equipment
Isolation Tips
Top UK Covid-19 expert self-isolates after developing symptoms
One of the government’s top coronavirus experts has had to self-isolate after developing coronavirus symptoms and revealed he was probably infectious when he attended a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday. Prof Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, tweeted that he has a persistent cough and high fever, and had been forced to self-isolate in his central London flat for seven days. Ferguson, head of the modelling programme at Imperial’s MRC centre for global infectious disease analysis, who has been working round the clock with a team of experts advising the government, tweeted: “Sigh. Developed a slight dry but persistent cough yesterday and self-isolated even though I felt fine. Then developed high fever at 4am today. There is a lot of Covid-19 in Westminster.”
Coronavirus: NHS trusts gave staff the wrong advice on self-isolation
Staff at several NHS hospitals were wrongly told to go to work when they should have been self-isolating, it has emerged. Doctors and nurses were advised they could work even if someone else in their home had symptoms of coronavirus – despite official guidance being that their household should self-isolate for 14 days if anyone shows signs of the symptoms. On Monday night, after the advice to the public had changed, the Worcestershire Acute Hospital, in the West Midlands, sent out a briefing to staff saying: “We have been told that this guidance will not apply to healthcare workers.”
Le Monde answers questions about the new laws governing confinement in your home in France
With so many French people unsure and uncertain about what to do in this new situation they find themselves in, le Monde tackled the most common questions that readers are asking explaining how things will work in the coming weeks
Coronavirus. Conditions for going out to play sports - what must you do
You need to apply for certificate or permit to leave the home, it does enable you to go jogging or cycling but you must stay within the close proximity to your home
Hygiene Helpers
Morning!! Working on a "red zone" ward today, with my amazing FY1 Rebecca. This is a ward for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID19.
Morning!! Working on a "red zone" ward today, with my amazing FY1 Rebecca. This is a ward for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID19. We're keeping a big smile on our faces and have @BBCRadio2 on in the doctor's room. Dizzy symbol Send us some love!
Shortages of face masks, swabs and basic supplies pose a new challenge to coronavirus testing
CDC tells health-care workers to use bandannas if they don’t have face masks. As the federal government scrambles to rapidly boost the nation’s capacity to test for the novel coronavirus, cutting red tape and leaning on the speed and technology of the private sector, new delays are developing because of a shortage of raw materials and vital items: chemical solutions, swabs and even face masks for health-care workers. From coast to coast, local and state officials complain that shortages of everyday supplies are disrupting efforts to sharply ramp up testing, which is key to identifying the spread of disease. The scarcity is hampering both the ability of health-care workers in hospitals to draw samples to send to laboratories and the ability of those laboratories to confirm infection.
Community Activities
Want To Avoid Spreading Coronavirus Misinformation? Think Like A Science Journalist
No one wants to spread bad information—but for non-scientists, it can be hard to distinguish facts from rumors. I asked a couple of experts in the ethics of science journalism on how best to use social media responsibly in the age of coronavirus. Here are a few guidelines they shared:
Panic buying forces British supermarkets to ration food
Britain’s biggest supermarkets, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, limited purchases of all food products on Wednesday after frantic shoppers stripped shelves to prepare for possible isolation during the coronavirus outbreak.
The picture that shames selfish Britain:
Stooping to check his shopping list, this elderly man is faced with a shocking reality – most of the stock has been stripped from the supermarket shelves by selfish customers. The gentleman is therefore left to wonder where exactly he will be able to pick up his essentials as shops suffer from a surge in stockpiling by uncaring shoppers. The picture was taken in a Sainsbury's store in Epsom, Surrey, but the increase in panic buying has hit all major supermarkets.
Coronavirus: Cheltenham staff had symptoms while working at racing festival
Cheltenham Festival punters and staff have been struck down by symptoms consistent with coronavirus, sparking fresh fears that hundreds of racegoers could be infected and spreading the illness. Housemates Andrew Maclean, 24 and Scott Saunders, 25, have quarantined themselves inside their home after coming down with a fever, cough and shortness of breath. Mr Maclean and Mr Saunders, from Cheltenham, developed symptoms when they were working at a restaurant and bar, respectively, at the festival - at first thinking they only had colds - and now fear they passed their infection on to others. The pair have questioned why Cheltenham went ahead despite the worsening crisis and the calls for it to be cancelled to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
'A generation has died': Italian province struggles to bury its coronavirus dead
Coffins awaiting burial are lining up in churches and the corpses of those who died at home are being kept in sealed-off rooms for days as funeral services struggle to cope in Bergamo, the Italian province hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. As of Wednesday, Covid-19 had killed 2,978 across Italy, all buried or cremated without ceremony. Those who die in hospital do so alone, with their belongings left in bags beside coffins before being collected by funeral workers. In Bergamo, a province of 1.2 million people in the Lombardy region, where 1,640 of the total deaths in the country have taken place, 3,993 people had contracted the virus by Tuesday. The death toll across the province is unclear, but CFB, the area’s largest funeral director, has carried out almost 600 burials or cremations since 1 March. “In a normal month we would do about 120,” said Antonio Ricciardi, the president of CFB. “A generation has died in just over two weeks. We’ve never seen anything like this and it just makes you cry.”
Working Remotely
Italy COVID-19 lockdown does not halt work of UN agriculture agency
Italy has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, with nearly 28,000 confirmed cases of the disease and 2,503 deaths, according to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO). While a national quarantine has the country in lockdown, it has not halted the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), based in the capital, Rome. Most staff have been working remotely since last Tuesday, although a skeleton team remains at the building to ensure critical business continuity. It too will be reduced this week as FAO moves to complete telecommuting. The new arrangements mean new ways of working. Teams are using technology not only to get the job done but also to keep in touch. FAO has provided staff with licenses for Zoom, the remote conferencing service, thus facilitating virtual meetings and collaboration. Colleagues are calling each other, instead of emailing, to discuss work matters but also to maintain human contact. Daily check-ins, weekly meetings, and WhatsApp groups are also helping to foster team spirit.
The ins and outs of working from home in the age of COVID-19
As the marketing director for Ignite Northwest, a company that supports entrepreneurs, Cyndi Donahue said most if not all of the people she works with regularly work from home, with one glaring exception: Donahue herself. But with officials advising to “hunker down” to curtail the spread of COVID-19, Donahue is doing just that. Luckily for her, her husband is an old pro and helped her get situated in their home’s guest room. He’s helped her set up the technology, and they’re putting their children on a schedule for structure, but the thing Donahue is struggling with is missing people.
Virtual Classrooms
Homework now comes via WhatsApp
On Monday, school lessons in Liechtenstein were moved home. The Liechtenstein schools have found different solutions to provide the pupils with tasks. These measures have been taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Classes should therefore take place by distance learning until the Easter holidays - or longer depending on the how the health crisis evolves. Students are currently sent homework and weekly plans with instructions to be solved via WhatsApp and email. The time window required for this is tailored to each individual as is the form of the task and its size.
Darmstadt: virtual classroom on online platform
The free online platform schulforum.info is based on tingtool, which the start-up founder Peter Fischer developed in Darmstadt. According to its press statements this Internet application, which is free of charge for schools and teachers in Darmstadt, enables virtual classrooms to be set up within ten minutes without the need for software to be preinstalled on the home computer. Tingtool is a cloud-based tool for meetings and discussions in virtual space and, according to the information, was specially developed by Darmstadt to force the digital networking of actors from the school and education sector. Around three months ago, the interactive platform schulforum.info was already given to the Darmstadt City Parents' Advisory Board by the digital city of Darmstadt, for its own use
Public Policies
Scientists have been sounding the alarm on coronavirus for months. Why did Britain fail to act?
In January The Lancet published a report from China. 'The Chinese scientists pulled no punches. “The number of deaths is rising quickly,” they wrote. The provision of personal protective equipment for health workers was strongly recommended. Testing for the virus should be done immediately a diagnosis was suspected. They concluded that the mortality rate was high. And they urged careful surveillance of this new virus in view of its “pandemic potential”. That was in January. Why did it take the UK government eight weeks to recognise the seriousness of what we now call Covid-19?'
Coronavirus: New evictions banned to help renters during crisis
The government is promising emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or rented accommodation for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. Under urgent new laws, landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least three months, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Ministers have also confirmed the three-month mortgage holiday announced on Tuesday will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing difficulties due to coronavirus.
Coronavirus protest in Brazil sees millions bang pots from balconies
People in Brazil have expressed anger at President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the coronavirus pandemic by banging pots and pans together on balconies. Millions of protesters in the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro appeared at windows on Wednesday evening calling for the president to step down. It was the biggest protest against Mr Bolsonaro's government to date. There are over 500 cases of the virus in Brazil, including two government ministers. Four people have died. Mr Bolsonaro, who has previously dismissed precautions taken against the novel coronavirus as "hysteria" and "fantasy", has been criticised for his response to the deadly outbreak. The president has been tested for the virus twice, but said on both occasions the results were negative. However 14 people who travelled with him to Florida to meet President Trump have tested positive for the virus.
Uncounted among coronavirus victims, deaths sweep through Italy's nursing homes
As the official death toll from Italy’s coronavirus outbreak passes 2,500, a silent surge in fatalities in nursing homes, where dozens of patients a day are dying untested for the virus, suggests the real total may be higher. Official data show that nearly 30,000 people have been confirmed as positive for the coronavirus in Italy, the highest number outside China where the virus first emerged. But strict testing rules mean only patients hospitalized with severe symptoms are normally being swab tested. While no detailed data is available, officials, nurses and relatives say there has been a spike in nursing home deaths in the worst affected regions of northern Italy since the virus emerged, and they are not showing up in coronavirus statistics. “There are significant numbers of people who have died but whose death hasn’t been attributed to the coronavirus because they died at home or in a nursing home and so they weren’t swabbed,” said Giorgio Gori, mayor of the town of Bergamo.
Russia's coronavirus count under scrutiny as Putin government denies hiding cases
Even the president of Belarus, often seen as Russia's closest neighbour, has questioned the low numbers, suggesting that Russia is "ablaze" with coronavirus. Senior Russian officials, including Putin, the country's prime minister and the mayor of Moscow, all insist the Russian figures are accurate. The official TASS news agency quoted Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova as suggesting the situation was a result of "restrictive and prohibitive measures" adopted by Russia, including an early closure of the border with China and other restrictions on people entering Russia from Asia. But several doctors and health-care workers contacted by CBC News believe the real caseload is far higher and that Russia could be hiding hundreds of coronavirus deaths by labelling them as something else.
Trudeau unveils $82B COVID-19 emergency response package for Canadians, businesses
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a massive $82-billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses cope with the global COVID-19 pandemic, including income supports, wage subsidies and tax deferrals. The package includes $27 billion in direct supports and another $55 billion to help business liquidity through tax deferrals. Combined, the package represents more than three per cent of Canada's GDP. Trudeau said the deep spending and delayed federal revenue will not drive the country into recession, insisting "prudent" decisions made over the last five years have put Canada on a strong economic footing to weather the crisis.
As China’s Virus Cases Reach Zero, Experts Warn of Second Wave
China has no new infections of the coronavirus domestically for the first time since the start of a crisis that has sickened over 80,000 Chinese people. But what could be a sign the country has defeated the fatal pathogen is likely to just be a temporary reprieve. While the outbreak’s epicenter has shifted to Europe, where there are now more cases being reported daily than at the height of China’s crisis, epidemiologists warn that the Asian giant could face subsequent waves of infections, based on patterns seen in other pandemics.
China uses soft power to position itself as a leader in tackling coronavirus
In the last few weeks, China has donated coronavirus testing kits to Cambodia, sent planeloads of ventilators, masks and medics to Italy and France, pledged to help the Philippines, Spain and other countries, and deployed medics to Iran and Iraq. The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has offered comforting words, telling the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, that “sunshine comes after the storm”, and adding that the two countries should step up cooperation and exchanges after the outbreak. As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and countries struggle to respond, China has positioned itself as a leader and benefactor in public health, building the kind of soft power Beijing needs at a time of intensifying US-China rivalry and scrutiny of Chinese influence around the world.
A chilling scientific paper helped upend U.S. and U.K. coronavirus strategies
Immediately after Boris Johnson completed his Monday evening news conference, which saw a somber prime minister encourage his fellow citizens to avoid "all nonessential contact with others," his aides hustled reporters into a second, off-camera briefing. That session presented jaw-dropping numbers from some of Britain’s top modelers of infectious disease, who predicted the deadly course of the coronavirus could quickly kill hundreds of thousands in both the United Kingdom and the United States, as surges of sick and dying patients overwhelmed hospitals and critical care units. The new forecasts, by Neil Ferguson and his colleagues at the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, were quickly endorsed by Johnson’s government to design new and more extreme measures to suppress the spread of the virus.
How many people could die from the coronavirus - scientists answer the question
The database used in the scientists' research is maintained and updated by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The data is divided into cases of infection, remission and fatalities. The database is updated frequently and contains details such as dates and geographic distribution. From these parameters, the rates that entered the model were calculated. The components of the model applied to the coronavirus epidemic result in very rapid contagion. Data from Italy show that an infected person passes the virus to, on average, between 3 and 4 people before they recover or die from the infection, thereby doubling the number of cases every 4 days. Professor Lyra explains that there are only two ways to end this epidemic. “The first is when many people have been infected and have developed immunity in healing. When this happens, there are no more susceptible people and, therefore, according to rule (A) of the model, there are no new possible infections. Obviously this case is terrible, practically the entire population would have to be infected at some point during the epidemic and the death toll from this would be frightening,” warns Lyra.
UK faces 'massive shortage' of ventilators - Swiss manufacturer
Britain faces a “massive shortage” of ventilators that will be needed to treat critically ill patients suffering from coronavirus, after it failed to invest enough in intensive care equipment, a leading ventilator manufacturer said on Wednesday. “England is very poorly equipped,” said Andreas Wieland, chief executive of Hamilton Medical in Switzerland, which says it is the world’s largest ventilator maker. “They’re going to have a massive shortage, once the virus really arrives there,” he told Reuters in an interview. Ventilators, running in the thousands of dollars per unit, are used to help people with respiratory difficulties to breathe. They are high-tech versions of the “iron lungs” that kept people alive into the 1950s during fierce polio epidemics.
Coronavirus cases soar in Brazil: there are 428 infected and 4 dead It is the largest daily jump in the number of cases in that country. Most of the infections are concentrated in Sao Paolo
The Brazilian Ministry of Health reported that 428 have been infected with coronaviruses in that country, including four people who have died. Most of the cases are concentrated in Sao Paulo, where 240 infections have already been registered. The São Paulo State Health Secretariat reported that three of the four dead had problems with hypertension and other chronic diseases
Maintaining Services
Australia has given the elderly an hour in the mornings to do their shopping so they can avoid panic buying caused by the #coronavirus
"Even though it was just for 1 hour, it gave us a chance to slowly do our shop." Australia has given the elderly an hour in the mornings to do their shopping so they can avoid panic buying caused by the #coronavirus
10,000 extra troops to join British army's Covid support force
The Ministry of Defence is to double the size of the military’s civil contingency unit to create a 20,000-strong Covid support force, the defence secretary has announced. An additional 10,000 troops will be added to the 10,000 routinely held at higher readiness in case of a civil emergency, and reservists could also be called up, Ben Wallace said on Wednesday. There are fears about the ability of the police and NHS, which are both already at full stretch, to deal with the scale of the crisis. While the government has been reluctant to highlight such a bleak prospect, the armed forces need to be prepared for the threat of a breakdown in civil order given that troops have been deployed in other countries to enforce lockdowns and prevent looting of shops.
Coronavirus in London: Why is the outbreak worse in the capital?
Many streets and pubs are eerily quiet as London records more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than anywhere else in the country. London has been hit the worst by the coronavirus outbreak - with 953 of the UK's 2,626 confirmed cases and at least 35 of its 104 deaths. The spread of COVID-19 has all but emptied streets that are normally packed, monuments appear eerily deserted and tourist attractions, museums and theatres continue to close.
Sainsbury’s to close its meat, fish and pizza service counters to free up staff
Sainsbury’s to close its meat, fish and pizza service counters to free up staff. The supermarket is aiming to bolster its delivery network to cope with unprecedented demand
A supermarket in Denmark got tired of people hoarding hand sanitizer, so came up with their own way of stopping it.
A supermarket in Denmark got tired of people hoarding hand sanitizer, so came up with their own way of stopping it. 1 bottle kr40 (€5.50) 2 bottles kr1000 (€134.00) each bottle. Hoarding stopped! #COVID19 #coronavirus #Hoarding
Coronavirus: Water firms issue blockage warning as people use toilet paper 'alternatives'
Drains and sewers are in danger of becoming blocked as people use wet wipes, paper towels - and possibly even newspaper - because they can't find loo roll at the supermarket. Water companies in the UK and Australia have warned against using alternatives which are unflushable. They say if there is no other option, wipes and kitchen roll should be disposed of in the bin. Social media campaigns are urging people to stick to toilet roll as some people panic-buy and strip shelves bare during the coronavirus outbreak.
HealthCare Innovations
Coronavirus: Japanese anti-viral drug effective in treating patients, Chinese official says
A Japanese anti-viral drug appears to be effective in treating coronavirus patients, Chinese medical officials have found. Favipiravir, also known as Avigan, was approved for use in Japan in 2014 and is active against a range of illnesses, including influenza strains, yellow fever, Ebola and foot-and-mouth disease. Now it has shown encouraging results in treating patients with Covid-19 in clinical trials involving 320 people in Shenzhen and Wuhan. “It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment,” Zhang Xinmin, an official at China’s science and technology ministry, told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday. The 35 patients who received the drug in Shenzhen appeared to test negative for coronavirus in a median of four days, compared to 11 days for the 45 who did not receive it.
WHO Now Officially Recommends to Avoid Taking Ibuprofen For COVID-19 Symptoms
The World Health Organization recommended Tuesday that people suffering COVID-19 symptoms avoid taking ibuprofen, after French officials warned that anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen effects of the virus. The warning by French Health Minister Olivier Veran followed a recent study in The Lancet medical journal that hypothesised that an enzyme boosted by anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen could facilitate and worsen COVID-19 infections. Asked about the study, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva the UN health agency's experts were "looking into this to give further guidance." "In the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol, and do not use ibuprofen as a self-medication. That's important," he said.
AIFA will start starting testing the effectiveness of Tolicizumab on 33 coronavirus patients on Thursday
The agency plans to launch a test on 330 patients with coronavirus. This Phase 2 testing will be to assess how effective the drug Tolicizumab is and if it works in these coronoavirus cases.
Europe’s Doctors Repeat Errors Made in Wuhan, China Medics Say
Key among them is inadequate protection for medical workers, leading to a high infection rate among doctors and nurses. In Wuhan, a lack of understanding of the disease and a shortage of protective equipment in the early weeks of the outbreak in January led to thousands of health-care workers being infected while treating patients. At least 46 have died. “Our European colleagues are contracting the disease in their daily practice, and the proportion is quite similar to the earlier situation in Wuhan,” said Wu Dong, a gastro-enterology professor at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital. Wu spoke from Wuhan with journalists in Beijing on Monday, alongside three other top Chinese doctors. “We need to protect our medical staff.”
New analysis breaks down age-group risk for coronavirus — and shows millennials are not invincible
In general, the U.S. experience largely mimics China’s, with the risk for serious disease and death from Covid-19 rising with age. But in an important qualification, an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Wednesday underlines a message that infectious disease experts have been emphasizing: Millennials are not invincible. The new data show that up to one-fifth of infected people ages 20-44 have been hospitalized, including 2%-4% who required treatment in an intensive care unit. Still, the most severe cases, and the highest rates of death, are among the elderly. Although 17% of the U.S. population is 65 or older, 31% of cases were in that age group, CDC experts concluded in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. While it is possible that the elderly have more chances to be infected than younger people, such as by living in nursing homes, that is considered unlikely, since younger adults encounter many others at work and school.
"Respiratory viruses often see a reduction in transmission power in warmer weather, but for this pandemic that won't be true"
Mauricio Rodríguez Álvarez, professor of Virology at UNAM, analyzes some of the facts and fiction surrounding the coronavirus. The virus has already crossed over different latitudes around the world with varying temperatures and the infection process remains very little changed. Some places (like Mexico) have several flu peaks now and the infections continue throughout
Coronavirus: Scientists reveal how the body fights back against infection
Scientists in Australia say they have for the first time mapped how the body's immune system responds to coronavirus, an important step in the possible creation of an effective vaccine. Researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne were able to test blood samples at four different time points in an otherwise healthy woman in her 40s, who presented with COVID-19 and had mild-to-moderate symptoms.
China sends masks, gloves to help France fight virus - French minister
China is sending 1 million surgical masks and gloves to France to help it fight the coronavirus, the French foreign minister said on Wednesday. A first plane arrived via Belgium earlier on Wednesday and a second will arrive on Thursday, Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview with BFM TV. France, which has a shortage of masks and gloves, provided China with some 17 tonnes of equipment after the virus broke out in China’s Wuhan province.
Catching Up to Coronavirus: Top 60 Treatments in Development
More than two dozen of the 60 COVID-19 treatments in development are therapies that have emerged or made public just in the two weeks since GEN published its original A-List summarizing COVID-19 therapies in the works.
Everyone In Iceland Can Get Tested For The Coronavirus. Here's How The Results Could Help All Of Us.
As countries around the world scramble to fight back the spread of the coronavirus, Iceland is doing things a little differently from the rest — and the approach could have a much larger impact on our understanding of the virus. The small island nation of 364,000 is carrying out large-scale testing among its general population, making it the latest country to put aggressive testing at the heart of its fight against the pandemic. But — crucially — the testing also includes people who show no symptoms of the disease. Iceland’s government said it has so far tested a higher proportion of its citizens than anywhere else in the world. The number of individuals tested by the country’s health authorities and the biotechnology firm deCode Genetics — 3,787 — roughly translates to 10,405 per million, which compares to about 5,203 in South Korea, 2478 in Italy, and 764 in the UK. "Iceland’s population puts it in the unique position of having very high testing capabilities with help from the Icelandic medical research company deCode Genetics, who are offering to perform large scale testing," Thorolfur Guðnason, Iceland’s chief epidemiologist, told BuzzFeed News. "This effort is intended to gather insight into the actual prevalence of the virus in the community, as most countries are most exclusively testing symptomatic individuals at this time." Of 3,787 individuals tested in the country, a total of 218 positive cases have been identified so far. "At least half of those infected contracted the virus while travelling abroad, mostly in high-risk areas in the European Alps (at least 90)," the government said on Monday. Those numbers include the first results of the voluntary tests on people with no symptoms, which started last Friday. The first batch of 1,800 tests produced 19 positive cases, or about 1% of the sample. "Early results from deCode Genetics indicate that a low proportion of the general population has contracted the virus and that about half of those who tested positive are non-symptomatic,” said Guðnason. “The other half displays very moderate cold-like symptoms." “This data can also become a valuable resource for scientific studies of the virus in the future,” he added.
Scientists say mass tests in Italian town have halted Covid-19 there
The small town of Vò, in northern Italy, where the first coronavirus death occurred in the country, has become a case study that demonstrates how scientists might neutralise the spread of Covid-19. A scientific study, rolled out by the University of Padua, with the help of the Veneto Region and the Red Cross, consisted of testing all 3,300 inhabitants of the town, including asymptomatic people. The goal was to study the natural history of the virus, the transmission dynamics and the categories at risk. The researchers explained they had tested the inhabitants twice and that the study led to the discovery of the decisive role in the spread of the coronavirus epidemic of asymptomatic people. When the study began, on 6 March, there were at least 90 infected in Vò. For days now, there have been no new cases.
More than 99% of those killed by the coronavirus in Italy had other pathologies
More than 99% of coronavirus deaths in Italy were from people with previous medical conditions , according to a study by the country's national health authority. After deaths from the virus reached more than 2,500, with a 150% jump in the past week, health authorities have been analyzing the data to extract useful information to combat the spread of the disease. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's government is considering extending national confinement beyond the beginning of April, newspaper La Stampa reported on Wednesday. Italy has more than 31,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The coronavirus epidemic hits Spain which does not have enough virus diagnostic testing kits
The problem is serious, warn the experts consulted, although it is mitigated by social distancing which has already been decreed throughout Spain by the government. Carrying out as many tests as possible has been shown to be the key tool in slowing down the virus in countries such as Germany or South Korea . Distancing reduces the circulation of the virus, but knowing who is infected remains key. Each diagnosis means investigators can see is a chain of infections and can act to ensure that they no longer reach an old folks home, avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and, ultimately, reduce the number of deaths”, explains a person responsible for microbiology at a large Madrid-based public hospital.