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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 20th Jul 2020

News Highlights

Iran President Rouhani says 35 million more Iranians may contract Covid-19

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, during a televised meeting, estimated that 25 million citizens have already contracted the coronavirus and that 35 million more could be infected in the future. Rouhani said that the country still did not have 'herd immunity' despite a major percentage of the population being infected, leading to speculation that Iran may actually be seeking to defeat the virus with the controversial strategy of 'herd immunity.'

Mutation could be making coronavirus more infectious

Covid-19 has hardly mutated since there's no pressure on it to adapt, compared to other virus-like flus, because of the lack of a vaccine and low levels of natural immunity in the community. However, there one significant mutation, named D614G, which probably appeared in Italy after the initial Wuhan outbreak, is now being seen in almost 97% of all samples tested.

New study finds older children spread the virus as much as adults

A study of nearly 65,000 people in South Korea has indicated that children aged between 10 and 19 can spread the coronavirus just as well as adults, which suggests that school openings will trigger more outbreaks. The findings indicate that communities will see clusters of infections as schools reopen as adolescents and teenages spread the virus.

UK: No more daily Covid-19 death tally till review carried out

The UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has launched an inquiry and temporarily suspended announcements about daily coronavirus death figures due to concerns about their accuracy. Some public health experts claims that the number of deaths attributed to the virus are exaggerated but scientists have questioned the move and suggested the figures are, indeed, accurate.

Lockdown Exit
Aged care 'the new front line' as 40 Victorian nursing homes report COVID-19 cases
At least 40 different aged care homes in Victoria now have at least one positive COVID-19 case, with a number of regional Victorian homes also dealing with infections. The number of facilities which have an active case of the virus has doubled in five days according to state government data, after only 20 aged care homes were affected on July 14. And the number of active virus cases connected to aged care facilities has risen from 86 to 216.
Japan to Pay at Least $536 Million for Companies to Leave China
Japan’s government will start paying its companies to move factories out of China and back home or to Southeast Asia, part of a new program to secure supply chains and reduce dependence on manufacturing in China. Fifty-seven companies including privately-held facemask-maker Iris Ohyama Inc. and Sharp Corp. will receive a total of 57.4 billion yen ($536 million) in subsidies from the government, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday. Another 30 firms will receive money to move manufacturing to Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and other Southeast Asian nations, according to a separate announcement, which didn’t provide details on the amount of compensation.
Korea confirms 34 more cases of COVID-19
South Korea reported 34 new cases of the novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19 in the last 24 hours ending Saturday midnight, putting the total at 13,745. Of the newly confirmed cases, 21 were from local transmissions and 13 from abroad. One more person died, bringing the death toll to 295. The fatality rate stands at 2.15 percent, which is much higher for those 80 or older at 25.3 percent. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s daily situation report, the number of imported cases hit 421 during the first three weeks of July, which is 3.8 times the figure seen at the same time last month. The rise in travel-related cases has left quarantine lodgings occupied at over 80 percent capacity as of Friday afternoon.
Mexico reports 7,615 new cases of coronavirus, marking record
Mexico’s Health Ministry on Saturday posted a record for new coronavirus cases reported on a single day, with 7,615 more confirmed cases, bringing its overall tally of infections to 338,913, health ministry data showed. The ministry also reported 578 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 38,888 deaths. The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. Speaking to a news conference, the Mexican government’s head of epidemiology, Jose Luis Alomia, stressed that the country must not let down its guard. “We expect to have a long epidemic, so we have to change personal habits and protect ourselves from risk,” he said.
Rouhani says 35 million Iranians may contract coronavirus
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said 35 million Iranians may contract the coronavirus as the country still did not have herd immunity although a quarter of the population may be infected. "Our estimate is that up to now, 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus," Rouhani said during a televised meeting of the country's virus-fighting task force on Saturday. "We have to consider the possibility that 30 to 35 million more may face infection." It appears to be the first time a senior Iranian official has indicated the country is seeking to defeat COVID-19 via herd immunity.
Brazil hospitals overwhelmed as coronavirus cases cross 2 million
Even as cases wane somewhat in the biggest and hardest-hit Brazilian cities, infections are peaking in new locations across the country. At a public hospital in the city of Campinas, northwest of Sao Paulo, a video recorded by a doctor who works at the facility showed no intensive care unit (ICU) beds available to treat COVID-19 patients. Health officials in the city say the coronavirus has become a major public health threat. "We've had many days with a 100 percent of ICU beds occupation," Andrea von Zuben, director of the Municipal Health Vigilance Department, told Al Jazeera.
No One Knows What Thailand Is Doing Right, but So Far, It’s Working
Did Thailand’s early adoption of face masks, combined with a robust health care system, blunt the virus’s impact? Was it the outdoor lifestyle of many Thais, or their relatively low rates of pre-existing conditions? Is there a genetic component in which the immune systems of Thais and others in the Mekong River region are more resistant to the coronavirus? Or is it some alchemy of all these factors that has insulated this country of 70 million people?
Exit Strategies
Coronavirus: Outbreak investigated at contact tracing centre
Health officials are investigating an outbreak of coronavirus at an NHS Test and Trace call centre in North Lanarkshire. Sitel, which carries out contact tracing for the NHS, said it was aware of a "local outbreak" at its Motherwell site. One employee said they believed at least seven colleagues had tested positive. NHS Lanarkshire said it was aware of a number of "potentially linked cases".
More wearing masks would encourage Londoners to return, poll reveals
More widespread use of face masks could play a major role in persuading Londoners to return to the centre of the capital and start spending money again, a poll reveals today. The survey asked which of a range of measures would make respondents “more likely to go into London to work or enjoy leisure time.” The most reassuring suggestion was “everyone following social distancing rules so it feels safer”, which was supported by four out of 10 of those asked. This was closely followed “more people wearing face masks” backed by 37 per cent.
Coronavirus: Boris Johnson says he does not want to return to the 'nuclear deterrent' of full lockdown
Boris Johnson has played down the prospect of a second national coronavirus lockdown as he compared enforcing the measures to using Britain's nuclear deterrent. The prime minister added that authorities are getting better at identifying and isolating local outbreaks, but said it was important that the power to order national action was held in reserve. He told The Sunday Telegraph: "I can't abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent. "But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don't want to use it, and nor do I think we will be in that position again."
Victorian coronavirus cases climb as Government makes masks mandatory for Melbourne and Mitchell Shire
Residents in Metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will be required to wear masks outside of the home, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced. The new rule will come into effect from 11:59pm on Wednesday, and the fine for not wearing one will be $200. Mr Andrews said the measures were a "powerful next step" in managing the spread of coronavirus. "It doesn't come at an enormous cost to the Victorian economy," he said. "It still allows us to go about our business — particularly those who can't work at home and for going shopping for the basics when you need them."
Seven in 10 back mandatory use of masks in shops in England, poll finds
Concerns that the wearing of masks could become a new front in a political “culture war” have been eased after evidence emerged that a clear majority of the public back their use in shops and supermarkets. An Opinium poll for the Observer reveals that 71% of adults in England support making masks mandatory in shops, with only 13% opposed to the move. Support was consistent across parties and age groups. Almost two-thirds of UK adults (64%) said they believed masks were an effective way to contain the spread of Covid-19.
‘Bizarre’ That Face Masks Are a Partisan Issue, NIH Chief Says
It’s “bizarre” that mask-wearing in the U.S. has become so partisan and the “divide between different political perspectives” is making it harder to curb the coronavirus, the director of the National Institutes of Health said. Speaking on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, NIH chief Francis Collins said he didn’t want anybody to think that mask-wearing is “something optional” as the nation attempts to tamp down the Covid-19 outbreak running at record levels. “Imagine you were an alien coming to the planet Earth and looking around,” Collins said. “You would be totally astounded, puzzled, amazed ... How could it be that something as basic as a public health action, that we have very strong evidence can help, seems to attach to people’s political party?”
Coronavirus: senior doctors warn second wave could 'devastate' NHS
Senior doctors are pleading with the public to help prevent a second wave of coronavirus that could “devastate” the NHS, amid concern at mixed government messages about face masks and returning to work. Prof Carrie MacEwen, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said medics and healthcare workers felt “totally reliant on the public understanding that this has certainly not disappeared and could come back and cause even more suffering for the population.” Dr Alison Pittard, head of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, also warned the NHS could be “overwhelmed” by a second wave coinciding with seasonal flu and the consequences of the backlog of treatment for serious illnesses including cancer. “People might think Covid is over with, why do I have to wear a face mask,” she said. “But it isn’t over. We still have Covid patients in intensive care. If the public don’t physically distance and don’t wear face coverings we could very quickly get back to where we were earlier this year.”
Coronavirus face masks: Why men are less likely to wear masks
Her husband Eduardo had repeatedly refused to wear a face mask as the Covid-19 pandemic grew in Brazil - the country with the second-highest number of coronavirus deaths, behind only the US. So she decided to leave the family apartment in Niteroi (a city of 480,000 people near Rio de Janeiro), and move to her parents' house with their seven-year-old son. "I am asthmatic and that makes me particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. But my husband thought I was being paranoid," she tells the BBC. "His reasoning was that he didn't need a mask because when he left home he didn't go to enclosed spaces. "He wasn't thinking that he was putting me and our son at a higher risk."
Government to 'pause' publishing UK daily coronavirus death figures
The UK government is to stop publishing daily coronavirus deaths after health secretary Matt Hancock ordered an urgent review into how Public Health England (PHE) calculates the figures. The health secretary called for a review after researchers claimed the way Covid-19 deaths are reported across England has led to an "over-exaggeration" of the figures due to "statistical flaws". PHE's calculation of the figures means England’s deaths from coronavirus appear far higher than any other part of the UK, experts behind the study said.
85 infants under age 1 tested positive for coronavirus in one Texas county
Eighty-five infants under age 1 have tested positive for coronavirus in one Texas county. And local officials are imploring residents to help stop its spread as the state becomes one of the newest hotspots. "We currently have 85 babies under the age of one year in Nueces County that have all tested positive for Covid-19," said Annette Rodriguez, director of public health for Corpus Christi Nueces County. "These babies have not even had their first birthday yet. Please help us stop the spread of this disease."
Texas officials offer schools option to hold online-only classes until November
Texas officials on Friday announced that schools can continue online-only learning until November as the state sees climbing cases of the novel coronavirus. AP reports that the changes were announced just hours before Texas set another daily record for COVID-19 deaths, 174, as well as more than 10,000 new cases of the virus as the state sees a growing outbreak. Previously, state officials had given districts the option of remote learning for three weeks and then having in-person classes. Most schools will also require masks and social distancing when they reopen. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) tweeted after the announcement that "the health [and] safety of students, teachers [and] parents is the top priority."
Partisan Exits
Coronavirus: Outbreak investigated at contact tracing centre
Health officials are investigating an outbreak of coronavirus at an NHS Test and Trace call centre in North Lanarkshire. Sitel, which carries out contact tracing for the NHS, said it was aware of a "local outbreak" at its Motherwell site. One employee said they believed at least seven colleagues had tested positive. NHS Lanarkshire said it was aware of a number of "potentially linked cases".
Brazil president greets supporters
-Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro greeted his supporters outside the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia on Sunday where he has been isolated since testing positive for COVID-19.
Russian Elite Given Experimental Covid-19 Vaccine Since April
Scores of members of Russia’s business and political elite have been given early access to an experimental vaccine against Covid-19, according to people familiar with the effort, as the country races to be among the first to develop an inoculation. Top executives at companies including aluminum giant United Co. Rusal, as well as billionaire tycoons and government officials began getting shots developed by the state-run Gamaleya Institute in Moscow as early as April, the people said. They declined to be identified as the information isn’t public.
Israelis protest against Netanyahu, gov't handling of COVID-19 crisis
Israeli police used water cannons to disperse demonstrators around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence on Saturday as protests mounted against him over alleged corruption and his handling of the coronavirus crisis. Hit by high unemployment, a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and reimposed coronavirus curbs, Israelis have taken to the streets in almost daily demonstrations against the government. Public anger has been compounded by corruption alleged against Netanyahu, who went on trial in May for bribery, fraud and breach of trust - charges he denies. In Jerusalem hundreds gathered outside the prime minister's residence and then marched through the streets, calling for Netanyahu's resignation as police used water cannons to disperse the crowds. At least two people were arrested, police said.
Trump reportedly seeks to block testing funds as Covid-19 surges across south and west
n Washington, Congress is gearing up to pass another economic stimulus package. Optimistic economists once thought such a package could be unnecessary, but Covid-19 is now expected to continue to hurt the economy. The White House is reportedly trying to hurt any resultant bill. According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration is pushing to block billions of dollars for state-run testing and tracing, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and attempts to combat the pandemic at the Pentagon and state department.
UK government to stop publishing daily coronavirus deaths while review carried out
The government will temporarily stop announcing the daily coronavirus death figures because of concerns about how accurate they are. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has launched an inquiry after Public Health experts said the number of deaths associated with the virus may have been over-exagerrated. But scientists have questioned the move and suggested that there is unlikely to be a 'massive distortion' of the figures. Academics have said the way that Public Health England(PHE) calculates the data means they might look worse there than in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Mirror reports. In a statement, the Department for Health and Social Care said: "The Secretary of State has today, 17 July, asked PHE to urgently review their estimation of daily death statistics.
Scientists line up to blast Boris Johnson's aim of a return to pre-pandemic life by Christmas
Boris Johnson's aim for a 'significant return to normality' by Christmas has been blasted by scientists while Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said that Britons need a 'sense of direction'. Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has said he won't be hugging his elderly relatives this Christmas as a return to pre-lockdown normality is 'a long way off'. He told BBC Radio 4: 'Unfortunately I think it is quite a long way away. If what you mean by normality is what we used to do until February and the middle of March this year - go to work normally, travel on the buses and trains, go on holiday without restrictions, meet friends, shake hands, hug each other and so on - that's a long way off, unfortunately.
Texas exempts religious private schools from reopening guidelines | TheHill
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said Friday that private schools are exempt from having to follow local health restrictions regarding school openings. Paxton said in an open letter to religious private institutions that forcing such schools to comply with local reopening guidelines would be unconstitutional. “Under the Governor’s orders, local governments are prohibited from closing religious institutions or dictating mitigation strategies to those institutions,” Paxton wrote. “Local governments are similarly prohibited from issuing blanket orders closing religious private schools. Because a local order closing a religious private school or institution is inconsistent with the Governor’s order, any local order is invalid to the extent it purports to do so.
Report: Trump Wants To Block Funding For Virus Testing, CDC In Next Stimulus Package
As Congress races to come together on a fifth coronavirus stimulus package with cases skyrocketing across the country, the Trump administration is actively working to block “billions of dollars” in federal funding for testing and the Centers for Disease Control, according to a new report from the Washington Post.
Georgia Massaged Virus Data to Reopen, Then Voided Mask Orders
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s edict expressly voiding coronavirus mask orders by local governments capped a week of turmoil in a state once touted as proof that reopening in a pandemic could work. For six weeks, Georgia had been a model, especially for those eager to end shutdowns. Among the last U.S. states to lock down, Georgia in April was first to widely reopen, after just three weeks. Critics said the state misrepresented its data to justify the move, and they predicted disaster. It didn’t happen: Covid-19 case numbers bumped along, neither rising nor falling significantly. Pandemic skeptics crowed. the same week Kemp ordered the reopening, his administration began presenting data in a way that made the state appear healthier than it was, said Thomas Tsai, a professor at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Then the data starting being manipulated, the technique involved backdating new cases to the time of first symptoms or taking a test, instead of reporting them as they were reported to the state, like Georgia had previously done -- and like most states do. “It is deeply concerning,” Tsai said. “I cannot of course speak to the motivation.”
Continued Lockdown
El Salvador to postpone second phase of economic reopening, ...
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said on Sunday that he would postpone the second phase of the country's economic reopening, slated to begin Tuesday, after evaluating inputs from experts and the Salvadoran health ministry. Just on Saturday, the president had reiterated his intention to move forward with the next stage of restarting the economy. "After listening to the opinions of experts and above all, the Ministry of Health ... I have decided to suspend Phase 2 of the economic reopening," Bukele wrote in a post on Twitter. Bukele and El Salvador's congress have clashed over how to manage the pandemic. Lawmakers have so far refused to approve a request from Bukele's government for new emergency measures to restrict the movement of people.
Scientific Viewpoint
Lockdown approach 'less effective in BAME communities', say scientists
The UK's coronavirus lockdown that began in March was less effective among black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities because of the "one-size-fits-all' approach, scientists have claimed. Researchers at the University of Leicester found that coronavirus infections continued to rise among BAME people in certain parts of Leicester, while rates of infection among white people dropped off sharply. The scientists said the findings, which were published in the EClinicalMedicine journal by the Lancet, raised "serious questions" about how effective a lockdown can be in a country with an ethnically diverse population.
Dangerous blood clots form in leg arteries of COVID-19 patients
COVID-19 is associated with life-threatening blood clots in the arteries of the legs, according to a study published in Radiology. Researchers said COVID-19 patients with symptoms of inadequate blood supply to the lower extremities tend to have larger clots and a significantly higher rate of amputation and death than uninfected people with the same condition.
Face Masks Really Do Matter. The Scientific Evidence Is Growing.
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he believes the pandemic could be brought under control over the next four to eight weeks if “we could get everybody to wear a mask right now.” His comments, made Tuesday with the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed an editorial he and others wrote there emphasizing “ample evidence” of asymptomatic spread and highlighting new studies showing how masks help reduce transmission. The research Dr. Redfield cited included a newly published study suggesting that universal use of surgical masks helped reduce rates of confirmed Covid-19 infections among health-care workers at the Mass General Brigham health-care system in Massachusetts.
Coronavirus: Are mutations making it more infectious?
This coronavirus is actually changing very slowly compared with a virus-like flu. With relatively low levels of natural immunity in the population, no vaccine and few effective treatments, there's no pressure on it to adapt. So far, it's doing a good job of keeping itself in circulation as it is. The notable mutation - named D614G and situated within the protein making up the virus's "spike" it uses to break into our cells - appeared sometime after the initial Wuhan outbreak, probably in Italy. It is now seen in as many as 97% of samples around the world.
Most of the World May Face Covid Without a Vaccine
Klaus Stohr has urged governments for many years to prepare for the grim possibility of a pandemic. In 2003, he played a key role in a World Health Organization investigation that swiftly identified a coronavirus as the cause of SARS. Stohr also sounded the alarm on the pandemic potential of avian flu, bringing countries and companies to the table to increase production of vaccines in case it began spreading widely in people. In Covid-19, which has killed almost 600,000 people, the world faces the crisis that the virologist has long feared. Stohr, who left the WHO to join drugmaker Novartis AG in 2007 and retired a couple of years ago, paints a sobering picture. He spoke with Bloomberg by phone, and his remarks have been edited for clarity and readability:
Coronavirus: Government’s test and trace system failing in areas battling major outbreaks, leaked analysis reveals
England’s “world beating” coronavirus test and trace service is failing to reach more than half the contacts named by infected residents in Blackburn with Darwen – where health chiefs are battling a major outbreak. Leaked analysis obtained by The Independent shows that across northwest England, the national tracing service is reaching only 52 per cent of all close contacts, leading one senior source to say: “The contact tracing service is now part of the problem we are trying to solve, not the solution.” The data also shows that less than half of close contacts are being reached in Oldham, St Helens, Manchester and Rochdale. The best performance for the region is in Cheshire East, where a third are still being missed.
Oxford's Covid-19 vaccine will be produced in Moscow
A Russian drug company has signed a deal to mass produce a British coronavirus vaccine despite claims from intelligence agencies that British scientists were the targets of industrial espionage. R-Pharm, based in Moscow, said that it had agreed with Astrazeneca, the British pharmaceuticals giant, to manufacture the vaccine it is developing with Oxford University.
Older Children Spread the Coronavirus Just as Much as Adults, New Study Finds
The study of nearly 65,000 people in South Korea suggests that school reopenings will trigger more outbreaks. A large new study from South Korea offers an answer: Children younger than 10 transmit to others much less often than adults do, but the risk is not zero. And those between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do. The findings suggest that as schools reopen, communities will see clusters of infection take root that include children of all ages, several experts cautioned. The new study “is very carefully done, it’s systematic and looks at a very large population,” Dr. Jha said. “It’s one of the best studies we’ve had to date on this issue.”
Scientists identify six different 'types' of Covid-19 each based on 'cluster of symptoms'
Data suggests coronavirus comes in several forms, each with symptom clusters. King's College London's Symptom Study app findings could help the vulnerable Continuous cough, fever and loss of smell are the three main Covid-19 symptoms
Steroid's COVID-19 benefits confirmed; spotlight on immune cells
The full results of a large randomized clinical trial in Britain - the gold-standard of tests - looking at the steroid dexamethasone confirm the benefits in its use in COVID-19 patients that were hinted at in early findings issued last month. The results, released on Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed benefits for people with advanced or moderate disease. Overall, 2,104 COVID-19 patients were randomly assigned to receive dexamethasone and 4,321 to receive usual care. Four weeks later, dexamethasone had reduced the risk of death by 36% among patients who needed mechanical ventilation when they entered the study, and by 18% among those who were receiving oxygen without mechanical ventilation.
Fast-working fingerprick coronavirus antibody tests pass first major trials
Ministers are preparing to roll out fast-working fingerprick tests that can tell if a person has had coronavirus after they passed their first major trials, according to reports. The antibody tests, which work by taking blood from the tip of the finger and give results in just 20 minutes, were found to be 98.6 per cent accurate in secret tests carried out in June. And now the Government is making plans to buy millions of the tests and send them out to people across the UK, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Coronavirus: Over-65 death risk 18k times higher than under-20
Researchers estimated what the infection fatality risk is for Geneva, Switzerland.They found those over 65 had a 5.6 per cent risk of dying if they have Covid-19. For those under 20 the risk of death from the virus was just 0.0003 per cent
Symptom tracker app reveals six distinct types of COVID-19 infection
British scientists analysing data from a widely-used COVID-19 symptom-tracking app have found there are six distinct types of the disease, each distinguished by a cluster of symptoms.A King’s College London team found that the six types also correlated with levels of severity of infection, and with the likelihood of a patient needing help with breathing - such as oxygen or ventilator treatment - if they are hospitalised. The findings could help doctors to predict which COVID-19 patients are most at risk and likely to need hospital care in future waves of the epidemic. “If you can predict who these people are at Day Five, you have time to give them support and early interventions such as monitoring blood oxygen and sugar levels, and ensuring they are properly hydrated,” said Claire Steves, a doctor who co-led the study. Besides cough, fever and loss of smell - often highlighted as three key symptoms of COVID-19 - the app data showed others including headaches, muscle pains, fatigue, diarrhoea, confusion, loss of appetite and shortness of breath.
Coronavirus: are two strains together deadlier than one?
Researchers in the United States say some people could be infected by two variations of the pathogen at once, sending the immune system into overdrive Major study needed to confirm whether theory is supported, Chinese scientist says
Australian researchers invent 20-minute coronavirus blood test
Researchers in Australia have devised a test that can determine novel coronavirus infection in about 20 minutes using blood samples in what they say is a world-first breakthrough. The researchers at Monash University said their test can determine if someone is currently infected and if they have been infected in the past. “Short-term applications include rapid case identification and contact tracing to limit viral spread, while population screening to determine the extent of viral infection across communities is a longer-term need,” the researchers said in a paper published in the journal ACS Sensors on Friday. The research team was led by BioPRIA and Monash University’s Chemical Engineering Department, including researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent BioNano Science and Technology (CBNS).
Public urged not to use Randox home testing kits due to safety issues
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told the public to stop using coronavirus testing kits produced by Randox after safety problems were identified. The kits are sent to members of the public for home testing as well as care homes and other settings, after which they are delivered back to Randox so swabs can be analysed. The government has yet to share details of the problem, although there is currently no indication that the kits have caused harm. On Thursday Mr Hancock told MPs: ‘We’ve identified some swabs that are not up to the usual high standard that we expect, and we’ll be carrying out further testing of this batch as a precautionary measure.
Why Obesity May Stack the Deck for COVID-19 Risk
“My lungs were quite badly affected,” says O’Rahilly, 62, who spent almost a week getting extra oxygen in what’s known as a high-intensity care unit in the U.K. The experience got him thinking: While about 80% of cases of COVID-19 can be treated at home, why do some people, including him, wind up with more severe infections? Besides his age, O’Rahilly knew he had another strike against him when it comes to COVID-19 infection: his weight. His BMI, or body mass index, is over 30. O’Rahilly, who directs the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit at Cambridge University, is considered one of the world’s leading obesity researchers. He was knighted in 2013 by Queen Elizabeth II for his work, which includes the discovery of a genetic condition that robs the body of the hormone leptin, which controls appetite and weight. And so after his brush with the coronavirus, he started digging into exactly what it is about obesity that makes it so risky for a COVID-19 infection
‘Only those with plastic visors were infected’: Swiss government warns against face shields
Health officials in the canton of Graübunden studying a recent outbreak among staff at a hotel found a worrying trend - all of those who were infected wore plastic face shields, while those who avoided infection wore face masks. Several employees of the hotel tested positive along with a guest. Rudolf Leuthold, head of the cantonal health department in Graübunden, said the face shields were the common denominator in infections. “It has been shown that only those employees who had plastic visors were infected. There was not a single infection among employees with a mask.” Leuthold told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes that a guest of the hotel was also infected: "We know that the guest was served by employees with plastic visors.
The heart: Before, during and after COVID-19
Back in February, research from China found people with preexisting heart conditions were more likely to die of the infection, with the Chinese Center for Disease Control reporting a death rate four times the population's average.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Florida reports over 10,000 new COVID cases for fifth day in a row
Florida reported over 12,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the fifth day in a row the state has announced over 10,000 new infections. The virus has claimed over 140,000 lives total since the pandemic started, and Florida, California, Texas and other southern and western states shatter records every day. Florida reported 89 new deaths on Sunday. Deaths in the state have risen by over 500, or 78%, during the last two weeks compared with the prior two weeks, according to a Reuters analysis. Hospitalizations of currently ill COVID-19 patients in Florida reached a record high of 9,229, up about 2,000 patients in the last week, according to a state agency. At least 14 states have reported record levels of coronavirus hospitalizations so far in July, including Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada and Arizona. Testing shortages and delays are once again hampering U.S. efforts to curb infections, a situation that frustrated health and state officials at the beginning of the outbreak in March and April.
Florida Virus ‘Out of Control,’ Los Angeles Is on the Brink
Florida’s Covid-19 outbreak is “totally out of control,” according to a Democratic representative, and the mayor of Los Angeles said his city is “on the brink” of new restrictions, comments that suggest the country’s months of trade-offs between the health of the community and the economy are far from over. Speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Donna Shalala called for a lockdown of the third most-populous state and dismissed talk about reopening schools as “ridiculous.” “It’s terrible,” said Shalala, whose South Florida district sits within Miami-Dade County, one of the hardest-hit parts of the state. On the Pacific coast, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he’s considering another stay-at-home order for Los Angeles but emphasized that the city still had room in its hospitals and had been testing aggressively. Schools won’t hold in-person classes until the city records at least 14 consecutive days of case decline and is removed from the state’s watch list, Garcetti told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Police close down packed Barcelona beach amid virus spike
Police in Barcelona closed down access to a large area of the city's beaches on Saturday after too many sunbathers ignored authorities' request to stay at home amid a new wave of surging coronavirus infections. Police blocked more people from entering the beach and used loudspeakers to recommend that the crowds already on the sand disperse because they were too closely packed and could increase the contagion risk.
New Lockdown
The Latest: Rome region warns of possible new lockdowns
Lazio Region Health Commissioner Alessio D'Amato said 17 new COVID-19 cases were registered on Sunday, 10 of them “imported” from other countries when foreign residents returned to Italy. “We can't turn back and waste all the efforts done till now,” D'Amato pleaded in a Facebook post. Lazio's increases were included in Italy's 219 new cases, raising to 244,434, the number of confirmed infections since the outbreak began.
China's western city Urumqi enters 'wartime mode' after reporting 16 coronavirus cases
Urumqi, the capital of China’s far western region of Xinjiang, has gone into “wartime mode” and launched an emergency response plan after the city reported 16 new coronavirus cases on Friday. State broadcaster CCTV cited unnamed officials as telling a press conference on Saturday that the city had suspended gatherings and ordered communities to restrict visits to other households. It urged people not to make unnecessary trips outside the city and ordered infection tests for anyone who needed to leave Urumqi, aiming to prevent the spread of the virus. It has also carried out city-wide free infection tests, officials told the press conference as part of what the officials termed a “wartime” response.