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Why Losing Your Sense of Smell Could Be a Coronavirus Symptom

It was four days into her suspected COVID-19 infection that Olivia Haynes realized she couldn’t smell or taste anything.

Her dry cough and fever had briefly subsided and her appetite had returned, so she cooked herself a spaghetti bologna. A self-described foodie, she initially thought she had just done a bad job because the food was so bland. “Honestly, it took me like three meals to realize I have no taste and no smell,” she told TIME on Tuesday over the phone from her home in London, where she is self-isolating. “People hadn’t been talking about it [as a symptom], so I wasn’t looking out for it.”

As more and more people around the world are becoming infected by the new coronavirus, there has been a spike in people reporting a loss of smell, and by extension taste, according to doctors. “In the last 48 hours, or perhaps 72, we have heard from about 500 patients who have lost their sense of smell,” says Dr. Nirmal Kumar, the president of ENTUK, a group of British ear, nose and throat specialists. Normally, Kumar says, a busy surgery like his would receive perhaps one report of lost smell or taste per month. Now, he is seeing far more. “It was never as frequent as it is now,” he says. “And this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Kumar is not alone. In South Korea, where testing for COVID-19 is widespread, some 30% of patients with mild symptoms have reported anosmia, the technical term for a loss of sense of smell. Doctors from China, the U.S., Iran, Italy and Germany—all places with significant outbreaks of COVID-19—have also noted a rise in reports of anosmia connected to confirmed coronavirus cases, according to a letter issued on Friday by ENTUK and the British Rhinological Society. The letter, signed by Kumar and sent to public health authorities, urged doctors treating people with anosmia to don personal protective equipment while treating them.

The symptom, Kumar says, is also appearing in otherwise healthy people, indicating that a loss of sense of smell could be a vital indicator of whether somebody is carrying the virus unknowingly—especially in the U.K., where tests for the virus are only available in hospitals for the most serious of cases, leaving many people with mild symptoms unsure of whether they are infected by the coronavirus or the common flu. “Many patients reporting this have mild [COVID-19] symptoms, sometimes a little bit of cough and sometimes a fever, but there are patients who are not reporting any other symptoms,” he says. “It is a dramatic indicator. In my practice, patients all around me are reporting this. Therefore, there are lots of carriers around.”

“I Was Winded Putting Dishes in the Dishwasher”: NYC Man Speaks About His COVID-19 Diagnosis

TIME spoke with Rich Bahrenburg about his COVID-19 symptoms, testing experience and time spent in isolation.

Kumar and other doctors are urging authorities globally to add a loss of sense of smell to the list of symptoms that would trigger stay-at-home requirements. “I feel that we need to add this to the self isolation rules, because these young fit people are spreading it around,” he says.

While there are no scientific studies yet on the link between COVID-19 and anosmia, Kumar speculates that the dulling effect is caused by the virus interfering with the mucous membrane in the roof of each nasal cavity in the nose, where the smell receptors are. “It is obviously speculation at the moment,” Kumar says. “But these viruses, which are obviously very, very small particles, go into the roof of the nose. And that’s where they affect the sense of smell receptors, which are very delicate organs.”

Many people who have lost their sense of smell initially turned to Twitter for answers, especially ones who had no other symptoms of COVID-19. One of them was a school teacher named Robert, from the north of England, who was eating candy over the weekend when he realized he couldn’t taste or smell anything.

Robert, who asked to be referred to by a pseudonym, went to work on Monday, not knowing his loss of smell could indicate COVID-19. (He had no other symptoms.) Although schools in the U.K. are now closed for most children, he still had to supervise a small class of children of essential workers, like doctors and nurses. “I didn’t even think it could be related,” he says.

Unable to get a coronavirus test due to the U.K.’s testing limitations, Robert turned to Twitter on Monday night. In an ideal situation, no one should have to rely on social media for medical advice, but given how fast this pandemic is moving and how much is still unknown about the coronavirus, many feel they have no other recourse. On Twitter, where many people—including celebrities and U.K. health minister Nadine Dorries (who tested positive for the virus)—have posted about losing their sense of smell, Robert read that there could be a link between his symptoms and COVID-19. He immediately decided to self-isolate and tell his employer.

In London, still struggling with bad symptoms after 10 days of infection, Haynes is trying to motivate herself to eat without a sense of taste. “If you’re not hungry anyway and you’re trying to force something down, it’s really grim,” she says. “Especially when you just want some comfort.”

By Billy Perrigo March 24, 2020

Source: Why Losing Your Sense of Smell Could Be a Coronavirus Symptom

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Bergamo Italy : This Is The Bleak Heart of The World’s Deadliest Coronavirus Outbreak

The streets of Bergamo are empty. As in all of Italy, people can leave their homes only for food and medicines and work. The factories and shops and schools are closed. There is no more chatting on the corners or in the coffee bars.

But what won’t stop are the sirens.

While the world’s attention now shifts to its own centers of contagion, the sirens keep sounding. Like the air raid sirens of the Second World War, they are the ambulance sirens that many survivors of this war will remember. They blare louder as they get closer, coming to collect the parents and grandparents, the keepers of Italy’s memory.

The grandchildren wave from terraces, and spouses sit back on the corners of now empty beds. And then the sirens start again, becoming fainter as the ambulances drive away toward hospitals crammed with coronavirus patients.

“At this point, all you hear in Bergamo is sirens,” said Michela Travelli.

On March 7, her father, Claudio Travelli, 60, was driving a food delivery truck all around northern Italy. The next day, he developed a fever and flu-like symptoms. His wife had run a fever in recent days, and so he called his family doctor, who told him to take a common Italian fever reducer and rest up.

For much of the prior month, Italian officials had sent mixed messages about the virus.

On Feb. 19, some 40,000 people from Bergamo, a province of about a million people in the region of Lombardy, traveled 30 miles to Milan to watch a Champions League soccer game between Atalanta and the Spanish team Valencia. (The mayor of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, this week called the match “a strong accelerator of contagion.”) Mr. Travelli and his wife didn’t take the threat of the virus seriously back then, their daughter said, “because it wasn’t sold as a grave thing.”

But Mr. Travelli could not shake his fever, and he got sicker.

On Friday, March 13, he felt unbearable pressure on his chest and suffered dry heaves. His temperature spiked and his family called an ambulance. An ambulance crew found her father with low levels of oxygen in his blood but, following the advice of Bergamo’s hospitals, recommended he stay home. “They said, ‘We have seen worse, and the hospitals are like the trenches of a war,’” Ms. Travelli said.

Another day at home led to a night of coughing fits and fever. On Sunday, Mr. Travelli woke up and wept, saying, “I’m sick. I can’t do it anymore,” his daughter said. He took more fever suppressant but his temperature climbed to nearly 103 degrees and his skin became yellow.

This time, as the ambulance arrived, his daughters, both wearing gloves and masks, packed a bag with two pairs of pajamas, a bottle of water, a cellphone and a charger. His oxygen levels had dipped.

Red Cross workers hovered over him on a bed, where he lay below a painting of the Virgin Mary. They brought him into the ambulance. His granddaughters, 3 and 6, waved goodbye from the terrace. He looked up at them, at the balconies draped with Italian flags. Then the ambulance left and there was nothing to hear. “Only the police and the sirens,” his daughter said.

The ambulance crew that took Mr. Travelli away had started early that morning.

At 7:30 a.m., a crew of three Red Cross volunteers met to make sure the ambulance was certified as cleaned and stocked with oxygen. Like masks and gloves, the tanks had become an increasingly rare resource. They blasted one another in sprays of alcohol disinfectants. They sanitized their cellphones.

“We can’t be the untori,” said Nadia Vallati, 41, a Red Cross volunteer, whose day job is working in the city’s tax office. She was referring to the infamous “anointers,” suspected in Italian lore of spreading contagion during the 17th century plague. After sanitizing, Ms. Vallati and her colleagues wait for an alarm to sound in their headquarters. It never takes long.

Indistinguishable from one another in the white medical scrubs pulled over their red uniforms, crew members entered Mr. Travelli’s home on March 15 with tanks of oxygen. “Always with oxygen,” Ms. Vallati said.

One of the biggest dangers for coronavirus patients is hypoxemia, or low blood oxygen. Normal readings are between 95 and 100, and doctors worry when the number dips below 90.

Ms. Vallati said she had found coronavirus patients with readings of 50. Their lips are blue. Their fingertips turn violet. They take rapid, shallow breaths and use their stomach muscles to pull in air. Their lungs are too weak.

In many of the apartments they visit, patients clutch small oxygen tanks, the size of SodaStreams, that are procured for them with a doctor’s prescription by family members. They lie in bed next to them. They eat with them at the kitchen table. They watch the nightly reports of Italy’s dead and infected with them on their couches.

On March 15, Ms. Vallati put her hand, wrapped in two layers of blue gloves, on the chest of Teresina Coria, 88, as they measured her oxygen level. The next day, Antonio Amato, an outlier at the age of 40, sat in his armchair, holding his oxygen tank as his children, whom he could not hold for fear of contagion, waved to him from across the room.

On a Saturday, Ms. Vallati found herself in the bedroom of a 90-year-old man. She asked his two granddaughters if he had had any contact with anyone who had the coronavirus. Yes, they said, the man’s son, their father, who had died on Wednesday. Their grandmother, they told her, had been taken away on Friday and was in critical condition.

They weren’t crying, she said, because “they didn’t have any tears left.”

On another recent tour in the highly infected Valle Seriana under the Alps, Ms. Vallati said, they picked up a woman of about 80. Her husband of many decades asked to kiss her goodbye. But Ms. Vallati told him he could not, because the risk of contagion was too high. As the man watched the crew take his wife away, Ms. Vallati saw him go into another room and close the door behind him, she said.

While those suspected of infection are taken to hospitals, the hospitals themselves are not safe. Bergamo officials first detected the coronavirus at the Pesenti Fenaroli di Alzano Lombardo hospital.

By then, officials say, it had already been present for some time, masked as ordinary pneumonia, infecting other patients, doctors, and nurses. People carried it out of the hospital and into the city, out of the city and into the province. Young people passed it to their parents and grandparents. It spread around bingo halls and over coffee cups.

The mayor, Mr. Gori, has talked about how infections have ravaged his town and nearly broken one of Europe’s wealthiest and most sophisticated health care systems. Doctors estimate that 70,000 people in the province have the virus. Bergamo has had to send 400 bodies to other provinces and regions and countries because there is no room for them there.

“If we have to identify a spark,” he said, “it was the hospital.”

When an ambulance arrives, its crew proceeds with extreme caution. Only one of the three, the team leader, accompanies the patient inside. If the patient is heavy, another helps.

This weekend, a group of doctors from one Bergamo hospital wrote in a medical journal associated with The New England Journal of Medicine that “we are learning that hospitals might be the main Covid-19 carriers” and “as they are rapidly populated by infected patients, facilitating transmission to uninfected patients.”

Ambulances and their personnel get infected, they said, but perhaps show no symptoms, and spread the virus further. As a result, the doctors urged home care and mobile clinics to avoid bringing people to the hospital unless absolutely necessary.

But Ms. Vallati said they had no choice with the gravest cases. The authors of the paper work at Bergamo’s Papa Giovanni XXIII, where Ms. Vallati’s crew have taken many of the sick.

Dr. Ivano Riva, an anesthesiologist there, said the hospital was still admitting up to 60 new coronavirus patients a day. They are tested for the virus he said, but at this point the clinical evidence — the coughs, the low oxygen levels, the fevers — is a better indicator, especially since 30 percent of the tests produced false negatives.

The hospital had 500 coronavirus patients, who occupied all 90 I.C.U. beds. About a month ago, the hospital had seven such beds.

Oxygen flows everywhere through Lombardy’s hospitals now, and workers are constantly pushing carts of tanks around the corridors. A tanker truck filled with oxygen is parked outside. Patients are jammed next to supply closets and in hallways.

Dr. Riva said 26 of his hospital’s 101 medical staff members were out of work with the virus. “It’s a situation that no one has ever seen, I don’t think in any other part of the world,” he said.

If people don’t stay at home, he said, “the system will fail.”

His colleagues wrote in the paper that intensive care unit beds were reserved for coronavirus patients with “a reasonable chance to survive.” Older patients, they said, “are not being resuscitated and die alone.”

Mr. Travelli ended up at the nearby Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital, where, after a false negative, he tested positive for the virus. He is still alive.

“Papi, you were lucky because you found a bed — now you have to fight, fight, fight,” his daughter Michela told him in a telephone call, their last before he was fitted with a helmet to ease his breathing. “He was scared,” she said. “He thought he was dying.”

In the meantime, Ms. Travelli said she had been quarantined and had lost her sense of taste for food, a frequent complaint among people without symptoms, but who have had close contact with the virus.

So many people are dying so quickly, the hospital mortuaries and funeral workers cannot keep up. “We take the dead from the morning till night, one after the other, constantly,” said Vanda Piccioli, who runs one of the last funeral homes to remain open. Others have closed as a result of sick funeral directors, some in intensive care. “Usually we honor the dead. Now it’s like a war and we collect the victims.”

Ms. Piccioli said one member of her staff had died of the virus on Sunday. She considered closing but decided they had a responsibility to keep going, despite what she said was constant terror of infection and emotional trauma. “You are a sponge and you take the pain of everybody,” she said.

She said her staff moved 60 infected bodies daily, from Papa Giovanni and Alzano hospitals, from clinics, from nursing homes and apartments. “It’s hard for us to get masks and gloves,” she said. “We are a category in the shadows.”

Ms. Piccioli said that in the beginning, they sought to get the personal effects of the dead, kept in red plastic bags, back to their loved ones. A tin of cookies. A mug. Pajamas. Slippers. But now they simply don’t have time.

Still, the calls to the Red Cross crew do not stop.

On March 19, Ms. Vallati and her crew entered the apartment of Maddalena Peracchi, 74, in Gazzaniga. She had run out of oxygen. Her daughter Cinzia Cagnoni, 43, who lives in the apartment downstairs, had placed an order for a new tank that would arrive on Monday, but the Red Cross volunteers told her she wouldn’t hold out that long.

“We were a little agitated because we knew that this could be the last time we saw each other,” Ms. Cagnoni said. “It’s like sending someone to die alone.”

She and her sister and her father put on a brave face under their masks, she said. “You can do it,’’ they told her mother, she said. “We will wait for you, there are still so many things we need to do with you. Fight back.”

The volunteers brought Ms. Peracchi down to the ambulance. One of her daughters urged her stunned grandchildren to bid farewell with louder voices. “I thought a thousand things,’’ Ms. Cagnoni said. “Don’t abandon me. God help us. God save my mother.” The ambulance doors closed. The sirens sounded, as they do “all the hours of the day,” Ms. Cagnoni said.

The crew drove to Pesenti Fenaroli di Alzano Lombardo, where Ms. Peracchi was found to have the coronavirus and pneumonia on both sides of her lungs. On Thursday night, her daughter said she was “holding on by a thread.”

Ms. Peracchi is a woman of deep Catholic faith, said her daughter, who spiked a temperature herself the night the ambulance took her mother away and has remained quarantined since.

It pained her mother, she said, that if it came to it, “we cannot have a funeral.”

To contain the virus, all religious and civil celebrations are banned in Italy. That includes funerals. Bergamo’s cemetery is locked shut. A chilling backlog of coffins waits in a traffic jam for the crematorium inside the cemetery’s church.

Officials have banned changing the clothes of the dead and require that people be buried or cremated in the pajamas or medical gowns they perish in. Corpses need to be wrapped in an extra bag or cloaked in a disinfecting cloth. The lids of coffins, which usually cannot be closed without a formal death certificate, now can be, though they still have to wait to be sealed. Bodies often linger in homes for days, as stairs and stuffy rooms become especially dangerous.

“We are trying to avoid it,” the funeral director, Ms. Piccioli, said of home visits. Nursing homes were much easier because you could arrive with five or six coffins to be filled and loaded directly into the vans. “I know it’s terrible to say,” she said.

Through a network of local priests, she helps arrange quick prayers, rather than proper funerals, for the dead and the families who are not quarantined.

That was the case for Teresina Gregis, who was interred at the Alzano Lombardo cemetery on March 21 after she died at home. Ambulance workers had told her family that there was no room in the hospitals.

“All the beds are full,” they told the family, according to her daughter-in-law, Romina Mologni, 34. Since she was 75, she said, “they gave priority to others who were younger.”

In her last weeks at home, her family struggled to find tanks of oxygen, driving all over the province as she sat facing her garden and the pinwheels she adored.

When she died, all the flower shops were closed because of the lockdown. Ms. Mologni instead brought to the cemetery one of the pinwheels her own daughter had given her grandmother. “She liked that one.”

Photo editing by David Furst and Gaia Tripoli. Design and development by Rebecca Lieberman and Matt Ruby.

Obituary from L’Eco di Bergamo, March 13, 2020.

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Source: ‘We Take the Dead From Morning Till Night’

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Sky News’ Chief Correspondent Stuart Ramsay is in Italy’s coronavirus epicentre – the town of Bergamo. Watch his report about life in the town residents are describing as ‘apocalyptic’ where the ambulance sirens never stop. MORE FROM SKY NEWS: Last week, Stuart and his team visited the town’s hospital, which is at the centre of the coronavirus crisis. You can watch that hard-hitting report here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J60f…

New York City 10 Days Away From ‘Widespread Shortages’ Of Medical Supplies, Mayor Says

Topline: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a Sunday CNN appearance that “if we don’t get more ventilators in the next 10 days, people will die who don’t have to die” as the city—now the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus epidemic—faces a possible shortage of medical supplies.

  • “We’re about 10 days from seeing widespread shortages,” de Blasio said, adding, “We have seen next to nothing from the federal government at this point.”
  • De Blasio also said that the military hasn’t been mobilized by the Trump administration, and that the Defense Production Act, which the president invoked by executive order Wednesday, has not been put into motion.
  • “It feels like we’re on our own at this point,” de Blasio said, adding that April would be worse for New York City than March has been, and he fears May could be even worse.
  • CNN also reported Sunday that Federal Emergency Management Agency head Peter Gaynor could not provide a number of how many medical masks were in the federal stockpile or how many have been shipped to state and local governments.
  • In a sign of demand on medical supplies, a Friday letter from a New York-Presbyterian Hospital department head said each employee would only be given one N95 mask (when it typically uses 4,000 per day).

Big number: 300 million. That’s how many masks could be needed for healthcare workers versus the current stockpile of 30 million, as testified to Congress by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the end of February.

Key background: The Defense Production Act is intended to be used by Trump to obtain “health and medical resources needed to respond to the spread of Covid-19, including personal protective equipment and ventilators.” Trump faced questions Thursday around his reticence to use the Defense Production Act to compel companies to produce healthcare items to combat the coronavirus, one day after he said he’d be invoking its powers. The New York Times reported Thursday that both the U.S. and countries abroad are facing a shortage of ventilators, with manufacturers saying that they can’t increase production to meet the demand.

Tangent: Tesla CEO Elon Musk volunteered his company’s factories to manufacture ventilators, but it’s unclear whether that will move forward.

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I’m a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I hold a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Previous bylines: Gotham Gazette, Bklyner, Thrillist, Task & Purpose and xoJane.

Source: New York City 10 Days Away From ‘Widespread Shortages’ Of Medical Supplies, Mayor Says

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Hospitals are sounding the alarm that they need more equipment as the coronavirus outbreak grows. Greg Cergol reports.

Why Is the Coronavirus Outbreak So Bad in Italy?

On Monday, Italy placed its 60 million residents under lockdown, as the number of cases of the COVID-19 virus throughout the country continues to rise.

In less than a month, Italy has gone from having only three cases of the coronavirus to having the highest number of cases and deaths outside of China, with 463 deaths and at least 9, 172 of people infected throughout all 20 regions of the country. The number of cases rose by 50% on March 8 alone. Italy also faces an above average mortality rate of 4%.

“We all must give something up for the good of Italy,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a televised address on Monday while announcing the nationwide lockdown. “There is no more time.”

The nationwide lockdown is expected to have major economic repercussions on the country, where growth was already stagnating. While the government has not specified exactly how long the ban will last, it says it will remain in place until April 3.

Keep up to date with our daily coronavirus newsletter by clicking here.

Here is how the virus spread across the country — and why it is so much worse in Italy than any other European country:

How did coronavirus start spreading in Italy?

Officially it began in Feb. 20, when a 38-year-old man checked himself into a local hospital in the town of Codogno in Lombardy. He tested positive with the virus, becoming the first recorded patient with the COVID-19 virus in Italy.

Yet some health officials believe that the virus arrived in Italy long before the first case was discovered. “The virus had probably been circulating for quite some time,” Flavia Riccardo, a researcher in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Italian National Institute of Health tells TIME. “This happened right when we were having our peak of influenza and people were presenting with influenza symptoms.”

Before the first case was reported, there was an unusually high number of pneumonia cases recorded at a hospital in Codogno in northern Italy, the head of the emergency ward Stefano Paglia told the newspaper La Repubblica, suggesting it is possible patients with the virus were treated as if they had a seasonal flu. Health facilities hosting these patients could have become sites for infection, helping proliferate the spread of the virus.

The northern regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, have been most affected by the outbreak. 85% of infected patients are in the region which is home to 92% of deaths so far. But the virus has been confirmed in all 20 regions of the country.

Why does Italy have such a high number of cases and deaths?

Because the virus spread undetected, some officials believe this is the reason for such a high number of cases in the country. “This started unnoticed which means by the time we realized it, there were a lot of transmission chains happening,” Riccardo says, noting that this may be why Italy has seen such a high number of cases.

Some officials also believe Italy, which has already tested over 42, 000 people, may have a higher number of cases as a result of performing more rigorous tests than their European counterparts.

Italy, however, is also reporting an above average mortality rate at 4%. The average age of coronavirus patients who have died because of the virus in Italy is 81, according to the National Health Institute. Italy, which has one the world’s oldest populations, could be facing a higher mortality rate as a result of its above-average elderly population. “Italy is the oldest country in the oldest continent in the world,” says Lorenzo Casani, the health director of a clinic for elderly people in Lombardy told TIME. “We have a lot of people over 65.”

Casani also suggests the mortality rate might be higher than average because Italy is testing only the critical cases. “We are not doing enough,” he said.

Casani says that pollution in northern Italy could be a factor in higher death rates. According to a report by the Swiss air monitoring platform IQAir, 24 of Europe’s 100 most polluted cities are in Italy. “Studies have shown a high correlation between mortality rates from viral respiratory conditions and pollution,” Casani says. “This could be a factor.”

Was the Italian government prepared for the outbreak?

The outbreak in Italy has come as a surprise to some, given the stringent measures Italy imposed to protect itself from the virus. A month before the first case was reported, the Italian Health Ministry created a task force to manage coronavirus. Italy was the first European Union country to ban flights to and from China.

The travel ban, however, may have encouraged travellers to come in on connecting flights without disclosing their country of departure. Some experts also believe the virus could have entered the country before the government took action, spreading undetected throughout the country.

How is the government responding now?

The Italian government has taken the biggest steps outside of China to curb the spread of the disease.

Under the new lockdown legislation, people can be issued fines for traveling within or outside the country without a permit, though foreigners still can travel to Italy. All public events are banned and schools have been cancelled throughout the country. Public spaces, such as gyms, theatres and cinemas, have also been closed by the government. Individuals who defy the lockdown could face up to three months in jail or a fine of $234. The new rules prohibit inmates from having visitors or day releases, which set off protests at 27 prisons throughout the country.

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Many have applauded Italy’s actions. In a tweet, the Director-General of the World Health Organization commended Italy for its “bold, courageous steps” and for “making genuine sacrifices.”

Some infectious disease and public health experts, however, have concerns about the effectiveness of the lockdown.

“These measures will probably have a short-term impact,” John Edmunds, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine told Reuters, noting that the measures were “almost certainly unsustainable.” He added, “if they can’t be sustained for the long term, all they are likely to do is delay the epidemic for a while.”

How is the Italian healthcare system handling it?

Italy’s current national health service, known as Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), provides free universal care to patients yet remains under-funded. Investments in public healthcare make up only 6.8% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), which is lower than other countries in the European Union including France and Germany.

“The continuous cuts—to care and to research—are obviously a problem right now,” Casani says. “We were not prepared. We do not have enough doctors for the people. We do not have an organized plan for pandemics.”

With the number of coronavirus cases on the rise, the Italian health ministry has doubled the number of hospital beds in infectious disease wards. The Governor of Lombardy Attilio Fontana has requested that universities grant degrees earlier this school year in order to increase the number of nurses in Italy. Yet some health officials fear these efforts will not be enough.

“Right now in Lombardy, we do not have free beds in intensive care units,” Casani says. He added that doctors “have to make this horrible choice and decide who is going to survive and who is not going to survive…who is going to get a monitor, a respirator and the attention they need.”

What impact will the lockdown have on the Italian economy?

The lockdown could push Italy into a recession. Berenberg bank, which before the outbreak estimated that Italy’s GDP would contract by 0.3%, now forecasts it will fall by 1.2% this year.

Lombardy, the region most affected by the outbreak, account for one-fifth of Italy’s GDP. The Italian tourism sector, which makes up 13% of the country’s GDP, is projected to lose $8.1 billion, according to the Associated Press, as a result of 32 million fewer foreign travelers.

Conte said on March 9 that the government would deploy a “massive shock therapy” in order to protect the economy. Italy’s Deputy Economy Minister, Laura Castelli said in an interview with Rai Radio 1 today that “mortgages, taxes, everything is suspended” as a result of the lockdown. The government has also created a support package of $8.5 billion for families and businesses affected by virus.

Some experts are concerned about the long-term implications of this spending.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, Italy was already struggling with a public debt that is at 134% of the country’s GDP. In the Europe Union, countries are not supposed to have debt that is higher than 60% of their country’s GDP. “With the increased spending that comes with having to support people and businesses, the deficit might explode,” says Pepijn Bergsen, a Europe Research Fellow at Chatham House.

An economic slowdown in Italy, a country in the Eurozone, will have impacts on the rest of the continent.

“It is likely there will be a Eurozone wide recession this year,” Bergsen says, citing both an Italian recession and potential future lockdowns in other European Union countries as contributing factors. “It will be difficult for authorities to come up with any measures that would avoid a recession.”

Please send any tips, leads, and stories to virus@time.com.

Here’s what you need to know about coronavirus:

By Mélissa Godin March 10, 2020

Source: Why Is the Coronavirus Outbreak So Bad in Italy?

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Giacomo Grasselli – a senior Italian government health official who is coordinating the network of intensive care units in Lombardy – explains the “critical” situation in Italy, brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak (Subscribe: https://bit.ly/C4_News_Subscribe) ——- Watch more of our explainer series here – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list… Get more news at our site – https://www.channel4.com/news/ Follow us: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/ Twitter – https://twitter.com/Channel4News

There Is A Drug Already Used In Japan Which May Treat COVID-19, Says New Study

A group of scientists in Germany have identified a drug called camostat mesylate, that they believe may work to combat COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The new study published last week in Cell, shows that SARS-CoV-2 binds to human cells in a similar way to the original SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that caused a worldwide outbreak in 2003, with this binding depending on viral proteins called ‘spike’ proteins.

“Spike is so named because that’s what it looks like: a spike on the surface of the virus particle,” said Angela L. Rasmussen, PhD, a virologist in the faculty of the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. “In order for a virus to infect a cell, it has to attach itself to a protein on the surface of that cell which we call the receptor. For SARS-CoV-2, this is a protein called ACE2. Spike binds ACE2 and allows SARS-CoV-2 to enter and infect cells,” she added.

As well as this initial process, the spike protein has to be primed by an enzyme called a protease in order for the virus to complete entry into the cell. The study showed that similar to SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 uses a protease called TMPRSS2 to complete this process.

The scientists then looked at whether there were any compounds available that could stop the entry of coronavirus into the cell by stopping the TMPRSS2 protease from working. From previous work on SARS-CoV, they found one potential candidate called camostat mesylate and showed that the drug stopped SARS-CoV-2 from infecting lung cells in a dish.

“We found that SARS-CoV-2, like SARS-CoV, uses the host proteins ACE2 and TMPRSS2 to enter cells. Both viruses should therefore infect similar cells in patients and may cause disease via similar mechanisms,” said Markus Hoffmann, PhD, researcher in the Infection Biology Unit of the German Primate Center, Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Göttingen, Germany and first author of the paper.

Developing new drugs for infectious diseases or even diseases such as cancer or neurological conditions can take years, even decades. But camostat mesylate has already been tested in people, albeit not for the treatment of COVID-19.

“We knew from our previous work that camostat mesylate was active against other coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV. Therefore, we tested whether it is also active against SARS-CoV-2,” said Stefan Pöhlmann, PhD, Professor in the same institute in Göttingen. “Our study shows that camostat mesylate blocks infection of cells with SARS-CoV-2-like particles and with authentic, patient-derived SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, camostat mesylate inhibited infection of important target cells – human lung epithelial cells,” he added.

The compound is approved in Japan for the treatment of a number of non-infectious conditions in people, such as chronic pancreatitis and postoperative reflux esophagitis and has also had some tests in mice infected with SARS-CoV. However, it has never been tested in humans with COVID-19.

“It does require trials in humans to determine if it’s effective, and I suspect it would also require pre-clinical animal work with SARS-CoV-2 specifically before human trials could start. If it has been shown to be safe for clinical use in other countries, it may be fast-tracked for FDA approval or the FDA may authorize emergency off-label use,” said Rasmussen, indicating that the FDA will have to examine safety data and pre-clinical data before determining which, if any course of action to take with investigating the drug further.

One concern is that TMPRSS2 might not be the only protease that controls spike priming and hence blocking it may be ineffective in people as other proteases may act as backups, still allowing the virus entry into cells. There are also questions to be asked about how the drug would actually alter the ability of the virus to cause disease in people.

“Pathogenesis can’t be studied in cultured cells, so these questions will need to be addressed using animal models and human clinical samples,” said Rasmussen.

Given the similarities between SARS-CoV and the current virus SARS-CoV-2, the researchers also looked at whether people who recovered from SARS had any immunity to the new virus strain. They took serum containing antibodies taken from 3 recovering SARS-CoV patients back around the time of the original outbreak in 2003 and showed that this blocked entry of SARS-CoV-2 into cells. The serum was taken from patients b

“Antibodies from patients who had recovered from SARS blocked the SARS-CoV-2 from infecting cells in culture. This suggests that antibodies against SARS might be useful as a treatment for SARS-CoV-2,” said Rasmussen.

SARS in 2003 was a smaller outbreak compared to the current situation with only 8,098 cases formally recorded and over 7,000 people surviving. It is not known how many of these people are still alive today, but it is possible that they will have some immunity to COVID-19. On a wider scale, studying these people may provide incredibly useful clues about successfully treating COVID-19. So, what are the next steps for the researchers?

“We are currently analyzing whether camostat mesylate-related inhibitors show improved antiviral activity. So far we have not been contacted by others regarding off-label use of camostat mesylate. However, we are contacting physicians to discuss this option,” said Pöhlmann.

There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for COVID-19, but last week, the National Institutes of Health announced that the antiviral drug remdesivir had begun testing in a human clinical trial in the U.S. Remdesivir, marketed by Gilead Sciences has previously shown promise in preventing MERS coronavirus disease in tests on monkeys and is already being used in human trials in Wuhan. The first patient in the U.S. is an American who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which became a floating incubator for the virus, resulting in over 700 infections and six deaths reported so far.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I am a postdoctoral research scientist focusing on childhood cancers and new, targeted cancer therapies. As a survivor of childhood leukemia myself, I am a determined advocate for research into better, less-toxic cancer treatments and how to reduce the long-term side effects of current drugs. I am an award-winning science communicator and have written for The Times, The Guardian and various cancer-focused outlets. I am also a 2017 TED Fellow, having done my TED talk this year on cancer survivorship and I regularly do public talks on topics ranging from ‘Why haven’t we cured cancer yet?’ to ‘Cannabis and cancer; hype or hope?’. I am passionate about using social media to communicate science and frequently share pictures and stories from my own laboratory work in real-time on my Twitter account @vickyyyf, alongside commentary about important research breakthroughs. You can find out more about me and how to get in contact via my website drvickyforster.com. All of my articles reflect my personal views and not those of my employer.

Source: There Is A Drug Already Used In Japan Which May Treat COVID-19, Says New Study

(25 Feb 2020) The University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha announced Tuesday it is enrolling adults diagnosed with the Coronavirus for a new clinical drug trial to treat the disease.

‘Corona Beer Virus?’ The Global Epidemic Is Taking a Real-Life Toll on the Beverage

KIEV, UKRAINE – 2018/09/26: Detail of lined up Corona beer bottles seen on the store shelf. Corona extra Lager Beer is the flagship product of the Mexican company Grupo Modelo. (Photo by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The novel coronavirus has an unlikely victim — one of the world’s most popular beers.

Corona has become the subject of memes and videos shared on social media as the toll from the virus climbs worldwide. Reports of an increase in online searches for “corona beer virus” and “beer coronavirus” show the Mexican beer hasn’t been able to escape the association. The so-called purchase intent among adults in the U.S. has plunged to the lowest in two years, according to data from YouGov Plc.

The damage has become more severe in recent days as infections spread. Shares of Corona-maker Constellation Brands Inc. dived 8% this week in New York. Corona’s buzz score—which tracks whether American adults aware of the brand have heard positive or negative things about it—has tumbled to 51 from a high of 75 at the beginning of the year, YouGov said.

Corona, which derives its name from the Sun’s corona and has nothing to do with the virus, is the third-most popular beer in the U.S., according to YouGov rankings. Guinness is first and Heineken is second.

Another reason for the drop in purchase intent could be the perception of Corona as a summer beverage associated with beach holidays, YouGov business data journalist Graeme Bruce wrote in an article published Wednesday. It therefore has substantial seasonal fluctuations, he said.

By Anurag Kotoky / Bloomberg February 28, 2020

Source: ‘Corona Beer Virus?’ The Global Epidemic Is Taking a Real-Life Toll on the Beverage

People believe coronavirus is linked to Corona beer?

Pope Francis skipped a planned Mass on Thursday due to illness. The Vatican did not elaborate, saying only that he had a “slight indisposition”. The pontiff was seen coughing and blowing his nose during the Ash Wednesday Mass. This comes as cases of coronavirus surge in Northern Italy, with over 400 people testing positive for the virus.
Read more about the coronavirus: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-he… Telegraph.co.uk and YouTube.com/TelegraphTV are websites of The Telegraph, the UK’s best-selling quality daily newspaper providing news and analysis on UK and world events, business, sport, lifestyle and culture.

First U.S. COVID-19 Death Thought to Be Community Transmission. Washington Governor Declares State of Emergency

On Saturday, Washington State officials announced that one person had died from the coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, in King County, marking the first death from the disease in the U.S.

Health officials say the man was in his 50s and had no known history or travel or contact with a known COVID-19 case, suggesting he was infected by a human-to-human transmission in the general public, often referred to as a community transmission.

Officials also announced two other presumptive cases in King County, each linked to the LifeCare nursing home in Kirkland, Wash. Neither patient had reportedly traveled outside the U.S. At a press conference on Saturday, Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for public health of Seattle and King County said officials believe all three cases are cases of community transmission and were acquired in King County.

Officials are monitoring the nursing home and believe it is at risk for a possible outbreak of the virus. Officials added that they do not believe the man who died was connected to the nursing home.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Saturday in response to the new cases, and directed state agencies to use “all resources necessary to prepare for and respond to the outbreak.”

King County health officials said the man who died was in his 50s and was “a chronically ill person,” with “underlying risk factors for severe disease.” They said he died at EvergreenHealth Hospital.

In a press conference with the coronavirus task force on Saturday, President Donald Trump misidentified the patient who died as a “wonderful woman.

Officials also announced details about the two cases connected to LifeCare nursing home. One patient is a healthcare worker in her 40s, who also had no known travel outside of the United States. Officials said she is in satisfactory condition. The second is a woman in her 70s who is a resident at LifeCare nursing facility, who is in serious condition at EvergreenHealth Hospital.

Officials said over 50 individuals at LifeCare who are reportedly experiencing respiratory problems are being tested for COVID-19 and said “additional positive cases” are expected. At the press conference, Duchin said officials are “investigating the situation as an outbreak.” He added that the CDC is sending a team of epidemiologists to King County to help identify any possible new cases.

Duchin added that officials believe the patients contracted the virus before being admitted to EvergreenHealth Hospital, and do not presently believe the two patients at LifeCare and the man who died were connected to one and other.

The first known case of the coronavirus in King County had only been announced the day before on Friday: A woman in her 50s who had recently traveled to Daegnu, South Korea.

According to Washington State Department of Health, two people have also tested positive for the virus in Snohomish County, bringing the total number of cases in the state up to six. Thirty-seven people in Washington State have been tested for the virus so far, and 294 people are under public health supervision, according to the official.

The announcement comes after news broke that a California patient was thought to be the first possible human-to-human transmission in the general public. California officials announced a second possible community transmission on Friday, although Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer for Santa Clara County and Director of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department said in a statement, “the extent is still not clear.”

On Friday, Oregon health officials also announced the state’s first case of COVID-19 was believed to be a community transmission.

The U.S. has 68 confirmed cases of the virus. Besides the six suspected cases of community transmission, all of the other infected people had either traveled overseas or had been in close contact with those who traveled. The virus has transmitted from human to human in cases in Chicago and San Benito County, Calif., but in both cases, the infected person had close, prolonged contact with family members who had returned from Wuhan, China and had tested positive for the virus.

A CDC flowchart for assessing possible coronavirus cases as of Feb. 12 indicates that a patient must have either visited China, or had close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 within the last 14 days, in order for their possible exposure to the virus to be evaluated.

As of Feb. 26 the CDC had administered 445 coronavirus tests—not including those given to Americans brought back to the U.S. from Wuhan or the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Concerns over a shortage in tests to properly diagnose the novel coronavirus have prompted some states to take action. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said more than 8,400 people in the state are being monitored for the virus, and called for an expansion of the ability to conduct tests on people to detect the infection during a news conference on Feb. 27.

California is now working with the CDC to get access to more tests, Newsom said, adding that the state has “just a few hundred” testing kits, which he said was “simply inadequate.”

“We are not overreacting nor are we underreacting to the understandable anxiety many people have,” he said.

Health officials in New York state said they are developing their own test after encountering issues with tests provided by the CDC, according to reports in ABC 7 and BuzzFeed News.

Elsewhere in the U.S., 42 Americans evacuated from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess in Japan were confirmed to have the virus as of Wednesday.

CDC spokesperson Richard Quartarone tells TIME the patients are either at hospitals in Sacramento and San Antonio, or at the Nebraska Medical Center.

More than 300 American evacuees were flown out of Japan to air bases in Texas and California.

So far, cases have been diagnosed in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Texas. Globally, more than 82,000 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed or clinically confirmed as of Feb. 21 and some 2,800 people have died, according to a virus tracker from researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The vast majority of cases are in China, but diagnoses in the U.S. are expected to increase over the coming days and weeks, according to the CDC.

Cruise ship evacuees

On Feb. 17, the U.S. State Department evacuated more than 300 American citizens from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan. The Diamond Princess has the largest outbreak of the novel coronavirus outside China with at least 621 confirmed cases so far.

During the evacuation process, American officials learned that 14 of the more than 300 Americans who were to be flown back were infected with COVID-19 after being tested two to three days earlier, according to a joint statement from the U.S. State Department and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. After consulting with HHS, officials with the State Department decided to allow the 14 individuals, “who were in isolation, separated from other passengers, and continued to be asymptomatic, to remain on the aircraft to complete the evacuation process,” the statement said.

The evacuees who are not hospitalized were being held in quarantine for 14 days after departing planes at Travis Air Force Base in Sacramento, Calif. and Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, officials said.

The CDC said there are more than 100 American citizens who remained in Japan, including in hospitals. The CDC specified that these citizens will only be allowed to fly back to the U.S. if they test negative for and don’t show any symptoms of the virus during the 14-day period.

“If an individual from this cruise arrives in the United States before the 14-day period ends, they will still be subject to a mandatory quarantine until they have completed the 14-day period with no symptoms or positive coronavirus test results,” the CDC said.

The CDC also highlighted concerns with the quarantine process on board the ship, saying that it may have slowed the spread of the disease but that it “may not have been sufficient to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship.”

Washington

On Saturday, Washington State officials announced that one person had died from COVID-19 in King County, marking the first death from the disease in the U.S.

Health officials say the man was in his 50s and had no known history or travel or contact with a known COVID-19 case, suggesting he was infected by a human-to-human transmission in the general public, often referred to as a community transmission.

Officials also announced two other presumptive cases in King County, each linked to the LifeCare nursing home in Kirkland, Wash. Neither patient had reportedly traveled outside the U.S. At a press conference on Saturday, Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for public health of Seattle and King County said officials believe all three cases are cases of community transmission and were acquired in King County.

Officials are monitoring the nursing home and believe it is at risk for a possible outbreak of the virus. Officials added that they do not believe the man who died was connected to the nursing home.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Saturday in response to the new cases, and directed state agencies to use “all resources necessary to prepare for and respond to the outbreak.”

King County health officials said the man who died was in his 50s and was “a chronically ill person,” with “underlying risk factors for severe disease.” They said he died at EvergreenHealth Hospital.

Officials also announced details about the two cases connected to LifeCare nursing home. One patient is a healthcare worker in her 40s, who also had no known travel outside of the United States. Officials said she is in satisfactory condition. The second is a woman in her 70s who is a resident at LifeCare nursing facility, who is in serious condition at EvergreenHealth Hospital.

Officials said over 50 individuals at LifeCare who are reportedly experiencing respiratory problems are being tested for COVID-19 and said “additional positive cases” are expected. At the press conference Duchin said officials are “investigating the situation as an outbreak.” He added that the CDC is sending a team of epidemiologists to King County to help identify any possible new cases.

Duchin added that officials believe the patients contracted the virus before being admitted to EvergreenHealth Hospital, and do not presently believe the two patients at LifeCare and the man who died were connected to one and other.

The first known case of the coronavirus in King County had only been announced the day before on Friday: A woman in her 50s who had recently traveled to Daegnu, South Korea.

According to Washington State Department of Health, two people have also tested positive for the virus in Snohomish County, bringing the total number of cases in the state up to six. Thirty-seven people in Washington State have been tested for the virus so far, and 294 people are under public health supervision, according to the official.

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. appeared in Washington on Jan. 21. A 35-year-old man presented himself to an urgent care clinic in Snohomish County, Wash., after four days of cough and fever, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, which reported that he had recently been visiting family in Wuhan.

“The patient should be recognized for his decision to voluntarily isolate himself, seek proper medical care, and allow the details of his private medical treatment to be made public so that the world may learn from his case, and advance our understanding of novel coronavirus,” the Washington State Department of Health said in a public statement on Jan. 31.

The man was released from a Washington hospital on Feb. 4, according to the Associated Press.

“I am at home and continuing to get better,” the man said in a statement to the AP. “I appreciate all of the concern expressed by members of the public, and I look forward to returning to my normal life.”

Arizona

A single case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Arizona by the CDC on Jan. 26. The person had also recently returned to the U.S. after visiting Wuhan. The Arizona Department of Health Services said in a public statement that the person is “a member of the Arizona State University community who does not live in university housing,” and added that they were not severely ill but would be kept in isolation.

California

On Wednesday news broke that a California coronavirus patient was not tested for the deadly disease for four days—despite the hospital asking federal health authorities for a test.

The patient at the University of California-Davis Medical Center, who is a resident of Solano County, was the first U.S. case of possible human-to-human transmission in the general public—raising fears that the virus might be spreading in the country. It also raised questions about how prepared the U.S. health system is for a possible outbreak.

The California coronavirus patient was not tested for the deadly disease for four days — despite the hospital asking federal health authorities for a test. The patient is at the University of California-Davis Medical Center and is a resident of Solano County.

California officials announced a second possible community transmission on Friday, although Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer for Santa Clara County and Director of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department said in a statement, “the extent is still not clear.”

The first confirmed cases in the state were announced by the CDC on Jan. 26; the two patients had recently returned to the U.S. from Wuhan.

On Jan. 29, the State Department announced a flight carrying 195 evacuees from Wuhan landed at the March Air Reserve Base in southern California. Later, on Feb. 5, the CDC announced 14-day quarantine sites at the Travis Air Force Base in Sacramento, Calif. and the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif., where more evacuees from Wuhan would be placed.

Two people who were quarantined at Miramar have since been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are now in isolation at the University of San Diego Health. A third person has been placed under investigation after developing symptoms that warrant testing, the hospital announced on Feb. 12.

Orange County and San Francisco have both declared states of emergency over the virus.

Illinois

The first case in Illinois was a woman in her 60s who had returned to the U.S. from Wuhan on Jan. 13, health officials said at a press briefing on Jan. 30. Her husband then contracted the virus, becoming the first confirmed case of person-to-person transfer of the virus in the U.S.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Feb. 12 that it became the first state in the U.S. to begin in-state testing for the virus.

Massachusetts

On Feb. 1, the CDC announced that a man in his 20s who lives in Boston was diagnosed with COVID-19, making him the eighth confirmed case in the U.S. He had also recently traveled to Wuhan.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said the man sought medical care soon after his return to Boston. He has since been in isolation, and those who came in contact with him have been identified and are being monitored for symptoms, the agency said in a public statement.

“We are grateful that this young man is recovering and sought medical attention immediately,” said Monica Bharel, Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner, in the statement. “Massachusetts has been preparing for a possible case of this new coronavirus, and we were fortunate that astute clinicians took appropriate action quickly. Again, the risk to the public from the 2019 novel coronavirus remains low in Massachusetts.”

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the CDC announced the first case of COVID-19 in the state on Feb. 5. The person was only identified as “an adult with a history of travel to Beijing, China prior to becoming ill and was exposed to known cases while in China.”

Wisconsin health officials said in a public statement that the person is isolated at home, and is doing well.

Texas

The first person diagnosed with COVID-19 in Texas is currently in isolation. The name of the individual has also not been released, but Jennifer McQuiston, a CDC division deputy director and current team lead at the JBSA-Lackland quarantine, told reporters at a Feb. 13 press conference that the person was a solo traveler.

Two additional Diamond Princess passengers are also in isolation in Texas as of Feb. 21, after they were determined to have the virus. The patients are being held at the Texas Center for Infectious Disease hospital, according to a public statement by the City of San Antonio.

The City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and the CDC announced Feb. 13 that the first person diagnosed was one of the Americans evacuated from Wuhan and transported to the military base on Feb. 7, after leaving Wuhan the previous day. There are currently 91 evacuees in a 14-day quarantine at the JBSA-Lackland military base, one of four designated quarantine sites for the roughly 800 Americans who have been evacuated from Wuhan.

On the morning of Feb. 11, the patient exhibited signs of a fever, McQuiston said. The person was transported to a hospital that morning, where samples were gathered and sent to the CDC overnight. Officials received the positive diagnosis around 6 p.m. on Feb. 12. “[That patient is] receiving excellent medical care,” McQuiston said at the Feb. 13 press conference. “They were, of course, not happy to learn of their diagnosis last night, and they do have loved ones in the United States that they are in contact with by phone, and we wish this individual well.”

Dr. Anita Kurian, assistant director at the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, also said at the press conference that “the risk for us at this time to the community here is still considered low.”

Of the estimated 400 Americans aboard the Diamond Princess, 151 landed at the Lackland Air Force Base on the morning of Feb. 17. Of those, 144 asymptomatic Americans were assessed and transported to Lackland quarantine, according to the City of San Antonio.

The individuals who remain in quarantine are being monitored for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

By Jasmine Aguilera , Amy Gunia , Madeleine Carlisle and Sanya Mansoor

Source: First U.S. COVID-19 Death Thought to Be Community Transmission. Washington Governor Declares State of Emergency

The US has confirmed its first possible community transmission of COVID-19. The patient, who lives in California, has no known links to other cases or travel history to China. That brings the total number of infections in the US to 60, with most of them catching the virus outside the country. Subscribe to our channel here: https://cna.asia/youtubesub Subscribe to our news service on Telegram: https://cna.asia/telegram Follow us: CNA: https://cna.asia CNA Lifestyle: http://www.cnalifestyle.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/channelnewsasia Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/channelnews… Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/channelnewsasia

Facebook Bans Ads Promising A Cure To The Coronavirus

Topline: Facebook will begin taking down any ads that promise a cure for the coronavirus, as the platform battles the rapid spread of conspiracy theories and fake cures—including drinking bleach to cure the disease—that have erupted in panic and confusion over the epidemic on social media.

  • A Facebook spokesperson told Forbes it will remove ads for products “that refer to the coronavirus and create a sense of urgency, like implying a limited supply, or guaranteeing a cure or prevention.”
  • The spokesperson added that, for example, “ads with claims like face masks that are 100% guaranteed to prevent the spread of the virus will not be allowed.”
  • Health experts warn the spread of misinformation, fake cures and conspiracy theories about coronavirus can actively cause harm and undermine trust in government institutions. “We need a vaccine against misinformation,” said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO health emergencies program, in a meeting this month.
  •  A number of false cures have spread on Facebook in the past few months, including one claiming that drinking bleach can cure the virus, according to FactCheck.org.
  • Facebook already said in January it will outright remove posts flagged by global health organizations and local health authorities with potentially harmful false cures or prevention methods for the coronavirus.
  • But the company also said last month it won’t remove other false claims about the virus, opting instead to fact-check, demote them in the news feed and point users to reliable information from the World Health Organization.

Key background: Facebook has struggled to contain disinformation since the 2016 election and has faced criticism for not removing ads from politicians that contain lies. But misleading or untrue medical claims have been a particularly thorny issue for the platform. Facebook banned misleading ads about vaccines last year, but private Facebook groups have become hotbeds of medical misinformation, and some ads expressing skepticism about vaccines haven’t been taken down. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said that Facebook shouldn’t be an arbiter of truth, and company policy is to be usually reluctant to remove posts and ads at all.

News peg: More than 81,000 people globally have been infected with the virus as of Wednesday, and more 2,700 have died. The World Health Organization hasn’t declared the virus a pandemic, but Europe, the Middle East and the U.S. are preparing for an outbreak as cases outside China continue to surge.

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I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. Previously, I’ve reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San Jose Inside. I studied journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and was an editor at The Daily Orange, the university’s independent student newspaper. Follow me on Twitter @rachsandl or shoot me an email rsandler@forbes.com.

Source: Facebook Bans Ads Promising A Cure To The Coronavirus

Facebook is banning ads which promise to cure COVID-19, the disease caused by the deadly coronavirus. #Facebook #Coronavirus #MisleadingAds #WIONVideos __________ About Channel: WION -The World is One News, examines global issues with in-depth analysis. We provide much more than the news of the day. Our aim to empower people to explore their world. With our Global headquarters in New Delhi, we bring you news on the hour, by the hour. We deliver information that is not biased. We are journalists who are neutral to the core and non-partisan when it comes to the politics of the world. People are tired of biased reportage and we stand for a globalised united world. So for us the World is truly One. Please keep discussions on this channel clean and respectful and refrain from using racist or sexist slurs as well as personal insults. Subscribe to our channel at https://goo.gl/JfY3NI Check out our website: http://www.wionews.com Connect with us on our social media handles: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WIONews Twitter: https://twitter.com/WIONews Follow us on Google News for latest updates WION: shorturl.at/fwKO0 Zee News English: shorturl.at/aJVY3 Zee News Hindi: shorturl.at/eorM1 Zee Business: shorturl.at/hpqX6 DNA News: shorturl.at/rBOY6 BGR: shorturl.at/eioqL

Could the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Be a Victim of COVID-19?

In a promotional video featuring Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, as well as fans of different nationalities, the organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games revealed on Feb. 17 the event’s official motto: United by Emotion.

Yet if there’s one emotion linking the world today, it might be fear. The COVID-19 outbreak shows little sign of weakening. As of Feb. 19, the disease has infected more than 75,000, killed 2,014 and prompted over 50 countries and territories to close their borders to arrivals from China. The “devil” virus, as Chinese President Xi Jinping has called it, has already surpassed the combined death toll of SARS and MERS and lies on the cusp of becoming a pandemic that spreads around the globe. The next few weeks will determine whether containment efforts can prevent COVID-19 becoming the “black swan event” that Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang has warned may derail the global economy.

The economic repercussions already look severe. According to analysis by research firm Capital Economics, COVID-19 will cost the world economy over $280 billion in the first quarter of this year, meaning that global GDP will not grow from one quarter to the next for the first time since 2009. China’s growth is expected to slow to 4.5% over the same period. Some 5 million companies have Chinese suppliers, according to data company Dun & Bradstreet, and all are under threat from slashed manufacturing capacity.

Korean automaker Hyundai has shut its huge factory in Ulsan due to a shortage of parts. Apple has told investors it will fail to meet quarterly revenue targets and warned of global “iPhone supply shortages” from the shutting of Chinese factories. The slowdown may also undermine U.S. plans to massively boost exports of agricultural goods, energy and services to China, hampering any potential recovery in farming communities and the Rust Belt.

Travel in and around the region has ebbed significantly. Some 21 airlines have cancelled all flights to mainland China. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has cut 40% of network capacity and asked 27,000 employees to take unpaid leave to help it stay afloat. Events from the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens to K-Pop concerts have been cancelled or postponed.

Now, speculation is mounting about one of the year’s biggest events due to take place directly in the orbit of the outbreak—the 2020 Olympic Games, which are to be held in Tokyo beginning July 24. Japan has the second highest rate of COVID-19 infections after China, with 695 people testing positive for the virus, most of them on a cruise ship docked at the city of Yokohama. Yet the Olympics torch relay is due to begin next month and traverse to all of Japan’s 47 prefectures over 121 days, coinciding with its popular cherry blossom bloom.

The chill on visitor numbers across Asia already risk making the Games a subdued affair. Japan received 9.6 million visitors from China in 2019, accounting for a third of foreign tourist expenditure, but Chinese arrivals have virtually ceased since the outbreak. According to Japanese public broadcaster NHK, Tokyo 2020 organizing committee chief executive Toshiro Muto said on Feb.5 he was “extremely worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the Games.”

Officials have since closed ranks as speculation about the Games has increased. Organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori insisted Feb. 13, “we are not considering a cancelation or postponement of the Games—let me make that clear.” As he spoke, some 3,700 people remained quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise liner, anchored less than two miles from Yokohama Baseball stadium, a key Tokyo 2020 venue. (Those uninfected were scheduled for release beginning Feb. 19.)

Four days later, the city canceled the Tokyo Marathon due to take place on March 1 for all except elite runners. Dick Pound, a former Olympian swimmer and member of the International Olympic Committee, told TIME the organisation was monitoring the situation closely but said no one was talking about relocation or cancelation with five months still to go. “If there’s a legitimate pandemic that is potentially a lot more lethal than normal illnesses of flu, that’s when you need to start thinking about it. But not at this stage.”

Mori’s confidence is in line with projections that COVID-19 will fade during warmer and more humid summer months, as SARS did in 2003. But it’s still not clear why SARS declined as temperatures rose. Some coronavirus strains—like MERS—thrive in the heat, says Prof. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. The theory of COVID-19’s summer regress is simply “based on wishful thinking,” he says. “There is no data to support it.”

It’s hard to overstate the economic impact on Japan were the Olympics forced to be canceled or relocated. The investment surrounding the event is staggering; the Games are set to cost $25 billion, according to latest predictions, nearly four times the original estimate. According to hospitality research firm CBRE Hotels, 80,000 hotel rooms were forecast to open across Japan’s nine major cities between 2019 and 2021. Tokyo’s Okura hotel reopened in September after a $1 billion renovation. In May, national carrier Japan Airlines is due to launch a low cost subsidiary, Zipair Tokyo, at a cost of around $200 million, to meet increased demand surrounding the Olympics. It will be based at Tokyo Narita International Airport, which is currently undergoing an expansion to nearly double capacity. (Tokyo’s other main airport, Haneda, is also due to boost capacity by 70%.)

The coronavirus is already keeping international visitors away beyond China. Capital Economics research suggests tourism arrivals in Japan will fall by 40% this quarter due to COVID-19, knocking off 0.4 percentage points from growth. The U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization forecasts that Japan could lose $1.29 billion in tourism revenue over the same period. Koichiro Takahara, CEO of Tokyo-based ride-sharing app nearMe, says he fears the Olympics could get cancelled if the outbreak worsens. That, he says, “would have a big impact on my business, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.”

It would also impose a political cost on Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Already, his insistence during the bidding process that radiation from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown would be tackled has been called out after Greenpeace found radiation hotspots in December near where the Olympic torch relay will pass. Similar assurances that COVID-19 will not disrupt the Games will be treated with skepticism, says Jules Boykoff, a politics professor at Pacific University, Oregon who studies the Olympics and played soccer for Team USA. “For many, when they hear Abe and other officials saying that COVID-19 will not affect the Olympics, they hear the unmistakable ring of previous empty promises.”

But it’s unclear what a Plan B might look like. Simon Chadwick, professor of the Eurasian Sport Industry at France’s Emlyon business School, suggests a networked event held across different countries is a more likely alternative. (The 2020 UEFA European Soccer Championships and 2022 Commonwealth Games are slated for such a format.) Yet there will be considerable resistance from sponsors and broadcasters who have already ploughed vast resources into securing rights deals and promotional activities. NBC alone spent $1.4 billion on broadcasting rights for Tokyo 2020. In this regard, both host and business interests will be furiously resisting any deviation. “The Japanese government is surely lobbying the IOC hard as it seeks to protect its multitude of investments,” says Chadwick.

That might explain an apparent unwillingness to address the uncertainty. Asked what contingency plans were in place for moving or postponing the Games, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government told TIME, “We cannot provide a definitive answer to a hypothetical situation.” Yet as the virus spreads its tendrils further into the Asia region, the risks are only becoming more tangible.

By Charlie Campbell February 20, 2020

Source: Could the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Be a Victim of COVID-19?

코로나19 확산 일로…도쿄 올림픽도 불안감 증폭 With the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics just five months away from kicking off in the Japanese capital,… the COVID-19 outbreak is raising concerns about whether the world’s biggest and most-celebrated sporting event might have to be called off. Lee Seung-jae reports. The Tokyo Marathon scheduled for March 1st will be held on a much smaller scale than originally planned this year in the light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Roughly 38-thousand amateur runners will not be allowed to participate,… instead it’ll be limited to only 200 elite runners and wheelchair participants. However, the bigger concern is the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games that’s scheduled to start on July 24th. As the COVID-19 outbreak is not yet under control,… there are concerns over whether the event could even take place. The WHO says it hasn’t made a decision on the matter. “We have not offered advice to the IOC for the Olympics one way or the other, and neither would we. It is not the role of WHO to call off or not call off any event. It is the role of WHO to offer technical advice, to support a considered a multi-layered risk assessment around an event, to offer advice on risk reduction and risk mitigation measures, to offer advice on risk response measures and it is the decision of hosting countries and the organizing agencies to make that decision.” According to the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee chairman,… the committee isn’t even considering cancelling or delaying the event,… and will press on with the Olympics regardless. Citing a Japanese virologist,… the New York Post reported on Wednesday,… that if the Olympics were to happen tomorrow,… they would have to be cancelled. The Tokyo organizing committee and the IOC have reiterated that they’re going to continue following the advice of the WHO. It raises the possibility that, if the outbreak spreads further,… the Tokyo 2020 Olympics could be postponed or completely called off. Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News. #COVID19 #coronavirus #Olympics Arirang News Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/arirangtvnews

Elton John Stricken With Pneumonia, Cuts N.Z. Show Short

NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND – FEBRUARY 06: Elton John performs at Mission Estate on February 06, 2020 in Napier, New Zealand. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

Elton John has pneumonia, and it’s unclear if he’ll continue what he says is his final world tour.

“I played and sang my heart out, until my voice could sing no more,” he said in a tweet. “I’m disappointed, deeply upset and sorry. I gave it all I had.”

John, 72, abruptly left the stage during Sunday’s concert in Auckland and returned minutes later for two more songs before saying, “I’ve just completely lost my voice. I can’t sing. I’ve got to go. I’m sorry,” the BBC reports.

Earlier in the set he told the sold-out crowd he’d been diagnosed with walking pneumonia.

He’s scheduled to play two more concerts in Auckland on Feb. 18 and 20, followed by shows in Australia, as part of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” world tour.

John thanked his fans Sunday on Twitter:

I want to thank everyone who attended the gig in Auckland tonight.  I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia earlier today, but I was determined to give you the best show humanly possible.

The flamboyant superstar took home his first Oscar in 25 years this year for “Rocketman,” which won for best original song. He won previously for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” in 1995.

The New Zealand Herald reported that John, 72, told his fans earlier that he had walking pneumonia and his voice was shot, but that he didn’t want to miss the show. At one point, after performing “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” John slumped on his stool and required medical attention, the newspaper reported. But John recovered and continued to play. Later, as he he attempted to sing “Daniel,” he realized he had no voice left and was escorted off stage.

The concert was part of John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. The tour lists additional performances in Auckland on Tuesday and Thursday; there’s no word on whether those shows will go on as scheduled.

John had just returned to New Zealand after performing at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. He won an Oscar for best original song for his theme song for the movie “Rocketman.”

By Hailey Waller / Bloomberg 11:41 PM EST

Source: Elton John Stricken With Pneumonia, Cuts N.Z. Show Short

팝스타 엘튼 존, 건강 이상으로 뉴질랜드서 공연 중 콘서트 중단 British pop-star Elton John has cut short a concert in New Zealand,… after he was diagnosed with walking pneumonia on Sunday, while on tour. The 72-year-old lost his voice and broke down in tears on stage while he was performing at a stadium in Auckland. He later posted about his illness to his social media,… telling his fans that he was “deeply upset and sorry” for cutting short the concert. While thanking his fans,… he added he was determined to give the best show possible. Elton John is currently on what he says his final world tour,… known as “Farewell Yellow Brick Road.”

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