Saturday, February 29, 2020
The latest threat to global health is the ongoing outbreak of the respiratory disease that was recently given the name Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19). Covid-19 was recognized in December 2019.1 It was rapidly shown to be caused by a novel coronavirus that is structurally related to the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). As in two preceding instances of emergence of coronavirus disease in the past 18 years2 — SARS (2002 and 2003) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) (2012 to the present) — the Covid-19 outbreak has posed critical challenges for the public health, research, and medical communities.
In their Journal article, Li and colleagues3 provide a detailed clinical and epidemiologic description of the first 425 cases reported in the epicenter of the outbreak: the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, China. Although this information is critical in informing the appropriate response to this outbreak, as the authors point out, the study faces the limitation associated with reporting in real time the evolution of an emerging pathogen in its earliest stages. Nonetheless, a degree of clarity is emerging from this report. The median age of the patients was 59 years, with higher morbidity and mortality among the elderly and among those with coexisting conditions (similar to the situation with influenza); 56% of the patients were male. Of note, there were no cases in children younger than 15 years of age. Either children are less likely to become infected, which would have important epidemiologic implications, or their symptoms were so mild that their infection escaped detection, which has implications for the size of the denominator of total community infections.
On 25 January I had a checkup. I had begun to cough. It was a very dry cough with a little yellow phlegm. The results showed that my situation was worsening, with the infection spreading to my entire lungs. The doctor gave me an IV drip, while the oral medicine remained the same. At the time the doctor told me I was suspected of having the virus, but that only an expert committee could decide who would be able to use the testing kit.
By 26 January getting up had become extremely difficult and I was shivering with cold. I felt I was having a high fever, and I was: 39C. Reports later said that the situation could develop extremely fast in the middle stage, but before I knew it, by that evening the fever was gone. It felt like having been to hell and back. That period from 21 January to the 26th was the worst time. I coughed so bad my stomach was hurting and my back ached. Those were some of the worst days in my life.
A deadly disease disrupts - The new coronavirus could have a lasting impact on global supply chains | International | The Economist
As covid-19 spreads, its effect on business is amplified. Tourism into and out of the mainland has plunged. Some 400,000 Chinese tourists are forecast to cancel trips to Japan by the end of March. One large cruise ship in Asia was turned away by five countries because of fears that those on board were infected (Cambodia at last allowed it to dock). The Singapore Air Show earned the city-state some $250m in 2018, but far less this week owing to cancellations by 70 companies including Lockheed Martin, an American defence giant. The Mobile World Congress, a giant telecoms conference due to take place in Barcelona this month, has been cancelled after companies from Vodafone and BT to Facebook and Amazon pulled out. It is increasingly clear that the virus could damage global supply chains, costing the world’s economy dearly.
The Economist has a whole issue on coronavirus's implact on global markets, which is not good.
Friday, February 28, 2020
WASHINGTON (AP) — A professor at the University of Tennessee has been arrested on charges that he hid his relationship with a Chinese university while receiving research grants from the federal government, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Anming Hu, an associate professor in the department of mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering at the university’s flagship Knoxville campus, was charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements.
After the indictment was announced, the university said Hu had been suspended and that school officials had cooperated.
Confusion on the Border as Appeals Court Blocks Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy - The New York Times
A federal appeals court on Friday upended a central pillar of the Trump administration’s immigration agenda, ruling that asylum seekers must once again be allowed into the United States while their cases weave through American immigration courts.
After a year in which nearly a million migrants crossed the southwestern border, jamming processing facilities and defying President Trump’s attempts to curtail immigration, border crossings have dropped sharply in recent months. But the new decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit invalidates one of the most effective restrictions, leaving the administration’s ability to control the arrival of new asylum seekers in doubt.
A three-judge panel in San Francisco blocked the policy, often known as “Remain in Mexico,” that has required people applying for asylum at the border to wait in Mexico while their claims for protection are reviewed, a process that often takes months or years.
They called it “Disease X”. The epidemic-in-waiting. The World Health Organisation added it to a list of eight of humanity’s worst-known infectious diseases back in 2018. Didn’t have a name because it hadn’t happened. One aim of the list is to show the 194 countries that fund the United Nations body the threat from global public health emergencies, namely epidemics.
Good article. H/t WGS.
Pope Francis has come down with a “slight indisposition,” forcing him to cancel a planned Mass in Rome, just a day after he expressed his solidarity with coronavirus sufferers around the world — and as the disease continues to spread across Italy.
The illness has forced the 82-year-old pontiff to nix a penitential Mass, marking the start of Lent, that he’d planned to celebrate at the St. John Lateran basilica across town with Roman clergy, the Vatican said.
Francis will proceed with the rest of his planned work Thursday, but “preferred to stay near Santa Marta,” the Vatican hotel where he lives, officials said.
The Vatican has not specified the nature of the pope’s illness, but he was seen coughing and blowing his nose during Ash Wednesday Mass.
Picture the following sacred but unhygienic scene: Pilgrims from a dozen countries converge on one small city. They stay in cramped hotels, using communal toilets and eating meals together. For their main ritual, they converge on the tomb of a woman, the sister of a holy man, and as they get closer, they feel with rising intensity grief over her death and the deaths of her kin. The grief is a commandment: Each tear, according to one tradition, will be transformed in the afterlife into a pearl, and an angel will compensate them for their tears with a bucket of pearls that will be signs of their devotion when they arrive at the gate of paradise. But for now the bodily fluids are flowing, wiped away occasionally by bare hands, and the crowd is getting denser. A metal cage surrounds the tomb itself, and when the weeping pilgrims reach it, they interlace their fingers with its bars, and many press their face against it, fogging up the shiny metal with their breath. Some linger for minutes, some for seconds. In a single day, many thousands pass through the same cramped space—breathing the same air, touching the same surfaces, trading new and exotic diseases.
Thursday, February 27, 2020
The deadly coronavirus, COVID-19, from Wuhan, China is a global health emergency according to the World Health Organization. Some experts say up to 70% of the world could be infected. What is the United States doing to prepare for a coronavirus pandemic? The CDC has some plans, but is it enough?