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Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advice

A place to post daily news of Kurdistan from valid sources .

Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:04 am

What will a night out be like?

When people in the UK were asked last month what they were most looking forward to post-lockdown, only seeing friends and family ranked higher than a night out


With limited socialising now a possibility, attention is turning to Britain's pubs, bars and clubs.

The UK government has said the hospitality sector, which includes pubs and bars, could reopen "no earlier than 4 July".

But can nightlife in the UK ever conform to social distancing rules? And what would a Covid-safe evening out look like?

No dancefloor

"It might be the case that people have to wear masks, it might be that people have to have their temperature taken on entry," says Alex Black, manager of Thekla, a 600-capacity club and music venue in Bristol.

Thekla is unusual in that it is a former cargo ship moored in a dock in the city centre. Yet it faces the same problems as many bars, clubs and pubs on dry land: it can be cramped inside and has limited outside space.

"The plan at the moment is to utilise outdoor space, we're in talks with the council about using the car park," Alex tells the BBC.

Any outside space would have to be filled with heavy or fixed furniture to ensure social distancing, and people would need to rely on table service for drinks, with orders likely placed through an app.

Crucially, Alex says the dancefloor will be closed: "If they have a couple of drinks and start slacking on distancing then the dancefloor isn't going to be possible."

Other new features could involve one-way systems - similar to supermarkets - and temporary outdoor toilets, with stewards brought in to regulate both. The cost of these extras, plus any cut taken by the ordering app and fees paid to the council for using extra land, mean profits will be hard to come by.

The answer for clubs, Alex says, might be to still treat each night as an event, with a DJ or band and an admission fee.

"We'd try to implement some sort of entertainment to warrant the admission charge as, realistically, that is the way you'd have to do it to make it profitable."

And it is not just venues that rely on music that need more space. Pubs too are facing the possibility of being unable to open.

"We could normally fit about 70 people in here," says Sean Hughes, who runs The Boot, a grade II listed pub in St Albans. "At 2m distancing, we've mapped out we could fit about five people.

"It's a horseshoe bar, it's very narrow. It's about two metres from the door to the bar, and then all around the edge you have tables. On one side we have toilets, so that takes out all of the tables on that side because people have to queue."

The only option for The Boot, as with many pubs, is to put tables outside, or on the street, which the local council has temporarily closed.

But even then, Sean says, queuing to get in, table service - again, possibly via an app - and gloves and face coverings for staff might be necessary. These measures, he fears, will detract from the experience and could keep customers away.

And not all pubs, clubs and bars will even be lucky enough to make use of outside space.

Among those working to ensure venues of all kinds can operate safely and profitably in larger cities are London night czar Amy Lamé and Manchester's night-time economy adviser Sacha Lord.

"I certainly would have thought that, to begin with, you'll have to be seated," Sacha says of bars and pubs. "I think it will be table service, you won't be asked to take your glasses back to the bar."

He says that disposable menus and Perspex screens could be common. "It's not going to have the atmosphere for quite a while."

People drinking while socially distanced outside in London Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Could drinking in the street become more common in the future?

With reduced capacities, could pubs and bars opt to charge more for drinks?

"I don't think, as we're walking into a recession, that paying more is really an option," says Amy, but she concedes making a profit will be a struggle.

"Overwhelmingly, bars, pubs and clubs rely on the last 20% of people walking through their door before they make a profit, so it's really important they're operating at the fullest capacity possible."

But the UK is not alone in trying to open its evening economy. Close to 40 night-time advisers from around the world - including from the UK, the US, Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands and Germany - have joined forces in a WhatsApp group to share potential solutions.

So what steps are others taking?

Germany allowed some venues with large outdoor spaces to open from 15 May. These operated as beer gardens with food being served. Dancing, however, was banned and closing time was set at 22:00.

Bars were opened on 2 June, although guests have to sit at tables, one and half metres apart - and last orders are at 23:00. Clubs remain closed.

The Netherlands, like Italy and France, has reopened bars, though there is a limit to 30 customers inside, while in Italy plastic screens have been installed between tables.

Spain reopened its bars and some clubs on 8 June, though again dancing is not allowed.

Switzerland opened its nightlife on 6 June, albeit with limits on numbers of visitors and the requirement to record customers' details to help trace outbreaks.

In China, where bars have been open since March, the tracing of customers goes far further.

Those entering bars and clubs are asked to present a government-developed app on their phone, which displays an overview of their health. They then have a temperature check, usually on their wrist, before filling out a form with their name, phone number and passport number.

Alex Blatt, a UK citizen based in Beijing, says the experience is far from what it was before the pandemic.

"You're quite conscious of checking you're doing everything by the rules. Have I signed in correctly? Is my temperature OK? Have I shown staff the right app? What tables am I allowed to sit at? Do I wear my mask all the time?

"It's that uncertainty in a domain that once felt so ordinary. But at the end of the day it's still a place people go to relax, so fundamentally these places get that and they're trying to do that as best they can."

'It doesn't make sense'

The pressing question for the UK industry is not just what venues will look like when they return, but - with social distancing measures in place - how many will be able to return at all.

The deciding factor for many will be whether the current 2m rule will have to be enforced indoors.

"With 2m distancing, we're only looking at 30% to 40% of bars and pubs, and even less clubs, being able to open," says Mike Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association.

"Once you get to 1.5m you're looking at about 50%, and once you get to 1m you're looking at about 60%."

Among the 40% of venues unable to operate under any form of social distancing will be The Jazz Cafe, in Camden, north London.

"We worked out logistical examples of distancing and how many people we could get in and it just doesn't make any sense," says head of music Ruari Frew.

With the government's furlough scheme due to end in October, The Jazz Cafe, one of the city's best-loved music venues, is now planning to survive until 2021 through crowdfunding.

Examples like that have prompted industry bodies and businesses to call for more clarity around when and how the UK government wants pubs and bars to reopen.

A government spokesman told the BBC the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was "working closely with businesses across the hospitality sector" to help them reopen.

But whatever the government's guidelines, it is likely to be some time before the familiar enjoyment of pre-coronavirus nightlife returns.
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic



Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:26 pm

Virus might have started August 2019

There's been criticism of a study from the US suggesting that the coronavirus could have been present in the Chinese city of Wuhan as early as August last year

The study by Harvard University, which gained significant publicity when it was released earlier this month, has been dismissed by China and had its methodology challenged by independent scientists.

What did the research say?

The research, which hasn't been peer-reviewed, is based on satellite imagery of traffic movements around hospitals in Wuhan and the tracking of online searches for specific medical symptoms.

It says there was a noticeable rise in vehicles parking outside six hospitals in the city from late August to 1 December 2019.

This coincided, says the Harvard report, with an increase in searches for possible coronavirus symptoms such as "cough" and "diarrhoea".

This would be an important finding because the earliest reported case in Wuhan wasn't until the beginning of December.

The academics write: "While we cannot confirm if the increased volume was directly related to the new virus, our evidence supports other recent work showing that emergence happened before identification at the Huanan Seafood market."

The Harvard study has gained a lot of traction in the media, with President Trump, who has been highly critical of China's pandemic response, tweeting a Fox News item highlighting the researchers' findings. The tweet has been viewed more than three million times.

So, does their evidence stand up?

The study claims there was an increase in online queries for coronavirus symptoms, particularly "diarrhoea", on popular Chinese search engine Baidu.

However, Baidu company officials have disputed their findings, saying there was in fact a decrease in searches for "diarrhoea" over this period.

So, what's going on?


The term used in the Harvard University paper actually translates from Chinese as "symptom of diarrhoea".

We checked this on Baidu's tool that allows users to analyse the popularity of search queries, like Google Trends.

The search-term "symptom of diarrhoea" does indeed show an increase in queries from August 2019.

However, we also ran the term "diarrhoea", a more common search-term in Wuhan, and it actually showed a decrease from August 2019 until the outbreak began.

A lead author of the Harvard paper, Benjamin Rader, told the BBC that "the search term we chose for 'diarrhoea' was chosen because it was the best match for confirmed cases of Covid-19 and was suggested as a related search term to coronavirus".

We also looked at the popularity of searches for "fever" and "difficulty in breathing", two other common symptoms of coronavirus.

Searches for "fever" increased a small amount after August at a similar rate to "cough", and queries for "difficulty in breathing" decreased in the same period.

There have also been questions raised about the study using diarrhoea as an indicator of the disease.

A large-scale UK study of nearly 17,000 coronavirus patients found that diarrhoea was the seventh most common symptom, well below the top three: cough, fever and shortness of breath.

What about the number of cars?

Across the six hospitals, the Harvard study reported a rise in cars in hospital parking lots from August to December 2019.

However, we've found some serious flaws in their analysis.


The researchers studied and annotated satellite images showing Wuhan hospitals

The report states that images with tree cover and building shadows were excluded to avoid over or under-counting of vehicles.

However, satellite images released to the media show large areas of hospital car parks blocked by tall buildings which means that it's not possible to accurately assess the number of cars present.

There's also an underground car park at Tianyou Hospital, which is visible on Baidu's street view function, but only the entrance is in view on satellite imagery - not the cars underneath the ground.

One of the authors of the study, Benjamin Rader said "we definitely can't account for underground parking in any time period of the study and this is one of the limitations of this type of research."

There are also concerns about the choice of hospitals for the study.

Hubei Women and Children's hospital is one of the sites included, but children rarely require hospital treatment for coronavirus. In response, the authors say their findings would still show increased car park usage overall even if this hospital were to be excluded from the survey.

The researchers could also have compared their data with hospitals in other Chinese cities, to see if the rises in traffic and search queries were specific to Wuhan, being where the outbreak first came to light.

Without that comparison, in addition to the questions we've raised about online searches for medical symptoms, the evidence for Wuhan residents receiving treatment for coronavirus from August last year remains highly contestable.

There is, however, still much we don't know about the early spread of the virus in Wuhan.
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:23 pm

Sanandaj lacks space
for virus patients

The Eastern Kurdish city of Sanandaj is a city of ghosts

Walls are now covered in a shroud of death announcements — those who have fallen victim to the coronavirus. A peculiar request is added to many of the black announcements plastered across the city; asking for friends and relatives to send their condolences by phone, rather than in person

A surge in the number of deaths has haunted Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan province in Iran. Two hospitals designed to take in COVID-19 patients have run out of space, with the Iranian government labelling the Kurdish region and some other provinces of the country as “dangerous zones.” Sanandaj’s health authorities are deeply worried a third hospital will soon be inundated if the pandemic is not curbed soon.

Although the number of infections started surging months ago, people appear to have only recently started adhering to the health instructions. A taxi driver who took me to the Besat Hospital, the second largest COVID-19 hospital in Sanandaj, tells me he used to "mock" the disease in the beginning. He only came to grips with the seriousness of the pandemic a month ago, after losing his 47-year-old cousin to the virus. "I now understand how big a catastrophe this pandemic is," the taxi driver told Rudaw English.

As we drove through the town, I noticed markedly less people gathering in public compared to a few weeks ago. Most shops have remained closed for a long while now. Pedestrians walk past them wearing masks, a signal that locals are gravely worried about the deadly pandemic and understand the gravity of the situation, as they constantly hear news of another loved one’s death.

"Unfortunately, in the Kurdistan province and in Sanandaj city in particular, we are suffering from the coronavirus crisis. There are 212 patients alone in Tawhid Hospital who are under intensive care," said Dr. Arazoo Falahi, spokeswoman of Kurdistan Medical Sciences University. “The hospital is full,” she told Rudaw English.

Health officials in Sanandaj say the hospital is running out of beds and soon won’t have space for new patients. Now, only one health facility remains, which is Kawsar Hospital, situated in the southern outskirts of the city. For the families of those who have recently fallen ill, it is their only hope.

Health authorities have begun considering contingency plans to set up tents in the city’s public parks open spaces to treat an influx of patients in case of emergency.

As I entered the Besat Hospital, in Sanandaj city center, I noticed a few men wearing masks and gloves. Among them was Kawa Ahmedi. He says his 52-year-old brother, a nurse at the hospital, contracted the virus a week ago and is now placed in the intensive care unit.

The expression on Ahmedi's face tells of the exhaustion of the ordeal. He says he had not slept for days worrying about the deteriorating health of his older brother.

"My brother worked at this hospital for 25 years, and contracted the virus right here," Ahmedi told Rudaw English. "The situation is much more dangerous than the public thinks," he warned. "The wife of one of my brothers has just contracted corona. And today another woman from our family died at Tawhid Hospital."

Ten members of Ahmedi’s family have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Some families have even had their entire extended family test positive. Besat Hospital has a 56-bed capacity and it was not designed to respond to a pandemic. “I hope it is not overwhelmed. If this happens, we will be forced to resort to setting up tents outside to treat patients," Dr. Falahi said.

In addition to Sanandaj, the pandemic has taken its toll on the western city of Mariwan as well, which is located in Iran’s Kurdistan province. "We expect Mariwan to suffer the same fate as Sanandaj. It is facing a dangerous situation," Dr. Falahi warned.

"Unfortunately, the infection number keeps going up these days in the Kurdistan Province, surpassing 200 a day," she said, adding that 270 new cases were identified just in the last 24 hours.

"We have to anticipate a larger calamity if the situation worsens. Unless people take self-protection measures, the virus will not be controlled, even if the public is quarantined for a month," Dr. Falahi added, noting that many cases come as a result of social gatherings, including funerals and weddings.

"Those who do not abide by the health regulations are tampering with the lives of health workers," she said.

Sanandaj is known as the cultural capital of Iranian Kurdistan, with the majority of the festivals taking place in this city. Spring festivities were cancelled this year, however, under lockdown measures, leaving no glimmer of happiness for people at this difficult time.

I left Besat Hospital to venture over to Tawhid Hospital. It was noticeably different from my last visit. The situation appeared significantly more depressing and dangerous, with not a single bed available for more patients seeking treatment there.

As I stepped onto the hospital premises, I noticed two families standing under the shade of the long pine trees in the front courtyard; confused, and crying to each other with a distance between them. Fatih Kuhi, 45, had just lost his 70-year-old father to COVID-19 earlier in the day.

"Ten days ago, my father's health deteriorated after contracting coronavirus. I rushed him to the hospital and today he passed away," Kuhi recounted through sobs.

"In the beginning, he was given some medication, and was sent back home, with the advice that he should stay quarantined. Three days later, his health deteriorated once again and today, he passed away," Kuhi told Rudaw English.

"It is very difficult to lose a father, even if he lives to be 100. My father had no underlying health conditions," he said. "What is more heartbreaking is the way we have to hold a funeral for him. We are a large tribe and it is just my siblings and I who are here."

Bahman Moradina, governor of Kurdistan Province considers coronavirus infections exceeding 5,000 as a "dangerous alarm" because there are also another 67,000 people quarantined inside their houses. The bulk of them are in Sanandaj.

According to the latest data from the Kurdistan Medical Sciences University, the number of the COVID-19 deaths in the province has reached 195, including 50 in Sanandaj.
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Jun 15, 2020 4:39 pm

Antibodies last 2 months

Covid-19 patients have immune system antibodies for at least two MONTHS after recovering from the virus, scientists find in a boost to hopes of long-term immunity and a working vaccine

    Antibodies are substances containing body's memory of how to fight an illness

    Scientists are still not sure whether people can catch the coronavirus twice

    Presence of antibodies after two months raises hopes of lasting immunity

    Ability to create antibodies is crucial for being able to make a working vaccine

    But researchers also found that not all people diagnosed had antibodies
People who have recovered from Covid-19 still have stable levels of antibodies for at least two months after their illness, a study has found.

Antibodies are substances in the immune system which the body uses to remember how to fight off an infection, and their presence usually means someone is immune.

Researchers at universities in the UK and a company developing an antibody test have found that these coronavirus antibodies seem to persist for at least two months.

Scientists are still unsure whether people can catch the disease more than once, which is one reason the public aren't being offered tests to work out if they've had it.

A successful vaccine will rely on long-lasting antibodies being produced by people's immune systems and the new finding is a ray of hope for vaccine development.

However, the study also found that some people who had been officially diagnosed with the virus did not develop any antibodies at all. People who only get a mild infection may not develop these, scientists have found.

Scientists and a company developing an antibody test found that people with coronavirus antibodies were able to retain them in their blood for two months or more (Pictured: A blood test used to detect whether someone has had the virus in the past)

The research was done by researchers at St George's University in London and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, along with the British testing company Mologic and the Institute Pasteur de Dakar, in Senegal.

It analysed results from antibody tests - blood tests to detect antibodies - carried out on 177 people who had been officially diagnosed with Covid-19.


Antibody tests are ones which look for signs of past infection in someone's blood.

Antibodies are substances produced by the immune system which store memories of how to fight off a specific virus. They can only be created if the body is exposed to the virus by getting infected for real, or through a vaccine or other type of specialist immune therapy.

Generally speaking, antibodies produce immunity to a virus because they are redeployed if it enters the body for a second time, defeating the bug faster than it can take hold and cause an illness.

An antibody test, which involves analysis of someone's blood sample, has two purposes: to reveal whether an individual has been infected in the past and may therefore be protected against the virus, and to count those people.

Knowing you are immune to a virus - although whether people actually develop immunity to Covid-19 is still unknown - can affect how you act in the future. Someone may need to protect themselves less if they know they have been infected, for example, or medical staff may be able to return to work in the knowledge they are not at risk.

Counting the numbers of people who have antibodies is the most accurate way of calculating how many people in a population have had the virus already.

This can be done on a small sample of the population and the figures scaled up to give a picture of the country as a whole.

In turn, this can inform scientists and politicians how devastating a second outbreak might be, and how close the country is to herd immunity - a situation in which so many people have had the virus already that it would not be able to spread quickly a second time.

It found that in those patients who tested positive for antibodies, the level of them in the blood remained stable for the entire two-month study.

The study also found that patients with the most severe infections with the largest immune response were more likely to develop antibodies.

Scientists said the reason for this could be that those people were likely to be exposed to a larger amount of the virus and therefore to develop a larger amount of antibodies in response.

They add that further mechanistic work is required to understand if and why this may be the case.

Professor Sanjeev Krishna, chief of the Molecular and Medical Parasitology Group at St George's, said: 'Our results provide an improved understanding of how best to use viral and antibody tests for coronavirus, especially when not every person exposed to the virus will have a positive response.

'We need to understand how best to interpret the results from these tests to control the spread of the virus, as well as identifying those who may be immune to the disease.

'With the number of infections in the UK going down, we now have the very welcome challenge of attempting to carry out more tests to understand whether other factors are associated with an immune response, such as viral load and genetic factors.

'We hope that by sharing our data at an early stage, this will accelerate progress towards effective use of test results around the world.'

Between two per cent and 8.5 per cent of people in the study did not appear to have any Covid-19 antibodies at all when they were, despite testing positive in the past.

Professor Krishna and his colleagues said this could be because people develop different types of antibodies or immune responses.

Or it could be the case that antibodies are harder to detect in people who only had mild illnesses, because their immune systems won't have reacted as strongly.

The study also explored associations between different characteristics and antibody responses, which backs up the theory that worse illness leads to more antibodies.

Being of non-white ethnicity was associated with a higher antibody response, tying into the knowledge that patients from BAME backgrounds are more likely to develop severe disease.

Older patients and those with other conditions, such as with hypertension and being overweight were also more likely to have an antibody response.

The paper has not been reviewed by other scientists or published in a journal, but is online on medRxiv. ... nosis.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:08 pm

FDA revokes hydroxychloroquine

On Monday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stripped hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug touted by Trump, of its emergency use authorization for treating coronavirus patients

It comes after Dr Gary Brisbow, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority's medical countermeasure programs requested the FDA revoke the controversial drug's status.

Already, the FDA had issued a warning about the use of the drug outside clinical trials or hospitals, due to its potential to cause dangerous heart side effects, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended its use be isolated to trials.

Earlier this month, a study linking the drug to a higher risk of death in COVID-19 patients was retracted from the medical journal The Lancet, reigniting debates over the drug and its safety.

But the FDA cites new data from a clinical trial as evidence that the drug does not help coronavirus patients recover, and may pose risks that outweigh its potential benefits.

Because hydroxychloroquine has long been approved for treating other conditions - malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis - it could still be used 'off-label' and clinical trials may continue.

Still, the FDA's decision to revoke its emergency approval status comes as a blow to President Trump - who has been conspicuously quieter about the drug in recent weeks - and to at least one hope for a coronavirus treatment.

FDA officials have stripped hydroxychloroquine of its emergency approval status for treating coronavirus after reviewing new evidence from a Chinese study that suggests the drug is unlikely to have antiviral effects or ease symptoms

'FDA has concluded that, based on this new information and other information discussed in the attached memorandum, it is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of HCQ [hydroxychloroquine] and CQ [chloroquine] may be effective in treating COVID-19, nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risks,' wrote chief scientist, Dr Denise Hinton, in the Monday letter.

The FDA primarily pointed to the results of a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine performed at Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.

Results from the study of 150 patients, published in the BMJ, showed no signs that patients treated with hydroxychloroquine fared any better than those who did not get the drug at any point over the 28-day trial period.

Researchers stopped the study short as a result of its dismal results.

The study was the nail in the coffin for the FDA's stance on hydroxychloroquine.

When the FDA issued its emergency use authorization (EUA) for hydroxychloroquine on March 28, the decision was met with excitement from President Trump and skepticism from much of the medical community.

FDA officials pointed tepidly to limited evidence that the drug might help stem the replication of coronavirus and ease symptoms.

Since then, a flurry of studies have returned very mixed results, mostly based on small data samples.

Several of these studies were stopped short, either because the drug was showing little benefit, or due to high rates of cardiac complications in the patients.

Critics suspected that the FDA's quick decision was in response to political pressure from the Trump administration, a claim that agency head Dr Stephen Hahn has vehemently denied.

President Trump promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine for treating coronavirus and took it himself in the hopes it would prevent infection, but has grown quiet about the drug in recent weeks

It comes after three authors of a momentous study that claimed that hydroxychloroquine raised the risks of death for coronavirus patients treated with the controversial malaria drug have retracted their research.

The retraction was published in the Lancet on Thursday, and comes just two days after the medical journal posted an 'expression of concern.'

Along with the publication, more than 120 prominent scientists raised questions about the data used in the study, which was sourced from a database run by a private company, Surgisphere.

On the heels of that research's May publication, international trials of the drug were halted - but the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Wednesday it would restart the hydroxychloroquine arm of its international SOLIDARITY trial.

And President Donald Trump himself continued to take the drug he dubbed a 'game-changer' in the hopes it would prevent infection.

The research, led by Dr Mandeep Mehra of Harvard Medical School, Dr Amit Patel of the University of Utah and Dr Frank Ruschitzka of the University Hospital Zurich, has been under outside review.

But Surgisphere - founded by study co-author, Dr Sapan Desai, whose name was conspicuously absent from the retraction letter - refused to transfer its data to the auditors, citing patient privacy. As a result, the review was cut short and the study was retracted.

'We can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources,' the three authors wrote to The Lancet in their retraction.

Even before the study was retracted from The Lancet, hydroxychloroquine was a controversial subject, politicized in part by President Donald Trump's references to the drug as a 'game-changer' and a 'gift from God.'

The study's lead author, Dr Mehra, is a cardiovascular surgeon and registered Republican.

Dr Mehra said in a personal statement shared with that he found Surgisphere through a co-author and personally reviewed the company's data, but admitted that in hindsight, his review was perhaps not thorough enough.

The study authors published a retraction of their research on June 4, less than a month after the original article was published. They revealed that their data could not be reviewed and apologized for any 'embarrassment or inconvenience that this may have caused'

'I did not do enough to ensure that the data source was appropriate for this use. For that, and for all the disruptions—both directly and indirectly—I am truly sorry,' he said in the statement.

Results from Vote With Me suggest that Dr Patel, an adjunct professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Utah may be a registered Democrat.

Editors at the NEJM published an 'expression of concern' Tuesday that echoed that written by the editors of the Lancet. The NEJM, too, was suspicious of the data from Surgisphere.

More than 120 top scientists and doctors had criticized the study in an open letter to the journal, flagging 10 major flaws.

The Lancet then admitted there are 'serious questions' that need to be answered about the data - but did not reveal what those question were - in a public statement.

But scientists say the move was too late and that the 'harm was already done', as the race for a cure to halt the virus that has ravaged the world continues.

However, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday that the hydroxychloroquine arms of its international SOLIDARITY trial of potential coronavirus treatments would resume.

Trump reveals he will stop taking unapproved malaria drug ... ID-19.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Jun 15, 2020 10:32 pm

Stores across most of UK reopen

Tens of thousands of Britons hit the high street today where they faced mile-long queues and two hour waits with footfall up 51.7 per cent in a week as shops reopened for the first time in three months

Retail analysts Springboard also said the number of people visiting retail parks and shopping centres in England was up by 41.7 per cent compared to last Monday. However, with many shoppers still worried about going out, it was still down a third on the same day last year.

Although footfall has increased more than 50 per cent in a week, a significant proportion of outlets in retails parks and shopping centres were not open at all last week.

Younger shoppers were out in force queuing overnight or arriving at dawn in some cases just to be first in line when Primark and trainer shops such as JD Sports and Footlocker opened today.

But older shoppers appear to have stayed away with more traditional high street stores such as M&S quieter while John Lewis said that items such as egg cups, china sets, towels and pillow cases were flying off the shelves as were more expensive items such as TVs and sofas.

In Taunton, the line of people waiting to enter the town's Sports Direct was so long they were asked to stand in a space previously marked for people to cycle or walk down during lockdown while in Sunderland the line stretched for more than a mile. In Plymouth, people waited for up to two hours to enter the Devon city's Sports Direct.

Britain took a large leap out of lockdown today as English shops opened with up to 70 per cent reductions - but the lure of bargains led to the collapse of social distancing at Nike's flagship store.

Tens of thousands more people also flooded on to public transport as masks became mandatory and secondary schools welcomed students for the first time in more than three months this morning.

Shoppers desperate to hit the high street formed huge socially distanced queues after dawn today as the majority of stores reopened this morning - but it was so busy at the Nike store on Oxford Circus it opened an hour early as the two-metre rule went out the window when people jumped the queue and tried to force themselves through the door.

Nike fans flocked to the store hoping to buy some limited edition Nike Air Jordan 1 High Zoom trainers, which can cost up to £400, but it appears many were also there early to beat the queues and pick up 'click and collect' items bought via the sports company's website.

NEWCASTLE: Shoppers queue outside Fenwick in Newcastle today, as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed

BRIGHTON: Shoppers queue outside a Sports Direct store today as non-essential shops open for the first time in three months

Scuffles break out in the Nike Store queue as it re-opens its doors

LONDON: Others sat on the floor outside a Sports Direct on Oxford Street as they waited to enter the store this afternoon

NEWCASTLE: Shoppers on Northumberland Street, Newcastle, as non-essential shops in England open their doors today

TAUNTON: Hundreds of shoppers were seen queuing outside the sports retailer after non-essential shops opened for the first time in three months today

BIRMINGHAM: People were waiting outside Primark for hours to get ready before the opening time, as Boris Johnson urged people to support business, following blue lines in the pavement

RUSHDEN LAKES: Queues for Primark at the Northamptonshire shopping complex spilled into the surrounding area as shoppers waited to enter

NEWCASTLE: A resident is excited to be out of the house and at the shops as he waited in long queues to enter the city's Primark

KINGSTON: Excited customers queue outside a John Lewis store as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March

KINGSTON: Social distancing markers are seen on the ground outside the department store as shoppers line up two metres apart

NEWCASTLE: The city centre was teeming with shoppers this afternoon as shopping largely returned to normal

LONDON: The junction of Oxford Street and Regent Street as shops opened again today

BLUEWATER: The vast shopping mall in Kent is also open today

The brand saw a boost in popularity after the Netflix documentary 'The Last Dance', which chronicled the life of NBA icon Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls basketball team, aired in May.

Tom Jackson, 19, told MailOnline: 'The problem is that people have been pushing in. We’ve seen a few people jump the queue at the front, which isn’t really fair. It’s been a bit chaotic to be honest. I’m not very impressed.’

His sister Anna added: ‘We are trying to observe a two metre distance from everyone else but it’s proving impossible because if we do leave a gap, people start pushing in. We have face masks on, as do most people in the queue, but it can’t be good for us to be grouped together so closely when we are still in a pandemic.’

There was also anger at the exclusive Bicester Village outlet mall where social distancing wasn't maintained. One shopper said: '@bicestervillage so is this your idea of infection control?! What a joke! @ThamesVP get yourself down there, plenty of fines 2 be handed out! @BorisJohnson maybe rethink ur plan for some companies who CLEARLY don’t give a s**t about anything but money'

Desperate fashion chains are sitting on as much as £15billion of unsold stock they are keen to shift with the largest queues appearing to be outside Primark in Birmingham, Marble Arch, London, and Doncaster this morning - with some even camping overnight. In Liverpool their store opened 45 minutes early for browsing at 7.15am because hundreds had turned up - while in Brighton people started arriving at 3am.

Staff at Primark's 153 shops opening today are greeting customers at the store and letting them in one by one so as to not make the shop too busy. Stickers on the floor and notices above clothes racks warn customers to observe social distancing measures while all fitting rooms remain closed. There is one entrance and two exits and as shoppers go in they are asked if they need any hand sanitizing gel.

Rival stores including Zara, John Lewis and Debenhams have slashed prices by as much as 70 per cent in a bid to lure shoppers back but experts predicted that footfall will still only be at 20 per cent of usual pre-lockdown levels in central London.

The Government is also considering an emergency cut to VAT and a relaxation of Sunday trading laws to lure more people from home to the shops, with road traffic also up six per cent in a week to 27 per cent today - but still down around a third of the pre-lockdown rush hour a year ago.

But despite stores offering huge discounts, one-way systems and quarantined footwear for returning shoppers, data from the Office of National Statistics suggests that a massive 64 per cent of people in England are too afraid to leave their house. And twenty per cent of people said they would never step foot in a shop again, according to a separate survey.

As the UK tries edged back towards normality today:

    Thousands of extra police and staff have been deployed across England's public transport network today as new rules which make wearing face coverings compulsory come in to play. The strict new law means passengers on Tubes, buses, trains and planes must wear a face covering from today or risk being turned away, or being slapped with a £100 fine;

    Secondary school pupils with GCSE and A-level exams next year are returning to classes today, but only a quarter of Years 10 and 12 are allowed on site at one time due to social-distancing;

    EasyJet took to the skies again today for the first time since its planes were grounded on March 30 - with passengers facing a raft of new coronavirus safety measures including mandatory face masks and an alcohol ban;

    Families' staycation plans are in chaos over a lack of safety advice that could sabotage the reopening of holiday sites in the first week of July;

    A decision on the two-metre rule will take 'weeks', ministers warned today - despite warnings of mass redundancies unless it is eased within days;

    World Health Organization director again warns the UK not to lift lockdown too fast until contact tracing system is 'robust' and ready to be 'aggressively' scaled up.
Shops opening today will offer hand sanitiser stations and many will enforce infection control by quarantining unbought items for 72 hours after they have been handled. Staff in high-vis jackets and PPE will ensure shoppers are kept two metres apart, browsing and handling items will be discouraged and there will be a plea not to use cash. There will also be limits on the numbers allowed through the door, which means queues are likely.

Most till staff will be behind glass or plastic screens to protect them from anyone who may have coronavirus.

Boris Johnson has urged the country to return to the high street and 'shop with confidence' when non-essential stores reopen today with huge price cuts. The Prime Minister said he was 'very optimistic' that the lifting of restrictions would help the economy bounce back from three months of coronavirus lockdown.

BRISTOL: Shoppers join two metre distanced queues to enter shops including Mike Ashley's Sports Direct superstore

PLYMOUTH: Shoppers queued through a car park to enter a Sports Direct store after it reopened to the public this morning

LONDON: The lure of bargain trainers and clothes at the Nike store in Oxford Circus saw social distancing abandoned today as the doors opened

LONDON: Shoppers try to gain access to a Topshop store in London today as retailers reopen following months of lockdown

LONDON: People queued outside Nike Town on Oxford Circus - but the two-metre rule failed among the shoppers waiting to grab some bargain sports shoes and clothing despite advice from staff

LONDON: Customers, many not wearing masks rushed to enter the store as soon as possible as it opened for the first time in months

LONDON: There was also a rush to enter the Nike store in Oxford Street this morning where social distancing failed with some customers appearing to grap and jostle

LONDON: Police would later arrive outside the busy Nike Town store in Oxford Street this morning after masses of people

LONDON: Customers return to Cad & The Dandy bespoke tailors for new suits on Saville Row in London this afternoon

BIRMINGHAM: A shopper wearing a PPE suit arrives at Primark in Birmingham as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March.

SHEPHERD'S BUSH: At Westfield in Shepherd's Bush staff were seen taking temperatures

BOURNEMOUTH: Hundreds of shoppers form a massive queues for shops on Bournemouth High Street this morning

LONDON: Customers in the Apple the store in Covent Garden opens in central London this afternoon

LONDON: A handwashing station has been erected in Piccadilly Circus today as people try to return to the West End as shops reopen

LONDON: Harrods was open today but unlike some high-end stores such as Apple there didn't appear to be an temperature checks. In order to maintain a one-way system shoppers enter via the staff entrance

NEWCASTLE: A shop worker with a tape measure marks out 2 metres distance with a colleague outside the 3 store in Northumberland street

NEWCASTLE: Socially distanced queues formed around the Fenwick store in Newcastle this morning as people rushed out

GATWICK: EasyJet's first flight took off from London Gatwick at 6.53am and arrived just after 8am.

LONDON: People even queued to enter London as UK Zoos also reopened to the public. Pubs and restaurants are expected to open in July

SALISBURY: The Very Reverend Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury, welcomed visitors to the Cathedral as churches are able to welcome people for private prayer

Staying shut for now:

    Restaurants, bars and pubs
    Cafes and canteens
    Holiday accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs
    Hairdressers, barbers, beauty and nail salons
    Playgrounds, outdoor gyms and outdoor pools
    Piercing and tattoo parlours
    Caravan parks (commercial)
    Community centres
    Museums and galleries
    Cinemas, theatres and concert halls
    Bingo halls, casinos and betting shops
    Spas and massage parlours
    Skating rinks and funfairs
    Indoor fitness studios, gyms and swimming pools
    Indoor arcades, bowling alleys and soft play centres
Speaking during a visit to the Westfield shopping centre in east London yesterday, the PM said he hoped to see a 'gradual' build-up of people visiting the high street.

'I am very optimistic about the opening up that's going to be happening,' he said.

'I think people should shop and shop with confidence but they should of course observe the rules on social distancing and do it as safely as possible.'

It comes as more than 3,000 extra staff, including police officers, have been brought in to enforce the rule - which applies to all passengers on trains, buses, Tubes, coaches, trams, planes or ferries. Children under the age of 11 and those with certain health conditions or disabilities are exempt.

The new rule comes as the government continues to strip back its draconian lockdown laws in place of looser restrictions, which included allowing people to meet with friends inside a 'social bubble' - which was brought in at the weekend.

Non-essential shops are also set to open today for the first time since March when the lockdown rules were imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Link to Full Article - Photos: ... today.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:52 pm

Steroid helps prevent deaths

A cheap steroid has become the first life-saving treatment in the Covid-19 pandemic, described by scientists as “a major breakthrough” and raising hopes for the survival of thousands of the most seriously ill

Dexamethasone is available from any pharmacy, and easily obtainable anywhere in the world.

Investigators said the drug was responsible for the survival of one in eight of the sickest patients – those who were on ventilators – in the Recovery trial, the biggest randomised, controlled trial of coronavirus treatments in the world.

The government announced immediate approval for the use of the drug in Covid-19 patients. The UK was leading the way, said the health secretary, Matt Hancock. “This astounding breakthrough is testament to the incredible work being done by our scientists behind the scenes.

“From today the standard treatment for Covid-19 will include dexamethasone, helping save thousands of lives while we deal with this terrible virus.”

Boris Johnson hailed the successful trial at Tuesday’s Downing Street press conference. “Today, there is genuine cause to celebrate a remarkable British scientific achievement, and the benefits it will bring, not just in this country but around the world,” the prime minister said.

“This drug, dexamethasone, can now be made available across the NHS, and we’ve taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies, even in the event of a second peak.”

However, he said death rates from the disease remained “far too high: so we must redouble our research efforts, and we certainly will.”

Hancock spoke within hours of the Oxford University investigators announcing their findings, which they said were definitive. Dexamethasone reduced deaths among patients on ventilators by up to one-third and among those on other oxygen support by one-fifth.

“It is the only drug so far shown to reduce mortality and it reduces it significantly,” said Peter Horby, a professor of emerging infectious diseases in the Nuffield department of medicine at the University of Oxford, and one of the chief investigators of the trial. “It is a major breakthrough, I think.”

Prof Martin Landray, his co-chief investigator, said the sickest patients could begin to be treated with the drug immediately, anywhere in the world. “The search has been on for a treatment that actually reduces the risk of dying. There hasn’t been one until today.

“This is a drug that is globally available. This is not an expensive drug. That is immensely important.”

Dexamethasone was one of the first drugs to be included in Recovery, the biggest randomised controlled study of drugs against Covid-19 in the world, which has now recruited more than 11,500 patients from 176 hospitals across the whole of the UK.

It was chosen because it works against inflammation, including in the lungs, and is cheap, known to be safe in low doses and widely available.

A total of 2,104 patients were chosen at random to receive 6mg of dexamethasone once a day (either by mouth or by intravenous injection) for 10 days. Their outcomes were compared with 4,321 patients chosen at random to continue with normal care alone.

Without the drug, death rates at 28 days were highest in those who needed to be put on a ventilator (41%), intermediate in those who required oxygen only (25%), and lowest among those whose lungs were working sufficiently well (13%).

Dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients and by one-fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only. There was no benefit among those patients who did not need help to breathe.

Landray said there was no room for doubt. “This is not the play of chance. This is a completely compelling result,” he said. “If one treated around eight ventilated patients, one patient would survive because of that treatment who would not have survived if you hadn’t given that treatment.”

Among those needing oxygen, one life would be saved for every 25 patients treated, he said. “If you put that in the scale of the UK epidemic over the last few months, the difference dexamethasone [would have made] is around 4,000 or 5,000 lives and clearly the epidemic is an international issue.

“This is a result of instant global importance because this drug is readily available. It’s been around for probably 60 years, it costs in the order of £5 for a complete course of treatment in the NHS and substantially less – probably less than $1 – in other parts of the world, for example in India.”

Last week, the Recovery team, who have been trialling seven drugs and will add more, concluded that hydroxychloroquine did not benefit patients in hospital with Covid-19. That result has also had global impact, with first the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, revoking the drug’s emergency authorisation and then its UK counterpart, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority, suspending any further patient trials.

Other scientists agreed the dexamethasone result was a breakthrough. Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said: “This is tremendous news today from the Recovery trial showing that dexamethasone is the first drug to reduce mortality from Covid-19. It is particularly exciting as this is an inexpensive, widely available medicine.

“This is a groundbreaking development in our fight against the disease, and the speed at which researchers have progressed finding an effective treatment is truly remarkable. It shows the importance of doing high-quality clinical trials and basing decisions on the results of those trials.”

The NHS chief executive for England, Simon Stevens, said: “NHS hospitals, researchers and clinicians have worked together at breakneck speed to test new treatments for Covid-19, and it is amazing to see work that would normally take years bear fruit in just a matter of months.”

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS medical director for England, said it was “a huge breakthrough in our search for new ways to successfully treat patients with covid, both in the UK and across the world.

“It is thanks to NHS staff and patients who participated in the trial that from now, we are able to use this drug to dramatically improve Covid-19 survival for people in hospital who require oxygen or ventilation.”
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jun 16, 2020 10:06 pm

Beijing extremely severe situation

Authorities in Beijing have described the city’s coronavirus outbreak as “extremely severe” as dozens more cases emerged, travel from the city was curtailed and its schools and universities shut down

Beijing residents were told to avoid “non-essential” travel out of the capital, and anyone entering or leaving will be tested for Covid-19.

Additional neighbourhoods were fenced off on Tuesday, with 27 now designated medium risk, which means authorities can impose stricter restrictions on the movement of people and cars and can carry out temperature checks. One has been designated high risk.

“The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe,” Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned at a press conference. “Right now we have to take strict measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.”

Entry restrictions have also been brought back in many residential compounds. Health authorities said sealed-off residences and people in quarantine would have food and medicine delivered to them.

Schools, which had recently re-opened, have been ordered to resume online classes, and universities required to suspend the return of their students.

Companies were told to encourage working from home, indoor sports and entertain venues have been shut, and libraries, museums, art galleries and parks must now limit capacity.

Authorities also reported four new domestic infections in neighbouring Hebei province, while a case reported in Sichuan province was linked to the Beijing cluster. Some other cities across China warned they would quarantine arrivals from the capital.

The outbreak is the most significant in China since February, prompting fears of a second wave and questions over how the virus was able to spread given severe quarantine measures taken by authorities. The outbreak is potentially embarrassing for Beijing, which had declared victory over the virus and ordered citizens back to work.

The capital, where measures were among the strictest in the country, had reported no new locally transmitted cases for 56 consecutive days before a cluster of diagnoses began on Thursday. Before that most new cases had come from Chinese nationals returning from abroad.

On Tuesday, state media appeared to push the idea that the virus had come from abroad. Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said the strain was most similar to those seen in Europe, the US or Russia.

“It clearly indicates the virus strain is different from what it was two months ago,” he told state broadcaster CGTN. “The virus strain is the major epidemic strain in European countries. So it is from outside China brought to Beijing.”

In a similar vein, a deputy director at the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, told state media he believed the new outbreak involved a more contagious strain of the virus than the one that hit Wuhan at the beginning of the pandemic.

Scientists in Europe said it was too early to tell whether the virus causing the new Beijing outbreak was different in terms of transmissibility from the original.

“Genetic sequencing could easily establish if it was actually imported from Europe. But with the limited information currently available, “the most that can be interpreted - if indeed it does look like being from Europe - is that it is good evidence of control of the original Chinese spread, and no resurgence of that virus,” said Deenan Pillay, professor of virology at University College London.

The outbreak – linked to 106 cases, including 27 reported on Tuesday – has been traced to the Xinfadi wholesale food market in south-west Beijing’s Fengtai district, which sells thousands of tonnes of food a day and which had been visited by more than 200,000 people since 30 May.

Samples of the virus were discovered on chopping boards used for imported salmon at the market, fuelling speculation it had come from abroad even though experts have said fish is unlikely to carry the disease and any link to salmon may have been the result of cross-contamination.

The World Health Organization’s emergencies director, Mike Ryan, said he expected Chinese authorities to publish the genetic sequencing of the virus in Beijing and supported their efforts so far. He said the idea that new outbreak was caused by imported salmon was not the “primary hypothesis”.

“A cluster like this is a concern and it needs to be investigated and controlled – and that is exactly what the Chinese authorities are doing,” he said.

On Tuesday, Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said Beijing had asked Canada to investigate parasites found in shipments of the fish. Norwegian exporters have said China has halted salmon imports.

After months of economic paralysis, authorities have tried to limit lockdown measures to parts of the city and encouraged residents to continue “life as normal,” while taking extra precautions.

Provinces as far away as Yunnan in the south have brought in rules requiring quarantine for people returning from Beijing. Shanghai authorities announced that all arrivals from medium– and high-risk areas have to undergo 14 days of quarantine. Some long-distance bus routes connecting Beijing and other provinces were suspended.

All indoor sport and entertainment venues in the city were closed on Monday. Coaches and players from the Beijing Super League football team, Guoan, have been tested and given a week off because their training camp was in the same district as the outbreak source, local media reported. In Xicheng district, which borders Fengtai, another market was shut after a coronavirus case was confirmed. Seven neighbourhoods near the market have been closed off.

More than 8,000 workers from the market have now been tested and sent to centralised quarantine facilities, and other Beijing wet markets, basement markets and more than 30,000 restaurants are being disinfected.

Health authorities have entered what state media termed “wartime mode” in response.

More than 76,000 nearby residents were tested on Sunday across almost 300 testing points, authorities said, and strict measures have been put in place, including school closures, and transport suspensions, including ride-sharing and taxi services.

Since the first case of the virus was detected last year in the city of Wuhan, China has reported more than 84,000 cases and more than 4,600 people have died.

Chinese officials and state media have been quick to defend the country amid fears of a possible second wave.

“Control measures have been in place in communities, three officials accountable were dismissed,” said the editor-in-chief of the Global Times, Hu Xijin. “US politicians will likely see a miracle that Beijing can have zero new cases in a month.”

Three people have been dismissed over the outbreak, including the head of the Xinfadi market, the local Communist party chief, and the deputy head of the district. ... e-measures
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jun 16, 2020 11:12 pm

Kurdistan announces
70 new virus recoveries

The Kurdistan Region’s health ministry announced late Tuesday the recoveries of 68 people from COVID-19 in the Region over the last 24 hours

An additional 182 people tested positive for COVID-19 in the same time period, according to a ministry statement, which also announced five more virus-related deaths.

The majority of the new cases, 107, and all the new deaths were recorded in Sulaimani province. Whereas, 30 of the remaining cases were found in Erbil province, and 45 in the independent administrations of Garmiyan and Raparin 45, according to a statement from the ministry.

The new data brings the total number of cases in the Kurdistan Region to 2,655. Of this, 1,104 have recovered and 59 have died. There are currently 1,492 active cases, according to the health ministry.

Sulaimani province, the Kurdistan Region’s COVID-19 epicentre, is facing a daunting challenge, as many of the province’s health workers go on strike to protest not receiving their salaries.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delayed the salaries of its civil servants, including health workers, after Baghdad stopped sending the Region’s budget share on time, oil prices dropped dramatically and the KRG’s local income was harmed by the coronavirus-related lockdown.

Mohammed Khoshnaw, spokesperson for the health ministry, told Rudaw on Tuesday that at least 126 health workers have contracted the virus between March 1 to June 15.

A ban on travel between Kurdistan Region provinces has been extended until July 1, the interior ministry announced Monday night, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to make a stubborn resurgence.

The interior ministry also announced fines for people and institutions that do not follow health measures, especially the wearing of face masks in public. The fines range from 5,000 to 150,000 Iraqi dinar ($4.1-125).
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jun 19, 2020 12:21 am

Erbil shuts down

The Erbil province coronavirus crisis cell announced Thursday that they have decided to close mosques, sports centers, gyms, swimming pools, resorts, and parks until July 1, “due to the wide spread of coronavirus” in the province

The new measures will take effect at midnight.

The cell also announced in a statement a curfew for all businesses, saying they “must be closed between 10 pm to 5 am until July 1, except for pharmacies.”

“Popular bazaars, bird [selling and buying] areas and car dealerships will be closed on Fridays,” added the statement.

The closure of mosques comes after the cell consulted with relevant religious authorities, elaborates the statement.

The crisis cell claims the decision was made “due to the wide spread of coronavirus in Erbil city,” saying, “the current situation is dangerous.”

    All previous measures, including the ban on shisha consumption in businesses and the public, the closure of wedding and wake halls, as well as the inter-province traffic ban, will remain in place
The Kurdistan Regional Government’s health minister Saman Barzanji told Rudaw on Thursday that 67 coronavirus patients have newly recovered in Erbil.

KRG's health ministry recorded Thursday evening 224 new cases of the novel coronavirus, and seven deaths in the last 24 hours, according to a statement.

Forty-seven cases were in Erbil province, 134 in Sulaimani province, 14 in Halabja province, four in Duhok province, and 25 in the independent administration of Garmiyan, added the statement.

It also said that 94 people have recovered: 67 in Erbil, 23 in Garmiyan and four in Duhok. Six of the seven deaths are in Sulaimani and one in Garmiyan.

The new data brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in the Kurdistan Region to 3,045. Of this, 1,217 have recovered and 82 died.

The head of the Erbil municipality, Abdul Wahid Ahmed, and his deputy have contracted the virus, Saman Barzanji told Rudaw Thursday.
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jun 19, 2020 2:42 am

Inhaler to be trialled in UK

Inhaler that 'lets Covid-19 victims treat themselves' will be rolled out across UK in a nationwide trial

    An inhaler which could treat coronavirus in its early stages is now being trialled
    The nebuliser was developed by scientists at the University of Southampton
    Anyone who tests positive and fits the age profile can register for the trial
    Testers will puff on the device daily for two weeks and be assessed via video link
A potentially life-saving inhaler that treats coronavirus in its earliest stages is being rolled out in a nationwide trial.

Scientists hope it will stop people entering the rapid deterioration phase of the illness in which victims develop breathing problems.

The nebuliser uses an experimental drug that is inhaled into the lungs and helps the immune system fight off the infection.

Scientists believe they have found an inhaler that treats coronavirus in its earliest stages

It could be a game-changer as there is currently no treatment for Covid-19 outside hospital.

People are simply told to self-isolate in the hope their condition does not deteriorate.

Lead researcher Professor Nick Francis, of the University of Southampton, said: ‘This trial is unique in that we are targeting individuals with risk factors for severe illness, very early on in the course of their infection.

‘By setting up a “virtual network” of study doctors and nurses we are able to recruit, consent, and provide daily monitoring to patients in their own homes, just about anywhere in the UK.

'Early treatment may be the key to preventing serious complications, hospitalisations, and death.’

The inhaler, pictured, turns a drug called SNG-001 into a fine mist so it can be breathed deep into the lungs.

Doctors believe it will give people the ability to treat themselves rather than just hope for the best.

The Daily Mail revealed last month that experts at University Hospital Southampton had launched the study.

It was limited to people living within 40 miles of the city because researchers wanted to give patients the drug within 72 hours of symptoms appearing.

The inhaler, which was researched at the University of Southampton (pictured), is being rolled out in a nationwide trial

At that point the national coronavirus testing system was taking too long so the experts set up their own testing lab in the city to speed up response times.

But the testing system is now working much quicker, meaning researchers can give the inhaler to people around the UK for the first time.

Anyone who tests positive for the virus – and is either over 65 or over 50 with certain other health conditions – can register for the study.

Richard Marsden, of biotech firm Synairgen which is carrying out the trial, said last night: ‘Things have significantly improved with the national coronavirus testing system – people are now getting results very quickly. That means we can get this out across the UK.’

The expansion also means it will be quicker for the trial to deliver results. The researchers will publish these when they have treated 120 people.

SNG-001 uses a protein called interferon beta, which our bodies produce during a viral infection.

It is already used as an injection to boost the immune response of people with multiple sclerosis.

Scientists believe if it is inhaled it can help the lungs fight off infection and stop coronavirus creating the serious breathing problems which have killed tens of thousands of people.

Anyone who tests positive for the illness and fits the age profile can register for the trial.

Participants will puff on the nebuliser daily for 14 days, and be assessed via video link. Synairgen is also trialling the treatment on 100 hospital patients.

To take part in the study visit ... ed-UK.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:53 am

UK's Covid-19 alert level reduced

The UK's coronavirus alert level has been downgraded from four to three, the countries' chief medical officers said

Under level three, the virus is considered to be "in general circulation" and there could be a "gradual relaxation of restrictions".

Previously transmission was considered to be "high or rising exponentially".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the change was "a big moment for the country" and showed that the government's plan was working.

The decision to reduce the alert level followed a recommendation by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, the chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said.
'Pandemic not over'

"There has been a steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations, and this continues," the medical officers said in a joint statement.

But they warned it "does not mean that the pandemic is over" and that "localised outbreaks are likely to occur".

"We have made progress against the virus thanks to the efforts of the public and we need the public to continue to follow the guidelines carefully to ensure this progress continues," they said.

There are five coronavirus alert levels in total.

Coronavirus alert levels from 5-1 where 5 is risk of overwhelming healthcare services, 4 is transmission high, 3 is virus in general circulation, 2 is number of cases and transmission low, 1 virus no longer present in UK

Two factors determine the UK's alert level. They are:

    Covid-19's reproduction (R) number, a scientific measure of how fast the virus is spreading

    The number of confirmed coronavirus cases at any one time
Mr Hancock said recent progress in both factors showed "a real testament to the British people's determination to beat this virus".

"Infection rates are rapidly falling, we have protected the NHS and, thanks to the hard work of millions in our health and social care services, we are getting the country back on her feet," he added.

The move comes weeks after some restrictions were first eased in each UK nation.

At the end of May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs that "we're coming down the Covid alert system from level four to level three tomorrow, we hope, we're going to be taking a decision tomorrow".

But the next day, the government decided instead not to lower the alert level and it remained at four until now.

When the government first announced the alert system in early May, it also published a three-step plan to ease restrictions.

Step one, the first easing of lockdown, involved allowing people to take unlimited exercise and spend more time outdoors.

Step two permitted the gradual opening of schools and non-essential retail, which is the current situation.

The third step in government's published plan, which it said was to take place "no earlier than 4 July", includes opening further non-essential services like hairdressers and beauty salons, restaurants, pubs and leisure facilities.
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:13 pm

Coronavirus 'has weakened

The coronavirus, once an 'aggressive tiger' of a disease, has weakened and become more like a wild cat, according to a top Italian doctor

Professor Matteo Bassetti said he is convinced the virus is 'changing in severity' and patients are now surviving infections that would have killed them before.

And if the virus's weakening is true, Covid-19 could even disappear without a for a vaccine by becoming so weak it dies out on its own, he claimed.

He has said multiple times in recent months that patients with Covid-19 seem to be faring much better than they were at the start of the epidemic in Italy.

Professor Bassetti suggests this could be because of a genetic mutation in the virus making it less lethal, because of improved treatments, or because people are not getting infected with such large doses because of social distancing.

But other scientists have hit back at the claims in the past and said there is no scientific evidence that the virus has changed at all.

Professor Matteo Bassetti, the chief of infectious diseases at San Martino General Hospital in Genoa, Italy, said the virus has changed since March and April

He said: 'It was like an aggressive tiger in March and April but now it's like a wild cat. Even elderly patients, aged 80 or 90, are now sitting up n bed and they are breathing without help. The same patients would have died in two or three days before.'

Italy was one of the worst hit countries in the world during the pandemic's early stages, and has now recorded more than 238,000 positive cases and 34,000 deaths.

Scientists have said the elderly population there, the virus spreading in rural areas and the suddenness of the outbreak contributed to the country's high death toll.

Professor Bassetti suggests that one of the reasons the virus might be causing less serious illness is a genetic mutation which has made it less damaging to people's lungs.

Or, he said, people may simply be receiving smaller amounts when they get infected, because of social distancing and lockdown rules, making them less sick.

This theory depends on the severity of someone's illness being affected by their 'viral load' - the amount of virus that gets into someone's body when they're first struck by it.

Professor Bassetti said: 'The clinical impression I have is that the virus is changing in severity.


Viruses are known to change over time because they are subject to random genetic mutations in the same way that all living things are.

These mutations can have various effects and many will only happen briefly and not become a permanent change as newer generations of viruses replace the mutated ones.

However, some of the mutations might turn out to be advantageous to the virus, and get carried forward into future generations.

For example, if a virus becomes less dangerous to its host - that is, it causes fewer symptoms or less death - it may find that it is able to live longer and reproduce more.

As a result, more of these less dangerous viruses are produced and they may go on to spread more effectively than the more dangerous versions, which could be stamped out by medication because more people realise they are ill, for example.

The mutation may then be taken forward in the stronger generations and become the dominant version of the virus.

In an explanation of an scientific study about HIV, the NHS said in 2014: 'The optimal evolutionary strategy for a virus is to be infectious (so it creates more copies of itself) but non-lethal (so its host population doesn’t die out).

'The "poster boy" for successful long-living viruses is, arguably, the family of viruses that cause the, which has existed for thousands of years.'

'In March and early April the patterns were completely different. People were coming to the emergency department with a very difficult to manage illness and they needed oxygen and ventilation, some developed pneumonia.

'Now, in the past four weeks, the picture has completely changed in terms of of patterns.

'There could be a lower viral load in the respiratory tract, probably due to a genetic mutation in the virus which has not yet been demonstrated scientifically.'

The infectious disease doctor has made similar claims in the past but sparked criticism for being over-optimistic.

He said at the beginning of June: 'The strength the virus had two months ago is not the same strength it has today.'

But other scientists did not welcome the idea and said there was no evidence to back up Professor Bassetti's claims.

Dr Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, from the University of Wollongong in Australia, told MailOnline that the idea the virus has disappeared 'seems dubious'.

The epidemiologist warned Italy - which was the centre of Europe's coronavirus crisis in March - was still recording new Covid-19 cases and deaths, showing the virus was still a danger.

At the start of June, in response to Professor Bassetti's claim, Dr Angela Rasmussen, from Columbia University, tweeted: 'There is no evidence that the virus is losing potency anywhere.'

She added less transmission means fewer hospitalisations and deaths - but warned: 'That doesn't mean less virulence.'

The virulence of a virus is how dangerous the illness is but may not directly relate to how contagious it is.

Dr Seema Yasmin, an epidemiologist from Stanford University, said the idea was 'bulls***'.

Dr Oscar MacLean, of the University of Glasgow, added: 'These claims are not supported by anything in the scientific literature, and also seem fairly implausible on genetic grounds.

'The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 mutations are extremely rare, and so whilst some infections may be attenuated by certain mutations, they are highly unlikely to be common enough to alter the nature of the virus at a national or global level...

'Making these claims on the basis of anecdotal observations from swab tests is dangerous.

'Whilst weakening of the virus through mutations is theoretically possible, it is not something we should expect, and any claims of this nature would need to be verified in a more systematic way.

'Without significantly stronger evidence, no one should unnecessarily downplay the danger this highly virulent virus poses, and risk the ongoing society-wide response.' ... laims.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:40 am

Summer sun can kill virus

Sunlight can kill the coronavirus in just 30 minutes, according to a study that comes as the UK gears up for its hottest week of the year

Virologists found powerful ultraviolet (UV) light could destroy 90 per cent of Covid-19 that had been coughed or sneezed onto a surface in just half an hour.

Separate studies have claimed the sun can also almost completely wipe out parts of the virus lingering in the air in just six minutes.

The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 - called SARS-CoV-2 - is covered in a protective casing that degrades under the warmth of the body when it infects someone. When it is coughed or sneezed into the air or onto a surface, UV light will destroy its coating and leave the virus exposed to dry out and decay in the sun.

Some scientists also believe vitamin D, made in the body when exposed to sunlight, boosts the immune system and helps fight off viruses.

It comes as millions of Brits are expected to flock to beaches and parks on Thursday when temperatures soar above 86F (30C). Concerns have been raised that social distancing will become an afterthought and mass gatherings could cause a spike in transmission again.

But the researchers say being outdoors is safer than being cooped up inside, where Covid-19 can survive and stay infectious for days.

The study adds to fears Covid-19 may return in winter when lockdown restrictions have been eased, daylight hours are shorter and viral illnesses in general are more common. If that happens and there is another major outbreak, the NHS will once again be at risk of getting overwhelmed.

It comes as scientists suggested yesterday the multiple outbreaks in meat-packing factories in the UK could be proof that a second-wave is expected this winter, saying it was possible the 'cold environment makes people more susceptible to the virus'.

Strong British summer sunlight can kill the coronavirus in just 30 minutes, according to a study that comes on the hottest week of the year in Britain. Pictured: Crowds on the beach at Brighton Pier on Monday

By comparison, it would take roughly an hour and 17 minutes to destroy the virus in the capital in September and nearly three hours in March.


It has long been known that UV light has a sterilising effect because the radiation damages the genetic material of viruses and their ability to replicate.

Most viruses - such as SARS-CoV-2 - are covered with a thin membrane that is easily broken apart by UV rays.

A Columbia University study published in Scientific Reports two years ago showed the light can kill more than 95 per cent of pathogens like the coronavirus.

Germicidal UV light is used in hospitals in the US as well as ones run by the NHS in the UK to clean rooms and equipment.

One study by the US National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, found coronavirus coughed into the air could be killed in six minutes by strong sun.

Another, by Harvard University, showed that influenza could survive on surfaces for nearly 24 hours in 43F (6C) dry weather, but died in under an hour in temperatures of 90F (32C).

A University of Oxford study in May also revealed that while the global coronavirus death rate was 0.2 per cent, in the colder northern hemisphere it was 0.3 per cent.

The researchers observed that in Italy, the warmer south was much less impacted than the north.

Despite the growing evidence, the World Health Organization warns that you can catch COVID-19, 'no matter how sunny or hot the weather is'.

Cases of the deadly virus have been recorded all over the globe, including in West Africa and the Middle-East.

Scientists agree that you are always at risk of catching the virus in the middle of an outbreak because it is indiscriminate and never sleeps.

Conventional germicidal UV light kills microbes but also penetrates the skin, raising the risk of various forms of skin cancer as well as cataracts.

But in winter, the virus could thrive for more than five hours in weak sunlight and has the potential to stay alive for days indoors.

For more northern regions in the UK, which tend to get less powerful sunlight, it would take slightly longer to destroy the virus.

The researchers estimate it would take around 34 minutes in the summer, an hour and 40 minutes in autumn, four hours in the spring and five-plus hours in the winter, The Telegraph reports.

Writing in the study, the researchers said: 'Forcing people to remain indoors may have increased or assured contagion of Covid-19 among same household dwellers and among patients and personnel inside the same hospital or geriatric facilities.

'In contrast, healthy people outdoors receiving sunlight could have been exposed to a lower viral dose with more chances for mounting an efficient immune response.

'The viral persistence estimated here for cities at northern latitudes where Covid-19 expanded rapidly during winter 2019-2020 and relatively higher viral inactivation in more southern latitudes receiving high solar radiation during the same period, suggests an environmental role for sunlight in the Covid-19 pandemic.'

The study follows a wealth of papers that have highlighted similar findings.

One study by the US National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, found coronavirus coughed into the air could be killed in six minutes by strong sun.

Another, by Harvard University, showed that influenza could survive on surfaces for nearly 24 hours in 43F (6C) dry weather, but died in under an hour in temperatures of 90F (32C).

A University of Oxford study in May also revealed that while the global coronavirus death rate was 0.2 per cent, in the colder northern hemisphere it was 0.3 per cent.

The researchers observed that in Italy, the warmer south was much less impacted than the north.

Several studies have also suggested vitamin D can shield people from falling seriously unwell with COVID-19, with sunshine being one of the best sources of the vital vitamin.

The sunniest April on record was recorded this year, with Britons basking in an average 224.5 hours of sunshine, beating the previous record of 211.9 hours set in 2015.

This heatwave coincided with a dramatic fall in new cases, which experts say is not a coincidence.

Professor Keith Neal, an epidemiologist at the University of Nottingham, was an outspoken critic of the UK Government's stay at home advice.

He believes being outdoors strengthens the immune system and reduces the chance of getting infected with any viruses, including Covid-19.

Professor Neal told MailOnline: 'Outside is very much safer than inside - you can be further apart and conditions outside are less conducive to virus survival than inside.

'There is some evidence that vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of respiratory virus infections, and there is good evidence that vitamin D deficiency impairs the immune system.

'We had people shielding in houses at a time when vitamin D levels were already low coming out of the winter. This was exacerbated by the stay at home policy.

‘I was critical because this is particularly bad for vulnerable people who are most likely to be deficient in vitamin D and vulnerable to Covid-19.'

He added: 'Sunlight includes UV radiation. This damages DNA and RNA. Viruses left on surfaces outside will dry out and be damaged by UV light in sunlight. Talking and coughing can produce droplets and aerosols.

‘Droplets, which are larger than aerosols, carry more virus but fall rapidly to the ground under gravity.

‘Aerosols are smaller and can drift further but also dry out quickly because they lost water content.'

Is this the proof Covid-19 IS seasonal? Multiple outbreaks in cold meat plants suggest second wave this winter

Cold air in slaughterhouses and meat-packing factories could be behind coronavirus outbreaks, suggesting winter could bring a second wave of Covid-19.

Scientists say cramped and poorly-ventilated working conditions in the factories — the centre of fresh outbreaks in the UK and Germany — could be to blame because they make social distancing difficult.

But experts also suggest the cold and sunless refrigerated buildings could allow the virus to spread and infect people faster than it would outside.

It comes as Wales' First Minister today confirmed the nation could implement its first local lockdown following a coronavirus outbreak at the 2 Sisters chicken factory on the island of Anglesey. Nearly 160 staff tested positive for Covid-19, leading to the plant being closed and 560 staff and their families being sent into self-isolation.

Another plant in West Yorkshire, run by Kober, also closed due to an outbreak last week and 38 people caught the virus at a factory in Wrexham, Wales.

More than 1,000 workers at a meat-packing factory in north-western Germany were confirmed to have caught Covid-19 last week, and slaughterhouses and similar meat-processing facilities around the world have suffered major outbreaks of the virus.

It comes amid concerns that the virus could resurge in the winter in Britain, when daylight hours are shorter and the temperature drops outside. Cold and flu viruses are known to thrive in these conditions, and the coronavirus could, too.

One scientist said: 'The perfect place to keep a virus alive for a long time is a cold place without sunlight.'

Experts say meat processing plants may be an infection risk because they are cold and without sunlight


Although the coronavirus hasn't been around long enough for scientists to study whether it changes in the winter, looking at cold and flu viruses - which are most common in colder months - can shed some light on how viruses are more infectious in winter.

For a virus that causes infection by piggy-backing on droplets of moisture coming out of someone's airways, like Covid-19, its ability to float in the air is critical for infecting people.

Warmer air is more humid, meaning it has more moisture and droplets in the air bind to the droplets carrying the virus. This makes them bigger and heavier and causes them to fall to the ground faster, where they are significantly less likely to infect someone.

In cold air, which is naturally drier, they can remain lighter and float for longer, meaning they're more likely to spread disease.

A study in 2008 found that the outer membrane, or shell, of a flu virus actually gets harder in cold weather.

It turns from a more liquid blob in warm weather to a tough, rubbery coating in the winter. This means the virus is stronger and can survive for longer.

There is no evidence the same thing will happen with the coronavirus, because it is a different type of organism - but it is possible.

Human behaviour changes

Viruses can spread more effectively in winter because people spend more time together indoors, where they are forced into closer contact than they would be in the park in summer.

The closer together people are, the more likely they are to spread the virus between them.

People are also more likely to get too little vitamin D in the winter, because they usually make it from exposing their skin to sunlight.

Shorter daylight hours - and cold weather even when the sun is shining - mean people don't make as much of the vitamin, which is vital fuel for the immune system and helps the body to fight off viral infections.

Studies have found Covid-19 patients with vitamin D deficiencies appear to be more likely to be hospitalised or die than those with enough of the vitamin.

A University College London model suggested that the country was likely to face a second early in the new year.

The prediction assumes people who have had the virus are immune for about three months.

However, scientists added that the predicted wave could be avoided if daily deaths are cut to zero in the next few weeks.

But if deaths continue above, the report warns: 'it is likely we will see a slow increase in the reproduction rate and a second wave after Christmas'.

But this second wave is likely to be much smaller, according to the model, peaking at about 60 deaths per day.

Meanwhile, the coming week of high temperatures could lower virus rates even further, with a study showing that strong sunlight causes the virus to decay to almost nothing in just 30 minutes.

A Covid-19 outbreak at the 2 Sisters chicken factory on Anglesey has raised the prospect of the whole island, home to 70,000 people, having to be quarantined to control the virus.

At least 158 people working at the plant, run by a company which supplies KFC, Tesco, Aldi and M&S, tested positive for Covid-19, causing the whole factory to shut down.

Schools on the island were due to reopen today but that has been cancelled because of the factory outbreak, and a total lockdown is being considered to stop the illness spreading onto the mainland.

Mr Drakeford said Government ministers and the island's local authority were reviewing the situation, while Wales' test, trace, protect system would 'keep on top' of whether there has been a general spread of the virus.

Advice would be taken from public health officials on whether specific lockdown measures were needed for the area during meetings later on Monday, he said.

He told the Welsh Government's daily press briefing in Cardiff: 'We will take the advice from those people who are dealing with the outbreak on the island to decide whether there is anything further that needs to be done that would impose restrictions on people more generally.

'You don't do that lightly, because these are people's lives and freedoms that you are interfering with. But if there is a public need to do so, we will.

'If the public health case isn't there to go beyond what we are doing already then we will take that advice equally seriously.'

He added: 'The test will be whether there is significant seepage of coronavirus from the closed setting and into the wider community.

'You've got to be proportionate about these things, as I said. Decisions that are made to restrict people's liberties should not be taken lightly. And they should be taken when they are necessary to protect the wider health of the public.

'If that's the position we find ourselves in on Anglesey, then we will take actions alongside local players to do so.'

Germany's coronavirus reproduction rate has jumped to 2.88, taking infections above the level needed to contain it over the longer term.

It comes as more than 1,000 staff at a slaughterhouse in the country's north-west have been diagnosed with the virus in the past week.

The figure on Sunday marks an increase from 1.79 a day earlier, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health said.

A reproduction rate, or 'R', of 2.88 means that out of 100 people who contracted the virus, a further 288 other people will get infected. A rate of less than one is needed to gradually contain the disease.

The number, a sharp increase from 1.06 on Friday, is based on RKI's moving 4-day average data, which reflects infection rates one to two weeks ago.

RKI said outbreaks have been reported in nursing homes and hospitals, institutions for asylum seekers and refugees, in meat processing plants and logistics companies, among seasonal harvest workers and in connection with religious events and family gatherings.

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Germany's coronavirus reproduction rate has jumped to 2.88, taking infections above the level needed to contain it over the longer term

Germany has been hailed for getting its Covid-19 epidemic under control faster and with fewer deaths than many comparable countries, but suffered a disaster last week when more than 1,000 employees at a slaughterhouse caught the virus.

The country also recorded its highest rise in cases for more than a month on Friday, with 770 people testing positive, taking the total to almost 190,000.

The most high-profile local outbreak has been a surge in cases at a slaughterhouse run by the company Tönnies in Rheda-Wiedenbrück in the northwest, near Dortmund.

At least 1,029 staff there have now tested positive for Covid-19, Deutsche-Welle reported, and the military has had to set up a testing facility on-site.

Officials in the North Rhine-Westphalia region said they have also seen outbreaks in logistics centres, refugee centres, church communities and after family parties.

Scientists have reassured, however, that the R value becomes less important when overall numbers of cases are low.

If there are fewer people infected it is more likely that a sudden outburst of cases will make the R look higher than it is because of one 'super-spreading' event.

Dr Christopher Johnson of Public Health Wales said it was likely there would be further infections in the area spreading from the factory spike.

He said: 'Testing of employees continues, and it is likely that some additional cases will be identified in the coming days.

'The increase in cases is as we anticipated when a focused track and trace programme is implemented, and does not mean that the spread of infection is increasing.'

In a similar situation in the German region of North Rhine-Westphalia, at least 1,029 staff last week tested positive for coronavirus at a slaughterhouse run by the company Tönnies.

And slaughterhouse outbreaks have been reported around the world, including in the US and France, throughout the pandemic.

Experts say they are particularly at risk of virus outbreaks, in part because of the wintery conditions inside them.

Dr Simon Clarke, a cellular microbiologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline that it was notable that food factories seemed to have been the centre of outbreaks more than other factories where people might be close together.

He said: 'There are problems in this country, in Germany, in the United States. There is something common between them - it's not happening in engineering or clothing factories where you also might expect people to be in close proximity to one another.

'One assumes - but it's just an idea - that the cold environment makes people more susceptible to the virus.'

Whether this meant the winter would bring a resurgence of the virus, Dr Clarke said it was difficult to say because we have only seen the virus in action during spring in the UK.

He added: 'It's not that viruses are better in the winter it's that we're more susceptible.

'Cold weather irritates the airways and the cells become more susceptible to viral infection.'

Dr Chris Smith, a virologist at the University of Cambridge, said on LBC 'temperature is going to play a part'.

He explained: 'When I'm breathing I'm blowing out droplets of moisture from my respiratory tract and the virus which is growing in there would be packaged up in the droplets.

'Now the droplets will hover for a period of time in the air and then sink to the ground... and if it's very dry, cold air - and cold air carries less moisture, remember - the droplets will stay smaller and stay airborne for longer.

'If it's very humid, moisture joins them, makes them bigger and heavier, and they fall and they drop out of circulation faster - so temperature could be a factor.'

Sunlight is also known to degrade viruses and make them less able to survive on surfaces that are exposed to UV light.

Rays of sunlight are thought to damage the genetic material inside the virus, making it less able to reproduce and killing it faster.

Professor Calum Semple, a disease outbreak expert at the University of Liverpool, told The Telegraph that cold, sunless food factories are ideal conditions.

He said: 'If I wanted to preserve a virus I would put it in a cold, dark environment or a cool environment that doesn't have any ultraviolet light - essentially a fridge or a meat processing facility...

'The perfect place to keep a virus alive for a long time is a cold place without sunlight.'

This suggests winter could bring the perfect environment for the coronavirus to start spreading rapidly again and producing a second wave of infections in Britain.

The average temperature in January is 4.9°C (41°F) and there are eight hours of daylight, compared to an average 15°C (59°F) and 16 hours of daylight in June.

But the weather alone does not appear to be a controlling factor in coronavirus outbreaks.

Dr Clarke said: 'There are summer colds and there's a coronavirus that causes summer colds, so it's not a given.

'We've heard a lot of people suggest that warmth and sunlight would rid us of the virus but it that were the case we wouldn't have problems in Brazil or Florida or Singapore.'

Dr Michael Head, a global health researcher at the University of Southampton, said he thought close proximity was most likely to be behind the factory outbreaks.

He said: 'Whilst refrigeration may be a contributory factor to the spread of the virus, the key factors are likely to be the number of people close together in indoor conditions.

'Some of these factories have onsite or nearby accommodation where there are several people in each dormitory, they may be transported on a bus to the site of work, and they will be indoors together all day.

'Levels of adherence to measures such as washing hands is uncertain and there is unlikely to be widespread use of PPE.'

Experts and officials have repeatedly warned about the prospect of a second wave of the coronavirus in the winter.

And there are fears a resurgence could coincide with flu season, which is the busiest time of the year for the NHS and puts it under immense stress in normal times.

Dr Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization's chief for Europe, told a briefing last week: 'It's well possible that when the autumn starts and we have also the seasonal influenza, there is the possibility of a seasonal effect on the virus - but we're not sure yet - that then we will see a second wave.

'So the lesson is that we have to implement what we know works.

'At the core of the strategy is to find as early as possible, isolate, test suspected people from Covid, and if needs be treat them without any stigma or discrimination.

'At the same time (governments need) to track and quarantine contacts - contact tracing is an essential element of this strategy. But there is no single solution.'

British authorities are now considering offering free flu jabs to everyone across the country, not just those in vulnerable groups, to avoid a double outbreak. ... s-say.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Jun 25, 2020 2:33 pm

Could SALT WATER fight Covid-19?

Salt water could treat Covid-19, according to scientists who will test whether the unusual remedy actually works

Gargling salt water has been found to reduce the symptoms of coughs and colds and to stop them getting worse, researchers say.

And now they want to find out if it could help people with mild symptoms of the coronavirus, which infects the airways in a similar manner.

University of Edinburgh experts are recruiting people to take part in a study to test whether gargling with salt water could boost the body's antiviral abilities.

Knowing how to treat Covid-19 is still a grey area for doctors, with people with mild symptoms advised to stick to paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Two antivirals have been approved for NHS use on critically-ill patients, the steroid dexamethasone, and an anti-Ebola drug remdesivir — but neither are silver bullets.

The Edinburgh scientists now want to find out if the low-cost salt water option could help people with mild infections and also stop them getting more seriously ill.

The idea for the study came from ongoing research into upper respiratory infections — which commonly cause coughs and colds.

Results from the ELVIS trial, published last year, found people who gargled saline had less severe coughs, less congestion and colds that lasted two days less, on average.

They were also less likely to pass on the cold to family members, or to resort to taking medicines from a pharmacy, compared to people who did not gargle.

The Edinburgh team, whose original study included a different type of coronavirus, think the salt water could boost the body's natural virus-fighting mechanisms, which are triggered when they get ill.

They suggested direct contact with salt has a toxic effect on the viruses themselves, or stimulates 'innate immune mechanisms' inside cells in the airways.

Salt may also be used by the body's cells to create a chemical called hypochlorous acid, which is found in bleach and known to kill viruses, the researchers said.

Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of Edinburgh University’s Usher Institute, said: 'We are now moving to trial our salt water intervention in those with suspected or confirmed Covid-19, and hope it will prove to be a useful measure to reduce the impact and spread of the infection.


Researchers at Edinburgh University trialled saltwater gargling and 'nasal irrigation' in a trial on people with upper respiratory tract infections, otherwise known as coughs and colds, and found it reduced their symptoms and the length of their illness.

Their study, published in the journal Scientific Reports last year, found 93 per cent of people said gargling reduced their symptoms, their illnesses lasted two days less, on average, and they were 35 per cent less likely to pass it on to a family member.

Scientists hope the cheap, simple therapy could have similar benefits for people with the coronavirus, reducing the severity of their cough and preventing the illness from worsening.

Explaining how the salt could achieve this effect, the study said direct contact with salt may have a toxic effect on the viruses themselves and damage or kill them.

It may also stimulate 'innate immune mechanisms' inside cells in the airways, they suggested, effectively boosting the body's own ability to fight off infection.

Salt may also be soaked up and used by the body's cells to create a chemical called hypochlorous acid which is found in bleach and known to kill viruses, the researchers said.

'It only requires salt, water and some understanding of [gargling] procedure, so should, if found to be effective, be easy – and inexpensive – to implement widely.'

The study is open only to adults living in Scotland who have symptoms of Covid-19 or have recently received a positive test for the virus.

It is expected to operate similarly to the previous one in which some participants will gargle salt water while others down, with all of them following the same lockdown rules.

In the cough and cold study people kept diaries of their symptoms for two weeks and reported back to the scientists, who compared which group fared best.

The NHS currently only has treatments for coronavirus patients who are seriously ill, and those still do not work for everyone.

One is the steroid dexamethasone, which a study found could cut death rates in intensive care patients by up to a third.

And the second is an Ebola drug called remdesivir, which has shown promising results in shortening recovery times.

Both are approved for NHS use specifically for Covid-19 patients - for much of the UK's outbreak doctors were limited to experimenting with whatever antiviral drugs and antibiotics they could find.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the trial success of dexamethasone - which was announced on June 16 - as the 'biggest breakthrough yet' in treating coronavirus.

He said at a press conference: 'I'm absolutely delighted that the biggest breakthrough yet has been made by a fantastic team of scientists right here in the UK...

'I think there is genuine cause to celebrate a remarkable British scientific achievement [and] the benefits it will bring not just in this country but around the world.'

Health Secretary described the results as 'astounding'.

Dexamethasone, first created in the 1950s, is usually given to treat ulcerative colitis, arthritis and some types of cancer. It is already licensed and proven to be safe, meaning it can be used in human patients immediately, and is a generic drug, meaning it can be manufactured cheaply and en masse by companies all over the world.

Results of the RECOVERY trial, which involved 6,000 Covid-19 patients and was led by Oxford University scientists, suggest the steroid can prevent death in one in eight ventilated coronavirus patients and one in 25 on breathing support. It is the first trial to show a treatment provides significant impact in reducing the risk of death.

But the drug — given as either an injection or once-a-day tablet on the NHS — had no benefit for people who were hospitalised with the virus but did not require oxygen.

Health chiefs said they imposed a ban to prevent companies from exporting the drug to other countries, in order to protect the UK's supply.

They have already stockpiled 200,000 courses of the drug for British patients, after buying it ahead of the results of the trial.

Professor Martin Landray, lead researcher, said dexamethasone could have saved up to 5,000 lives if it was used throughout the UK's crisis. He said: 'If you were to design a drug that treats coronavirus, this would be exactly how you'd hope it works.'

The steroid prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation, a nasty Covid-19 complication that makes breathing difficult. In seriously unwell patients, the lungs become so inflamed they struggle to work. ... trial.html
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