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The COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus) continues to pose serious challenges to health systems, governments and the population at large. While some regions (e.g. the EU)

Staying on top of the latest information is critical. With that in mind, we will aim to aggregate news headlines and provide regular updates via this blog and our COVID-19 Response Team.  

  • Global Numbers: 12m million cases, 545,777 deaths and 6.8m recoveries.
  • United States: At least 3m cases have now been reported in the U.S. and at least 133,926 Americans have died. On July 8, the U.S. hit a grim daily milestone of 60,000. A growing number of South and Southwest states are closing back up due to fast-rising infections. Dr Fauci has said that the U.S. is still “knee deep in the first wave — it’s a serious situation we have to address immediately”. Conversely, Pres. Trump has claimed that the U.S. is “in a good place” and is pushing to reopen schools.
  • WHO Reconsiders Airborne Spread:  The World Health Organization has acknowledged there is emerging evidence that the coronavirus can be spread by tiny particles suspended in the air. The airborne transmission could not be ruled out in crowded, closed or poorly ventilated settings, an official said. If the evidence is confirmed, it may affect guidelines for indoor spaces. An open letter from more than 200 scientists had accused the WHO of underestimating the possibility of airborne transmission.
  • U.S. to exit WHO? Breaking news is that U.S. has now announced its intention to withdraw from the World Health Organization…during a pandemic. This is clearly a decision that will reverberate for weeks and months to come. While the U.S. is exiting due to the Trump administration’s political stance against the WHO and China, it is not clear that an immediate exit is possible — pending a 1 year advance notification, payment of outstanding bills and other required steps.
  • Rising Infections Across U.S: The U.S. continues to experience a rapid spike in infections across some 36 states: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas are the worst hit according to a Washington Post analysis.
  • The European Union has banned American citizens from travel to the bloc due to the ongoing surge of infections. Meanwhile, citizens of other former “hot zone” countries are allowed to enter the EU.
  • Brazil’s President Bolsanaro, who has famously resisted and rejected the danger of COVID-19, has now tested positive. Brazil’s daily coronavirus deaths were higher than fatalities in the United States over the last two days.
  • Mexico has recorded its largest single-day increases in both newly confirmed cases and reported deaths from novel coronavirus since the outbreak began. Mexican health officials reported on Tuesday an additional 3,455 cases, bringing the total to 74,560.

  • Peru: The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Peru rose to at least 129,751 on Tuesday — a jump of 5,772 from the previous day, according to the country’s health ministry.
  • Germany — The German government and its sixteen federal states agreed to extend social distancing restrictions to June 29, the government announced in a statement on Tuesday.
  • France — The number of coronavirus cases in France has continued to stabilize while the number of hospitalizations dropped by at least 534 cases, for a total of at least 16,264 on Tuesday, according to French health officials.
  • Italy — The number of active Covid-19 cases in Italy has dropped to 52,942, the Civil Protection Agency said Tuesday. The number marks an encouraging decrease – close to half of the highest number of cases recorded during the peak of the pandemic, which stood at 108,257.
  • Spain — A Spanish study has cast doubt on the feasibility of herd immunity as a way of tackling the coronavirus pandemic. The study of more than 60,000 people estimates that around just 5% of the Spanish population has developed antibodies, the medical journal the Lancet reported.
  • Northern Ireland — Northern Ireland has become the first of the four UK nations to record zero deaths during the coronavirus crisis, Ireland’s Minister for Health Robin Swann said Tuesday. It is the first time no deaths have been recorded in Northern Ireland since March 18.

Spotlight Article:

Coronavirus: WHO rethinking how Covid-19 spreads in air (BBC)

Another signatory – Professor Benjamin Cowling of Hong Kong University – told the BBC the finding had “important implications”.

“In healthcare settings, if aerosol transmission poses a risk then we understand healthcare workers should really be wearing the best possible preventive equipment… and actually the World Health Organization said that one of the reasons they were not keen to talk about aerosol transmission of Covid-19 is because there’s not a sufficient number of these kind of specialised masks for many parts of the world,” he said.

“And in the community, if we’re thinking about aerosol transmission being a particular risk, then we need to think about how to prevent larger super spreading events, larger outbreaks and those occur in indoor environments with poor ventilation, with crowding and with prolonged close contact.”

WHO officials have cautioned the evidence is preliminary and requires further assessment.

Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said that evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus in “crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out”.

A shifting position?

For months, the WHO has insisted that Covid-19 is transmitted via droplets emitted when people cough or sneeze. Droplets that do not linger in the air, but fall onto surfaces – that’s why handwashing has been identified as a key prevention measure.

But 239 scientists from 32 countries don’t agree: they say there is also strong evidence to suggest the virus can also spread in the air: through much tinier particles that float around for hours after people talk, or breathe out.

Today the WHO admitted there was evidence to suggest this was possible in specific settings, such as enclosed and crowded spaces.

That evidence will have to be thoroughly evaluated, but if it is confirmed, the advice on how to prevent the virus spreading may have to change, and could lead to more widespread use of masks, and more rigorous distancing, especially in bars, restaurants, and on public transport.

The WHO has so far said that the virus is transmitted through droplets when people cough or sneeze.

“We wanted them to acknowledge the evidence,” Jose Jimenez, a chemist at the University of Colorado who signed the paper, told the Reuters news agency.

“This is definitely not an attack on the WHO. It’s a scientific debate, but we felt we needed to go public because they were refusing to hear the evidence after many conversations with them,” he said.

Another signatory – Professor Benjamin Cowling of Hong Kong University – told the BBC the finding had “important implications”.

“In healthcare settings, if aerosol transmission poses a risk then we understand healthcare workers should really be wearing the best possible preventive equipment… and actually the World Health Organization said that one of the reasons they were not keen to talk about aerosol transmission of Covid-19 is because there’s not a sufficient number of these kind of specialised masks for many parts of the world,” he said.

“And in the community, if we’re thinking about aerosol transmission being a particular risk, then we need to think about how to prevent larger super spreading events, larger outbreaks and those occur in indoor environments with poor ventilation, with crowding and with prolonged close contact.”

Graphic

WHO officials have cautioned the evidence is preliminary and requires further assessment.

Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said that evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus in “crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out”.

A shifting position?

Imogen Foulkes, BBC News in Geneva

For months, the WHO has insisted that Covid-19 is transmitted via droplets emitted when people cough or sneeze. Droplets that do not linger in the air, but fall onto surfaces – that’s why handwashing has been identified as a key prevention measure.

But 239 scientists from 32 countries don’t agree: they say there is also strong evidence to suggest the virus can also spread in the air: through much tinier particles that float around for hours after people talk, or breathe out.

Today the WHO admitted there was evidence to suggest this was possible in specific settings, such as enclosed and crowded spaces.

That evidence will have to be thoroughly evaluated, but if it is confirmed, the advice on how to prevent the virus spreading may have to change, and could lead to more widespread use of masks, and more rigorous distancing, especially in bars, restaurants, and on public transport.

#COVID19 #COVID-19 #COVID #Coronavirus #Pandemic #GlobalHealth #PublicHealth #Health  #Epidemiology #ContactTracing #Testing ##TestingandTracing #DiseaseSurveillance #InfectiousDisease #InfectiousDiseases #SARS #MERS #Ebola #lockdown #quarantine #vaccine #vaccines #CDC #Fauci #WHO #WorldHealthOrganization


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