coronavirus 11

Worldwide, more than two million people have contracted coronavirus, officially Covid-19, Wednesday since the lethal outbreak began last December, passing another dark milestone, and the worst hit country is the U.S. Globally, more than 132,000 people have died. And in this situation, the U.S. is continuing its war against the World Health organization (WHO) and China.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, over 2 million people worldwide have tested positive for the coronavirus.

More than half of this number – more than two million – relates to outbreaks in European nations. With almost 610,000 identified Covid-19 patients, the U.S. is globally the worst hit country. The U.S. death toll stands at over 26,000 or over 28,300, depending on whether revised numbers that include “probable Covid-19 deaths” from New York since March 11 are added.

U.S. President Trump’s decision on Tuesday to halt funding to the WHO over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic has prompted worldwide backlash.

Thousands of health care workers infected with coronavirus

Between 10 percent and 20 percent of U.S. coronavirus cases are health care workers, though they tended to be hospitalized at lower rates than other patients, officials reported Tuesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the first national data on how the pandemic is hitting doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.

The data is important new information but not necessarily surprising, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, who is running the federal agency’s response to the outbreak.

Medical staff have also been hit hard in other countries: Media reports said about 10 percent of cases in Italy and Spain were health care workers.

Counting the dead: National tolls are only an estimate, and that is a problem

Accusations flew across continents as governments accused each other of lying about their coronavirus casualties.

So while the official global death toll currently stands at more than 126,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, that number represents a mere estimate. Only countries with extensive testing can confirm their mortalities and, even in those with the necessary medical technologies, the simple act of counting the dead reflects the chaos that COVID-19 has wrought.

NBC News, with contribution from Reuters, said on April 15, 2020:

When the outbreak hit Spain, coffin makers could not keep up with the demand. In Italy, the bodies were stacked unceremoniously in the back of military vehicles and hauled away. As the coronavirus death toll in the United States mounts, experts can only estimate as to how high it will go.

Accurate counts are critical to understanding where to place scarce resources, such as ventilators and personal protective equipment. They are also one of the few ways to understand how and where the disease will likely intensify.

“We don’t test, we don’t know who counts,” said Gerardo Chowell, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Georgia State University School of Public Health in Atlanta. “The number of confirmed deaths in Korea means something different than the number of confirmed deaths in Mexico. (South) Korea quickly ramped up testing rates and they have tested all, if not all of the suspected cases. In Mexico, that has not been the case.”

NBC News took a look at how some of the world’s leading health authorities have tried, and often failed, to count their dead from the pandemic.

U.S.

The U.S. as of April 14, the nation’s death toll stood at more than 24,000, making it the highest in the world.

Epidemiologists in the U.S. suspect that, due to the general lack of testing capacity and varying standards from state to state, this number may be an underestimate. Earlier this year, the percentage of deaths due to pneumonia nationwide was declining.

“In the United States, testing started very slowly which allowed the virus to spread silently through the population,” Chowell said. “And then obviously when people start to die, they are classified as a death from a respiratory disease or flu-like symptoms who may also have hypertension or diabetes. Those deaths will likely not get counted when in reality it was the virus that triggered their death.”

The CDC came to pretty much the same conclusion: “Deaths due to COVID-19 may be misclassified as pneumonia deaths in the absence of positive test results, and pneumonia may appear on death certificates as a comorbid condition. Thus, increases in pneumonia deaths may be an indicator of excess COVID-19-related mortality.”

As with some countries in Europe, the U.S. is working to establish a more real-time understanding of deaths that may be coronavirus related but have been attributed to other causes. Normally, this kind of analysis — called excess mortality surveys — takes a year to develop.

Italy

There are varying theories as to the identity of the first person to bring the coronavirus into Italy.

A team of researchers in Milan believes the person to be an asymptomatic carrier who likely brought the disease in from Munich. Italy’s first officially diagnosed patient was a 38-year-old married man who had never been to China, where the coronavirus was first identified. The man, identified by the Italian National Institute of Health only as Mattia, was athletic and resided in the small town of Codogno, south of Milan according to Flavia Riccardo, an epidemiologist at the institute.

Local doctors thought he had contracted the flu February 21. His pregnant wife became infected. When he went to the hospital, the coronavirus was passed on to doctors, nurses and other patients. From there, the virus spread widely.

Italy has reported more than 21,000 fatalities. Some claim that it may be one of the few countries in the world whose actual coronavirus deaths may be fewer than officially stated. Others think just the opposite. This is typical of the confusion that ensues when a curtain of death descends over a period of just a few weeks.

On the one hand, the Italian health system counts not only people who died directly from the coronavirus but also those who died of other causes, although they may have contracted the virus. Dr. Walter Ricciardi, the scientific adviser to Italy’s health minister, said last week.

“Only 12 percent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus,” he said in a press conference.

On the other hand, it is unclear the extent to which people who have died in their homes have been counted. The procedures mandate postmortem testing. In the chaos that ensued when the outbreak hit, however, it was not at all clear that procedures were being followed, according to Marina Davoli, who directs the department of epidemiology for the Italian region of Lazio.

The regional epidemiology department of Lazio has long been monitoring excess mortality in Italy for the national ministry of health. They have found that, between Feb. 1 and March 21, excess fatalities in Milan increased by 36 percent and in Brescia by 88 percent over the previous year.

Most of these deaths are attributable to the coronavirus, and the virus hit after a previously mild winter.

At the same time, epidemiologists are concerned that a portion of the excess deaths may be due to a general fear of going to the hospital in the midst of the pandemic.

Spain

Spain’s official tally, the third highest after the United States and Italy, is grim enough. Yet these figures likely do not reflect the true extent of how badly the virus has ravaged the nation.

When the pandemic first arrived, Spain did not take into account those who have died in their homes or in nursing facilities. Soldiers working for emergency response units tasked to disinfect the country’s nursing homes encountered horrible scenes of the dead “completely abandoned, or even dead, in their beds,” Defense Minister Margarita Robles said recently.

More bodies were found in subsequent days, including 25 in a nursing home in the posh district of Chamartin in Madrid.

The lack of molecular testing kits means the overall number of dead may be underreported. In some parts of the country, the number of dead was 70 percent higher than previous years even taking into account coronavirus mortalities, according to research conducted by the Carlos III Health Institute, published in the El Pais newspaper.

The institute conducted an excess mortality survey, which, in the absence of blanket testing, gives a more accurate indication of coronavirus fatalities.

France

At the outset of the crisis, France also undercounted its dead. Until recently, authorities only counted coronavirus deaths from the 600 public hospitals in the country. Those who died at home or in the nation’s 7,500 facilities for the elderly were not included in the official tally of coronavirus deaths.

In the wake of multiple deaths in French nursing homes, President Emmanuel Macron announced that deaths at these centers would now be tallied. On April 6, French Health Ministry announced that 1,000 health establishments were submitting data on mortalities.

Like Spain, France is moving quickly to fortify its system of reporting excess mortalities. While there is a two-week delay in getting this information, it does give French authorities the capacity to provide a good estimate of deaths from all causes during the epidemic. A quick turnaround means that French authorities will be able to get a better idea of possible coronavirus deaths that may not have been otherwise registered.

UK

Like Spain and France, the UK appears to have had a problem counting the number of deaths in nursing homes. On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics said 5,979 people in England had died by April 3 with COVID-19 — 15 percent more than numbers published by the health service.

Public Health England Medical Director Yvonne Doyle has said that while daily figures record only hospital deaths, the ministry is working to include statistics from nursing homes into their official tally.

“We just need to be absolutely clear that the cause of death that is attributed is correct and that is what takes time on the death certificate to get right,” she said in a news conference. “But we would like to have much more rapid data, preferably on a daily basis, and that is what we are working towards.”

Even before the new figures, the official British death toll was the fifth highest globally and a senior scientific adviser to the government has said the country risks becoming the worst hit in Europe.

China

China, where the outbreak began in 2019, has reported 83,351 cases of infection. Long lines and stacks of ash urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan in Hubei province, where the outbreak began, showed the toll the pandemic has wrought even as the government has eased the lockdown in some areas while tightening it in others.

China’s National Health Commission updates its death toll each day. The numbers of confirmed and suspected cases and deaths should be filed by the medical and health organizations (those that are authorized to receive coronavirus patients) directly into the commission’s internal system. When some of those hospitals cannot log into the system, they can report to the local disease control center, which will then file the information. This means they count the deaths reported by authorized hospitals.

The manner of counting the dead has become a political question as the U.S. and China trade accusations during the pandemic.

South Korea

Because of a rigorous testing regime, South Korea’s mortality statistics are likely the most accurate in the world, said Daniel Lopez-Acuna, an epidemiologist who spent 30 years at the World Health Organization. South Korea’s testing regime, which is responsible for roughly 400,000 molecular tests, has enabled it to “trace, test, treat” a large proportion of the population relative to other countries. This has also kept the number of reported infections at 10,591.

Russia

Officially at least, the coronavirus outbreak in Russia has been slower to take hold than in Western Europe.

Nevertheless, Moscow and several other cities and regions are on strict lockdown, with residents allowed to leave their apartments only for necessities. A nationwide stay-at-home regime has been extended until April 30. Authorities are hoping they have prevented the explosion of cases and deaths seen elsewhere in Europe.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin attributed this to “prompt measures taken proactively” in the first few weeks of the crisis. “We managed to contain massive — and I would like to underscore — massive penetration and spread of the infection in Russia,” he said March 17, when Russia still had reported just 114 cases and zero fatalities.

Between April 8 and April 14, the number of cases more than doubled from 8,672 to 24,490 according to Johns Hopkins University. The death toll remains low but has also more than doubled over the past week from 68 confirmed deaths on April 8 to 198.

Groups opposed to Putin have, since early in the crisis, insisted that the government is lowballing its coronavirus statistics. Ivan Konovalov, a spokesman for the Alliance of Doctors, a professional organization politically allied with the Russian opposition, said early on that the official statistics do not conform to reality.

“According to a few accounts, a portion of the coronavirus cases are being masked as so-called community-transmitted pneumonia,” he told NBC News last month. “Patients are diagnosed with ‘pneumonia’ without being tested for coronavirus, which could have caused it.”

Germany: 130,450 cases

Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases have risen by 2,866 to 130,450, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday, meaning the number of new infections rose for a second consecutive day. The reported death toll has risen by 315 to 3,569, the tally showed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday that Germany would extend its current lockdown for another two-and-a-half weeks, until May 3.

Merkel said that wearing facemasks in public is “urgently recommended.”

On French aircraft carrier, hundreds infected

Nearly 700 sailors assigned to the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle’s naval group have tested positive for the coronavirus, the armed forces ministry said on Wednesday.

Canada

Total COVID-19 cases in Canada: 28,379 diagnoses and 1,010 deaths (as of April 15, 6:00 p.m. ET).

Of these, Alberta – 1,996 cases, including 48 deaths (914 resolved), British Columbia – 1,561 cases, 75 deaths (942 resolved), Manitoba – 246 cases, 5 deaths (108 resolved), New Brunswick – 117 cases (77 resolved), Newfoundland and Labrador – 247 cases, 3 deaths (159 resolved), Northwest Territories – 5 cases, Nova Scotia – 549 cases, 3 deaths (124 resolved), Ontario – 8,447 cases, 385 deaths (3,902 resolved), Prince Edward Island – 26 cases (23 resolved), Quebec – 14,860 cases, 487 deaths (2,605 resolved), Saskatchewan – 304 cases, 4 deaths (205 resolved), Yukon – 8 cases (4 resolved), CFB Trenton – 13 cases.

EU president calls for €1tn ‘new Marshall plan’

The president of the European Commission has called for a €1tn “new Marshall plan” to revive European economies when they start to get a grip on the coronavirus

The EU published its “joint European roadmap” for lifting COVID-19 containment measures on Wednesday. It has called for member states to co-ordinate plans for easing restrictions, with fears lifting lockdowns too early and countries’ divergent approaches could undermine global efforts to tackle to virus.

Asian economies won’t grow this year, says IMF

Economies in Asia will see zero growth this year for the first time in 60 years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

IMF’s bleak outlook for the region comes as it warns the global economy will face the “worst recession since the Great Depression”.

Asia’s service sector in particular will struggle to rebound, it said.

Airlines, factories, shops and restaurants have been “hard hit” by national lockdowns.

Changyong Rhee, director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, warned that governments would need to take extraordinary actions as a result.

“This is not a time for business as usual. Asian countries need to use all policy instruments in their toolkits.”

Policymakers must offer targeted support to households and firms hardest-hit by travel bans, social distancing policies and other containment measures, the IMF said.

The drop in growth will be “worse than the annual growth rates throughout the Global Financial Crisis (4.7%), or the Asian Financial Crisis (1.3%),” the IMF said.

The Washington-based lender expects a 7.6% expansion in Asian economic growth next year if containment policies succeed, but added the outlook was “highly uncertain.”

The main function of the IMF is to encourage global trade and to reduce poverty.

China

The official coronavirus statistics for China include 83,356 infections and 3,346 deaths, the majority of both in Hubei province.

Aggressive lockdown measures surrounding the pandemic’s epicenter in the city of Wuhan have been credited with ending the outbreak in China, so much so that life is returning to normal even in Wuhan itself.

Chinese coronavirus hospital built in two weeks is to close after last patients leave

The Chinese hospital built in less than two weeks to tackle coronavirus is set to close later, after its last patients were moved out.

Leishenshan Hospital was built by 15,000 workers in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus was thought to have originated.

For a time, China bore the worst of the virus and the hospital was built to handle the massive increase in patients needing medical care.

Thousands in Michigan in protest over lockdown

Outraged by their governor’s ban on “non-essential” sales and activities, thousands of angry Michigan residents got into their cars and drove to her office in Lansing, in what they dubbed ‘Operation Gridlock.’

Long convoys of cars, trucks and other vehicles streamed into the state capital on Wednesday, in freezing weather and through snow showers, to protest what many see as a draconian order. Video from the scene showed long lines of vehicles parked in the streets.

Governor Gretchen Witmer, a Democrat, issued the executive order last week suspending “activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life” – severely limiting sales, recreation, and even travel, citing the need to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

At least 15,000 vehicles were expected at the protest, the organizers told Fox News. Additional protesters joined the horn-honking cars on foot, mostly maintaining the 2-meter “social distance” mandated by health authorities.

“Quarantine is when you restrict movement of sick people. Tyranny is when you restrict the movement of healthy people,” Meshawn Maddock of the Michigan Conservative Coalition told the network. Meshawn Maddock said: “Every person has learned a harsh lesson about social distancing. We don’t need a naany state to tell people how to be careful.”

Republican politician Mike Detmer shared a sign for the event, with the slogan “She is driving us out of business – We’re driving to Lansing.”

Armed militia members showed up on foot as well. Some of the protesters climbed on top of their cars and waved about American flags – as well as campaign banners for President Donald Trump.

Others carried signs about freedom, liberty, and wanting to work.

Of the deaths due to coronavirus in the U.S., Michigan accounted for 27,000 infections and 1,768 deaths – overwhelmingly concentrated in Detroit and the three neighboring counties. Yet the state’s shutdown has been one of the strictest in the U.S.

A million Michiganders were laid off due to the coronavirus shutdown so far – along with 20 million people across the US.

The protest was not popular with all Michiganders, however – online #Resistance accused the demonstrators of dangerous and irresponsible behavior, and even cursed them out on social media.

A petition to recall Whitmer in response to her “tyrannical” orders has already received almost 250,000 signatures.

Trump’s name will appear on coronavirus relief checks

Paper checks of coronavirus relief payments approved by Congress to be sent to Americans will have President Donald Trump’s name printed on them, a Treasury Department official has confirmed to NBC News.

It will not be a signature, but “President Donald J. Trump” will be printed on the fronts of the checks, the Treasury official confirmed.

The Washington Post, which first reported the story, said the process of adding Trump’s name to the checks could slow their delivery by days.

The Treasury Department official disputed that and said there would not be any delays.

Citing coronavirus, Trump threatens to adjourn Congress to make recess appointments

U.S. President Trump said Wednesday that he was considering taking the unprecedented step of adjourning both houses of Congress in order to make recess appointments to fill government posts, citing the emergency created by the coronavirus outbreak.

“If the House will not agree to that adjournment, I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress,” Trump said at a Rose Garden briefing of the coronavirus task force. “The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis. It is a scam what they do.”

U.S. CDC director warns coronavirus may recur seasonally

U.S. CDC director Robert Redfield warned Wednesday that a second wave of COVID-19 infections could hit the U.S. next winter if the coronavirus pandemic follows a seasonal pattern.

“I think we have to assume this is like other respiratory viruses, and there will be seasonality to it,” Redfield said in an interview with Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos, who announced this week that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Redfield said that a resurgence of the virus in the U.S. was “likely,” but not guaranteed.

“Until we see it, we don’t know for certain,” Redfield said. “But it is critical that we plan that this virus is likely to follow a seasonality pattern similar to flu, and we’re going to have another battle with it upfront and aggressively next winter.”

New Yorkers need a car to get tested at drive-thru sites, but over half of them in the city do not own one

As New York swiftly became the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak, the New York State Health Department (NYSHD) scrambled to set up testing sites to assess how far the infection had spread in the state. New York City has been hit the hardest by far, with over 110,000 infections and nearly 8,000 deaths. New Yorkers can call the NYSHD hotline to get screened for their eligibility for a COVID-19 test — if approved, they are given an appointment by NYSHD at their nearest testing site.

So far, New York has opened nine locations for COVID-19 assessment to date — and at least three of those sites in the Bronx, State Island, and Brooklyn are drive-thru only. The state plans to open more walk-in locations and another site that requires a vehicle in Queens, ABC 7 reported.

“The state drive-through testing sites are for people in vehicles who have been screened for eligibility. New Yorkers without a vehicle should contact their family physician or local Federally Qualified Health Center about testing availability,” Jonah Bruno, the director of communications for NYSHD told Business Insider.

Herd immunity, a way the pandemic will end — and it would require a vaccine

As countries across the globe approach and pass the peaks of their first waves of coronavirus infections, officials and experts are racing to figure out how to protect people long-term.

Individuals could gain immunity to the new coronavirus if they develop antibodies; that can happen through vaccination, or after they get infected and recover.

If enough people become immune, that can confer “herd immunity” to an entire population. This protects even people who are not immune, because so many others are immune that they prevent the virus from spreading within a community. Herd immunity would effectively end the coronavirus pandemic.

That day would come with the mass distribution of a vaccine, but that process is expected to take at least 18 months. Earlier in the pandemic, some governments also considered allowing herd immunity to develop on its own, without a vaccine, by letting the virus spread through their populations. But in its wake, the coronavirus would have left millions of recovered people with antibodies — but a trail of deaths would have followed, too.

Experts warned against this path.

Social distancing measures may be necessary into 2022, say researchers

People around the world may need to continue practicing some level of social distancing through 2022 to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic in the absence of an effective treatment or vaccine, or unless hospital capacity is increased, according to a new study.

The study published Tuesday in the journal Science, researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health warned that their projections indicate there would be a large resurgence of infection if social distancing measures are lifted all at once, potentially delaying the epidemic’s peak and exacerbating the load on critical care resources.

S Korea’s coronavirus battle propels Moon’s party to election win

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s ruling party won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections, results on Thursday showed, a landslide victory propelled by successes in the country’s efforts to contain the new coronavirus.


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One Comment

  1. 13 cases in Trenton?