Corona News: Cases top 200,000 worldwide, U.S., India curtail travel

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US looking for stop-gap solution; undocumented infection facilitating rapid spread of COVID-19.

By Dr. Sandhya Sukumaran


Total cases* Deaths Source
Global 209,839 8,778 WHO
U.S. 10,442 150 CDC
India 148 4 Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India

*As of March 20, 2019

Editor’s note: As the world goes into a lockdown mode to contain the spread of COVID-19, the American Bazaar brings you a daily update on what’s going on around the world by Dr. Sandhya Sukumaran, a public health expert based in Washington, DC. Here’s the first one:

Global cases of COVID-19 top 200,000: COVID-19 that started in Wuhan, China has now topped 200,000 with cases reported from 168 out of the total 195 countries, areas or territories. The infection hub has shifted from China to Europe. Italy surpassed China on March 19 in the total deaths from the disease so far.

Community spread in U.S.: The cases in U.S. have hiked to 10,442 with widespread community spread seriously affecting three States namely New York, Washington and California.

Community spread in defined areas is also reported from the States of Florida, Atlanta, Louisiana, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Nevada, Michigan and Oregon even though the number of cases in each of these States in less than 300.

Convalescent serum as a stop-gap solution for COVID-19 until vaccines and antivirals are ready:  Arturo Casadevall, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology chair at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is helping organize a national effort to use antibodies from recovered COVID-19 patients for protection and treatments. Read more…

Quick-fix programs to develop vaccines and therapeutics undesirable: Considering the vaccine safety issues especially in the context of two previous instances of coronavirus vaccines developed in animals where there was higher risk of developing the disease, adequate animal tests need to be done before human trials, experts say.

Travel Advisories

US department of State on March 19 issued Global Level 4 health Advisory that means no travel. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.

US citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. Travelers are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate them in an emergency. Read more…

Government of India in its advisory issued on March 19 advised that no international commercial flight shall be allowed to land in  India for one week from midnight of March 22 to March 29.

Why COVID-19 is worse than the flu: It is more contagious, more deadly particularly for older people and it has a greater potential to overwhelm the health care system. COVID-19 could infect 20-60 percent of world population. Its longer incubation period gives people more time to spread the illness before they are sick. It is also possible that the new disease might become endemic. Read more…

Undocumented infection facilitating rapid spread of COVID-19: The fraction of undocumented but infectious cases has been demonstrated as a critical epidemiological characteristic that modulated the pandemic potential of the disease. Read more…

COVID-19 is proving deadlier for men: Recent studies in he respective countries found that in Italy, 70% of death were in men, while it was around 64 percent in China and 54 percent in South Korea.

Young adults at risk: According to preliminary data published by the CDC, out of 2500 more serious U.S. cases, 38% hospitalized were between 20 and 54 years.

Some children suffer severe cases: As against the evidences so far, in the largest study to date in China, 4% infected children showed no symptoms, 39% experienced moderate symptoms and nearly 6% were severely fell ill

Lessons from China: Amongst the different approaches, lockdowns worked, but travel bans were less effective within China than internationally. Control measures deployed a week earlier could have prevented 67% of China’s cases, according to one model from the University of Southampton. Read more…

Africa as a ticking time bomb: Experts worry how COVID-19 will behave in Africa. The virus may ravage the countries that have weak health systems with population disproportionately affected by HIV, TB and other infectious diseases and overcrowded cities and slums where social distancing is hard to do. Read more…
Meanwhile, COVID-19 is rapidly evolving in Africa. It has quickly spread to 37 countries with more than 700 confirmed cases.

The pandemic is slashing deadly air pollution: A scaled-back pollution has been demonstrated in China from reduced emissions that could prevent up to 75,000 premature deaths from pollution. Clear waters with return of dolphins, swans and fishes to the canal waters were reported from Venice. Read more…

(Dr. Sandhya Sukumaran is a globally renowned public health expert focusing on zoonotic diseases and One Health. She is based in Washington, DC, USA and engages in consultancies for international organizations like WHO, World Bank, and FAO as well as advises governments and other forums.)


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