Corona News: As cases rise, WHO launches alert messaging service


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By Dr. Sandhya Sukumaran

Send “hi” to +41 798 931 892 on WhatsApp to get reliable information on pandemic.

Total cases* Deaths Source
Global 234,073 9,840 WHO in Italy
U.S. 15,219 201 CDC
India 244 4 Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India

*As of March 21, 2020

The American Bazaar presents our daily update for COVID–19 for Saturday March 21 by Dr. Sandhya Sukumaran, a globally renowned public health expert focusing on zoonotic diseases and One Health. Based in Washington, DC, she engages in consultancies for international organizations like WHO, World Bank, and FAO as well as advises governments and other forums.

COVID-19 cases continue to increase globally with reports from six new countries/territories/areas. The situation continues to be worse in Italy, which reported 5322 new cases and 429 more deaths on Friday. Spain reported a surge of cases, 3431 new cases and 767 deaths in a day. Read more…

Italy is overtaking China as the country worst-hit by COVID-19: Nowhere is Italy’s race against time more dramatically evident than in Lombardy, the region around Milan and the one worst hit by the spread of COVID-19. So far, the south has had fewer than 5% of cases. But tens of thousands of people have fled from the north as the virus spread. The worry is that some are asymptomatic carriers and that the next few days could see the tally of infections soar in the Mezzogiorno, where people have been less scrupulous in respecting the lockdown. Read more…

WHO Health Alert messaging service: To increase access to reliable information, WHO has partnered with WhatsApp and Facebook to launch a WHO Health Alert messaging service. This service will provide the latest news and information on COVID-19, including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves. The Health Alert service is now available in English and will be introduced in other languages next week. To access it, send the word “hi” to the following number on WhatsApp: +41 798 931 892.

COVID-19: protecting health care workers: More than 3300 health-care workers were infected in China by early March 2020, as per China’s National Health Commission with 22 deaths by the end of February according to local media. In Italy, 20% of responding health care workers were infected. Read more…

Rational use of masks in the COVID-19 pandemic: One important reason to discourage the use of face masks by the healthy general public is to preserve the limited supplies for professional use in health-care settings. Recommendations on face masks vary across countries. Read more…

WHO recommendation is that if you are healthy, you only need to wear mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask (including respirators) to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

How long can the SARS-CoV-2 remain on surfaces: Experimentally, the virus was found to be viable in aerosols for 3 hours, 72 hours on plastic, 48 hours on stainless steel surfaces, four hours on copper and 24 hours on cardboard. Read more…

The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2: SARS-CoV-2 is the seventh coronavirus known to infect humans. Since the first reports of novel pneumonia (COVID-19) in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, there has been considerable discussion on the origin of the causative virus, SARS-CoV-2. In this analysis, authors clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus. Read more…

Life and death decision using artificial intelligence: Amid the fears that the United States could face a shortage of ventilators for corona virus patients, state officials and hospitals are quietly preparing to make excruciating decisions about how they would ration lifesaving care. Read more…

In Italy, doctors have been taking the life and death decision since last month, deciding which patients should be put on the available ventilators. Read more…

Researchers in China are now developing an artificial intelligence tool to help doctors with those complex issues, while the question whether it is time to trust a machine still remains unanswered. Read more…

Pandemic Reaches Overcrowded Prisons: COVID-19 is gaining a foothold in the world’s most overcrowded prison systems, raising grave concern about the spread of the virus in facilities where social distancing can be near impossible. Read more…


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