COVID-19 current figures
Today's COVID-19 headlines
France's early Covid-19 case may hold clues to pandemic's start
A study by French scientists which suggests a man was infected with Covid-19 as early as December 27, nearly a month before France confirmed its first cases, could be important in assessing when and where the new coronavirus emerged, experts said on Tuesday.
French researchers led by Yves Cohen, head of resuscitation at the Avicenne and Jean Verdier hospitals, retested samples from 24 patients treated in December and January who had tested negative for flu before COVID-19 developed into a pandemic.
The results, published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, showed that one patient - a 42-year-old man born in Algeria, who had lived in France for many years and worked as a fishmonger - was infected with COVID-19 “one month before the first reported cases in our country”, they said.
The World Health Organization said the results were “not surprising”. (Reuters)
Return to normal health services needs to be carefully managed
The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on our NHS and its staff is likely to be felt long into the future, according to the Chair of BMA Scotland after a survey showed one in four doctors are suffering from extra stress or burnout.
The survey of 1,351 Scottish doctors shows nearly 40% of doctors said that they were currently suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, emotional distress or other mental health condition relating to or made worse by their work. A quarter of the doctors who responded said that was directly due to the impact of Covid-19.
Dr Lewis Morrison said that for this and many other reasons no-one should expect the NHS to return to a comprehensive programme of more routine work at “the flick of a switch” and called for the process to be carefully managed, with a need to balance patient needs with the wellbeing of staff.
High blood pressure medications safe for patients with Covid-19
Despite concerns expressed by some experts, common high blood pressure drugs did not increase the risk of contracting Covid-19 or of developing severe disease in a study of 12,594 patients.
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study was launched in response to a March 17 joint statement issued by the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Heart Failure Society of America. It urgently called for research to answer a question raised by past studies: do high blood pressure (antihypertensive) drugs worsen Covid-19 patient outcomes?
Led by researchers from NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the study found no links between treatment with four drug classes - angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), beta blockers, or calcium channel blockers -- and increased likelihood of a positive test for Covid-19.
Further, the study found no substantial increase in risk for more severe illness (intensive care, use of a ventilator, or death) with any of the treatments in patients with the pandemic virus.
Early government intervention is key to reducing the spread of Covid-19
Early and strict governmental intervention is a key factor in reducing the spread of Covid-19 cases. That's the conclusion reached by a team of researchers comparing outbreaks of the novel coronavirus between the Chinese province of Hunan and Italy in a new paper published in Frontiers in Medicine.
While Hunan and Italy are similar in population size - about 60-70 million people each - the scope of the epidemic in each location has differed dramatically. At time of publication, Italy has the second-most confirmed deaths after the United States and ranks third in total confirmed infections, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. There are just over 1,000 confirmed cases in Hunan.
The research team, based in China, used data from the John Hopkins database through April 2 to map infection trends in both Hunan and Italy. They modified a standard mathematical model known as a susceptible-infected-removed (SIR) model to account for the effects of different epidemic prevention measures at different periods in time.
CMI assesses impact of Covid-19 on total UK deaths
The Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) update shows there were 2.2 times as many deaths registered in week 17 of 2020 than if death rates had been the same as week 17 of 2019. The ratio was 2.4 in week 16 and 1.8 in week 15.
It shows the position as at week 17 of 2020 (18 April to 24 April) based on provisional England & Wales deaths data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 5 May 2020.
These ‘excess’ deaths in week 17 were 1.4 times the number of registered deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. There may have been around 55,000 more deaths in the UK from the start of the pandemic to 4 May 2020 than if mortality rates were similar to those experienced in 2019.
Cobus Daneel, Chair of the CMI Mortality Projections Committee said: “This is the first week that we’ve seen a reduction in the number of ‘excess’ deaths. This suggests that we are over the peak of the current outbreak. However, our analysis also suggests that the true impact of the coronavirus pandemic is roughly double that of commonly-quoted figures for Covid-19 deaths.”
Other news roundup
- UK has overtaken Italy to report the highest official death toll from coronavirus in Europe
- Nicola Sturgeon states she is "almost certain" lockdown restrictions will not be changed in Scotland on Thursday
- India has recorded its sharpest rise in daily cases with 3,900 fresh infections reported in the last 24 hours
- Virgin Atlantic cuts 3,000 jobs in the UK due to the coronavirus outbreak
- A trial is under way in South Africa to test if the tuberculosis vaccine is effective against Covid-19