3 million tested for coronavirus in Chinese city

BEIJING — Authorities in the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao say they have completed coronavirus tests on more than 3 million people following the country’s first reported local outbreak of the virus in nearly two months.

The city’s health department said Tuesday that no new positive cases had been found among the more than 1.1 million test results returned thus far. The city said it had a total of 12 cases, six with symptoms and six without, since the new outbreak was first spotted over the weekend at a hospital.

The National Health Commission, however, said Tuesday that at least six new cases of the virus were found in Qingdao in the past 24 hours.


The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

The National Health Commission numbers released Tuesday reported a total of 30 new virus cases in the previous 24 hours nationwide. It broke down those numbers into 13 cases in which people had symptoms and 17 cases in which they had no symptoms. The total number of locally transmitted cases, both with and without symptoms, was 11, while the rest were listed as imported.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Takeaways: Coronavirus at center of Supreme Cour t hearings

— Defiant Trump defends virus record in 1st post-COVID rally

— As pandemic presses on, waves of grief follow its path

— Black churches mobilizing voters despite virus challenges

— ‘So frustrating’: Doctors and nurses battle virus skeptics

___

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 102 new cases of the coronavirus, its first daily increase over 100 in six days. The steady rise is a cause of concern as officials have lowered social distancing restrictions this week after concluding that the viral spread was slowing after a spike in mid-August.

The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency brought the national caseload to 24,805, including 434 deaths.

Fifty-eight of the new cases was reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where transmissions have been linked to hospitals, sports facilities, a funeral home and an army unit.

Thirty-three of the new cases have been linked to international arrivals, including passengers from Russia, Nepal, Japan and the United States.

South Korea relaxed its social distancing guidelines beginning Monday, which allowed high-risk businesses like nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and for professional sports leagues to proceed with plans to bring back fans in the stands.

___

AUSTIN, Texas — An ongoing wave of COVID-19 cases in the El Paso area prompted Gov. Greg Abbott to announce Monday that a surge team of medical professionals would be dispatched to the area.

The 75 doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists being dispatched will be accompanied by a supply of extra personal protective equipment to support efforts by El Paso hospitals to meet the surge of coronavirus infections. The team will be in addition to

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Healthineers launches rapid coronavirus antigen test, sees tight supply

By Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Siemens Healthineers on Wednesday announced the launch of a rapid antigen test kit in Europe to detect coronavirus infections, but warned that the industry may struggle to meet a surge in demand.

The German group, whose rivals in diagnostics include Roche, Abbott and Becton Dickinson , said its test cassette did not require lab processing and would deliver results in 15 minutes, but that the required nasal swabs would have to be taken by healthcare professionals.

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which scan genetic code for the markers of a virus, are the gold standard for finding infections but are two to three times more expensive than antigen tests and require processing in a lab.

Antigen tests, which look for proteins found on the surface of the virus, cost about 4-5 euros ($5-$6) each, but miss a few percent of the infections that PCR tests would have caught.

Currently, slightly more than 1 million standard PCR tests are performed in Germany every week.

However, public health systems around the world are eager to provide quick diagnostic tools, and test more widely, to help locate hotspots of the pandemic.

Germany’s health ministry last week said it had secured 9 million antigen tests.

The regional state of Bavaria followed up this week with an order for 10 million antigen tests, saying it had options to purchase from Healthineers, Roche and Abbott. It did not give a timeframe for their use.

“The volumes that are being circulated globally are probably at the limits of what manufacturers can currently supply,” a Healthineers spokesman said.

“We are currently in talks with various governments over possible supply orders.”

The United States and Canada are also buying millions of tests, as is Italy, whose recent tender for 5 million tests attracted offers from 35 companies.

Healthineers is also planning to seek approval for a launch in the United States. ($1 = 0.8501 euros)

(Additional reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Do Musical Instruments Spread the Coronavirus?

As with pretty much every other activity right now, having the quintet gather outdoors is a great idea. If any neighbors complain, explain that the backyard practices are part of a global effort to keep them from dying. If anyone happens to be infected, any virus that emanates in the heat of performance will likely fade into the sky and disperse like the music itself. Indoors, as any parent of a child who’s learning an instrument knows, everything is trapped and can echo around the room indefinitely.

Some instruments do seem to pose more risk than others. Obviously, string instruments can be played without even opening your mouth, but it sounds like your daughter’s quintet is too far along to take kindly to a suggestion that they all learn new instruments. Because the virus is sent into the air by talking, coughing, and singing—any forcible exhalation of air through the pharynx—playing a woodwind or brass instrument would logically pose a risk. These instruments are effectively designed to amplify what’s coming out of our mouths and to carry the sound. A 2011 study of vuvuzelas (the long, straight plastic horns that people blow at soccer games) found that their capacity for spreading infections could be tremendous. Compared with shouting, blowing through the horn sent several hundred times more particles into the air.

Thankfully for everyone, kids don’t train for vuvuzela quintets. Woodwind and brass instruments send air through a maze of twists and turns, and buttons create turbulent airflow patterns that don’t simply shoot everything out in a piercing plume. Breathing into a convoluted contraption such as a saxophone or a tuba, then, actually serves as a sort of filter that collects the larger droplets you might be spewing out. This is familiar to anyone who has emptied a spit valve and seen what pours out.

The real question is the potential danger of smaller, aerosolized particles that can blast out of an instrument and linger in the air. In May, the Vienna Philharmonic reported that it had conducted a study of the aerosols from various instruments. Researchers hooked tubes up to musicians’ noses, and as they played, they inhaled an aerosolized salt solution that could be visualized when it was exhaled. The researchers mapped the clouds of air around musicians while they were playing and reported that none of the instruments sent respiratory droplets beyond the commonly recommended radius of six feet. In most cases, no significant amount of the aerosolized salt particles were detectable coming out the end of the wind and brass instruments. Flutes were the worst offender, passing a “large amount” of aerosol in a cloud covering two and a half feet.

In July, another study in Germany offered findings and hope similar to those from Vienna. But neither study measured actual coronavirus particles, and the overall evidence is still thin. Doctors at the University of Iowa have expressed concern about the rigor of both findings, given

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Coronavirus UK: Man who couldn’t see a dentist pulls out own teeth

A labourer who lost his income during lockdown pulled out two of his own teeth with pliers and downed eight cans of Stella Artois to numb the pain because he couldn’t get a dental appointment due to the coronavirus crisis.

Chris Savage, 42, resorted to yanking two of his own teeth out in his bedroom because he couldn’t register with a dentist or book an emergency appointment, calling last Thursday’s procedure ‘the most horrible thing I’ve ever done’.

He said he had been in ‘agony’ for days, and revealed that just touching the tooth with his rusty pair of pliers set off waves of ‘agonising pain’.

The labourer, from Southsea in Portsmouth, Hampshire, admitted to getting ‘very drunk’ beforehand by downing eight cans of Stella Artois to mask the pain before he pulled out the first tooth. He then waited a day before pulling out the second tooth.

His case has now been raised with the NHS by a health watchdog who said Mr Savage has been ‘severely let down’ by services in the city.

He said: ‘I ended up having to get very drunk the first time. Nobody wants to take part of their own face away with a set of pliers and no real painkillers.

‘I put the pliers on my tooth and the second I did that it hurt. So I took them away, waited five minutes, built up again and then thought I’ve just got to do it.

Chris Savage, 42, resorted to yanking two of his own teeth out in his bedroom because he couldn't register with a dentist or book an emergency appointment

Chris Savage, 42, resorted to yanking two of his own teeth out in his bedroom because he couldn’t register with a dentist or book an emergency appointment

The labourer said he had been in 'agony' for days, and revealed that just touching the tooth with his rusty pair of pliers set off waves of 'agonising pain'

The labourer said he had been in ‘agony’ for days, and revealed that just touching the tooth with his rusty pair of pliers set off waves of ‘agonising pain’

‘It was a proper yank, a grip and pull — there’s no mucking about once you get to the point it’s started coming out.’

Mr Savage added that though there wasn’t much blood there was ‘enough to be scary’, and that it was ‘worth the risk of infection’.

The father-of-three didn’t register with an NHS dentist when he moved to Portsmouth from Alton three years ago. He lost his two front teeth in a bicycle crash last year, and when he began to experience pain recently he called around 20 dental practices, none of whom were taking on new patients.

He then phoned 111, who directed him to a practice that had volunteered to do triage appointments during the pandemic to help the NHS, but was referred back to 111 when he contacted them.

‘It was like a massive game of pass the parcel’, he said.

Mr Savage signed up to receive Universal Credit during lockdown, leaving him with £50 a week for food and bills, meaning he was reluctant to spend the £100 per tooth it would have cost him to have them removed privately.

He said: ‘I could’ve waited a week — borrowed money, and had it done in hygienic

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Bill Gates: ‘U.S. still has time to do a far, far better job’ on coronavirus

Gates went on to say that “now we’re engaged in something where we’re attacking the government’s top scientists” and “undermining the credibility of the person who’s the most knowledgeable,” referring to Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

President Donald Trump has undermined coronavirus warnings from health experts and his own administration since the early days of the pandemic. Trump has also repeatedly cast doubt on Fauci’s credibility in offering advice on the pandemic.

“Fortunately, Dr. Fauci has risen above the noise level, in talking about masks and best practices, and so the fact that they’re trying to undermine him for some reason, that just blows the mind,” Gates said on Tuesday.

Gates said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had also been targeted by the federal government and “not been allowed to speak out” since the start of the pandemic.

In early September, a Trump administration official pressured the CDC to alter a scientific report on the coronavirus. The president has also contradicted the CDC director on when a vaccine might become available.

“You couldn’t make a movie where the CDC was so undermined, that whether that director should stay in that job or not or just resign over it is a serious discussion,” Gates said.

When directly asked to grade Trump’s response to the pandemic, Gates criticized the administration for a lack of willingness to admit wrongdoing.

“Pretending that it’s just total lockdown versus total openness, that does no one any favors,” he said. “There are activities that should continue depending on your intensity. And let the experts articulate what’s going on here.”

But Gates also applauded the federal government for its $2 trillion economic stimulus package in March and the funding of research and trials for Covid-19 vaccines. He said the U.S. is “the exemplar” in this area, noting the nearly $10 billion that the White House’s Operation Warp Speed has thrown behind finding a vaccine and developing monoclonal antibody treatments.

Gates’ foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a major funder of the World Health Organization and has given more than $350 million to support the global response to Covid-19.

Gates said the foundation is currently working on funding a second-generation set of vaccines and making deals with high-volume manufacturers that could lead to greater vaccine distribution globally.

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Japan supercomputer shows humidity affects aerosol spread of coronavirus

By Rocky Swift

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese supercomputer showed that humidity can have a large effect on the dispersion of virus particles, pointing to heightened coronavirus contagion risks in dry, indoor conditions during the winter months.

The finding suggests that the use of humidifiers may help limit infections during times when window ventilation is not possible, according to a study released on Tuesday by research giant Riken and Kobe University.

The researchers used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the emission and flow of virus-like particles from infected people in a variety of indoor environments.

Air humidity of lower than 30% resulted in more than double the amount of aerosolised particles compared to levels of 60% or higher, the simulations showed.

The study also indicated that clear face shields are not as effective as masks in preventing the spread of aerosols. Other findings showed that diners are more at risk from people to their side compared to across the table, and the number of singers in choruses should be limited and spaced out.

The research team led by Makoto Tsubokura has previously used the Fugaku supercomputer to model contagion conditions in trains, work spaces, and class rooms. [nL4N2EF0ZY]

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Iran at breaking point as it fights third wave of coronavirus



a man that is standing in the street: Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Iran, the crucible of coronavirus in the Middle East, smashed two grim records this week, reporting its largest number of deaths in a single 24 hours since the outbreak started in March, and the largest number of new infections.

Iranian health officials openly admit Iran is deep into its third, and biggest, wave of the disease, and evidence suggests an exhausted and impoverished country is struggling to cope as trust in government diminishes, sanctions weaken the economy and hospitals report overcrowded intensive care units.

Mohammad Talebpour, the director of Sina hospital, the oldest in Tehran, predicted that if Iranians did not collectively take action and the disease persisted for another 18 months, as many as 300,000 could die. He said a third of the medical staff at his hospital had at one point contracted the disease.



a man holding a sign: A police officer wearing a face mask works on a street in Tehran, Iran.


© Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock
A police officer wearing a face mask works on a street in Tehran, Iran.

Covid-19 has so far killed 29,070 Iranians, according to widely challenged official statistics, including 254 on Wednesday alone, just down on the daily record set on 12 October of 272.

The number of people newly infected in the previous 24 hours was recorded as 4,108 on Wednesday, just down on the record of 4,392 on 8 October.

In an attempt to force reluctant Iranians to abide by social distancing rules, including the compulsory wearing of face masks in public, Hassan Rouhani’s government has introduced fines of up to $6.60, initially in Tehran.

Businesses face fines that could rise to $30 on the third offence. Since the monthly minimum wage is worth less than $60 after a sharp fall in the value of the currency, these fines are not trivial, but even so the health minister, Saeed Namaki, said he feared they would not be high enough to act as a deterrent.

Masks have been compulsory in indoor public spaces since July.

But Rouhani is an innately cautious centrist, nervous of a public backlash, and concerned by the state of the economy now predicted by the International Monetary Fund to contract by 5% this year. The government spokesman Ali Rabiei stressed on Tuesday that the fines were “a tool to achieve compliance, and not a goal in itself. The fine is a warning to exercise self-discipline”. He insisted all the income from the fines would go to the ministry of health to fight coronavirus.

No one knows if the fines will be rigorously imposed, or the punishment likely to be inflicted on those unable to pay. The police, the Basij paramilitary force and health inspectors will have powers to impose the fines, and offenders will have two weeks to make payment into a health ministry account,

But the much-criticised sight of Iranian police this week parading criminals on the back of trucks is a reminder, if needed, of the methods security services can deploy.

Iran has not hidden the disputes between officials over its handling of the crisis.

Mohammad Reza Zafarghandi,

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Is Your State Doing Enough Coronavirus Testing?


The number of daily coronavirus tests being conducted in the United States is 65 percent of the level considered necessary to mitigate the spread of the virus, as many states struggle to increase testing.

10

states* meet the testing target

7

states are near the target

34

states are far below the target

AlaskaAla.Ark.Ariz.Calif.Colo.Conn.D.C.Del.Fla.Ga.HawaiiIowaIdahoIll.Ind.Kan.Ky.La.Mass.Md.MaineMich.Minn.Mo.Miss.Mont.N.C.N.D.Neb.N.H.N.J.N.M.Nev.N.Y.OhioOkla.Ore.Pa.R.I.S.C.S.D.Tenn.TexasUtahVa.Vt.Wash.Wis.W.Va.Wyo.

*Includes 9 states and Washington, D.C. States within 20 percent of the testing target are considered “near” the target.

An average of 962,000 tests per day were performed over the past week, according to data collected by the Covid Tracking Project, well below the current nationwide target of 1.5 million daily tests. The target, which is based on a methodology developed by researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute, is different for each state and varies over time as infection rates change.

The figures for some states, marked with an asterisk (*) below, indicate one test reported for each individual tested, even if that person is tested more than once. The figures for the other states indicate the total number of specimens tested, including when an individual is tested more than once, which can lead to higher reported test numbers and lower positivity rates. For states that report both individuals and specimens tested, the table below will eventually be updated to indicate specimens tested, as that is the more common metric reported by states.

How each state’s current testing measures up

Average daily testing and hospitalizations in the last two weeks

Daily tests
per 100,000

Daily tests
per 100k

Percentage of
testing target

Percentage
of target

Positive
test rate

Positive
rate

Hospitalized
per 100,000

Hospital
per 100k

United States
U.S.

65Target

65Target

5%
Iowa*
Iowa

14

14

18%
Idaho
Idaho

14

14

23%
Wisconsin*
Wis.

14

14

20%
South Dakota*
S.D.

14

14

23%
Wyoming*
Wyo.

18

18

19%
Nevada*
Nev.

18

18

15%
Kansas*
Kan.

19

19

16%
Indiana*
Ind.

20

20

14%
Nebraska*
Neb.

24

24

13%
Alabama
Ala.

24

24

13%
Florida*
Fla.

30

30

11%
Montana
Mont.

31

31

11%
Mississippi
Miss.

31

31

11%
Oklahoma
Okla.

33

33

8%
North Dakota
N.D.

33

33

8%
Utah*
Utah

35

35

15%
Arizona*
Ariz.

39

39

7%
Delaware*
Del.

40

40

6%
Missouri
Mo.

43

43

7%
Arkansas
Ark.

44

44

7%
North Carolina
N.C.

48

48

6%
Tennessee
Tenn.

49

49

7%
Oregon*
Ore.

51

51

6%
Pennsylvania*
Pa.

51

51

8%
Maryland
Md.

54

54

6%
Georgia
Ga.

55

55

6%
Texas
Texas

56

56

7%
South Carolina
S.C.

58

58

5%
Kentucky
Ky.

58

58

5%
Virginia
Va.

60

60

5%
Minnesota
Minn.

62

62

5%
New Mexico
N.M.

74

74

4%
Alaska
Alaska

74

74

4%
Illinois
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The Latest: India reports over 63,000 new coronavirus cases

NEW DELHI — India has confirmed more than 63,000 new cases of the coronavirus, an increase of over 8,000 from the previous day but still far fewer than it was reporting a month ago, when the virus was at its peak in the country.

The Health Ministry reported 63,509 new cases on Wednesday, raising India’s total to more than 7.2 million, second in the world behind the U.S. The ministry also reported 730 fatalities in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 110,586. The country was seeing more than 1,000 deaths per day last month.

According to the Health Ministry, India’s average number of daily cases dropped to 72,576 last week from 92,830 during the week of Sept. 9-15, when the virus peaked. Over the last month, the country has been seeing a trend of declining cases on a week-to-week basis.

On Tuesday, India registered 55,342 new cases, its lowest single-day tally since mid-August.

———

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Lives Lost: Indian doctor embodied his family’s dreams

— More masks, less play: Europe tightens rules as virus surges

— Possible safety issue spurs pause of COVID-19 antibody study

— AP-NORC poll: New angst for caregivers in time of COVID-19

———

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

———

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BEIJING — China says it has carried out more than 4.2 million tests in the northern port city of Qingdao, with no new cases of coronavirus found among the almost 2 million sets of results received.

The city has reported a total of 12 cases, six with symptoms and six without, since the new outbreak was first spotted over the weekend at a hospital.

China on Wednesday reported 27 new cases of coronavirus, including 13 new cases of local transmission and 14 cases brought from outside the country.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths among 85,611 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

———

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho health care experts say coronavirus is increasing as kids are returning to school — but most of the new infections aren’t happening in school buildings.

Instead, Dr. Joshua Kern with St. Luke’s hospitals in the Magic Valley says it’s likely because many people are treating the return to school like a return to normalcy and slacking off on good habits like social distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing.

A tally from Johns Hopkins University shows Idaho currently ranks sixth in the country for new cases per capita, with a total of more than 48,660 confirmed cases of coronavirus statewide. So far more than 500 Idaho residents have died of COVID-19.

———

DENVER — Colorado is experiencing another surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, prompting Gov. Jared Polis to plead Tuesday with residents to wear masks, stay home as much as possible, and maintain social distancing practices.

As of Tuesday, Colorado’s three-day average positivity rate — the percentage of total tests coming in positive — was 5.4%, and the state recorded 1,000

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Coronavirus Vaccine Makers Are Not Mass-Slaughtering Sharks

Several companies in the race for a coronavirus vaccine have stumbled upon a new and unexpected hurdle: activists protesting the use of a substance that comes from sharks in their products.

The oily compound, called squalene, is churned out by shark livers and has immunity-boosting powers, which has led several companies to use it as an ingredient in vaccines. A group called Shark Allies has mounted a campaign calling on the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory bodies to halt the sourcing of the compound from sharks, warning that mass distribution of a coronavirus vaccine could require harvesting tissue from more than 500,000 sharks.

The call to action made headlines around the globe. But the story on shark squalene isn’t as clear-cut as it might at first seem.

Companies commonly use squalene as a moisturizing additive in cosmetics and sunscreens. But the substance has also been occasionally used in vaccines as an adjuvant — a chemical that kick-starts the immune system into action, driving stronger, longer-lasting protection against disease.

Although adjuvants aren’t necessary for all vaccines, they can make or break certain recipes. By boosting products’ immunity-priming powers, they can also increase the immunization’s efficiency, giving the vaccine’s ingredients more bang for their buck and freeing up supplies for more doses.

Shark livers are considered among the best sources of the compound. Between 63 million and 273 million sharks die at the hands of humans each year, and liver oil is harvested from at least a couple million of them, according to Catherine Macdonald, a shark biologist in Florida.

Two of the companies under the scrutiny of Shark Allies are GlaxoSmithKline and Seqirus, which each manufacture adjuvants that contain about 10 milligrams of squalene per dose. Those ingredients are found in a number of coronavirus vaccines currently being tested in humans, including products from Sanofi, Medicago and Clover Biopharmaceuticals, which have all partnered with GSK.

According to one estimate, between 2,500 and 3,000 sharks are needed per metric ton of squalene. Shark Allies extrapolated from these statistics to arrive at their widely quoted numbers tabulating the potential ecological toll on sharks.

Such estimates are difficult to make.

Dr. Macdonald pointed out that sharks — of which there are more than 500 species worldwide — vary in size, weight and liver squalene content. The number of sharks required to yield enough squalene-adjuvanted vaccine doses to treat everyone on Earth is thus likely to be a “huge range,” she said. Her own calculations for this statistic stretch between tens of thousands and more than a million, depending on how many doses are needed per person.

It’s also the case that of the dozens of vaccine candidates in clinical trials in people, most don’t include squalene. To only rely on vaccines that use shark-based squalene, “a ton of other promising candidates would have to fail — they would have to be the last vaccines standing,” said Saad

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