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  • Dagny

11 March 2020 - Lunch News

Potentially good news, and some bad news:

The Arabian Gulf region has seen relatively low community infection rates of coronavirus due to good infrastructure, screening, travel bans and public health information, experts say. But it may also have one advantage over many other regions in the fight against the virus – climate, according to a study.A new investigation by the University of Maryland found that the virus has so far spread predominately east and west, rather than south and north, indicating that climate and latitude could be a factor in how the virus spreads.

Coronavirus hotspots that have seen community spread, in other words, where it’s been transmitted widely among members of a community rather than just found in those returning from other locations, roughly fall within the same latitude range.Hotspots for community spread such as Iran, South KoreaJapan, and northern Italy are all located roughly along the 30-50 degrees north latitude, a study conducted at University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology found.

In these countries, the virus’s spread has been particularly widespread. Officials in northern Italy put areas on lockdown to attempt to limit the virus’s toll. In Lombardy, the Italian epicenter of coronavirus, where more than 460 have died and more than 7,300 have been infected, 8 percent of those diagnosed have died; globally death rates stand around 1-2 percent. In Iran, the official death toll has passed 350 and there are over 9,000 cases, but other sources estimate the figures to be far higher.

GCC nations have seen relatively low case counts, in part because of sound infrastructure and screening procedures, experts told Al Arabiya English. Gulf nations have also taken precautions to close borders and limit travel.The region has the financial and human resources to handle an outbreak and they have worked on implementing health security plans, World Health Organization Emergency Preparedness Manager Dr. Dalia Samhouri told Al Arabiya English.The GCC nations have also effectively communicated with their populations personal safety measures to take as well as disseminated public health information quickly. They also canceled large events, as limiting social interaction is important to contain the spread.

“In the UAE, the news outlets have been pretty good at explaining to the public what to do in terms of social distancing,” said Dr. Marie-Louise Van Eck, regional medical director for the Middle East and North Africa at International SOS, a medical and travel security services firm. “General hygiene measures and public education are the big things.”

But the new study, titled “Temperature and latitude analysis to predict potential spread and seasonality for COVID-19,” suggests the Gulf’s warm climate may also be a contributing factor to the virus’s low impact.GCC nations have also not seen significant community spread, with most cases reported in travelers and those who have come in close contact with someone with the virus. Most of the initial cases in the Gulf were travelers who had returned from Iran.The study shows that the virus did not spread massively to countries geographically close to China as expected, and instead proliferated in similar climate zones.“Because of geographical proximity and significant travel connections, epidemiological modeling of the epicenter predicted that regions in Southeast Asia, and specifically Bangkok would follow Wuhan, and China in the epidemic,” the study read.

However, Bangkok’s infection rate has been low, with only 59 cases so far, according to the Bangkok Post. The most recent six cases were confirmed in two airport workers who had contact with travelers and handled passports and luggage.The authors said their results did not necessarily show causal effect, but there is a correlation present.“The above factors, climate variables not considered or analyzed (cloud cover, maximum temperature, etc.), human factors not considered or analyzed (impact of epidemiologic interventions, concentrated outbreaks like cruise ships, travel, etc.), viral factors not considered or analyzed (mutation rate, pathogenesis, etc.), mean that although the current correlations with latitude and temperature seem strong, a direct causation has not been proven and predictions in the near term are speculative and have to be considered with extreme caution,” the study concluded.

Trump, Feb. 10: “And by the way, the virus. … It looks like by April, you know in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away — I hope that’s true. But we’re doing great in our country. China, I spoke with President Xi, and they’re working very, very hard. And I think it’s going to all work out fine. Rough stuff, I tell you, rough, rough stuff. But I think it’s going to work out good.

TRUMP: “We’re prepared and we’re doing a great job with it and it will go away, just stay calm…w/ what we’ve done with tax cuts and regulation cuts and all of those things the consumer has never been in a better position than they are right now”

Something potentially useful: COVID-19 (coronavirus) advice from James Robb, a virologist at UC San Diego, to his colleagues (not the average you and me on the street, though it has useful information for us), and who has allowed this to be shared (posted by a reliable friend). Much of this is useful for avoiding influenza, colds, etc.

Subject: What I am doing for the upcoming COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

(He has a list of so and don’ts like everyone else plus this:) 4) Stock up now with zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY "cold-like" symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-Eeze lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available. AJ took this picture in Chicago yesterday.  Apparently nobody wanted to take the last Ramen packet:

I'm pleased to report that at President Trump's request, all the insurance companies at the @WhiteHouse today agreed to waive all copays on coronavirus testing and extend coverage for coronavirus treatment in all of their benefit plans.

State of emergency due to coronavirus: - Colorado - North Carolina - Illinois - Ohio - New York - Rhode Island - New Jersey - Oregon - Iowa - Utah - Kentucky - Pennsylvania - Maryland - Indiana - Florida - California - Washington

Mutation?  Variant?  Genetic susceptibility? Aged population?

Coronavirus mortality in Lombardy is now 8%, more than double Wuhan! Lombardy health system is completely beyond ability to deliver adequate care - hence rationing who gets ICUs. It’s sad, so so sad. #COVID19 Let’s not let this happen to us America... …

In less than three weeks, Italy has gone from having just three coronavirus cases to the biggest outbreak after China. And the data point to a troubling trend: Those infected in Italy appear more likely to die.

Coronavirus has killed 5% of known cases, even higher in the worst-affected region, versus a global average of 3.5%

Europe time lagged behind China:

CDC Director Robert Redfield told lawmakers this morning during House tesimony that"the US is beyond virus containment in some areas"

Additionally, Redfield warned that Europe was the "New China" on the virus front and that US nursing homes were the most vulnerable to the virus.

Redfield's remarks echo comments made by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, one of the few remaining "Never Trump" Republicans, who explained that even though the state's six coronavirus cases were all travel related.

"It is going to shift from containment to trying to deal with the situation on the ground," Hogan said. "It starts to escalate pretty rapidly."

A useful chart:

Here's the coronavirus data, overlayed with the dates offset by the amounts shown. One of these countries is not like the rest. Everyone else will be Italy in 9-14 days time. (Replying to@MarkJHandley and @bruce_arthur. . Should this not be normalized to number of tests performed? Absolute number of confirmed cases tells only part of the story.)

State Health Departments under Democrat Governors are not doing their job well:

Despite the mass deaths at the Life Care Center facility the state of Washington has still not tested the entire staff for the disease.

Worse yet, out of 180 employees 64 are showing signs of the illness but only 30 have been tested.

KOMO reported:

Life Care Center of Kirkland employees are being tested for coronavirus, nearly a week and a half after the first COVID-19 death in what is considered the epicenter of Washington state’s outbreak.The Life Care Center of Kirkland has been asking for days for testing for its employees, Right now just 17 percent of employees have been tested.Some family members of loved one still can’t understand why this has taken so long……Elevent days into the outbreak and employees at the epicenter are finally being tested for the deadly virus.“Testing has begun on employees in earnest, ” said center’s spokesman Tim Killian.Out of 180 employees, 64 have symptoms of the virus. Thirty have been tested but there have been no results yet.“This is the problem in Seattle we have an advanced medical system,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of shocking.”……The federal government sent doctors and nurses to help, but the facility said it needs mental health help too.We are short on social workers, one areas we struggle to maintain that level of care,” said Killian during a Tuesday news briefing outside the facility. The US confirmed its 1,000th case of coronavirus on Tuesday night. There have been 30 deaths from the virus in the US.

At least 19 of those deaths were at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington. The Life Care Center has gone from 1210 residents down to 60 in the past month.The current mortality rate in the US is 3%.

If you subtract the Life Center deaths the total goes down to 1.1%.This number will likely decrease as more Americans are tested.As of Monday the average age of the US coronavirus victims is 80-years-old.According to CNN4,856 coronavirus tests have been run in public health labs, said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “We’ve got a new reporting system that has CDC, public health labs. We’re going to get direct dumps from LabCorp and Quest so people are going to see all the tests done, where they are done. We will have a surveillance system that does that” Redfield said.

Finally: The World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global "pandemic."

If you have friends who say its just the flu, you can send them this:

Excerpts: ContagiousnessDisease experts estimate that each Covid-19 sufferer infects between 2-3 others.That's a reproduction rate up to twice as high as seasonal flu, which typically infects 1.3 new people for each patient.

MortalityCovid-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, proves deadly in around 3.5 percent of confirmed cases.While this is not the same as its mortality rate, given many people may be infected but not realise it, it is significantly higher than seasonal flu, which typically kills 0.1 percent of patients."There is still considerable uncertainty around the fatality rates of Covid-19 and it likely varies depending on the quality of local healthcare," said Francois Balloux, Professor of Computational Systems Biology at University College London."That said, it is around 2 percent on average, which is about 20 times higher than for the seasonal flu lineages currently in circulation."Serious cases

But the true danger of coronavirus is unlikely to be the death toll. Experts say health systems could easily become overwhelmed by the number of cases requiring hospitalisation—and, often ventilation to support breathing.

An analysis of 45,000 confirmed cases in China, where the epidemic originated, show that the vast majority of deaths were among the elderly (14.8 percent mortality among over 80s).But another Chinese study showed that 41 percent of serious cases occurred among under 50s, compared with 27 percent among over 65s."It's true that if you're older you're at greater risk, but serious cases can also happen in relatively young people with no prior conditions," said French deputy health minister Jerome Salomon.

10 times more lethal:

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers during a House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday that COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — is probably about 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu.President Trump has often compared COVID-19 to the flu, which affects tens of thousands of Americans each year, in an effort to calm people down, but Fauci clearly wasn't trying to downplay the seriousness of the virus' spread. Fauci is a member of the White House's coronavirus task force.

At the same time, he did clarify that 10 times figure actually brings the new coronavirus' fatality rate lower than official estimates, which hover around 3 percent. The flu has a mortality rate of about 0.1 percent, so, when considering the likelihood that there are many asymptomatic or very mild cases that have gone undiagnosed, Fauci places the new coronavirus' lethality rate at somewhere around 1 percent. While that's a good deal lower than the current data suggests, it still would lead to significant numbers of fatalities, and makes the flu comparisons seem pretty questionable. Tim O'Donnell

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