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Hurricane season started June 1st and runs through November 30th
27 May- To access the Army Public Health Center's hurricane and typhoon preparedness and response resources, click here
Summer issue of Veterinary Connections is now available
1 June- Check out the Summer 2020 issue of Veterinary Connections, click here
Annual DoD Warrior Games canceled amid COVID concerns
31 May- As the U.S. continues to navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 global pandemic, the U.S. Marine Corps and City of San Antonio leadership remain committed to the safety and health of our service members and local communities. As the lead planners for the 2020 Warrior Games, the Marine Corps announced the decision to cancel the Games, citing the paramount concerns for the health and well- being of the 300 U.S. military active duty and veteran athletes, international military teams, and residents within the greater San Antonio area. The Games, originally scheduled to occur across multiple sporting venues in San Antonio Sept. 20-28, would have marked the 10th anniversary of the annual competition of wounded, ill and injured service member athletes in 12 adaptive sports. The Marine Corps was selected to host the 2020 Games on behalf of the DoD. International participants originally scheduled to attend included wounded, ill and injured athletes from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands. "While the Warrior Games is truly an amazing event for our recovering service members, our top priority has always been their journeys to recovery," said Col. Richard Pitchford, commanding officer of the Marine Corps' Wounded Warrior Regiment. "After careful consideration for all parties involved, canceling this year's Games is the best option to ensure our athletes and their supporters remain healthy and safe during these times." The DoD Warrior Games are a part of the larger DoD Warrior Care program. Within this program, a multitude of resources outside of adaptive sports are provided to support service members throughout the recovery and transition process.
Southern Maryland Chronicle
Army vaccine researchers are preparing for the possibility of new COVID-19 strains
2 June- Army medical experts involved in testing COVID-19 vaccine candidates developed by outside laboratories are also working to develop their own vaccine, one that can give them the building blocks to combat future strains of the virus if mutations arise. The first few vaccines being "queued up" for what the White House recently dubbed "Operation Warp Speed" includes those by the companies Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, Army researchers involved in the project said during a telephone call with reporters Tuesday. Moderna's candidate, for instance, is "very, very likely to be the first major vaccine to be tested in large scale," said Nelson Michael, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. But Army researchers are developing another vaccine, added Kayvon Modjarrad, the institute's director of emerging infectious diseases. Their vaccine is being designed with a "long-term approach" to combating new strains of the novel coronavirus. "There's no evidence currently that there are new strains," Modjarrad cautioned. But the vaccine his team is developing would help researchers more quickly fight any mutated strains should they arise. "We have been vaccinating hundreds and hundreds of mice with different versions of our vaccine and we will be making the decision as to which one is the best one to take forward for manufacturing next week," Modjarrad said. "And then, ultimately, to a first-in-human clinical trial in the late summer." Human data obtained from those trials will inform the advancement of the other vaccines being pursued by Operation Warp Speed, Modjarrad added. "Even though it will not be one of those first four vaccines that initially go into large scale testing, we believe that ... with coronavirus in general and not just this particular one, we may be onto something very good," Michael said.
Military medical experts explore psychological impacts of COVID-19
28 May- As the number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. exceeds 100,000 and people continue to take precautions, military medical experts expect the need for mental health care to increase because of stress, anxiety and other psychological symptoms. During the COVID-19 emergency and the existing phase in which some communities are starting to emerge from restrictions, the psychological impact can affect health care workers, service members, veterans, civilians and their families. Four medical specialists of the Military Health System agreed yesterday in a media telephone roundtable. The panelists were Dr. Nicholas Polizzi, action officer for the in Transition Program and the Real Warriors Campaign, Psychological Health Center of Excellence; Dr. Holly O'Reilly, clinical psychologist with the Defense Health Agency; Army Col. (Dr.) David Benedek, chief of psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; and Dr. Stephen Cozza, associate director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the USUHS. May is Mental Health Month, but the Defense Department focuses on the health of its people year-round, O'Reilly said, adding that this month's theme is "Need a Little Help." "Sometimes a little bit of help is all we need to improve our mental health and [be] mission ready; taking small steps to address problems early on makes a big difference, especially during the pandemic," she explained. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, people can experience stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness. It's changed how we live and … how we interact," O'Reilly said. DOD has many resources for mental health help, she said, adding that service members and veterans are encouraged to ask for help and recognize that seeking help is a sign of strength.
Mobile medic boosts combat casualty treatment
1 June- The U.S. Army's transition to preparing for large-scale combat operations has highlighted a capability gap in medical care delivery. Mobile Medic offers a telehealth solution to address this capability gap. By employing telecommunications technology, the tool is the tip of the spear for the Defense Health Agency and Medical Command's virtual health line of effort. In the contested environment of peer-to-peer conflict, units may lack the freedom of movement experienced during the recent stages of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Consequently, the ability to array forces on the battlefield will be limited. These mobility restrictions will affect specialized low-density health care providers. The inability to deliver support at the front lines threatens timely combat casualty care. The Mobile Medic telehealth solution comprises a mobile and ruggedized computer system that facilitates video and audio feeds between forward locations and geographically separated, typically rear-based medical providers. It includes devices such as a stethoscope and electrocardiogram leads that transmit data across long distances. Mobile Medic offers a potential equipment-based solution to facilitate health care delivery during largescale combat operations. It allows tertiary care center specialists to provide point-of-care recommendations to the forward medics at the bedsides of sick and injured soldiers. These consultations can optimize casualty care while potentially reducing requirements to physically transport personnel to higher levels of care, accelerating the rate at which soldiers return to duty. Previous National Training Center (NTC) rotations have featured use of the Mobile Medic device. The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), 4th Infantry Division, utilized it at the NTC in October 2018; the 2nd ABCT was used by the 1st Armored Division at the NTC in March 2019.
60 Minutes promotes one hospital's "promise of plasma"
2 June-...CBS 60 Minutes broadcast a story it called, "The Promise of Plasma," about a trial of convalescent plasma at just one medical center in New Jersey. You're going to hear a lot about convalescent plasma because the approach makes intuitive sense. But science needs to prove that things work. Intuition is not sufficient. And the 60 Minutes story did a pretty weak job of establishing the difference. (The Mayo Clinic explains convalescent plasma on its website.) Here are some of the things that could have been improved in the 60 Minutes story. There are many clinical trials of convalescent plasma all over the US and all over the world. CBS referred to tests at "numerous hospitals" – which is a bit of an understatement. And the only one mentioned, the only one profiled by CBS, was one in New Jersey, which CBS notes is "just a 30-minute drive from midtown Manhattan," where 60 Minutes is based. Perhaps that's why CBS chose to shine its light only on one hospital. The tone of the piece was highly promotional. It referred to the hospital's "breakneck battle" and "all out battle." The segment's title – "The promise of plasma" – is alluring alliteration. But "promising" was one of the words patients have told me they don't need to hear in medical news stories. The only data – the only evidence – provided by 60 Minutes was what this one hospital told them: "So far, 31 of the 46 patients who received plasma in this study appear to have recovered more quickly than those who didn't." There are many holes in that statement and many questions left unanswered by CBS. And no data from all of the other clinical trials around the globe were presented.
Health News Review
AstraZeneca heart and cancer drugs approved while coronavirus vaccine makes progress
2 June- AstraZeneca proves to be the most valuable London-listed company as it scores approvals for two medications while it continues to develop its coronavirus vaccine. A panel of the European health regulator has recommended on Monday, June 1, the use of Lynparza as a follow-on treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer. Meanwhile, the company's heart medication Brilinta also received a nod from U.S. regulators. Also, Oxford Biomedical, AstraZeneca's manufacturing partner, has hired French pharma veteran Roch Doliveux as a non-executive chairman as the pharma company strives for a major role in the coronavirus vaccine development. Last week, AstraZeneca struck a one-year deal with Oxford Biomedical to produce multiple batches of the vaccine which is currently going through human testing. The vaccine, AZD1222, was developed by the University of Oxford researchers and licensed to AstraZeneca. The pharmaceutical company has been meeting with various governments and global partners in its efforts to boost its vaccine production. It received international attention in pursuit of a coronavirus vaccine, clinching funding from the U.S. government last month as it aims to produce a billion doses until 2021.
Contact tracing could help avoid another lockdown
29 May- To contain the spread of Covid-19, Alaska is planning to triple its number of contact tracers. Utah has retrained 150 state employees. And New York and other states are hiring thousands of people. And that, health experts say, might not be enough. To suppress their epidemics to manageable levels, countries around the world have turned to contact tracing — tracking down people who might have been exposed to the coronavirus to ensure they don't pass it to others, a way of stalking routes of viral spread and severing them before they reach more people. And, to varying degrees, it has worked. But, for it to succeed in the United States, experts are cautioning that it's going to take more people, more money, and more cooperation than the country has in place. "We've never had something at this scale," said Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. "And clearly we need a lot more people to take this on." Ultimately, the hope is that, together with speedy and widespread testing and isolating cases, contact tracing can help keep outbreaks at a wieldy simmer, and buy the country time until better drugs and vaccines arrive. If the U.S. so far has been in a defensive stance against the virus — shutting down large swaths of the economy in the process — contact tracing is a way to go after the virus and keep it at bay. But some experts fear that the technique might not work as well in the U.S. as it has in other countries.
Coronavirus shutdowns may have ignited rise in STDs, condom hoarding, health experts warn
1 June- Health experts in Canada warn that coronavirus-related shutdowns may have resulted in a lack of contraceptives due to condom hoarding, contributing to a potential rise in sexually transmitted diseases. Canadians reportedly bought condoms and contraceptives in bulk before entering lockdown, raising fears of a widespread shortage, health officials said. "We saw a whole bunch of people in the first few weeks stocking up," Nicole Pasquino, clinical practice director at Options for Sexual Health, an organization in British Columbia that offers free condoms, told Politico in an article published last Tuesday. "They were all coming to get condoms, birth control, whatever they need to get, and then we see a little bit of a lull because people are going to stay home. … I think that mentality of stocking up hit everybody hard -- we saw it with toilet paper," she said. A report released on May 8 by Statistics Canada said sales of items, like condoms, contraceptives, and lubricants, soared by 30 percent in the second week of March and by 41 percent in the third week -- as its citizens were asked to stay home, according to the media company. The agency said those sales figures eventually decreased, which they related to coronavirus-related factory shutdowns in Malaysia. They added the shutdowns could limit global condom production and confirm their belief of a possible shortage.
First human trial of potential antibody treatment for Covid-19 begins
2 June- Eli Lilly and Company said Monday it has started the first human trial of an antibody therapy designed to treat Covid-19. The first phase of the trial will test whether the therapy is safe and well-tolerated; those results are expected in late June. The first Covid-19 patients being treated with the therapy are hospitalized at New York University's Grossman School of Medicine in New York, Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles and Emory University in Atlanta, the company told CNN. If the trial ultimately shows the treatment is effective against Covid-19, it could be available by autumn, according to the Indianapolis-based company. "Until now, scientists have been trying to repurpose medicines, drugs, that were designed for new diseases to see if they work in Covid-19, but as soon as this epidemic started, we got to work making a new medicine against this disease," said Dr. Dan Skovronsky, Eli Lilly's senior vice president and chief scientific officer. The treatment was created in collaboration with AbCellera, a biotechnology company based in Canada. When someone recovers from a disease like Covid-19, their body produces millions of proteins called antibodies, which fight off the disease and help them recover. AbCellera acquired a blood sample from one of the first US patients who had recovered from Covid-19, and the companies sorted through millions of this patient's cells to find hundreds of antibodies. Scientists at AbCellera and the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases selected those they thought would be most potent and Lilly scientists engineered the treatment, known as a monoclonal antibody therapy. This approach has worked to treat other illnesses; there are monoclonal antibody therapies that treat HIV, asthma, lupus, Ebola and some forms of cancer.
Medical workers should use respirator masks, not surgical masks
2 June- A new analysis of 172 studies, funded by the World Health Organization, confirms what scientists have said for months: N95 and other respirator masks are far superior to surgical or cloth masks in protecting essential medical workers against the coronavirus. The results, published on Monday in The Lancet, make it clear that the W.H.O. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should recommend that essential workers like nurses and emergency responders wear N95 masks, not just surgical masks, experts said. "It's been disappointing that both the W.H.O. and the C.D.C. have suggested that surgical masks are adequate, and they're clearly not," said David Michaels, a professor at George Washington University who headed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under President Obama. "Reliance on surgical masks has no doubt led to many workers being infected," he said. N95 masks offered 96 percent protection, the analysis found, while the figure for surgical masks was 77 percent. The findings are particularly important as the United States moves to reopen the economy, Dr. Michaels said. Workers in health care settings are not the only ones at high risk of coronavirus infection: employees in meatpacking plants and some farms are all also at high risk of coronavirus infection and could benefit from N95 masks, he said.
The New York Times
Proteins in COVID-19 patients blood could predict severity of illness, study finds
2 June- Scientists have found 27 key proteins in the blood of people infected with COVID-19 which they say could act as predictive biomarkers for how ill a patient could become with the disease. In research published in the journal Cell Systems on Tuesday, scientists at Britain's Francis Crick Institute and Germany's Charite Universitaetsmedizin Berlin found the proteins are present in different levels in COVID-19 patients, depending on the severity of their symptoms. The markers could lead to the development of a test that would help doctors predict how ill a patient might get when infected with the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, they said, and could also provide new targets for the development of potential treatments for the disease. The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 374,000 people worldwide and infected more than 6.7 million. Doctors and scientists say those infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, respond differently - with some developing no symptoms at all, while others need to be hospitalized and others suffer fatal infection. "A test to help doctors predict whether a COVID-19 patient is likely to become critical or not would be invaluable," said Christoph Messner, an expert in molecular biology at the Crick Institute who co-led the research. He said such tests would help doctors decide how best manage the disease for each patient, as well as identify those most at risk of needing hospital treatment or intensive care. Messner's team used a method called mass spectrometry to rapidly test for the presence and quantity of various proteins in blood plasma from 31 COVID-19 patients at Berlin's Charite hospital. They then validated their results in 17 other patients with COVID-19 at the same hospital, and in 15 healthy people who acted as controls. Three of the key proteins identified were linked with interleukin IL-6, a protein known to cause inflammation and also a known marker for severe COVID-19 symptoms.
PTSD symptoms common in stem cell recipients
1 June- Almost 20% of patients undergoing stem-cell transplantation had clinically significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 6 months after the procedure, according to a report from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) virtual meeting. Overall, 47 of 250 patients had significant PTSD symptoms, most often intrusion, avoidance, and hypervigilance. Even patients who did not meet the threshold for clinically significant PTSD exhibited specific symptoms associated with the condition, particularly avoidance and hypervigilance. Baseline quality of life (QoL), psychological symptoms, and marital status (single) had significant associations with PTSD 6 months after transplantation. "This study highlights the importance of awareness and management of PTSD symptomology in patients undergoing HCT [hematopoietic stem cell transplantation]," said Sarah Griffith, a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "Baseline factors prior to HCT may help identify patients at risk for developing worse PTSD symptoms who can benefit from supportive care interventions. Intervention during HCT could be beneficial in preventing PTSD symptoms." The study involved a cohort of older adults, but children undergoing HCT also are at risk of psychological distress, said ASCO invited discussant Nirali Shah, MD, of the National Cancer Institute. Moreover, adult survivors of childhood cancers have a high prevalence of PTSD. One large retrospective study showed that 11% of survivors or their siblings met criteria for a PTSD diagnosis, and risk factors for PTSD were similar to those reported by Griffith: marital status, low income/unemployment, and therapy intensity.
Research reveals potent 'weapon against viruses, including COVID-19
2 June- With the rising COVID-19 cases and death toll worldwide, how long will the world wait until the deadly virus is completely contained? A new study reveals that humidity levels can be a potent "weapon" to stop the transmission of airborne viruses, Newsweek reported. Fear, pain, and solitude are the three characteristics that COVID-19 survivors can recall during their experience of dealing with the disease. In a landmark report on The Japan Times, patients shared how they became their worst fears while inside the hospital wards, where they were admitted while being treated for the virus. Park Hyun, a 47-year-old engineering professor from South Korea, taught he would be immune to this virus because of having no health conditions that would make him vulnerable, but at the end of the spectrum, he still developed symptoms and was admitted to Busan's intensive care unit. The symptoms -- sore throat and cough -- worsened, and Park Hyun said he even fainted while waiting for the test results. He had no choice but to agree to the medical units, and be admitted for treatment. He said, "It was like a roller coaster. "He was only among thousands to millions of people around the world dealing with the disease. Many of whom have already died, while others have survived. But the challenges are always present, including patients denied in hospitals either because of lack of medical resources or history of past illnesses. Can there be a potent weapon against the disease? The vaccine that is believed to protect individuals from catching the virus is still in the works. However, there are reports circulating that sufficient air moisture levels indoors can mitigate the spread of the virus. Experts say that this may have benefits and may offer itself as a powerful tool against the pandemic, but for the very short-term. Harvard Medical School lecturer Dr. Stephanie Taylor narrates. "Transmission is greater in dry air, infectivity is higher in dry air, and the ability of a human being to fight infection is impaired. Any one of those would be important, but all three of them are in play." She adds that relative humidity ranges may be convenient for people, and thus may offer a stream of benefits. When air isn't sufficiently hydrated, airborne particles carrying viruses travel farther. Does this mean that there are more chances of spread in areas where the climate is drier? A prior study was done related to humidity, temperature levels, and influenza strains. It concluded that higher levels of humidity create an environment where viruses will find it difficult to survive. In other words, in colder regions. Tech Times
CDC: Flu View - Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report
2019-2020 Influenza Season Week 21 ending May 23, 2020:
Pneumonia and Influenza (P&I) Mortality Surveillance: Based on National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) mortality surveillance data available on May 28, 2020, 6.6% of the deaths occurring during the week ending May 23, 2020 (week 21) were due to P&I. This percentage is above the epidemic threshold of 6.4% for week 20.
Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality: Three influenza-associated pediatric deaths occurring during the 2019-2020 season were reported to CDC during week 21. Two were associated with A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses and occurred during week 6 (the week ending February 8, 2020) and week 11 (the week ending March 14, 2020). One was associated with an influenza B virus with no lineage determined and occurred during week 17 (the week ending April 25, 2020).
Hong Kong outbreak linked to sandwiches sickens 200
30 May- More than 220 people are part of an outbreak in Hong Kong linked to sandwiches. The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health reported 229 people were sick and 45 needed hospital treatment after eating the implicated sandwiches. It was previously reported that 27 people were sick and five needed hospital treatment. The CHP has identified 96 clusters of suspected food poisoning. Among them, stool specimens from 12 sick people and one food sample tested positive for Salmonella. All those affected are now in stable condition. The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), previously said that while following up on suspected food poisoning involving sandwiches, it was found they were produced by an unlicensed food factory in Hong Kong.
Food Safety News
Starting to exercise again after lockdown- Expert advice on taking it slow to prevent injuries
1 June- Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now, after months spent sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Start slowly, they suggest, and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. Many of us, admittedly, have been sedentary during the pandemic. According to data from the company Fitbit, which makes activity trackers, American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. This inactivity leaves most of us less fit than during those halcyon days of last year, with predictable consequences when we surge back to our favorite sidewalks, paths and gyms. "We already are seeing new patients" hobbled by overly enthusiastic recent workouts, says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) and an associate professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. But there are steps we can take to ease our way back into regular exercise safely, she and other exercise experts say. Most involve patience. "You can't go from zero to 60 as soon as things open up," Dr. Rho says. In epidemiological studies of sports-related injuries, the risks of harm skyrocket when people abruptly increase the amount or intensity of their workouts. Instead, Dr. Rho says, "Start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid." If you previously ran five miles, she says, plan on covering two or two and a half miles, at a slower pace than you once maintained.
The New York Times
Democratic Republic of the Congo: 11th Ebola outbreak, reported in Équateur province
1 June- As the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) attempts top wind down the nearly two-year long Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the north eastern part of the country, health officials reported today on another outbreak, the country's 11th since 1976, in the north western province of Équateur. The Ministry of Health reports that six Ebola cases have so far been detected in Wangata, in city of Mbandaka, of which four have died and two are alive and under care. Three of these six cases have been confirmed with laboratory testing. The city of Mbandaka and its surrounding area were the site of Democratic Republic of the Congo's 9th Ebola outbreak, which took place from May to July 2018. The World Health Organization reports being on the ground in Mbandaka supporting the response to this outbreak, as part of capacity built during the 2018 outbreak. The team supported the collection and testing of samples, and reference to the national laboratory for confirmation. Contact tracing is underway. Work is ongoing to send additional supplies from North Kivu and from Kinshasa to support the government-led response. A further 25 people are expected to arrive in Mbandaka tomorrow. WHO is also working to ensure that essential health services are provided to communities despite these emergency events.
Outbreak News Today
Measles in DRC: One of many outbreaks ravaging the country
4 June- The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to be in a humanitarian crisis–massive flooding in some areas affecting hundreds of thousands of people and leaving them without clean drinking water, armed clashes and violence in a number of areas around the country and of course, a plethora of infectious disease outbreaks. In 2019, we saw 369,520 measles cases and 6,779 deaths in DRC and the numbers, while decreasing in some areas, still remains high.
In week ending 17 May 2020, 1,375 measles cases including 34 deaths (CFR 2.5 %) were reported across the country, bringing the country total since the beginning of the year to nearly 60,000 cases and 783 deaths. The provinces that reported majority of cases in the most recent week include: Tshopo (226 cases), Sankuru (206 cases), North-Ubangui (106 cases), North-Kivu (98 cases) and Mongala (82 cases). Over the past four weeks (weeks 17 to 20) a decreasing trend in the number of cases was observed in the provinces of: Bas-Uele, Haut Katanga, Ituri, Kasaï, Kinshasa, Kwango, Lomami, Lualaba, Maniema, North and South Ubangi, and Sankuru. Measles of course is just one of many outbreaks ravaging the DRC. Two Ebola outbreaks–one going on two years and one brand new on different sides of the country have made some headlines.
Outbreak News Today
After reopening schools, Israel orders them to shut if COVID-19 cases are discovered
3 June- Two weeks after Israel fully reopened schools, a COVID-19 outbreak sweeping through classrooms — including at least 130 cases at a single school — has led officials to close dozens of schools where students and staff were infected. A new policy orders any school where a virus case emerges to close. The government decision, announced Wednesday evening, comes after more than 200 cases have been confirmed among students and staff at various schools. At least 244 students and school employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Education. At least 42 kindergartens and schools have been shuttered indefinitely. More than 6,800 students and teachers are in home quarantine by government order. It's an abrupt reversal of the post-pandemic spirit in Israel as officials lifted most remaining coronavirus restrictions last week. With fewer than 300 deaths in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had declared victory in early May over the pandemic and last week told Israelis to go to restaurants and "enjoy yourselves." But by the weekend, the spike in cases led him to consider reimposing restrictions, including closing all schools. The education minister, Yoav Gallant, argued that the overall number of virus cases in Israeli schools remains low and closing them all would not be justified.
Pakistan: COVID-19 outbreak, mandatory masks and locusts
31 May- The COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan increased by 3,039 new cases and 88 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the country totals to 69,496 cases and 1483 deaths through Sunday. The most affected province due to COVID-19 pandemic is Sindh 27,360, followed by Punjab 25,056. 78% of the total positive cases are men while 22% are females. The Government of Pakistan declared wearing of masks mandatory at crowded places, markets and in public transport. In addition to COVID-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks in Pakistan, officials are reporting an invasion of locusts which has hit 61 districts across the country posing a threat to food security since last month. Worst hit provinces include Balochistan (31 districts), 12 districts in Punjab, 11 districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 7 districts in Sindh. Locusts could cause a loss of more than Rs500 billion to the agricultural economy if not controlled, warned farmers lobbying group Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB). The National Disaster Management Authority said resources were being mobilized and operations were underway to curb the locust invasion. In a statement, it said 1,150 teams of experts have expanded operations by spraying swarms of desert locusts in 61 districts across the country. Arrangements were also being made to combat another possible attack of desert locusts expected in July and August.
Outbreak News Today
Russia: COVID-19- 400K cases, Avifavir approved for treatment
31 May- The Russian Health Ministry reports 9,268 new COVID-19 cases, bring the country total to 405,843. Moscow continues to account for the most cases with greater than 180,000 to date. Officials note an additional 138 fatalities, bringing the total to 4,693. On Saturday, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the ChemRar Group announced that Avifavir has received a temporary registration certificate from the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation. Avifavir is Russia's first COVID-19 drug and has shown high efficacy in treating patients with coronavirus during clinical trials. Avifavir, which disrupts the reproduction mechanisms of coronavirus, is the first Russian direct antiviral drug that has proven effective in clinical trials. The drug has been well studied, since it has been used in Japan since 2014 against severe forms of influenza. Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said: "Afivavir is not only the first antiviral drug registered against coronavirus in Russia, but it is also perhaps the most promising anti-COVID-19 drug in the world. It was developed and tested in clinical trials in Russia in unprecedentedly short period of time enabling Afivavir to become the first registered drug based on Favipiravir in the world."
Outbreak News Today
Australia: Hendra virus confirmed in New South Wales horse
3 June- Officials in New South Wales (NSW) are reporting the first case of Hendra virus infection in NSW this year in a 17-year-old unvaccinated thoroughbred horse on a property south of Murwillumbah. The owner noticed the horse was depressed and having difficulty breathing on Friday, 29 May. A private veterinarian took samples for Hendra virus exclusion, but the horse deteriorated and was euthanised over the weekend. NSW Chief Veterinarian Officer, Dr Sarah Britton said, A District Veterinarian from the North Coast Local Land Services is undertaking risk assessments on the property in regards to other animals; at this stage no other animals are showing any signs of ill health and we will continue to monitor their health status. "Hendra virus infection is notifiable in NSW under the NSW Biosecurity Act and the movement of animals and people on and off the property will be restricted for at least 21 days." "The vaccination of horses is the most effective way to help manage Hendra virus disease," Dr Britton said. "Owners should also keep their horses away from flowering and fruiting trees that are attractive to bats. "Do not place feed and water under trees and cover feed and water containers with a shelter so they cannot be contaminated from above." Since 2006, 23 confirmed horse deaths as a result of Hendra virus have been reported in NSW. Hendra virus is a zoonotic disease, which means it can transfer from animals to people. The virus was first isolated in 1994 in horses at a racing stable in Hendra, Brisbane.
Outbreak News Today
Singapore: Dengue and COVID-19 updates
2 June- Dengue fever: Singapore health officials continue to report a rise in dengue fever cases in 2020. Through May 29, officials report more than 8,800 cases, after reporting 576 new cases last week. This is the fourth consecutive week the city-state has reported in excess of 500 cases. Singapore has just entered the warmer months of May to September. There will usually be higher transmission of dengue in Singapore during this period, due to an accelerated breeding cycle and maturation of the Aedes mosquito vector and shorter incubation period for the dengue virus.
COVID-19: At the same time, Singapore also battles the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has preliminarily confirmed an additional 544 cases of COVID-19 infection in Singapore, the vast majority of whom are Work Permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories. Based on investigations so far, there are four cases in the community, of whom one is a Singaporean/Permanent Resident and three are Work Pass holders. To date, Singapore has seen 35,836 total COVID-19 cases, including 24 deaths.
Outbreak News Today
U.S.: Massachusetts- COVID-19 cases top 95K, Boston Marathon goes virtual
30 May- The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported an additional 617 COVID-19 cases and 78 deaths. This brings the Commonwealth's totals to 95,512 cases and 6,718 deaths of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Middlesex County has reported the most cases with 20,972 followed by Suffolk (17,786), Essex (13,994) and Worcester (10,816) counties. On Thursday, the Boston Athletic Association announced that the 124th Boston Marathon will be held as a virtual event, following Boston Mayor Martin Walsh's cancellation of the marathon as a mass participation road running event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters," said Tom Grilk, C.E.O. of the B.A.A. "While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon."
Outbreak News Today
Argentina: Reports record dengue fever season
1 June- Health authorities in Argentina have reported a record year as far as dengue fever goes. In 2020 to date, more than 70,000 total cases, 41,754 confirmed cases and 24 deaths, surpassing the number seen in 2016 during the same period. The average notifications for the last two weeks of April and the first of May was "almost 9 times the average of the same three weeks of the 2018/2019 season." Dengue cases in the city of Buenos Aires total 7,069 since the beginning of this year, including 132 in the last week. There are five neighborhoods that account for 55 percent of the notifications of the disease: Flores, Barracas, Soldati, Vélez Sarsfield and Villla Lugano. WHO notes the incidence of dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades. A vast majority of cases are asymptomatic and hence the actual numbers of dengue cases are underreported and many cases are misclassified. One estimate indicates 390 million dengue infections per year (95% credible interval 284–528 million), of which 96 million (67–136 million) manifest clinically (with any severity of disease). Another study, of the prevalence of dengue, estimates that 3.9 billion people, in 128 countries, are at risk of infection with dengue viruses.
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Brazil sets record for daily coronavirus deaths, beating Tuesday
3 June- Brazil registered a record number of daily deaths from the coronavirus for the second consecutive day, according to Health Ministry data released on Wednesday. The nation recorded 1,349 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, and 28,633 additional confirmed cases, the data showed. Brazil has now registered 32,548 deaths and 584,016 total confirmed cases. Reuters
Costa Rica: Reports triple the dengue cases compared to last year
31 May- The Costa Rica Ministry of Health has reported 2,689 dengue fever cases year to date. This is triple the number of cases reported during the same period last year (920). Dengue serotypes 1 and 2 are circulating in the country. In Pérez Zeledón canton, authorities declared a dengue outbreak as 215 cases were reported in a week and 450 cases in Brunca Region. The Brunca Region has invested nearly 80 million colones from January to April 2020 for vector control, both in human and material resources, however, it reiterates to the population the individual responsibility for:
- Eliminate hatcheries such as tires, containers, buckets, animal waterers and black plastics.
- Apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Using mosquito nets
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