Gov. DeWine: 100,000 believed to have coronavirus in Ohio, number projected to double every six days

FoxNews.com | by Julia Musto | March 13, 2020

The state of Ohio is seeing “very difficult times” under the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday.

In an interview on “America’s Newsroom” with host Sandra Smith, DeWine said he had relied on experts in his decision to order school closings starting Monday evening and ban mass gatherings of more than 100 people.

OHIO LIKELY HAS 100,000 CASES, TOP HEALTH OFFICIAL SAYS

Additionally, on Thursday, Ohio’s top health officials announced that there are likely over 100,000 undiagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the state thus far.

“We have a panel of 14 doctors,” said DeWine. “We also reached out to other experts yesterday and it was clear that we had to take this action in regard to our schools.”

States struggling to get coronavirus testing kits after Trump says process is 'going well'

DeWine explained that what the “experts” were telling him was that the number of projected undiagnosed cases walking around will double every six days.

“You just think about that,” he mused. “We are in some tough times in Ohio. And, it’s very, very important for us to do everything we can do slow this down.”

DeWine said he knew that actions like closing schools had other consequences, but that the goal is to avoid encountering problems like “the situation” in Italy.

Gov. Dewine says Ohio estimated to have over 100K cases of COVID-19

The governor told Smith that they have just over 1,000 testing kits at the Department of Health, but that hospitals are “coming online basically in regard to having [the] kits” and some private labs also have the capability.

“So, you’re going to see more tests done in the next few days. And, of course, the number of people who are testing positive is going to go up,” he stated.

However, DeWine also said that he believes the United States will reach a point where there is not the capacity to test everybody and just “have to move on from there.”

“Because, if you get a million people, two million people, obviously you’re not going to be testing them at that point,” he explained. “So, look, would we like more testing kits? Yeah, we would. But, we are in the same boat everybody else is.”

“And so, we took this action yesterday can’t say to get ahead of this because you can’t get ahead of it really, but to really slow this down as much as we could so that…our hospitals, and our doctors, and our whole health care system will be able to deal with what is coming up,” DeWine concluded.

Mayor of Miami tests positive for coronavirus

FoxNews.com | by Caleb Park | March 13, 2020

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has confirmed he tested positive for coronavirus.

The 42-year-old mayor announced Thursday that he was going to self-quarantine after he learned he may have been in contact with Fabio Wajngarten, the communications secretary for Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro.

Wajngarten showed flulike symptoms and tested positive for the virus early Wednesday.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tested positive for the coronavirus Friday.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tested positive for the coronavirus Friday.

On Friday, Suarez announced that although he feels “healthy and strong” he had tested positive and will remain in isolation for at least 14 days.

“If we did not shake hands or you did not come into contact with me if I coughed or sneezed, there is no action you need to take whatsoever,” he said in a statement. “If we did, however, touch or shake hands, or if I sneezed or coughed near you since Monday, it is recommended that you self-isolate for 14 days, but you do not need to get tested.”

Earlier in the day, the Florida Department of Health announced the second positive coronavirus case in Miami-Dade was a 42-year-old man.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who reportedly tested negative, declared a state of emergency Thursday.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fl., announced Thursday that he would also be in self-quarantine after potentially coming in contact with Brazil’s Wajngarten.

Coronavirus can remain in air for 3 hours, live on plastic for days, new study says

Fox News | By Chris Ciaccia | March 11, 2020

Social distancing’ could help stop coronavirus spread: What does that mean?

People are looking for whatever method they can use to avoid coronavirus exposure, and ‘social distancing’ is gaining popularity as one of them. Here’s how it can benefit you.

A new study suggests that the novel coronavirus COVID-19 can remain in the air for up to three hours, and live on surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to three days.

The research, published in the medRxiv depository, also notes that the virus can remain on copper surfaces for four hours and carboard for up to 24 hours. The research found it could stay on stainless steel and plastic for anywhere between two and three days.

“Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of HCoV-19 is plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for multiple hours and on surfaces up to days,” the researchers wrote in the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Another study published in February concluded that if COVID-19 is similar to other coronaviruses, such as SARS or MERS, it could live on surfaces like metal, glass and plastic for up to nine days, Fox News previously reported. By comparison, the flu virus can only live on surfaces for approximately 48 hours.

That study, published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, suggested that coronaviruses could be “efficiently inactivated” with disinfectants that contain “62–71 percent ethanol, 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide or 0.1 percent sodium hypochlorite within 1 minute,” adding that other agents that contain “0.05–0.2% benzalkonium chloride or 0.02 percent chlorhexidine digluconate are less effective.”

Currently, there is no specific medicine to cure or treat COVID-19.

More than 127,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed globally, including over 80,000 in China and 1,323 in the U.S., according to the latest data.

Florida Theme Parks Keep Eye on Virus as Spring Break Nears

Florida tourism officials say cases of the new coronavirus are having little visible impact on the theme park industry so far.

The Associated Press

FILE – In this Nov. 19, 2019, file photo, attendees try out a roller coaster where the cars spin and turn on display at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions convention in Orlando, Fla. Orlando is the nation’s most visited tourist destination, bringing vast numbers of people from around the globe to its major theme parks, which also include Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando. The city attracted 75 million visitors in 2018. But it’s also at least 65 miles (105 kilometers) from the nearest coronavirus case. Though some convention business has canceled because of concerns, individual leisure travel hasn’t been affected, local officials said. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — As Florida’s busy spring break season kicked off this month, coronavirus czar Vice President Mike Pence addressed something that’s been on the mind of tens of thousands of families preparing to travel to theme parks: Is it safe?

Over the weekend, Pence stressed it is safe for healthy Americans to travel, noting “one of our favorite places to go when my children were young and even before my children came was in Orlando.”

“Whether it be Disney World, whether it be other destination, whether it be cruise ships … those most at risk are seniors with serious or chronic underlying health conditions.”

“Otherwise Americans can confidently travel in this country,” Pence said at a meeting with cruise industry officials in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday.

Still, as COVID-19 concerns multiply, the issue weighs heavily in the tourism industry.

“There is definitely concern. Particularly how and when it could manifest itself in the U.S.,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., an independent industry consultant.

He’s been watching the spread of the coronavirus for weeks, as theme parks in Asia have closed. He estimated the temporary closure of Disney parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong will cost the company anywhere from $175 million to $300 million dollars.

Coronavirus concerns have impacted the state’s cruise industry and convention business, but the theme parks have been spared so far, although that could change at any moment.

Orlando is the nation’s most visited tourist destination, bringing vast numbers of people from around the globe to its major theme parks, which also include Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando. The city attracted 75 million visitors in 2018.

As of Sunday, the city was at least 65 miles (105 kilometers) from the nearest person testing positive for coronavirus.

Though several conventions in Orlando have been canceled because of concerns, individual leisure travel hasn’t been affected, local officials said.

Jennifer Morales, a 47-year-old mother from San Antonio, said the outbreak hasn’t changed her plans for an eight-day Walt Disney World vacation with her daughter. She’s been to Disney World 20-plus times, and her daughter is in a marching band scheduled to be in a park parade. They leave Sunday.

“I don’t think it warrants canceling a vacation right now,” she said, adding that she’s more worried about sitting on a plane with people with colds and the flu. “I’m kind of a germaphobe. We all have our own personal hand sanitizers, We’re diligent about handwashing at the parks, especially after rides. Now we’ll spending a little extra time washing hands. I already travel with a small can of Lysol and hose everything down in our hotel rooms.”

The state draws hordes of college-age students and families with grade-school children during the spring break season, which begins in earnest in mid-March and runs into April. Cancellations could be devastating during one of the busiest times of the year in the Sunshine State.

Last week, five big conventions said they were cancelling their conferences in Orlando because of coronavirus concerns. Over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that travelers defer all cruise travel, especially if they have underlying health issues.

The U.S. Travel Association on Tuesday predicted a 6% decline in international visitors to the U.S. over the next three months as a result of coronavirus. If the prediction holds, it would be the largest decline in international inbound travel since the recession a dozen years ago, the association said.

Coronavirus fears hit Florida last week as Disney World opened a new ride based on Mickey Mouse, a park first. The resort’s most anticipated new land in years, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, debuted only last August.

If a Disney visitor shows coronavirus symptoms or first responders think they have the flu, both patient and paramedic will get a face mask, said Tim Stromsnes, president of the union local for firefighters at Disney World.

Speigel said parks and attractions likely will undergo “a lot of fumigation, disinfection, right now, not only in the front of the house, but the back of the house.”

Officials with Busch Gardens and SeaWorld didn’t respond to email inquiries about how the coronavirus had affected them.

Disney officials said in a statement that extra hand sanitizers were being placed throughout its four parks and more than two dozen hotels.

Tom Schroder, a spokesman for Universal Orlando, said it is reinforcing “best-practice health and hygiene procedures” in response to the coronavirus outbreak and adding more hand sanitizer units to its parks.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation and be ready to act as needed,” he said.

Spiegel added that at many parks, deliveries will be scrutinized and workers will be retrained on cleanliness procedures. Parks may also restrict employee travel to higher-risk countries such as China, Italy and South Korea — a measure Legoland has already taken.

On Wednesday, the opening day of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, about 1,000 people were waiting to enter the park, said Kurt Schmidt, the owner of Inside the Magic, a massive online community and news site for Disney fans.

No one was wearing a mask, Schmidt said.

“From where I’m sitting, there’s absolutely no difference in how things feel,” he said. “I can’t see anything that is different.”

___

Gyms and Coronavirus: What Are the Risks?

Sweat cannot transmit the virus but high-contact surfaces, such as barbells, can pose a problem, a doctor said.

Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

The NY Times | by Aimee Ortiz | March 8, 2020

It’s not the kind of thing you want to think about while you’re in child’s pose in yoga class, when your nose is close to the mat, but after hearing how you should stop touching your face to guard against the coronavirus, you might wonder: What are the risks of transmission while working out at a gym?

The spread of the coronavirus could make even the most ardent gym rats stress out about picking up barbells.

There’s a lower risk of picking up the coronavirus at a gym or health club than at a church service, for example, said Dr. David Thomas, a professor of medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. By comparison, church services may include shaking hands and being in closer proximity to people.

But if you’re in a community where there have been cases of the coronavirus, “that’s, perhaps, a time to be more cautious with all types of exposures, including a gym,” Dr. Thomas said.

Sweat cannot transmit the virus but high-contact surfaces, such as barbells, can pose a problem, he said.

Scientists are still figuring out how the virus exactly spreads but have provided some guidance on how it seems to be transmitted. A study of other coronaviruses found they remained on metal, glass and plastic for two hours to nine days.

Certain objects, like handles and doorknobs, are “disproportionally affected by hands, and those are the surfaces most likely to have viruses for that reason,” Dr. Thomas said.

The owner of a yoga studio in Washington State, where several coronavirus patients have died, according to The Yoga Journal, “says she’s seen a direct impact from all the hysteria in the area on both attendance and business.”

Equinox, the luxury fitness club brand, has sent notices to members, reassuring them that additional steps are being taken during the peak flu season and amid growing concerns about the coronavirus.

The additional steps include disinfecting all club areas with a hospital-grade solution three times a day, reminding people to stay home if they are sick and asking instructors to eliminate skin-to-skin contact, like hands-on adjustments during yoga, a spokeswoman said.

Brian Cooper, chief executive of YogaWorks, sent an email to the company’s clients, reassuring them that it was stepping up its cleaning processes “to keep our facilities a safe and welcoming environment for all students and staff.”

David Carney, president of Orangetheory Fitness, listed precautions in an email on Thursday. “Wipe down your equipment after every block, and don’t hesitate to request a new wipe whenever you need to,” he wrote.

Do you know what’s in those nondescript spray bottle at gyms that you’re supposed to use to wipe down your machine, mat and equipment?

If you’re not sure, ask staff members what’s in the bottle or take your own wipes to the gym.

“I’ll probably bring my own wipes,” Dr. Thomas said on Saturday of his gym trip planned for later that day. “I’ll know that they’re the right wipes and they have the right concentration of alcohol.”

Diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol and several common household disinfectants should be effective against the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Environmental Protection Agency released a list of disinfectants against the virus.

In addition to avoiding frequently handled machines and equipment, it’s recommended, as always, that you wash your hands often and don’t touch your face.

And if you’re feeling sick, stay home.

“This is mostly about how you keep from getting sick at a gym, but please don’t go to the gym if you feel sick,” Dr. Thomas said. “Don’t give it to other people.”

Heather Murphy contributed reporting.

Hong Kong warns residents not to kiss pets after dog contracts coronavirus

Pomeranian tested a ‘weak positive’ for virus after owner was infected, authorities say.

The Guardian | by Helen Davidson | March 4, 2020

Hong Kong authorities have warned people to avoid kissing their pets, but also to not panic and abandon them after a dog repeatedly tested “weak positive” for coronavirus.

The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said experts unanimously agreed the results suggested the dog had “a low-level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission”.

The Pomeranian’s owner was infected with Covid-19 but the dog itself was not showing symptoms, authorities said.

Medical experts, including from the World Health Organization (WHO), had been investigating the case to determine if the dog was actually infected or had picked it up from a contaminated surface. The WHO has said there is no evidence animals like dogs or cats can be infected with the coronavirus.

“Pet owners need not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets,” said Hong Kong’s department of agriculture.

Authorities warned pet owners in the city, where 103 people have been infected with Covid-19 and thousands are in self-quarantine, not to panic.

“Pet owners are reminded to adopt good hygiene practices (including hand washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing them) and to maintain a clean and hygienic household environment,” the department said.

“People who are sick should restrict contacting animals. If there are any changes in the health condition of the pets, advice from a veterinarian should be sought as soon as possible.”

The Society for the Protection of Animals in Hong Kong said being infected was not the same as being infectious, and capable of spreading the virus.

“While the information tells us that the dog has a low-level of infection members of the public should note that the dog is showing no symptoms whatsoever. We have been informed the dog is currently very healthy and doing well at the quarantine centre.”

The world organisation for animal health also emphasised there was no evidence pets spread the disease, or even get sick themselves.

“There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare,” it said.

The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has been contacted for further details.

The animal was first tested on 26 February and showed low levels of the virus the following day. Tests were repeated on 28 February and 2 March, returning “weak positive” results.

It was in quarantine and would continue to be tested until it returned a negative result, and could be returned to its owner, the department said.

NY Governor Cuomo declares state of emergency – Corona virus cases rose to 89

WGRZ2 | ALBANY, N.Y. — Governor Andrew Cuomo held a news conference Saturday afternoon with the latest information regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, in New York State.

During the news conference Cuomo also declared a state of emergency.

Cuomo announced that there are 32 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state. He updated that total to 45 new cases and 89 total across New York State, though none of those confirmed cases are here in Western New York.

The governor said hundreds of tests have been conducted so far in the state. He also gave a list of where the current cases are in New York. He said 70 cases are in Westchester County, 11 cases are in New York City, four are in Nassau County, two are in Rockland County, and two are in Saratoga County.

Out of the 89 confirmed cases; 10 people have been hospitalized.

Andrew Cuomo

@NYGovCuomo

Update: There are 13 additional cases of #Coronavirus in NYS since earlier today, bringing total to 89.

Westchester: 70
NYC: 11
Nassau: 4
Rockland: 2
Saratoga: 2

There will be more cases as we test more—that’s a good thing bc we can deal with the situation based on more facts.

There are currently 116 people in quarantine in Erie County as part of the coronavirus protocol. New York State says 115 of those quarantines are precautionary. One quarantine is mandatory. Niagara County says they have four people under voluntary quarantine.

Just when we warned Florida not screw up coronavirus, guess what happened?

Governor Ron DeSantis joined Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees at a press conference in Tampa to give updates on the coronavirus outbreak. BY TIFFANY TOMPKINS

Miami Herald Editorial Board | March 3, 2020

Anyone who remembers Greater Miami as Ground Zero for HIV infection, Zika, dengue — you name it — won’t be shocked if, or when, coronavirus crosses the county line, lands at the airport or cruises into the port.

The “when” might be here. However, a Miami woman told by doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital that she “likely” has COVID-19 — coronavirus — could not get the diagnosis confirmed. As first reported by Jim DeFede at miami.cbslocal.com, state and federal would not conduct the testing needed to confirm it. 

This is not to way to allay public fears of the contagion, contain it and treat those who need it as quickly as possible. Turns out, state health officials are following ridiculously narrow federal guidelines to test a very small pool of people who have been to China or who are critically ill.

We urge Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Republican governor who has President Trump’s ear, along with that of Vice President Pence — the nation’s putative coronavirus czar — to ditch the political spin they’ve swirled around this health emergency and get serious about saving lives. Pence has inspired little confidence so far in his ability to handle this potential pandemic. Here’s his chance to prove otherwise.

In Florida, other hard-learned lessons of disasters past, however, appear to have taken hold. DeSantis spoke transparently and with authority Monday in confirming two cases of coronavirus in the state. The governor briefed the public in Tampa after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed two “presumptive positive” cases of the virus: One is a man in Manatee County; the second is a woman in Hillsborough County. A third case was reported on Tuesday.

Monday, the state’s surgeon general, Dr. Scott Rivkees, even copped to the 24-hour delay between learning the CDC’s preliminary findings and the announcement to the public, though his explanation — that the patients were being monitored during that time — was fuzzy and not reassuring.

ALERT PUBLIC EARLY

Given the virus’ spread — and its potential to be fatal — the state should err on the side of flagging cases to the public sooner rather than later to better contain the contagion. New cases are a given as Florida expands testing.

South Florida and — Miami, in particular — must be especially vigilant. It is a major point of entry by land, sea and air. Coronavirus has had a wide-ranging journey — from Asia to Europe to Africa to the Americas, including the Dominican Republic, where an Italian national was confirmed to harbor the virus. A smattering of other cases have been confirmed in other Caribbean countries. 

As troubling as the discovery of coronavirus is in Florida counties to the north, the Caribbean is truly our “neighborhood” in South Florida. The familial links of strong; so is the lure for tourists. Both could affect us here.

This community will have to be prepared to protect itself, while likely coming to the aid of compatriots among the Caribbean to help check the threat and manage the aftermath. It will be in the entire region’s best interest.

SAFETY AT ULTRA 

Locally, commend Miami Mayor Francis Suarez for requesting that the organizers of the Ultra Music Festival this month deliver a plan for protecting the thousands of attendees who will descend upon Bayfront Park downtown for the three-day celebration of electronic music. 

While he’s at it, Suarez also needs to make sure that the Calle Ocho festival and Carnavale have such plans in place, too. 

Good to see, too, is Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez taking on the creation of a plan to shield the elderly, one of the most vulnerable populations. The deaths in a stiflingly hot nursing home in Broward County after it lost electricity during Hurrincane Irma still haunt the South Florida community.

Many Floridians have shaken their heads over the years at late evacuation calls as hurricanes bore down, at aerial spraying to kill potentially Zika-carrying mosquitoes — without knowing exactly where it was going to occur — at closed or chaotic storm shelters.

Florida could be on its way to getting its response to this potential coronavirus pandemic right.

It has to.

Fertilizer, pest-control, soup: Modern-day reliance on bats makes it hard to banish their virus risk

QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK, UGANDA - AUGUST 25: A fruit bat
Bats contain the highest proportion of mammalian viruses that are likely to infect humans, according to 2017 research.BONNIE JO MOUNT/THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

FORTUNE | by Siraphob Thanthong-Knight and Bloomberg | February 20, 2020

Every Saturday morning, a dozen or so villagers from a province about 60 miles west of Bangkok creep into a bat-festooned cave to scrape up the precious fecal deposits of its flourishing inhabitants.

In three hours, they can amass as many as 500 buckets of bat dung. The guano is packaged and sold at an adjacent temple as fertilizer, reaping more than 75,000 baht ($2,400). Just 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of the nutrient-rich material can fetch as much as the daily minimum wage.

Elsewhere in Asia and Micronesia, meat from bats is sometimes sold in markets or cooked at home after being caught in the wild. Although consumption is rare and limited to certain communities, it’s considered a local delicacy in the Pacific island-nation of Palau, and areas of Indonesia, where meat from other mammals is scarce.

With growing awareness of bat-borne viruses — from Nipah to coronaviruses linked to severe acute respiratory syndrome and the new pneumonia-causing Covid-19 disease that’s killed more than 2,000 people in China — human contact with the ancient flying mammal and their excreta is drawing closer scrutiny.

“Anything to do with bats, in theory, can expose yourself to potential viral transmission because we know bats carry so many viruses,” said Linfa Wang, who heads the emerging infectious disease program at Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School.

Bats contain the highest proportion of mammalian viruses that are likely to infect humans, according to research published in 2017 by disease ecologist Peter Daszak in the scientific journal Nature.

Still, very few bat viruses are ready to transmit directly to humans, said Wang, who has been studying bat origins of human viruses for decades and works with a group of researchers sometimes dubbed ‘The Bat Pack.’

“I always say that if they could do that, then the human population would have been wiped out a long time ago because bats have been in existence for 80-to-100 million years — much older than humans,” he said.

Special Precautions

Danger doesn’t stop with bats. Other mammals, such as civets and camels, have been found to act as intermediate hosts that can pass coronaviruses to humans. Undercooked meat and offal, milk, blood, mucus, saliva and urine of virus-carrying mammals can potentially contain pathogens.

“Viruses evolve all the time — there’s no way to know when it will mutate and become dangerous to humans,” said Supaporn Watcharaprueksadee, deputy chief at the Center for Emerging Infectious Disease of Thailand, who has studied bats for two decades. “The best prevention is to avoid the risk and reduce all risky behaviors,” she said.

At the Khao Chong Phran bat cave in the Thai province of Ratchaburi, where the bat dung is mined, there are an estimated of 3 million wrinkle-lipped free-tailed bats, an insect-eating species that produces high-nitrogen guano, essential for boosting plant growth.

No Protection

Guano collectors usually enter the cave with long sleeved shirts and long pants, with a T-shirt wrapped around their head as makeshift cover — in contrast to how disease ecologists investigate caves in a full-body suit with masks and gloves. Although dry guano has low risk of infection, miners or cave visitors can potentially be exposed to viruses through the fresh saliva and urine of bats.

It’s not a concern foremost in the minds of the cave’s guano collectors, even weeks after Thailand reported the first of its 35 Covid-19 cases.

“We’ve done this for a long time, for many generations,” said Singha Sittikul, who manages the business and fields orders. It’s a small operation trading guano locally, but such fertilizer is also sold by companies and via online commerce platforms, such as Amazon.com Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. “We carry on as usual.”

Bats are highly valued in Ratchaburi, where they not only produce a potent fertilizer, but also play a role in pollination and pest-control by feeding on insects that ravage rice and other crops. Their cave has been declared an animal sanctuary. Killing or eating them is prohibited.

Bat Soup

The trade and smuggling of wild mammals, including ones that may act as intermediaries of bat-borne viruses, poses a risk. Carcasses and parts of pangolins, lions, rhinos and elephants are routinely being trafficked through Southeast Asia.

Bat expert Supaporn is expanding her research to look at pangolins as well as horseshoe bats, which may have played a role in the emergence of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, she said.

Smuggling Threat

The Freeland Foundation, a counter-trafficking organization, has alerted Asian nations to the direct virological threat wildlife smuggling poses to “wider human populations.”

Closing markets and refraining from consumption of the animals is the only sure way to prevent the spread and recurrence of outbreaks, it said.

“There are so many bat-borne diseases that we have yet to discover, and they can be dangerous,” said Tawee Chotpitayasunondh, a senior adviser to the Thai Ministry of Public Health. “Now is the time to discourage eating and trading them.”

New coronavirus spreads as readily as 1918 Spanish flu and probably originated in bats

Testing a sample for coronavirus

A laboratory worker at the State Health Authorities of Baden-Wuerttemberg in Germany tests a sample from a patient suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus from China. A new genetic analysis suggests the virus originated in bats.
(Marijan Murat / AFP/Getty Images)

Chinese scientists racing to keep up with the spread of a novel coronavirus have declared the widespread outbreak an epidemic, revealing that in its early days at least, the disease’s reach doubled every week.

By plotting the curve of that exponential growth and running it in reverse, researchers reckoned that the microbe sickening people across the globe has probably been passing from person to person since mid-December 2019.

Scientists in China are also closing in on the source of the aggressive new germ — bats.

The furry flying mammals may have been the original host of the coronavirus now crisscrossing the world, says one of three scientific studies released on Wednesday. But it may be another wild animal sold in Wuhan City’s Huanan Seafood Market that served up the virus to humans, who quickly began passing it to others through close contact.

The new studies, coming just five days after Chinese research teams offered their first detailed analyses of the virus known as 2019-nCoV, offer genetic and other evidence to suggest that Chinese health authorities probably caught the virus soon after it made its jump to humans. And it supports the theory that something in the Huanan market served as a bridge for the virus to cross between bats and humans.

Such evidence is consistent with the Chinese government’s public assertions about the sudden appearance and spread of a virus that has sickened as many as 9,000 and claimed at least 170 lives in China and six other countries. Chinese authorities have said they believe that Wuhan’s principal “wet market” is the cradle of the outbreak, and they have no evidence that the new virus spread earlier anywhere else.

FRANCE-HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-PASTEUR
Coronavirus: Five burning questions scientists want to answer about the outbreak
All three of the new studies — two published by the British journal Lancet and a third in the New England Journal of Medicine — were conducted by scientists working in China. And all focused on some of the first patients seen with a pneumonia caused by 2019-nCoV.

One of the studies published in Lancet probed the genetic connections among viral samples drawn from nine infected patients, eight of whom had visited the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan.

The second study in Lancet culled data on the disease progression and outcomes of 99 infected patients who were admitted to Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan with symptoms of pneumonia.

The New England Journal of Medicine study, performed by researchers at China’s leading public health agency, mapped the early spread of pneumonia cases caused by the virus and used the results to create a transmission timeline. That accounting offered the most authoritative gauge to date of the emerging epidemic’s rate of growth.

The new findings underscore the fact that it may take stern domestic measures to bring the fast-moving virus under control in China.

One of the research teams calculated that in its early stages, the epidemic doubled in size every 7.4 days. That measure, called the epidemic’s “serial interval,” reflects the average span of time that elapses from the appearance of symptoms in one infected person to the appearance of symptoms in the people he will go on to infect. In the early stages of the outbreak, each infected person who became ill is estimated to have infected 2.2 others, according to the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

That makes the new coronavirus roughly as communicable as was the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed 50 million and became the deadliest pandemic in recorded history.

The new epidemic, however, is moving more slowly than the Spanish flu. That’s because 2019-nCoV takes longer to induce coughing, fever and breathing difficulties in a newly infected victim.

“It’s concerning that case reports are increasing, and increasing in a way that’s consistent with pretty efficient human-to-human transmission,” said Derek Cummings, a University of Florida expert in the spread of infectious diseases.

China’s Wuhan Coronavirus Spreads To South Korea
SCIENCE
Should you panic about the coronavirus from China? Here’s what the experts say
Jan. 24, 2020

While much more needs to be known about the coronavirus’ spread, the early numbers offer a glimpse of the challenge ahead, Cummings said.

To halt the growth of the virus’ spread and allow the epidemic to burn itself out, health officials in China are going to have to cut the rate at which the germ is passing from person to person by more than half. That could be done by quarantining anyone who’s ill, by closing down schools or workplaces or social gatherings, or eventually by administering a vaccine that does not currently exist.

Even under the most optimistic scenarios, Cumming said, “a lot of control needs to take place.”

China’s public health authorities acknowledged as much on Wednesday.

“Considerable efforts to reduce transmission will be required to control outbreaks if similar dynamics apply elsewhere,” a team led by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

They noted that reducing the spread of the new virus is made harder by the apparent presence of many mild infections. If not all who are infected get very sick — as appears to be the case — many will go out in the world and spread the virus inadvertently.

The team also cited “limited resources for isolation of cases and quarantine of their close contacts” as an impediment.

Despite suspicions prompted by its secretive management of the SARS outbreak in 2003, the Chinese government has insisted it responded quickly to the appearance of a new virus, and has held nothing back from the Chinese public or international community.

The World Health Organization has said that China notified it on Dec. 31 that the agency it was seeing cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan. Chinese authorities closed down the Huanan Seafood Market on Jan. 1. That would be only about two weeks after the virus first jumped to humans in Wuhan, if the new calculations are correct.

Health officials in China identified a novel coronavirus as the cause of the outbreak less than a week later, and on Jan. 23, the government blocked transportation in and out of Wuhan.

In an effort to stem further spread of 2019-nCoV, officials imposed a quarantine of unprecedented size and scope, shutting down transportation in and out of other cities in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located. The controversial blockade has affected about 50 million people, and has been criticized for being both too broad and too late to bottle up the virus.

On Tuesday, American officials exhorted Chinese officials to share their trove of biological samples and genetic findings with U.S. and international researchers. Within hours, the Chinese government shifted gears and asked the World Health Organization to send international experts to assist with research and help contain the epidemic.

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