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Coronavirus discovered in air samples can travel up to 4 meters from patients

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A recent study evaluating air samples from the hospital wards having coronavirus patients has discovered that the virus could travel up to 4 meters (13 feet). This is twice the distance that the present guidelines advise people to maintain between themselves outdoors. 

As per the study, there is an expanding debate on how coronavirus is transmitted among people, with the researchers themselves warning that even small quantities of the virus they discovered at such a distance aren’t necessarily infectious. 

The study, conducted by researchers from Beijing’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, tested air and surface samples from a general coronavirus ward and an ICU at Wuhan’s Huoshenshah Hospital. The researchers housed 24 patients in total between 19 February and 2 March. 

The study results showed that the coronavirus was heavily concentrated mostly on the floor of the hospital wards likely due to the airflow and gravity. High level of the virus was also discovered on the surfaces that are frequently touched such as trashcans, computer mice, doorknobs and bed rails. 

Moreover, 50 percent of the samples collected from the shoe soles of the medical staff at the ICU tested positive, wrote the researchers in the study. Hence, the soles of the medical staff function as the virus carriers, they added. 

The researchers also analyzed the so-called aerosol coronavirus transmission, where the virus droplets are so minute that they remain suspended in the air for many hours, unlike the sneeze or cough droplets that fall on the floor within seconds. 

They discovered that the coronavirus-laden aerosols were concentrated mainly close and downstream to the patients at around 4 meters, though small quantities were detected upstream at about 8 feet. 

Fortunately, no staff members of the hospital were infected, thus indicating that proper precautions could prevent the infection effectively, wrote the authors. 

The researchers also suggested that home isolation of suspected coronavirus patients may not prove to be a great control strategy, considering the environmental contamination levels. 

Aerosolisation of COVID-10 still remains a contentious region for researchers who analyze it as it isn’t known how infectious the virus is in such minute quantities discovered in the fine mist. 

Meanwhile, the US health officials have inclined towards a more precautionary measure and urged the people to keep their faces covered when outdoors if at all, the virus can be transferred via speaking or normal breathing. 

The preliminary findings of the study appear in the journal of the US CDC, Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Kate Clark is a reporter at Elisa Kit News, where she writes about startups, venture capital and trends in emerging technology. She is also the co-host of Equity, Elisa Kit News's venture capital podcast. She has previously covered the venture capital industry at PitchBook News, as well as the technology and startup ecosystem in Bangalore, India at Citizen Matters and the Seattle arts & technology scene at The Seattle Times. A Seattle native, she is a graduate of the University of Washington, where she studied journalism and international studies. Contact Email: kate@elisakitnews.net Twitter: https://twitter.com/kateclarktweets Phone: 720.213.5808

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Coronavirus resurgence is likely in 2024, says a Harvard study

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Social distancing might be needed until the year 2022 to avoid critical healthcare capacities from getting exceeded, says a new study from Harvard University, as more COVID-19 patients get hospitalized in the ICUs.

Even in case of apparent elimination, there is a need to maintain SARS-CoV-2 surveillance as a resurgence might be possible by the year 2024, say the researchers of the study.

There is an urgent need to take appropriate measures to tackle the present pandemic. Pharmaceutical treatments and vaccines might need months or years to create and test, said the researchers with the sole way to combat the disease being non-pharmaceutical developments. 

As per the researchers, SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that is causing the fatal disease, has the power to produce a considerable outbreak regardless of what season it is. 

The findings of the study showed that the outbreaks established during winter-spring, such as the one causing the present coronavirus pandemic, generally have low peaks. Meanwhile, the ones occurring during autumn-winter are more acute, said the researchers. 

It is still being learned whether individuals who once contract the disease would be immune to coronavirus permanently. If the immunity to stay protected from the virus isn’t permanent, it’s likely to enter in the regular circulation, just like the flu pandemic, as per the study.

The COVID-19 mortality rate, as of Wednesday, stands at 6.4 percent, with almost 127,000 deaths of about 2 million confirmed cases. Comparatively, the flu mortality rate in the country stood at 0.096 percent during the 2018-19 seasons, as per the CDC, being almost 67 times lesser than coronavirus. 

A study published by the CDC in the year 2006 estimates mortality of Spanish flu to stand at 10 to 20 percent. Lary Brilliant, an epidemiologist who worked along with the WHO to help eliminate smallpox, said in March that mortality rate was 2 to 10 percent during the 1918-19 pandemic. 

As per the researchers from Harvard, even if the SARS-CoV-2 immunity would last only for 2 years, moderate, 30 percent immunity from the other strands of coronavirus which generally cause cold might eliminate its transfer up till 3 years effectively.  

Even in the event of the virus appearing to have died down, say the researchers, a resurgence is still likely in the year 2024. As per the researchers, a long-standing immunity, which can be attained by vaccination, can possibly result in the elimination of coronavirus. 

The Harvard study appears in the journal Science.

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New York to begin reporting probable deaths due to coronavirus to CDC

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On Wednesday, the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, said that the US state would start reporting probable deaths due to coronavirus to the CDC as the country struggles on how to count the increasing mortality rate while there’s still minimal testing. 

In his statement, Cuomo said that New York would rationalize these new reporting guidelines with the local governments as well as get that data out as quickly as possible. 

Besides, the state would get in touch with the nursing facilities and homes as well to learn whether any other individuals lost their lives due to coronavirus, but weren’t in nursing homes or hospitals necessarily at that time, said Cuomo.

Cuomo believes that there might be additional individuals who have died and were not included in the death count as they were not hospitalized, so the new measure will go through that. 

As of Wednesday, there were over 213,000 known coronavirus positive cases in New York, with over 11,500 confirmed death cases. However, that doesn’t include several probable deaths that NYC began reporting during this week. 

On Tuesday, the city reported over 111,400 known positive coronavirus cases, with around 6,840 known death cases and about 4,059 probable death cases. 

Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of NYC on Wednesday, said that he believes reporting the no. of probable coronavirus deaths was significant to showcase the sheer totality and bigger reality of the pandemic. 

The city has also released data that shows there were around 8,184 death cases from 11 March to 13 April, which weren’t known as probable or confirmed cases. 

When asked about the figures on Wednesday, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the NYC Health Department’s commissioner, said the sad reality is there’ve been individuals who have lost lives directly or indirectly due to coronavirus. 

Barbot said it was essential to compare the over 8,000 deaths with the no. of deaths recorded through the same time the previous year. She said that only time could tell what those no. really meant. For instance, a few deaths could have been recorded as being caused due to heart strokes as people hadn’t yet developed the symptoms of coronavirus when they otherwise should’ve been counted as apparent coronavirus victims, said Barbot.

On Tuesday, Barbot, in a statement made to NBC News related to probable death count, said that the state is now focused on making sure that each New York resident who passed away due to coronavirus gets counted. 

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Taste and smell loss is associated with coronavirus, says a new UC San Diego health study

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The loss of taste and smell so far has just anecdotally been associated with coronavirus so far, but a new study reveals the first-ever correlation between the disease and sensory loss. 

The study, conducted by the researchers from UC San Diego Health, shows that individuals who have taste and smell loss had their chances of contracting coronavirus increased by ten times. 

The findings of the study support the need to stay aware of the taste and smell loss as early symptoms of the virus, said the researchers. These conclusions were based upon the patients who weren’t hospitalized for coronavirus. 

Fever continues to remain the first symptom of COVID-19, but the loss of taste and smell, as well as fatigue, also followed as the initial symptoms often. 

As per otolaryngologist, Carol Yan from the UC San Diego Health, majority individuals were experiencing improvements within 2 to 3 weeks, and that is hugely reassuring for every one of those who have taste and smell loss. 

Ken Ramirez from Ranco Penasquitos, who had lost all sense of taste and smell, is recovering steadily from the disease. He says that his experience supports the study findings and that the information is extremely useful for those who are witnessing similar symptoms. If anything like this happens to anyone, they should realize that it is unique to coronavirus, said Ramirez.

For the study, the researchers from UC San Diego Health involved 1,480 patients who had symptoms similar to flu as well as concerns regarding possible coronavirus infection. They underwent testing at the health system starting from 3rd March till 29th March. Of the volunteers who participated, 102 tested positive for coronavirus, while 1,378 participants tested negative.  

As per a media release issued by the UC San Diego Health, the study involved responses from 203 coronavirus negative patients and 59 coronavirus positive patients. It discovered that 68 percent of the 59 patients reported taste loss while 17 percent of the 203 patients reported taste loss and 16 percent reported smell loss. 

The researchers also discovered that the patients who said they had sore throat tested coronavirus negative often. 

Dr. Yan hopes that the study will pose a worldwide impact and will promote further research on taste and smell loss. She is also hopeful that it will raise awareness so that sensory impairment gets included as a regular screening measure. 

The study appears in the medical journal Forum of Allergy and Rhinology. 

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