There’s a lot of good news mixed in with the bad. Here are some positive things we’ve learned in the last week
The next emerging infectious disease could easily be more contagious, more fatal, or both.
Dr Cassidy Nelson on the twelve best ways to stop the next pandemic (and limit COVID-19)
Exploratory analyses highlight a potential additional link between COVID-19 and suicidal behavior, suggesting that a portion of individuals may be intentionally exposing themselves to the virus with intent to kill themselves. [PsyArXiv]
An article published in the Journal of Family Violence in January 2020 found that between 62 and 72 percent of women (the only gender surveyed) have been stalked, and 60 to 63 percent have experienced technology-based abuse by an intimate partner. “Technology is not the only tactic; it is one of many,” said Erica Olsen. “Today’s technology offers new ways to perpetrate abuse, but the behaviors and the reasons for it are not new. Abusers want power and control over the other person, and this is just one more way to get that.” [Here’s how to record abuse without being discovered, safeguard your devices, and, ultimately, protect yourself.]
Wuhan’s 11 million residents will be able to leave only after receiving official authorization that they are healthy and haven’t recently been in contact with a coronavirus patient. To do so, the Chinese government is making use of its mandatory smartphone application that, along with other government surveillance, tracks the movement and health status of every person. [Washington Post]
People can now leave after presenting to the authorities a government-sanctioned phone app that indicates — based on their home addresses, recent travels and medical histories — whether they are contagion risks. Footage from state-run news outlets early Wednesday showed a rush of cars traveling through toll stations on the outskirts of Wuhan immediately after the restrictions were lifted. China’s national rail operator estimated that more than 55,000 people would leave Wuhan by train on Wednesday, according to a state-run broadcaster. Officials continue to urge everyone to stay at home as much as possible. Schools are still closed. [...] In recent days, more shops have reopened, often setting up street-front counters so that customers can buy vegetables, alcohol, cigarettes and other goods without entering. In parks along the Yangtze River, growing numbers of families have ventured out to take in the sunshine and fresh air. Older residents have started congregating again in small groups to chat or play rounds of Chinese chess. Children are a rarer sight, and always appear to be under the wary watch of parents. Public buses and the subway system have restarted, although they often seem to have few passengers. Mountains of cardboard boxes have sprouted up outside apartment complexes as online shopping picks up. [...] Across Wuhan, nearly 94 percent of businesses — almost 11,000 of them in total — have resumed operations, said Hu Yabo, the city’s deputy mayor, at a recent news briefing. For major industrial enterprises, the rate exceeded 97 percent. For service companies, it was 93 percent. [NY Times]
And how long can democracies limit people's freedoms to the degree we are currently experiencing? Germany hasn't yet been completely shut down, but Italy, Spain and France have. For what length of time can the people of those countries be prohibited from going out? [...] "To ensure that testing becomes quicker and more efficient," the study reads, "the use of Big Data and location tracking is unavoidable on the long term." If this model is followed, around a million people in Germany would become infected and only around 12,000 would die, an optimistic scenario given the current situation. It would require keeping strict measures in place for two months. But because only a small share of the population would then be immune to the virus, "extreme vigilance would have to be maintained," the study points out. [Spiegel]
Like governments around the world, the United States is struggling with the “coronavirus trilemma”: It wants to protect lives, ease social isolation, and protect privacy and civil liberties, but it can do only two of those at the same time. In particular, and as South Korea’s successful management of the coronavirus shows, extensive surveillance may be the only way to control the outbreak while preserving some degree of normalcy for economic and social life. [Lawfare]
In the current COVID-19 pandemic, there have been official health recommendations of social distancing, thorough handwashing, and self-isolation to prevent the spread of the virus. However, compliance with these recommendations has been mixed. We suggest that non-compliance may be justified by one’s (mis)perception of their own COVID-19 risk.
Yale New Haven Hospital, where I work, has almost 300 people stricken with Covid-19, and the numbers keep rising — and yet we are not yet at capacity because of a marked decline in our usual types of patients. In more normal times, we never have so many empty beds. Our hospital is usually so full that patients wait in gurneys along the walls of the emergency department for a bed to become available on the general wards or even in the intensive care unit. We send people home from the hospital as soon as possible so we can free up beds for those who are waiting. But the pandemic has caused a previously unimaginable shift in the demand for hospital services. [...] What is striking is that many of the emergencies have disappeared. Heart attack and stroke teams, always poised to rush in and save lives, are mostly idle. This is not just at my hospital. My fellow cardiologists have shared with me that their cardiology consultations have shrunk, except those related to Covid-19. [Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D. | NY Times]
Viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza are lipophilic, enveloped viruses, and are relatively easy to inactivate by exposure to alcohols. [...] We use 40 v/v% whisky or similar alcohol, dripping on a gauze, inhale the vapor slowly at room temperature. This method works well for the front part of the nasal cavity.[arXiv]
More space between seats at restaurants, cinemas, sporting events and the like, meaning fewer people. Less vacation and business travel, coupled with more global government restrictions, at least until a vaccine is developed, cutting back consumer and business spending. Regulations forcing households and corporates to hold potentially three months of cash in emergency savings. A significant increase in the supply of government bonds, risking a debt crisis. [...] As hard as coronavirus is going to hit the industrialized world, the impact on the developing world is going to be significantly more severe. [Axios]
New Research Links Air Pollution to Higher Coronavirus Death Rates (dangerous particles in air known as PM 2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease)
We re-analysed 640 throat swabs collected from patients in Wuhan with influenza-like-illness from 6 October 2019 to 21 January 2020 and found that 9 of the 640 throat swabs were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by quantita- tive PCR, suggesting community transmission of SARS-CoV2 in Wuhan in early January 2020. [PDF | Nature Microbiology]
Fewer deaths in Veneto offer clues for fight against virus. [...] Lombardy has a death rate of 17.6 per cent. Nearby Veneto’s stands at 5.6 per cent. While virologists caution that the percentage death rate is closely tied to the level of testing, they also attribute the gap to other factors, such as Veneto’s reluctance to hospitalise compared with its neighbour. [...] Higher levels of testing and tracing in Veneto is the most widely cited explanation for why the region has managed to control its outbreak more effectively than its neighbours. [...] Venetian doctors also cite the region’s expertise in infectious disease, something they trace back to its pioneering history dealing with viruses arriving in its port from the east. The word quarantine derives from quarantena, the Venetian word for “40 days”, or the amount of time ships arriving from plague-ridden destinations were isolated. [Financial Times]
On Friday April 3, the French Director General of Health, Jérôme Salomon, for the first time recognized that the wearing of a mask by the general public could have an interest. How did something that was deemed unnecessary for so long suddenly become useful? [France CultureGoogle Translate]
How will we know when to reopen the country? [...] Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care. A state needs to be able to test at least everyone who has symptoms. The state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts. There must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days. [NY Times]
Those who are hospitalized with coronavirus can expect to pay anywhere from $42,486 to $74,310 if they are uninsured or if they receive care that’s deemed out-of-network by their insurance company. For those with insurance who are using in-network providers, out-of-pocket costs will be a portion of $21,936 to $38,755, depending on the cost-sharing provisions of their health plan. [CNBC]
The coronavirus wiped out most major tech events. But CanSecWest still took place—with face masks, temperature checks, and an eerily quiet atmosphere.
There has been a 600% increase in images of people washing their hands, face and body. The AI tool also discovered a 200% increase of “cleanliness” related images and videos. These included touching faces, sneezing, coughing, drinking, smelling, tissues and cleaning. [...] 8% drop in the use of travel imagery. [AdNews]