April 24 coronavirus news

39 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:27 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Researchers clone antibodies from recovered coronavirus patients, with hope for a future treatment

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

Researchers in China say they have successfully cloned antibodies from recovered coronavirus patients, a potential first step in developing a new type of treatment for the virus. 

In test tubes, the antibodies prevented the binding of the novel coronavirus to its receptor, according to the researchers. Antibodies that block that step – which is critical for infection – could one day be a promising treatment for the virus.

But it’s not clear whether blocking the binding of the virus in a lab means the antibodies could prevent infection in real humans. 

The researchers published their findings Monday in the medical journal Cellular and Molecular Immunology. They cloned two different antibodies – called 311mab-31B5 and 311mab-32D4 – and said the antibodies “neutralized” the entry of a fake coronavirus into cells. 

The antibodies could one day be used as “prophylactic and therapeutic agents,” the researchers said, suggesting they could one day be used to both prevent and treat Covid-19.

Using cloned antibodies to treat diseases is not a new concept. The approach has been used to develop experimental treatments for Ebola, using antibodies from animals or people exposed to the virus. 

The underlying idea – that antibodies can be used as a treatment – is also being tested in trials of so-called convalescent plasma. That treatment is somewhat different, though, with people who have recovered from the novel coronavirus giving their antibody-filled blood plasma to those who are sick. 

It remains unclear whether cloned antibodies – such as those developed by the Chinese researchers – could be a successful treatment for the novel coronavirus, and this new research is in its earliest stages. 

The approach may hold promise, though. In 2018, the top US infectious disease specialist, Anthony Fauci, wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that “effective antibodies have become easier to identify, select, optimize, and manufacture.”

Writing alongside other experts, Fauci said the treatments, technically called monoclonal antibodies, “are positioned to play a larger role in future public health responses involving the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of [emerging infectious diseases].” 

But the antibodies come with a downside: they’re incredibly expensive. As Fauci wrote, “pragmatic concerns must be addressed – notably cost.” 

5:50 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Wuhan weathered Covid-19. But can it survive what comes next?

From CNN's David Culver, Nectar Gan and Ben Westcott

People are seen in a Wuhan shopping mall as the city tries to go back to business after lockdown on April 18.
People are seen in a Wuhan shopping mall as the city tries to go back to business after lockdown on April 18. Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

It was just three months ago that Mr Wang was paying the workers at his Wuhan restaurant their Chinese New Year bonuses and celebrating his third year in business.

Now, after 76 days under lockdown in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, he has been left mentally and financially drained, with his business facing ruin.

The lockdown on Wuhan was lifted on April 8. But two weeks later Wang's restaurant is still not allowed to fully reopen, due to restrictions on eat-in dining.

Despite having no business, he's still had to pay three months rent -- worth almost $8,500 (60,000 yuan). With fears rising of a second wave of infections which could cause even more financial pain across China, Wang said he has no choice but to close shop.

"In Wuhan, there are many people like us who can no longer go back to what they were doing before the outbreak," he said. Wang asked us to only use his first name over concerns about the consequences of talking to foreign media.

Wang is just one of Wuhan's many business owners struggling to get back on their feet in a difficult local economy. In the first quarter of the year alone, the economy of Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, shrank by almost 40%, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

That's in addition to the mental toll from a strict and lengthy lockdown, the fear of the viral outbreak itself and grief at the loss of loved ones and friends.

Wang said three relatives had caught the novel coronavirus, one of whom passed away from the disease. The family was unable to have a funeral for him.

"During that period, we were actually really terrified, really terrified," he said.

Read more from Wuhan, China here.

5:21 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Germany's virus reproduction rate is increasing

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt

A makeshift hospital to treat coronavirus patients is prepared at the fairgrounds in Berlin, Germany, on April 23.
A makeshift hospital to treat coronavirus patients is prepared at the fairgrounds in Berlin, Germany, on April 23. Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate has increased to 0.9 according to the country's centre for disease and control, the Robert Koch Institute, meaning every 10 people with the virus infect an average of nine others.

That’s up from a reproduction rate of 0.7 a week ago, according to the Institute’s Vice President Lars Schaade.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously warned that if the number -- also known as the R0 value -- rises above 1, the country’s health system would eventually be overwhelmed.

Yesterday she expressed concern that some German states were moving to ease coronavirus restrictions too soon, saying it could undermine the results that have been achieved.

New cases slowing down: Germany now has 150,383 coronavirus cases and 5,321 related deaths, the Robert Koch Institute said on Friday.

The country reported 2,337 new cases in the past 24 hours -- a slight slowdown, after three straight days of new infections accelerating.

4:54 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Several Sydney beaches shut again after beachgoers flout rules

From CNN's Anna Kam

Swimmers leave the water after police closed Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, on April 24.
Swimmers leave the water after police closed Clovelly Beach in Sydney, Australia, on April 24. Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Three southern Sydney beaches closed for a second time, only five days after being reopened, according to a statement from the Randwick City Council.

The beaches of Clovelly, Coogee and Maroubra were shut at 1pm Friday after “people failed to use beaches for exercise only.”

The three beaches will reopen Saturday and Sunday between 6am to 9am for exercise only, according to the council. The situation will be reassessed on Monday.

On Wednesday, Waverly Council, home to Bondi beach, announced Bondi and Bronte beaches would reopen starting next Tuesday (April 28) for swimming and surfing.  All land-based activities on the beach, such as jogging, sunbathing, and social gatherings, will continue to be suspended.

In March, Bondi beach closed down after thousands of beachgoers ignored the advice from officials to avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing. 

4:44 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Singapore reports nearly 900 new cases

Tents are constructed for use as an isolation facility for COVID-19 patients at the Tanjong Pagar Terminal in Singapore, on April 24.
Tents are constructed for use as an isolation facility for COVID-19 patients at the Tanjong Pagar Terminal in Singapore, on April 24. Wallace Woon/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Singapore recorded 897 new coronavirus cases as of 12 p.m. local time on Friday amid a second wave of infections centered around migrant worker dormitories.

Among the new cases, the vast majority are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories, while 13 are Singaporean citizens or permanent residents, the country's Ministry of Health said in a statement.

The country's cases spiked dramatically at the start of April, and authorities traced the increase to clusters of cases in the dormitories. About 200,000 migrant workers live in 43 dormitories, where cramped conditions and shared facilities make it easy for a highly infectious virus to spread.

Singapore passed the threshold of 10,000 cases earlier this week. Friday marks the first time the country has reported fewer than 1,000 daily new infections since April 19.

The dormitories are now all under lockdown, with nobody in or out. Authorities have taken residents showing symptoms to quarantine, and are monitoring residents still inside the dorms.

4:16 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Global stocks falter as trial of potential coronavirus treatment is halted

From CNN's Sherisse Pham and Jazmin Goodwin

A man wearing a mask to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Friday, April 24.
A man wearing a mask to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Friday, April 24. Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Global stocks slumped on Friday after a study into a potential coronavirus treatment was halted following inconclusive results.

South Korea's Kospi Index fell 1.4% in afternoon trade, while Japan's Nikkei 225 slid 0.9%. China's Shanghai Composite was down about 1%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dipped 0.4%.

Dow futures were slightly lower, after the index closed in the green Thursday. S&P 500 futures dropped 0.3% and Nasdaq futures were down about 0.5%.

Asia's major indexes were already struggling this week as countries released dismal economic data and as an historic oil price crash roiled markets.

Now, they're poised to close out their first week in negative territory since early April after drug maker Gilead said it terminated a trial of Remdesivir early, and thus had no conclusive findings about its effectiveness in treating Covid-19. Shares in the company closed down 4.3% on Wall Street on Thursday.

Read more here.

4:02 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

It's just past 9 a.m. in London and 3 p.m. in Jakarta. Here's the latest on the pandemic

A woman takes a photo of graffiti on Brick Lane in East London on April 23, in London.
A woman takes a photo of graffiti on Brick Lane in East London on April 23, in London. Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic continues to see case number rise by the thousands every day, as countries work to halt the spread of the virus. But in some nations, including the United States and Czech Republic, plans are in place to ease restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, despite health experts' warnings.

Here's what's happened since our last catch-up:

  • Ramadan starts under lockdown: It's the first day of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims. In Indonesia, millions can't travel home as is custom due to travel bans, and in Malaysia, the national lockdown has been extended through early May.
  • Muslims attacked in India: Muslims in the country are facing discrimination, attacks, and being blamed for spreading the virus. An infection cluster was identified at a Muslim group's event last month, heightening public fear and Islamophobia.
  • No return date for Boris Johnson: The British prime minister is recovering at his countryside retreat, but there's no decision yet on when he will return to work, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News.
  • US nears 50,000 deaths: The death toll in the country stands at 49,963, according to Johns Hopkins University, as total confirmed cases approached 870,000.
  • Japan gender controversy: The mayor of Osaka came under fire after saying men would make more effective grocery shoppers than women, as officials struggle to prevent overcrowding at stores.
  • And for some good news: New Kids On The Block are back with some new music. They released a coronavirus song "House Party" to lift spirits and raise funds for charity.
3:52 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

UK won't ease restrictions unless it's safe to do so, health secretary says

From CNN's Simon Cullen in London

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street on April 9 in London.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street on April 9 in London. Peter Summers/Getty Images

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock says he understands the economic pressure to remove coronavirus restrictions, but he won’t allow changes until it's safe to do so.

Some countries have begun to ease restrictions or set out time frames for when some measures will be relaxed.

"I understand the economic pressures," Hancock told BBC radio. "(But) I will not allow for changes to be made that are unsafe. We've got to keep the public safe."
"The worst thing for the economy would be a second spike. And instead, if you get the number of new cases right down then you can hold it down through testing, tracking and tracing. And that allows you to release more of the measures.
"So I understand those voices who are saying that we should move sooner, but that is not something we are going to do."

The Scottish government has published its framework for deciding when to ease restrictions, saying it would be prepared to move ahead of the rest of the UK if it made sense to do so.

3:32 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Malaysia extends lockdown ahead of Ramadan

Medical workers enter a building under lockdown in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday, April 7.
Medical workers enter a building under lockdown in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday, April 7. Vincent Thian/AP

Malaysia has extended its nationwide lockdown order for an additional two weeks, now lasting through May 12, according to state news agency Bernama.

The restrictions were set to end on April 28.

The lockdown was first announced on March 18. Essential services were exempt, like health care, transportation and the food industry.

Malaysia has recorded 5,603 coronavirus cases, including 95 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced the extension yesterday evening, on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, in a national address on television.

"If this downward trend in (active) cases continues, the government may give some relaxation," Bernama quoted the Prime Minister as saying. On the other hand, if the lockdown is extended further, it could prevent people from celebrating Eid al-Fitr when Ramadan ends toward the end of May, he warned.

Muhyiddin called the lockdown a sacrifice by the people, saying national efforts had paid off in reducing the number of new cases reported daily, according to Bernama.