May 14 coronavirus news
Droplets generated by people talking while infected with the novel coronavirus could linger in the air for several minutes, potentially triggering new infections, according to researchers.
A new estimate by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Pennsylvania finds that talking loudly for one minute in a confined space could generate at least 1,000 "speech droplets" containing Covid-19 particles.
Those droplets could remain in the air for more than eight minutes, according to the study published Tuesday in the open-access journal PNAS.
According to other research, that could be enough to generate an infection if someone inhaled them.
To conduct the experiment, the researchers had a person repeat the phrase "stay healthy" into a port connected to an enclosure, simulating a closed, stagnant air environment.
The phrase was chosen, the researchers said, because the "th" in the word "healthy" efficiently generates speech droplets.
The researchers then used a laser to watch what happened to the person's speech droplets after exiting the mouth.
Large droplets shrunk as they partially evaporated and hung in the air.
Based upon the researchers' observations, they concluded, in real life such particles could be inhaled by others and cause new coronavirus infections.
Brazil's Ministry of Health said Wednesday that it recorded 11,385 new cases of the novel coronavirus in a 24-hour period -- the highest number in a single day in the country since the pandemic began.
Authorities there also reported 749 Covid-19 related fatalities.
The country has recorded 188,794 total cases, the sixth-highest in the world, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
A total of 13,149 people in Brazil have been killed by the virus.
The novel coronavirus may never go away and may just join the mix of viruses that kill people around the world every year, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization health emergencies program, said Wednesday.
"This virus just may become another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away. HIV hasn’t gone away," Ryan said.
"I’m not comparing the two diseases but I think it is important that we’re realistic. I don’t think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear," Ryan added.
With a vaccine, "we may have a shot at eliminating this virus but that vaccine will have to be available, it will have to be highly effective, it will have to be made available to everyone and we’ll have to use it," Ryan said. "This disease may settle into a long-term problem or it may not be."
Yet the future of coronavirus does not have to be all doom and gloom, according to WHO infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove.
"The trajectory of this outbreak is in our hands," Van Kerkhove said during Wednesday's briefing.
"The global community has come together to work in solidarity," Van Kerkhove said. "We have seen countries bring this virus under control. We have seen countries use public health measures."
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus echoed Van Kerkhove's sentiments on Wednesday and added, "We should all contribute to stop this pandemic."
Children under the age of 14 were allowed to go outside on the street on Wednesday for the first time since the Turkish government announced a lockdown for the age group in early April.
The children were allowed out for four hours, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. local time.
Turkey has opted for an age-specific lockdown prohibiting people over the age 65 and below the age of 20 from leaving their homes. People in the 15 to 20 age group will be allowed out on Friday.
Turkey started slowly lifting some restrictions on Monday.
The European Commission president on Wednesday outlined a plan to fund European recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, while warning that "we will not just go back to business as usual soon."
“We have had economic slowdowns before but we have never had an economic shutdown like the last three months,” President Ursula Von der Leyen said during an address to the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday.
The recovery instrument will be focused on those member states who have been most affected and where needs are the greatest, the European Union’s top leader said, adding that the money for the recovery plan will be on top of the existing EU budget and will also be managed through rules of the budget.
That will give European lawmakers full scrutiny over how the money is managed and spent. Parliamentarians expressed concern last week over using rules where the Parliament would only “be informed” of decisions made on the recovery funds.
Von der Leyen did not mention exact numbers, but said she wants to present an “ambitious” relaunch plan for Europe.
In the plan presented by the EU leader, recovery will be financed across three pillars:
- The bulk of the money will be spent in the first pillar which will, “focus on supporting Member States to recover, repair and come out stronger from the crisis”
- Pillar two is for “kick-starting the economy.” The aim, the Commission hopes, is to make Europe more strategically resilient in key industries such as in the pharmaceutical sector.
- The third pillar will bolster areas that have been critical to the bloc’s response such as the RescEU fund which has delivered humanitarian aid to EU member states as well as countries like the Central African Republic.
Belgium will move forward with the second phase of its reopening plan on May 18, when some school classes for primary and secondary students will resume and museums will be reopened under certain conditions, the prime minister announced Wednesday.
"We have decided that by May 18, museums and cultural facilities, such as historic buildings, will be able to open their doors again if they set up an online or telephone ticketing system and if they take the necessary steps to avoid the effects of crowds inside their establishment," Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said.
Wilmes also announced that some other services, such as hairdressers or beauticians, could also reopen but only through appointments and the mandatory use of masks for both the customers and staff. Local authorities might also choose to reopen markets with a maximum of 50 food stalls.
Most shops opened across Belgium on Monday.
Sporting events have been suspended until July 11. There is still no reopening date for restaurants and bars.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested negative for coronavirus in three separate exams that were released to the public on Wednesday afternoon.
Supreme Court Justice Ricardo Lewandowski released the test results.
The three tests were administered between March 12 and March 17 after Bolsonaro returned from a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump in Florida and many in his entourage tested positive.
The release of the exams brings an end to a prolonged standoff in which Bolsonaro had refused to make tests public despite repeated legal rulings. The first request came from Brazilian newspaper Estado de S. Paulo and made its way up in the courts.
In the three tests released on Wednesday, Bolsonaro uses code names, but the ID numbers match his.
Bolsonaro handed over the tests to the Supreme Court.
Italy's Serie A soccer clubs held a vote Wednesday to resume the season starting on June 13, pending government approval.
A statement from the league said games would only resume “in accordance with the decisions of the Government and in compliance with the medical protocols to protect players and all involved personnel.”
This announcement follows Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora’s declaration at the House of Representatives today, which confirmed that the government and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) have agreed to allow the league to resume training starting May 18.
“If the championship resumes, as we all hope, it will only be if we keep everyone safe, I have always said this from the first day,” Spadafora said.
Spadafora added that “in the case that a player is positive, the team needs to be in quarantine for 14 days.”
France recorded another 83 fatalities due to coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the country's death toll to more than 27,000, according to a statement from the country's health ministry.
The country has recorded more than 178,000 cases of Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.