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Seven new locally transmitted coronavirus cases have been recorded in New Zealand, as the country attempts to contain a new outbreak after weeks of being virus free.
According to Ashley Bloomfield, the country's Director-General of Health, six of the new cases were related to a known cluster in Auckland, while the origins of one case remain under investigation -- although he was confident that case would also linked to the same cluster.
The total number of cases related to the Auckland cluster stands at 37, Bloomfield said.
Fifty-four close contacts of those infected have been moved to quarantine centers. So far, 24 of them have tested positive for the coronavirus.
It remains unclear where the latest outbreak originated. New Zealand Minister of Health Chris Hipkins said the country has not seen "any positive tests from our border and managed isolation facilities over the last few days, and genome sequencing does not match any of the known cases in these facilities."
Testing of borders staff -- those who work at managed isolation centers, airports, and maritime staff -- has been carried out in a bid to find out where the virus may have come from, after local transmission was stamped out for 102 days earlier this year.
Since August 12, New Zealand has implemented an aggressive testing policy, completing 49,780 tests in three days. On Friday alone, 23,846 tests were processed.
Human challenge trials are “unnecessary, uninformative and unethical,” a former professor at Harvard Medical School said Friday.
Also known as controlled infection trials, human challenge involves the intentional exposure of participants to a virus to allow more rapid assessment of a vaccine’s efficacy.
“Basically, it's treating (people) like laboratory animals,” William Haseltine told CNN.
The United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is working to create a strain of coronavirus that could be used in human challenge trials of a Covid-19 vaccine, although there are no plans to do so, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier Friday.
Haseltine said such trials are typically only necessary when a virus is not “raging,” and the coronavirus is currently in widespread circulation.
He added that participants would likely be mainly healthy, young people, so the trials would not yield information about those most at risk for serious illness.
“Are we really ready to infect people with live virus that can kill them?” Haseltine said.
China's National Health Commission (NHC) reported eight locally transmitted virus cases in the previous 24 hours, according to a statement released Saturday.
Seven cases were found in the western region of Xinjiang, where authorities have been tackling a recent outbreak, while one was detected in the southern province of Guangdong.
The NHC also recorded 14 new imported cases.
In China, asymptomatic cases are recorded separately to the official count. According to the NHC statement, 20 asymptomatic cases were found on Friday.
The total number of recorded infections across mainland China now stands at 84,808, according to the NHC.
In the early days of the pandemic, many people came together to help each other, connecting over socially distant dinners and reaching out for video calls with friends they hadn't talked to in months.
But this international crisis continues, and Americans are having trouble adjusting to the strain of a new reality.
New psychological data taken during the pandemic shows mental health in the United States is languishing, according to data reported this week as part of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Suicidal ideation is up among young people since last year, with as many as one in four people ages 18 through 24 having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days preceding the survey, according to the report, in which researchers surveyed 5,412 adults in the US between June 24 and 30.
In the general US population, the CDC reported that 11% of adults surveyed had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days before they completed the survey. Among those identifying as Black or Hispanic, the numbers were worse: 19% of Hispanics reported suicidal ideation and 15% of Blacks reported suicidal thoughts.
The results reflect a nation increasingly on edge. The number of Americans reporting anxiety symptoms is three times the number at this same time last year, the CDC said.
While the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that people who have recovered from Covid-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to three months, the agency said in a statement to CNN that does not mean that they are immune to reinfection.
Last week, the agency updated its guidance on who should quarantine to say: "People who have tested positive for Covid-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again. People who develop symptoms again within three months of their first bout of Covid-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.
In a statement emailed to CNN on Friday, a CDC spokesperson said the guidance is “based on the latest science about COVID-19 showing that people can continue to test positive for up to three months after diagnosis and not be infectious to others.”
Yet "this science does not imply a person is immune to reinfection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the 3 months following infection. The latest data simply suggests that retesting someone in the 3 months following initial infection is not necessary unless that person is exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19 and the symptoms cannot be associated with another illness.”
The statement noted that people with Covid-19 should be isolated for at least 10 days after showing symptoms and until one day after their fever subsides without the use of fever-reducing medications.
"There have been more than 15 international and US-based studies recently published looking at length of infection, duration of viral shed, asymptomatic spread and risk of spread among various patient groups," the statement said. "Researchers have found that the amount of live virus in the nose and throat drops significantly soon after Covid-19 symptoms develop. Additionally, the duration of infectiousness in most people with Covid-19 is no longer than 10 days after symptoms begin and no longer than 20 days in people with severe illness or those who are severely immunocompromised."
The statement added that CDC will continue to closely monitor the evolving science for information that would warrant reconsideration of these recommendations.
Brazil reported 50,644 new Covid-19 cases, and 1,060 deaths in the past 24 hours, the country’s health ministry said Friday.
The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 3,275,520, including 106,523 deaths, according to the ministry’s data.
São Paulo state reported 11,667 new cases and 289 new deaths on Friday, down from 19,274 and 455 the day before.
Some context: São Paulo has been the state hardest hit by coronavirus in Brazil, with 686,122 total confirmed cases and 26,613 confirmed deaths.
South Africa has reported a sharp drop in crime during the first months of Covid-19 lockdown.
Police data from April 1-June 30 shows crimes such as murder down 35.8%, sexual offenses down 39.7%, and common robbery down 49.8% compared to the same period last year.
The data reflects when the country was on level five, level four lockdown and also crimes that took place during the first month of level three lockdown.
"Indeed, the statistics we will release today, paint a never seen before ‘rosy’ picture of a peaceful South Africa experiencing a 'crime holiday.' Ladies and Gentlemen, of course we know that the decreased crime levels were impacted largely by the fact that South Africans heeded the call to STAY AT HOME!" Police Minister Bheki Cele told reporters in Pretoria on Friday.
Cele added that the ban an alcohol also contributed to lowering crime.
The Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) will postpone all fall sport competition and championships due to “uncertainly surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Football, men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer and volleyball are all impacted by the postponement.
Football-playing schools will be able to play up to “four non-conference scheduled games” if approved by the NCAA. The conference's board of presidents also asked conference members to develop plans for competition in the spring semester for sports effected by the decision.
“After careful deliberation, weighing all the factors as presented, and given the current uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, the OVC Board of Presidents voted to postpone the Conference’s fall sports to the spring,” said Beth DeBauche, OVC commissioner in a statement issued on the conference website. “While we understand there are many student-athletes, families, and communities that are disappointed by the lack of Conference competition this fall, and we deeply share that disappointment; it is the OVC’s ardent intention to ensure seasons postponed are not seasons canceled if the facts support it.”
Spring competition plans will be revealed at a later date.