September 25 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Joshua Berlinger, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0458 GMT (1258 HKT) September 26, 2020
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1:43 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Helsinki Airport deploys sniffer dogs to detect Covid-19

From CNN's Mitch McCluskey in Atlanta

Sniffer dogs react with trainer Susanna Paavilainen at the Helsinki airport in Vantaa, Finland, on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.
Sniffer dogs react with trainer Susanna Paavilainen at the Helsinki airport in Vantaa, Finland, on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Lehtikuva via AP

A group of sniffer dogs trained to detect Covid-19 have begun working at Helsinki Airport in Finland in an effort to identify those who have contracted the virus.

“We are among the pioneers. As far as we know no other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against Covid-19,” airport director Ulla Lettijeff said in a statement. “This might be an additional step forward on the way to beating Covid-19.”

Finnish start-up Wise Nose has trained a total of 10 dogs, which will work in shifts of four to sniff out coronavirus.

The process involves those being tested swiping their skin with a test wipe and dropping it into a cup, which is then given to the dog that sniffs it. The dog and its handler are held in a separate booth during the test. If the test result is positive, the individual will be directed to a health information point inside the airport.

All of the tests are processed anonymously, Helsinki Airport said.

The dogs can smell the virus with almost 100% certainty and can identify the virus days before the symptoms have started, the airport said, citing preliminary tests conducted by a research group at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Helsinki.

"We have solid experience in training disease related scent detection dogs. It was fantastic to see how fast the dogs took to the new smell," said Anna Hielm-Björkman, a University of Helsinki clinical instructor leading the research group.
12:54 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Countries should meet these five criteria before easing lockdowns, study says. Many aren't even close

From CNN's Emma Reynolds

Countries should not ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions until they meet five criteria -- and many nations are not even close, according to a new analysis published in The Lancet medical journal.

The research, published Thursday, said that the prerequisites for easing Covid-19 measures are:

  1. Knowledge of infection status
  2. Community engagement
  3. Adequate public health capacity
  4. Adequate health system capacity
  5. Border controls

The authors looked at nine high-income countries and territories that have started to relax restrictions -- Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, Norway, Spain and the UK. They found that many governments had failed to meet the criteria necessary to avoid new waves of infection, as seen in Spain, Germany and the UK.

"The evidence is clear. If we are getting a resurgence of disease, of numbers of cases, then they opened up too early, it's sort of axiomatic," co-author Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told CNN.

The study also found that an effective find, test, trace, isolate, support system is needed to safely reopen. "No country does it perfectly, actually ... England does it particularly badly. Spain and France don't do terribly well either," said McKee.

Read the full story:

12:02 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Key model now projects more than 371,000 US Covid-19 deaths by Jan. 1 -- 7,000 fewer than previous prediction

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

An influential coronavirus model has updated its projection to 371,509 deaths by Jan. 1 -- a drop of about 7,000 deaths from projections about a week ago.

The model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine is also predicting 3,000 coronavirus deaths a day by the end of the year. 

The forecast is projecting 2.5 million global deaths by Jan. 1, but that number drops to 1.8 million if 95% of the world’s population wore masks, researchers said.

When factoring in mask usage by 95% of the US population, the number of cumulative deaths drop to 275,000 by Jan. 1, saving nearly 100,000 lives between September and late December, according to the model. However, national mask use is closer to 48%, researchers said, making it doubtful the US will be able to significantly drop the death toll.

Twelve states are now seeing mask usage rates above 50% -- California, Washington, Colorado, Texas, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, IHME said.

9:47 p.m. ET, September 24, 2020

Mexico's Covid-19 death toll surpasses 75,000

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes and Marlon Sorto in Atlanta

Mexico’s Health Ministry reported 490 new Covid-19 deaths on Thursday, raising the country’s death toll to 75,439.

The ministry also reported 5,408 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the nationwide total to 715,457.

Mexico’s Covid-19 death toll is the second highest in Latin America, following only that of Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University.

CNN is tracking worldwide coronavirus cases:

9:10 p.m. ET, September 24, 2020

Trump's decision to withdraw from WHO will hurt the US, director-general says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization will hurt the United States, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in an interview with Time posted Thursday.

“Withdrawing from WHO actually hurts the US, because being part of WHO is not just to help those who need support,” said Tedros. “The US also benefits from being a member of WHO.” 

Tedros told Time that when he first heard that the United States was withdrawing from WHO, he didn’t believe it. He said he had a “very cordial” conversation with US President Donald Trump on March 23, in which there was no hint that the US was planning a withdrawal. 

“Even now, I believe that the US administration doesn't have any good reason to withdraw from WHO,” said Tedros. “And that’s my strong position. No good reason.”

Tedros said the consequences of the decision are still unclear.

“I don't see the membership or the relationship with the US as a financial transaction. It's not the money which matters. It's actually the global leadership of the US,” Tedros said.

He noted that when battling the coronavirus pandemic, nations are stronger together.

“One of the impacts which may be visible is, you know, the global solidarity is weak. Major global powers are not working together,” Tedros said.

9:02 p.m. ET, September 24, 2020

CDC's ensemble forecast now projects up to 226,000 US Covid-19 deaths by Oct. 17

From CNN’s Ben Tinker

An ensemble forecast published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 214,000 to 226,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by Oct. 17.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published Sept. 17, projected up to 218,000 coronavirus deaths by Oct. 10.

At least 202,344 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

9:00 p.m. ET, September 24, 2020

Here's where things stand with coronavirus in the UK

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonca in London

The United Kingdom has recorded 6,634 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours -- the highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic, Public Health England tweeted on Thursday. 

At least 416,363 total cases have now been confirmed across the country, Public Health England tweeted. 

“This is the highest number recorded and a stark warning for us all. The signals are clear. Positivity rates are rising across all age groups and we’re continuing to see spikes in rates of admission to hospital and critical care," said Yvonne Doyle, the medical director at Public Health England.

Forty more fatalities were reported on Thursday, bringing the total death toll to at least 41,902.  

9:12 p.m. ET, September 24, 2020

More than 80% of Covid-19 cases in Africa could be asymptomatic, WHO warns

From CNN's Bethlehem Feleke in Nairobi

While confirmed Covid-19 cases and death rates remain low in many African countries, early results in some communities suggest a higher number of infections than those reported, said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa.

"Preliminary analysis suggests that over 80% of cases in Africa are asymptomatic," she said during a press briefing Thursday. 

The swift action of governments on the continent to impose early lockdowns, and the public's general adherence to movement restrictions, created a "window of opportunity" to keep cases low, Moeti said. Since many countries have begun easing restrictions and opening economies back up, there has been an uptick of cases.

But experts are unable to conclusively explain the low death rates on the continent. "We don't know the exact factors that are causing it, we just know that some of the factors are more probable," said Dr. Sam Agatre Okuonzi from Uganda.

The panel described probable factors such as a majority youthful population, the frequency with which many Africans spend outdoors and the less movement and interaction in rural areas, as potential explanations. 

Another potential factor scientists are studying is the level of potential cross-immunity that has developed from exposure to previous coronaviruses. 

"Research is required to characterize the disease and the pandemic in Africa and this work is just beginning," Okuonzi said.