What you need to know about the coronavirus on Wednesday 27 May

The machines helping hospitals fight coronavirus

The World Health Organization released this assessment yesterday as outbreaks accelerate in several Latin American countries.

Brazil has the largest number of cases outside the United States, Mexico recorded the biggest one-day increases in cases and deaths yesterday and Peru and Chile now have the highest per capita infection rates in the world on a moving average seven days.

“For most countries in the Americas, now is not the time to relax restrictions or scale back on preventive strategies,” the WHO regional director Dr. Carissa Etienne She said. “Now is the time to stay strong, be vigilant and aggressively apply proven public health measures.”
Brazil’s daily mortality rate has become the highest in the world this week, according to a widely used model, who is now projecting that the deaths there will strike 125,000 in early August. As the country’s health crisis grows, controversy is swirling President Jair Bolsonaro, which continues to minimize the risks of the virus while focusing on the financial impact, just like its American counterpart, President Donald Trump, who yesterday banned most travel from Brazil.

You asked. We have replied

Q: What do we not know about coronavirus?

A: Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and medical researcher at Brown University, spent last week testifying before Congress about what we know – and still don’t know – about coronavirus. After explaining the disease to lawmakers, he outlined our understanding of Covid-19 in a Twitter thread that quickly went viral. Things we are still in the dark: the real case mortality rate, what works to cure it, how long immunity lasts and when we could get an effective vaccine. While these are critical knowledge gaps that scientists are working to fill, we know (crucially) how to reduce transmissions and deaths: social distance, testing, isolation and contact tracking, adequate personal protective equipment. We need to continue doing these things to protect ourselves and our communities, says Ranney.
Submit your questions here. Are you a healthcare professional who fights Covid-19? Send us a message on WhatsApp about the challenges you are facing: +1 347-322-0415.


A debate on masks in America underlines the profound political polarization

The simple act of wearing a mask to protect others during a pandemic is now a political and cultural reference point, which underlines the polarization that afflicts every corner of American life, Stephen Collinson writes.
President Trump’s use of the bully’s pulpit to challenge his government’s advice on face coatings has turned into the last ideologically motivated assault of the era on science and civilization. The episode is taking place at a particularly intense moment in the President’s cycle of distortions and distractions. His latest goal: alleged Democrat 2020 rival Joe Biden. In his first in-person interview since home orders began, Biden responded to Trump for deriding his mask, saying the president was a “madman”, whose “macho” behavior cost his life.

How many people have coronavirus? Sometimes, it’s just a guess

Dozens of tests are on the market, but their reliability varies widely. Polymerase chain reaction test (PCR), who are looking for evidence of coronavirus, are usually accurate, but not always.

Some studies are starting to indicate that when patients are seriously ill, the virus replicates deeper into the respiratory system, beyond the range of the swabs used for most tests. And just as false negatives cause headaches to doctors, they can also cause people to make bad decisions when it comes to removing restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19.

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The EU is still divided on coronavirus relief. This could tear it apart

A struggle over how to finance the recovery of the European Union from the pandemic is fueling tensions between the richest and poorest countries. That rift is threatening to delay the region’s economic rebound and unleash political and financial forces that could separate the blockade, Julia Horowitz writes.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is unveiling her proposal to dig Europe out of a historical recession today – a fund for the recovery of the 750 billion euro (826 billion dollars) coronavirus. However, there is still a need to bridge deep divisions between Member States, increasing the risk that aid may be urgently withheld.

Australia has angered China by asking for a coronavirus probe. Now Beijing is taking revenge

It did not take long after Australia’s first requests for an international investigation into the origins of the virus before noises of retaliation came from China. Now, Beijing is targeting its exports, which is a problem. As Australia faces the real prospect of recession, relations with China – its main trading partner by far – are more important than ever, Ben Westcott writes.

Experts argue that Australia is seen as a test case: can a liberal democracy with close trade ties to Beijing’s authoritarian government still maintain an independent foreign policy, which will sometimes be critical of the Chinese Communist Party?

A desperate situation is taking place inside one of the largest brothels in the world

“Because of this coronavirus pandemic, we are in trouble now,” said Nodi, 25. “We have no work.” It is one of nearly 1,500 women and girls and 500 children, enclosed in an acre of 12 acres brothel complex in Daulatdia, Bangladesh, similar to an overcrowded slum.

The site has been blocked since Bangladesh issued a national residence order in late March. Nobody, including clients, is authorized to enter or exit. The government, police and local NGOs are providing some relief for women, but Nodi says they are not getting enough food. “If it continues, the children will starve. We pray that the virus disappears.”

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When is it okay to be with other people? And how close is it too close?

People who have been suffering from coronavirus should stay away from other people until at least three days have passed without fever, have seen symptoms improve and until 10 days have passed since the first time they noticed the symptoms, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in the updated guide. The new recommendations include tips on the use of public transport and driving quotas, as states ease the blockades. Here’s what you need to know:
  • Avoid gathering in groups and, whenever possible, stay out of crowded spaces, especially in transit stations and stops.
  • Consider skipping a row of places between you and the other riders, if possible.
  • Get in and out of buses through the rear doors if possible.
  • Look for social distance instructions or physical guides offered by transit authorities (for example, decals on the floor or signs that indicate where to stay or sit to stay at least 6 feet away from others).
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“Every decision suddenly seems exhausting because we keep looking for the most relevant information and it’s not always there.” – Neuroscientist Daphna Shohamy

What should I eat for dinner? What should I watch on TV? On the podcast, CNN’s medical correspondent, dr. Sanjay Gupta, explores why even small decisions feel more difficult than normal during a pandemic. Listen now.


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