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Archive for March 17th, 2020

“Works with Chromebook” officially launched for certified Chrome OS accessories – Chrome Unboxed

March 17th, 2020

How Long Will Coronavirus Live on Surfaces or in the Air Around You? – The New York Times

March 17th, 2020

The coronavirus can live for three days on some surfaces, like plastic and steel, new research suggests. Experts say the risk of consumers getting infected from touching those materials is still low, although they offered additional warnings about how long the virus survives in air, which may have important implications for medical workers.

The new study, published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, also suggests that the virus disintegrates over the course of a day on cardboard, lessening the worry among consumers that deliveries will spread the virus during this period of staying and working from home.

When the virus becomes suspended in droplets smaller than 5 micrometers — known as aerosols — it can stay suspended for about a half-hour, researchers said, before drifting down and settling on surfaces where it can linger for hours. The finding on aerosol in particular is inconsistent with the World Health Organization’s position that the virus is not transported by air.

The virus lives longest on plastic and steel, surviving for up to 72 hours. But the amount of viable virus decreases sharply over this time. It also does poorly on copper, surviving four hours. On cardboard, it survives up to 24 hours, which suggests packages that arrive in the mail should have only low levels of the virus — unless the delivery person has coughed or sneezed on it or has handled it with contaminated hands.

That’s true in general. Unless the people who handle any of these materials are sick, the actual risk of getting infected from any of these materials is low, experts said.

“Everything at the grocery store and restaurant takeout containers and bags could in theory have infectious virus on them,” said Dr. Linsey Marr, who was not a member of the research team but is an expert in the transmission of viruses by aerosol at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. “We could go crazy discussing these ‘what-ifs’ because everyone is a potential source, so we have to focus on the biggest risks.”

If people are concerned about the risk, they could wipe down packages with disinfectant wipes and wash their hands, she said.

It is unclear why cardboard should be a less hospitable environment for the virus than plastic or steel, but it may be explained by the absorbency or fibrous quality of the packaging compared with the other surfaces.

That the virus can survive and stay infectious in aerosols is also important for health care workers.

For weeks experts have maintained that the virus is not airborne. But in fact, it can travel through the air and stay suspended for that period of about a half-hour.

The virus does not linger in the air at high enough levels to be a risk to most people who are not physically near an infected person. But the procedures health care workers use to care for infected patients are likely to generate aerosols.

“Once you get a patient in with severe pneumonia, the patients need to be intubated,” said Dr. Vincent Munster, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who led the study. “All these handlings might generate aerosols and droplets.”

Health care workers might also collect those tiny droplets and larger ones on their protective gear when working with infected patients. They might resuspend these big and small droplets into the air when they take off this protective gear and become exposed to the virus then, Dr. Marr cautioned.

A study that is being reviewed by experts bears out this fear. And another study, published March 4 in JAMA, also indicates that the virus is transported by air. That study, based in Singapore, found the virus on a ventilator in the hospital room of an infected patient, where it could only have reached via the air.

Dr. Marr said the World Health Organization has so far referred to the virus as not airborne, but that health care workers should wear gear, including respirator masks, assuming that it is.

“Based on aerosol science and recent findings on flu virus,” she said, “surgical masks are probably insufficient.”

Dr. Marr said based on physics, an aerosol released at a height of about six feet would fall to the ground after 34 minutes. The findings should not cause the general public to panic, however, because the virus disperses quickly in the air.

“It sounds scary,” she said, “but unless you’re close to someone, the amount you’ve been exposed to is very low.”

Dr. Marr compared this to cigarette smoke or a foggy breath on a frosty day. The closer and sooner another person is to the exhaled smoke or breath, the more of a whiff they might catch; for anyone farther than a few feet away, there is too little of the virus in the air to be any danger.

To assess the ability of the virus to survive in the air, the researchers created what Dr. Munster described as “bizarre experiments done under very ideal controllable experimental conditions.” They used a rotating drum to suspend the aerosols, and provided temperature and humidity levels that closely mimic hospital conditions.

In this setup, the virus survived and stayed infectious for up to three hours, but its ability to infect drops sharply over this time, he said.

He said the aerosols might only stay aloft for about 10 minutes, but Dr. Marr disagreed with that assessment, and said they could stay in the air for three times longer. She also said that the experimental setup might be less comfortable for the virus than a real-life setting.

For example, she said, the researchers used a relative humidity of 65 percent. “Many, but not all viruses, have shown that they survive worst at this level of humidity,” she said. They do best at lower or much higher humidity. The humidity in a heated house is less than 40 percent, “at which the virus might survive even longer,” she said.

Mucus and respiratory fluids might also allow the virus to survive longer than the laboratory fluids the researchers used for their experiments.

Other experts said the paper’s findings illustrate the urgent need for more information about the virus’ ability to survive in aerosols, and under different conditions.

“We need more experiments like this, in particular, extending the experimental sampling time for aerosolized virus beyond three hours and testing survival under different temperature and humidity conditions,” said Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, an environmental health sciences expert at Columbia University.

Dr. Munster noted that, overall, the new coronavirus seems no more capable of surviving for long periods than its close cousins SARS and MERS, which caused previous epidemics. That suggests there are other reasons, such as transmission by people who don’t have symptoms, for its ability to cause a pandemic.

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Coronavirus can survive on surfaces and in air for hours, study says – The Japan Times

March 17th, 2020

The novel coronavirus can survive on surfaces or in the air for several hours, according to a U.S.-government funded study published Tuesday.

Scientists found that the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease had similar levels of viability outside the body to its predecessor that caused SARS.

This means that factors like greater transmission between people with no symptoms might be why the current pandemic is far greater than the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003.

The new paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and carried out by scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), University of California, Los Angeles and Princeton.

The new coronavirus was detectable for up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel, and for up to 24 hours on cardboard.

The team used a nebulizer to simulate a person coughing or sneezing, and found that the virus was detectable for three hours in the air.

The study was first posted on a medical pre-print website last week before it was peer-reviewed, and attracted much attention, including some criticism from scientists who said that it may have overstated the airborne threat.

The virus is predominantly transmitted by respiratory droplets and in this form it is viable for only a few seconds after a person coughs or sneezes.

Critics questioned whether a nebulizer accurately mimicked a human cough or sneeze.

The team behind the NEJM study performed similar tests on the SARS virus, finding the two viruses behave similarly.

But their similar viability fails to explain why the novel coronavirus pandemic has infected close to 200,000 people and caused almost 8,000 deaths, while the SARS epidemic infected about 8,000 and killed nearly 800.

“This indicates that differences in the epidemiologic characteristics of these viruses probably arise from other factors, including high viral loads in the upper respiratory tract and the potential for persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 to shed and transmit the virus while asymptomatic,” wrote the researchers.

SARS-CoV-2 is the technical name for the new coronavirus.

The findings affirm guidance from public health professionals regarding social distancing, avoiding touching the face, covering your cough or sneeze, and frequently disinfecting objects using cleaning sprays or wipes.

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Guide: PS5 Deep Dive Update – Dates, Times, and Where to Watch – Push Square

March 17th, 2020

GitHub’s new mobile app is now available on iOS and Android – The Verge

March 17th, 2020

‘Cold weather kills coronavirus’ and 13 other COVID-19 myths – KELOLAND.com

March 17th, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) – The COVID-19 outbreak is a global pandemic, and with that comes a lot of false information on the internet.

There are many myths about COVID-19 that have been circulating through social media. Here are some of the most common ones, according to the World Health Organization.

Myth #1: Cold weather kills novel coronavirus

Truth: The CDC and the WHO have said this from the start: the most effective way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is with frequent handwashing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. The WHO says there is “no reason to believe cold weather can kill the new coronavirus,” or other diseases, for that matter. 

Myth #2: COVID-19 cannot be transmitted in hotter, more humid climates

Truth: Protective measures, like proper handwashing and social distancing, need to be taken no matter where you live. COVID-19 can be transmitted anywhere, regardless of how hot or humid the air is. 

Myth #3: Taking a hot bath prevents you from getting COVID-19

Truth: This myth has been stemming from the false idea that cold and hot temperatures can kill the virus. Just like the cold weather and hot and humid climate myths, this is not true. Your body temperature stays relatively stable even when you take an extremely hot bath. This just leaves you at risk for a burn. Still, the best way to prevent getting COVID-19 is to wash your hands often. This prevents viruses on your hands from infecting you when you touch your face.

Myth #4: Coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquito bites

Truth: As temperatures continue to warm as we dive into spring, mosquitoes will become more common again in Western Massachusetts. That typically brings a risk of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus, but the increasing population of mosquitoes does not create another channel in which you can get COVID-19. From the WHO, “there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes.” This is because the new coronavirus is spread primarily through droplets when someone with the coronavirus sneezes or coughs. This is why social distancing and frequent hand washing is so important. 

Myth #5: Hand dryers are effective in killing the new coronavirus 

Truth: The heat from a hand dryer alone is not enough to kill the new coronavirus. However, in combination with washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, this method is very effective. You can also dry your hands after using paper towels, or instead use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 

Myth #6: UV lamps kill the new coronavirus

Truth: It’s too soon to tell whether UV light is an effective way to kill the new coronavirus, and the World Health Organization does not suggest its use. It should especially not be used on hands or your body as it can cause irritation. UV light has been known to kill the flu virus, however.

Myth #7: Thermal scanners can detect everyone who is infected with coronavirus

Truth: Thermal scanners, like thermometers, can detect people who have a higher-than-normal body temperature due to infection from COVID-19. But not everyone who is infected with the coronavirus has a fever yet. According to the WHO, “it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.”

Myth #8: Spraying alcohol and chlorine all over yourself kills the coronavirus

Truth: This will not cure you of COVID-19 if it has already entered your body. Spraying alcohol and chlorine all over your body can be harmful if it gets into your eyes or mouth. The World Health Organization says they both can be used to disinfect surfaces, however. 

Myth #9: Getting a pneumonia vaccine protects against COVID-19

Truth: The WHO says, “Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.” COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, yes, but it requires its own vaccine, which is in the testing phase right now. 

Myth #10: Rinsing your nose and gargling with saline solution helps prevent COVID-19 infection

Truth: The World Health Organization says there is some evidence that regularly rinsing your nose with saline can help you get over the common cold more quickly. But this does not apply to COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. The same applies to gargling with a saline solution. 

Myth #11: Eating garlic helps prevent COVID-19 infection

Truth: There is no scientific evidence that eating garlic prevents you from being infected with the novel coronavirus. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, it does have some antimicrobial properties

Myth #12: The coronavirus only affects older people, not younger ones

Truth: The World Health Organization says people of all ages need to take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19. The best ways are frequent hand washing, the use of hand sanitizer, and social distancing. However, people who are older are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the new coronavirus. People with preexisting conditions are also at an increased risk for more severe complications, such as people with heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. 

Myth #13: Antibiotics prevent and treat COVID-19

Truth: Antibiotics are used to fight bacteria, not viruses, which is what COVID-19 is. This myth may have stemmed from the fact some people who are hospitalized for coronavirus have received antibiotics, but that’s because bacterial “co-infections” are possible with COVID-19, according to the WHO. The antibiotic does not treat the virus itself. 

Myth #14: There are medicines to prevent and treat coronavirus 

Truth: The World Health Organization is helping with research and development efforts to find treatments for coronavirus, however, they are still under investigation, and must be tested through clinical trials. Right now, there is no medication recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19. You can use medication to relieve symptoms, but those with severe symptoms from coronavirus should seek help from a medical professional.

(Credit: WHO)

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Coronavirus: Canadian employment insurance to be expanded in new stimulus package – Global News

March 17th, 2020

As the Canadian government continues to respond to the novel coronavirus outbreak, a new stimulus package set to be unveiled Wednesday will include expansions on employment insurance, Global News has learned.

The economic package, which is expected to be worth between $20-$30 billion, will be presented by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and will require a “pared down” version of parliament to be recalled so that all parties can agree after a suspension in proceedings was announced last week.

The prime minister has been meeting with key cabinet to ministers to develop the plan over the last few days.

READ MORE: Live updates: Coronavirus in Canada

Global News has also learned that the deadline for filing income tax returns for individuals and businesses will be extended by one month to June 1 and July 31, respectively.

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The economic measures come amid the prime minister’s announcement on Monday to close the Canadian borders to most foreign nationals except for Americans, Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that details of the spending package would arrive quickly, and that further measures would be implemented in the coming days to shield the Canadian economy from the blow of the coronavirus pandemic.

1:09Coronavirus outbreak: Federal government says it will help workers with no EI benefits

Coronavirus outbreak: Federal government says it will help workers with no EI benefits

Last Wednesday, Trudeau announced that one-week waiting periods for EI sickness benefits would be lifted for those in quarantine or self-isolation. The EI work-sharing program would also receive a boost of $12 million, which will be used to supplement work income when an employer needs to cut hours over a business’ downturn.

However, the measures announced have prompted further calls for expanded support and coverage on who is able to receive EI.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Many not eligible for EI sickness benefits, experts say

In an interview with Global News, political economist and senior researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Ricardo Tranjan said that the government’s actions was “a good overall policy,” but expressed his concern on which Canadians might be left behind.

View link »

According to his research, only 67 per cent of unemployed workers who contributed to EI were eligible for benefits in 2017.

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To date, the virus has infected nearly 200,000 and killed close to 8,000 people worldwide.

In Canada, 556 cases have been confirmed, as well as a further 5 deaths.

— With files from the Canadian Press and Global News’ Mike LeCouteur, Kerri Breen

View link »

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Cold weather kills coronavirus’ and 13 other COVID-19 myths – KHON2

March 17th, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) – The COVID-19 outbreak is a global pandemic, and with that comes a lot of false information on the internet.

There are many myths about COVID-19 that have been circulating through social media. Here are some of the most common ones, according to the World Health Organization.

Myth #1: Cold weather kills novel coronavirus

Truth: The CDC and the WHO have said this from the start: the most effective way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is with frequent handwashing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. The WHO says there is “no reason to believe cold weather can kill the new coronavirus,” or other diseases, for that matter. 

Myth #2: COVID-19 cannot be transmitted in hotter, more humid climates

Truth: Protective measures, like proper handwashing and social distancing, need to be taken no matter where you live. COVID-19 can be transmitted anywhere, regardless of how hot or humid the air is. 

Myth #3: Taking a hot bath prevents you from getting COVID-19

Truth: This myth has been stemming from the false idea that cold and hot temperatures can kill the virus. Just like the cold weather and hot and humid climate myths, this is not true. Your body temperature stays relatively stable even when you take an extremely hot bath. This just leaves you at risk for a burn. Still, the best way to prevent getting COVID-19 is to wash your hands often. This prevents viruses on your hands from infecting you when you touch your face.

[embedded content]

Myth #4: Coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquito bites

Truth: As temperatures continue to warm as we dive into spring, mosquitoes will become more common again. That typically brings a risk of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus, but the increasing population of mosquitoes does not create another channel in which you can get COVID-19. From the WHO, “there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes.” This is because the new coronavirus is spread primarily through droplets when someone with the coronavirus sneezes or coughs. This is why social distancing and frequent hand washing is so important. 

Myth #5: Hand dryers are effective in killing the new coronavirus 

Truth: The heat from a hand dryer alone is not enough to kill the new coronavirus. However, in combination with washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, this method is very effective. You can also dry your hands after using paper towels, or instead use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 

Myth #6: UV lamps kill the new coronavirus

Truth: It’s too soon to tell whether UV light is an effective way to kill the new coronavirus, and the World Health Organization does not suggest its use. It should especially not be used on hands or your body as it can cause irritation. UV light has been known to kill the flu virus, however.

[embedded content]

Myth #7: Thermal scanners can detect everyone who is infected with coronavirus

Truth: Thermal scanners, like thermometers, can detect people who have a higher-than-normal body temperature due to infection from COVID-19. But not everyone who is infected with the coronavirus has a fever yet. According to the WHO, “it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.”

Myth #8: Spraying alcohol and chlorine all over yourself kills the coronavirus

Truth: This will not cure you of COVID-19 if it has already entered your body. Spraying alcohol and chlorine all over your body can be harmful if it gets into your eyes or mouth. The World Health Organization says they both can be used to disinfect surfaces, however. 

Myth #9: Getting a pneumonia vaccine protects against COVID-19

Truth: The WHO says, “Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.” COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, yes, but it requires its own vaccine, which is in the testing phase right now. 

[embedded content]

Myth #10: Rinsing your nose and gargling with saline solution helps prevent COVID-19 infection

Truth: The World Health Organization says there is some evidence that regularly rinsing your nose with saline can help you get over the common cold more quickly. But this does not apply to COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. The same applies to gargling with a saline solution. 

Myth #11: Eating garlic helps prevent COVID-19 infection

Truth: There is no scientific evidence that eating garlic prevents you from being infected with the novel coronavirus. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, it does have some antimicrobial properties

Myth #12: The coronavirus only affects older people, not younger ones

Truth: The World Health Organization says people of all ages need to take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19. The best ways are frequent hand washing, the use of hand sanitizer, and social distancing. However, people who are older are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the new coronavirus. People with preexisting conditions are also at an increased risk for more severe complications, such as people with heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. 

Myth #13: Antibiotics prevent and treat COVID-19

Truth: Antibiotics are used to fight bacteria, not viruses, which is what COVID-19 is. This myth may have stemmed from the fact some people who are hospitalized for coronavirus have received antibiotics, but that’s because bacterial “co-infections” are possible with COVID-19, according to the WHO. The antibiotic does not treat the virus itself. 

Myth #14: There are medicines to prevent and treat coronavirus 

Truth: The World Health Organization is helping with research and development efforts to find treatments for coronavirus, however, they are still under investigation, and must be tested through clinical trials. Right now, there is no medication recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19. You can use medication to relieve symptoms, but those with severe symptoms from coronavirus should seek help from a medical professional.

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Children and Coronavirus: Research Finds Some Become Seriously Ill – The New York Times

March 17th, 2020

The coronavirus raging around the globe has tended to tread gently with children, who account for the smallest percentage of the tens of thousands of infections identified so far.

Now, the largest study to date of children and the virus has found that while most develop mild or moderate symptoms, a small percentage — especially babies and preschoolers — can become seriously ill.

The study, published online in the journal Pediatrics, looked at more than 2,000 ill children across China, where the pandemic began. It provides a clearer portrait of how the youngest patients are affected by the virus, knowledge that experts say can help influence policies like school closures, hospital preparedness and the deployment of an eventual treatment and vaccine.

The researchers analyzed 2,143 cases of children under 18 that were reported to the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of Feb. 8. Just over a third of those cases were confirmed with laboratory testing. The rest were classified as suspected cases based on the child’s symptoms, chest X-rays, blood tests and whether the child had been exposed to people with coronavirus.

About half of the children had mild symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, cough, congestion and possibly nausea or diarrhea. More than a third — about 39 percent — became moderately sick, with additional symptoms including pneumonia or lung problems revealed by CT scan, but with no obvious shortness of breath. About 4 percent had no symptoms at all.

But there were 125 children — nearly 6 percent— who developed very serious illness, and one 14-year-old boy with confirmed coronavirus infection died, said Shilu Tong, the study’s senior author, who is director of the department of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center. Thirteen of those were considered “critical,” on the brink of respiratory or organ failure. The others were classified as “severe” because they had dire respiratory problems.

“Effectively, what this tells us is that hospitals should prepare for some pediatric patients because we can’t rule out children altogether,” said Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, who was not involved in the study.


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“The main conclusion,” Dr. Murthy continued, “is that children are infected at rates that may be comparable to adults, with severity that’s much less, but that even within the kids, there’s a spectrum of illness and there’s a handful that require more aggressive therapy.”

More than 60 percent of the 125 children who became severely ill or critically ill were age 5 or younger, the study reported. Forty of those were infants, under 12 months old.

Dr. Tong said he believed that younger children were more susceptible to infection because their respiratory systems and other body functions are rapidly developing.

Dr. Andrea Cruz, an associate professor of pediatrics of Baylor College of Medicine and co-author of a commentary about the study, said that preschoolers and babies likely get sicker because of their “immune system immaturity.”

“They haven’t been exposed to viruses before and therefore they can’t mount an effective immune response,” she said in an interview.

Scientists are actively trying to determine why so many children appear to emerge relatively unscathed by the new coronavirus, a pattern that also characterized the earlier outbreaks of the closely-related SARS virus in China and MERS in the Middle East. Cases of children with the new coronavirus infection in Italy, Singapore and South Korea seem to be similar, Dr. Murthy said.

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A theory that is gaining increasing currency is that the receptor or protein in human cells that the viral particles bind to, called the ACE2 receptor, is not expressed as prominently in young children or might be a different shape, Dr. Murthy said.

“It might not be as developed in children as in adults,” he said, which might make it tougher for the spikes on the tiny viral particles to bind and gain entry to the cells so the virus can replicate.

Another theory is that “most kids have healthier lungs” than adults, Dr. Cruz said. Adults have likely been more exposed to pollution over their lifetime and adults with severe coronavirus disease have tended to have underlying health conditions or weakened or aging immune systems.

It’s also possible, experts say, that children’s immune systems don’t rev up to attack the virus as much as adult immune systems do. Doctors have found that some of the serious damage infected adults have endured has been caused not just by the virus itself, but by an aggressive immune response that creates destructive inflammation in the body’s organs.

The new study, while large and included cases across China, not just where the outbreak originated in Wuhan, leaves many unanswered questions. For example, the researchers found that more of the severe and critical cases were in children with suspected — instead of confirmed — coronavirus infection, raising the possibility that other infections wreaked havoc on their bodies, in addition to or possibly even instead of Covid-19.

It’s also unclear whether the United States can expect the relatively small numbers of child cases reported in China or should brace for more.

“The age pyramid in China is really different than the U.S. — they have a lot fewer kids than we do,” said Dr. Cruz, who believes, as other experts do, that large numbers of people with mild or asymptomatic disease have not been recorded because testing was not done in those cases. “You’ve had a lot of under-testing in children because the focus has been on adults. It’s likely we’ve been underestimating the disease burden in kids.”

Answering questions about coronavirus in children could reverberate well beyond the pediatric population. It could shed light why some patients are most at risk. And, said Dr. Murthy, studying the physiology of those who are less affected could help in the development of treatment and a vaccine.

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If You’re Pregnant, Here’s What to Know About the Coronavirus – Healthline

March 17th, 2020

  • Research is limited but experts don’t see evidence that the disease can be passed in utero.
  • Newborns may face risks if they contract the disease after being born.
  • Experts are still learning the best way for women who contract COVID-19 to give birth to minimize the risk of transmission.

One of the biggest concerns about COVID-19, the illness caused by the new 2019 coronavirus, is how the infection affects pregnant women and their unborn children.

Though evidence is extremely limited, early research suggests the virus cannot be transmitted in the womb.

Still, after reports circulated this weekend that a newborn baby in Britain tested positive for COVID-19 moments after being born, it’s clear we need more data about the disease before any conclusions can be made.

Here, we take a look at what we do know and address some of the biggest questions people have about COVID-19 and pregnancy.

One of the biggest findings in preliminary research is that the virus doesn’t appear to pass from mother to fetus in the womb.

Dr. Wei Zhang, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, recently co-authored a study that looked at 9 pregnant women in China diagnosed with COVID-19 who gave birth via C-section.

His research team tested amniotic fluid, cord blood, baby’s throat swab, and breast milk, and didn’t find any evidence that the virus could pass from mom to baby in the womb or through a C-section, Zhang said.

The newborn who recently tested positive in England doesn’t disprove these findings — there’s no information about what kind of preventive measures were taken during delivery or what specimens were tested by the family’s medical teams. It’s unclear how the baby contracted the virus.

Though the virus doesn’t seem to be vertically transmitted, an analysis on 10 newborn babies from mothers with COVID-19 found that the infection does seem to have an adverse effect on newborns — including respiratory distress, thrombocytopenia (a low blood platelet count), and abnormal liver function.

Because of this, health experts agree we need more data to fully assess newborns’ risk of contracting the virus.

It’s too soon to say.

All of the women included in Zhang’s research gave birth via C-section, and the risk linked to vaginal births was not assessed.

Certain viral infections can be passed from mom to baby during delivery, according to Dr. Jessica Madden, a board certified pediatrician, neonatologist, and medical director of Aeroflow Breastpumps.

The flu virus, for example, doesn’t pass to babies during vaginal delivery. Other viruses, like HIV and herpes, can spread through blood and bodily fluids, which makes C-sections a safer choice.

There’s no proof either birth method is safer at this time with COVID-19.

“Currently, one mode of delivery [is] not recommended over another,” Madden said. “I’m under the impression it’s the decision of the OB-GYN and it’s going to be case by case.”

One concern about C-sections is that they require patients to spend more time in the hospital recovering.

“If you increase your hospital stay, you’re probably going to increase your risk of getting coronavirus in the hospital since everyone’s who is admitted will be acutely ill,” said Dr. Brian Levine, a board certified reproductive endocrinologist, OB-GYN, and practice director of CCRM Fertility New York.

Again, data is limited, but one trend observed across pregnant women with COVID-19 is preterm delivery.

In a recent webinar geared toward health professionals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared their findings from evaluating the health data of 34 women from China diagnosed with COVID-19 in the third trimester.

They reported that pregnant women with COVID-19 have a greater risk of delivering prematurely, and on average, give birth around 36 weeks — 4 weeks before the due date.

In more severe cases, COVID-19 may cause pneumonia, which is a concern for pregnant women because already “their lung capacity is already slightly diminished,” said Madden.

If a pregnant woman experiences severely poor oxygenation, the child may be deprived of oxygen which can put them at a higher risk for lasting developmental issues, according to Levine.

Another concern is that COVID-19 often causes a fever.

In the first trimester, elevated body temperature is associated with fetal developmental anomaly.

In the third trimester, a high body temperature can lead to dehydration which can trigger a premature delivery, Levine added.

A pregnant person’s immune system changes after conception so the body won’t reject the fetus.

Because of this shift, pregnant women’s immunity is slightly diminished — that, in general, puts pregnant women at a higher risk for viral infections, according to Madden.

The flu and other respiratory infections are known to cause more severe illnesses in pregnant women, so the novel coronavirus may do the same — but again, we don’t have enough data to know for sure.

That said, the CDC reported that pregnant women aren’t appearing to become any sicker from COVID-19 than non-pregnant women of the same age.

Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, including the mother, will need to be isolated from the newborn until they recover in order to avoid transmitting the virus to the baby, according to Zhang.

The CDC is still advising new moms with COVID-19 to continue to provide breast milk.

Although breast milk doesn’t seem to carry the virus, close contact should be avoided.

“Since direct contact is a confirmed route of transmission, some care needs to be taken to limit the chance of infecting a newborn if they do breastfeed,” Zhang said.

New mothers may need to consider using protective equipment — like masks, gowns, or gloves — or feeding the newborn breast milk via bottle.

Pregnant women should maintain a good line of communication with their OB-GYN, and ask if any appointments can be spaced out or conducted remotely to lower the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus.

If a pregnant woman has a known exposure to someone who’s sick or is experiencing any symptoms, it’s crucial to call their OB-GYN as soon as possible, Madden said.

Hand washing, social distancing, and steering clear of anyone who’s sick can lower the risk of being exposed to the virus.

Madden also recommends that pregnant women diagnosed with COVID-19 avoid at-home births.

A hospital can ensure both the mother and the baby are monitored to ensure the baby isn’t developing symptoms or getting sick.

“I don’t think that can be done in a home setting properly,” Madden said. “In this case, for the well-being of both her and her baby, it’s really essential [to give birth at a hospital].”

Other than that, follow the advice from the CDC. As we learn more, the recommendations will change.

At this point, the data we do have is rather reassuring, said Madden. The virus doesn’t seem to spread through the womb.

All newborns, with the exception of the baby in England, have tested negative for COVID-19.

And though pregnant women are considered an at-risk group, Madden said at this point it doesn’t look like they have an increased risk of complications if they develop COVID-19.

Though research on how COVID-19 impacts pregnancy is limited, health experts say the data we do have is reassuring.

The virus doesn’t seem to spread through the womb.

All newborns, with the exception of a newborn in England, have tested negative for COVID-19.

Pregnant women don’t appear to be any sicker than non-pregnant women of the same age. Still, it’s crucial to follow updates from the CDC — this is a rapidly evolving situation and new information is being shared every day.

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