(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
U.S. to scrutinize WHO Wuhan report; join COVID programme
The U.S. administration is looking forward to scrutinizing data included in a World Health Organization (WHO) report released on Tuesday that said the COVID-19 virus did not originate in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. The head of a WHO-led team investigating the origins of COVID-19 said bats remained a likely source and that transmission of the virus via frozen food was a possibility that warranted further investigation.
He ruled out a lab leak.
Separately, a U.S. official told a WHO meeting on Tuesday that the United States would join a programme to boost COVID-19 testing, diagnostics and vaccines as officials urged it to increase financing for a global response to the pandemic.
Two new variants found in England under investigation
Two new COVID-19 variants, one of which has been classified as a “concern”, have been identified in England with some similarities to the South African and Brazilian variants, a government advisory scientific committee said on Tuesday.
The new variants, first identified in Bristol and Liverpool, have the E484K mutation, which occurs on the spike protein of the virus, which is the same change as has been seen in the South African and Brazilian variants that have caused international concern.
Australia’s Victoria state considers N95 masks for quarantine hotels
The Australian state of Victoria is considering making N95 masks mandatory for quarantine hotels and will also ban nebuliser machines for inhaling medication at them, after a cluster of three cases was linked to a hotel.
Victoria state chief health officer Brett Sutton said the working hypothesis was the new cases came from “an exposure event that involved a medical device called a nebuliser and it vaporises medication or liquid into a fine mist”. The mist can remain suspended in the air for several minutes, Sutton said.
Are two masks better than one?
When it comes to protecting yourself against new coronavirus variants, two masks may be better than one. But doctors, as well as public health professionals, say any protection is better than none.
“The right kind of mask is one that is worn consistently over the nose and mouth whenever you are in a public space,” said Dr Matt Binnicker, president of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology. “At this point, we should focus more on achieving that goal than worrying about double-masking.”
Common asthma drug cuts hospitalization risk, recovery time
A commonly used asthma treatment appears to reduce the need for hospitalizations as well as recovery time for COVID-19 patients if given within seven days of symptoms appearing, researchers at the University of Oxford said on Tuesday. The findings were made following a mid-stage study of the steroid budesonide, sold as Pulmicort by AstraZeneca Plc and also used for treating smoker’s lung.
The 28-day study of 146 patients suggested that inhaled budesonide reduced the risk of urgent care or hospitalization by 90% when compared with usual care, Oxford University said.
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