COVID-19: Sunlight Appears to Have "Powerful" Effect on Virus

Source: People's Daily, Xinhua, CGTN, China Daily, Global Times, iFeng, Baidu, AP, CNN, Global  News Agencies, Majdi


Sunlight appears to have "powerful" effect on killing virus, DHS says

Acting US Under Secretary of Science and Technology at DHS Bill Bryan said Thursday that emerging research has shown that solar light appears to have a "powerful" effect on killing the coronavirus.

The virus "dies the quickest in the presence of direct sunlight," Bryan told reporters at the Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

According to a slide shown at the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, the virus has a half life of 18 hours on a surface when it's 70-75 degrees, with 20% humidity and no sunlight. But when the humidity rises to 80% and sunlight increases, the virus' half life drops to two minutes.

Bryan talked about the existence on playground equipment as an example: In the sunlight, the virus would die very quickly, he said, although parts of the equipment in the shade would not be affected in the same way.

These studies may help guide governors in their decisions about what to open and when, Bryan added.

Bryan also said that bleach kills the virus in about five minutes, while isopropyl alcohol takes just 30 seconds.

Top 30 Countries by Infection Density

Here's the latest list of top 30 countries by infection density;  the data is calculated as of 2020-04-24 10:00 Beijing time; the numbers show the number of infected cases in 100,000 people. Countries with population less than 300,000 aren't included. 

A Rush of Local News

On Thursday, the Chinese mainland announced six more COVID-19 cases, two imported and four domestic, according to the National Health Commission. The authority also reported 34 new asymptomatic patients and no new deaths.

COVID19 is likely to be a seasonal epidemic. It has not been found that novel coronavirus has high variability: Chinese CDC research fellow

Some NE Trains Suspended: Some train services connecting Shenyang, NE China's Liaoning Province to cities including Beijing, Changchun, Dalian and Harbin have been temporarily suspended from Apr 21-May21, amid intensive pressure of imported COVID19 cases from Russia.

Beijing: The school resumption date for graduating high school students in Beijing's Chaoyang district will not be affected despite the district being currently classified as a high-risk area for COVID19.

Mudanjiang-Beijing Flights Canceled: All flights between Mudanjiang, a NE Chinese city near the China-Russia border port Suifenhe, and Beijing have been canceled as the port faces mounting pressure from imported COVID19 cases from Russia

Shanghai will increase the annual quota of new car license plates by 40,000 this year to boost the automobile market amid COVID19. It also grants local new-energy vehicle NEV users an extra 5,000 yuan ($707.1) charging subsidy: local authority

China has decided to donate another 30 million U.S. dollars to the World Health Organization (WHO), Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a daily media briefing on Thursday, adding the donation aims at helping the building of developing countries' health systems.

As of Wednesday, over half of the imported coronavirus cases, 823 of 1,616, on the Chinese mainland have recovered, said Mi Feng, a spokesman of the National Health Commission (NHC) at a media briefing on Thursday

A Rush of News

Indonesia will temporarily ban domestic air and sea travel starting Friday. The ban on air travel will be in place until June 1, Novie Riyanto Rahardjo, Transport Ministry's director general of aviation said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the lockdown of Metro Manila to May 15.

Greece is extending coronavirus lockdown measures by a week to May 4. 

Donald Kennedy, the eighth president of Stanford University and former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, died of COVID-19 at the age of 88. He has also served as editor-in-chief of the journal Science.

Donald Kennedy, former president of Stanford University and then commissioner of the U.S. FDA. /courtesy of Stanford News Service

Scotlands First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has indicated therell be no changes to coronavirus restrictions in the short term, warning that a full return to normal may not happen until next year.

Twitter has expanded its ban on coronavirus misinformation to include tweets that spread false and misleading claims about 5G technology and posts that incite people to acts of violence against cell towers, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.

Oil jumped more than 20% on Thursday, accelerating Wednesdays rally, as the Street eyed continued production cuts and rising tensions. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, rose 21.4%, or $2.95, to trade at $16.73 per barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, traded 9.4% higher at $22.29 per barrel.

French President Emmanuel Macron told mayors that school attendance will be voluntary when classes resume, his spokesperson said. Macron said that parents who do not wish to send their children to school would not be obliged to do so. France has outlined a plan to begin reopening schools starting on May 11.

UEFA's Euro 2021 Women's Championship, to be held in England, will be played one year later in July 2022, European soccer's governing body decided at an executive committee meeting. The tournament was moved after UEFA's Euro 2020 men's competition had to be postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The opening match will be held on July 6 with the final on July 31.

Professor Chris Whitty, the British government's chief medical adviser, has warned that social distancing measures in the United Kingdom may have to stay in place for the rest of the year.

South Korea said its economy shrank 1.4 percent during the first three months of the year, the worst contraction since late-2008. 

US Jobless claim filings continued at a historically unprecedented pace last week with 4.4 million new signups for unemployment insurance, bringing the total of the past five weeks to 26.4 million. Those total losses erase all job gains since the Great Recession. The fallout has left roughly 1 in 6 workers without a job, a number that dwarfs the Great Recession's impact on the U.S. labor market. 

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government will allow a partial reopening of the economy on May 1, with travel restrictions eased and some industries allowed to operate under a five-level risk system.

Dubai allowed cafes and restaurants to resume business, and shopping malls to be opened partially from 12 pm until 10 pm, but with a maximum capacity of 30 percent, Dubai's media office announced in a statement. Public transportation services including the metro will resume from April 26.

Google to cut marketing budgets by as much as half, directors warned of hiring freezes. 

Toyota Motor Corp said it expects to gradually resume North American production starting May 4

Hard-Hit Countries/Regions Official Announcements

Note: The news under this section are according to official reports in these countries; the numbers might not necessarily correspond to the data in the Global table, at the top of this article, which is calculated based on Beijing 24 hours time zone at around 10:00 AM. 

The Spanish health ministry said 440 people died in the previous 24 hours, which brought total fatalities to 22,157. That was slightly higher than the previous day when 435 people died. The number of diagnosed cases rose to 213,024 from 208,389 the day before.

The Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain is seen deserted on April 21. Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Singapore's health ministry said it had preliminarily confirmed 1,037 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the Southeast Asian city-state's total infections to 11,178.

Germanys death toll has risen to 5,094, the countrys center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute, said on Thursday. Thats an increase of 215 deaths in the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, the number of new infections remains relatively moderate, with 2,352 cases recorded in 24 hours. Around 3,800 additional patients have recovered from the disease.

Japan's health ministry recorded 422 new infections and 10 additional deaths on Wednesday. That brings the total number of reported infections in the country to 12,631, including 712 cases linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The total death toll is now 300, including 13 fatalities related to the ship.

France: The deaths toll rose by 516 to 21,856, the health ministry said in a statement. The 2.4 percent increase is well below the more than four percent rate seen last week.

Turkey's confirmed cases increased by 3,116 in the past 24 hours, and 115 more people have died, taking the death toll to 2,491, according to Health Ministry data. The total number of cases in the country now stands at 101,790.

Italy:  Deaths climbed by 464, against 437 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, but the daily tally of new infections declined to 2,646 from 3,370. The total death toll is now at 25,549. There are 189,973 confirmed cases.

Britain's death toll in hospitals rose by 616 to 18,738 in the 24 hours to 16:00 GMT on April 22, the health ministry said. "As of 9 am 23 April, 583,496 tests have concluded, with 23,560 tests on 22 April. 425,821 people have been tested of which 138,078 tested positive," the ministry said. "As of 5 pm on 22 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 18,738 have sadly died."

Half of all coronavirus deaths in Europe in nursing homes - WHO

The World Health Organization said Thursday that up to half of all coronavirus deaths across Europe have been in nursing homes, calling it an "unimaginable tragedy".

Speaking at a briefing in Denmark, WHO Europe director Dr. Hans Kluge said a "deeply concerning picture" was emerging of the impact of COVID-19 on long-term homes for the elderly, where care had "often been notoriously neglected".

He went on to say that health workers in such facilities were often overworked and underpaid and called for them to be given more protective gear and support, describing them as the "unsung heroes" of the pandemic.

An employee wearing a full body protection suit works inside the Hanns-Lilje-Heim senior care home on March 31 in Wolfsburg, northern Germany. Ronny Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images

Digital video game spending hits record high under virus lockdown

Spending on digital video games hit a record high $10 billion in March as people stuck at home under coronavirus lockdowns turned to gaming, market tracker SuperData reported.

Money spent on major console games leapt to $1.5 billion in March from $883 million in February, while spending on games played on high-performance personal computers climbed 56 percent to $567 million in the same comparison.

Germany is only at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, Angela Merkel warns

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks in Berlin on April 23. Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the end of the pandemic is not yet in sight and people will have to live with the virus for a long time. Speaking to Germanys Parliament, the Bundestag, Merkel said, We are not living in the final phase of the pandemic, but still at the beginning.

Germany's mask rules: From Monday next week, wearing a face mask on public transport and in stores will be mandatory in every German state. Chancellor Angela Merkel has advocated that people wear masks.

Medical Studies and Surveys

A survey of more than 200 patients in Italy found that 67% reported an altered sense of taste or smell either right before or right after they tested positive for Covid-19. 

In a recent study of New Yorks largest health system, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it found that, overall, about 20% of Covid-19 patients treated at Northwell Health died, and 88% of those placed on ventilators died. A ventilator is a device that forces air into the lungs of patients who cannot breathe on their own because of severe pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Luckily, just 12% of the patients in the study needed ventilators, Dr. Safiya Richardson at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, Northwell Health, and colleagues found.

The team looked at the electronic health records of 5,700 patients with coronavirus disease hospitalized at Northwell Health. Final outcomes were known for 2,634 of them.

The records support what doctors have been saying about the coronavirus: most people who become severely ill have some sort of so-called underlying condition. More than half, or 57%, had high blood pressure, 41% were obese and 34% had diabetes.

New York antibody study estimates 13.9% of residents have had the coronavirus

An estimated 13.9% of the New Yorkers have likely had Covid-19, according to preliminary results of coronavirus antibody testing released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, suggesting that some 2.7 million people across the state may have been infected

The state randomly tested 3,000 people at grocery stores and shopping locations across 19 counties in 40 localities, Cuomo said. 

What we found so far is that the state-wide number is 13.9% tested positive for having the antibodies. What does that mean? It means these were people who were infected and who developed the antibodies to fight the infection, he said. 

Cuomo said that the survey was preliminary and limited by other factors. He said the testing targeted people who were out in society shopping, meaning that they may be more likely to be infected than people isolating at home.

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