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Coronavirus updates: First US death confirmed, at least 56 countries with infections – CNET

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A cluster of respiratory illness, originating in the Chinese province of Hubei in December, has health officials on high alert around the world. In January, the causative agent of the disease was found to be a novel coronavirus, dubbed SARS-CoV-2. It has now infected more than 85,000 people and claimed over 2,900 lives, with signs of a slowdown in China, but outbreaks of the disease taking hold in Italy, South Korea and Japan. Saturday, Feb. 29, brought news of the first confirmed death in the US, a man in the Seattle area, according to the Washington State Department of Health. 

The spate of illness was first reported to the World Health Organization on New Year’s Eve and in the following weeks was linked to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses, the same family responsible for the diseases SARS and MERS, as well as some cases of the common cold. A special WHO committee declared a public health emergency on Jan. 30. On Feb. 11, WHO and other organizations agreed to name the new illness COVID-19 (for “coronavirus disease 2019“). As of Feb. 28, WHO has raised its global risk assessment for the coronavirus to “very high.”


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The number of cases and deaths seems to be slowing in mainland China, with only 439 new cases and 29 reported deaths coming on Feb. 27. However, the spread of the virus appears to be gaining momentum outside of China. At least 56 countries have confirmed infections. Cases in Italy jumped to over 1,000 on Feb. 29, while South Korea is reporting over 3,000 infections.

On Feb. 26, The Washington Post reported the first US case of unknown origin in Northern California. The infected individual did not return from a foreign country and did not have contact with a confirmed case. According to the Post, officials are currently tracing contacts of the resident to find out about potential routes of infection. The CDC later confirmed the infection in a statement. Another case of unknown origin was reported in California on Feb. 28.

The CDC has warned people in the US to prepare for an outbreak, suggesting the virus is likely to spread through the community. “We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare for the expectation that this is going to be bad,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

In a press conference Feb. 26, President Donald Trump reiterated the risk to Americans remains low. “The No. 1 priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people,” he said. He noted of the original 15 US cases, one remains in hospital and is “pretty sick,” with 14 others either fully recovered or in recovery. He also announced Vice President Mike Pence will coordinate the response to the virus.

The situation continues to evolve as more information becomes available. We’ve collated everything we know about the novel virus, what’s next for researchers and some of the steps you can take to reduce your risk.


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What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses belong to a family known as Coronaviridae, and under an electron microscope they look like spiked rings. They’re named for these spikes, which form a halo or “crown” (corona is Latin for crown) around their viral envelope. 

Coronaviruses contain a single strand of RNA (as opposed to DNA, which is double-stranded) within the envelope and, as a virus, can’t reproduce without getting inside living cells and hijacking their machinery. The spikes on the viral envelope help coronaviruses bind to cells, which gives them a way in, like blasting a door open with C4. Once inside, they turn the cell into a virus factory — the RNA and some enzymes use the cell’s molecular machinery to produce more viruses, which are then shipped out of the cell to infect other cells. Thus, the cycle starts anew.

Typically, these types of viruses are found in animals ranging from livestock and household pets to wildlife such as bats. Some are responsible for disease, like the common cold. When they make the jump to humans, they can cause fever, respiratory illness and inflammation in the lungs. In immunocompromised individuals, such as the elderly or those with HIV-AIDS, such viruses can cause severe respiratory illness, resulting in pneumonia and even death.

Extremely pathogenic coronaviruses were behind the diseases SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) in the last two decades. These viruses were easily transmitted from human to human but were suspected to have passed through different animal intermediaries: SARS was traced to civet cats and MERS to dromedary camels. SARS, which showed up in the early 2000s, infected more than 8,000 people and resulted in nearly 800 deaths. MERS, which appeared in the early 2010s, infected almost 2,500 people and led to more than 850 deaths.

On Feb. 11, the WHO named the new disease COVID-19. “Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said during a briefing. “It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”

The Coronavirus Study Group, part of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, was responsible for naming the novel coronavirus itself. According to a preprint paper uploaded to bioRxiv on Feb. 11, the virus will be known as SARS-CoV-2. The group “formally recognizes this virus as a sister to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoVs),” the species responsible for the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003. The virus itself was originally given a placeholder name of “2019-nCoV.”

To avoid confusion: 

  • The novel coronavirus is officially named SARS-CoV-2.
  • The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 is officially named COVID-19

Where did the virus come from?

The virus appears to have originated in Wuhan, a Chinese city about 650 miles south of Beijing that has a population of more than 11 million people. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which sells fish, as well as a panoply of meat from other animals, including bats, snakes and pangolins, was implicated in the spread in early January.

Prestigious medical journal The Lancet published an extensive summary of the clinical features of patients infected with the disease stretching back to Dec. 1, 2019. The very first patient identified had not been exposed to the market, suggesting the virus may have originated elsewhere and been transported to the market, where it was able to thrive or jump from human to animal and back again. Chinese authorities shut down the seafood market on Jan. 1. 

On Feb. 22, a report by the Global Times, a Chinese state media publication, suggested the Huanan seafood market was not the birthplace of the disease citing a Chinese study published on an open-access server in China.    

Markets have been implicated in the origin and spread of viral diseases in past epidemics, including SARS and MERS. A large majority of the people so far confirmed to have come down with the new coronavirus had been to the Huanan Seafood marketplace in recent weeks. The market seems like an integral piece of the puzzle, but researchers continue to test and research the original cause.

An early report, published in the Journal of Medical Virology on Jan. 22, suggested snakes were the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for SARS-CoV-2, but the work was soundly refuted by two further studies just a day later, on Jan. 23.

“We haven’t seen evidence ample enough to suggest a snake reservoir for Wuhan coronavirus,” said Peter Daszak, president of nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, which researches the links between human and animal health.

“This work is really interesting, but when we compare the genetic sequence of this new virus with all other known coronaviruses, all of its closest relatives have origins in mammals, specifically bats. Therefore, without further details on testing of animals in the markets, it looks like we are no closer to knowing this virus’ natural reservoir.”

Another group of Chinese scientists uploaded a paper to preprint website biorXiv, having studied the viral genetic code and compared it to the previous SARS coronavirus and other bat coronaviruses. They discovered the genetic similarities run deep: The virus shares 80% of its genes with the previous SARS virus and 96% of its genes with bat coronaviruses. Importantly, the study also demonstrated the virus can get into and hijack cells the same way SARS did.

The ant-eating pangolin, a small, scaled mammal, has also been implicated in the spread of SARS-CoV-2. According to the New York Times, it may be one of the most trafficked animals in the world and it was sold at the Huanan Seafood Market. The virus likely originated in bats but may have been able to hide out in the pangolin, before spreading from that animal to humans. 

All good science builds off previous discoveries — and there is still more to learn about the basic biology of SARS-CoV-2 before we have a good grasp of exactly which animal vector is responsible for transmission — but early indications are the virus is similar to those seen in bats and likely originated from them. 

How many confirmed cases have been reported?

Authorities have confirmed more than 85,000 cases as of Feb. 29.

On Feb. 12, Chinese health authorities reported a jump in the amount of cases and deaths in Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak. Over 13,300 new cases were recorded in Hubei alone, an increase of 700% over the previous day. Chinese authorities had adopted a new clinical method for confirming cases, which sees them add “clinically diagnosed cases” to the count, potentially helping patients receive treatment sooner, according to CNN.   

In the US, 60 cases have been confirmed. President Trump spoke on Feb. 26 and said of the original 15 infected individuals, eight are recovering at home while one remains in hospital and is “pretty sick.” The remaining individuals are recovering or have already recovered. On Feb. 26, The Washington Post reported the first US case of unknown origin in Northern California. The infected individual did not return from a foreign country and did not have contact with a confirmed case, the Post said.

The number of discharged patients has climbed to over 39,000.

A breakdown of the top 10 countries, as of Feb. 29, is below:

  • China: 79,251 confirmed cases (Hong Kong: 94; Macau: 10)
  • South Korea: 3,150 confirmed cases  
  • Italy: 1,128 confirmed cases  
  • Iran: 593 confirmed cases
  • Japan: 241 confirmed cases
  • Singapore: 102 confirmed cases    
  • US: 68 confirmed cases    
  • Germany: 79 confirmed cases 
  • Kuwait: 45 confirmed cases

You can track the spread of the virus across the globe with this handy online tool, which is collating data from a number of sources including the CDC, the WHO and Chinese health professionals. 

How many deaths have been reported?

The death toll has increased to more than 2,900 as of Feb. 29.

On Feb. 7, Li Wenliang, the 34-year-old Chinese doctor who spoke out about the rising cases of pneumonia in an online chat room during the early days of the outbreak, died as a result of COVID-19. A day later, the first known American death from the illness was announced: a US citizen in Wuhan, and on Feb. 29, the first death was confirmed inside US borders. 

Iran has currently reported 43 deaths, the most outside of mainland China. South Korea has reported 16 deaths and a cluster of illnesses in northern Italy has caused 29. 

The death toll surpassed that of the SARS epidemic (severe acute respiratory syndrome) on Feb. 8. That outbreak killed 774 people. On Feb. 9, the death toll surpassed 900, overtaking the death toll of MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), a similar coronavirus that has killed 858 people since 2012.

Those two viruses have a higher death rate, with SARS-CoV killing about 10% of those infected and MERS-CoV killing about 34%, whereas this virus, SARS-CoV-2, hovers at around 2% to 3%. 

The death toll still pales in comparison to that of influenza — the flu — which, through the first four weeks of 2020, had killed 1,210 in the US alone, according to the CDC.

Protecting against the coronavirus in Wuhan, China.Protecting against the coronavirus in Wuhan, China.

A pedestrian in the city of Wuhan, China. The virus appears to have originated in Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.


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How do we know it’s a new coronavirus?

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention dispatched a team of scientists to Wuhan to gather information about the new disease and perform testing in patients, hoping to isolate the virus. Their work, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 24, examined samples from three patients. Using an electron microscope, which can resolve images of cells and their internal mechanics, and studying the genetic code, the team were able to visualize and genetically identify the novel coronavirus.

Understanding the genetic code helps researchers in two ways: It allows them to create tests that can identify the virus from patient samples, and it gives them potential insight into creating treatments or vaccines.

Additionally, the Peter Doherty Institute in Melbourne, Australia, was able to identify and grow the virus in a lab from a patient sample. They announced their discovery on Jan. 28. This is seen as one of the major breakthroughs in developing a vaccine and provides laboratories with the capability to both assess and provide expert information to health authorities and detect the virus in patients suspected of harboring the disease.

How does the coronavirus spread?

This is one of the major questions researchers are still working hard to answer. The first infections were potentially the result of animal-to-human transmission, but confirmation that human-to-human transmission was obtained in late January.

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy reported that health workers in China had been infected with the virus in late January. During the SARS epidemic, this was a notable turning point, as health workers moving between countries were able to help spread the disease.

“The major concern is hospital outbreaks, which were seen with SARS and MERS coronaviruses,” said C. Raina MacIntyre, a professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales. “Meticulous triage and infection control is needed to prevent these outbreaks and protect health workers.”

WHO says the virus can move from person to person via:

  • Respiratory droplets — when a person sneezes or coughs.
  • Direct contact with infected individuals.
  • Contact with contaminated surfaces and objects.

On Feb. 5, Chinese state media reported a newborn had been diagnosed with COVID-19 just 30 hours after birth, opening up the potential for mother-child transmission. Viruses can be transmitted through the placenta, but experts say it’s too early to tell whether this is the case with the novel coronavirus, which is “unlikely” to be passed on in the womb.

A handful of viruses, including MERS, can survive for periods in the air after being sneezed or coughed from an infected individual. Although recent reports suggest the novel coronavirus may be transmitted in this way, the Chinese Center for Diseases Control and Prevention have reiterated there is no evidence for this. Writing in The Conversation on Feb. 14, virologists Ian Mackay and Katherine Arden explain “no infectious virus has been recovered from captured air samples.”

How is the world combatting the spread? 

The scale of the global efforts to contain the disease is immense. China shut down Wuhan to reduce the spread of the virus, canceling transportation leaving the city starting on Jan. 23. The travel restrictions were extended to four other cities (Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi and Zhijiang) later that day, and constraints were announced in eight more cities on Jan. 24 — impacting more than 35 million people. All of the restrictions and closures will last indefinitely.

Hong Kong closed many public facilities on Jan. 28 and has prevented traveling between mainland China. The US announced sweeping border control measures at 20 ports of entry. Esports tournaments have been postponed, Shanghai and Hong Kong Disneyland has closed, Olympic women’s soccer tournaments have been moved entirely, and McDonald’s has shuttered thousands of locations across China where the virus is spreading.

International airlines have suspended flights to and from mainland China, and cruise ships have also been denying passengers who hold China, Hong Kong and Macau passports, regardless of residency, and barring those who have traveled to China, Hong Kong or Macau in the 15 days prior to boarding; and anyone who has come within six feet of someone from China, Hong Kong or Macau 15 days prior; and anyone with fever or low blood oximetry. 

Some of the world’s largest tech firms have been adversely affected by the outbreak, shutting down stores and factories in China. Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest phone trade show set to begin Feb. 24, took the unprecedented step of cancelling the entire show. Apple announced on Feb. 17 it would now miss its revenue guidance for the March quarter, as the virus slows work. “Worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained,” Apple said, after production facilities were “ramping up more slowly” than anticipated.  

Speaking to the media on Feb. 17, Shigeru Omi, the chief director of the Japan Community Health Care Organization, suggested the Olympics could be disrupted or even cancelled, depending on how the virus continues to spread and evolve over the next few months.

“Whether the virus is under control by the time of the Olympics is anyone’s guess,” he said.

Cancellations have come thick and fast in the video game industry, which has seen Sony Interactive Entertainment pull out of one of the biggest conventions in the US, PAX East. The company was scheduled to show off one of its most highly anticipated titles, The Last of Us Part II, but pulled the pin on attendance citing coronavirus concerns. Sony and Facebook Gaming announced they would not be attending this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco

Coronavirus that causes SARS, seen in an electron microscopeCoronavirus that causes SARS, seen in an electron microscope

An electron microscopy image of the coronavirus that causes SARS. 


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How infectious is coronavirus?

A widely shared Twitter thread by Eric Feigl-Ding, a Harvard University epidemiologist, suggests the new coronavirus is “thermonuclear pandemic level bad” based on a metric known as the “r nought” (R0) value. This metric helps determine the basic reproduction number of an infectious disease. In the simplest terms, the value relates to how many people can be infected by one person carrying the disease. It was widely criticized before being deleted.

Infectious diseases such as measles have an R0 of 12 to 18, which is remarkably high. The SARS epidemic of 2002-2003 had an R0 of around 3. A handful of studies modeling the COVID-19 outbreak have given a similar value with a range between 1.4 and 3.8. However, there is large variation between studies and models attempting to predict the R0 of novel coronavirus due to the constantly changing number of cases. 

In the early stages of understanding the disease and its spread, it should be stressed these studies are informative, but they aren’t definitive. They give an indication of the potential for the disease to move from person-to-person, but we still don’t have enough information about how the new virus spreads. 

“Some experts are saying it is the most infectious virus ever seen — that is not correct,” MacIntyre said. “If it was highly infectious (more infectious than influenza as suggested by some) we should have seen hundreds, if not thousands of cases outside of China by now, given Wuhan is a major travel hub.”

China has suggested the virus can spread before symptoms present. Writing in The Conversation on Jan. 28, MacIntyre noted there was no evidence for these claims so far but does suggest children and young people could be infectious without displaying any symptoms. This also makes airport screening less impactful, because harboring the disease but showing no signs could allow it insidiously spread further.

Should you be worried?

Despite the increasing spread of the disease outside of China, the WHO remains resolute that the outbreak has not yet reached “pandemic” levels. “Using the word pandemic now does not fit the facts, but it may certainly cause fear,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general.   

As the virus has continued to spread, it’s easy to get caught up in the fear and alarmism rampantly escalating through social media. There is misinformation and disinformation swirling about the effects of the disease, where it’s spreading and how. Experts still caution the virus appears to be mild, especially in comparison to infections by other viruses, like influenza or measles, and markedly lower death rates than previous coronavirus outbreaks.

CNET has put together a fact check about some of the rumors and myths that have been spreading.

WHO declares a public health emergency

On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern over the coronavirus outbreak. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, said the organization is working with national and international public health partners to get the outbreak under control. 

The WHO also issued recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure a “measured and evidence-based response.”

In the fall, an emergency committee met regarding the Ebola virus epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The meeting outlined key strategies and commitments to strengthen and protect against the spread of the disease.

What are the symptoms?

The new coronavirus causes symptoms similar to those of previously identified disease-causing coronaviruses. In currently identified patients, there seems to be a spectrum of illness: A large number experience mild pneumonia-like symptoms, while others have a much more severe response.

On Jan. 24, prestigious medical journal The Lancet published an extensive analysis of the clinical features of the disease.

According to the report, patients present with:

  • Fever, elevated body temperature.
  • Dry cough.
  • Fatigue or muscle pain.
  • Breathing difficulties.   

Less common symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • Coughing up mucus or blood.
  • Headaches.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Kidney Failure.

As the disease progresses, patients also come down with pneumonia, which inflames the lungs and causes them to fill with fluid. This can be detected by an X-ray. 

Is there a treatment for coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are hardy organisms. They’re effective at hiding from the human immune system, and we haven’t developed any reliable treatments or vaccines to eradicate them. In most cases, health officials attempt to deal with the symptoms.

“There is no recognized therapeutic against coronaviruses,” Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said during the Emergency Committee press conference on Jan. 29. “The primary objective in an outbreak related to a coronavirus is to give adequate support of care to patients, particularly in terms of respiratory support and multi-organ support.”  

That doesn’t mean vaccines are an impossibility, however. Chinese scientists were able to sequence the virus’ genetic code incredibly quickly, giving scientists a chance to study it and look for ways to combat the disease. According to CNN, researchers at the US National Institutes of Health are already working on a vaccine, though it could be a year or more away from release.

Notably, SARS, which infected around 8,000 people and killed around 800, seemed to run its course and then mostly disappear. It wasn’t a vaccine that turned the tide on the disease but rather effective communication between nations and a range of tools that helped track the disease and its spread.

“We learnt that epidemics can be controlled without drugs or vaccines, using enhanced surveillance, case isolation, contact tracking, PPE and infection control measures,” MacIntyre said.

A handful of organizations and research institutes have started work on vaccines, according to Global Times. 

In addition, China is running clinical trials on the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, which was originally developed to treat Ebola. Remdesivir was also given to a US patient in Washington state whose symptoms worsened. In that case, doctors made a “compassionate use” request to the Food and Drug Administration. Those allow people to try experimental drugs outside of clinical trials, usually in emergency situations.

China is also running a small clinical trial of Kaletra, an anti-HIV drug, according to The Guardian. 

Developing new drugs requires time and resources, so “while you’re waiting for the new miracle drug, it’s worthwhile looking for existing drugs that could be repurposed” to treat new viruses, Stephen Morse, a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told Live Science

In a press conference on Feb. 11, the WHO said a vaccine could be ready in 18 months.

China has started clinical trials of two drugs to combat the coronavirus, officials from WHO announced Thursday. Remdesivir, originally designed to combat the Ebola virus, showed promise in one American patient but hasn’t yet been licensed for use. On Wednesday, a new study in the journal Science showed researchers were able to create a 3D map of a coronavirus protein, paving the way for vaccines to be designed against the virus.  

How to reduce your risk of coronavirus

With confirmed cases now seen across the globe, it’s possible that SARS-CoV-2 may spread much further afield than China. The WHO recommends a range of measures to protect yourself from contracting the disease, based on good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene — in much the same way you’d reduce the risk of contracting the flu. The novel coronavirus does spread and infect humans slightly differently to the flu, but because it predominantly affects the respiratory tract, the protection measures are quite similar.

Meanwhile, the US State Department on Jan. 30 issued a travel advisory with a blunt message: “Do not travel to China.” An earlier warning from the CDC advised people to “avoid nonessential travel.”

A Twitter thread, developed by the WHO, is below.

You may also be considering buying a face mask to protect yourself from contracting the virus. You’re not alone — stocks of face masks have been selling out across the world, with Amazon and Walmart.com experiencing shortages. Reporting from Sydney in January, I found lines at the pharmacy extending down the street. 

The risk of contracting the virus outside of China remains low, but if you’re considering buying a mask, you’ll want to know exactly which face mask you should be looking for. Disposable masks can protect any large droplets from entering the mouth or nasal passage but a respirator mask is far more effective. CNET’s Wellness team has put together a comprehensive guide to which masks you should buy.

Originally published in January and updated frequently with new developments. 

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Rare Cases of Monkeypox Diagnosed in Britain | Health | thesuburban.com – The Suburban Newspaper

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TUESDAY, May 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Four men in England have been infected with a “rare and unusual” monkeypox virus.

Investigators from the U.K. Health Security Agency are investigating the cases and whether there is any connection between the men, according to the Associated Press. None of the individuals had traveled to the African countries where the virus is endemic. Three of the men are in London, and one is in Northeast England.

Three earlier cases were announced last week. In those cases, two of the patients lived in the same household. The third person had previously traveled to Nigeria, one of the countries where the virus is endemic in animals. Most people who get monkeypox recover quickly, within several weeks. The virus has symptoms that include fever, muscle ache, chills, and fatigue. A rash similar to that found in chickenpox and smallpox can form on the face and genitals in more severe cases.

The latest four cases all happen to be in men who identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men. However, monkeypox does not easily spread between people, and it is not known to be transmitted sexually. In Western and Central Africa, the virus is typically spread by touching or being bitten by an infected wild animal. However, it could be spread among people with extremely close contact, the British health officials said.

“The evidence suggests that there may be transmission of the monkeypox virus in the community, spread by close contact,” said Susan Hopkins, M.D., chief medical advisor for the U.K. Health Security Agency, the AP reported. “We are particularly urging men who are gay or bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.”

Public health officials consider the risk to the general population to be low. They are working with hospitals and international partners to determine if there is a similar rise in cases in other places. This includes tracing people who had contacts with the monkeypox cases, including airline passengers, the AP said. Doctors who see patients with unexplained rashes should seek advice from a specialist, public health officials said.

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Long COVID: Half of patients hospitalised have at least one symptom two years on – Australian Hospital + Healthcare Bulletin

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Long COVID: Half of patients hospitalised have at least one symptom two years on

Two years on, half of a group of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, still have at least one lingering symptom, according to a study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. The study followed 1192 participants in Wuhan infected with SARS-CoV-2 during the first phase of the pandemic in 2020.

While physical and mental health generally improved over time, the study found that COVID-19 patients still tend to have poorer health and quality of life than the general population. This is especially the case for participants with long COVID, who typically still have at least one symptom including fatigue, shortness of breath and sleep difficulties two years after initially falling ill.1

The long-term health impacts of COVID-19 have remained largely unknown, as the longest follow-up studies to date have spanned around one year.2 The lack of pre-COVID-19 health status baselines and comparisons with the general population in most studies has also made it difficult to determine how well patients with COVID-19 have recovered.

Lead author Professor Bin Cao, of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, China, said, “Our findings indicate that for a certain proportion of hospitalised COVID-19 survivors, while they may have cleared the initial infection, more than two years is needed to recover fully from COVID-19. Ongoing follow-up of COVID-19 survivors, particularly those with symptoms of long COVID, is essential to understand the longer course of the illness, as is further exploration of the benefits of rehabilitation programs for recovery. There is a clear need to provide continued support to a significant proportion of people who’ve had COVID-19, and to understand how vaccines, emerging treatments and variants affect long-term health outcomes.”3

The authors of the new study sought to analyse the long-term health outcomes of hospitalised COVID-19 survivors, as well as specific health impacts of long COVID. They evaluated the health of 1192 participants with acute COVID-19 treated at Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, China, between 7 January and 29 May 2020, at six months, 12 months and two years.

Assessments involved a six-minute walking test, laboratory tests and questionnaires on symptoms, mental health, health-related quality of life, if they had returned to work and healthcare use after discharge. The negative effects of long COVID on quality of life, exercise capacity, mental health and healthcare use were determined by comparing participants with and without long COVID symptoms. Health outcomes at two years were determined using an age-, sex- and comorbidities-matched control group of people in the general population with no history of COVID-19 infection.

Two years after initially falling ill, patients with COVID-19 are generally in poorer health than the general population, with 31% reporting fatigue or muscle weakness and 31% reporting sleep difficulties. The proportion of non-COVID-19 participants reporting these symptoms was 5% and 14%, respectively.

COVID-19 patients were also more likely to report a number of other symptoms including joint pain, palpitations, dizziness and headaches. In quality of life questionnaires, COVID-19 patients also more often reported pain or discomfort (23%) and anxiety or depression (12%) than non-COVID-19 participants (5% and 5%, respectively).

Around half of study participants had symptoms of long COVID at two years, and reported lower quality of life than those without long COVID. In mental health questionnaires, 35% reported pain or discomfort and 19% reported anxiety or depression. The proportion of COVID-19 patients without long COVID reporting these symptoms was 10% and 4% at two years, respectively. Long COVID participants also more often reported problems with their mobility (5%) or activity levels (4%) than those without long COVID (1% and 2%, respectively).

The authors acknowledged limitations to their study, such as moderate response rate; slightly increased proportion of participants who received oxygen; it was a single centre study from early in the pandemic.

References:

1. – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network – Royal College of General Practitioners. COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing the long-term effects of COVID-19. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng188
2. – Soriano – JB Murthy – S Marshall – JC Relan – P Diaz JV – on behalf of the WHO Clinical Case Definition Working Group on Post-COVID-19 Condition. A clinical case definition of post-COVID-19 condition by a Delphi consensus. Lancet Infect Dis. 2021; 22: e102-e107
3. – Huang L – Yao Q – Gu X – et al. 1-year outcomes in hospital survivors with COVID-19: a longitudinal cohort study. Lancet. 2021; 398: 747-758

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2SLGBTQ+ lobby group head speaks on the trauma of conversion therapy

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Although conversion therapy has now been outlawed in Canada, many are still victims causing them to go through a lot of trauma in the process.

According to Jordan Sullivan, Project Coordinator of Conversion Therapy Survivors Support and Survivors of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression Change Efforts (SOGIECE), survivors of conversion therapy identify the need for a variety of supports including education and increased awareness about SOGIECE and conversion practices.

Also needed is access to affirming therapists experienced with SOGIECE, trauma (including religious trauma), safe spaces and networks, and access to affirming healthcare practitioners who are aware of conversion therapy or SOGIECE and equipped to support survivors.

“In January of 2021 when I was asked to be the project coordinator, I was hesitant because I wasn’t sure that my experience could be classified as SOGIECE or conversion therapy. I never attended a formalized conversion therapy program or camp run by a religious organization. Healthcare practitioners misdiagnosed me or refused me access to care.

In reality, I spent 27 years internalizing conversion therapy practices through prayer, the study of religious texts, disassociation from my body, and suppression or denial of my sexual and gender identities. I spent six years in counselling and change attempts using conversion therapy practices. I came out as a lesbian at age 33, and as a Trans man at age 51. I am now 61 and Queerly Heterosexual, but I spent decades of my life hiding in shame and fear and struggled with suicidal ideation until my mid-30s.

At times I wanted to crawl away and hide, be distracted by anything that silenced the emptiness, the pain, the wounds deep inside. I realized that in some ways, I am still more comfortable in shame, silence, and disassociation, than in any other way of being and living, but I was also filled with wonderment at the resiliency and courage of every single one of the participants.

However, many of us did not survive, choosing to end the pain and shame through suicide. Many of us are still victims in one way or another, still silenced by the shame, still afraid of being seen as we are. Still, many of us are survivors, and while it has not been an easy road, many of us are thrivers too,” said Jordan.

In addition, Jordan said conversion practices and programs are not easily defined or identified, and often capture only a fragment of pressures and messages that could be considered SOGIECE.

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