CategoryFrance

France’s second wave of the coronavirus may have already reached its peak

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France may be past the worst of its second wave of coronavirus infections, the country’s health agency said Friday, warning however that protective measures should be kept in place.

Thanks to curfews and lockdowns, confirmed new infections dropped 40 percent last week, admissions to hospital fell 13 percent, and the number of new intensive care patients was down nine percent, Santé Publique France said.

The data provided fresh arguments for shop owners who have been lobbying to be allowed to reopen for the crucial Christmas period, while the government was trying to decide what to do about the coming Black Friday shopping splurge.

“Although indicators are still at high levels, they suggest that the peak of the second peak is behind us,” the agency said.

President Emmanuel Macron will talk about the country’s coronavirus crisis on Tuesday at 2000 CET (1900), a source at the presidential palace said on Friday.

The number of Covid deaths has stabilised after several weeks of increases, the agency said, with 3,756 recorded fatalities compared with 3,817 a week earlier.

French cities that imposed curfews earliest are now seeing the sharpest decreases in patient numbers, Santé Publique said.

https://www.france24.com/en/france/20201120-france-s-second-wave-of-the-coronavirus-may-have-already-reached-its-peakHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Covid-19 deaths aren’t rising as fast in Europe and US, despite soaring new infections

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Europe is drowning in the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic. Infection rates are skyrocketing across the continent. Governments are imposing strict lockdowns. Economies are shutting down again. But there is a glimmer of hope: The virus, while still deadly, appears to be killing fewer people on average.

Recent case and fatality figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show that while recorded Covid-19 cases are spiking in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany and other European countries, deaths are not rising at the same rate.

“The fatality rate has declined, in the UK, we can see it going down from around June to a low point in August,” said Jason Oke, a senior statistician at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. “Our current estimate is that the infection fatality rate is going up a little bit, but it hasn’t come up to anywhere near where we were and that’s unlikely to change dramatically unless we see a really surprising increase in the numbers of deaths.”

Oke has been tracking Covid-19 fatality rates along with his colleague Carl Heneghan of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine and health economist Daniel Howdon. Their research shows that, at the end of June, the fatality rate was just below 3% in the UK. By August, it had dropped as low as about 0.5%. It now stands at roughly 0.75%.

The lower death rate isn’t unique to Europe.

In New York, the death rate for those hospitalized with coronavirus-related illnesses has also dropped since earlier this year, according to a study by a team of researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. A wider analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the NYU team shows that across the United States, “6.7% of cases resulted in death in April, compared with 1.9% in September.”

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/28/europe/coronavirus-death-rate-second-wave-lower-intl/index.html

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Some Signs of Recovery From Severe Covid Lung Damage

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In two early studies, researchers said some patients showed signs of healing just weeks after leaving the hospital.

When Annie Coissieux tried to stand up for the first time after weeks in the hospital battling Covid-19, she couldn’t get on her feet.

“My first day after I.C.U., I couldn’t leave the chair without the help of two nurses,” she recalled from her home in the Drôme region in southeast France. She felt breathless and exhausted after walking for just a few minutes. “Going to the bathroom was a real mission that required time and effort.”

Ms. Coissieux, 78, was sent to a nearby pulmonary rehabilitation clinic, Dieulefit Santé, where a physical therapist taught her breathing exercises to help restore her lungs and the muscles involved in breathing.

When she went home three weeks later, Ms. Coissieux could walk close to 1,000 feet, albeit with a walker. As she continued exercising at home, she grew stronger.

“Now I can walk 500 meters with no walker,” or about 1,600 feet, said the retired schoolteacher. “I can walk up the stairs at my cousin’s house.” And while she still feels fatigued in the afternoons, she cycles on her indoor bike and swims.

Lingering shortness of breath and diminished stamina have dogged many Covid patients whose lungs were viciously attacked by the coronavirus. Early in the pandemic, doctors worried that Covid might cause irreversible damage leading to lung fibrosis — progressive scarring in which lung tissue continues to die even after the infection is gone.

At a recent European Respiratory Society meeting, doctors presented early results of a few small studies that offered a glimmer of hope, indicating that in at least some cases, patients’ lungs show signs of recovery especially with intensive aftercare and exercise.

For patients who were bedridden or intubated in intensive care units for weeks, the ability to breathe on their own was impaired. Their muscles, including the diaphragm — the main breathing muscle that pushes the abdominal organs down so that the lungs can expand — had weakened.

“They spent months in bed and lost their muscle and respiratory capacity,” Ms. Al Chikhanie explained.

“It seems that most of these more severe patients recover from severe lung injury,” said Dr. Frederic Hérengt, who oversaw the study at Dieulefit Santé.

Longer range studies still have to be conducted to assess the potential for permanent effects.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/18/health/Covid-lung-damage-recovery.htmlHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Airport Covid testing to be given go-ahead ‘within days’ says MP – which could end quarantine restrictions

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Airport coronavirus testing could be given the go-ahead within days – which may end or drastically reduce quarantine periods.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay confirmed that decisions regarding new measures which include airport swabbing will be made in the “coming days”.

He also said it would be a similar procedure currently seen in Germany, where passengers arriving from high-risk countries are able to be tested, meaning they can leave the quarantine, according to the Times.

Speaking during a Conservative conference, Mr Barclay explained: ““I am expecting Grant Shapps and Matt Hancock to say more about this in the coming days.

“If we look, for example, at some of the German states, which are using testing to then release earlier from some of the restrictions.”

Brits currently have to quarantine for 14 days if returning from any countries deemed high risk, which includes Spain, France, parts of Portugal and Greece, the Netherlands and Turkey, which was added to the quarantine list last week.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/12847172/airport-covid-testing-start-quarantine-rules-end/​

France to enrol 25,000 in COVID-19 vaccines clinical trials

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France called for 25,000 adult volunteers on Thursday to enrol in a series of large-scale clinical trials aimed at evaluating the safety and efficacy of several COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

The Phase II and III trials, which could start as soon as this month, will take place at 24 hospitals across the country. Volunteers are invited to register online.

There is currently no internationally approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, which has killed over 1 million worldwide.

France’s public research body Inserm, which is in charge of the project, did not name the vaccines that would be assessed and said it was currently holding discussions with drugmakers, adding it would pick the “most promising” candidates for the trials.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-france-trials/france-to-enrol-25000-in-covid-19-vaccines-clinical-trials-idUSKBN26M6CHHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Covid-19 tests that give results in minutes to be rolled out across world

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Tests for Covid-19 that show on-the-spot results in 15 to 30 minutes are about to be rolled out across the world, potentially saving many thousands of lives and slowing the pandemic in both poor and rich countries.

In a triumph for a global initiative to get vital drugs and vaccines to fight the virus, 120m rapid antigen tests from two companies will be supplied to low- and middle-income countries for $5 (£3.90) each or even less.

The tests, which look like a pregnancy test, with two blue lines displayed for positive, are read by a health worker. One test has received emergency approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the other is expected to get it shortly.

The quick and easy but high-quality tests will allow mass screening of health workers, who are dying in disproportionate numbers in low income countries.

Wealthy countries that have signed up to the Access to Covid tools initiative (ACT accelerator), as the UK has, will also be able to order the tests. The initiative was launched in March by the WHO, the European commission, the Gates Foundation and the French government.

In return for a volume guarantee from the Gates Foundation, the companies are making 20% of their production available to low- and middle-income countries and 80% to the rest. Germany has already ordered 20m tests and France and Switzerland are following suit.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/28/covid-19-tests-that-give-results-in-minutes-to-be-rolled-out-across-worldHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Sweden records its fewest daily Covid-19 cases since March

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While many European countries are seeing new cases surge to levels not seen since the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sweden – whose light-touch approach has made it an international outlier – has one of the continent’s lowest infection rates.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the Scandinavian country’s 14-day cumulative total of new cases was 22.2 per 100,000 inhabitants on Tuesday, against 279 in Spain, 158.5 in France, 118 in the Czech Republic, 77 in Belgium and 59 in the UK, all of which imposed lockdowns this spring.

Twenty-two of the 31 European countries surveyed by the ECDC had higher infection rates. New cases, now reported in Sweden only from Tuesday to Friday, are running at roughly the rate seen in late-March, while data from the national health agency showed only 1.2% of its 120,000 tests last week came back positive.

Sweden also has fewer new daily infections than Norway and Denmark, its Nordic neighbours. Thirteen Covid-19 patients are in intensive care in Swedish hospitals, and its seven-day average of coronavirus-related deaths is zero.

“We don’t have the resurgence of the disease that many countries have,” Anders Tegnell, the country’s chief epidemiologist and architect of its no-lockdown strategy, told broadcaster France-24 in an interview, adding that the country was broadly happy with its overall strategy.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/15/sweden-records-its-fewest-daily-covid-19-cases-since-marchHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Hong Kong’s terracotta tile army marches to the rescue for coral

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In 2018, a super-typhoon destroyed 80% of the corals in Hoi Ha Wan bay off the Sai Kung peninsula in Hong Kong. In the city’s strongest storm since records began, winds reached 155mph (250km/h) and battered the reefs, leaving behind mostly scattered debris and broken coral skeletons. A few coral species survived, but these will likely take decades to regrow to their former state.

Sadly, this was no exception. Coral reefs are rapidly vanishing from the world’s oceans in large part because of the effects of global heating, which among other issues is increasing the frequency and severity of storms. In 2016 and 2017 alone, 89% of new corals on the Great Barrier Reef perished as a result of global heating-induced bleaching. Without decisive action to tackle the climate emergency, overfishing and pollution, it is estimated we will lose 70% to 90% of the world’s remaining coral reefs over the next 20 years.

A team of marine scientists and architects from the University of Hong Kong are trialling one method of restoring the reefs destroyed in the typhoon – and, they hope, others in future.

Using a 3D printer, they have created so-called “reef tiles” – hexagons made of terracotta – and placed them on the seafloor in Hoi Ha Wan bay.

The technology might be advanced but the idea is simple. “To create a hard bottom on a sandy seafloor,” says David Baker, director of the Swire Institute of Marine Science (Swims). “Sand is really not great for corals as it can move and bury or scour the coral’s thin tissues. Most corals that end up in sand usually suffer a slow death.”

The tiles, on the other hand, stand on feet that elevate them from the seabed – allowing corals to grow higher in the water column, where they can access all the things corals like: sunshine, nutrients and food.

The idea is being tested in other locations around the world: scientists are working to restore reef habitats with 3D printing in the Maldives, which is home to the world’s largest 3D-printed reef, as well as in France and the Caribbean.

Early results since the deployment last month have been promising.

“It’s encouraging that we see many species like small fish and crabs taking refuge in the tiles almost as soon as they touch the seafloor,” says Baker. “My hope is that the government will allow us to plant patch reefs that within my lifetime could be significant biodiversity hotspots, enjoyable dive sites, and contribute to increasing corals within Hong Kong through their reproductive output.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/26/hong-kongs-terracotta-tile-army-marches-to-the-rescue-for-coral

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Dogs are trained to sniff out coronavirus. Most have a 100% success rate

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What does a pandemic smell like? If dogs could talk, they might be able to tell us.

An international research team, led by Dominique Grandjean at France’s National Veterinary School of Alfort, has been training detector dogs to sniff out traces of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) since March.

These detector dogs are trained using sweat samples from people infected with COVID-19. When introduced to a line of sweat samples, most dogs can detect a positive one from a line of negative ones with 100% accuracy.

Across the globe, coronavirus detector dogs are being trained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Belgium.

In the UAE, detector dogs – stationed at various airports – have already started helping efforts to control COVID-19’s spread. This is something we hope will soon be available in Australia too.

https://theprint.in/health/dogs-are-trained-to-sniff-out-coronavirus-most-have-a-100-success-rate/476278/#:~:text=These%20detector%20dogs%20are%20trained,negative%20ones%20with%20100%25%20accuracy.HELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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French researchers invent breath test to spot Covid-19 in the air

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A hospital research team in the southern city of Lyon has come up with an instant breath test to tell whether someone has coronavirus or not. The discovery could pave the way for new coronavirus testing beyond throat and nose swabs.

It may be too early to say whether testing a person’s breath for Covid-19 will be a game changer in France’s efforts to tackle the pandemic, but for some researchers, it is a step in the right direction.

“We’re pretty confident we’re on the right track,” Christian George, director of the National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS) at the la Croix-Rousse hospital in Lyon told Reuters.

“Two months ago, we still knew very little about this disease, and now, we are starting to get information that is becoming clearer by the day,” he noted.

That information is given out by a new breathalyser: a grey machine, the size of a refrigerator, that identifies chemical compounds in exhaled air.

The contraption is currently being tested on patients at the la Croix-Rousse hospital.

Patients are required to blow into a tube and in a matter of seconds they are told if they have Covid-19 or not.

George and his team have tested dozens of people in three months, 20 of whom had the virus.

Unlike the uncomfortable standard PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, the new breathalyser is not invasive and provides an immediate result.

https://www.rfi.fr/en/science-and-technology/20200802-french-researchers-invent-breath-test-spot-covid-19-air-we-breatheHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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