Saturday, 29 February 2020

WHO raises global virus risk to maximum level

The World Health Organization on Friday raised its global risk assessment of the new coronavirus to its highest level after the epidemic spread to sub-Saharan Africa and financial markets slumped.

The virus has proliferated around the globe over the past week, emerging on every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people from travelling or gathering in crowded places.

It has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 84,000 worldwide -- the vast majority in China -- since it emerged apparently from an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December.

But it is its rapid spread to new zones that has authorities concerned -- in the past 24 hours, it has affected nine new countries, from Azerbaijan to Mexico to New Zealand.


Hong Kong pets face coronavirus quarantine after dog tests positive

All pets of people in Hong Kong infected with the coronavirus will be quarantined, with one dog already in isolation, the city's authorities said Friday.

The move is the first reported case anywhere in the world of a government quarantining pets over the outbreak and was prompted by a positive test in the pet of an infected patient.

The canine has been placed in quarantine for 14 days as a precaution but has no "relevant symptoms", Hong Kong officials said Friday.

"Nasal and oral cavity samples tested weak positive for COVID-19," a government spokesman said without explaining why they tested the animal in the first place.

He said it was unclear whether the dog had actually contracted the virus or tested positive for low levels due to environmental contamination of the dog's mouth and nose.


Friday, 28 February 2020

Singapore emerges as litmus test for coronavirus containment

As the novel coronavirus starts to gather speed in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., there is one place it is seemingly being contained: Singapore.

With no reported virus-related deaths despite 96 cases, and a slowing rate of infection that has been outpaced by recoveries, the Asian city-state is emerging as a litmus test of whether the deadly pathogen can be, if not contained, then neutralised.

Singapore was aggressive out of the gate and has continued to be. It was one of the first countries to impose restrictions on anyone with recent travel history to China and parts of South Korea. It has a strict hospital and home quarantine regimen for potentially infected patients and is extensively tracing anyone they may have been in contact with.

Singapore “will not hesitate to take strong action” against rule breakers, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said in a statement Thursday. “The deliberate breaking of the rules, in the current situation, calls for swift and decisive response.”


Microscope images reveal how tiny but deadly coronavirus particles invaded the US patient zero's cells

Stunning microscope images released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  reveal the new killer coronavirus in unprecedented detail.

Shown as blue dots, the virus, now dubbed SARS-CoV-19, can be seen roving around and invading human cells. The more densely packed the blue particles are, the greater the viral load, or level of infection.

It was taken from the first coronavirus patient in the US, a 36-year-old man from Snahomish County in Washington state, who recognized his own symptoms of the disease after traveling to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Viruses are strange, tiny beasts.

In fact they are so small that they cannot be seen with a light microscope like you would find in most high school or college classrooms.

Instead, the CDC scientists had to use a more high-powered transmission electron microscope to see the particle, about 1000x.


Cycling: UAE Tour abandoned after two Italian riders test for coronavirus

The UAE Tour was abandoned on Thursday (Feb 27) after two Italian cyclists tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said, with teams and riders reported to be under lockdown in their hotels.

"The remaining stages of the UAE Tour are cancelled after two cyclists from Italy tested positive for the new coronavirus," said the Abu Dhabi Sports Council in a statement to the official WAM news agency.

Organisers said that all the participants in the race, that had been due to finish on Saturday, will be tested for the virus which has left Italy as the worst hit country in Europe.


My 2 cents
This is how the covid-19 virus spreads round the world. In an international meet like UAE Tour, the cyclists from all over the world may bring the virus back to their countries and infect their own countrymen.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Australia warns virus pandemic now 'upon us'

Australia's prime minister said the country considered the new coronavirus to be a pandemic Thursday, going a step beyond the WHO as he extended a travel ban on visitors from China.

Announcing a national emergency response plan to the contagion, Scott Morrison said he was considering "additional measures" for monitoring travellers arriving in the country.

"We're effectively operating now on the basis that there is one -- a pandemic," Morrison said.

The extended travel ban will come as a blow to Australian universities which stand to lose $2 billion in fees as tens of thousands of Chinese students are unable to take up places Down Under.


Taiwan raises epidemic response level to highest amid COVID-19 concerns

Taiwan on Thursday (Feb 27) raised its epidemic response level to the highest as it readied a US$2 billion package to cushion the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its export-reliant economy.

The move allows the government to tackle the virus outbreak in a much faster manner with more resources across various ministries, the official Central News Agency reported.

Premier Su Tseng-chang announced the decision in a cabinet meeting on Thursday, citing sporadic cases of community transmission on the island, which has seen 32 cases of the coronavirus and one death.


Italy seeks help as coronavirus cases surge past 400

Italy has sought to rally international support for its coronavirus containment efforts as the number of cases reached 400 and the UN’s health agency urged an increased response.

Italian premier Giuseppe Conte’s government appealed to European neighbours for cooperation, not isolation and discrimination.

Italy has been struggling to contain the rapidly spreading outbreak that made it the country with more coronavirus cases outside Asia than anywhere else.

“Viruses don’t know borders and they don’t stop at them,” Italian health minister Roberto Speranza said at the start of a crisis meeting with World Health Organisation and European Union representatives in Rome.


Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Japan's snow town turns into hotbed of coronavirus cases

 Hokkaido, the northernmost island famous for its mountains and brown bears, has Japan's highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases outside Tokyo, with 38 infections and one death, and residents are nervous.

"I would feel so much better if my son could test for the coronavirus like the regular flu," said Naoko Maeda, whose 16-year-old son has a runny nose, adding that she had seen shops run out of masks and disinfectants.

"I do think the government response was too late. On top of that we don't have much information either, and now it's come to this and I feel a bit panicky."

Japan had close to 170 cases of coronavirus infections as of Wednesday, apart from 691 reported from a cruise ship that was quarantined of Tokyo earlier this month.


Switzerland, Austria, Croatia and mainland Spain ALL report new cases of killer infection after the Italy outbreak

The deadly coronavirus is sweeping across Europe with the outbreak in Italy showing no signs of slowing down and Switzerland, Austria, Croatia and mainland Spain today recording their first cases of the killer infection that has spread to 40 countries or territories.

All of the new European cases – two in Austria, one in Croatia, one in Switzerland, one in Barcelona and two in Tenerife – had travelled to northern Italy, which has been ravaged by the never-before-seen virus.

Italy has seen a dramatic surge in cases since Friday, with the number of infections soaring from just six to 322.

The Italian death toll now stands at 11 after a 76-year-old woman today died in the northern city of Treviso, Veneto.


Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Chinese medical expert warns recovered coronavirus patients may still be contagious

A Chinese respiratory expert at the frontline of the battle against Covid-19 has warned that recovered patients may still be able pass on the coronavirus that causes the disease.

In a separate interview with The Beijing News on Wednesday, Zhao said one of his patients had been discharged from hospital after two laboratory tests proved negative. But several days later the patient came down with a fever, and this time tested positive again.

He said the case suggested that recovered patients should quarantine themselves at home for 14 days after being discharged.

Chinese experts have previously warned that recovered patients can become infected a second time, and it was not clear whether this had been the case with Zhao’s patient.


You may want to read Coronavirus: Wuhan to quarantine all cured patients for 14 days after some test positive again

Rise in COVID-19 cases in Japan prompts travel advisory revisions | The Japan Times

Rise in COVID-19 cases in Japan prompts travel advisory revisions | The Japan Times: At least nine governments have called on their citizens to refrain from nonessential visits or to exercise increased caution during trips to Japan.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Four Chinese provinces lower COVID-19 emergency response level

Four Chinese provinces Yunnan, Guangdong, Shanxi and Guizhou on Monday (Feb 24) lowered their coronavirus emergency response measures, local health commissions said.

Yunnan and Guizhou cut their emergency response measures from level I to level III, while Guangdong and Shanxi lowered their measures to level II.

China has a four-tier response system for pubic health emergencies that determines what measures it will implement, with level I the most serious.


Japan says 23 passengers mistakenly left virus ship before testing

Around 100 more passengers were allowed to disembark from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship on Saturday as Japan's health minister apologised after 23 others were allowed to leave without being properly tested.

The news came as a Japanese woman who left the ship on Wednesday tested positive for the virus after returning home to Tochigi Prefecture, Kyodo news agency reported, citing the prefectural government.

The 100 passengers who left on Saturday had been in close contact with infected people on board, local media said.

Meanwhile, 18 repatriated Americans and one Israeli who returned home from the ship have tested positive, authorities from the two countries announced Friday.


Covid-19 contagious 2 days before any symptoms

A researcher at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV on Saturday that people infected with the new coronavirus were contagious two days before they showed any symptoms.

Therefore anyone who had been in close contact with someone within 48 hours of them being confirmed as infected should put themselves in isolation for 14 days, he said.


Sunday, 23 February 2020

South Korea raises virus alert to 'grave' as infections surge

South Korea raised its alert on the coronavirus to the highest level Sunday after reporting three more deaths and 169 new infections.

The country has seen a rapid surge in the number of coronavirus cases since a cluster of infections emerged from a religious sect in the southern city of Daegu.

The national toll of 602 cases is now the highest outside China, apart from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

Many countries, including Singapore, have advised their nationals "against all but essential travel to Daegu and Cheongdo" and South Korea.


Wednesday, 19 February 2020

How should face masks be properly disposed of, and can they be reused?

As the country grapples with the Covid-19 outbreak, one disturbing trend that has emerged recently is the incidence of face masks being disposed of indiscriminately.

Over the past week, TODAY has seen used masks haphazardly strewn on pavements and escalators, while pictures of masks in lifts and other public areas have emerged online.

Dr Wong Chen Seong, a consultant at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, said that improperly discarded masks, especially those that are soiled or have a “large amount of respiratory secretions” on them, could be a potential health hazard should others come in contact with it.


Dr Leong detailed several steps to take should one want to dispose of a used face mask (in English in this article), which he shared in Mandarin on a live-streamed Q&A session with Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao recently.

Read more @

You may want to read Forum: Dispose of used masks responsibly

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Insurance companies roll out free coronavirus cover for policyholders

More insurance companies have announced free additional coverage for policyholders in the event they or their eligible family members are hit by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Some of the complimentary coverage include payouts in the event of hospitalisation due to the coronavirus or death.

Some providers also offer diagnosis benefits, such as in the case of HSBC Insurance, where, should the eligible customer or family member be diagnosed with Covid-19 in Singapore by a registered medical practitioner, the insurer will provide a lump sum payment of $1,000.

DBS announced it has partnered with Chubb Insurance Singapore to offer all its five million customers in Singapore complimentary insurance coverage in relation to Covid-19.

Insurance companies that have offered Covid-19 protection include HSBC Insurance, Manulife, DBS Bank, NTUC Income, AIA and Great Eastern.


You may want to read For novel coronavirus insurance, check the small print

COVID-19 outbreak: What you need to know about the Public Health Preparedness Clinics

About 900 general practitioner (GP) clinics will be reactivated as Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) starting Tuesday (Feb 18), to care for patients with respiratory symptoms in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday that it expects the number of confirmed cases in Singapore to increase, partly due to the enhanced disease surveillance.

From Tuesday, about 900 clinics will be “progressively activated” to care for patients with respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose.

These clinics will also help refer patients to a hospital if they are suspected to have pneumonia.

The clinics can be identified by a PHPC decal, and members of the public can find an updated list of PHPCs at from Tuesday.


More than 80% of COVID-19 patients have mild disease and recover: WHO chief

The new novel coronavirus only causes mild disease for 80% of infected patients, said the World Health Organization on Monday (Feb 17).

Speaking to reporters, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that 14% of patients would have severe diseases such as pneumonia.

"Around five% of cases are considered critical with possible multi-organ failure, septic shock and respiratory failure and, in some cases, death," he added.

Tedros also said there were "relatively few cases" among children and more research was needed to understand why.


You may want to read Why are children 'missing' from coronavirus outbreak cases?

Scramble to track Cambodia cruise ship passengers after coronavirus case reported

Holland America Line said it is working with governments and health experts to track passengers who disembarked from its Westerdam cruise ship docked in Cambodia after an American woman tested positive for coronavirus in Malaysia.

The cruise line, which is owned by cruise giant Carnival Corp , said none of the other 1,454 passengers and 802 crew have reported any symptoms.

"Guests who have already returned home will be contacted by their local health department and be provided further information," a statement from the company said.

"These experts are working with the appropriate national health authorities to investigate and follow-up with individuals who may have come in contact with the American guest," said Dr. Grant Tarling, Chief Medical Officer for Holland America Line.


387 complaints on overcharging of face masks, thermometers, hand santisers: CASE

Between Jan 1 this year and Monday (Feb 17), the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) received 387 complaints on the overcharging of face masks, thermometers and hand sanitisers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

A 50ml bottle of Dettol hand sanitiser, while sold out at many pharmacies and supermarkets, could be found for between S$5 and S$7 at some shops in Chinatown and Little India, at least the double the regular retail price.

Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng also flagged a shop on his Facebook page for selling 20 masks for S$138. In comparison, Watsons Online's list price for a box of 10 surgical masks is S$2.50.

Mr Loy said that consumers who wish to report on or provide feedback on the overcharging or overpricing of face masks, thermometers and hand sanitisers by retailers do not have to pay a fee to CASE. But a nominal fee may apply for other consumers seeking refund.


Monday, 17 February 2020

HSA appeals for blood donors as stock dips to low or critical levels during Covid-19 outbreak

With Singapore’s blood banks closely watching the screening of donors during the coronavirus outbreak, the authorities are appealing for healthy donors to give blood because stocks have dipped to low or critical levels.

In response to TODAY’s enquiries on Friday (Feb 14), the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), which manages Singapore’s blood banks, said: “Our blood stocks are currently trending downwards. We, therefore, strongly urge donors who are healthy and eligible to step forward as our patients really need your support during this challenging period.”

With extra precautions in place, such as stringent screening of donors before they are allowed into the blood banks, HSA said that the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, while giving blood is assessed to be low.

The Singapore Red Cross said on its website that on Friday, stocks for the A+, B+, O+ and AB+ blood types were at “critical” levels, and those for the A-, B-, O- and AB- blood types were “low”.

Read more @

Can you get Coronavirus from a package shipped from China?

We have seen Reddit users question if shipments from China could pack more than shoppers asked for, and even Chinese companies themselves are trying to address these concerns.  But according to Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, there's no way that coronavirus could infect a package and no reason to worry.

“The temperature of the air surrounding the packages and projects during shipping is not considered conducive to viral viability,” he told Tom’s Hardware.

His comments echo sentiments shared by the CDC, which says that it can use the behaviors of SARS and MERA, two other types of Coronavirus, as guidance for 2019-nCoV.

“In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” the CDC’s FAQ page says.


Monday, 10 February 2020

Warning: HSA raises alert on three health products containing potent ingredients

In the news release, HSA warned the public not to purchase or use the following products.

Perliere Mimi Pearl Cream

The authority said that the product contained antibiotics and a potent steroid, which could "pose serious health risks if used without medical supervision".

A woman in her 30s had developed steroid withdrawal symptoms (redness, extreme itchiness and a burning sensation) after stopping using the product, according to HSA.

Tian Ma Tu Chung Seven Leave Ginseng

A man in his 50s developed "abnormal blood cortisol levels" after long-term consumption of Tian Ma Tu Chung Seven Leave Ginseng, said HSA. This condition can generally cause weakness, muscle and joint pain, low blood pressure or shock to a patient.

After carrying out tests on the product, which was bought in Malaysia, HSA detected an antihistamine, chlorpheniramine, and a potent steroid, dexamethasone.


In the press release, HSA said that it was carrying out a routine surveillance on health product Impactra when it detected several potent ingredients.

"Impactra was detected to contain sildenafil, tadalafil and chloropretadalafil," said HSA. "These are prescription medicines used for the treatment of male erectile dysfunction."


Novel coronavirus: MOM cancels work passes and employers' work pass privileges after leave of absence breached

Four work pass holders had their work passes revoked and six employers saw their work pass privileges suspended after breaching leave of absence requirements, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a statement on Sunday (Feb 9).

Four work pass holders were found working at their workplaces during their leave of absence period between Feb 4 and Feb 8.

MOM requires work pass holders who recently travelled to mainland China to serve a mandatory 14-day leave of absence. The leave of absence requirements have been put in place to manage the ongoing novel coronavirus situation in Singapore.

In addition to revoking the four work passes, MOM repatriated the four workers within 24 hours and have permanently banned them from working in Singapore.

Read more @

Singaporeans who want to return from Hubei should contact MFA, embassy - updated

Singaporeans in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei Province who would like to return home should contact the Singapore Embassy in Beijing or the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

The MFA spokesperson said this on Friday (Feb 7) in response to media queries on whether there are arrangements to facilitate the return of Singaporeans from Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, to Singapore.

“Following the return of 92 Singaporeans on Jan 30 from Wuhan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has continued to be in discussions with the relevant Chinese authorities on our plans for another flight to bring our fellow Singaporeans there back home.

"Singaporeans in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei Province who have yet to contact the Singapore Embassy in Beijing or the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs and would like to return to Singapore are strongly encouraged to do so as soon as possible."

The contact information for the authorities are as below:

The Singapore Embassy in Beijing
Tel: +86-(10) 65321115 / +86 1391 0755 251

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24-hours)
Tel: +65 6379 8800/8855


You may want to read Second flight carrying 174 Singaporeans from Wuhan lands; medical screening and quarantine for passengers

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Recall: Leggo’s Basil and Sundried Tomato Pesto recalled due to undeclared peanut allergens

Leggo's Basil Pesto and Sundried Tomato Pesto have been recalled due to the potential presence of an undeclared peanut allergen.

Singapore Food Agency (SFA) on Friday (Feb 7) said in a media release that it has directed the importer, DKSG Marketing Services, to recall the products following an alert from The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

The recall, which is ongoing, affects both Australian products with best before dates earlier than Jan 1, 2022, SFA added.

Consumers who have purchased the affected products and who are allergic to peanuts should not consume them, SFA said.


Friday, 7 February 2020

Commentary: Hot and humid weather may end the novel coronavirus

While we are learning more about the virus daily, questions are being raised about its rapid spread. One possibility is that this development could be related to climatic conditions.

Studies done many years ago showed that the “regular” coronavirus (which is one of the causes of the common cold) can survive on surfaces 30 times longer in places with a temperature of 6 degrees Celsius compared to those where the temperature is 20 degrees Celsius and humidity levels are high.

The Hong Kong University team argued that this may be the reason warm and humid Southeast Asian countries did not have SARS outbreaks, unlike Hong Kong and Singapore where in their words, there is “intensive use of air-conditioning”.

Note: SARS disappeared in the northern summer of 2003 and has not reappeared significantly since.

Thus, just as with influenza, the 2019-nCoV may slow down when the sun starts to shine more and the weather warms up in temperate and subtropical countries.


My 2 cents:
It is known that coronavirus can only survive on hard surfaces for a few hours but longer on human beings. This is because humans have lower temperature as compared to hard surfaces where the temperature can go much higher.

So go outdoor and enjoy the sunlight or use less air conditioning. It may save your life.

Coronavirus: Don't shake hands, adopt alternative greetings, says Ministry of Health

Don't shake hands for the time being.....


Coronavirus: Singapore raises Dorscon response level to ‘orange’


Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Coronavirus: How will this outbreak end?

The World Health Organization has declared the growing coronavirus outbreak in China to be a global health emergency. It is a recognition that the outbreak - now with nearly 10,000 cases - may continue to spread beyond China, and that the nations of the world should lend their assistance and be prepared.

Just a month ago, this virus, called 2019-nCoV, was unknown to science. Now, health officials are working furiously to understand it, trying to prevent a pandemic (a larger global spread of an infection).

Right now, infectious disease experts are outlining three broad scenarios for the future of this outbreak. Keep in mind there is a lot of uncertainty about how this will unfold.

1) The spread of the virus gets under control through public health interventions

2) The virus burns itself out after it infects all or most of the people most susceptible to it (like Zika)

3) Coronavirus becomes yet another common virus (like H1N1, which has become a seasonal virus).

Read more @

You may want to read
1) H1N1 Swine Flu Has Killed 56 In Taiwan Over 3 Months, Possibly More Lethal Than Wuhan Virus
2) Commentary: Hot and humid weather may end the novel coronavirus (just like SARS)

China's coronavirus DID come from bats

Bats are likely the cause of coronavirus from China after scientists find the virus is 96% identical to one found in the animals.

The virus, which has killed 490 people so far, was believed to have transferred to humans from an animal, but identifying which one has been challenging.

Now, using samples from seven patients with severe pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, scientists have found striking similarities to coronavirus found in bats.

The DNA is also 79.5% identical with the deadly SARS coronavirus, which suggests vaccines for the now non-existent virus may help with this epidemic.


Use of HIV drugs to fight novel coronavirus in patients in Singapore ‘promising’: MOH chief health scientist

Singapore is using antiviral drugs typically used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids) to help those infected with the novel coronavirus, and the results are promising, the health authorities said on Tuesday (Feb 4).

News of the progress in treatment comes as one 35-year-old male patient from Wuhan, who was the seventh infected patient reported here, was discharged from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases on Tuesday.

Several other cases are also showing positive signs of recovery and more discharges are expected in the coming days.

None of them is in the intensive care unit or is critically ill at this point in time, he added.

Read more @
You may want to read Four-year-old Chinese girl in Langkawi with coronavirus cured, allowed to fly home

Monday, 3 February 2020

Cocktail of flu, HIV drugs appears to help fight coronavirus: Thai doctors

Thai doctors have seen success in treating severe cases of the new coronavirus with combination of medications for flu and HIV, with initial results showing vast improvement 48 hours after applying the treatment, they said on Sunday.

The doctors from Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok said a new approach in coronavirus treatment had improved the condition of several patients under their care, including one 70-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan who tested positive for the coronavirus for 10 days.

The drug treatment includes a mixture of anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, in combination with flu drug oseltamivir in large doses.

"We have been following international practices, but the doctor increased the dosage of one of the drugs," said Somsak Akkslim, director-general of the Medical Services Department, referring to the flu medicine Oseltamivir.


Video: How to put on the surgical mask