Latest coronavirus news as of 5 pm on 14 July
Restrictions reimposed around the world as global cases pass 13 million
Tighter lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures in the US, Hong Kong, the Philippines and other countries are being reimposed as states and cities attempt to control new waves of coronavirus cases. The governor of California yesterday closed all bars in the state and ordered restaurants, cinemas and museums to halt indoor operations, reversing the reopening of these venues in mid-June. Today authorities in Hong Kong imposed new social distancing measures including making masks mandatory on public transport, limiting the size of gatherings to four people and closing Hong Kong Disneyland less than a month after it reopened. In Manila, in the Philippines, a quarter of a million people are expected to be put back under lockdown later this week to try to slow down the spread of infections. In the UK, tighter restrictions could be imposed on people in Blackburn after a spike in coronavirus cases.
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Face coverings will become compulsory in shops and supermarkets in England from 24 July and the police can issue £100 fines for those who don’t comply, the government announced today. Children under 11 and people with certain disabilities will be exempt. The government has been under growing pressure from scientific organisations, including the Royal Society and the recently formed Independent SAGE, to introduce legislation making face coverings mandatory in indoor spaces. World Health Organization guidelines also support the use of face coverings in confined or crowded places where physical distancing isn’t possible.
More than 5 million workers in the US are estimated to have lost their health insurance this year due to the economic impact of the pandemic, according to a report by Families USA, an advocacy group for healthcare consumers. This is the highest increase since the 2008 financial crisis when 3.9 million adults became uninsured, according to the report.
The coronavirus may be able to spread from a pregnant person to their fetus, suggests a case study published in Nature Communications. Tests of placental samples from this case study are consistent with transmission in the womb, physician and study author Daniele DeLuca at the Antoine Béclère hospital in Paris told the Guardian. DeLuca said he suspects this isn’t the first such case, but this is the first time it has been confirmed that coronavirus was transmitted in the womb. The baby who tested positive for covid-19 developed brain inflammation a few days after birth, but he and his mother have both since recovered. The study builds on earlier, more preliminary evidence that the coronavirus can be spread via the placenta.
The worldwide death toll has passed 574,000. The number of confirmed cases is more than 13.1 million, according to the map and dashboard from Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher.
Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist
Second wave in winter: A bad winter could bring a second wave of coronavirus infections that leads to around 120,000 deaths in UK hospitals, twice as many as the first wave, according to an estimate of a reasonable worst-case scenario.
How drug cartels get around lockdowns: Like most other industries, the illegal drug trade has been affected by the covid-19 pandemic, but it hasn’t stopped cartels from finding ways around national shutdowns and anti-narcotics police operations.
The pandemic’s impact on other diseases: The effect of the coronavirus pandemic on healthcare for tuberculosis, malaria and HIV could lead to deaths on a scale similar to those from covid-19 in some parts of the world, a new analysis finds.
Essential information about coronavirus
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What to read, watch and listen to about coronavirus
Humans of COVID-19 is a project highlighting the experiences of key workers on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus in the UK, through social media.
Coronavirus, Explained on Netflix is a short documentary series examining the on-going coronavirus pandemic, the efforts to fight it and ways to manage its mental health toll.
New Scientist Weekly features updates and analysis on the latest developments in the covid-19 pandemic. Our podcast sees expert journalists from the magazine discuss the biggest science stories to hit the headlines each week – from technology and space, to health and the environment.
The Rules of Contagion is about the new science of contagion and the surprising ways it shapes our lives and behaviour. The author, Adam Kucharski, is an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and in the book he examines how diseases spread and why they stop.
Contagion: The BBC Four Pandemic is a sober documentary about the progression of a hypothetical pandemic which the BBC simulated in 2017. Fronted by science journalist and TV presenter Hannah Fry, and made with the support of some of the country’s best epidemiologists and mathematical modelers, it’s very relevant to today’s covid-19 pandemic.
People may soon have to wear face coverings in shops in England, says Boris Johnson
People should wear face coverings in shops and the government is looking at making it mandatory to do so in England, UK prime minister Boris Johnson said today. Describing face coverings as “extra insurance” to stop the spread of coronavirus, he said that the government was looking at how a change in policy might be enforced. Face coverings are already compulsory on public transport in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the government recommends that people wear them in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible, although this isn’t mandatory. This comes as a growing number of scientists are calling for the UK government to increase legislation on face coverings. Independent SAGE, a group of scientists offering alternative advice to the UK government, has said that face coverings should be made mandatory in indoor spaces wherever possible, including in shops and in entertainment venues, as well as on public transport. Earlier this month, the president of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan said that not wearing a face covering should be regarded as anti-social.
Other coronavirus news
Antibodies against the coronavirus in a person’s blood may peak about three weeks after symptoms first appear, then decline rapidly, according to a preliminary study that hasn’t been peer-reviewed. The study, led by researchers at King’s College London, monitored antibody levels in the blood of 65 covid-19 patients and 31 healthcare workers who’d had a positive coronavirus antibody test, between March and June. Three months after antibody levels peaked, only 17 per cent of people tested still had an antibody response with the same level of potency against the virus, the study found. In some people, antibody levels fell 23-fold over the same time period. One concern is that a short-lived antibody response might limit the ability of a coronavirus vaccine to induce immunity. But alongside antibodies, there’s evidence that other parts of the body’s immune system – such as immune cells called T-cells – may also contribute to immunity against the coronavirus and could be harnessed by a future vaccine.
Scotland reported no deaths from covid-19 today for the fifth consecutive day, the nation’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced during a press briefing. But there are concerns that people travelling across the border from England may make it difficult for Scotland to achieve full elimination of the virus.
Mexico saw record daily numbers of new coronavirus cases last week and now has the fourth-highest number of recorded deaths from covid-19, after the US, Brazil and the UK. There have been more than 299,000 coronavirus cases and more than 35,000 deaths from covid-19 in Mexico since the pandemic began. Officials in Mexico say these numbers are probably a significant underestimate, because of a limited testing capacity.
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