Covid-19
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Latest Updates on the Coronavirus Disease

International governments are taking action, airlines are canceling flights, and infectious cases keep increasing.

The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Since then, the large number of infected cases has grown to spread around the world, causing fatalities on a scale unprecedented this century, until the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel virus a global pandemic.

SEE THE LATEST CASE NUMBERS ON OUR INTERACTIVE PAGE.

Read the latest WHO report here.

Below is the latest information on the coronavirus disease, to keep you up to date.

UPDATE May 28, 9:32 AM EDT: EU declares financial 'firepower' of $2.05 trillion with $830 billion aimed at coronavirus recovery

The European Commission laid out its collective vision for recovery funds after the coronavirus pandemic has passed — and it's worth 2.05 trillion dollars. The plan will rely both on the long-term EU budget (from 2021 to 2027) and a special recovery fund, reports Euronews.

President of the commission Ursula von der Leyen is addressing European Parliament to convince MEPs whose votes might sway the plan.

"This is Europe's moment," she said. "We either all go it alone...or we pave a strong path for our people and for the next generation."

"The coronavirus has shaken Europe and the world to its core, testing healthcare and welfare systems, our societies and economies and our way of living and working together. To protect lives and livelihoods, repair the Single Market, as well as to build a lasting and prosperous recovery, the European Commission is proposing to harness the full potential of the EU budget. Next Generation EU of €750 billion as well as targeted reinforcements to the long-term EU for 2021-2027 will bring the total financial firepower of the EU budget to €1.85 trillion," she said.

UPDATE May 28, 6:59 AM EDT: US coronavirus deaths more than 100,000

In under four months, the U.S. has confirmed 100,270 deaths linked to the coronavirus, making this the highest number worldwide. It has 1.69 million confirmed infections, which accounts for 30% of cases globally. 

However, on a per capita basis, the U.S. ranks behind Belgium, the U.K., France, and Italy, as per Johns Hopkins University

The U.S. death toll keeps rising, and health officials say the number is most likely higher than that. 

UPDATE May 28, 6:50 AM EDT: Altered sense of taste in half of COVID-19 patients

A study carried out by the University of Toledo in Ohio has discovered that almost half of those who have COVID-19 have an altered sense of taste, which could help to further diagnose the disease. 

"Earlier studies didn't note this symptom, and that was probably because of the severity of other symptoms like cough, fever and trouble breathing," said Dr. Muhammad Aziz, chief internal medicine resident at UToledo and the paper's lead author. "We were beginning to note that altered or lost sense of taste were also present, not just here and there, but in a significant proportion."

The team analyzed data from five studies carried out between January and the end of March. 49.8% of those in the study experienced a change in taste when they had COVID-19. 

"We propose that this symptom should be one of the screening symptoms in addition to the fever, shortness of breath and productive cough. Not just for suspected COIVD patients, but also for the general population to identify healthy carriers of the virus," Aziz said.

UPDATE May 28, 6:37 AM EDT: Asymptomatic COVID-19 cases may be much higher than previously thought

A study published in the jounral Thorax points out that there may be a much higher number of "silent" COVID-19 infections than has been believed so far. The study observed cruise ship passengers where more than eight out of ten passengers and crew who tested positive had zero symptoms. 

This could prove difficult for easing lockdown restrictions, said Professor Alan Smyth, joint editor in chief of the journal. 

PUDATE May 28, 6:28 AM EDT: Students design computer model that identify COVID-19 with X-rays

Students at Cranfield University in the U.K. have created computer models that can identify COVID-19 through X-rays.The models use computer vision and AI to analyze chest X-ray imagery, which would normally be undetectable to the naked eye. 

A COVID-19 symptom is pneumonia, which the X-ray can detect thanks to AI and then a second model is used to identify whether the pneumonia is caused by COVID-19 or not.

The team used machine learning algorithms and deep learning frameworks, all from working remotely, and sometimes internationally. 

The team lead, Dr Zeeshan Rana, Lecturer in Computational Engineering at Cranfield University said "The research carried out in this pilot project has led to some extremely promising results and we are looking to build on this success rapidly to help in the fight against COVID-19. I am incredibly proud of the work my researchers have carried out. They are a credit to the University and I’m delighted that we are able to support them remotely in carrying out their studies."

UPDATE May 28, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The WHO published a stop-gap guidance document on the clinical management of COVID-19. This new guidance document is intended for healthcare clinicians at work helping COVID-19 patients throughout all phases of their disease, reports the WHO.

WHO published stop-gap guidance on ethical considerations to help guide the use of digital proximity tracking technologies for coronavirus contact tracing. This new document gives n guidance to policy-makers and other stakeholders regarding the appropriate and ethical use of digital proximity tracking technologies for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

WHO Regional Director for the Americas — Dr. Carissa F. Etienne — said that the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Region of the Americas needs to include chronic disease care, since one in four people are at increased risk of negative outcomes from the COVID-19 outbreak due to underlying noncommunicable diseases.

UPDATE May 27, 11:42 AM EDT: Wuhan tested nearly 7 million people in 12 days to avoid second coronavirus wave

According to a Bloomberg report, Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, tested 6.68 million people in just 12 days, bringing a campaign to test all the population to a close. This campaign had begun after several people infected with the coronavirus brought up fears of a second wave to the surface. 

This resurgence of cases is part of a cluster of cases in the northeast part of Wuhan. The testing mission began on May 12, days after a few cases were reported for the first time since the lockdown was lifted. On May 23 alone, 1.1 million peoplewere tested.

UPDATE May 27, 8:45 AM EDT: South Korea faces highest jump in new cases in weeks

Reported on Wednesday, South Korea has seen its highest increase in cases in 49 days with a cluster of cases happening around an online delivery depot to the west of Seoul. 

The now-closed logistics facility of one of South Korea's largest e-commerce companies battled its new outbreak, with the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reporting 40 new cases, with at least 36 of these linked to the e-commerce company, Coupang.

Around 3,600 peoplefrom the company's facility are being tested, and the center closed on Monday, after the first case from the center was diagnosed on Saturday. Following this spike in cases, the mayor of Bucheon, where the facility is located, has stated that the area will be going back to strict physically distancing measures, with schools remaining closed except for high-school seniors. 

UPDATE May 27, 8:25 AM EDT: India shares its contact-tracing app in open-source

India said it would publicly release the source code for its contact-tracing app, Aarogya Setu, which launched in early April. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney made the announcement on Tuesday, also explaining that the source code for Android would be available on GitHub as of the same night at midnight, local time. iOs and KaiOS codes will be available in a few weeks' time.

So far, the app has amassed over 114 million users. The government stated that prizes up to $1,325 would be awarded to security experts who can find and report bugs and vulnerabilities.

"Opening the source code to the developer community signifies our continuing commitment to the principles of transparency and collaboration," the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement. "Aarogya Setu’s development has been a remarkable example of collaboration between government, industry, academia and citizens."

UPDATE May 26, 3:00 PM EDT: France launched an $8.7 billion auto industry recovery plan

French President Emmanuel Macron declared an $8.78 billion (€8 billion) plan to coax the country's motor industry back to life, which was damaged from the loss of sales and production in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns that aimed to slow the spread of the virus, according to a public statement Macron made in northern France on Tuesday.

The new plan includes subsidies for buyers of hybrid and electric cars and will lend support to further research into hydrogen power and self-driving cars. The plan also aims to help the European Union member's auto industry assembler and supplier workforce might survive the coronavirus crisis and emerge afterward as leaders of the global manufacturing and exporting industries — especially when it comes to ecologically-friendly vehicles.

UPDATE May 26, 7:43 AM EDT: Chaos in Indian airports as domestic flights resume

Two months after they were stopped, domestic flights in India have been given the green light to start up again. However, as citizens flock to the airports to catch flights home, many have been canceled as certain states are only allowing a certain amounts of flights a day. Many passengers only found out after arriving at the airport, wihtout having received any notification.

Preventative measures were added before domestic flights could resume. Security officers check passengers' temperatures and verify that every one has downloaded the government's COVID-19-tracking app. Shoes and luggage have to be disinfected.

UPDATE May 26, 7:35 AM EDT: Japan carefully lifts coronavirus state of emergency

On Monday, Japan lifted its state of emergency in Hokkaido and the Tokyo metropolitan area, earlier than its scheduled conclusion due for May 31. The government's decision to lift the ban early shows how it is ready for the nation to revive its economy as soon as possible. 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explained "I made a judgment that the country as a whole had met the strict standard to lift the state of emergency compared to other countries." Japan hasn't experienced strict lockdown measures that some parts of the U.S. and some countries in Europe have had to endure. The country has under 2,000 people hospitalized currently because of coronavirus.

"The Japanese model has demonstrated its strength," Abe added.

Events such as concerts will start to reopen with measures in place, gradually easing as time goes on.

UPDATE May 26, 7:29 AM EDT: California to reopen in-store retail and places of worship

California will be able to reopen its retail shops with in-store shopping as well as places of worship, health authorities announced on Monday. The California Department of Public Health said that these spaces could reopen at 25% of their usual capacity along with other restrictions. 

Business owners and religious leaders have to wait for approval first from county health officials before reopening their doors. Each store or place of worship must send a plan to officials explaining which measures they'll take, specifying cleaning and social distancing measures.

 

UPDATE May 26, 7:21 AM EDT: CDC warns of aggressive cannibal rats as lockdowns reduce their access to food waste

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and and Prevention (CDC) has noted that rats in metropolitan areas that usually have easy access to food leftovers and waste from humans are turning aggressive and acting in unusually cannibalistic ways. 

After two months of lockdown, restaurant waste, street rubbish, and other food sources have dwindled across American cities, so rats are now turning on each other in order to survive. According to the CDC, the rodents have been turning on their young in order to receive some much-needed sustenance. 

"Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas," said the CDC. "Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food. Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behavior."

Rats are also moving nearer to humans and infestations have been reported as they make their way into or nearer people's homes and dumpsters in search of food. The CDC recommends "Preventive actions include sealing up access into homes and businesses, removing debris and heavy vegetation, keeping garbage in tightly covered bins, and removing pet and bird food from their yards."

UPDATE May 26, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situational report

Director-General Dr. Tedros of the WHO mentioned in his normal media briefing that "over 400 hospitals in 35 countries are actively recruiting patients and nearly 3,500 patients have been enrolled from 17 countries" as part of the Solidarity Trial which was established to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against COVID-19, reports the WHO.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said they will go on repurposing their influenza surveillance systems to also detect the coronavirus virus.

UPDATE May 25, 6:56 PM EDT: Brazil has surpassed US in daily coronavirus death toll

Brazil's daily coronavirus deaths reached a higher tally than the fatality count in the U.S. for the first time in the last day, according to the country's Health Ministry, reports Reuters.

Brazil confirmed 807 deaths in the last day, but the U.S. saw less, at 620.

As of writing, Brazil is suffering the second-worst outbreak in the world, with 374,898 cases, behind the U.S. — which has 1.637 million cases. The total death count in the U.S. has climbed to 97,971, according to a Reuters tally, while Brazil climbs faster — with a tally of 23,473.

UPDATE May 25, 2:43 PM EDT: Italy sees lowest number of new coronavirus cases since February

Italy recorded 300 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, according to the national Civil Protection Agency — the lowest daily increase in additional infections since February 29, reports CNN.

The test data showed a drop in the number of active cases by 2.29%, to at least 55,300 on Monday. The running tally of patients in intensive care is now at 541 — a drop of 12 patients in the last day.

Italy also reported 92 more deaths from the virus, raising the total number of COVID-19 fatalities to 32,877, said the agency. As of writing, the country has seen at least 230,158 coronavirus cases in the country, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

UPDATE May 25, 1:00 PM EDT: WHO temporarily stops hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 trials amid growing safety concerns

The World Health Organization placed a temporary halt on tests of the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus treatment to review growing safety concerns, said Director-General Adhanom Ghebreyesu of the WHO during the opening remarks of a Monday briefing.

The decision came on the heels of a review of the effects of hydroxychloroquine published in the journal The Lancet, in which patients of the virus using the drug were more likely to die or develop irregular heart rhythm — increasing their chances of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest — in stark contrast to coronavirus patients who did nothing about their infection.

The medical journal's study examined 96,000hospitalized patients confirmed to have the virus across six continents. It was the most extensive analysis of medical records on the drug yet, which happened from December 20, 2019 to April 14, 2020, according to Axios.

UPDATE May 25, 6:28 AM EDT: US adds Brazil to its travel ban list

Foreign nationals who have visited Brazil in the last 14 days face travel restrictions upon entering the U.S. Currently, Brazil is the world's second major hotspot of coronavirus cases, with some 360,000 cases recorded as of Sunday, and with 22,000 reported deaths to date. 

The U.S. move is to try and limit any new cases from entering the country. "Today's action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.

The rule is that non-Americans who have been in Brazil 14 daysbefore requesting entry to the U.S. will be denied entry. The suspencion takes effect on May 28 and does not affect U.S. citizens, or the spouse, parents, legal guardian, or child of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

UPDATE May 25, 6:19 AM EDT: Americans across the US abandon social distancing rules over Memorial Day weekend, gathering in the hundreds

Sunbathing on beaches and pool parties went ahead as usual for many Americans this Memorial Day weekend, as they decided to leave social distancing regulations behind and gather in large numbers. 

At the Lake of the Ozarks, in Missouri, bar tables placed in the pool were brimming with drinks as hundreds of people gathered for the pool party, in close contact, seemingly ignoring anything to do with COVID-19.

Further south, in Daytona Beach, Florida, hundreds of others gathered on the boardwalk for a party. CBS reported that officers came to try and disperse the scene. "We got slammed. Disney is closed, Universal is closed. Everything is closed, so where did everybody come with the first warm day with 50% opening? Everybody came to the beach," Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said at a Sunday news conference.

Total U.S. cases of coronavirus has surpassed 1.64 million, and at the moment its unclear whether numbers are rising due to more vast testing, or a second wave of COVID-19 has hit.

UPDATE May 25, 6:11 AM EDT: Oxford scientists say there may now only be a 50% chance of their vaccine working, as number of cases is falling too rapidly

Scientists working on one of the vaccines against COVID-19 in Oxford have said that because numbers of cases are falling too quickly in the U.K., their chances of a successful vaccine are now at 50%

The Oxford University mission to find a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus is in "a race against the virus disappearing, and against time," Adam Hill, director at Oxford University's Jenner Institute, told the Telegraph this weekend.

Hill continued by saying "At the moment, there's a 50% chance that we get no result at all."

The team's experimental vaccine is known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, and its trial relies on giving it to a group of participants who then mingles with the population to see whether they're protected from catching COVID-19. However, with numbers dwindling in the U.K., the scientists' worry is that they'll be unable to tell whether the vaccine has successfully protected the participants or not.

UPDATE May 25, 6:00 AM EDT: Italy reopens its Catholic churches after lockdown, hand sanitizer and face masks mandatory

May 18 saw Catholic churches in Italy reopen after the longest and harshest lockdown in Europe, and Sunday masses on May 24 were buzzing, safely. 

Believers had to wear face masks and sanitize their hands before entering the churches, and strict restrictions on how many people could be in the church at the same time were in place. In pews where usually four or five people sit side by side were now only filled with two people

During the country's lockdown, churches had to stop all religious ceremonies and shut their doors as well. As one of the world's most catholic countries, Sunday was a good trial run to see how other countries may think about reopening their own places of worship safely. 

The main conditions for churches to remain open are: reduced capacity, face masks, no holy water, and social distancing in pews. Priests may still hear confession, but not in booths. 

Moreover, priests are only offering Holy Communion by placing the wafer in the parishioners' hands, and none on the tongue, as is also usually normal. 

UPDATE May 25, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The WHO's Regional Office for Africa provided new training for Tanzanian health workers to grant them skills to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients, reports the WHO. A total of 160 health workers locally-based in Tanzania attended a three-day virtual training session set up by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization.

The U.K. will give $3.8 million toward COVID-19 response in the Caribbean. This financial contribution to the Americas WHO Regional Office will assist Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Belize, Guyana, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines work to contain the spread of the COVID-19 disease, and reduce its final impact.

WHO just partnered with Vital Strategies and other global partners to launch a novel technical primer: Revealing the Toll of COVID-19: A Technical Package for Rapid Mortality Surveillance and Epidemic Response. This technical package for rapid mortality surveillance and epidemic response to assist national governments' efforts in surveillance and COVID-19 response-planning.

UPDATE May 24, 11:25 AM EDT: Russia reports highest one-day death toll

Russia reported its highest single-day coronavirus death toll on Sunday, reported AP. It also, however, revealed its lowest number of new cases in three weeks.

The national coronavirus task force stated that 3,541 people have died from the virus and the number of new cases was 8,599. For several days in May, the country reported more than 11,000 new cases a day.

Russia has stated it has had overall 344,481 infection cases. However, some have accused the country of under-reporting its numbers. Russian officials deny this allegation.

UPDATE May 23, 11:34 AM EDT: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo eased the state’s ban on gatherings in time for the Memorial Day weekend

New Yorkers experienced a welcome reprieve after two months of coronavirus quarantine and just in time for in time for the Memorial Day weekend, reported AP. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo eased the state’s ban on gatherings

Cuomo signed an order late Friday giving people permission to assemble in groups of as many as 10 provided they stay at least 6 feet from each other and wear masks.

This could give New Yorkers the opportunity to picnic together as long as they maintain social distancing. They can also visit New York City beaches this weekend.

However they are forbidden from entering the water and need to wear masks.

“I’ve been really clear about the beaches; they are closed for swimming,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday at his daily coronavirus briefing. “There will not be lifeguards. People are not supposed to go to the beach to swim.”

UPDATE May 23, 10:34 AM EDT: New model reveals 24 states still have uncontrolled coronavirus spread

A new model is revealing that the coronavirus is still spreading at epidemic rates in 24 states, reported The Washington Post. These states are particularly located in the South and Midwest and are at risk of a second wave of infections.

Researchers at Imperial College London created the model. The model used cellphone data to track people’s movements. With mobility increasing and the approach of Memorial Day and the start of summer, the researchers produced an estimate of viral spread as of May 17.

Some states have had little viral spread and can now reopen their economies without generating a new epidemic-level surge in cases. Others are nowhere near this lucky.

The model indicates that in the majority of states, a second wave is very plausible if people abandon restrictions put in place to mitigate the viral spread.

“There’s evidence that the U.S. is not under control, as an entire country,” said Samir Bhatt, a senior lecturer in geostatistics at Imperial College.

UPDATE May 22, 3:27 PM EDT: IBM lays off thousands, seeks 'flexibility' amid COVID-19 crisis

Both IBM and Hewlett-Packard announced serious cost-cutting measures would take effect, including pay cuts and significant job losses, reports Ars Technica.

IBM declared its layoffs late on Thursday. In a public statement, the company said the "highly competitive marketplace requires flexibility to constantly remix high-value skills," which in the case of the global pandemic means a significant number of workers — and their labor — are no longer viewed as having a high value, according to Ars Technica.

UPDATE May 22, 1:07 PM EDT: California has launched its COVID-19 contact tracing program

The state of California launched its COVID-19 contact tracing program on Friday, with Gov. Gavin Newsom declaring a public awareness campaign to encourage everyone to take part, reports CNET.

Called California Connected, the program will involve public health workers reaching out to people who've tested positive for the virus, and enabling access to free confidential testing and supplemental medical advice. Health workers will also offer to test those who've been in close proximity to people who have tested positive for the virus.

Texts and calls asking for people's name, age, places they've been, and people they've been in proximity to will come under the caller ID "CA COVID Team," as will emails. But the surveys will never ask for users' financial information, immigration status, or Social Security numbers.

"We are all eager to get back to work and play," said the California governor on Friday, reports CNET. "We're asking Californians to answer the call when they see their local public health department reaching out by phone, email or text. That simple action of answering the call could save lives and help keep our families and communities healthy."

Eventually, there will be roughly 10,000 contact tracers throughout the state, but as of writing 500 public health care workers have been trained to use the program.

Notably, this is different than the contact tracing program under development with Google and Apple, which will use smartphones' Bluetooth and mapping technology to track where users go and with whom they pass into dangerous proximity.

UPDATE May 22, 10:36 AM EDT: Oxford COVID-19 vaccine moves on to next phases of human trials

University of Oxford researchers have been working hard on a vaccine for COVID-19, having mostly completed phase I, are now looking for over 10,000 children and adult participants for phases II and III. 

The next phase will begin imminently in May and in June, and will include participants between the ages of 5 and over 70 years old, and phase III will include adults over 18 years of age. The researchers will be observing these different age groups' immune system responses to the vaccine, to see whether or not there is a variation in people of different ages. 

Adult participants in both phase II and phase III will be randomized to receive one or two doses of either the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (Oxford's one) or a licensed vaccine (MenACWY) that will be used as a "control" comparison. 

As Professor Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said: "The clinical studies are progressing very well and we are now initiating studies to evaluate how well the vaccine induces immune responses in older adults, and to test whether it can provide protection in the wider population."

The aim of the study is to see how different age groups respond to the vaccine and how they could be protected from COVID-19.

UPDATE May 22, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and WHO joined forces to enhance health services for stateless and displaced people, including refugees, reports the WHO. WHO and the UNHCR signed a recent agreement to strengthen and advance public health services for displaced people who number in the millions worldwide. One key aim in 2020 is to support continuing efforts to protect roughly 70 million displaced people due to COVID-19.

The WHO has lent support to the Smithsonian Science Education Center and InterAcademy Partnership to launch a new COVID-19 rapid-response guide for youths aged eight to 17 years old, called "COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others?" The new guide is based on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and aims to assist young people in learning the science and social science of COVID-19 addition to helping them take action to keep themselves and their families and communities safe from harm.

The WHO also launched a new search feature for questions concerning the coronavirus crisis. WHO's COVID-19 webpage now features a new enhanced natural language processing search bar, which comprehends questions posed in normal, everyday language, and more accurately provides correct answers to those queries.

UPDATE May 21, 08:22 AM EDT: US colleges planning to reopen in the autumn, but they won't look the same

Big lectures will be scrapped, dorms will be much lower in capacity, and students will face mandatory testing. This will be the regular life of college kids returning to study in autumn. 

Even though the reopenings include risks, many leaders have explained that financial and political pressures to reopen are too high to ignore. So far, colleges that are planning to reopen include Purdue University, Texas A&M University, the University of Notre Dame, statewide systems in Arizona, Florida, New Hampshire, and more. Many others plan on making a decision this summer. 

In contrast, the California State University System has said that 23 campuses will continue with virtual classes in autumn.

UPDATE May 21, 08:16 AM EDT: Drug maker AstraZeneca secures agreement to make 400 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine

The Anglo-Swedish drug company has received an investment from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to develop, produce, and deliver the vaccine starting this autumn. 

CEO of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot  stated "We will do everything in our power to make this vaccine quickly and widely available."

The vaccine is called AZD1222, which was developed by Oxford University's Jenner Institute, working with the Oxford Vaccine Group. "AstraZeneca recognizes that the vaccine may not work,″ stated the company, "but is committed to progressing the clinical program with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk."

Other drug makers such as Moderna and Sanofi are also racing to create a vaccine against COVID-19 so as to allow normal life to resume as soon as possible. 

UPDATE May 21, 08:08 AM EDT: European plans to use contact-tracing apps slowing down

Thursday saw doubt creeping up about whether or not European governments will be able to pull off their contact-tracing app plans in a bid to monitor COVID-19 more closely anytime soon.

British Prime Miniser Boris Johnson had stated that June 1st would welcome a "test, track, and trace" COVID-19 program to ease the lockdown in the country. However, the government seemingly backtracked on an earlier promise to make an app as a pillar of that program.

In France, the government has had to also delay the deployment of its contact-tracing app. The sysmte was initially due to go live last week, as France eased many lockdown restrictions, but it now won't be ready until next month due to technical issues and reservations over privacy. 

Italy's Premier Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday that its contact-tracing app would start in the "coming days" — leaving it as broadly as that. 

Spain has plans to start tests on a European Bluetooth-based app at the end of June. 

UPDATE May 21, 08:01 AM EDT: Swiss company developing UV robot to clean office and commercial spaces

Desktops, counters, and euipment in common spaces will be cleaned by a UV disinfecting robot being built by Swiss startup, Rovenso.

CEO of the company, Thomas Estier, stated "For me, what was also interesting is that the crisis motivated us to consider existing solutions for disinfection, and then understanding that [those solutions] are not adapted for large workshops and offices."

"Instead, it would make sense for a robot to ‘understand’ its environment and act intelligently and to better spend its energy, and this loop of sense-analyze-act is the essence of robotics. When you use the full power of robotics, then you can really innovate with new use cases," he continued. 

The company has named its disinfecting robot ROVéo, which autonomously maps its 3D environment with lidar, analyzes it, and then focuses its UV-C disinfection system just to surfaces likely to be touched by humans. It achieves a 99% disinfection rate or these surfaces, which include desktops, tabletops, counters, handles and handrails, and equipment in common spaces. 

UPDATE May 21, 7:54 AM EDT: Shared manufacturing IP could help during COVID-19

Being able to manufacture goods and products will be one way of helping the economy kick-start again. However, most of these IPs are clouded in secrecy, as per an IEEE report. By removing many of these barriers, it will allow businesses to grow up again.

Many companies will be unsure of sharing their intellectual property, even during a pandemic. However, in order to get businesses operating normally again, this is one way of helping them.

UPDATE May 21, 5:00 AM EDT: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey gifts Andrew Yang $5 million to strengthen hand of universal basic income proposal

Billionaire CEO of Twitter and mobile-payment company Square Jack Dorsey is gifting $5 million to Andrew Yang's Humanity Forward, a group the former Democratic presidential candidate launched, to strengthen the hand of universal basic income proponents, reports The Rolling Stone.

Dorsey plans to give $1 billion of his own wealth through a new fund named Start Small, and he announced the newest seven-figure donation on the latest episode of Yang's podcast, "Yang Speaks." Dorsey informed Yang that a universal basic income (UBI) was a "long overdue" idea to him, and added that "the only way we can change policy is by experimenting and showing case studies of why this works."

Yang said Humanity Forward will immediately distribute Dorsey's contribution via small cash grants of roughly $250 to the almost 20,000 people who've lost their jobs or have been economically affected during and by the COVID-19 outbreak. Yang's humanitarian group already gave almost $2 million away in direct cash assistance to assist communities still reeling from the coronavirus crisis.

UPDATE May 21, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The WHO World Health Assembly closed with a global commitment to bolster the COVID-19 response, reports the WHO. Delegates adopted an historic resolution to bring the world together in solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO has worked to support Somalia since the outbreak began to enhance its infection control capabilities, testing capacities, and case management. Training was given to healthcare workers of the De-Martinohospital and 13 additional isolation centers throughout the country, which each also received medical supplies and additional budget support to maintain salaries. But as of yet only 26% of WHO's appeal of $21.95 million for emergency response to the coronavirus crisis in Somalia has seen active funding.

The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, celebrated annually on May 21, is an opportunity for people to celebrate the world's cultures and the importance of competent intercultural dialogue within healthcare systems. It's also supposed to remind everyone that public health efforts against the coronavirus crisis need a holistic response including vulnerable populations like refugees and migrants in national plans and strategies.

UPDATE May 20, 3:41 PM EDT: More than 100 million people locked down again in northeast China

Roughly 108 million people in northeast China were forced back into lockdown conditions on Monday amid a new rising cluster of COVID-19 cases forcing the country into a backslide, reports Bloomberg.

This came as an abrupt reversal of the general reopening happening across the country as cities in Jilin province blocked buses and trains, shut down schools, and left tens of thousands of residents quarantined, reports Bloomberg.

These measures caused distress in many people living in the area who hoped the worst of the nation's outbreak had passed.

People "are feeling more cautious again," said Fan Pai, a worker at a Shenyang trading company, where renewed restrictions are now in place, to Bloomberg. "Children playing outside are wearing masks again" while health care workers are strolling around in protective gear once more, she added. "It's frustrating because you don't know when it will end."

UPDATE May 20 11:50 AM EDT: Virtual safaris keep showing animals for locked down tourists

Virtual safaris are being carried out so as to keep lockdown people busy and entertained, all while providing some much needed aid to struggling African wildlife parks that have been hard hit by the absence of tourists.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy has created what they call Sofa Safari that sees workers driving around the park filming animals with their smartphones. "One of the ways we are trying to be innovative is looking at virtual ways of bringing wildlife to people’s homes, to their television sets and to their telephones," said the conservancy’s managing director, Richard Vigne.

The hope is that attention to endangered species doesn't fade as people aren't able to physically visit these animals and parks. "It’s really important to continue to raise awareness," said Ellie Jones-Perrott, a zoology student and creator of Sofa Safari.

UPDATE May 20, 11:39 AM EDT: Hong Kong's lockdown wristband is the size of "a deck of cards"

Upon landing in Hong Kong passengers are greeted with a governmental wristband that, when paired with an official app, tracks your movements over 14 days. This is the territory's official method of tracking the mandatory 14 day quarantine for everyone landing into the nation. 

As per an Associated Press interview, the wristband isn't sleek or small, rather it is a lightweight version of a deck of cards sitting constantly on your wrist. Once the wristband is safely placed on you, you need to stay within your confined flat ,and never futher than 30 feet away from your phone, from which the wristband wearer's actions are monitored.

Not only did the app pop up an alert to the user, reminding them that they ware being watched, but on the third day of the quarantine, a government official called the person to chek that they were at home, and on the 10th day two uniformed officers knocked on their door asking for the I.D. to prove they were still at home. 

After two weeks, all the person has to do is click the "Finish the quarantine" button on the app, and remove the wristband and they're free to roam.

UPDATE May 20, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The WHO Regional Director for the Americas Dr. Carissa F. Etienne stressed that addressing COVID-19 will necessitate the protection of vulnerable groups like women, underprivileged populations, indigenous populations, and migrants by confronting health, social, and economic inequalities exacerbated by the crisis, reports the WHO.

WHO published a new Case Report Form regarding "Suspected cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) in kids and adolescents temporally related to COVID-19," which aims for convenient use by public health officials for collecting standardized data on clinical representations, case severity and observed outcomes.

Uganda has commissioned the first Port Health coronavirus laboratory in the main Uganda-Tanzania border after signs of possible coronavirus importation via truck drivers surfaced. Two GeneXpert machines will see use to test all truck drivers who reach the Mutukula point of entry, where test results will be completed within 45 minutes.

A Cairo doctor described how he became infected with and eventually recovered from the COVID-19 coronavirus, stressing the need for health care workers to practice elementary infection, prevention, and control measures while working with patients.

UPDATE May 19, 8:31 AM EDT: President Donald Trump has been taking unproven coronavirus drug, even without showing any symptoms

On Monday, President Trump stated that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug not yet proven to be a full treatment against COVID-19. Apparently Trump has been taking the drug in the form a daily pill for a week and a half now, even though he shows no signs of having the virus. 

Only last month the FDA cautioned against taking hydroxychloroquine "outside of a hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems."

Hydroxychloroquine may have adverse side effects, but Trump said that "And it seems to have an impact — and maybe it does, maybe it doesn't — but if it doesn't, you're not going to get sick or die. This is a, a pill that's been used for a long time for 30, 40 years on the malaria and or lupus to, and even on arthritis I guess from what I understand, so it's been heavily tested," he said. 

"What do you have to lose?" he added, explaining that he is taking the drug as a "preventative" measure.

UPDATE May 19, 08:19 AM EDT: CDC launching U.S.-wide coronavirus antibody study for 325,000 residents in 25 cities

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is planning a nationwide coronavirus antibody study of 325,000 people across 25 metropolitan areas, including Boston, New York, and Minneapolis. testing will start this summer and carry out until next year, as per Reuters' report.

The study will test blood samples of donors from these 25 cities for antibodies present when the immune system fights off the virus, as per Dr. Michael Busch director of the nonprofit Vitalant Research Institute. Busch is also leading the preliminary study of the blood samples, and will be testing 36,000 samples.

The hope is to better understand the coronavirus' impact on the human body in order to find an appropriate treatment, cure, or vaccine. The CDC's study will test 1,000 blood samples in each of the 25 cities per month over a 12 month period. Then, testing will ramp up to 25,000 donors from the 18th month onwards. The blood samples will come fro "regular, altruistic donors" who donate blood as per Busch.

UPDATE May 19, 08:07 AM EDT: Germany and France join forces to propose 500 billion euro fund to help the E.U. recover amid the outbreak

In order to help the E.U.'s countries to recover more quickly from the coronavirus outbreak, Germany and France have proposed a 500 billion euro (over $540 billion) fund. This amount would add to the already-agreed-upon half-trillion dollars the E.U. bloc signed off on last month. 

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron disclosed the news at a press conference on Monday, with President Macron live via video conference. The funds would be raised through E.U.-backed bonds and would be put to use in the hardest hit regions and industries. Moreover, it would be offered in terms of grants and not loans, with repayments coming from the E.U. budget over the next 20 years or so.

Chancellor Merkel called for solidarity between the 27 nation-bloc, stating that the current economic challenge "requires this unusual, one-off effort that Germany and France are now prepared to take."

As per Chancellor Merkel's statement "The goal is for Europe to emerge from the crisis stronger."

UPDATE May 19, 8:00 AM EDT: Seychelles bans cruise ships from entering its port through 2021

Part of the measures to minimize the impact of COVID-19 in the country, the Seychelles has decided to ban all cruise ships from entering Port Victoria until after 2021. The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Didier Dogley stated that the ban goes into effect immediately and carries out until the end of 2021, as per local newspaper the Nation.

Minister Dogley also stated that the government has taken measures to ensure tourism-related companies stay afloat during the outbreak, or at least until the industry picks up again. On top of salary guarantee until June, other available support include soft loans, and tax holiday — a government program that offers a tax reduction or elimination to businesses.

UPDATE May 19, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros said to the World Health Assembly: "We have come together as the nations of the world to confront the defining health crisis of our time," reports the WHO. As he concluded he remarked that the COVID-19 outbreak is a reminder that the world needs a safer, healthier, and fairer standard of health, and a stronger WHO will support this goal.

Around the world, countries have placed a spectrum of public health and social measures to slow or halt community spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. WHO published a document to give an overview of social measures and public health, and to offer strategies to limit potential harm resulting from these interventions.

A new WHO report on the health behaviors of children aged 11 to 15 in Europe shows that more adolescents have reported mental health concerns. The results were founded on data collected from 2014 to 2019 and give a baseline against which forthcoming studies might measure the impact of the outbreak on young people's lives.

The WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific just released a new timeline highlighting key moments and actions taken in response to the spread of COVID-19 in their respective region.

UPDATE May 18, 11:13 AM EDT: Just days after reopening, 70 new coronavirus cases linked to schools have been reported in France

One week after a third of kids in France returned to school, a flare-up of 70 new coronavirus cases linked to the schools have already been reported.

Some schools reopened last week, and another 150,000 junior high-school students returned to school this Monday in France. The move was initially welcomed, however French Education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, warned of the worrying numbers and the 70 schools that reported these new cases were immediately shut down again.

There was no specification as to whether the new cases were reported in schoolchildren or teachers. Blanquer noted that as the incubation period for the virus is several days, it's likely the infected persons already had the virus prior to schools reopening. 

France reopened 40,000 schools last week, with classes capped at 15 students.

UPDATE May 18, 11:04 AM EDT: Europe reopened up widely on Monday

Monday saw an extensive reopening of large parts of Europe as numbers of infections have been slowly decreasing on the continent. Museums, golf coures, cafes, restaurants, shops, have all been slowly reopening their doors across Europe. 

The countries are now looking at easing border restrictions as of next month, to try and see what can be done for the Summer tourist season within Europe's countries.

Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas, was in talks with 10 Southern European nations, and told ZDF Television "This vacation this year won’t be like the ones we know from the past. The pandemic is still there, and we must at least have safety precautions for the worst case that the figures get worse again."

UPDATE May 18, 10:58 AM EDT: Moderna's vaccine results are promising

On Monday, biotech Moderna, released the first human trial results from early coronavirus vaccine, called mRNA-1273. A small number of volunteers from the trial showed immune responses that may help protect people from becoming infected with the coronavirus. 

Moderna plans on moving forward rapidly with its next phase of testing, with the hope of having an emergency vaccine ready by Autumn.

UPDATE May 18, 10:41 AM EDT: FDA authorizes at-home COVID-19 sample collection kit

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized an at-home sample collection kit that can be sent across to specified laboratories for COVID-19 diagnostics testing. 

The sample is made by Everlywell, Inc., and is called the Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit, which has received FDA emergency authorization for use. Those wishing to receive the at-home test must first undergo an online questionnaire that is then reviewed by a health care provider. The user will then be able to self-collect a nasal sample through Everylywell's testing kit. 

The FDA has also authorized two diagnostics tests for COVID-19, which are to be performed at specific laboratories. "The authorization of a COVID-19 at-home collection kit that can be used with multiple tests at multiple labs not only provides increased patient access to tests, but also protects others from potential exposure," said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

"Today’s action is also another great example of public-private partnerships in which data from a privately funded study was used by industry to support an EUA request, saving precious time as we continue our fight against this pandemic.”

UPDATE May 18, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The "73rd World Health Assembly" opened today and will focus on the COVID-19 outbreak, reports the WHO. Member States will give statements and report their progress in fighting the coronavirus, in addition to sharing knowledge on the changing situation and considering a draft resolution on the COVID-19 crisis. The document is available online in Arabic, Russian, French, Chinese, English, and Spanish.

The WHO signed a new agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to join forces and promote health through physical and sports activities. The new agreement is especially focused on preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This new collaboration is apt because of the way the COVID-19 outbreak is at present affecting people with NCDs, claims the WHO.

Floods in Somalia have raised concerns regarding an upsurge in cholera cases as the ravaged country works to confront the growing number of coronavirus cases. The WHO's country office has since sent sorely-needed essential medical supplies, despite very low funding available for humanitarian operations in Somalia.

Sony Music Latin and Global Citizen just released a new "Color Esperanza" track, with proceeds going to benefit the Pan American Health Organization (PAGO) the WHO's Regional Office for the Americas, and its COVID-19 relief projects active throughout the Americas.

UPDATE May 17, 11:30 AM EDT: COVID-19 also affects the toes, say dermatologists

COVID-19 may show symptoms on the skin and particularly on the skin of toes, reported AP. The revelation is a rather unusual one

Massachusetts General Hospital dermatologist Esther Freeman told AP she expected to see skin ailments surfacing from the virus. “But I was not anticipating those would be toes,” explained Freeman.

Now, people are calling them “COVID toes.” They look like what doctors would see on the feet and hands of people who’ve spent a long time outdoors in the cold: red and on occasion itchy.

However, the American Academy of Dermatology is not advising that people race to the emergency room if toes are the only symptom. Instead, a telemedicine check is preferred as the first step for people wondering if they do indeed have “COVID toes.” Doctors can then make a better informed decision about what the symptoms really are. 

UPDATE May 17, 8:30 AM EDT: Anti-lockdown protests take place in Warsaw, London

Protests took place Saturday in European cities against lockdown restrictions, reported AP. The demonstrations resulted in tear gas used in Poland and arrests made in London.

In German cities, police enforced distancing rules as many gathered to express their anger at restrictions that are affecting the economy and resulting in a loss of civic freedom.

In Stuttgart, the permitted number of 5,000 demonstrators was exceeded and police directed people to another open space. A mask requirement was also implemented under threat of a 300 euro ($325) fine.

UPDATE May 17, 8:00 AM EDT: Coronavirus spreading across Russia

After devastating Moscow, the coronavirus is now spreading across Russia’s 11 time zones, reported CNN.

The country's coronavirus headquarters confirmed on Sunday that out of Russia's total of 281,752 cases, 142,824 are in Moscow. The virus, however, is now also spreading to other regions in the country, regions that are unfortunately too impoverished to handle its coming well.

President Vladimir Putin said in a video conference meeting with the country’s 85 leaders that it would fall to local leadership to decide whether to continue lockdown measures. 

"We have a big country," he said. "The epidemiological situation varies across the regions. We factored this in before, and now at the next stage, we have to act even more specifically and carefully."

Russia's regions have now begun reporting their own coronavirus numbers. This has resulted in an occasional disparity between the nationally published statistics and local government numbers. 

UPDATE May 16, 4:00 PM EDT: Navy confirms eight more USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors have coronavirus for a second time

Sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt are not faring well as the Navy confirmed on Saturday that eight more have tested positive again for the coronavirus, reported AP. This raises the number of sailors who have become infected a second time to 13.

The sailors had already gone through at least two weeks of isolation and had to test negative twice in a row, with the tests separated by at least a day or two, to return to duty. But this did not stop them from getting infected once more.

The incident brings to question the accuracy of testing. There is the chance that in some cases infection can be at such a low level that it is not detected by the test. In that case, the eight incidents do not constitute a relapse.

UPDATE May 15, 5:00 PM EDT: Successful 'real-time' modeling of Germany's COVID-19 outbreak might help other countries

A new report in Science shows how meticulous modeling throughout the COVID-19 outbreak in Germany has provided critical intelligence that might help other countries contain the spread of the disease.

Precision in forecast models for the short-term future of the COVID-19 outbreak allowed decision-makers the crucial intelligence needed to contain and mitigate the effects of the disease on a societal scale.

However, the many data points shift as public interventions — like social distancing — begin to take effect in the area. The new study in Science demonstrates how observed changes in the coronavirus' growth rate matched well with public declarations of intervention measures in Germany.

The three main pillars of modeling an outbreak consist of establishing central epidemiological parameters like the virus' reproduction number, the mass effort to simulate the real-world effects of various comparative "battle plans" to minimize the outbreak collateral, and estimation of real-world effects such measures might have — which will allow for rapid adjustments to the model, with the aim of adapting short-term projections.

The data show that magnitude and timing are key when it comes to COVID-19 interventions. Called "change points," the moments when the real-world effects necessitate an adaptation of outbreak modeling to account for changes in the disease's progression caused by interventional steps. And, according to the study, models with two or three change points showed optimal predictive efficacy.

UPDATE May 15, 7:19 A EDT: Moscow residents receive free coronavirus tests 

All residents of Moscow, in Russia, have started receiving free COVID-19 antibody tests from 30 clinics throughout the city as of Friday. The program was announced by the city's mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, who explained it'll allow officials "to know precisely how many Muscovites had coronavirus and developed immunity, how many people are infected or are suspected to have coronavirus."

Sobyanin said that up to 200,000 testsa day by the end of the month would be carried out, and that 70,000 residents will start receiving invitations for testing "every few days". The results will help the city coordinate the work of health care facilities, and what decisions to make regarding easing lockdown restrictions. 

The city's 12 million-strong residents count for half of the country's 262,000 confirmed cases. 

UPDATE May 15, 07:08 AM EDT: Research looking into whether or not non-thermal plasma could inactivate coronavirus

Associate Professor, Herek Clack, of the University of Michigan has been looking into whether or not non-thermal plasma can inactivate airborne viruses. On top of this, another one of Clack's studies proved that non-thermal plasma could inactivate porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. Now, scientists are gathering around Clack and his work to see whether or not non-thermal plasma can inactivate SARS-COV-2, the novel coronavirus.

Clack explains the precise mechanism by which the plasma deactivates these viruses is still being explored. "But the thinking is that it interrupts the ability for the virus to dock with its host cell," he says. "Our studies show that the number of infectious virus dropped more than two log, so more than 99 percent, if you compare before and after plasma treatment."

It would take a fair bit of clearance and funding before Clack and his team could start observing and working with the coronavirus, as he explains "COVID-19 is… highly contagious, with no innate population immunity, potentially deadly health outcomes, and no vaccine in sight—so gaining approval to work with it is not a mundane undertaking." 

There are a number of other research proposals already in the long queue, but there could be a good chance that non-thermal plasma may indeed block out the novel coronavirus from latching on to host cells.

UPDATE May 15, 07:01 AM EDT: Abbott Laboratories' COVID-19 test may be inaccurate, as per FDA

On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert following a New York University (NYU) study that stated Abbott's rapid diagnostic coronavirus test kit was offering inaccurate readings. 

The ID NOW test is specifically giving false reports of negative results. Those who receive a negative test result are being urged to follow up with another test, with another company's test kit. The kit is still giving out accurate positive results.

The FDA is keeping a close eye on the matter "We are still evaluating the information about inaccurate results and are in direct communications with Abbott about this important issue," said Tim Stenzel, director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a statement. "We will continue to study the data available and are working with the company to create additional mechanisms for studying the test."

Abbott refutes the study as it explained "While we understand no test is perfect, test outcomes depend on a number of factors including patient selection, specimen type, collection, handling, storage, transport, and conformity to the way the test was designed to be run," Abbott said in a statement on Thursday. "ID NOW is intended to be used near the patient with a direct swab test method."

UPDATE May 15, 6:46 AM EDT: Cannabis may help block out COVID-19, as per study

A study by scientists at the University of Lethbridge in Canada has demonstrated that cannabis may block COVID-19 infection from happening.  The researchers studied over 400 strains of cannabis, honing down on a dozen or so that may show potential in blocking out COVID-19.

Lead researcher of the study, Dr. Igor Kovalchuk, explained to the National Post that certain strains showed promising results as they offered less fertile ground for the virus to take root. Moreover, Dr. Kovalchuk said that "A number of them have reduced the number of these (virus) receptors by 73 per cent, the chance of it getting in is much lower." Reducing the number of receptors minimizes the chances of infection. 

This is not to say that everyone should take up smoking pot in order not to catch COVID-19 (not yet anyways). The study's results have yet to be peer-reviewed and evidence that cannabis can help treat the virus is inconclusive at this stage. Once more research has been carried out, and if cannabis can indeed work to help keep COVID-19 at bay, Dr. Kovalchuk suspects it would be taken in the form of a mouth watch, gargle, inhalants or gell caps.

UPDATE May 15, 4:32 AM EDT: China has 5 potential vaccine candidates in human trials, with more on the way

China has five potential vaccines for the coronavirus in the human trial stage, with more set for approval next month, signaling the country's rapid progress in the global race to find a viable vaccine to immunize their respective populations, reports Bloomberg.

The five vaccines have so far been tested on more than 2,000 people, and are in phase II trials — expected to be completed in July, said Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission, during a Beijing press briefing on Friday, reports Bloomberg. Phase II is the second of three human trial phases that every potential vaccine must undergo before granted approval for widespread use.

As of writing, there have been no serious side effects reported among phase II patients, added Zeng, who explained that additional candidates will receive approval for human trials in June of this year.

UPDATE May 15, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The World Health Organization Regional Director for South_east Asia, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh stressed for countries in the region to ease public health and social "lockdown" measures in a step-wise manner, adding that local epidemiology should guide collective action in forming a "new normal" in the post-coronavirus world, reports the WHO.

The WHO's Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge urged his constituent region to take heed that "our behavior today, will set the course for the pandemic," and stressed how behavioral insights gained amid the outbreak are valuable in the design and implementation of apt pandemic response measures.

A U.N. COVID-19 and mental health policy brief warned that substantial investment is required to avoid a mental health crisis. Reports have indicated an increase in general symptoms of depression and anxiety in several countries.

UPDATE May 14, 4:00 PM EDT: Microsoft, Adaptive jointly launch new study on human immune system versus coronavirus

Microsoft and a biotech firm called Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp. are jointly launching a new study to examine how the immune system fights COVID-19, with plans to collect blood samples door-to-door, according to a Microsoft press release.

The goal of the joint venture is to learn how T cells — the expendable yet crucial pawns of our immune systems — help the body adequately respond to the coronavirus.

Other scientists have already investigated the body's immune response to COVID-19, but a Business Insider report says Adaptive and Microsoft perceive an epistemic blindspot in the study of T cells amid other concurrent coronavirus studies.

To fill the gap in knowledge about how the body combats coronavirus infection, Adaptive and Microsoft are reportedly prepping to send phlebotomists to homes of those who were previously exposed to the virus, those who are already sick, and the lucky survivors of infection — for a sample of their blood.

UPDATE May 14, 7:32 AM EDT: Contactless infrared sensors that measure temperature screen people before they enter buildings

Engineers from Portugal's University of Porto have developed a contactless outdoor temperature check, so as to ensure people entering any building are not infected with COVID-19. This will be useful in schools, universities, airports, stores, office buildings and more.

The screening station has a medical-grade infrared temperature sensor and ultrasonic distance sensors that are held up by two 3D-printed metal rods stuck to a 3D-printed base.

The system is simple enough to use: a person stands in front of the station, the ultrasonic distance sensors detect when a person is present and the temperature sensor reads their body temperature to see if they are feverish.

The device can be mounted onto a wall outside any building or public space, markings are set out in front so that a person knows where to stand, which is about 20 cm away. If the reading is high, the system alerts the person to get a COVID-19 test. From start to finish, the entire process takes 20 seconds.

The system is still in its prototype phase, with testing to follow. 

UPDATE May 14, 7:20 AM EDT: Google and Apple working together to launch COVID-19 digital contact tracing development

This month, Google and Apple have jointly shared specifications for software developers to built contact tracing apps for both Google and Apple mobile operating systems.

Digital contact tracing lets a user know whether or not they've crossed paths with a coronavirus-infected person. As this trend grows the question of whether or not governments will opt for these apps arises, as well as how well they would work. 

The two companies are being advised in part by the MIT-led Private Automated Contact Tracing (PACT) project, which hopes to automate contact tracing, and has a large focus on privacy. "Our job is to make sure what [Apple and Google] implement is as private as possible," said Marc Zissman, co-PI on the PACT team and associate head of the Cyber Security and Information Sciences Division at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. "We’re very optimistic about the whole thing, but we still have to prove it,' he continued.

As the teams work on the project, they're sharing all information and data publicly.

UPDATE May 14, 7:13 AM EDT: AI is getting confused because of unpredictable pandemic shopping

MIT Tech Review reported that Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms were becoming more and more confused as online searches and purchases have become less and less predictable during the outbreak. 

For instance, Amazon's top searches during regular times involved phone cases, chargers, or Lego. Since February, their top contenders have switched to hand sanitizier, N95 masks, Clorox wipes, and toilet paper — COVID-19 staples, but not machine learning systems' ones.

Humans are now having to realign AI algorithms more regularly by hand so as to ensure they can keep up with the disarray and unpredictability of us humans during these times. For instance, a company that detects credit card fraud has had to change its algorithms to take into account more interest in gardening equipment and power tools.

However, many companies are using this opportunity to improve their AI, so it's not just confusion.

UPDATE May 14, 7:05 AM EDT: France protests against U.S. getting Sanofi vaccine first, and world leaders release an open letter for a people's vaccine

Bloomberg reported that a French government minister called the instance where the U.S. gets first dibs on a Sanofi coronavirus vaccine "unacceptable." However, it is the U.S. that has been funding the French company's research. 

These comments bring to light an arising issue with regards to a vaccine: which countries will get their hands on the first batch? In light of this, 140 world leaders have released an open letter calling for a "people's vaccine" to be available for free to everyone.

“Nobody should be pushed to the back of the vaccine queue because of where they live or what they earn,” said South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In the meantime, it's still undecided whether or not the U.S. will be the first to get its hands on the Sanofi vaccine.

UPDATE May 14, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The World Health Organization published a stop-gap document on Laboratory biosafety for use in testing clinical specimens of patients that meet the case definition of the COVID-19 illness, reports the WHO.

During his media briefing yesterday, Director-General of WHO Dr. Tedros stressed the urgent need for all countries to invest in strong health systems and primary healthcare as the strongest defense against world-historical outbreaks like COVID-19. The World Health Statistics published by the WHO depict the facts: people worldwide live longer and healthier lives with significant gains in low-income countries. The WHO report also suggests the rate of progress is too slow to match Sustainable Development Goals and will be even more behind schedule as a result of COVID-19.

WHO declared the launch of the WHO Academy and the WHO info mobile applications on Thursday. The WHO Academy app is designed to support health workers throughout the COVID-19 crisis while the WHO Info app will help the general public with real-time mobile access to the latest crucial news and critical developments.

Overcrowding in many detention centers undermines health, hygiene, safety, and human dignity, so UNODC, WHO, UNAIDS, and OHCHR have released a joint statement on COVID-19 in prisons and similarly-closed locations to emphasize the need for political leaders to understand the heightened vulnerability of prisoners and others deprived of personal liberty amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

UPDATE May 13, 4:00 PM EDT: Harvard and MIT researchers are developing coronavirus detecting masks that light up to signal

A team of scientists at MIT and Harvard is adapting a Zika- and Ebola-detecting face mask tool capable of detecting coronavirus cases, according to a post on Harvard University's Wyss Institute page, reports Interesting Engineering.

Initially used for other diseases with research published in the journal Cell, now the team is adapting the tool to emit fluorescent signals when a person infected with the coronavirus breathes, coughs, or sneezes. If it works, this might help close the gap in effective testing left open by other screening methods, like temperature checks.

"As we open up our transit system, you could envision it being used in airports as we go through security, as we wait to get on a plane," said researcher Jim Collins to Business Insider. "You or I could use it on the way to and from work. Hospitals could use it for patients as they come in or wait in the waiting room as a pre-screen of who's infected."

There is a possibility that this technology could be used to do on-site diagnoses of patients — without forcing them to wait for samples to be sent to a laboratory. Testing errors and delays have slowed several countries' attempts to contain local coronavirus outbreaks, so this tool might turn out to be a crucial addition to the anti-COVID-19 arsenal.

UPDATE May 13, 6:00 PM EDT: California man had only 1% survival rate for COVID-19, but walked free after two-month stay in hospital

Gregg Garfield is a California man who survived a 64-day stay in the hospital from a severe COVID-19 case, 31 of which were spent under a ventilator, and on Friday he beat the bad 1%-odds and left the hospital, according to a post on the hospital's Facebook page.

At 54 years old, Garfield was the "patient zero" of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center — in Burbank, California — roughly 10 miles north of Los Angeles, reports USA Today.

The man fell ill with COVID-19 and was later hospitalized after a February trip to the northern part of Italy — infamous for its coronavirus toll — with a dozen friends.

"The disease kicked off, and my immune system just ate me alive," said the man to a local Los Angeles news source. An accomplished and athletic skier, Garfield almost lost the long fight against the disease.

UPDATE May 13, 7:17 AM EDT: Gilead signs licensing pact with drugmakers to supply experimental COVID-19 treatment

Gilead Sciences Inc. announced on Tuesday that it has signed a non-exclusive licensing pact with five generic drugmakers based in Pakistan and India to expand its supply of an experimental treatment for COVID-19, remdesivir.

The pact enables the companies, Jubilant Life Scienes Ltd., Cipla Ltd., Hetero Labs Ltd., Mylan NV, and Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd. to make and sell the drug in 127 countries worldwide. These countries represent almost all low- to middle-income ones, with a few middle- to upper-income countries. 

The pact also enables the licensees to select their own price tags for the drug, as per Gilead. The company's drug received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) emergency approval this month to treat COVID-19 patients.

So far, there is no other approved drug to treat COVID-19, and remdesivir has received more and more interest. 

UPDATE May 13, 7:05 AM EDT: Mexico will re-open construction, mining, and car and truck manufacturing

Mexico's top advisory body for the coronavirus pandemic confirmed on Tuesday that the country will re-open its mining, construction, and car and truck manufacturing. 

These industries have been classified as "essential activities" by the General Health Council and so are allowed to resume work even during the lockdown. The Council has yet to disclose a start date for these activities, but it mentioned that by June 1, the country would have a "stoplight" system that explains which activities will be allowed for the local population. 

The council also mentioned that restrictions on schools and businesses should be lifted from townships with no COVID-19 cases, that also have neighboring townships free of COVID-19 cases. 

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will announce on Wednesday the country's gradual resumption of economic activities. 

So far, Mexico has over 38,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and nearly 4,000 deaths.

UPDATE May 13, 6:59 AM EDT: Argument over the reopening of Tesla's factory in California may have come to a close

It's looking likely that the dispute between Tesla and the San Francisco Bay Area authorities over reopening the automaker's Fremont factory after shutdown may be ending.

Early on Wednesday, the Alameda County Public Health Department announced on Twitter that the factory could go beyond basic operations this week and resume making cars on Monday — so long as the safety measures for workers are agreed upon.

Fremont police has yet to verify whether Tesla will hold up its part of the agreement. Tesla reopened its factory on Monday, in defiance of county orders and it's yet to be disclosed whether or not the company will face any charges.

UPDATE May 13, 6:54 AM EDT: Tech company engineers drones to deliver medical supplies in Ghana and Rwanda 

Tech company, Zipline, has engineered autonomous drones to carry critical COVID-19 supplies to rural health centers and hospitals in Ghana and Rwanda. The drones can deliver the supplies between 15 and 30 minutes from the moment of delivery. Doctors simply input their requests or orders via Zipline's app, and the drones can deploy within seven minutes. They can fly in any type of weather condition and  have a 300 kilometer round-trip range

So far, both African countries have not been badly hit by the outbreak's impact, and Zipline is still able to keep up with demand. Ghana has reported around 4,700 cases and 22 deaths, and Rwanda has confirmed 284 cases and no deaths so far.

UPDATE May 13, 6:30 AM EDT: No new coronavirus cases in New Zealand for second day in a row

There were no new cases of the COVID-19 illness reported in New Zealand on Wednesday, marking the second day running, according to the Health Ministry, reports RNZ.

The sum of confirmed and probable coronavirus cases remains at 1,497, of which 1,147 were confirmed as of writing. Dr. Ashley Bloomfield — Director-General of Health — said 1,402 people have recovered in the country, up 12 from yesterday, with 94% of all cases in New Zealand now recovered, RNZ reports.

There are only two people currently receiving hospital care in the country, neither of whom are in ICU.

Bloomfield added that 5,961 were tested for infection yesterday, with more than 200,000 carried out to date.

"This milestone of 200,000 tests, which is just over 4 percent of the population, is a significant achievement. I want to recognize everybody who has been tested, as well as the many, many people across the system who have facilitated that happening, it is an incredibly important pillar of our response to COVID-19."

He also said that Wednesday's figures supported the consensus that New Zealand is "on the right path."

"We can't afford to give away the progress we've made. We do need to remain vigilant."

UPDATE May 13, 4:00 AM: WHO situational report

The World Health Organization published a new addendum to the guidance regarding considerations on adjusting public health and social measures (PHSM), reports the WHO. It provides practical decision process measures to assist countries through their PHSM adaptation process based on epidemiological and public health criteria.

The 2020 World Health Statistics that WHO published on Wednesday show that the COVID-19 outbreak is creating a significant loss of lice, disrupting livelihoods, and threatens recent advances in health and progress toward development in sustainability, and pre-established goals.

WHO joined efforts with the United Kingdom to carry out an awareness campaign called "Stop The Spread" regarding the risks attached to spreading inaccurate and false information on the outbreak.

WHO's Regional Director for the Americas Dr. Carissa F. Etienne announced that countries should "support their economies while building strong social protection networks and embracing evidence-based public health measures that are essential to saving lives."

UPDATE May 12, 2:50 PM EDT: US President Trump says California should allow Tesla to reopen despite COVID-19 lockdown

U.S. President Donald Trump argued for the state of California to allow Tesla to reopen its electric vehicle assembly plant in California, in agreement with CEO Elon Musk's defiance of local county officials who ordered the facility to stay closed, according to a tweet from the President.

In the tweet, Trump said: "California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!"

A few hours later, Musk replied to the President with a tweet of his own, saying "Thank you!"

This comes on the heels of Musk's Twitter defiance of Alameda County, where he announced Tesla's production would resume despite orders to stay closed from local officials. He also said that if anyone should be arrested, it should be him.

UPDATE May 12, 1:53 PM EDT: Twitter declares staff may continue working from home permanently

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sent an email to Twitter staff Tuesday informing employees that they may continue working from home on a permanent basis, reports TechCrunch. The CEO said Twitter was an early adopter of the work-from-home model, but added that the push was accelerated by COVID-19 orders to stay home.

In the email, Twitter confirmed the decision to TechCrunch, saying: 

"We were uniquely positioned to respond quickly and allow folks to work from home given our emphasis on decentralization and supporting a distributed workforce capable of working from anywhere. The past few months have proven we can make that work. So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen. If not, our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions, when we feel it's safe to return."

The company is also working on new plans to resume in-person working arrangements and meetings for workers who prefer an office experience. San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared on April 27 that the city will extend its stay at home orders throughout the end of May, Governor Gavin Newsom has already spoken of easing some restrictions.

Twitter's guidelines as stipulated by Chief HR Officer Jennifer Christie are as follows: "Opening offices will be our decision, when and if our employees come back, will be theirs. With very few exceptions, offices won't open before September. When we do decide to open offices, it also won't be a snap back to the way it was before. It will be careful, intentional, office by office and gradual. There will also be no business travel before September, with very few exceptions, and no in-person company events for the rest of 2020. We will assess 2021 events later this year."

While these guidelines could change, Twitter is more likely to push its timeline back, from the tone of the guidelines. Other major Silicon Valley tech firms like Google and Facebook have extended their work-from-home policies through the end of 2020.

UPDATE May 12, 12:21 PM EDT: Wuhan set to test all 11 million residents after six new cases of the COVID-19 illness were reported

China plans to implement a major new testing regime in Wuhan following the report of new coronavirus cases in the city for the first time since April 3, reports BuzzFeed. The six new cases were confirmed in the same housing complex on Sunday and Monday, and — according to state media — all cases were contracted via transmission from within the country.

The new cases raise troubling questions on whether the virus was eradicated in Wuhan, where it emerged last December, and residents struggled through a 76 — day lockdown.

The government has requested all districts of Wuhan — where roughly 11 million people live, roughly the same population as Ohio -- to develop plans to test all of their residents in just 10 days using nucleic acid testing, according to reports from state media.

In contrast, the U.S. has been effecting roughly 300,000 tests per day.

This comes amid global scrutiny on whether China is or has obscured the true extent of the pandemic during its first weeks and regarding the accuracy of official data currently published on new infections.

All new cases in Wuhan were categorized as asymptomatic.

UPDATE May 12, 7:51 AM EDT: Toyota reports sharp plunge in profit at virus outbreak, but foresees recovery

On Tuesday, Toyota Motor Corp. reported a steep fall in fiscal fourth quarter profit due to the COVID-19 pandemic halting vehicle sales and production. 

Japan's top-ranking automaker reported a net profit of 63.1 billion yen, ($590 million) for the quarter that ended in March, which is a steep 86% fall from 459.5 billion yen during the same period the year before.

President Akio Toyoda mentioned this was the company's biggest crisis since the global financial crisis, but he said Toyota is learning to grow leaner and to make a fresh start.

The company's officials stated it was hard to foresee what the future of the company held as the lockdowns around the world range in severity and major uncertainties linked to the outbreak could still emerge. But, sales are expected to recover once the pandemic is brought under control.

UPDATE May 12, 7:42 AM EDT: Greece back in recession, moves to digital services for move more quickly out of it

To try and minimize its pandemic-related recession, Greece plans to expand its government digital services. Over 500 servicesare now available via a new online portal: gov.gr, which started running on March 21, during the country's lockdown.

Kyriakos Pierrakakis, minister of digital governance, told the Associated Press that the aim is to add 200 more services before the end of the year, that's about one per day. These services range from applying for medical prescriptions online, to filing architectural designs.

Greece had barely moved out of its recession, and now it's expected to suffer the worse recession in the E.U. this year due to COVID-19, as its tourism sector, and others, have been hugely hit. The European nation is hoping that moving more towards technology will help make life easier and move out of the recession more quickly.

UPDATE May 12, 7:36 AM EDT: Expert explains that many countries are walking in the dark are lockdowns ease

Many countries are easing their lockdowns after weeks and sometimes months of restrictions, however, questions arise as to how well prepared some countries are as their lockdowns end. 

The WHO's emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, mentioned that Germany and South Korea's solid contact tracing measures would hopefully help the countries to detect and stop the spread of the virus before they get out of control. However, other nations have not used such strong contact tracing investigators so as to contact people who have tested positive. 

"Shutting your eyes and trying to drive through this blind is about as silly an equation as I’ve seen," Ryan said. "And I’m really concerned that certain countries are setting themselves up for some seriously blind driving over the next few months."

UPDATE May 12, 7:28 AM EDT: Ventilator that short-circuited in a Russian hospital killed five coronavirus patients in ICU

Russian news agencies reported that a short-circuit in a ventilator in the St Petersburg St George Hospital started a blaze that killed five coronavirus patients in intensive care units (ICU).

The fire was put out rapidly and 150 patients were evacuated from the hospital, as per the country's emergency ministry. No exact numbers of injured have been disclosed, and Russia's NTV news website reported that the fire was contained in one small COVID-19 ward on the sixth floor.

"The ventilators are working to their limits. Preliminary indications are that it was overloaded and caught fire, and that was the cause," a source at St Petersburg emergencies department explained to the Interfax news agency.

So far, St Petersburg, which has a population of 4.9 million, has reported just over 8,000 coronavirus cases so far, and has 5,483 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.

UPDATE MAY 12, 7:17 AM EDT: Finnish team develops vaccine that's nearly ready for testing, and is open-source

Finnish researchers have a vaccine that could start tests in only six weeks, however, the team is worried that once the vaccine is effective commercially, they'll end up at the back of the queue, along with other smaller nations. 

"I see it as a significant risk that we won't get vaccine in time and in the quantities needed, rather we'll find ourselves at the end of queue," said Helsinki University Professor of Virology Kalle Saksela, who is part of the team of three working on the vaccine. The other two are Seppo Ylä-Herttuala and Kari Alitalo from the University of Eastern Finland. 

Saksela believes its important that Finland should have control of its own vaccine production, and not to completely depend on the large pharmaceuticals. It would be possible, as Finland has research and development companies that could adapt themselves to manufacturing vaccines.

The team working on the vaccine are choosing to forego the intellectual property rights to their work. Their vaccine has come from them gathering data in the field, refining it, adding their own observations, and making it freely available. As such, they are hoping to pass the expensive and time-consuming part, which is human testing. Saksela admits this is a risky move, but as their work is developed from existing and tested data, it should in principle be safe.

UPDATE May 12, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The World Health Organization has published novel guidance on Considerations for school-related public health measures in the context of the coronavirus outbreak as an addendum on earlier guidance regarding adjusting public health and social measures published mid-April, reports the WHO.

WHO also issued a Statement on Tobacco use and COVID-19. Smoking of tobacco is known to increase risk contracting many respiratory infections and also increases the severity of respiratory diseases. WHO convened a review of studies carried out by public health experts, which found smokers to be more likely to develop the severe version of respiratory diseases after contracting the coronaviras, compared to non-smokers. WHO urges scientists, researchers, and the media to be cautious in potentially amplifying unproven claims that nicotine or tobacco might reduce the risk of COVID-19.

In his media briefing, the Director-General Dr. Tedros urged for a slow-and-steady lifting of public health and social measures, which is key to stimulating stymied economies, while also keeping vigilant attention on the virus so control measures may be quickly reimplemented should another upswing of cases occur.

UPDATE May 11, 4:36 PM EDT: 'If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,' said Elon Musk after reopening Tesla plant despite COVID-19 Lockdown

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Monday to confirm the reopening of his company's Fremont, California facility over the weekend despite an ongoing legal battle with local officials on whether the automaker plant should stay closed amid the coronavirus outbreak and asked to take personal responsibility for legal gray areas. Tesla called back a number of workers and has constructed roughly 200 new Model Y and Model 3 cars, according to two employees who spoke anonymously to The Verge.

This happened while Musk said he may move the company's operations out of the state amid a lawsuit filed on Alameda County regarding its stay-at-home injunction.

Musk confirmed the reopening of his Calif. plant in a recent tweet, which said: "Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me."

Tesla reportedly called back employees previously placed on furlough last month, according to emails seen by The Verge staff. The automaker previously had only told a few workers to report back to work this week, as Business Insider reported.

This comes on the heels of logistical threats from Musk on Twitter that he saw Tesla and its relationship to Calif. in a "final straw" moment, adding in his May 9 tweet that Tesla "will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately."

UPDATE May 11, 12:00 PM EDT: Scientists working to unlock mystery of airborne fluid droplets, transmission of COVID-19

More than 100 years have passed since 50 million people died from the Spanish flu and yet the motion of expelled fluid droplets that carry infectious diseases has gone unsolved, but scientists are now working on the flow physics of respiratory diseases — and believe it could be crucial to containing the coronavirus, according to a study published in Cambridge University's Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Basic tips to avoid transmission have been the same for a long time: washing hands with soap and water often to remove germs, keeping a safe distance from others, and covering one's mouth and nose with a bandana or face mask.

But now, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering with emphasis on computational fluid dynamics believes more research into how fluid droplets work in the context of COVID-19 will be critical to the fight against the coronavirus.

Jung-Hee Seo / Cambridge University
Simulation of expelled and possibly infected droplets. Source: Jung-Hee Seo / Cambridge University

"I started wondering if there's any data out there about the aerodynamics of these masks to quantify what they are really doing," said Mittal. "As I started to dive into the literature, it became clear that fluid dynamics intersects with nearly every aspect of this pandemic. How droplets are formed and carried, how they infect others, the ventilators we use to treat patients with this disease, even preventative measures like face masks — many of these problems are ultimately related to fluid flow."

Sneezing can expel thousands of large droplets at a high relative velocity, whereas a cough creates 10 to 100 times fewer potentially-infectious droplets. Speaking alone expels far fewer — roughly 50 per second — and also smaller droplets. These are more likely to remain suspended in the air, travel a farther distance, and effectively transmit the COVID-19 infection once inhaled. Larger droplets are usually left on surfaces — where they contaminate the area and are picked up via tactile contact: with a touch.

UPDATE May 11, 7:08 AM EDT: Scientists looking to use CRISPR gene editing tool to fight COVID-19

Sandia National Lab researchers are genetically engineering antiviral countermeasures to try and fight the coronavirus, as well as any future viral outbreaks or pandemics. CRISPR-based technology and genetic sequencing tools help scientists deeply probe into cells, and now researchers are looking to use these against COVID-19.

The team has been studying emerging infectious diseases for years, such as the Ebola virus and the Nipah one, and has noted that the coronavirus has significant commonalities. So the team is looking to use CRISPR technologies to target a broad spectrum of viruses, and not just one strain. 

The team is working on using CRISPR to reprogram cells to block out infection, which would protect the person. The research is still under trial and needs work before being completed, however, it will be a long-term useful technology if and when it's up and running.

UPDATE May 11, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The World Health Organization published new guidance on Surveillance strategies for COVID-19 human infection, reports the WHO. The new document makes an overview of surveillance strategies that Member States should think of as part of comprehensive national surveillance for the COVID-19 crisis. It also stresses the need to adapt and reinforce existing national systems to combat the virus where apt and to scale-up surveillance capacities where necessary.

WHO also published new guidelines on Contact tracing in the context of the coronavirus crisis. When applied systemically, the new guidance will help disrupt the transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious disease and is thus deemed necessary for controlling the outbreaks of infectious disease.

UPDATE May 10, 7:36 AM EDT: Germany to allow cross-border entries for Mother’s Day 

Germany’s interior minister is allowing cross-border entries for one day on Mother’s Day in order to permit children who live outside Germany to enter the country to see their mothers, reported AP.

The country’s coronavirus restrictions currently forbid all entries except for exceptional reasons such as work. This would mean that those living across the border could not visit their parents on Mother’s Day.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, therefore, made an exception and approved a decision by border police to add filial visits on this special day. The commuters will also be exempt from regulation that forces people entering the country to quarantine for two weeks. 

UPDATE May 10, 6:33 AM EDT: Ailment linked to COVID-19 kills three kids in New York 

A baffling illness related to COVID-19 has taken the lives of three children in New York and sickened 73 others, reported The New York Times.

“The illness has taken the lives of three young New Yorkers,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said during his daily Saturday briefing in Manhattan. “This is new. This is developing.”

The syndrome consists of a toxic-shock-like inflammation that can leave children very ill. It affects the skin, the eyes, blood vessels and the heart.

It has been compared to a rare childhood illness called Kawasaki disease.

Health experts and citizens can no longer take solace in the once-believed notion that COVID-19 largely spared children. Any illusion of that was shattered this week when a 5-year-old in New York City died from the syndrome. The doctors described the case as a “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.”

“We were laboring under the impression that young people were not affected by COVID-19, and that was actually good news,” Cuomo said. “We still have a lot to learn about this virus.”

The state will now be collaborating with the New York Genome Center and Rockefeller University to determine what is causing the new illness.

UPDATE May 10, 6:33 AM EDT: Wuhan reports first coronavirus case since April 3

Local health officials in Wuhan in China reported on Sunday the city’s first new coronavirus case since a month, reported CNN.

The patient is said to be in a critical condition. Meanwhile, his wife also has the virus but is  asymptomatic.

In addition, five new patients from the new case’s community showing no symptoms have been put under observation. It should be noted that China's national and local health commissions do not count asymptomatic cases in their confirmed cases.

Wuhan’s borders were reopened on April 8 after a 76-day lockdown.

UPDATE May 9, 10: 15 AM EDT: South Korea, Germany show new outbreaks just when they were preparing to ease up security measures 

Just when it looked like things were getting better, South Korea’s capital closed down more than 2,100 bars on Saturday in response to a new cluster of coronavirus infections, reported AP.

Meanwhile, Germany struggled to contain fresh outbreaks at slaughterhouses. Worldwide countries are scrambling to find a soft spot between easing lockdown and maintaining their citizens’ safety. All are trying to avoid a deadly second wave of infection.

Both Germany and South Korea have conducted extensive testing and contact tracing and have been praised for avoiding mass deaths. However, even there, authorities are being burdened with the challenge of finding the balance between saving lives and saving jobs.

UPDATE May 9, 10:14 AM EDT: Glimmers of hope surface for U.S. hot spots

In the hard-hit United States, states continue reopening fuelled by some hope that the worst may be over, reported CNN.

"The good news is we're finally ahead of this virus," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a coronavirus briefing Friday. "We haven't killed the beast, but we are ahead of it."

It is estimated that of the more than 1.2 million coronavirus cases and over 77,000 deaths in the U.S., New York has carried the brunt of more than 330,000 cases and 26,243 deaths.

But, Cuomo revealed Friday, that death rates for the state are decreasing.

In the meantime, Hawai reported no confirmed cases of coronavirus for the first time since March 13 while Orleans Parish in Louisiana reported no new coronavirus deaths for 2 days in a row.

This hasn’t stopped the country from being at odds with how to handle lockdown measures.

By Sunday, more than 45 states will have eased restrictions in order to allow a return of the economy while protesters are still demanding that businesses put people back to work quicker.

Experts have, however, warned that reopening too soon could lead to another wave of the pandemic. Time will tell how things evolve

UPDATE May 8, 5:34 PM EDT: Roaming 'robodog' tells park goers in Singapore to maintain social distancing

A robot dog enlisted in Singapore to help slow the spread of the coronavirus illness in the small city-state politely asks passersby and cyclists to keep their distance from one another, reports Reuters.

It's a remote-controlled, four-legged machine constructed by Boston Dynamics, and was first deployed in central park last Friday as the beginning of a two-week trial to learn if it may join other already-active robots currently policing visitors of Singapore's green spaces across the locked-down city-state.

"Let's keep Singapore healthy," said the black-and-yellow robodog called SOPT in English as it roamed the premises. "For your own safety and for those around you, please stand at least one meter apart. Thank you," it barked, in the soft timbre of a female voice.

However, behind this kind demeanor lies the threat of hefty fines and even jail for those who breach Singapore's strict lockdown measures.

Singapore holds 5.7 million people, with more than 21,000 cases of the coronavirus infection — one of the highest counts in all Asia — mostly due to the rapid spread of infections between migrant workers living in cramped and crowded dormitories within neighborhoods rarely visited by tentative tourists, reports Reuters.

UPDATE May 8, 11:15 AM EDT: Researchers use network science to produce a list of 81 potential COVID-19 therapies

Researchers led by Albert-László Barabási, distinguished university professor at Northeastern University in Boston and the founder of both network medicine and modern network science, used network science to produce a list of 81 drugs used for other diseases that may also treat COVID-19, reported IEEE Spectrum.

“In many ways, the COVID offers a great test for us to marshal the set of highly predictive tools that we as a community [have developed] in the past two decades,” Barabási told IEEE Spectrum.

In cooperation with ten co-authors from Northeastern, Harvard, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Barabási published a pre-print paper of a network medicine-based framework for finding drugs that can be repurposed for COVID-19 use.

The paper has not been submitted for peer-review as the authors are awaiting laboratory results from the 81 potential COVID-19 drugs now being investigated in wet-lab studies. “But we are planning of course to submit it once we have [laboratory] results,” said Deisy Morselli Gysi, a postdoctoral researcher at Northeastern’s Network Science Institute.

Of the drugs identified by the model some are familiar, such as the AIDS-related protease inhibitor ritonavir, but some are entirely new, such as the antibacterial and anti-tuberculosis drug isoniazid, with no COVID-19 trials underway.

UPDATE May 8, 10:15 AM EDT: The Executive Committee of The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems released a statement on AI in the COVID-19 era

The Executive Committee of The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems released a statement analyzing how artificial intelligence systems could both help and harm in the COVID-19 days.

“Digital technologies including Artificial Intelligence Systems (AIS) can play an important and beneficial role in addressing the COVID-19 crisis. They can help model infection dynamics and socio-economic impact, monitor physical distancing, identify vaccines and help fight disease spread. However, these same technologies can also increase surveillance of individuals and populations and undermine fundamental human values such as privacy and human agency,” read the statement.

The statement went on to explain how important it is to stop the virus without sacrificing our political freedoms. It highlighted the importance of taking advantage of this emerging solidarity brought on by the crisis to build better societies.

The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems also offered ten responses to address COVID-19 issues: New Metrics of Success, Human Rights, Data Sovereignty, Regulation, Widest Availability, Agile Governance, Values-Based Design, Cultural and Values-based Norms, Manipulation versus “Nudging” in Vulnerable Populations, and Mental Health. Descriptions for each response can be found here

UPDATE May 8, 10:15 AM EDT: Metal copper being used as a virus-killing coating

Reuters reported that the metal copper, whose antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties have been proven by studies, is now being used as a SARS-CoV-2-killing coating. The firm applying it is called Spee3D.

Spee3D commissioned studies by Melbourne laboratory 360biolabs to examine how the coronavirus responds to copper. They found that 96% of the virus was killed off in two hours and 99.2% in 5 hours.

“Up until the end of last year, our business was building the 3D printers, which were then used to build parts,” Spee3D co-founder Kennedy told Reuters.

“Come 2020, and the epidemic hits. We know about the antimicrobial properties of copper, so we thought ‘Can we do something, can we help out here?’”

UPDATE May 8, 9:15 AM EDT: Porsche Museum opening again

The Porsche Museum will open its doors again on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, according to a press release. To slow the spread of the coronavirus, it's been closed to public visitors since March 14 — eight whole weeks.

The museum will restart operations in line with stipulations from the federal government and the State of Baden-Württemberg to protect everyone from COVID-19 infection. This includes a new guidance system for the entire building to help everyone maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) between individuals.

"We also provide face masks and disinfectants," said Achim Stejskal, Head of Heritage and Porsche Museum. "We carry out regular occupational safety training for staff relating to hygiene and conduct recommendations." The number of visitors will also be controlled via entrance limits.

The opening hours will remain unchanged — Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM local time. Museum tours and educational programs will however not be offered for the time being, and gastronomic areas will also not be open to the public. "We are extending the validity of the annual tickets by two months, by the duration of the museum closure during the corona crisis," declared Stejskal.

UPDATE May 8, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The World Health Organization has launched a checklist to help prison administrators and policy-makers take effective and rapid action against COVID-19, reports the WHO.

WHO is lending support to numerous African countries to help reinforce and coordinate the labor of medical teams (EMTs) deployed to assist efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge — WHO Regional Director for Europe — stressed his worry about the rising rate of interpersonal violence amid COVID-19, and added that "violence is preventable, not inevitable."

During the third meeting of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee for COVID-19, Director-General of the WHO stressed that the COVID-1 outbreak is still a public health emergency of global concern, and issued the Committee's advice to States Parties as Temporary Recommendations under the IHR.

UPDATE May 7, 11:13 AM EDT: Wearable sensors with pentagon funding to predict coronavirus infections in US military hospitals

The Pentagon is investing in new body-worn sensors designed to identify who is infected with the coronavirus illness — and also those who are at-risk for imminent infection — in U.S. and Southeast Asian hospitals, according to a Businesswire press release.

The new sensors are wrist- or chest-mounted and will use algorithms to analyze human vital sign data to identify key changes that signal early infection.

PhysIQ — a healthtech firm with experience tracking Ebola patients via analytics — leads the initiative that also includes the U.S. Department of Defense, The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc., and the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense.

"The second wave [of the pandemic] is going to come this fall. I'm already hearing people talk about, 'How do I bring my employees back?'" said physIQ founder Gary Conkright to ABC News. "We think we're working on a solution to that."

The project will study the progression of coronavirus infections in those who know they have contracted it, but it could also signal those who've yet to show coronavirus symptoms.

UPDATE May 7, 11:11 AM EDT: The coronavirus is present in semen, raising the question of sexually transmitted COVID-19, says new research

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medicine Association found the coronavirus present in semen, reports Business Insider. Coronavirus particles were detected in semen samples of men who had active infections, in addition to those who had recovered.

However, this doesn't yet necessarily mean the virus can be sexually transmitted, according to the researchers.

Roughly 16% of men in the study had the virus in their semen.

The 38 semen samples were collected with the help of a team of Chinese researchers, and of the six whose semen had the virus, four were in an acute stage of active infection, and two had already recovered. The six who were confirmed infected range in age from their 20s to their 50s, reports Business Insider.

"There was no significant difference between negative and positive test results for patients by age, urogenital disease history, days since onset, days since hospitalization, or days since clinical recovery," wrote the study authors. They added that they don't yet know how the virus entered the testes of patients.

However, the separating barrier between various parts of the penis and the blooostream is imperfect, which means viruses can pass through it. The virus also causes inflammation, which can affect this penis-bloodstream barrier.

"The presence of viruses in semen may be more common than currently understood, and traditional non-sexually transmitted viruses should not be assumed to be totally absent in genital secretions," wrote the researchers.

It's possible coronavirus-laden semen is not infections. For now, the researchers say more research is needed on the possibility of coronavirus infection via sexual transmission.

UPDATE May 7, 10:12 AM EDT: Nintendo scores profit jump as more people are stuck at home and playing games

Japanese video-game maker, Nintendo Co. made a 33% profit as most people are stuck at home and playing more games than usual. The company said on Thursday that its sales for the fiscal year through March went up 9% compared to the year before, up to 1.3 trillion yen ($12 billion). 

Nintendo has so far said it's escaped bad damage from the COVID-19 outbreak. Even though its retail stores have mostly been shut, many users have turned to online purchasing. 

However, Nintendo did state concerns over gave development potentially suffering if designers have to keep working from home for a long time. The company issued a statement saying "As a result of these factors, we may not be able to proceed with the release of Nintendo products and the start of services as planned. This is also true for other software publishers, so it may not be possible to provide game content on Nintendo platforms as planned."

UPDATE May 7, 10:00 AM EDT: U.K. may be looking to move over to Apple and Google's API for its national coronavirus tracing app

According to the Financial Times, the U.K. could be rethinking its decision to shun Apple and Google's API for its national coronavirus tracing app. According to the Times' report, the British government is paying an IT supplier to see whether it can integrate the tech giants' approach after all. 

The U.K.'s upcoming app called NHS COVID-19 has been questioned as it uses a centralized app architecture, which means developers are having to work around some of its platform limiations on background access to Bluetooth, as the Apple-Google cross-platform API can only function with decentralized ones. The project is  still in its early stages of development.

UPDATE May 7, 9:54 AM EDT: Apple gives $10 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to COPAN Diagnostics

On Thursday, Apple announced that it had awarded $10 million to COPAN Diagnostics from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund, a market leader in sample collection kits that have played a crucial role during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This funding will enable COPAN Diagnostics to rapidly increase its supply of sample collection kits for hospitals across the U.S., bringing the total to over one million kits per week by early July. 

"We feel a deep sense of responsibility to do everything we can to help medical workers, patients, and communities support the global response to COVID-19," said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.

"COPAN is one of the world’s most innovative manufacturers of sample collection kits for COVID-19 testing, and we’re thrilled to partner with them so they can expand as we work to address this critical issue for our nation. I couldn’t be prouder of our teams for bringing all of their energy, passion, and innovative spirit to supporting the country’s COVID-19 response."

 

UPDATE May 7, 9:40 AM EDT: IBM's contest calls for developers to help against the pandemic

IBM's Call for Code challenge is in its third year and is a global initiative that encourages developers to create solutions for the world's most pressing issues. This year's challenge has two tracks, one to tackle climate change, and one to help against the COVID-19 outbreak.

Within the COVID-19 section there are three focuses: helping overwhelmed crisis communication systems, improving remote education, and fostering community cooperation. As the COVID-19 section was fasttracked, with entries accepted until April 27th, the winners were announced at IBM's Think Digital event on May 5th. 

The first winner is Are You Well? developed by an India-based team called Altran, which aims to alleviate the pressure on overwhelmed medical systems. The second is CovidImpact, which is a tool that helps to alleviate the financial impact of the outbreak on small businesses by assessing their financial risk levels. This one was created by a global team at the University of British Columbia in Canada. The third winner is a mobile app called SafeQueue, created by LA-based developer David Chura, which allows users to enter a virtual queue instead of a physical one.

on May 15th, IBM will start the support for the three projects by assigning mentors, finding organizations that could use these applications. Then, the overall winner will receive $200,000 in October, the runner up will get $25,000, and the third spot will take home $10,000.

UPDATE May 7, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

There have been more than 3.5 million cases of COVID-19, with 250,000 deaths confirmed from coronavirus infection, reports the WHO.

At a media briefing yesterday, Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of WHO — in reference to how crises may worsen existing inequalities, said that "We cannot end the pandemic until  we address the inequalities that are fueling it." He added six criteria recommended by the WHO to countries, so they may better consider the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Unicef, WHO, and the International Federation of the Red Cross jointly published guidance for countries on how to sustain community-based healthcare during the COVID-19 crisis. It adds to the United Nations framework for the socio-economic response to COVID-19.

The Delegation fo the European Union and the WHO jointly announced a new collaborative effort to strengthen operational response activities for coronavirus crises in Somalia.

Messages on COVID-19 are making waves with new audiences in Turkey as Goodwill Ambassadors from United Nations agencies in the country inform from WHO with their followers.

UPDATE May 6, 2:00 PM EDT: Germany eases more virus rules, but retains fallback position

On Wednesday, German officials cleared the way for hotels, restaurants, and remaining stores to reopen in the next weeks, and for the European Union member nation's soccer league to resume play. They also enacted a requirement for any region that sees rebounding coronavirus infections to reimpose earlier restrictions, reports MedicalXpress.

Germany had shut down its public life mid-March but has since seen the number of new coronavirus cases drop in recent weeks. It began relaxing restrictions more than two weeks ago, initially with the reopening of small shops. Zoos, hairdressers, and other facilities have since followed.

"We have a very, very good development of the figures for new infections, and that makes it possible for us to take further steps," said Chancellor Angela Merkel after consulting with governors of Germany's 16 states.

Businesses demanding the reinstatement of normal commerce have applied mounting pressure on German politicians. But Merkel stressed that all the latest reopenings will be subject to conditions and that citizens and officials will both need to move forward responsibly.

UPDATE May 6, 11:00 AM EDT: General Motor's profits plummet by 88% in the first quarter

General Motors' (GM) net income fell by 88% in this year's first quarter, however, it still managed to bring in $247 million despite the pandemic. 

U.S. automakers closed their factories' doors in March due to the pandemic, and GM's revenue was clipped by 6%, to $32.7 billion, which isn't as bad as industry experts were expecting. As the company has been without revenue since March, its second quarter is most likel going to be worse.

However, GM plans on reopening most of its U.S. and Canadian factories from May 18. The company's CFO, Dhivya Suryadevara, noted that "There are bright spots within the industry. Obviously trucks are our strong suit, and that’s something we’re going to capitalize on."

Suryadevara also mentioned that since the pandemic started online sales have jumped by 40%, with most traffic for sales coming from online.

UPDATE May 6, 10:52 AM EDT: Australia's COVID-19 tracing app hits the ground running, with over 3.5 million downloads already

Within its first five days, the Australian government-launched COVID-19 tracing app called COVIDSafe already had more than 3.5 million downloads. It's still a way from its target of 10 million downloads, though.

COVIDSafe uses Bluetooth to find other devices that also have the app installed, and when it finds some they exchange a series of 'handshakes', and the apps log each others' encrypted reference codes. 

The date, time, and proximity of the contact are recorded, but not the location. It also records how much time the devices spent near each other. The app then retains the information for 21 days, well above the 14 day incubation period of the virus, before deleting it. To keep privacy, only health officials can access the encrypted close contact information, and the app can be switched off at any time.

UPDATE May 6, 10:42 AM EDT: Microsoft partners with biotech firm to launch a clinical study on mapping the immune system's reaction to COVID-19

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it was partnering with Seattle-based biotechnology firm, Adaptive Biotechnologies, to form a better understanding of the immune system's response to COVID-19. This virtual clinical trial, called ImmuneRACE, will hopefully create an immune scan that will reopen society. 

"Immune response data may augment what we have been learning to date to help determine who is at greater risk of developing more severe symptoms and may help with future containment efforts," Peter Lee, corporate VP of AI and Research for Microsoft, said in a statement. "Anyone who has been affected by COVID-19 holds key information that can help contain and manage the virus." 

The ImnuneRACE trial will begin by testing 1,000 participants from 20 different metropolitan areas in the States. These participants, aged between 18 and 89, either currently have COVID-19, have had it and recovered, or have been exposed to someone who has it. These samples will be combined with data obtained from hospitals and other institutinos around the world to try and find out how the immune system responds to COVID-19.

UPDATE May 6, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

It's been 20 years since the formation of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), a dear partner to WHO that has made major responses to emergencies to 85 different countries, including during the COVID-19 outbreak, reports the WHO.

The Director for WHO's Regional Americas sector, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, warned of the risks associated with reducing social distancing steps "too soon could accelerate the spread of the virus and open the door for a dramatic upsurge or for spread to adjacent areas."

UPDATE May 5, 4:51 PM EDT: Pfizer starts human trials for potential coronavirus vaccine

Pfizer, in a joint announcement with the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, said their possible coronavirus vaccine started human trials in the U.S. on Monday, reportsThe New York Times. If tests prove successful, the vaccine could be ready for emergency use in the U.S. by September.

The two firms are developing a vaccine candidate together based on genetic material called messenger RNA, which holds instructions for cells to produce proteins. The vaccine would inject a specially-designed messenger RNA into the body, which will potentially show cells how to make the spike protein of the coronavirus without causing illness.

Since the virus usually uses this protein as a key to unlock and seize control of lung cells, the vaccine might train a healthy immune system to produce viable antibodies capable of fighting off infection. The new technology possesses the distinct advantage of faster production and appears more stable than traditional vaccines, which typically rely on weakened strains of their respective virus.

The experimental shot was administered to 12 healthy adults, but the trial is expected to expand to include 200 participants, the Times reports.

UPDATE May 5, 4:00 PM EDT: MIT Invents New $6 coronavirus test using CRISPR technology

Two MIT researchers invented a new coronavirus test that makes use of gene-hacking tech to decide whether a potentially infected person is infected with the disease — and the new device only costs $6 to make, according to a summary on a website dedicated to the researchers' project.

The two researchers invented a two-step test that uses CRISPR to analyze the saliva or nasal swabs of patients to identify signs of COVID-19's genetic code.

"We're excited that this could be a solution that people won't have to rely on a sophisticated and expensive laboratory to run," said Feng Zhang, one of the researchers at the Broad Institute and MIT who developed the test, to The New York Times.

The website states that this test is not yet approved for clinical use, but the Times report says the test performed well in early experiments. However, the scope was so far limited — given to only 12 confirmed coronavirus patients.

Similar in practice to an at-home pregnancy test, if successful the test could help solve the COVID-19 testing crisis in the United States.

UPDATE May 5, 3:12 PM EDT: Airbnb cuts 1,900 jobs, 25% of global workforce, citing drop in revenue

Airbnb — a renowned private company that gives travelers a place to stay — declared that it would lay off roughly one-quarter of its workforce on Tuesday afternoon, reports TechCrunch.

The company cited declines in revenue and a need to curtail operating costs in a memo, TechCrunch reports.

CEO and Co-Founder of Airbnb Brian Chesky wrote the note that said the company will lay off 1,900 employees (or 25.3% of its 7,500 workers). The new layoffs will affect numerous internal product groups, including Transportation and Airbnb Studios — which will be placed on hold — in addition to the company's Lux work and Hotels, which will be "scaled[d] back."

The company did not execute a per-country breakdown of totals for the layoffs in a phone call with TechCrunch, but the memo did say its staffing cuts are "mapped to a more focused business." The erstwhile-startup is focusing its efforts to target core operations and shed more experimental and also costly operations.

UPDATE May 5, 11:17 AM EDT: The UK becomes the epicenter of the virus in Europe

On Tuesday, the U.K. confirmed nearly 30,000 deaths in total related to coronavirus, which is setting it in a lane that will most likely surpass Italy's numbers, Europe's hardest-hit nation until now.

The British government has said that around 28,700 people have died of COVID-19 in hospitals, nursing homes, and other settings. The U.K. remains in lockdown for the time being, unlike many other European countries that are slowly releasing restrictions and lockdowns.

The U.K.'s Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans on sharing the details for the nation to move out of lockdown, which is due to end on Thursday and began on March 23.

UPDATE May 5, 11:10 AM EDT: Medical robots may treat patients in future outbreaks, so as to keep healthcare workers safe

Doctors, nurses, and first responders are on the front lines when pandemics such as COVID-19 occur. During the current oubtreak, using robotics has been a huge focus, as there have been shortages in medical protective gear and man power. Moreover, using robots minimizes person-to-person contact, thus fewer healthcare workers and first responders fall ill. 

In future pandemics, robots may be the go-between for nurses and doctors, and patients, as something called tele-nursing. Tele-nursing means that a nurse can remotely control a robot, becoming her eyes, ears, and body. The components needed in order to make tele-nursing a reality are augmented reality, robot manipulation, teleconferencing, health sensors, and low-latency communication networks. All of these components are maturing each year. 

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, huge leaps and bounds have been taking in the tech world, which may make tele-nursing a reality in the near future.

UPDATE May 5, 11:00 AM EDT: Thermal cameras are being repurposed to detect fever and contact tracing, while maintaining people's anonymity

Two IEEE members, one in Spain and one in Switzerland, are working on their own projects that improve the technology used in thermal cameras so that they can be used and placed in airports, hospitals, factories, offices, restaurants and stores in order to give immedtiate feedback on individuals entering these spaces during the COVID-19 outbreak. The aim is to help stop the spread of the virus. 

Alejandro Kurtz de Grino, in Spain, is working to improve the tech so it meets the standards of the healthcare industry. De Grino's tech will be tested out on cameras using the FLIR systems.

Touradj Ebrahimi in Switzerland, is working on the tech so that it also checks for elevated blood temperature, as well as trace the person's contact. Ebrahimi is also developing a cryptographic tool to ensure the person's privacy is maintained. His infrared camera is called the Pro-Cam.

UPDATE May 5, 10:52 AM EDT: Airbus plans on using new device for airport security and planes that could "sniff" out viruses

The Financial Times reported that Airbus has plans to deploy a device built by neurotech startup, Koniku Inc., which uses living biological cells to detect chemicals and bombs in airports — and it might even pick up viruses such as the coronavirus, too.

The technology uses living cells and microprocessors to detect explosives, and is easily afixed onto airport or plane walls or ceilings.

Koniku Inc.'s founder, Oshiorenoya Agabi, told the Financial Times "We have developed a technology that is able to detect smell — it's breathing the air, and it's essentially telling you what's in the air. What we do is we take biological cells, either Hek cells or astrocytes — brain cells — and we genetically modify them to have olfactory receptors."

The sensors are still in their prototype phase and will undergo live testing by the end of 2020.

UPDATE May 5, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situational report

The World Health Organization is celebrating its annual May 5 Hand Hygiene Day to mobilize people of the world to increase their adherence to hand hygiene guidelines in healthcare facilities, reports the WHO. In a media briefing, the Director-General said that "around the world, fewer than two-thirds of healthcare facilities are equipped with hand hygiene stations, and 3 billion people lack soap and water at home." Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for WHO's South-East Asia purview, added that "Effective infection prevention and control measures, including hand hygiene, are crucial to ensuring health facilities do not become hubs of COVID-19 transmission."

A mission from WHO COVID-19 arrived in Tajikistan to lend support to the country's local response to the outbreak.

Tuesday is also the International Day of the Midwife. Midwives give life-saving services to pregnant women, ensuring healthy futures for women and their babies-to-be. As Director-General said in a media briefing, "They're risking their lives to give life to others." WHO's Regional Office for Europe also released a news article about the experiences of midwifery in Italy.

On Monday, leaders from 40 countries around the world lent collective support to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, an initiative from WHO that supports development, production, and equitable vaccine distribution, including diagnostics and therapeutics to fight the coronavirus illness. Roughly $8 billion (€7.4 billion) were committed, in what the Director-General labeled a "powerful and inspiring demonstration of global solidarity."

UPDATE May 4, 2:30 PM EDT: COVID-19 futures explained with a playable simulation

A new playable simulation similar to those used by real doctors in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak is available for all to enjoy here. Created by epidemiologist and professor at EPFL Marcel Salathé and artist and programmer Nicky Case, the simulation allows users to adjust infectiousness and susceptibility in hypothetical simulations (on a plane, or elsewhere), and witness the exponential growth in the number of the people infected by a rapidly-spreading pandemic over time.

The simulation also explains basic mathematical functions used to  track the growth of a pandemic visually, like the "S-shaped" logistic growth curve, which "[s]tarts small, explodes, then slows down again," in addition to the exponential decay curve, which describes a decreasing progression at a decreasing rate of fall.

UPDATE May 4, 2:20 PM EDT: London's Nightingale Hospital was placed on standby

London's Nightingale Hospital is due to be placed on standby in the next days and will cease its care for COVID-19 patients, reports the BBC.

The hospital that opened specifically to treat COVID-19 patients on April 3 with space for 4,000 beds will resume operations if or when it's needed again.

At present, fewer than 20 patients are undergoing treatment in the hospital, according to the BBC. Hospital staff will be redeployed, but various equipment will remain at the hospital.

During a briefing to staff, CEO of the Nightingale London Charles Knight said that most of the hospital's capacity was never used.

"Thanks to the determination and sacrifice of Londoners in following the expert advice to stay home and save lives, we have not had to expand the Nightingale's capacity beyond the first ward."

He also said: "It is likely that in the coming days we will not need to be admitting patients to London Nightingale, while coronavirus in the capital remains under control."

Mr. Knight added that the hospital would stand ready to be used again "as and when needed in the weeks and potentially months to come."

UPDATE May 4, 12:32 PM EDT: US Trump administration predicts 3,000 daily COVID-19 death toll by June 1

The United States' Trump administration projects that the country might see up to 3,000 deaths per day by June 1, according to a source familiar with internal documents, reported The Hill on Monday.

Modeling and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the U.S. government expects the number of coronavirus cases and deaths involved with the outbreak to continue growing, despite President Trump and other officials efforts to convince states to lift restrictions applied to curb the spread of the virus, in a bid to reopen businesses.

The New York Times was first to report these projections and posted the documents that show the Federal Emergency Management Agency and CDC forecasting a steady increase in new COVID-19 cases each day.

As of writing, projections show the U.S. climbing to 200,000 new coronavirus cases each day by June 1, compounded by a daily death count of roughly 3,000. While the current death toll varies, however it generally falls somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000. The number of new cases peaked late in April, at more than 30,000.

UPDATE May 4, 9:00 AM EDT: British scientist says Oxford vaccine could show signs of efficacy as early as June

Sir John Bell, the Regius professor of medicine at Oxford University in England, where one of the leading efforts in creating a COVID-19 vaccine is underway, has stated that their prosepcts are "pretty good," and that "as every day goes by, the likelihood of success goes up."

The Oxford researchers are currently awaiting their phase-two trials' data, and then "we would get evidence that the vaccine has efficacy by the beginning of June," as per Sir Bell.

There is no exact timeline as to when the Oxford vaccine would be fully developed, but the researchers have said that even though they are working quickly to go through the process, they are ensuring that safety remains a top priority. 

Sir Bell explained "It's a big issue for us, is trying to be sure that we do this quickly but we don't miss out any of the key safety steps."

"I think we've got reason to believe that the efficacy, the efficacy of the vaccine in terms of generating strong antibody responses, is probably going to be OK. The real question is whether the safety profile's going to be fine. So that's actually the main focus of the clinical studies," he said.

UPDATE May 4, 8:52 AM EDT: In Europe, mobile tracing apps are growing, and so is ensuring users' privacy

As lockdowns start to gradually ease across large parts of Europe, officials are looking to find ways to help contain infection rates, and one such method is by using  mobile tracing apps. Officials are bent on finding ways of ensuring users' privacy is maintained, though. 

In the European Union, certain digital tools that were used in Asia to contain the virus, for instance, simply wouldn't pass. For example, Hong Kong's location tracking wristbands wouldn't be allowed in Europe, nor would South Korea's compulsory app that alerts authorities as soon as you leave your house. To begin with, European officials say that the apps must be voluntary.

A number of European tech companies are working hard at having their technoloty used, ensuring that every user's identity is kept anonymous. 

UPDATE May 4, 8:46 AM EDT: Italy's strict lockdown has eased as of Monday

Millions of people living in Italy were allowed to return back to work on Monday following a strict two month lockdown period, Europe's longest lockdown so far. Restrictions on movement also eased up. Traffic built back up in Rome, construction sites and manufacturing operations started up again.

As infection rates have slowed down somewhat across Europe, efforts to restart public life have shifted slowly into gear. However, officials are still weary of a second wave, so these measures are limited and gradual. For instance, in Italy, mourners were allowed to attend funerals, but these are limited to 15 people, with still no word when Masses will resume.

UPDATE May 4, 8:39 AM EDT: Swiss health-care giant's coronavirus antibody test wins FDA approval for emergency use

Roche Holding AG, a Swiss diagnostics giant, said on Sunday that the FDA has cleared thei antibody test for emergency use. Roche's test is meant to inform people whether they've already been infected by the virus, to find out if they have developed an immunity to it. Antibodies remain in the bloodstream for weeks, months, and even years after infection, so this will prove useful in determining the extent of the virus' reach. 

Roche's head of diagnostics, Thomas Schinecker, said that the company aims to more than double its production of tests before the end of the year, from 50 million tests per month, to over 100 million per month

The aim for these antibody tests is to help governments decide how to ease lockdowns, as more knowledge on who and how many people have already contracted the disease, and potentially gained immunity from it will be known. 

UPDATE May 4, 8:26 AM EDT: Study finds that antibodies found in llamas could help fight COVID-19

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, and the National Institutes of Health and Ghent University in Beligum, have reported findings that a potential coronavirus treatment could stem from antibodies in llamas.

"This is one of the first antibodies known to neutralize SARS-CoV-2," said Jason McLellan, associate professor of molecular biosciences at UT Austin. Initial tests have shown that the antibody found in llamas blocks viruses that display the spike protein (a key protein that causes COVID-19), from infecting cells in culture. 

The team is about to embark upon preclinical trials on small animals, with the hope of testing it on humans down the line. The end goal is to create a treatment that would help people recover from COVID-19. 

McLellan said, "With antibody therapies, you're directly giving somebody the protective antibodies and so, immediately after treatment, they should be protected. The antibodies could also be used to treat somebody who is already sick to lessen the severity of the disease."

UPDATE May 4, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The World Health Organization (WHO) has delivered extra medicine to the Islamic Republic of Iran as a step in the organization's Solidarity Trial, a global campaign to find effective treatments for COVID-19, reports the WHO. More information on this is available here.

Surveillance teams developed to monitor polio disease are traveling to and or contacting the most at-risk places in the world to address the issue of the COVID-19 outbreak. An article about the polio teams at work in Somalia is available here.

UPDATE May 3, 7:45 AM EDT: Blood clotting identified as key cause of death among COVID-19 patients

Research led by clinician-scientists at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is revealing that COVID-19 patients are experiencing abnormal blood clotting that may lead to their death, according to a press release by RCSI. This is because the clotting causes micro-clots within the lungs. 

"Our novel findings demonstrate that COVID-19 is associated with a unique type of blood clotting disorder that is primarily focussed within the lungs and which undoubtedly contributes to the high levels of mortality being seen in patients with COVID-19," said Professor James O'Donnell, Director of the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology, RCSI and Consultant Haematologist in the National Coagulation Centre in St James's Hospital, Dublin.

"In addition to pneumonia affecting the small air sacs within the lungs, we are also finding hundreds of small blood clots throughout the lungs. This scenario is not seen with other types of lung infection, and explains why blood oxygen levels fall dramatically in severe COVID-19 infection.

"Understanding how these micro-clots are being formed within the lung is critical so that we can develop more effective treatments for our patients, particularly those in high risk groups.

"Further studies will be required to investigate whether different blood thinning treatments may have a role in selected high risk patients in order to reduce the risk of clot formation," Professor O'Donnell said.

UPDATE May 3, 7:26 AM EDT: The U.S. saw 2,909 COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours, the deadliest day yet

On Saturday, the U.S. recorded its deadliest day yet from the coronavirus, reported CNBC2,909 deaths were reported in a matter of 24 hours according to the World Health Organization.

However, this did not stop the easing of restrictions across certain states. Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, have already permitted nonessential retailers to reopen while dozen of other states are announcing similar reopening plans. 

Meanwhile, at least 10 other states held protests on Friday against the lockdown measures. Those states included  California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee, and Washington.

UPDATE May 2, 10:34 AM EDT: In NYC, NYPD dispatched to enforce social distancing

Due to the welcoming warmer weather, NYPD was forced to dispatch 1,000 officers this weekend to ensure that social distancing measures continued to be met, reported AP. Officers everywhere reminded citizens that they needed to stay 6 feet apart. 

In the meantime, after clashes between police and the Orthodox Jewish communities erupted when the latter wanted to attend funeral processions, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea issued a warning. “We will not tolerate it,” Shea said, according to AP. “You are putting my cops’ lives at risk and it’s unacceptable.”

Shea did add that most people were indeed enforcing the safety regulations.

UPDATE May 2, 10:00 AM EDT: COVID-19 may cause strokes, say NYC doctors

The coronavirus may now be responsible for a surge of strokes in young people, reported USA today. Mount Sinai doctors reported five such cases in patients under the age of 50, according to a letter they published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

“That creates a big alarm,” Dr. J Mocco, director of the Cerebrovascular Center at Mount Sinai and one of the letter’s authors, told USA today. “Our spider sense goes up to say that there’s something not right here."

Only one of the five patients, however, died while the rest are okay for now. This rise of strokes was first spotted in Wuhan, China where approximately 5% of COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized also suffered a stroke.

UPDATE May 2, 7:34 AM EDT: New Mexico closes all roads going into the city of Gallup

The governor of New Mexico declared all roads heading into the city of Gallup closed to "mitigate the uninhibited spread of Covid-19," reported CNN.

"I recognize this request is unusual and constitutes a drastic measure, and the emergency powers set out under the Riot Control Act should be invoked sparingly," Gallup Mayor Louis Bonaguidi wrote in a publicly-released letter. "However, the COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Gallup is a crisis of the highest order. Immediate action is necessary."

In addition, businesses will be open only from 8AM to 5PM and only two individuals will be allowed per vehicle. Gallup is in the McKinley County whose 1,027 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday count for more than 30% of the state's 3,411 total cases. 

UPDATE May 1, 5:30 PM ET: FDA has issued emergency use authorization for antiviral drug in treatment of some COVID-19 patients

The FDA just gave emergency use authorization for some patients suffering from the COVID-19 disease to use Remdesivir, according to a press release.

Remdesivir is an antiviral drug, and may now be used to treat a number of adults and children confirmed to have COVID-19, according to the FDA website. The drug will be administered once per day for no more than 10 days, and is so far believed to hasten patients' recovery, reports HuffPost.

U.S. President Trump announced the approval to reporters from the White House on Friday.

Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day said remdesivir developer Gilead Sciences will donate 1.5 million vials of the antiviral drug and will work with the federal government to distribute it to patients in greatest need, according to NPR.

"The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recover," said Fauci on Wednesday at the White House.

In the study — which happened earlier this week — remdesivir's effects were witnessed through a randomized and controlled study. Since late February, 1,063 patients with advanced cases of COVID-19 in 22 nations were given either a placebo or the remdesivir drug. Those who received the placebo recovered after an average of 15 days, while the ones with the drug itself made a full recovery in 11 days on average — an astounding 31% difference.

Significantly, the mortality rate for those who received remdesivir was also lower than that of the placebo group. The study still requires peer review, especially since other studies of the drug showed disappointing results, which suggests it might not be so great, after all.

Fauci compared remdesivir to the AIDS crisis to drive his point home. The initial treatment for HIV, the drug called AZT, showed only "modest" results during early trials, but later research and testing developed a much more effective and powerful drug, said Fauci.

O'Day also said that remdesivir's manufacturing period has been reduced from 12 to merely six months.

The drug, remdesivir, works by "blocking an enzyme that the virus uses," said Fauci.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said that the agency will continue to work "around the clock" to speed up efforts in the hunt for effective COVID-19 treatments. A viable vaccine, however, will probably not be available until at least next year.

UPDATE May 1, 1:53 PM EDT: Elon Musk tells COVID-19 reporter to 'move on'

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tried to dodge a journalist's question during a NASA press conference on Thursday, saying "move on," according to the reporter's tweeted account.

The reporter, named Marina Koren, said when she asked Musk about the COVID-19 outbreak, things didn't go well. "During a telecon, I asked Jim Bridenstine (NASA Administrator) about Elon Musk's recent opinions on COVID-19. A voice said on the line, 'wrong press conference. Move on.' I'm told it was Elon." Koren went on: "NASA just picked Starship to contribute important technology to the agency's moon return. This is relevant."

The NASA press conference was held to announce who won NASA's selection to land the next U.S. astronauts on the moon in 2024. The winners were Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX — all of whom are receiving millions of dollars from NASA to flush-out concepts for novel lunar landers to be used in NASA's forthcoming Artemis program — which will install a long-term exploratory human presence on the moon.

Koren's question regarded Musk's earlier tweets, one of which said "FREE AMERICA NOW," presumably about the ongoing social distancing measures across much of the United States, reports Gizmodo. Musk has also expressed doubt regarding the gravity of the global pandemic, which so far has left 60,000 people dead in the U.S.

Since NASA had on Thursday awarded SpaceX a massive $135 million contract for Starship project, Koren said her question was "relevant."

UPDATE May 1, 7:38 AM EDT: Swedish city drops chicken poop in parks in an attempt to keep people away 

The Swedish city of Lund has adopted a new tactic to try and keep crowds at bay from gathering in parks: spreading chickin droppings, as per Reuters. Lund's different approach was to try and minimize social gatherings before the April 30th Walpurgis Night, a holiday celebrated in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. It makes the transition from Winter to Spring.

"This is a park where usually 30,000 people gather, but with COVID-19 this is now unthinkable," Philip Sandberg, the town's mayor, told Reuters. "We don't want Lund to become an epicentre for the spread of the disease."

Sweden has approached the coronavirus outbreak differently to most other countries. There has not been a lockdown, none of its restaurants or bars have been shut, though have been issued regulations to maintain safe social distances and no mingling in bars is permitted. That said, gatherings of 50 people or more are banned.

Instead, the country has put in place a very strong public health policy regarding social distancing in order to keep the health of loved ones a priority. World Health Organization emergency director Mike Ryan told CBS News that "it's very much relied on its relationship with its citizenry and the ability and willingness of citizens to implement physical distancing and to self-regulate."

The country has had low numbers of cases compared with its neighbors, with 21,094 confirmed cases, and 2,500 deaths, as per Johns Hopkins University data.

UPDATE May 1, 7:33 AM EDT: Russia's Prime Minister says he has the coronavirus

The Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has stated that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. The news was broadcast on Thursday on the state-run Rossiya-24 television channel, during with Mishustin shared the news with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.  

"It has just now became known that the coronavirus test I gave came back positive," Mishustin told Putin. "I have to observe self-isolation and follow orders of doctors," he said. "This is necessary to protect my colleagues."

Mishustin joins nearly 106,700 other reported cases of the virus in Russia. There have been over 1,000 deaths across the country due to the virus, and Thursday saw 7,099 new cases.

UPDATE May 1, 7:29 AM EDT: USNS Comfort pushes out of New York after providing help during the pandemic

The Navy hospital ship President Trump sent to New York, the USNS Comfort, has completed its mission in the city, and has now left. After having helped with the pandemic, it began sailing away on Thursday, as per the NYPD.

The NYPD tweeted "HAPPENING NOW: @USNavy#Comfort pulls out of Pier 90 in Manhattan. The NYPD Harbor Unit, as well as the @USCG @USCGNortheast will provide a security zone around the hospital ship as it heads down the Hudson River."

In a second tweet they said "The #NYPD Harbor Unit proudly flies the @USNavy flag while escorting the #USNSComfort down the Hudson River."

It's not the end of the road for the USNS Comfort's assistance against COVID-19, though.

"USNS Comfort arrived in New York City to provide relief to frontline healthcare providers, and each patient who was brought aboard ensured one more bed was available in a local hospital," Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet and Maritime Component Element-East, said.

"While the ship is departing New York City, make no mistake, the fight is not over, and we stand ready to support the response to COVID-19 in whatever capacity we are needed."

UPDATE May 1, 7:12 AM EDT: Armed portesters taking a stand against coronavirus lockdown in Lansing, Michigan

Hundreds of protesters gathered inside Michigan's state capitol on Thursday as ongoing debates surrounding the state governor's requirest to extend her emergency powers to fight the coronavirus.

Some protesters carried rifles, few wore masks, all were shoulder-to-shoulder ignoring the social distancing precautions as they tried to enter the floor of the legislative chamber. Thursday's "American Patriot Rally" was smaller than the April 15 "Operation Gridlock" one.

Police allowed several hundred protesters to peacefully enter into the capitol building around 1pm. State legislative approval of Whitmer's state of emergency declaration, which allows her special executive powers, was due to expire on Thursday. 

Some speakers at the event, which had different organizers than the Operation Gridlock one, questioned the severity of COVID-19. Furthermore, they stated that Whitmer’s stay-at-home decision went against constitutional rights, and urged people to open their businesses on May 1, against her order.

UPDATE May 1, 7:04 AM EDT: Nearly 900 workers at Tyson Food plant in U.S. test positive for COVID-19

The coronavirus has infected 890 out of the 2,200 workersof a Tyson Food plant in Logansport, Indiana, as per WISH TV's report on Wednesday. Tyson announced last week that it would be closing its facility and would work with county officials on a reopening strategy plan.

"We’ve been screening worker temperatures, requiring protective face coverings and conducting additional cleaning and sanitizing," Tyson said in a statement.We’ve also implemented social distancing measures, such as workstation dividers and more breakroom space."

UPDATE May 1, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

Two new WHO member states, Comoros and Tajikistan, reported cases of COVID-19 in the last day, according to the WHO. Additionally, the third meeting of the Emergency Committee convened at the request of the WHO Director-General under stipulation from the International Health Regulations regarding the coronavirus outbreak.

The WHO's Regional DIrector for Europe, Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, said that "we will defeat COVID-19 by disseminating knowledge in all transparency, by personalized support in the field and by unfailing solidarity." In a separate statement, he stressed that "we cannot allow the impact of COVID-19 to be amplified by neglecting other vital health protection measures."

The WHO's Regional Office for the Americas has pushed for health authorities to take the correct steps to protect health care workers and communities during continuing essential immunization processes throughout the coronavirus crisis.

WHO also convened a virtual vaccine manufacturers and national regulatory authorities from its South-East Asia Region to speak about COVID-19 vaccines.

UPDATE April 30, 6:00 PM EDT: 9 months is best-case scenario for COVID-19 vaccine development, says Bill Gates

Bill Gates — co-founder of Microsoft — wrote a blog post to express his thoughts on the viability of vaccine development, wherein he stated 9 months as the low-end vaccine development estimate. He also discussed the road to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, should a vaccine candidate see complete success.

Gates said that while his thinking on a general estimation of the vaccine development timeline is in line with Dr. Anthony Fauci — director of the United States' National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) — at 18 months, Gates thinks it could "be as little as 9 months or as long as two years."

New England Journal of Medicine
Every vaccine needs to complete a three-stage process of vetting for safety and effectiveness, but Gates thinks these phases of vaccine testing may be hastened. Source: Gates Notes / New England Journal of Medicine

While there is no guarantee the vaccine will be developed and distributed this fast, Gates thinks the system for developing a viable vaccine may be hastened with increased funding because greater funding will allow scientists to perform multiple stages of a vaccine at once.

A more complete analysis of Gates' blog post is available here.

UPDATE April 30, 10:29 AM EDT: U.K. government admits it may miss its self-imposed target of 100,000 tests per day

The British government admitted that it may not reach its self-imposed goal of reaching 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of Thursday. However, officials are pointing out that the country's testing capacity has been rapidly expanding, and is looking at slowly easing its lockdown. 

The government has faced harsh criticism for failing to catch most COVID-19 cases, and states that a higher number of tests is the key to controlling the virus and easing the country's lockdown. Earlier in April the U.K. government vowed to reach 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by April 30th. The highest daily has been 52,000

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said that "we’re well on our way to ramping this up ... even if the target isn’t met today." He told the BBC that "100,000 is an important milestone, but frankly we need more."

As of Wednesday, the U.K's official death toll reached over 26,000, after thousands were added from nursing homes to the hospital total.

UPDATE April 30, 10:25 AM EDT: India exported 50 million hydroxychloroquine tablets to the United States to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, says Reuters' source

The nation of India shipped 50 million hydroxychloroquine tablets to the U.S., said an Indian source with credible knowledge of the exports, to Reuters. However, U.S. regulators have warned the anti-malarial drug could have harmful side effects when used to treat COVID-19.

The trade is India's biggest export of the drug to any country and comes on the heels of a request made by U.S. President Donald Trump for the city of New Delhi to release its supplies of the drug as a potential treatment for the respiratory disease associated with the coronavirus.

"It amounts to 50 million tablets... Commercial companies are pursuing. It's ongoing," said Reuters' source, who did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of discussions with the United States.

Meanwhile, the Canadian health department, the European Union's drug regulator, and even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration caution against the use of the drug. They cite side effects like a dangerously rapid heart rate and abnormal heart rhythms.

These health warnings have not substantively slowed the drug's imports to the U.S., where numerous doctors prescribe the drug for cases of COVID-19.

"There is high demand for hydroxychloroquine in the international market including U.S.," said Viranchi Shah, senior vice-president of the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA), to Reuters.

UPDATE April 30, 10:20 AM EDT: American Airlines has reported a $2.25 billion loss in its first quarter

With hugely decreased air travel numbers, American Airlines (AA) reported a $2.25 billion loss in its first quarter. The airline's revenue plummeted by 19% even though costs continued to rise. This year's loss is in stark comparison to the company's profit of $185 million in this quarter last year. This marks AA's largest quarterly loss since it merged with US Airways in 2013.

In the U.S. alone, air travel has gone down by 95% compared with last year. "Never before has our airline, or our industry, faced such a significant challenge," Chairman and CEO of AA Doug Parker said.

Parker stated that the airline was doing its best to bolster its liquidity, in part aided by the $5.8 billion federal aid fund to help its payroll costs until September. For April and May, the airline has cut its flying schedule down by 80%, and 70% in June. Almost 39,000 employees have accepted early retirement, partially paid leave, of lower working hours.

"There is no way to overstate the gravity of the situation for the airline industry, and difficult decisions lie ahead for all of us," Parker and company President Robert Isom said in a letter to their employees. They mentioned that they are confident AA and the airline industry "will fight through this successfully."

UPDATE April 30, 10:14 AM EDT: No deaths reported in the Czech Republic, yet again

For the second day since April 15, the Czech Republic confirmed on Wednesday that it had no deaths linked to the coronavirus to report. 

The country has so far reported 227 deaths, and over 7,500 have tested positive, as per the Health Ministry's figures on Thursday. The daily increase in cases has been under 100 for the eigth day in a row, and there have been under 10 deaths reported since April 13.

The government is now looking to gradually decrease its lockdown measures.

UPDATE April 30, 7:30 AM ET: Los Angeles to offer free coronavirus tests to all, with or without symptoms

Los Angeles is the first major U.S. city to offer free testing for the coronavirus disease for anyone who wants it, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or not, reports Gizmodo.

This announcement was made on Wednesday when Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is regarded as having adequately responded to the COVID-19 crisis, which is rare in a country whose leaders are generally regarded to be anything but.

As of writing, any Los Angeles County resident may sign up via the website link coronavirus.LAcity.org to schedule their free test, so long as they have a way to prove their residence of the county. Those with COVID-19 symptoms may receive same-day or next-day appointments, but those showing no symptoms might have to wait one or two days longer.

"We know that coronavirus is a silent killer that moves quietly through the population, and many of the people who transmit the disease [...] don't know they have it," said Garcetti during a Wednesday press conference and live-streamed on YouTube. "They're infectious but they're not showing any symptoms. And this illustrates why making testing available to anyone who wants it is essential."

Residents of L.A. seeking testing must bring a form of I.D., though it "will not be shared with any other agencies for purposes of law enforcement or immigration," reads the county's website.

UPDATE April 30, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

WHO directs health authorities to take the right steps to protect care workers and communities throughout essential immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports the WHO. PAHO has published an article on this issue, available here.

Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, the WHO AMRO/PAHO director, urges for vaccination programs to continue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: "If we fall behind on routine immunizations, particularly for children, we risk outbreaks, thus overwhelming hospitals and clinics with preventable diseases in addition to COVID-19." Her statement in full may be read here.

Dr. Hans Henri P. Kuge, director of WHO/EURO, has declared the need for transparent knowledge-sharing, customized ground support, and strong solidarity. His full statement may be read here.

A meeting organized yesterday courtesy of WHO SEARO with vaccine manufacturers and national regulatory authorities to converse on the future of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing in the Region occurred and can be read, in full, here.

UPDATE April 30, 3:40 AM EDT: Special Oxford partnership announced to develop COVID-19 vaccine

The University of Oxford has announced a partnership with the U.K.-based global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, to move vaccine development, large-scale manufacturing, and the potential widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate forward, should it pass trials at Oxford, according to Oxford's blog.

The partnership will start after final terms are agreed, slated for the coming weeks. Once completed, the new partnership will help foster rapid vaccination on a global basis, should it prove effective.

First developed by the Oxford Jenner Institute, human trials for the vaccine started last week, in a joint venture with the University's Oxford Vaccine Group.

This is a first-of-its-kind partnership since the U.K. government launched the Vaccines Taskforce in a bid to find, test, and deliver a novel coronavirus vaccine — only two weeks ago.

If successful in developing a vaccine, this new partnership will see AstraZeneca working with global partners to distribute the vaccine internationally, with emphasis on both affordability and availability to low- and medium-income countries.

UPDATE April 29, 12:02 PM EDT: Unconscious patients responding to smell is a good sign, say scientists

Holding a rotten fish or refreshing shampoo under the nose of a patient unconscious with a severe brain injury might help doctors understand their patient's level of consciousness — and their odds at long-term survival, reports The Guardian.

Scientists said patients are more likely to enjoy or detest a sniff of odors if they are minimally conscious, instead of an unresponsive, state, but if those who are deemed unresponsive do respond to smell, expectations may be good.

"If you approach people who are unconscious and you present them with an odor [and] they sniff it, they will resume consciousness at some stage and probably live for at least three years," said co-author of the research Professor Noam Sobel, of Weizmann Institute of Science, in Israel.

Since many severe COVID-19 patients fall unconscious as after living on a ventilator for prolonged periods, this could have bearing on people directly suffering from the global pandemic.

UPDATE April 29, 11:49 AM EDT: European Commission approves 5 billion euro loan guarantee to Renault

The European Commission authorized a 5 billion euro ($5.4 billion) loan guarantee to the carmaker called Renault group on Wednesday, in a bid to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, reports Reuters.

The Commission oversees competition policy in the European Union and has temporarily eased its usual rules to let EU countries support their economies expected to go into a serious recession as a consequence of lockdown measures.

This comes on the heels of an earlier authorization fora general French guarantee scheme to allow 70% loan coverage in March. The Renault plan was initially submitted as separate from the earlier loan, as the French state gives loan coverage of 90%, according to the Commission, reports Reuters.

The new guarantee is still subject to restrictions, like not supportingaloan that goes beyond25% of Renault group's 2019 turnover and that the loans last no more than six months.

UPDATE April 29, 11:20 AM ETD: Volkswagen saw car sales and profits plunge in the first quarter

Automaker Volkswagen (VW) saw its car sales and operating profit plunge in the first quarter as the coronavirus outbreak forced the company to close dealerships and production plants. However, the company stated it had strong cash reserves of 4.8 billion euros ($5.2 billion) and was still looking to make a profit this year. 

Gloabl sales fell by 23%, in other words to 2 million cars during the first three months of 2020. VW CFO, Frank Witter sait in a statement "the global COVID-19 pandemic substantially impacted our business in the first quarter. We’ve taken numerous countermeasures to cut costs and ensure liquidity and we continue to be robustly positioned financially. The Volkswagen Group is steering through this unprecedented crisis with focus and determination."

Many of the company's auto dealerships have reopened or plan on being reopened in China and Germany, and its main production plants as well. 

UPDATE April 29, 11:13 AM EDT: Airbus claims that this is just the beginning of the aviation crisis

European manufacturing giant, Airbus, has said that the aviation industry is only at the start of its troubles due to the pandemic. Airbus itself reported 481 million euros ($515 million) in losses in the first quarter, it had to put thousands of workers on furlough and sought billions in loans in order to stay afloat. On Wednesday, its CEO Guillaume Faury said that this was just the beginning of these troubling times. 

"We are in the gravest crisis the aerospace industry has ever known," Faury said. "Now we need to work as an industry to restore passenger confidence in air travel as we learn to coexist with this pandemic."

UPDATE April 29, 11:08 AM EDT: Boeing will cut 10% of work force and slowing production of planes

On Wednesday, Boeing Co. said it would cut around 10% of its work force, laying people off as necessary. The company reported a $641 million revenue loss in the first quarter of this year. In comparison, it earned $2.15 billion in the same period last year. The company's revenue fell 26%, to $16.91 billion

The company's delivery of its ariline jets went down by two thirds this year so far. "I know this news is a blow during an already challenging time," CEO David Calhoun said in a letter to employees. "I regret the impact this will have on many of you. I sincerely wish there were some other way."

Calhoun continued "The aviation industry will take years to return to the levels of traffic we saw just a few months ago."

UPDATE April 29, 11:03 AM EDT: Amazon experiencing fortunes but also headaches due to coronavirus

Amazon has seemingly hit the jackpot with the coronavirus outbreak. With many people around the world stuck at home, or with many shops shut during the pandemic, the online retailer has been overflowing with online orders and deliveries. However, with that comes added pressure, and many deliveries are delayed. Moreover, many Amazon workers are worried about contracting the dieases while on the job. 

In March, the company saw 2.54 billion visitors to its website, according to the online research company Comscore. This is a 64% jump up compared to the same period last year. On Thursday, Amazon will report its quarterly earnings, which will unveil just how well or not the company is faring.

UPDATE April 29, 10:58 AM EDT: The CDC just added 6 new symptoms to the COVID-19 list

The US Centers for Disease Prevention's (CDC) original list of symptoms of COVID-19 included fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Now, the CDC has added six more symptoms, which include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of smell or taste. 

As per the CDC, "these symptoms may appear 2 - 14 daysafter exposure to the virus."

Many experts had suspected that loss of smell and taste were symptoms of the virus, however the CDC has now confirmed this. The CDC reiterated that someone should only seek medical attention if they're experiencing "emergency warning signs of COVID-19", which include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips of face.

UPDATE April 29, 10:54 AM EDT: Elon Musk's surprising "Free America Now" tweet has surprised many followers

Elon Musk posted a tweet on Wednesday that said "FREE AMERICA NOW" all in capslock. Many are wondering if this is Musk just wanting to keep producing more Teslas without any further hiccups, or if his account may have been hacked. Even for Musk, this is a little 'out there'. It comes at a surprising time given the hashtag "DoNotOpenCalifornia is trending on Twitter, and Musk just posted his tweet. 

UPDATE April 29, 10:47 AM EDT: Researchers building robotic arm that uses UV light to disinfect surfaces

In order to keep a safe social distance yet while still managing to clean and disinfect contaminated areas, a team of researchers from the University of Southern California's Vterbi Center for Advanced Manufacturing is building a robotic arm that uses UV lighting to do so.

The robotic arm will improve efficacy and reduce human workers' risk of contracting the virus through touch. 

The team has put together a semi-autonomous mobile manipulator called Agile Dexterous Autonomous Mobile Manipulation System-UV (ADAMMS-UV), which uses a UV light wand on top of a robotic arm and a UV light source mounted on the base. The entire contraption is controlled by a human via a computer, who is located well away from the contaminated area.

The robot is in its prototype stages and has been tested in a lab setting. More testing and validation still needs to be carried out before it can be launched into the outside world.

UPDATE April 29, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The global number of total confirmed COVID-19 cases has exceeded 3 million, reports the World Health Organization.

The WHO published new technical guidance called "Strengthening Preparedness for COVID-19 in Cities and Urban Settings." The new guidance lends support to local policy-makers and leaders in cities and peripheral urban settings, to help them implement actions to enhance prevention, preparedness, and readiness for the coronavirus outbreak. The document is available to full perusal here.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe reiterated the crucial importance of patient rehabilitation in light of the coronavirus crisis. More relevant information is available here.

Regional Director for the WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Region, Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, made a public call for "all to put aside their differences, find common ground, and work together for the sake of humanity." More relevant information found here.

UPDATE April 28, 11:36 AM EDT: US Vice President Mike Pence to visit Mayo Clinic to learn about new coronavirus testing "moonshot"

On Tuesday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has an appointment at Minnesota's Mayo Clinic to learn more about the new coronavirus testing "moonshot," which would boost the state's capacity up to 20,000 tests per day

If all goes to plan, this should make the state one of the most agressive ones in testing at the scale experts say is needed in order to safely reopen the economy. Minnesota is one of the states that is no longer sitting and waiting for help from the federal government. 

Democratic Governor Tim Walz promises that every state resident with coronavirus symptoms can get tested once the plan is ready in the coming weeks. "This is the kind of approach and commitment that we need, and I’m glad the vice president is shining a light on promising efforts. We need more," Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said of Pence’s visit to Mayo. "Kudos to Minnesota for being a part of that."

UPDATE April 28, 11:31 AM EDT: Turkey sends medical equipment to the U.S.

On Tuesday, Turkey sent a military cargo load of personal protective equipment to help the U.S. fight against the virus. Turkey has donated 500,00 surgical masks, 4,000 overalls, 2,000 liters of disinfectant, 1,500 goggles, 400 N95 masks, and 500 face shields.

The nation has sent similar cargoloads to 55 other countries during the outbreak. "We pledge to help our friends and allies in need to the best of our ability and stand in solidarity with nations around the world at this difficult time," said Fahrettin Altun, the presidential communications director.

UPDATE April 28, 11:27 AM EDT: New Zealand and Australia have almost managed to  make the virus vanish 

On Tuesday, New Zealand only had three new reported cases of coronavirus. The country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, said "There may still be some smoldering ashes out there, and they have the potential to become a wildfire again, if we give them the chance." The government has loosened its lockdown.

In Australia, beaches have been reopened with a loosening of the lockdown there too. However, people are only allowed to go to the beach during daylight, shouldn't linger, and are limited to ensure social distancing. 

UPDATE April 28, 11:20 AM EDT: Akara Robotics turns a bot into a UV disonfecting robot for hospitals

A team of hardware and software engineers has placed a UV disinfecting robot into a hospital testing setting in a matter of weeks. "UV seemed to offer a lot of potential for addressing this problem," Connor McGinn from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, told IEEE last week. "It’s something that covers a lot of space, and it’s something that can very easily be put on a robot."

It turns out UV light does kill bacteria and viruses. So the team took a robot they'd previously been working on, TurtleBot2, and incorporated UV lighting that could kill viruses. 

Currently, the bot is working on disinfecting radiology equipment and rooms in hospitals. However, the robot is currently only in its demo phase, and the team is still thinking about what its next stages will be.

UPDATE April 28, 11:15 AM EDT: Argentina bans all commercial flights until September 1

On Monday, the National Civil Aviation Administration of Argentina issued a decree stating that all domestic and international commercial flights are banned until September 1. 

The decree has been met with resistance within the industry. IATA has stated that over 300,000 local jobs in the aviation industry would suffer as a result of the decree. However, the Argentine authorities are sticking to their decision as they are looking to remove the sales of airline tickets not approved by the Argentine authorities.

UPDATE April 28, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The World Health Organization published the "R&D Blueprint: COVID-19 Experimental Treatments," which lists experimental treatments with and without drugs for COVID-19, reports the WHO. Relevant information may be found here.

WHO has asked the nations of the world to ensure that usual immunizations go on wherever possible, and that surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases isn't disrupted during the ongoing outbreak. WHO's Regional Ofice for Europe looks deeper into it in an article, available here.

Director-General Dr. Tedros of WHO said in his regular Monday briefing: "As lockdowns in Europe ease with declining numbers of new cases, we continue to urge countries to find, isolate, test, and treat all cases of COVID-19 and trace every contact, to ensure these declining trends continue." More relevant information may be found here.

The WHO will continue to source millions of dollars' worth of medical equipment and supplies to help maintain Member States' global market access, which was overwhelmed with unprecedented demand. WHO also lends support to the design and installation of COVID-19 treatment areas in several nations.

UPDATE April 27, 3:32 PM EDT: Pandemic is 'far from over,' children at risk without vaccinations, says WHO chief

The COVID-19 pandemic is "far from over" and still disrupts normal health services, especially life-saving immunization for children living in poorer countries, said the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, reports Reuters.

The U.N. agency expressed concern in light of the rising death toll in Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and some Asian countries — despite numbers flattening or declining in some wealthier countries.

"We have a long road ahead of us and a lot of work to do," said WHO DIrector-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a virtual news conference in Geneva, who also said a second wave of infections might be stopped if the right actions are taken.

The COVID-19 outbreak, which first emerged in late 2019 from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has already been confirmed in 2.97 million cases, claiming 205,948 lives globally, as of writing.

Tedros also stressed that the health of children was under threat by the larger impact of the coronavirus crisis on vaccination programs for other, non-coronavirus diseases.

"Children may be at relatively low risk from severe disease and death from COVID-19 — the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus — but can be at high risk from other diseases that can be prevented with vaccines," said Tedros.

Roughly 13 million lives have been affected globally from delays in regular immunizations to combat diseases like cholera, yellow fever, measles, polio, and meningitis, said Tedros.

Vaccine shortages for other diseases have been reported in 21 nations as a consequence of border restrictions and widespread disruptions to travel due to the COVID-19 outbreak, said Tedros, citing conclusions from the GAVI global vaccine alliance.

"The number of malaria cases in sub-Saharan Africa could double," he said, about the possible impact of the novel virus on ordinary malaria services. "That doesn't have to happen, we are working with countries to support them."

UPDATE April 27, 1:46 PM EDT: Turkey aims to restart economy with May domestic flights

Turkey will soon decide whether or not it will begin to reopen its economy — starting with domestic flights — in mid-May of this year, according to officials with direct knowledge of the plans, reports Bloomberg.

Other relevant steps to reopen the Turkish economy are the subject of a cabinet meeting due to be held on Monday, which will involve resuming rail transportation and reopening public schools, according to officials, reports Bloomberg. As of Monday, the country had reported its fewest number of new cases in nearly three weeks.

From Germany to the United States, governments around the world are taking their first tentative steps in relaxing measures imposed since the global COVID-19 outbreak, as the world economy takes its biggest hit since the Great Depression.

UPDATE April 27, 11:46 AM EDT: Over 200 Cuban doctors arrive in South Africa to help with the coronavirus outbreak

More than 200 doctorsfrom Cuba, including community health and infectious diseases specialists, landed in South Africa on Monday morning in order to help out with the COVID-19 outbreak. 

South Africa requested Cuba's assistance, as the Caribbean island stated it would be sending more than 1,000 doctors to 200 countries. South Africa is the worst hit country in Africa in terms of coronavirus numbers, with 4,546 cases and 87 deaths.

UPDATE April 27, 11:41 AM EDT: Notre Dame Cathedral site refitted to ensure safety measures

After Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris went up in flames last year, its refurbishments had to be placed on pause as the coronavirus outbreak put much of France under complete lockdown. Now, specific safety measures are being fitted out to enable work to resume safely, according to a state agency overseeing the project

Some of these measures include rearranging the showers and changing rooms so that workers remain at a safe distance from each other, and creating a place to eat as restaurants in Paris are shut. Furthermore, most workers will be lodged in hotels nearby, so as not to have to take public transportation.

Work on the Cathedral is meant to gradually resume next week.

UPDATE April 27, 11:38 AM EDT: Wuhan has no more hospitalized coronavirus patients

Hubei province's health commission said on Monday that there are no more hospitalized coronavirus patients in the city of Wuhan. The last 12 patients were recently discharged.

Though 1,728 peopleremain under medical supervision as they have had close contact with infected patients, none are currently in hospital care.

UPDATE April 27, 11:33 AM EDT: Volkswagen reopens Europe's largest car factory with specific hygiene measures

Monday 27 April saw the reopening of Volkswagen's plant in Wolfsburg, germany, after the plant had been shut in mid-March. 

New hygiene measures have been put into place for the factory's 8,000-strong workers, which include markings on the ground to ensure staff know where the 1.5 meter mark is, extra time for disinfecting tools and surfaces, workers have been asked to measure their temperature and to change into their work clothes at home so as to minimize over-crowded changing rooms at the plant. 

Germany is slowly starting to ease some of its coronavirus-related restrictions, and the Wolfsburg reopening is part of that measure. The reopening will be gradual, with production capacity between 10% - 15% this week, moving up to 40% of its pre-crisis production next week, as per Reuters.

UPDATE April 27, 11:29 AM EDT: Tesla Fremont factory workers may start working again this week

The San Francisco Bay Area is due to ease some restrictions around work as of May 3, however, Tesla's Fremont factory paint and stamping employees have allegedly been told by supervisors that work will resume on April 29, and asking them if they'll be returning on that date.

Bloomberg first reported on the information, which was circulating on internal Tesla emails.

UPDATE April 27, 6:42 AM EDT: Apple has delayed mass production of its flagship iPhones for 2020

Apple Inc. is delaying the production ramp-up for its flagship iPhone lineup this year by roughly one month, according to people familiar with the company's changes, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to weaken global consumer demand and disrupt manufacturing throughout Asia, the heart of the worlds' consumer electronics supply chain, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The new models are due to feature 5G connectivity that promises low response times and faster internet connection. Earlier, The Nikkei had reported in late March that Apple, Inc. was getting ready for a potential delay of the launch of its first 5G iPhones.

UPDATE April 27, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

Public health systems have come under severe pressure as the COVID-19 outbreak goes on, reports the WHO. Meanwhile, countries around the world still need to focus attention on other health emergencies and make progress against diseases like malaria or poliomyelitis (polio). A new recent analysis on malaria lends credence to the call to minimize disruptions to malaria prevention and treatment services amid the COVID-19 outbreak. More information on the matter is available in the WHO Regional Office for Africa's statement, the WHO Regional Office for the Americas' statement, and in further details of the analysis.

WHO Regional Office for the Americas reiterates that countries need to strengthen vaccination against seasonal influenza and measles to fully prevent respiratory illness and other vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More information on the urgent directive is available here.

The core COVID-19 protocol for therapeutics was published by the WHO R&D Blueprint Working Gropu. More relevant information can be found here.

The WHO Regional Director for Europe urges EU Nations to build sustainable people-centric long-term care following the COVID-19 outbreak. More information on the matter is available here.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe also published crucial considerations for the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions first introduced by several countries in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. More relevant information is available here.

UPDATE April 26, 11:48 PM EDT: Blue Angels and Thunderbirds joining forces for New York flyover to honor frontline healthcare workers amid COVID-19

Two of the U.S. military's elite flight squadrons will make a flyby of New York City and nearby cities, to honor frontline healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 outbreak in a dazzling display of aerial grace, reports Business Insider.

The tight-knit of U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels will make their flight over Newark, New Jersey, and New York City starting at noon on Tuesday, for roughly 35 minutes, before moving on to Trenton, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These flybys are among the first of several multi-city flyovers by the aerial acrobats to honor frontline healthcare workers in what the military has called "America Strong."

"We hope to give Americans a touching display of American resolve that honors those serving on the frontline of our fight with COVID-19," said Thunderbird 1 and mission commander for the flyover Lt. Col. John Caldwell, in a Sunday statement.

The flyby formation will include six F-16 Fighting Falcons and six F/A-18 Hornets.

"We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to salute those working on the frontline of the COVID-19 response, we are in awe of your strength and resilience," said Cmdr. Brian Kesselring, commanding officer and flight leader of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, in the statement. "Thank you to all of those in essential industries keeping our nation moving forward. We will get through this. We are all in this together."

UPDATE April 26, 7:40 AM EDT: Spain's death toll lowest in five weeks

On Sunday, Spain reported its lowest COVID-19 daily death toll in five weeks, reported AP Only 288 people died from the virus in the last 24 hours said the Spanish health authorities.

The event marked the first time the country's death toll fell below 300 since March 20. In more good news, the daily amount of confirmed cases also decreased. 

“The magnitude of today’s decrease is important,” Spanish health official Fernando Simón said, according to AP. “As of tomorrow, our goal is no longer to reach the peak of the contagion curve, we are already there. Now we need to consolidate (our position) and think about how to safely move into the next phase of scaling down our restriction measures.”

UPDATE April 26, 4:59 AM EDT: Taiwan reports no new cases of COVID-19 for fourth time this month

 On Saturday, Taiwan reported no new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus for the fourth time this month and no additional infections for 14 consecutive days, which leaves the number of infected people in the country at 429, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), reports Focus Taiwan.

Taiwan has confirmed no novel cases for April 14 to April 17 this month, and also March 8 and March 9, according to statistics from CECC.

In total, 281 COVID-19 patients in Taiwan have already been released from coronavirus quarantine, while the country's death toll remains at six, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, also head of CECC, to reporters at a daily Taipei briefing.

While Taiwan recorded no new cases, Chen stressed that the public should remain vigilant and continue to exercise apt precautions against the disease throughout the upcoming May 1 Labor Day holiday.

"Everybody still needs to adhere to social distancing, wear a mask and keep good personal and environmental hygiene, said Chen. "Everyone should still keep that certain awareness."

Compared to other major countries, Taiwan has received global praise for its early action in implementing virus prevention strategies since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, which came from China late in 2019.

As the early-acting nations begin to see few-to-none when it comes to new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the citizens of the world should opt for cautious optimism until viable vaccines are fully developed, tested, vetted, and administered to most of the world's population.

UPDATE April 25, 11:00 AM EDT: WHO reveals that there is no evidence that COVID-19 antibodies protect from a second infection

On Saturday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that there was no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.

"At this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate.” People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission," warned WHO in its statement regarding antibodies.

UPDATE April 25, 10:30 AM EDT: Lockdown protests take place at Polish-German border

Hundreds of Polish citizens who work in Germany protested on Friday evening in the southwestern Polish border town of Zgorzelec, reported Reuters. Their issue was with the closed borders and the mandatory coronavirus quarantine for those who do cross the border.

"I've been trapped at home for six weeks, can't cross the border, go to work. I can't go back to my students," said Mirella Binkiewicz, a teacher, according to Reuters.

The protest saw some 300 citizens gathered at the Polish side and some 100 at the German. People also protested in other Polish towns located on the German and Czech borders.

The borders are set to be closed until May 3.

UPDATE April 25, 10:07 AM EDT: U.S. coronavirus deaths approach 52,000

The U.S.'s coronavirus deaths are approaching 52,000, reported CNN on Saturday. This amount makes up more than a quarter of the world's death toll.

The number is constantly increasing not only because of new deaths but also because of testing that sees some previously unknown deaths now identified as coronavirus-related.

In California, a 57-year-old woman who died February 6 and a 69-year-old man who died February 17 have now been confirmed as the earliest known cases to have died of the virus in the country.

UPDATE April 24, 9:40 PM EDT: Interesting Engineering coronavirus update

As of writing, there have been nearly 2.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases globally, with the greatest concentration in the United States, with 890,524 in total. 195,920 have died from COVID-19 worldwide, with the United States at 51,017 — nearly twice the mortal tally of the second-greatest death toll, Italy. 781,382 recoveries from the COVID-19 disease have been recorded around the world, the greatest total of whom reside in Germany, the United States, and Spain, respectively.

At present, there are 180 known collaborative engineering efforts to fight the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, with the United States currently hosting the most. The efforts span a wide variety of technological advances, including medical technology, 3D-printed solutionssanitization, and drones and robots. Donations from major engineering or tech corporations, like those from AppleTeslaTwitter, Facebook, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others are also included. For more information, please check out our new official page here.

UPDATE April 24, 1:00 PM EDT: Turkey has more COVID-19 recoveries than new coronavirus cases, for the first time

The number of patients discharged from Turkey in the last day constitutes roughly 15% of the total COVID-19 patients to date, according to a tweet from the Turkish Minister of Health Dr. Fahrettin Koca. With 3,246 recoveries and 3,122 new cases of coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, this marks the first time in months that Turkey saw more recoveries than new cases, according to the nation's official COVID-19 website.

UPDATE April 24, 11:19 AM EDT: 91 crew of an Italian cruise ship docked in Nagasaki, Japan, have tested positive for the coronavirus

So far, 91 crew of an Italian cruise ship docked in Japan's Nagasaki port have tested positive for the coronavirus. Around half of the 623 crew have been tested, and authorities are working hard to screen the rest. Those who have tested negative will be repatriated. For those who have tested positive, however, the question remains as to how they will be sent back home. 

The vessel, the Costa Atlantica, was in a shipyard in Nagasaki in February, where the ship was quarantined by authorities and ordered not to leave the shipyard's quay aside for hospital visits. It's been discovered that some of the crew did not adhere to the rules and departed without informing the authorities. 

So far only one out of the 91 infected crew members is in hospital, the rest have either mild or no symptoms and are all onboard the ship, monitored by a doctor and four nurses.

UPDATE April 24, 11:12 AM EDT: As coronavirus cases grow in Africa, the continent is far behind in appropriating correct medical equipment

In the last week, coronavirus cases have increased by 43% across Africa, but its nations are far behind in terms of appropriate medical equipment. Ten countries don't have a single ventilator. 

African officials are working hard to receive solutions by richer countries as the reported cases went over 27,000. The continent's nations have had to create a pooled purchasing platform under the African Union (AU) in order to have better negotiating power. The AU so far has received over 100,000 test kits from a German source, and the WHO is also pitching in. 

There are under 2,000 ventilators across 41 African countries, a continent of more than 1.3 billion people.

UPDATE April 24, 11:05 AM EDT: Siemens Healthineers expanding COVID-19 testing to include antibody test

Siemens Healthineers announced on Thursay its plans to significantly expand its infectious deiseases testing in order to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The test detects the presence of antibodies in the blood, which will assist in painting a clearer picture of patients' progression after they've contracted and recovered from the disease. All in all it will help identify those who have gained natural immunity against the virus.

As per lab tests, this test has 99% specificity and sensitivity. The company anticipates that the test will be available by late May.

UPDATE April 24, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The World Health Organization published a stop-gap guidance document called "COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for competent authorities responsible for national food safety control systems." The document serves as advice for national food safety authorities to use in the optimization of food control functions, and to prioritize crucial services needed to preserve the integrity of food safety systems, reports the WHO.

The WHO also published a guidance document called "Water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for the COVID-19 virus." This stop-gap guidance is the second edition, created to supplement existing infection prevention and control documents by summarizing new evidence about coronavirus in water supplies and sanitation infrastructure. It focuses WHO guidance on sanitation, hand hygiene, water, and health care waste — all relevant for viruses (like the coronavirus).

WHO's service called Health Security Learning Platform provides various online courses to help enhance public knowledge on critical issues related to the implementation of the International HealthRegulations (2005). A new one called "Operational considerations for managing COVID-19 cases/outbreak in aviation" is now available.

UPDATE April 23, 9:00 PM EDT: Interesting Engineering coronavirus update

As of writing, there have been nearly 2.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases globally, with the greatest concentration in the United States, with 864,415 in total. 188,437 have died from COVID-19 worldwide, with the United States at 47,892 — nearly twice the mortal tally of the second-greatest death toll, Italy. 737,735 recoveries from the COVID-19 disease have been recorded around the world, the greatest total of whom reside in Germany, Spain, and the United States, respectively.

At present, there are 175 known collaborative engineering efforts to fight the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, with the United States currently hosting the most. The efforts span a wide variety of technological advances, including medical technology, 3D-printed solutionssanitization, and drones and robots. Donations from major engineering or tech corporations, like those from AppleTeslaTwitter, Facebook, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others are also included. For more information, please check out our new official page here.

UPDATE April 23, 1:00 PM EDT: First patients in UK injected with vaccine as part of human trials

Two volunteers were injected with a potential vaccine as part of an initial human trial in Oxford, U.K., according to the BBC. The two were the first of more than 800 people recruited for the study.

Half of the recruits will receive the new COVID-19 vaccine, and the other half will be injected with a control that protects against meningitis, but not the novel virus.

The design of the trial will keep volunteers from knowing which vaccine they are getting. But the doctors will know the difference.

One of the two recruits who received the medical jab, Elisa Granato, said to the BBC: "I'm a scientist, so I wanted to try to support the scientific process wherever I can."

The vaccine was developed in less than three months by an Oxford University team. The team was led by Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute.

"Personally I have a high degree of confidence in this vaccine," she said to the BBC.

"Of course, we have to test it and get data from humans. We have to demonstrate it actually works and stops people getting infected with coronavirus before using the vaccine in the wider population."

Gilbert had earlier given the vaccine — based on a weakened version of a common cold virus (called an adenovirus) stemming from chimpanzees, and modified so it can't grow in humans — an 80% chance of success.

UPDATE April 23, 12:00 PM EDT: Bill Gates writes encyclopedic 'state of the fight' against COVID-19

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wrote a lengthy memo in which he outlined an encyclopedic "state of the fight" against the COVID-19 pandemic. In it, he used Microsoft's China operations to set a global example of how society might make its way back to normal.

Microsoft has as of writing sent half its 6,200 workers back to work, but those workers are made to wear masks and adhere to social distancing rules, said Gates. Microsoft is also providing hand sanitizer to employees, and practicing more intensive cleaning standards in its offices.

"The rules about what is allowed should change gradually so that we can see if the contact level is starting to increase the number of infections," wrote Gates. "Countries will be able to learn from other countries that have strong testing systems in place to inform them when problems come up."

UPDATE April 23, 11:12 AM EDT: Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel states "things will remain hard for a very long time" as we are only at the beginning of the pandemic

On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the end of the coronavirus pandemic is not in close sight, and that we will have to live with it for a "very long time." Merkel further cautioned "we are not living in the final phase of the pandemic, but still at the beginning."

This week, Germany has slowly started to lift some light lockdown measures, such as opening small shops no larger than 800 square meters, so long as hygiene and social distancing measures were put in place. Large car dealerships, bike shops, and book stores also reopened.

Germany has been cautious, however, is hoping to lift the lockdown slowly. The country has had a high number of infections, with over 150,000 reported cases, however the death rate has been much lower than other European countries, at 5,315 in total, as per data from Johns Hopkins University.

UPDATE April 23, 11:06 AM EDT: Las Vegas workers unhappy with Mayor's call to reopen casinos and hotel

On Wednesday, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman called for the fast reopening of casinos and hotels in the city. However, many people who work in these establishments have voiced their concerns about returning to work in such public spaces unless strict regulations are put in place.

Goodman didn't mention any guidelines regarding social distancing and safety for the reopening of these establishments. 

"I want us open in the city of Las Vegas so our people can go back to work," Goodman said in a CNN interview. When asked how she would ensure safety regulations for the employees and guests would be shared, she explained: "That's up to them to figure out. I don't own a casino."

Goodman's call has been met with a lot of retaliation, for instance D. Taylor, the president of UNITE Here, a union representing over 300,000 hospitality workers in the U.S., said "Nobody wants people to go back more than I do, but everyone wants to go back to a safe and secure workplace and not be an experiment in a petri dish."

UPDATE April 23, 10:49 AM EDT: Study finds that almost all COVID-19 patients placed on ventilators in New York's largest health system died

All in all, around 20% of patients with the coronavirus disease at Northwell Health in New York died, and 88% of those who were placed on ventilators died, as per a new study. Another smaller report has stated that if a patient is placed on a ventilator, they are already unlikely to survive. 

The team who wrote the study, which is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the electronic health records of 5,700 coronavirus patients hospitalized at Northwell Health. More than 57% of them had high blood pressure, 41% were obese, and 34% had diabetes, further supporting the current knowledge that most COVID-19 patients who become severely ill have an underlying illness.

However, the team was only able to carry out their study on half of the patients, as the other half's outcomes are still underterminded. "This study reported mortality rates only for patients with definite outcomes (discharge or death), and a longer-term study may find different mortality rates as different segments of the population are infected," the Northwell Health team wrote.

UPDATE April 23, 10:53 AM EDT: CDC warns that a second wave of the pandemic could be worse this winter

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, Robert Redfield, if a second wave hits the U.S. this winter, the pandemic could in fact be worse than what we are currently experiencing. 

Redfield spoke to the Washington Post on Tuesday to explain that combined with the flu season, the coronavirus outbreak would wreak even more havoc on the health care system. Redfield said "a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through."

Redfield told the Post that federal and state officials should start preparing now for such an event.

UPDATE April 23, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The Global Outbreak and Response Network (GOARN) launched a new GOARN COVID-19 Knowledge hub, reports the WHO. The hub was designed to be a central repository of quality public health information, guidance, tools, and webinars that can be used for free at any point.

Director-General of the WHO Tedros, in his normal media briefing yesterday, warned that "we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time." He also said that "the world cannot go back to the way things were. There must be a "new normal" — a world that is healthier, safer and better prepared." His speech can be found here.

The WHO published guidance called "Addressing Human Rights as Key to the COVID-19 Response." This new guidance document highlights the importance of integrating a human-rights-founded approach to the world's COVID-19 response, and also highlights important things to consider when addressing stigma and discrimination, prevention of violence against domestic partners, providing support for vulnerable populations, restrictive measures and quarantine, and shortages of equipment and supplies.

All evidence available for COVID-19 points to SARS-CoV-2 having a zoonotic source (that is, from animals). Researchers have examined the genomic features of SARS-CoV-2, and concluded that evidence doesn't support the idea that SARS-CoV-2 is or was made in a laboratory. An artificially constructed virus would show a mix of known elements found in genomic sequences — which isn't the case, says WHO.

UPDATE April 22, 8:20 PM EDT: Interesting Engineering coronavirus update

More than 2.6 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus. 182,943 deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded globally, the United States with nearly twice the tally of the next-highest death toll, in Italy. 709,050 recoveries have been made, the greatest numbers of whom reside in Germany, Spain, and China.

At present, there are 153 known collaborative engineering efforts to fight the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, with the United States currently hosting the most. The efforts span a wide variety of technological advances, including medical technology, 3D-printed solutionssanitization, and drones and robots. Donations from major engineering or tech corporations, like those from AppleTeslaTwitter, Facebook, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others are also included. For more information, please check out our new official page here.

UPDATE April 22, 3:00 PM EDT: Bloomberg has pledged up to $10 million toward a tri-state coronavirus contact tracing network, says Cuomo

During a daily press briefing, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said that Michael Bloomberg will give a donation of up to $10 million to create a COVID-19 testing and contact tracing network through his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, reports Business Insider.

The new and forthcoming network will focus on the United States' tri-state area — consisting of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, said Cuomo. Bloomberg, a billionaire philanthropist and former mayor of New York City, intends to work with the state of New York and Johns Hopkins to build what Cuomo called an "army" of workers to analyze the contacts of everyone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, while also isolating and identifying those found to have it.

UPDATE April 22, 11:17 AM EDT: Russian space official tests positive for COVID-19 after attending Soyuz crew launch to ISS

Russian space official tests positive for COVID-19, but Russia's space agency, Rocosmos, assured Space.comthat it was "impossible" that any contamination would spread to the International Space Station (ISS). 

On April 15, Russian space news agency TASS confirmed that Evegeny Mikrin, deputy CEO and chief designer of RSC Energia, tested positive for COVID-19. 

Mikrin was present at the most recent crewed mission launch to the ISS, which took place on April 9 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. However, Rocosmos officials are adamant that the coronavirus will not spread to the ISS.

"Potential ISS contamination is absolutely impossible as the number of personnel involved in the related operations has been minimized and those remaining follow the strictest rules and precautionary measures to prevent any possible threat to the crews," the Roscosmos press office told Space.com.

"The same goes about all the Roscosmos staff and those responsible for continuous operations — the number of personnel present at their workplaces has been minimized with most of them working remotely," Roscosmos added. "Others are obliged to follow strictest precautionary measures."

NASA press representative Dan Huot chipped in by stating "The astronaut crew was placed in strict quarantine with their medical teams weeks before the launch."

Huot continued "During this time of social distancing, personal protective equipment and health monitoring procedures were followed to protect the crew from any infectious disease. It is standard NASA practice, as it is with all our international partners, to protect astronauts' health prior to launch and monitor them closely when they first arrive at the International Space Station."

UPDATE April 22, 11:09 AM EDT: Germany gives green light for COVID-19 vaccine human trials

Potential coronavirus vaccine trials on humans have been given the go-ahead in Germany. The company behind the development of the vaccine is the German biotech BioNTech, which is pushing teams in Germany, the U.S., and China to develop a vaccine against the virus.

This marks the fourth coronavirus vaccine trialworldwide and will initially be tried out on 200 healthy participants. In the second stage of the trial more subjects, including high-risk people, will be included, as per the German vaccines regulator Paul Ehrlich Institut.

BioNTech mentioned it was developing four vaccine candidates under a programe they've named BNT162 with its partner, pharmaceutical company, Pfizer.

UPDATE April 22, 9:32 AM EDT: Spain sends back faulty coronavirus tests to China, tests supposed to replace first faulty batch

Spain found flaws in the second batch of coronavirus tests sent from a Chinese company and due to replace a first faulty batch of tests, reports Business Insider.

The health ministry of Spain confirmed to El País newspaper that it seeks a refund for the tests purchased from Bioeasy, a Chinese company, after the country tested a sample and discovered that the tests are not sensitive enough to detect enough coronavirus cases.

The new batch was supposed to replace 58,000 tests sent by Bioeasy to Spain in March, reports El País. Spain then found that the tests couldn't consistently detect positive cases and subsequently decided to return them.

El País then said after the faulty first batch, Bioeasy told the country to change the tests to another form of testing that needs a machine to correctly read the result and added that it'd give the machines free of charge.

However, because of the new issues, Spain wants a full refund for the order of 640,000 tests. It did not release the price of the order. As of writing, Spain has abandoned its plan to use rapid tests, reports El País, instead using tests that look for antibodies in people who've recovered from the novel virus and also on a more expensive form of testing that looks for signs of the virus in peoples' DNA.

UPDATE April 22, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The World Health Organization expresses sadness at the death of a member of its personal that happened during a security incident in Rakhine district of Myanmar, who was moving COVID-19 surveillance samples in support of the Ministry of Health and Sports. WHO has condemned attacks on health workers involved in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, reports the WHO. More on the incident, here.

As of April 22, the nation of Japan has changed its method of reporting deaths to include both the number of deceased cases that had total data matching and verification, in addition to deceased cases whose data verification and matching are still in progress.

A Belarus-focused WHO Mission recommends the introduction of community-wide steps to increase physical distancing. More can be read of the concept here.

OpenWHO launched an online course called "Standard precautions: hand hygiene." The program was prepared to assist in the summary of the WHO guidelines on hand hygiene, related tools, and ideas for effective implementation. As of writing, there have been more than 1.5 million enrollments in the module's courses to assist in the global COVID-19 response.

The WHO Information Network for Epidemics (EPI-WIN), launched when the COVID-19 outbreak was in its earliest stages, with emphasis on infodemic management. Updates and additional information are available on the WHO official website.

WHO has also issued new guidance on "Safe Ramadan practices in the context of COVID-19," which can be read in Arabic, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

UPDATE April 22, 3:37 AM EDT: FDA authorizes first at-home coronavirus testing kit

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved the first at-home coronavirus patient testing kit. Developed by LabCorp, the test includes a nasal swab that can be done at home and is then sent to one of the company's labs for testing. 

Initially, the test kits will be available for healthcare workers and other first responders, and should be available in most states for all consumers in the weeks following. 

UPDATE April 21, 6:30 PM EDT: Interesting Engineering coronavirus update

There have been more than 2.5 million people globally diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus, with the United States more than any other single country. 176,323 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic have been confirmed worldwide, the U.S. with more than any other country. 679.748 recoveries from the COVID-19 illness have been reported globally, with the greatest tallies in Germany, Spain, and China.

At present, there are 131 known collaborative engineering efforts to fight the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, with the United States currently hosting the most. The efforts span a wide variety of technological advances, including medical technology, 3D-printed solutionssanitization, and drones and robots. Donations from major engineering or tech corporations, like those from AppleTeslaTwitter, Facebook, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others are also included. For more information, please check out our new official page here.

UPDATE April 21, 3:10 PM EDT: UK government to begin human trials for coronavirus vaccine this Thursday

Trials of a possible coronavirus vaccine will begin on humans this Thursday, in the U.K., according to the U.K.'s Health Secretary Matt Hancock, reports the Independent. The vaccine was developed at the Univeristy of Oxford.

A member of the Oxford team said that if the trials are successful, millions of vaccine doses will become available by the Fall. At the daily press conference at 10 Downing Street, Hancock said the U.K. government was "throwing everything" at the search for a viable vaccine, adding that £20 million was granted to the Oxford team to help accelerate their clinical trials, with another £22.5 million toward researchers at Imperial College London.

Watch the clip of the vaccine announcement, from BBC, below.

During the Downing street briefing, Hancock added that the U.K. government was in talks with thousands of protective gear suppliers to the NHS at present in need of PPE but added that not all suppliers seemed up to the task, reports the BBC.

UPDATE April 21, 3:00 PM EDT: GM shuts down its car-sharing Uber competitor Maven amid COVID-19

General Motors pulled the plug on its car-sharing service, Maven, amid COVID-19 and social distancing, according to The Verge.

"After critically looking at our business, the industry, and what's going on with COVID-19, we have made the tough but necessary decision to wind down our business," GM said in a Tuesday email to Maven customers, according to The Verge.

"Covid19 (sic) claimed the Maven car-sharing platform, it's shutting down immediately. Bummer, it was one of the better ones," said a columnist at Medium's OneZero, in a tweet that featured GM's letter to Maven customers.

Initially created to rival the Zipcars and Car2Gos of the rideshare industry, GM had expanded Maven in 2018 to help car owners share their vehicles via GM's service, not unlike Turo or Getaround services.

"We've gained extremely valuable insights from operating our own car-sharing business," said Pamela Fletcher, vice president of GM's global innovation, in a statement. "Our learnings and developments from Maven will go on to benefit and accelerate the growth of other areas of GM business."

Maven Gig — the part of GM's service that was exclusive to Uber or Lyft drivers — will also be closed down, but "will likely be the part that takes the longest to finalize," said GM, reports The Verge.

UPDATE April 21, 2:00 PM EDT: Oktoberfest is canceled due to coronavirus

Yet another world-renown event has fallen prey to the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, officials of Germany declared that Oktoberfest 2020 was canceled, reports NPR.

The annual festival in the Bavarian capital of Munich is the world's largest folk and beer event and has attracted more than 6 million visitors each year.

However, public safety concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic have grown to outweigh the benefits of hosting 2020's festival, according to state and local officials. Initially due to happen from Sept. 19 through Oct. 4, beer and German folk festival lovers around the world will have to wait until next year.

"The risk is quite simply too high," said Bavarian Minister President Markus Söder in a Tuesday press conference.

The mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, said the cancellation was a "bitter pill" for the city but added that officials had no alternative recourse. "You can't host a folk festival in a time like this," he said.

In a statement, the association of Oktoberfest beer tent owners said that it "deeply regrets the decision, but understands it completely."

This represents a 1.2-billion-euro ($1.3-billion) economic impact for the city of Munich, as well as its breweries and hospitality industry. Last year, visitors drank more than 7.2 million liters (1.9 million gallons) of beer.

UPDATE April 21, 11:17 AM EDT: New Zealand could eliminate the virus from its islands altogether

New Zealand has a bold goal and its to eliminate the coronavirus altogether. Experts believe the nation could pull it off.

The country's geographic location has helped somewhat keep the virus at bay, on top of which the country's 5 million-strong population is spread across a nation the size of the U.K. making social distancing an easier task given even its largest cities aren't bustling. More to the  point, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern jumped quickly onto the task in late March by placing the country under a strict lockdown, even when they only had 100 confirmed cases. 

As of Tuesday, the country confirmed only five new cases, down from its peak of 90 in early April, and only 13 people have died from the virus.

"We have the opportunity to do something no other country has achieved: elimination of the virus," Ardern told reporters last week. "But it will continue to need a team of 5 million behind it."

The nation is to stay in lockdown for another week, after which some work restrictions will be slightly eased so as to help boost the economy back up, and most of the social restrictions will remain in place.

UPDATE April 21, 11:12 AM EDT: Turkey "could transition to a normal life" by June

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is of the mind that Turkey has reached a plateau in cases of the coronavirus. Officially addressing his ruling party on Tuesday, President Erdogan said that "Turkey could transition to a normal life" in June, after a holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Erdogan stressed that regulations had to be adhered to if this were to be the case. Turkey has reported 90,980 cases, and 2,410 deaths. Turkey is undergoing weekend crufews, and among other regulations has banned anyone over 65 or under 20 from leaving their homes. 

UPDATE April 21, 11:06 AM EDT: Students in Portugal create an interactive map app so residents know which businesses are open

Igor Matias and Paulo Silva, both student members of IEEE at the Universidade de Beira Interior in Covilhã, Portugal, have built an interactive mapp and an app version that shows which businesses are open in the region during the pandemic. They hope to make the map accessible country-wide.

Called "Covid-19, what's open?", the interactive map informs users of the stores' business hours during the pandemic, and whether or not they deliver. The two creators used Google Maps API and fast website design tools to build the platform, which is accessible for both Android and iOS devices.

UPDATE April 21, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

There were no countries in the last 24 hours experiencing their first cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhonom Ghebreyesus thanked health ministers from the G20 countries for their support in his media briefing on Monday, as well as the support the WHO received from the G77 (comprising 135 countries) and The Non-Aligned Movement (comprising more than 130 countries). He stressed that WHO is pledged to support all countries to save lives, reports the WHO.

The WHO and Global Citizen's "One World, Together at Home" concert collaboration that featured Lady Gaga was a smash hit, in addition to a show of global solidarity and friendship. It raised $55 million for WHO's Solidarity Response Fund, slated to support countries to prevent, detect, and respond to the global pandemic.

More than 100 countries have joined the Solidarity Trial as of April 21, to evaluate therapeutics for COVID-19. The trial will compare four different treatment options against local standards of care, to evaluate their respective effectiveness against the perilous illness.

WHO just published "International Guidelines for Certification and Classification (Coding) of COVID-19 as Cause of Death," which anyone can read, here.

Amid a virtual meeting set up by WHO, national regulatory authorities and national ethics committees throughout Africa have agreed to combine their expertise toward expediting clinical trial reviews and approvals.

UPDATE April 20, 7:30 PM EDT: Interesting Engineering coronavirus update

Nearly 2.5 million people worldwide have been confirmed infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus. 169,794 have died from the disease, more in the United States than any other country — at nearly 42,000 dead — approaching twice Italy's death tally. 645,099 patients have recovered globally from the infection, with the most in Germany and Spain.

At present, there are 106 known collaborative engineering efforts to fight the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, with the United States currently hosting the most. The efforts span a wide variety of technological advances, including medical technology, 3D-printed solutionssanitization, and drones and robots. Donations from major engineering or tech corporations, like those from AppleTeslaTwitter, Facebook, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others are also included. For more information, please check out our new official page here.

UPDATE April 20, 3:00 PM EDT: US oil falls to unprecedented lows amid COVID-19 pandemic

Prices for U.S. crude oil fell sharply on Monday amid the COVID-19 pandemic — by almost 300% — turning negative for the first time in history, while the practically absent demand for fossil fuels has pushed storage facilities to extreme limits, NBC News reports.

West Texas Intermediate — a U.S. benchmark on crude oil — sank to unprecedented lows of minus $37.63 per barrel by close of the oil market on Monday — a bewildering level that in short means producers will have to pay buyers to take their oil.

Oil expected to be delivered in May was hardest hit since that futures contract is due to expire on Tuesday, reports NBC News. The June contract will also be dropped, but by a much smaller 18% margin.

Not even a historic agreement to cut production made between OPEC and allies could create enough momentum to stanch the surplus, as countries worldwide continue pumping oil ahead of the agreement's implementation, on May 1.

Pipelines, ships, and tanks are nearly full, which also complicates the global calculus for numerous U.S. producers who want to hold on to their oil until the effects of the outbreak subside from the economic damage — after which demand for crude oil is expected to begin again.

"Even if we get the COVID-19 shelter-in-place protocols lifted by April 30, and we start to see some pop in demand, you are going to have so much oil sitting in tanks that, regardless of production cuts, you are still looking at a massive glut of oil going into the third quarter [of 2020]," said Stephen Schorck, founder of The Schork Report energy newsletter, to NBC News.

UPDATE April 20, 2:00 PM EDT: State of New York starts coronavirus antibody testing this week

New York state will begin coronavirus antibody tests on Monday, to learn how many New Yorkers contracted the novel virus, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, reports the New York Post.

New York will start with a sample of 3,000 residents who will receive tests from the New York Department of Health to detect the potential presence of antibodies in bodies that have contracted the COVID-19 disease, said Cuomo, reports the Post.

The clip below of his announcement comes from Quicktake by Bloomberg.

Earlier, Germany also tested its population (83 million, compared to New York's 19.5 million) using the same sample size for antibody testing.

"This will be the first true snapshot of exactly how many people were infected by COVID-19," said the governor in a statement, the Post reports. The governor also added that testing "will help us reopen and rebuild without jeopardizing what we've already accomplished."

It's important to remember that the presence of coronavirus antibodies does not in any way prove immunity, according to the World Health Organization, the BBC reports

Additionally, Cuomo also announced that New York will work with the federal government to help with the supply chain, and work with private labs to scale diagnostic testing up — a key step in restarting the economy, according to the New York state website.

The state of New York is primed to move 400 ventilators to Massachusetts in less than 24 hours, if and when the devices are needed, according to Cuomo's statement.

UPDATE April 20, 11:30 AM EDT: Medical detection dogs could sniff up to 750 people per hour to determine whether or not they have the coronavirus

A new project led by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Durham University, and the Medical Detection Dogs charity called COVID-19 project is underway and it hopes to find out if sniffer dogs could help minimize the impact of the disease. 

The team is currently training six medical detection dogs to see whether or not they can sniff out the coronavirus from samples. These dogs can already detect malaria, Parkinson's, and cancer, and the team is looking to see if COVID-19 also has a smell that's detectable by dogs. 

It the training is a success, these dogs could sniff up to 750 people per hourand detect the coronavirus in half a second. This would greatly ease the pressure on COVID-19 testing, not replace it, as authorities would know straight away who to put into self-isolation or quarantine. 

UPDATE April 20, 11:23 AM EDT: Vaccine trial in Oxford, U.K., could see results as early as mid-August

Professor Sir John Bell, a member of the U.K. government's inoculation taskforce, has confirmed that a human clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine is already underway, which could yield results as early as mid-August. The vaccine trial is part of a study from Oxford University.

Professor Sir Bell noted, however, that even if all went according to plan and the vaccine's results proved successful by August, the U.K. alone does not have the capacity to mass produce the vaccine

The team will start receiving results by May.

UPDATE April 20, 11:20 AM EDT: CDC's failed COVID-19 test were tainted with coronavirus itself, confirms feds

When the novel coronavirus made landfall oin the U.S., the US Centers fro Disease Control and Prevention sent tainted test kits to states in early February — tests seeded with the virus — federal officials have confirmed, reports Ars Technica.

This means the tests were not interpretable, and — since testing is crucial for efforts to contain the novel virus — this put the country at a distinct disadvantage as teh pandemic advanced.

The CDC was vague regarding what went wrong, at first saying only that "a problem in the manufacturing of one of the reagents" were responsible for the failure. Subsequent reports suggest that the problem came from a negative control — in other words, a part of the test designed to be free of any trace of the COVID-19 coronavirus as a crucial reference for confirming that the test worked properly.

This story broke from an investigation done by The New York Times, according to which federal officials confirmed that sloppy laboratory practices at two of three CDC labs included in the manufacture of the tests caused them to be contaminated.

UPDATE April 20, 11:16 AM EDT: Blood clots added to the list of coronavirus side effects

Doctors keep learning more and more about how the coronavirus is impacting patients, especially severly ill ones. Aside from issues with the lungs, there have been cases that also reported kidney issues, heart problems, and more recently blood clots in different parts of the body. 

Doctors are still unsure as to how to treat the blood clots, some propose heavy doses of blood thinning medication, while others suggest looking into clot-busting drugs typically used on patients who have suffered strokes. 

As medical trials are ongoing, doctors around the world are having to call the shots on their own. The other question that arises is if whether these blood clots are also happening in mild cases where people are staying at home. Again, only time will tell the outcome.

UPDATE April 20, 10:08 AM EDT: Facebook has debuted a map that tracks coronavirus symptoms by county

On Monday Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg debuted a new interactive map that tracks COVID-19 symptoms by category and county, reports Review Geek. The map is at present focused on the U.S. and aggregates survey answers to highlight which areas of the country are seeing more people with symptoms in common.

It's live now, which means anyone can check it out to see how at-risk one's local county is. Of course, not every area has had enough respondents to show a complete dataset, and it's also important to note that someone might have symptoms like the virus, but still not have it.

Facebook COVID-19 Survey
Facebook's new map aggregates user data. Source: COVID-19 Symptom Map / Facebook

This came on the heels of a survey delivered to Facebook users, in which people were asked to self-report if they or others in their household(s) had experienced symptoms linked to COVID-19 or the flu. Facebook reported that it's conducting the survey with assistance from the Carnegie Mellon University Delphi Research Center, while the company itself receives no responses.

Instead, the social media company builds the map from survey data. As Zuckerberg said in his Facebook post:

"Facebook is uniquely suited to run these surveys because we serve a global community of billions of people and can do statistically accurate sampling. We do this in a privacy protective way where only the researchers at Carnegie Mellon see individual survey responses — and Facebook only sees aggregated data."

Results are viewable by date, but for now, the most recent data is from April 12. While Facebook hasn't said how many people have taken the survey, it did say more than 2 million participated in the survey in the first two weeks.

UPDATE April 20, 4:00 AM: WHO situation report

There were no countries, territories, or areas that experienced their first cases of the COVID-19 illness in the last 24 hours. The pressing need for a COVID-19 vaccine is endemic to the pivotal role immunizations play in providing safety to lives and economies. Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, Regional Director of WHO for Europe, while marking the European Immunization Week 2020, said: "[W]e must not, especially now, let down our guard on immunizations." WHO and UNICEF released a joint statement to mark the event, now available here, reports the WHO.

WHO has published a new brief on the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in COVID-19 patients. Concerns were raised that NSAIDs might be linked to an increased risk for adverse effects. But, as stated in the brief, for now, there is no evidence of severe adverse effects. Read the full brief here.

WHO just published an updated strategy to help direct the public health response to COVID-19, free to read here.

UPDATE April 19, 10:54 AM EDT: Vietnam goes 72 hours without a new infection

Vietnam reported on Sunday that it had gone three days with no new infection cases. This brings the country's total active cases to a mere 67, reported the VN EXpress.

Out of the 268 COVID-19 cases reported in Vietnam so far, 201 have been discharged. The rest are being treated in at 17 facilities across the country.

UPDATE April 19, 9:54 AM EDT: Spain reports slowdown in coronavirus cases

On Sunday, the Spanish Ministry of Health reported 410 new coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 20,453, reported CNN.

The country also reported a total of 98,134 active cases.  

Spain’s director of health emergencies Fernando Simón spoke at a government daily coronavirus technical group briefing saying the new numbers reflected a “substantial reduction of infections.”

UPDATE April 19, 6:59 AM EDT: U.S. surpasses 700,000 confirmed cases

On Saturday, the U.S. surpassed 700,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, reported The Washington Post. Meanwhile, conservative groups across the country protested against local restrictions.

There were demonstrations in Maryland, Utah, Texas, California, Arizona, Washington, and Colorado. The death toll in the U.S. has reached over 39,000.

UPDATE April 18, 12:26 PM EDT: Canada, U.S. agree to extend their border restrictions

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Saturday that the U.S. and Canada have agreed to extend their border restrictions by 30 more days, reported AP. The restrictions see all non-essential travel between the two countries banned.

“The agreement is the same terms. It’s just extended for another 30 days. It will ensure we continue to get essential goods and services back and forth across the border,” Trudeau said.

The initial agreement between the two countries was due to expire this coming week.

UPDATE April 18, 7:03 AM EDT: 13 countries call for global cooperation due to struggling economies

On Saturday, a group of 13 nations called for global cooperation to lessen the heavy economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, reported APThe countries released a joint statement.

“It is vital that we work together to save lives and livelihoods,” they said.

The group said it was committed to “work with all countries to coordinate on public health, travel, trade, economic and financial measures in order to minimize disruptions and recover stronger.”

The countries in the group were Canada, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Britain, France Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, South Korea, Singapore, and Turkey.

Many citizens are calling for an ease of the lockdowns for economic reasons. However, public health experts have warned against easing restrictions and said any such moves need to be accompanied by wider testing and tracing of infected people.

UPDATE April 18, 6:45 AM EDT: Africa's death toll rises to above 1000 and includes Nigerian chief of staff

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday that the continent's death toll from COVID-19 rose above 1000, reported AP. Meanwhile, on Friday, Nigeria announced that the president’s chief of staff Abba Kyari had also died from the virus.

Africa's overall number of cases amount to more than 19,800 with 52 of the continent’s 54 countries having reported the coronavirus. 

UPDATE April 17, 6:20 PM EDT: Interesting Engineering coronavirus update

More than 2.2 million people have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus globally. 153,177 people have died from the novel virus worldwide, most of whom reside in the United States — the epicenter of the disease. 565,957 recoveries have been made by people infected with the COVID-19 illness.

At present, there are 72 known collaborative engineering efforts to fight the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, with the United States currently hosting the most. The efforts span a wide variety of technological advances, including medical technology, 3D-printed solutionssanitization, and drones and robots. Donations from major engineering or tech corporations, like those from AppleTeslaTwitter, Facebook, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others are also included. For more information, please check out our new official page here.

UPDATE April 17, 4:30 PM EDT: GM has delivered the first batch of a 30,000 ventilator order to fight COVID-19 in hospitals

Ventilators built by Ventec Life Systems and GM were delivered to hospitals in Chicago and Olympia Fields, Illinois, U.S., to help patients suffering from COVID-19, reports Tech Crunch.

This represents a milestone for both GM and Ventec Life Systems, who in March launched their joint effort to manufacture thousands of ventilators for hospitals to help people suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

GM's contract with the federal government was for $490, to produce 30,000 ventilators by the end of August. The contract stipulates that GM will manufacture a different ventilator than Ventec, called the VOCSN V+Pro — a simpler version, with 400 parts.

Production of the ventilators began earlier this week, and GM workers are just getting started. In the next few weeks, GM intends to add a second and even a third shift, according to a company spokesperson, reports Tech Crunch. The company estimates that more than 1,000 will be needed to fill all three shifts.

As of writing, 10 ventilators were expected for imminent delivery at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago, with another 10 already delivered to Franciscan Health in Olympia Fields. A third, 34-ventilator shipment will also be shipped to Gary/Chicago International Airport, from where they'll then be distributed to locations of greatest need, said GM, according to Tech Crunch.

UPDATE April 17, 3:20 PM EDT: The first inactivated COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials due to begin in China's Henan province

In a first of its kind, the first inactivated vaccine to fight COVID-19 will begin phase one of clinical trials in the Chinese city of Jiaozuo, Henan province — a neighbor to the north of Hubei province, according to the vaccine maker, reports China Daily. 

The vaccine was approved for clinical trials by the National Medical Products Administration on Sunday, and was developed by a subsidiary of the China National Biotech Group Company, known as the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co — as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The start date for these trials, however, remains unknown.

288 volunteers will be in phase one, 216 of whom will receive disparate doses of the vaccine, with the final 72 given placebos. Phase two will include 1,168 volunteers, with 876 participants receiving the vaccine while 292 are held as a control group.

UPDATE April 17, 8:39 AM EDT: China suddenly raises Wuhan's death toll numbers by almost exactly 50%

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated, has suddenly reported 1,290 more fatalities to its death toll. This means an almost exactly 50% increase. 

Wuhan officials shared the news on Friday, placing the tardiness of the account on updated reporting from deaths outside of hospitals, and China insists there has been no cover up of its numbers. The revised numbers were a result of new data received from prisons, funeral homes, and other sources. Deaths that occurred at home had also not previously been reported.

The official statement on Friday said that the "statistical verification" followed efforts by authorities to "ensure that information on the city's Covid-19 epidemic is open, transparent and the data [is] accurate."

It added that health systems were initially overwhelmed and cases were "mistakenly reported" - sometimes they were counted more than once and other times completely missed.

With the new numbers, Wuhan's official death toll has increased to 3,896, bringing the country's total to over 4,600 fatalities. China has been accused of downplaying its coronavirus-related numbers. 

UPDATE April 17, 8:33 AM EDT: Pony.ai collaborates with e-commerce site to launch driverless delivery service in Irvine, California

Chinese driverless car startup, Pony.ai, has teamed up with e-commerce site Yamibuy to create a delivery service using its autonomous cars as the lockdown extends. So far, Pony.ai has launched all 10 of its driverless cars to deliver goods in Irvine, California.

The company can deliver between 500 and 700 packages per day. A customer simply placed their order on Yamibuy's site, then one of Pony.ai's driverless cars picks up the package and delivers it to the customer's door. 

The entire process is contactless, which is ideal given the ongoing lockdown and social distancing situation.

UPDATE April 17, 8:25 AM EDT: Emirates first airline to conduct rapid coronavirus blood tests to passengers before their flight

Emirates claims to be the first airline to carry out coronavirus antibody blood tests on passengers that give results in 10 minutes at Dubai International Airport.

Carried out by the Dubai Health Authority, the antibody test does not diagnose active infections, it checks for antibodies in the immune system. This way the authorities know whether or not someone has already been exposed to the virus and developed antibodies to it. 

"We are working on plans to scale up testing capabilities in the future and extend it to other flights,"  airline chief operating officer Adel Al Redha told CNN in a statement.

"This will enable us to conduct on-site tests and provide immediate confirmation for Emirates passengers traveling to countries that require COVID-19 test certificates," he added.

UPDATE April 17, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

There were no countries, territories or areas reporting their first cases of the COVID-1 disease. WHO published public health guidance for religious and social practices and gatherings throughout Ramadan. The guidance is also written to strengthen mental and physical wellbeing as the COVID-19 outbreak carries on. Full guidance, reports the WHO, is available here.

WHO has also released guidance on considerations to adjust social measures and public health in the challenging contexts of COVID-19. This new document is directed to national authorities and decision-makers in nations that have introduced large-scale social and public health measures, while also managing the dirigible risk of a resurgence in cases. Full guidance on the matter, available here.

Chinese authorities have told the WHO that declining cases in China in conjunction with the easing of strain on the healthcare system have been met with the formation of a multisectoral team, late in March 2020. Its job is to perform a comprehensive review of coronavirus data in Wuhan, Hubei Province. Information from several sources was reviewed, which led to duplicate cases being removed and missed cases being added. After this review, the total number of cases in Wuhan grew by 325, with the total number of deaths surging by 1,290 people.

UPDATE April 16, 7:21 PM EDT: Interesting Engineering coronavirus update

More than 2 million people worldwide have had the COVID-19 coronavirus, with 142,735 dead from the disease. There are 540,684 recoveries recorded, most of whom live in China, Germany, or Spain.

At present, there are 68 known collaborative engineering efforts to fight the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, with the United States currently the epicenter. The efforts span a wide variety of technological advances, including medical technology, 3D-printed solutionssanitization, and drones and robots. Donations from major engineering or tech corporations, like those from AppleTeslaTwitter, Facebook, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others are also included. For more information, please check out our new official page here.

UPDATE April 16, 5:00 PM EDT: New Ventilator from Airbus and F1 was approved in UK

A new medical ventilator developed by Airbus and F1 to treat people with severe cases of COVID-19 received approval on Thursday from the U.K., reports the BBC.

Hundreds of Penlon Prima ventilators — called ESO2 units — will be developed in the next week. A consortium of major firms that together developed the ESO2 aims to produce roughly 1,500 every week by early May, according to BBC.

The U.K. government added that its ventilator stock needs to increase from 10,000 to 18,000 to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

UPDATE April 16, 3:42 PM EDT: Facebook has canceled all of its large events through June 2021

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday via Facebook post that the social media company would cancel all of its large physical events slated for more than 50 attendees until June 2021, according to Engadget. In the post, Zuckerberg said he hopes that this extension will help to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, and expects "the vast majority" of Facebook employees will be working from their homes through at least the end of May.

"We're slowing our plans to return to the office in order to prioritize helping the rest of our community and local economy to get back up and running first," said Zuckerberg, in the post.

Zuckerberg stressed that when "society does eventually start re-opening (sic), it will have to open slowly in staggered waves to make sure that the people who are returning to work can do so safely," to lower the risk of possible second-wave future outbreaks.

He also said that a small percentage of "criticial employees" who are at present not able to work from home, "like content reviewers working on counter-terrorism or suicide and self-harm prevention, and engineers working on complex hardware," will potentially be able to return sooner.

This means that — like Facebook's earlier cancelation of the 2020 F8 developers conference — F8 2021 probably won't happen, either. This also means that Oculus Connect, typically held in September, is also canceled. GDC 2020, too.

UPDATE April 16, 12:00 PM EDT: U.S home construction down by 22.3% in March

There's a bleak outlook for the housing industry in the U.S. as home-building activity collapsed by 22.3% in March as the coronavirus spread.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that ground breakings happenned last month at a seasonally adjusted yearly rate of 1.2 million units, which is down from a 1.56 million rate in February. Houses are being left half-built as there was a 6.1% decline in the completion of homes. Unless things pick up soon there will be a number of ghost towns with half constructed homes left, however, it's likely that construction activity will keep dropping throughout the pandemic.

UPDATE April 16, 11:55 AM EDT: Facebook is going to let you know if you've "liked" coronavirus hoaxes

Facebook is now going to let you know if you've been spreading or liking coronavirus misinformation that was removed from its site. It will then redirect you to proper information about the coronavirus as per the World Health Organization's information.

The social media site will start sending out messages to users in the coming weeks. Facebook has already banned bogus ads that promise coronavirus cures or treatments in an attempt to stop the wrong information being spread around the world.

UPDATE April 16, 11:49 AM EDT: Over 1 million coronavirus tests will be carried out in Africa starting next week

in order to assess the true number of coronavirus infections on the African continent, more than 1 million tests will be rolled out as of next week, said the head of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday. 

The new initiative to drastically increase testing on the 1.3 billion people strong continent comes at it braces itself for its wave of the pandemic following Asia, Europe and the U.S. Experts have said that Africa is now weeks behind Europe and the U.S. but that its rise in cases is looking alarmingly similar. 

As of Thursday the number of cases across the continent were at 17,000. However, with testing shortages health officials believe there are many more out there. 

Ten African nations don't have any ventilators to treat coronavirus patients who would be in need of ventilation support. 

UPDATE April 16, 11:45 AM EDT: GoPro laying more than 20% of its workforce because of the COVID-19 pandemic

Over 200 GoPro employees, or more than 20% of its workforce, are being laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company is looking to reduce operating expenses by $100 million a year, as well as another $250 million in non-headcount-related expense reductions. Moreover, GoPro's CEO and founder, Nicholas Woodman, will not be paid a salary for the rest of the year.

UPDATE April 16, 11:37 AM EDT: Prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be required until 2022, says a Harvard study

Researchers from Harvard's school of public health modeling have published a new paper that "prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022." 

The team of researchers used data from two closely related coronaviruses, OC43 and HKU1, to gain knowledge on how COVID-19 will act. As these viruses act similarly to the common cold, which seasonally affects people, then the researchers predict that COVID-19 spread will lessen over the summer months, not not entirely stop, followed by a worse outbreak in the winter of 2020-2021.

Furthermore, the researchers deducted that immunity may only be partial and last around one year. 

However, there are many variables to take into consideration, for instance adding more ICU beds, and more scientific researcher and potential vaccines on the way, so that the outbreak would be minimized and social distancing would be able to stop. That said, until then, the researchers noted "several rounds of social distancing will be required to get us to herd immunity in the absence of a vaccine."

UPDATE April 16, 11:33 AM EDT: You can now acess more than 24,000 research papers on the coronavirus from just one spot

In order to accelerate scientific research on the novel coronavirus, researchers from several organizations have collaborated to released the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), which includes over 24,000 research papers on the topic.

This represents the most extensive collection of scientific literature on the topic found in one place. It will continue to be updated in real time as more research is published and verified. Having such a huge amount of scientific research in one place will hopefully assist scientists around the world who are working against the clock to find solutions against the virus.

UPDATE April 16, 11:25 AM EDT: Toyota, Renault, and Volkswagen among carmakers that are reopening plants in Europe

Every major European and American carmaker site was shut down last month amid the coronavirus outbreak. Now, some are reopening plants in Europe. Toyota, Renault, Hyundai, Volkswagen (VW) and Volvo are just some of the names that will reopen either later this month or at the start of May.

Toyota will reopen its France plant on April 22 and its Poland plant on April 23. VW's Audi plant in Hungary reopened on Tuesday with limited production. Hyundai has reopened output for its plant in the Czech Republic, and Volvo is due to reopen in Sweden on April 20.

UPDATE April 16, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

No countries experienced their first coronavirus cases in the last day. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros said at the COVID-19 media briefing yesterday that the "commitment to public health, science and to serving all the people of the world without fear or favour remains absolute," according to the WHO. A full transcript of his speech is available here.

The WHO released a significant update to its coronavirus dashboard, with better visualizations of data. The related news article is available here, and the dashboard itself may be found on the WHO coronavirus webpage, here.

The WHO said alcohol doesn't protect people from COVID-19 — which is why the WHO said rules and regulations to preserve health and reduce harm caused by alcohol like restricting access should be maintained throughout the outbreak. More on this subject here, with a handy Alcohol and COVID-19 factsheet here.

WHO is deploying its national polio surveillance network in India, along with other field staff in a bid to improve the COVID-19 response. Please find more here.

UPDATE April 15, 7:35 PM EDT: Interesting Engineering coronavirus update

There have been more than 2 million cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus globally, with 133,354 total deaths, most of which in the United States — the epicenter of the global pandemic. Roughly 509,876people infected by the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness have since recovered, most of whom live in China, Germany, or Spain.

As of writing, there are 67 known collaborative engineering efforts to curb the COVID-19 outbreak globally, with the highest number concentrated in the United States. They span a wide variety of technological advances, including 3D-printed solutions, medical technology, sanitization, and drones and robots. Donations from major engineering or tech corporations, like those from AppleTeslaTwitter, Facebook, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others are also included. For more information, please check out our new official page here.

UPDATE April 15, 5:25 PM EDT: California Governor Newsom declares $125 million fund to help undocumented immigrants amid coronavirus crisis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared on Wednesday that $125 million in disaster relief assistance for working Californians will also include financial support for undocumented immigrants — to be distributed in an effort to help the public recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, reports a local ABC News source.

He said the state will give $75 million in disaster relief assistance, and the other $50 million will be raised by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees — a network of foundations committed to helping immigration issues.

"California is the most diverse state in the nation. Our diversity makes us stronger and more resilient. Every Californian, including our undocumented neighbors and friends, should know that California is here to support them during this crisis. We are all in this together," said Newsom in a written statement, according to a local ABC news source.

UPDATE April 15, 11:08 AM EDT: Denmark sends its young children back to school

Childrenup to age 11 are going back to schools and nurseries across Denmark as the Danish government steps forward as the first in Europe to relax COVID-19 restrictions on education, reports the BBC.

Mette Frederiksen, the Prime Minister of Denmark, welcomed children back to school as they returned in the capital, Copenhagen.

Denmark was one of the first countries in Europe to enact a nationwide lockdown, closing its schools on March 12.

"We're all a bit nervous and we'll have to ensure that we stick to hygiene rules," Elisa Rimpler of the BUPL, the Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators, said to the BBC.

"We have a lot of washing hands during the day. We don't have masks and we have to keep a good distance from each other so that's a very difficult task."

Key benchmarks on the way to this move included a significant decrease in the spread of COVID-19, the general capacity of the country's health system, and the advance of surveillance and monitoring. A conference for donors will happen online for governments and organizations to pledge money toward finding a vaccine, according to the European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen, reports BBC.

UPDATE April 15, 10:22 AM EDT: Stanford engineers re-engineer N95 masks to provide more and better oxygen to wearers

Stanford University mechanical engineer, John Xu, and Friedrich "Fritz" Prinz, put their heads together to find a way to improve the N95 face mask that so many frontline medical and caregivers wear. 

The new mask includes a portable device that extracts and concentrates oxygen from the air to avoid any adverse side-effects felt from oxygen deficiency. Even though the current masks help prevent infection, or any further spread of the disease, those that wear them for hours on end end up having a harder time breathing as the mask's filter system is so thick. 

The new Stanford system generates clean and pure oxygen using their electrochemical process which supplements loss of oxygen from the mask's regular filtering system.

UPDATE April 15, 10:15 AM EDT: U.S. airlines tentatively agree to receive a combined $25 billion in govnerment aid as the industry slowly creeps to a standstill

The U.S. is offering $25 billionfrom government aid to the country's largest airlines, which include Delta, American, United and Southwest, so that they can pay their workers and try and avoid a huge number of layoffs. 

The assistance will come in a mix of cash and loans, however, 10 airlineshave lined up together to contest spome of the Treasury Department's demands. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that the department was working to finalize these deals and would give the cash and  loans as quickly as possible. 

The payroll aid amount is based on each airline's cost of wages and benefits that were spent between April and September 2019. 

UPDATE April 15, 10:10 AM EDT: A year after the fire, Notre Dame's restoration has to hit pause amid the outbreak

Precisely a year ago an event shook Paris and the world as we all watched the landmark that is Notre Dame roar in bright red and black flames. Restoration has been underway, however, since the coronavirus outbreak forced France under lockdown on March 17, the plans to fix up the 12th and 13th century masterpiece have to be put on pause. 

French President Emmanuel Macron repeated on Wednesday that he still wishes to see the cathedral re-open in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

"We will do everything to keep this deadline," he said in a tweeted video.

Notre Dame "is a symbol of our resilience, our capacity to overcome challenges and stand aright," Macron said.

UPDATE April 15, 10:04 AM EDT: Interactive graph with COVID-19 numbers created using Johns Hopkins tracker

A new website created by Ruben Usamentiaga Fernandez enables viewers to see interactive graphs with COVID-19 numbers. Fernandez updates the website daily using Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering data.

The point of the graphs is to provide complex numbers in an easy visual manner for all, not only policy makers, to grasp and see. They present the most relevant information regarding the evolution of the outbreak in a clear and simple way. Country population and density are also taken into consideration. 

Fernandez uses JavaScript, C#, and ASP.NET CORE to create the graphs.

UPDATE April 15, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

No new countries, territories, or areas have reported their first case of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours. The World Health Organization has published an updated global strategy for curbing the COVID-19 outbreak, reports the WHO. The document translates what the world has learned as of yet about the virus into strategic action, and frames the next steps of the Strategic preparedness and Response Plan, which is due to come out in the coming weeks. More information on this can be found here.

The first-ever UN solidarity flight departed Addis Ababa with vital medical supplies to fight the COVID-19 outbreak aboard, en route to the African nations. WHO cargo includes 1 million face masks, in addition to personal protective equipment, in enough abundance to protect health workers and treat more than 30,000 patients, and also includes laboratory supplies to help surveillance and detection. More information is publicly available here.

Carissa Etienne, the PAHO director, has called for "extreme caution" when transitioning to more relaxed social distancing measures. Her full speech may be read here.

There has been no definitive evidence indicating that oral poliovirus vaccine can protect people from infection with the COVID-19 virus. One clinical trial will soon be underway in the United States, and WHO will assess evidence from that trial when it becomes available. More information on this topic is available here.

UPDATE April 15, 3:04 AM EDT: Global coronavirus cases soar past 2 million, with 500,000 recovered

There have been more than 2 millioncoronavirus cases reported worldwide, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, reports CBS News. The U.S. represents roughly 30% of those cases, with more than 600,000 across the nation.

Newsweek reports that more than 500,000 people worldwide have recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, which means that roughly one in four people who contract the novel virus will recover.

China, where the COVID-19 illness first emerged onto the world stage, is still the country with the most recoveries reported, with more than 78,000, followed by Germany with recoveries at more than 72,000, and Spain, with a recovery tally of more than 70,000.

UPDATE April 14, 9:23 PM EDT: Interesting Engineering coronavirus update

As of writing, there have been 1,961,965 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus globally, with the overwhelming majority in the United States — the epicenter of the disease, according to our COVID-19 survey. Worldwide, 125,476 people have died from the virus, with the U.S. and Italy in the top two. 471,971 people have recovered from COVID-19, most of whom are in China. There are 17 3D-printed solutions in play to combat the novel virus, 22 in-progress efforts based on medical technology, four new coronavirus-related innovations in drones and robots, and six in sanitization.

Nine major donations have played significant roles on the world stage against the COVID-19 pandemic, and five additional innovations are at work to help curb the spread of the outbreak.

UPDATE April 14, 4:46 PM EDT: Revised NYC death toll soars to 10,000

The epicenter of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak — New York City — experienced a sharp increase in its death toll by more than 3,700 on Tuesday, after city officials said they had included those who died before they could be tested for the novel virus, and were presumed to have died because of it, reports The New York Times.

The new figures, which the city's Health Department released, pushed the number of people killed by COVID-19 up to more than 10,000 and increased the total number of U.S. deaths to more than 26,000, a fatality rate of 17% — nearly one in five.

This update to the death tally brought the staggering toll the virus has wrought on the largest city in the United States into clearer focus, where nothing but the echo of ambulance sirens haunts the streets.

Far more people have been killed by the COVID-19 outbreak in New York City on a per-capita basis than in the European country with the most deaths: Italy.

This spike in the death rate reiterates the shortcomings in testing that have hamstrung state and city officials since the coronavirus outbreak began. The number of available tests has been limited, and, until now, only deaths of those who had already tested positive for the novel virus were counted among the official COVID-19 New York City death toll.

UPDATE April 14, 3:43 PM EDT: Company plans to close COVID-19 testing gap with a mobile testing trailer

A tech-focused healthcare provider has joined with a mobile dental clinic to close the testing gap for COVID-19 using a mobile trailer, according to a recent tweet from Co-Founder and CEO of Carbon Health, Eren Bali.

This comes on the heels of an earlier announcement from Carbon Health, in which it would ship at-home COVID-19 test kits to those who felt sick but whose healthcare providers suggested they stay home to lower the potential risk of exposing vulnerable people to the virus, according to a press release last month.

While antibody testing is still unavailable in the U.S., Bali added in a subsequent Twitter thread that his mobile testing facility would use the only FDA-approved test currently available — from Abbott Laboratories.

People in California who wish to book a COVID-19 testing session may do so by using the company's official website, according to which the trailer will spend one to two days at each location.

UPDATE April 14, 12:36 PM EDT: Apple's new 'COVID-19 Mobility Tool' assesses status of social distancing using Apple Maps data

Apple has launched a new tool on Tuesday that weighs the status of social distancing measures taken due to the threat of infection from the coronavirus pandemic in different geographical areas, reports CNBC.

Users may input a region or city and see a chart displaying the status of social distancing measures in a specified area. The software was designed to lend assistance to healthcare professionals and government officials, so they may download critical information and know if a population is practicing quarantine, or roaming the neighborhood, against official recommendations.

With the launch, Apple said the software generates crucial information for the new COVID-19 Mobility Tool by "counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions," according to CNBC.

Apple Mobility Trends NYC
Apple's new tool charting social distancing trends in New York City. Source: Apple Mobility Trends Chart / Apple 

In the example, one can see a sharp decline in transit and walking directions, as well as requests for driving navigation in New York City, since March.

"The data sets are then compared to reflect a change in volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit around the world," said Apple in a release, according to CNBC. "Data availability in a particular city, country, or region is subject to a number of factors, including minimum thresholds for direction requests made per day."

This information is gathered without Apple-ID capture, to preserve the privacy of users, and their activities. The communications giant added that it will update information daily so that frontline healthcare workers, governments, and the public have the most recent data.

UPDATE April 14, 9:26 AM EDT: Two of the world's biggest drug companies collaborate on vaccine development

Sanofi Pasteur and GSK, two of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies, are going to combine forces in order to hopefully speed up the development of a vaccine against COVID-19.

The drug companies have stated that the experimental shot will be based on Sanofi's flu vaccine and GSK's booster, which could assist in stretching doses of the vaccine further. 

There are dozens of other companies and pharmaceuticals working on finding a vaccine for COVID-19, and most experts say that it will take at least 12 to 18 months to produce one.

Sanofi and GSK hope to start early clinical trials at the end of this year, and hope for regulatory approval at the start of next year.

UPDATE April 14, 9:19 AM EDT: The U.K. sees a surge in deaths in elderly care homes

The U.K. government's daily tally of coronavirus death numbers is missing hundreds of cases, as per official figures shared on Tuesday. There has been a particularly high number of deaths in nursing homes that have been overlooked. 

The Office for National Statistics said that 5,979 deaths in England up until April 3 were due to COVID-19, which is 15% lower than what the National Health Service indicates as 5,186 deaths in the same amount of time. 

The head of one of Britain's biggest nursing home operators said on Tuesday that the number of coronavirus cases and deaths among the elderly in nursing or care homes is much higher than has been officially reported.

These care homes across the country have stated they've struggled to procure adequate protective equipment during the outbreak, as well as experiencing staff shortages due to illness or self-isolation.

Ros Altmann, a former government minister, said "We must not forget that the mark of a civilized society must reflect how it treats its most vulnerable and oldest citizens."

UPDATE April 14, 9:08 AM EDT: Coordination, testing, and technology: how to end a global lockdown

The E.U. members are in talks about a coordinated COVID-19 smartphone app that would work across all 27 member states, governors in different U.S. states are communicating on ways to work together to end the confinement of millions of citizens. Many nations and their leaders are looking for joint efforts of coordination in order to combat the COVID-19 outbreak and end lockdowns as son as possible. 

For instance, Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control center, explained that continually exchanging information between countries and institutions about best practices, vaccine studies and how best to protect vulnerable populations is crucial to fighting the pandemic.

Google and Apple have agreed to coordinate efforts to assist public health agencies around the world to use Bluetooth tech to trace contacts of people infected with the virus — their system will run on both iPhones and Androids alike.

UPDATE April 14, 8:50 AM EDT: Virtual reality meetings may be the answer to troublesome video conferencing issues

With more and more people working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, most companies have been using video conferencing to carry out meetings and work chats. These sometimes prove awkward, people experience lag, or issues with their camera and audio system. 

"The video calling stuff breaks down beyond a few people, because you have this big grid of tiny faces," explained Blair MacIntyre, a VR researcher who holds positions at Mozilla and the Georgia Institute of Technology. "The full range of social cues, from posture to eye gaze to facial expressions, things like head nodding and hand gesturing—they all convey crucial information."

The answer to these issues may be virtual reality (VR), according to some experts. Leading VR hardware makers are starting to incorporate gesture, eye gaze, and facial tracking into their products. Moreover, a number of hardware improvements that are in store could improve non-verbal communication to a much higher level in VR.

As lockdowns and social distancing systems are prolonged in most countries around the world, these technologies could help many companies with their virtual meetings.

UPDATE April 14, 8:46 AM EDT: First confirmed coronavirus infection transmitted from a dead patient

Thailand has reported the first known case of the coronavirus transmitting from a dead patient to a medical examiner. Safety concerns in morgues and for funeral workers have been brought up at this stage. 

"This is the first report on COVID-19 infection and death among medical personnel in a Forensic Medicine unit," said a study published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine on Sunday.

"Not just the medical examiners, but morgue technicians and the people in funeral homes need to take extra care," said Angelique Corthals, a professor of pathology at CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "It is a real concern."

Little is still known about how long the virus can remain alive in a dead body or whether corpses are contagious to those who handle them.

UPDATE April 14, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

There were no countries, territories or areas that experienced their first coronavirus cases in the last day. Since the official number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported by countries is only a reflection of the national laboratory testing capacity and strategy, a broader interpretation of the number of coronavirus cases reported should take this into account, reports the World Health Organization. This means that unreported cases might constitute a sizable bulk of humanity that grows ill and dies from the COVID-19 coronavirus.

WHO published stop-gap guidance on oxygen sources and distribution strategies for COVID-19 treatment. The new document describes how one may quantify oxygen demand, identify viably available oxygen sources, and select correct surge sources to most effectively respond to COVID-19 patients' medical needs, especially in low- to middle-income countries. More information is available here.

Director-General of the WHO expressed his gratitude to the U.K. for its £200 million contribution to the global response to COVID-19, described by the Director-General as a "demonstration of global solidarity." His opening remarks at the start of the Monday press conference can be found here.

A group of physicians, scientists, funders and manufacturers from across the planet have pledged to work together in coordination with WHO to help hasten the availability of a vaccine to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Their statement may be read here.

UPDATE April 13, 11:41 PM EDT: Interesting Engineering Coronavirus Update

As of writing, there have been 1,911,407total cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus recorded globally, with 118,854 deaths worldwide, according to Interesting Engineering's COVID-19 site. 446,860 have recovered, and several collaborative engineering efforts against COVID-19 are in the works.

There are 17 3D-printed solutions, 22 in-progress advances in Medical Technology,four coronavirus projects based on drones and robots, and six involving sanitization.

Nine major donations are in play as a financial reserve for global efforts to curb the novel virus, and five other innovations are also in the works.

UPDATE April 13, 7:00 PM EDT: US Navy reports its first deaths from people infected with coronavirus from Roosevelt crew

A member from the crew of the coronavirus-infected ship — the USS Theodore Roosevelt warship died from complications related to the illness on Monday, said the Navy, which added to numerous setbacks to the aircraft carrier, reports Snopes.

The name and other information identifying the sailor have not been publicly released pending the Navy's notification of next of kin. The sailor had tested positive for COVID-19 on March 30 and was subsequently taken off of the warship and placed in "isolation housing" along with four different sailors at the U.S. Navy base on Guam. On April 9 the sailor was discovered to be unresponsive during a medical check and was then moved to a local hospital's intensive care unit.

The Roosevelt was previously ravaged by a coronavirus crisis that pushed the Navy's civilian leader — Thomas Modly — to fire the  captain of the ship on April 2. After five more days, after he flew to the ship and delivered a speech insulting the skipper, Capt. Brett E. Crozier, and criticizing the crew for supporting Crozier, Modly resigned.

As of Sunday, there were 585 crew members of the Roosevelt who had tested positive for the novel virus, with nearly 4,000 of the crew moved shoreside.

UPDATE April 13, 6:30 PM EDT: Carlson School of Management and others launch COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project

Tracking daily data of hospitalization is a significant step toward quantifying the present impact on local hospital systems, modeling and predicting future needs for utilization, in addition to tracking the rate of change in the disease severity.

The Management Information Systems Research Center and the Medical Industry Leadership Institute (MILI) at the Carlson School of Management have launched the new project as of March 26 to continually track and report hospitalizations happening every day in all 50 states, according to the Carson School blog.

UPDATE April 13, 6:00 PM EDT: Spain has let some workers return to work

Authorities in Spain have allowed some workers to return to work on Monday, but Health Minister Salvador Illa said the government will move forward with caution about letting others end their self-isolation amid the COVID-19 outbreak, according to AP News.

Illa added that officials would move forward with "the utmost caution and prudence .. and always based on scientific evidence" in relaxing restrictions.

"We're in no position to be setting dates" about when coronavirus isolation may end, he said during a Madrid news conference, on Monday. "We can't get ahead of ourselves."

In a bid to set their economy in motion again, the Spanish government has granted workers permission to return to some construction and factory jobs. However, retail stores and services will remain closed and office employees must continue to work from home.

Spain, he added, is a country of 47 million people where the death toll officially ascribed to the COVID-19 pandemic is 17,489, and where roughly 20,000 tests are carried out daily, with plans to increase that number.

Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Spain's Interior Minister, said a program developed to distribute 10 million face masks also started on Monday.

"We're still at an early stage" in fighting the coronavirus, said Grande-Marlaska. "Once it is defeated, we will have to rebuild our country, socially and economically."

UPDATE April 13, 6:00 AM EDT: Inclement weather forces closure of outdoor virus testing locations in Rhode Island

Heavy rains and high winds forced the closure of ever outdoor testing site in Rhode Island on Monday, according to the state's Department of Health, reports a local news source.

The state hopes to re-open its coronavirus testing sites on Tuesday. They are located at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, Newport, Community College of Rhode Island in Warwick, Rhode Island College in Providence, CVS in Lincoln, Rhode Island, Newport, and Westerly hospitals, and outdoor sites at respiratory clinics.

The state has 63 coronavirus deaths as of Sunday, according to the Department of Health, and the number of people who tested positive for the novel virus grew to a total of more than 2,600 since March 1. 

UPDATE April 13, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

There were no countries, territories, or areas reporting their first COVID-19 cases in the last day. The total number of deaths globally from COVID-19 illnesses has surpassed100,000, according to the World Health Organization situation report.

The WHO published a new document, titled "Target Product Profiles for COVID-19 Vaccines." The new document details preferred and minimally-acceptable profiles that a viable vaccine must meet in terms of long-term protection of those at high risk of coronavirus infection, like healthcare workers. It also speaks to reactive use in pandemic settings. For more information, please visit the website linked here.

UPDATE April 12, 7:00 PM EDT: Appalachia project requests public to document coronavirus life

Leaders of an East Tennessee State University project are requesting that local residents document their lived experiences of life amid the coronavirus pandemic, reports AP.

The university said submissions would be kept at the school's Center for Appalachian Studies and Services, which contains the Archives of Appalachia.

Jeremy Smith, the Archives director, said people are officially invited to share writings, diaries, photographs, social media posts, videos, business correspondences, and other items related to life amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

"We want to hear from our community how they spent their days, how their lives, families, and businesses were affected and how they exprience loss and hardship, as well as how they stood in solidarity and the lessons they learned," said Smith in a news release, reports AP.

UPDATE April 12, 6:00 PM EDT: Small businesses negatively affected by the novel coronavirus receiving more help

Goldman Sachs is offering $10 million in loans to nonprofits and small businesses in Rhode Island that are struggling to stay buoyant amid the coronavirus outbreak, declared Gov. Gina Raimondo on Monday. The loans — which are upward of $250,000 — are claimable to small businesses that lack a solid relationship with a bank or lender, or small businesses incapable of applying for a Small Business Administration loan, reports AP News.

Applications may be made via Rhode Island Commerce, the economic development agency of the state, she added.

The loans may be partially or wholly forgiven for businesses if they rehire or maintain their current workforce staff, and the loans may be used for interest on mortgages, utilities, rent, or payroll.

Explaining her motivation for the decision, Raimondo said the decisions made during the outbreak that levied restrictions or even the shutdown of numerous businesses "weigh heavily" on her, but she added that her goal is to be one of the first states in the U.S. to return to work. 

UPDATE April 12, 5:00 PM EDT: Abe causes anger, more recovered South Koreans test positive for the novel coronavirus

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tweeted "stay home," which fueled anger and allegations that he lacks sensitivity toward the Japanese people who can't stay home because the government's social distancing guidelines are voluntary and offer no compensation, reports AP News.

Some of the ones reacting to Abe's video message declared that the Prime Minister acted like "an aristocrat." The one-minute video released on Sunday showed Abe sitting in his home patting his dog, reading a book, sipping something from a cup, and clicking on his remote control. Gen Hoshino, an entertainer who plays the guitar in a split screen of the video, has said the clip of him playing was used without his expressed consent.

Abe announced a state of emergency in Tokyo in addition to six other prefectures last Tuesday and expanded the emergency state to a nationwide basis on Saturday. He requests that people stay home, but added he wants to postpone the closure of non-essential businesses until the effectivity of the stay-home push is analyzed.

However, Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, moved forward and requested that non-essential businesses like movie theaters, hostess bars, and schools close until May 6, but the majority of prefectures have elected to wait. Saitama, north of Tokyo, began to close non-essential businesses on Monday. Its governor, Motohiro Ono, announced that he had plans to request financial support from the central government to compensate businesses for their losses.

Numerous Japanese companies have been hesitant to make the switch to remote work, and many workers still commute to their workplaces.

As of writing, Japan has 7,255 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with 114 deaths, according to figures made public on Monday, reports AP.

UPDATE April 12, 10:13 AM EDT: Turkey tightens its lockdown

In a move that surprised both its own citizens and the world, Turkey tightened its lockdown over the weekend, reported AP. The country introduced a 48-hour curfew in 31 cities, including Ankara and Istanbul.

This saw many citizens rush to supermarkets while ignoring social distancing rules and not even wearing masks. Previously the country had only imposed a curfew for those under 20 and over 65. This move was meant to guarantee that most of the workforce could move around so that the economy would not be stifled.

UPDATE April 12, 5:41 AM EDT: U.S. death toll surpasses Italy's

On Sunday, the U.S.' death toll overtook Italy's notoriously high toll surpassing 20,000, reported AP. Chicago and other cities across the Midwest prepared for a potential rise in cases.

Preparations included the set-up of a temporary morgue in Chicago Cook County that can take up to 2000 bodies and instructions by the mayor to "break up" groups of people.

Meanwhile, in Europe, all efforts were focused on stopping people from traveling during Easter. 

“Don’t do silly things,” said Domenico Arcuri, Italy’s special commissioner for the virus emergency. “Don’t go out, continue to behave responsibly as you have done until today, use your head and your sense of responsibility.”

UPDATE April 11, 12:50 PM EDT: Italy extends its lockdown

Italy has extended its national lockdown until May 3, reported Bloomberg. The move means the country is rejecting calls from business leaders who wish for a restart of the economy. 

“There are clear indications that the restrictive measures are bearing fruit,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said at a news conference. “If we yield now we would risk, as our experts tell us, losing all the positive results we have achieved so far.”

Conte did, however, indicate he would give a limited range of businesses permission to resume activity.

UPDATE April 11, 12:36 PM EDT: U.S. records more than 2,000 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours

According to the Johns Hopkins University tally, the U.S. recorded 2,108 coronavirus deaths on Friday, reported Business Insider. This makes the country the first to record such a high number in a single day.

As of Saturday morning, the U.S. has a death toll of 18,693. However, U.S. officials are hopeful. They have indicated that the outbreak seems to be slowing down.

"We're starting to see the leveling off and the coming down," Dr Anthony Fauci, the U.S. top epidemiologist advising the White House, said on Friday, according to Business Insider.

UPDATE April 11, 8:41 AM EDT: Vaccine for the coronavirus could be six months away, said lead researcher

A coronavirus vaccine might be six months away, according to a lead researcher of a team of England-based scientists, reports the New York Post.

"I think there's a high chance that it will work based on other things that we have done with this type of vaccine," said Sarah Gilbert, a professor of virology at Oxford, to The Times of London. "It's not just a hunch and as every week goes by we have more data to look at. I would go for 80 percent, that's my personal view."

Scientists globally are rushing to develop treatments for the outbreak that has already caused the deaths of 103,000 people, with more than 1.7 million infected. Other countries — like the United States and Israel — have also reported progress.

Gilbert then warned that British production capacity needed to ramp up to ensure sufficient supply.

"We don't want to get to later this year and discover we have a highly effective vaccine and we haven't got any vaccine to use," she said. "We don't think we need facilities built, there are facilities that can be switched over."

The U.K. has experienced at least 73,758 virus cases, with 8,958 deaths. The COVID-19 disease also ravaged the upper ranks of U.K. leadership, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles both testing positive for the novel virus. Johnson's case was serious enough to merit intensive care, where he stayed for three days before doctors reported he was recovering.

UPDATE April 11, 3:12 AM EDT: Global death toll surges past 100,000

According to the Johns Hopkins University tally, the global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 101,000 amid about 1.6 million cases, reported Al Jazeera. There have also been more than 372,000 recoveries.

UPDATE April 10, 6:53 PM EDT: Landscape of COVID-19 vaccine Research and Development

As of April 8, the worldwide landscape of COVID-19 vaccine research and development included 115 candidates for a viable vaccine, of which 78 have been confirmed as active, while 37 are unconfirmed, which means their development status is unknown via publicly available or proprietary sources of information, according to the journalNature.

Of the 78 projects confirmed as active, 73 are in exploratory or preclinical stages. Most advanced of these candidates are the ones recently moved into clinical development. These include Ad5-nCoV from CanSino Biologicals, LV-SMENP-DC and pathogen-specific aAPC from Shenzhen Geno-Immune Medical Institute, mRNA-1273 from Moderna, and INO-4800 from Inovio.

Several other vaccine developers have intimated the existence of plans to begin human testing this year.

One striking feature of the landscape for the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 is the wide range of technology platforms under evaluation, which includes nucleic acid (RNA and DNA), peptide, virus-like particle, viral vector (non-replicating and replicating), live attenuated virus, recombinant protein, and inactivated virus approaches.

Several of these platforms aren't at present the basis for licensed vaccines, but the experience gained  from cutting-edge fields like oncology is encouraging developers to use the opportunities provided with next-generation approaches — namely, for increased speed-of-development and manufacturing. Some vaccine platforms may prove more effective for specific population subgroups (like children, pregnant women, the elderly or patients with compromised immune systems).

UPDATE April 10, 3:30 PM EDT: Tesla furloughs half of its U.S. Delivery and Sales staff amid COIVD-19 pandemic

Tesla has furloughed half of its sales and delivery staff in the U.S. as of Friday, according to three people who work for the company in different states, reports CNBC. This comes amid growing concern surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus at the workplace, which has caused many employers to send their workers home, for remote work.

Tesla earlier announced its plans to furlough all of its workers, except for hourly employees, in addition to lowering salaried employees' pay, in an e-mail email sent to employees on Tuesday, according to CNBC. The decision was motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the hand of CEO Elon Musk's all-electric car company to put a halt — temporarily — on production in its main car plant, located in California state.

One of the furloughed employees expressed worries that this will eventually be followed by permanent layoffs, but the employees also have hope that they may return to Tesla once the pandemic has been defeated.

UPDATE April 10, 12:58 PM EDT: Google, Apple building coronavirus tracking system for Android, iOS

Google and Apple announced they are building a new system to track the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus on Friday — so smartphone users may share data via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transmissions, in addition to other apps approved by public health authorities, according to a blog post that Google posted on Friday.

Explained in a series of blog posts, the new tracking system will use short-range communications via Bluetooth to weave voluntary networks that trace recent contacts, and archive extensive data on phones that have been in close proximity to each other, reports The Verge.

Previous apps developed by public health authorities will also have access to the new data, and users who've downloaded the forthcoming apps can report whether or not they've received a diagnosis regarding the COVID-19 disease.

However, the invasive nature of this technology raises serious concerns about privacy.

Unlike other tracking methods — like GPS — which track users' locations, this one won't. The Verge reports that it will collect signals of phones in close proximity in five-minute intervals, and then store historical information on possible connections in a big database. IF users test positive for the coronavirus, they may inform the app, and it will tell other users whose phones have passed nearby in the previous few days.

Multiple steps are in place to prevent the theft of user identity, even after their data is shared with the system. All information will be sent via an anonymous key, and not a static identity. These keys will cycle every 15 minutes to preserve privacy.

If a user shares their infected status, the app will share keys only for the contagious period of their infection, reports The Verge. Additionally, each device (Android or iOS) performs all the cryptographic calculations locally, which means central servers will only hold a database of shared keys. This is to preclude the very possibility of a master list of which phones have matched.

However, people in crowded places but still separated by walls might still be flagged as having been in close proximity, despite being in no real danger. There may also be no accounting for the nuance of duration — if a user passes by an infected person on the street, they're much less likely to have contracted the COVID-19 illness than if they worked next to one for a nine-hour shift.

UPDATE April 10, 10:02 AM EDT: Fauci states that an antibody test against the coronavirus could be ready within a week

The U.S.' top infectious diseases expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has stated that an antibody test that verifies whether someone recently had the coronavirus could be available within a week or so. 

If someone has antibodies to the coronavirus this could mean that they are protected from getting re-infected, something that is crucial for frontline medical workers right now. "If their antibody test is positive, one can formulate strategies about whether or not they would be at risk or vulnerable to getting re-infected," Fauci explained.

Fauci expanded further on the topic "But as we look forward, as we get to the point of at least considering opening up the country as it were, it's very important to appreciate and to understand how much that virus has penetrated this society."

"Because it's very likely that there are a large number of people out there that have been infected, have been asymptomatic and did not know they were infected."

UDPATE April 10, 9:54 AM EDT: AT&T in a head to head with FreeConferenceCall.com

AT&T, a telekom and wireless provider, and FreeConferenceCall.com, a popular conference call service, have been in a months-long battle surrounding the conference call service's business practices. Now, many AT&T customers who use the service, including its very own CEO Dave Eriksson, have issues accessing it 

FreeConferenceCall.com offers the same options that paid conference call services do, just for free. However, the company has come under scrutiny of late as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has pointed out that some services that offer free conference calls have been directing large amounts of calls via tandem providers, such as AT&T, who have ended up footing the bills. 

Now that more and more people are working from home and carrying out remote conference calls, this becomes a real issue. 

UPDATE April 10, 9:49 AM EDT: WHO releases practical recommendations for religious leaders and faith-based communities

The WHO has shared a document for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19. As millions of Christians, Jews, and Muslims begin to celebrate Easter, Passover, and Ramadan, the WHO's guidance is crucial to follow so as to keep the spread of the coronavirus to a minimum.

There were no new countries, territories, or regions that reported cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, as per the WHO.

UPDATE  April 9, 9:21 AM EDT: MIT researchers developing Bluetooth system that alerts users if they've been in contact with a COVID-19-infected person

A team of MIT researchers and other experts from different institutions are developing a system that augments COVID-19 contact tracing, all while maintaining the privacy of the individuals. The device works with short-range Bluetooth signals that come from people's phones. These signals are remembered by nearby smartphones.

If a person tests positive for coronavirus, they can upload this list of signals that their phone has sent out over the past 14 days to a database. Then, other people can check their database to see whether or not they came into contact with someone who tested positive. If there's a match, the person will receive a notification, stating that they've been in close proximity to the virus. All of this happens while still maintaining the privacy of the person who is infected, and those looking to check if they've been in contact with an infected person. 

The biggest challenge the team faced was interoptability — meaning Bluetooth connections between iPhones and Androids. Just last week the team managed to achieve this. Now, the team has to engage with the phones' manufacturers and software developers: Google, Apple, and Microsoft. While this is ongoing, the team is speaking with state and federal government agencies to see their idea come to fruition soon.

UPDATE April 10, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

A special adviser to WHO's Director-General named Bruce Aylward, speaking about his recent work in Spain during a press briefing yesterday, stressed the need for countries to comprehend that the novel coronavirus may overwhelm even the most robust health systems, which will require the countries to reconfigure entire health sectors to make an adequate response, according to a WHO situation report. More on Dr. Aylward's fact-finding excursion to Spain can be found here.

A web-based education platform called OpenWho has launched a new web-based course named "Introduction to Go.Data — Field data collection, chains of transmission and contact follow-up." Go.Data is a tool that helps the investigation of outbreaks, and focuses on field data collection, visualizing chains of transmission, and contact tracing. It's available to WHO staff globally, including Member States and partners. More information is available here.

As the total number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Europe, there are two new WHO tools launching today designed to assist health planners in the European Region get ready for rapidly-spiking numbers of patients who have developed COVID-19, and who require acute and intensive hospital care. More information is available here.

UPDATE April 9, 12:00 PM EDT: NASA Satellite Data Shows 30% Drop in Northeast US

Nitrogen dioxide levels in the Northeast U.S. have dropped by 30%, according to new images posted on NASA's official website. March 2020 shows the lowest monthly atmospheric levels of nitrogen dioxide of any March occurring within the OMI data record, one that spans the years between 2005 to the present. Data shows that the nitrogen dioxide levels for March 2020 are 30% lower on average throughout the I-95 corridor, from Washington, DC to Boston, compared to the March mean of 2015-19.

Additional analysis is necessary to sufficiently quantify the amount of change in nitrogen dioxide levels commonly associated with changes in emissions versus variations in weather that occur naturally.

UPDATE April 9, 9:15 AM EDT: Samsung donating 2,000 glove-friendly phones to U.K. National Health Service workers

Samsung announced on Thursday that it would be offering 2,000of its phones to the U.K. National Health Service's (NHS) Nightingale Hospitals. 

"Healthcare workers are working tirelessly to protect our nation at its time of greatest need," said a Samsung U.K. "This is why we have developed a series of measures to ensure these individuals are able to defy the barriers they are faced with, day in and day out."

The BBC reported that the devices Samsung will be providing to the NHS workers are its Galaxy XCover 4s phones, which are designed to be robust, and are usable even when using gloves — something that's invaluable for medical workers right now. 

The phones will be easily sanitized as well, as Samsung is also providing 35 UV phone sanitizing machines in the hospitals.

"However small the comfort may be, we hope that technology can alleviate some of the anguish this pandemic is inflicting on those most impacted," Francis Chun, chief executive of Samsung U.K. and Ireland, told the BBC.

UPDATE April 9, 9:07 AM EDT: Virginia's Governor is a trained doctor, and offers sound advice on the coronavirus

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is a former pediatric neurologist and has been approaching the coronavirus outbreak with a doctor's vigilance and empathy in the state. Northam recently explained to the Associate press that he has used his medical training when making decisions for the state surrounding the coronavirus. 

Every morning, Northam has met with the state's medical experts to methodically go over the latest data before making any informed decisions. It's believed that this has helped him to quickly grasp the pandemic's situation and how best to move forward with closures and precautions in the state of Virginia.

UPDATE April 9, 9:02 AM EDT: Tokyo reports another record daily increase of COVID-19 patients

On Thursday, Tokyo reported 181 new COVID-19 cases in the capital, making it another record day of daily increases. The total now exceeds 1,500 in Tokyo alone, which is now in a state of emergency. 

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has urged companies to shift more rapidly to working from home and for people to remain at home. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stepped in to also urge the people to minimize human interactions by 80%, a precentage experts explain could help control the outbreak in about a month.

As of Thursday, Japan recorded 4,768 confirmed cases and 96 deaths.

UPDATE April 9, 8:55 AM EDT: CERN switches its physics lab to create non-emergency ventilators

Physicists working at CERN have created a basic COVID-19 ventilator, which has been developed for mild case patients. This way only critically ill COVID-19 patients will need to use ICU ventilators, freeing that space up as there are ventilator shortages in most hospitals worldwide due to the pandemic.

The Swiss-based lab's model is ideal as it could run on batteries, solar panels, or off of emergency generators, making it useful in many regions with limited resources. 

"We want to deploy our resources and competences to contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," said director-general Fabiola Gianotti.

Called the HEV, short for High-Energy physics community Ventilator, is still in its first prototype phase, but the hope is that it will be ready in a few weeks' time.

UPDATE April 9, 8:48 AM EDT: All 11 COVID-19 infected patients in Greenland recovered, and now new cases have been reported

Greenland has become the only affected country that no longer has any cases of COVID-19. 

The national medical office of Denmark reported this week that all 11 patients who contracted the coronavirus in Greenland have either fully recovered or are recovering. Furthermore, the country did not suffer any deaths due to the virus. Every single patient who had COVID-19 was put in quarantine.

All the cases thus far have been in the capital, Nuuk. With a population of only 57,000, and with its limited health care system, Greenland was at risk when it came to the spread of the disease. The city of Nuuk is closed off, with noone entering or leaving, so it's hard to say what will happen with regards to COVID-19 in Greenland, but for not it's good news.

UPDATE April 9, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

Astroundingly, no new countries, territories, or areas reported their first cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, reports the World Health Organization.

Today marks the 100 day since WHO first received notice of cases of "pneumonia with unknown cause" in China. In yesterday's media briefing, Dr. Tedros, Director-General of the WHO, reviewed the work WHO and its partners have done throughout the period, and also stated the continuing efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic in five key areas. More information can be found here.

UPDATE April 8, 7:08 PM EDT: New York State reports record death toll

There were a record number of deaths in New York on Wednesday, with 779 more people dead, reportsThe New York Times. This brings the death toll up to 6,268 in New York State, which Governor Cuomo noted as more than twice the total killed during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

"I went through 9/11," said Cuomo during his daily briefing. "I thought in my lifetime I wouldn't have to see anything like that again — nothing that bad, nothing that tragic."

However, the total number of hospitalizations has fallen, added Cuomo, suggesting that social distancing practices were successfully flattening the steep curve of the coronavirus' spread. For now. The rate at which COVID-19 spreads depends not just on the number of new hospital arrivals, but also on the standards each hospital relies on to admit new patients.

"If we stop what we are doing, you will see that curve change," warned the governor, before pivoting to a somber tone. "The bad news isn't just bad," he began: "The bad news is actually terrible."

Cuomo added that the death toll may continue rising even while hospitalization rates fall because it reflects patients who have been on ventilators for a long time.

Additional data is needed to comprehend why it is that Black, Hispanic, and poor New Yorkers have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 disease, said Cuomo. "It always seems that the poorest people pay the highest price," he said. Hispanic and Black people in New York City are twice as likely to be killed by the virus as white people, according to preliminary data released by city officials, on Wednesday.

The state of New York now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than any country in the world, excluding the United States itself.

UPDATE April 8, 9:20 AM EDT: PC builder Maingear will make ventilators for NYC

Maingear creates high-end, bespoke gaming PCs, but it's now plunging headfirst into the COVID-19 fight by offering to develop ventilators instead. Part of its manufacturing capabilities will be allocated to help NYC's overwhelmed ICUs. Morevoer, its long-term plan is to then assist hospitals around the world. 

The company developed its LIV ventilator in-house alongside medical advisers in the space of a few weeks by using off-the-shelf supplies and stating that it is "produced for approximately a quarter of the price" of a regular ventilator.

A Maingear spokespeson said their ventilator costs approximately $7,500, whereas regular ones are upwards of $50,000. The plan is to deploy its LIV ventilator within the next two weeks, according to the Verge, depending on FDA acceptance.

UPDATE April 8, 9:16 AM EDT: The war against plastic takes a drastic turn amid the coronavirus outbreak

After years of tough fighting for bans on single-use plastics to come into place, the pandemic has thrown most of that battle to the ground. Plastic shopping bags in particular have seen an upsurge as many shop owners fear the coronavirus may cling to reusable bags, cups, and straws. 

Environmentalists are now worried that they fights have been all for nothing now that the pandemic is breaking down what they've been working so hard for. However, there is a certain degree of understanding "People are scared for their lives, their livelihood, the economy, feeding their loved ones, so the environment is taking a back seat," said Glen Quadros, owner of the Great American Diner & Bar in Seattle.

The plastics industry has seized its opportunity and is lobbying hard to overturn bans on single-use plastics by stating these are now the safest options to use. 

UPDATE April 8, 9:11 AM EDT: Wuhan ended lockdown on Wednesday

The 11-million-strong city where it all began, Wuhan in China, has ended its lockdown, which lasted 76 days. Tens of thousands of people have already left the city since the lockdown was lifted.

One resident stated "I haven’t been outside for more than 70 days," said Tong Zhengkun. “Being indoors for so long drove me crazy."

Residents waved flags and the city created a light show on its skyscrapers and bridges depicting images of health workers caring for patients to celebrate its re-opening.

UPDATE April 8, 9:00 AM EDT: A fast testing method for COVID-19 has been approved and uses technology from 2001

Cepheid's microfluidics-based rapid testing system was used in 2001 during the anthrax attacks, and has now been approved by the FDA in the COVID-19 fight to carry out fast testing.

There are already 5,000 of these machines in U.S. medical facitilies, and 18,000 are in operation in other countries. They don't require special training in oder to be used, nor do thei require lab facilities. 

Accurate results are measured in 45 minutes. The modules used in the GeneXpert machine are filled with disposable cartridges, which have been adapted to test COVID-19.

UPDATE April 8, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

The only countries, territories, or areas to report their first cases of COVID-19 in the last day are: Saint Pierre and Miquelon, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO published a guidance document regarding the rational use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in home and healthcare settings, in addition to when users are also handling cargo. The new document analyzes the current disruption in the worldwide supply chain, and outlines steps for decision-making during severe PPE shortages. More details are available here.

WHO has publicly listed the first two emergency diagnostic tests for use during the coronavirus pandemic. The move to take it public should increase access to higher-quality, accurate tests of the disease. This also means coronavirus tests can be supplied via the United Nations and other related agencies fighting to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, click here.

WHO also published a guideline on food safety, called "COVID-19 Food Safety: Guidance for Food Businesses." Details follow here.

The Global Health Cluster, led by WHO, has supported 29 countries to carry out the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19. This addresses new and emerging needs, in addition to preserving the existing humanitarian health actions and pledges of the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plans.

UPDATE April 7, 4:04 PM EDT: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has pledged $1 billion toward COVID-19 relief

Twitter and Square, Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey has committed an astounding $1 billion to Start Small, LLC, the entrepreneur's philanthropic vehicle, with an embedded Google doc as proof of his donation to fund global relief in the fight to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to a tweet.

"I'm moving $1B of my Square equity (~28% of my wealth) to #startsmall LLC to fund global COVID-19 relief. After we disarm this pandemic, the focus will shift to girl's health and education, and UBI. It will operate transparently," said Dorsey in his tweet.

This comes after other big tech leaders like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg pledged hundreds and tens of millions of dollars, respectively, to Gates' COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, their donations to which saw some criticism for encompassing a relatively small proportion of either tech leader's total wealth.

Dorsey explained why he would follow COVID-19 relief with girl's education (sic) and UBI in the subsequent thread, saying he believes they represent "the best long-term solutions to the existential problems facing the world." He added that UBI is a great idea in need of further experimentation, and that girl's (sic) health and education is critical.

UPDATE April 7, 2:23 PM EDT: 100 American Airlines flight attendants have contracted COVID-19, says union

The union representing American Airlines flight attendants said roughly 100 flight attendants have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, reports CNN.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which currently represents a total of more than 27,000 flight attendants, released the figure in a message to its constituent membership, saying the airline has "agreed to start providing face masks to frontline team members while at work should [they] choose to wear one," according to CNN.

The union announced that masks will be distributed this week.

Julie Hedrick, APFA president, said Tuesday that the union has "been pushing the company since January" to provide personal protective equipment for flight attendants."

"We have consistently advocated for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all of our flight attendants to be available on every aircraft, for social distancing between passengers and crew jump seats, for thermal scanning in the airports, and to receive immediate notification of flight attendants who have tested positive for the virus," said Hedrick. "Flight attendants are aviation's first responders, who are transporting medical personnel and supplies into COVID-19 hotspots, and they need to be treated and protected as such."

UPDATE April 7, 9:36 AM EDT: Models of the coronavirus are most likely wrong

Statistical models of the coronavirus are used to help foresee and plan for the worst in terms of having enough hospital workers, bed, and ventilators. As NASA top climate modeler Gavin Schmidt says "The key thing is that you want to know what’s happening in the future. Absent a time machine you’re going to have to use a model."

However, there's a huge margin for error. One issue the U.S. modeling system is dealing with is the death totals from overburdened hospitals. The state data may show significant swings in death rates, however that may be because there was a backlog of reports all shared at ones. 

"No model is perfect, but most models are somewhat useful,” said John Allen Paulos, a professor of math at Temple University, "But we can’t confuse the model with reality."

Furthermore, all current models for the coronavirus outbreak are based on influenza, which is not entirely accurate for the novel coronavirus. "Uncertainty is the only certainty there is," Paulos said. "And knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security."

UPDATE April 7, 9:29 AM EDT: Florida clinic using self-driving shuttles to transport COVID-19 tests

Jacksonville, Florida is paving the path towards safe COVID-19 testing: the Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Navya, and Beep are all using self-driving shuttles to carry COVID-19 tests from a drive-thru location to the Mayo Clinic campus. 

The hope is that the move minimizes exposure to the virus and frees up medical workers who look after patients. Since March 30th, four of the shuttles have been running the route every day. 

In order to ensure everything works in an orderly and safe manner, there is a human-driven SUV that tails the shuttle, and staff load and unload the test kits on and off the shuttles. 

UPDATE April 7, 9:25 AM EDT: SpaceX reports six more workers infected with the coronavirus

Six of SpaceX's workers have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Monday, one has confirmed to be in self-isolation now, as per a CNBC report.

In March, 12 SpaceX employees were quarantined after news of one worker and one medic from its Southern California facility tested positive for the virus.

The company has reduced the number of its on-site workers, however has kept a number on to complete work that is deemed to be "mission essential."

UPDATE April 7, 9:21 AM EDT: Samsung is making slightly more profit during the COVID-19 outbreak

Perhaps Samsung employees work better from home. As the company released its first quarter numbers today, it revealed that it's not been hugely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. It stated that its Q1 revenue was approximately 55 trillion won ($44.5 billion), which is a 5% year-on-year increase. 

Even though the news is good it's hard to imagine the company won't be affected in the long run due to retail closures, supply chain disruption, and financial instability. Much depends on how the pandemic shifts in the upcoming months.

UPDATE April 7, 9:17 AM EDT: Google News creates new COVID-19 hub across apps, Assistant, and Podcasts

As Google reports more COVID-19 searches than those for weather or the news, the company has decided to compile all the information and has created a COVID-19 hub for Google News, with similar features for Assistant and Podcasts. 

The hub "pulls together and organizes all the latest news at the global and local level" with two tabs. Those that fall under “Latest” include Local news (available in 10 countries), Economic impact, Science & research, Healthcare, and Travel.

The "Global impact" category shows the news for "Africa, Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, South-East Asia, and Western Pacific." And Google is also experimenting on the best method to fact check information so as not to spread any misinformation.

There's also a link to the "latest guidance regarding prevention, symptoms, and treatment from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other authoritative sources."

It’s already available in 20 countries today and will be coming to more soon.

UPDATE April 7, 9:12 AM EDT: Future of aviation manufacturing is looking questionable as Boeing and Airbus halt production

Airbus is temporarily stopping all production at its manufacturing plant in Alabama, which puts around 1,100 of its employees idle. And Boeing is shutting down its 787 manufacturing plant in South Carolina, which will affect approximately 7,000 of its workers. 

Airbus stated that its current plan is to keep the plant closed until at least April 29 and explained that its employees would not be losing their jobs. 

Those who can still work remotely at Airbus and Boeing are doing so and will continue to earn a salary throughout the shutdown. If the shutdown lasts more than two weeks, employees can claim paid time off, including sick and holiday days.

UPDATE April 7, 9:05 AM EDT: WhatsApp limits numbers of forwarded viral messages

In a bid to slow down the spread of misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic, WhatsApp has now limited the number of popular messages someone can forward onwards to a single person. The number is down from five, and the changes start today.

WhatsApp explained their move in a blog post "We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers."

"However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation."

UPDATE April 7, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

São Tomé and Príncipe were the only countries, territories, or areas that reported their first coronavirus cases in the last day, according to a WHO report. April 7 also marked World Health Day for 2020, where the WHO pays tribute to the contributions of all health workers, especially nurses and midwives. As the largest component of the health workforce, nurses play a fundamental role in combatting COVID-19 and achieving Universal Health Coverage according to the Sustainable Development Goals. In honor of these essential workers, WHO published the first-ever report on the state of the world's global nursing workforce, which is available here.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros repeated concerns about the shortage of medical masks and related PPE in a press conference, reminding people that masks should be used as part of a comprehensive package for intervention. WHO subsequently released guidance on the use of masks in afflicted communities, in healthcare settings, and during home care, available here, with further advice for public practice available here.

UPDATE April 6, 3:43 PM EDT: COVID-19 spread could be leveling off in New York, New Jersey; now is the time for vigilance

The governors of New Jersey and New York said on Monday that tentative signs were suggesting the COVID-19 outbreak was beginning to reach a plateau but warned against loss in vigilance as the death toll across the U.S. reached 10,000 and the number of confirmed infections in the country soared past 350,000, reports U.S. News & World Report.

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York State said that coronavirus-related deaths in the excelsior state had reached 4,758 as of Monday, an increase of 599 since Sunday, rivaling the increase of 594 during the preceding 24 hours. On Friday, the death toll in New York increased by 630.

"While none of this is good news, the possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases that we have seen," said Cuomo during a daily briefing, about the shape of the curve when deaths, case numbers, and other data are plotted on a graph. 

UPDATE April 6, 7:07 AM EDT: More and more patients accepting to test studies for coronavirus treatments

Coronavirus patients have been willingly and rapidly joining the testing project of an experimental drug called remdesivir, which may help treat those infecte with the virus. The drug testing opened just a few weeks ago. 

The U.S. National Institutes of Health is even expanding its trial numbers as so many volunteers have put their hands up to help. Initially starting a trial study with 440 participants, the California-based drug maker, Gilead Sciences is also ramping up its studies. 

Remdesivir is given intravenously through an IV and is designed to interfere with an enzyme that creates viral general material.

UPDATE April 6, 7:03 AM EDT: Three out of four US hospitals already facing COVID-19

According to a federal report shared on Monday, three out of four US hospitals are already treating COVID-19 patients, or people suspected of having the virus. The nation has approximately 6,000 hospitals, and the report was based on 323 nationwide hospitals' information. 

"Hospitals reported that their most significant challenges centered on testing and caring for patients with known or suspected COVID-19, and keeping staff safe," the report concluded.

"It’s likely that every hospital in America is going to have to deal with this," Ann Maxwellan assistant inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, said.

UPDATE April 6, 4:00 AM EDT: WHO situation report

South Sudan was the only area that reported its first cases of COVID-19 in the last day. During a  joint press conference and in a co-authored opinion piece, the WHO Director-General and IMF Managing Director stressed that the presumed trade-off between saving jobs or lives is a false dilemma. His remarks in the press conference are here, and the op-ed, here.

Nearly 90% of students globally have been affected by shuttering schools — more than 1.5 billion kids and youths. In a joint venture with the International Publishers Association, the World Health Organization launched a new initiative, called the "Read the World" children's reading program. More information on the initiative is available here. WHO also published advice for parenting under quarantine and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, free to all, here.

UPDATE April 5, 7:00AM EDT: UK records 708 new deaths

The United Kingdom recorded 708 new deaths from COVID-19 on Sarturday. This was the largest one-day rise since the outbreak began bringing the total of UK deaths to 4,313, reported CNN

The victims included a 5-year-old with underlying health conditions. In addition, so far seven healthcare workers have died from the virus

UPDATE April 3, 3:00 PM EDT: WHO situation report

Malawi is the only new country/area/territory to report its first-ever cases of COVID-19 in the last day, reports WHO. While all age groups are still at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, older people face a disproportionate risk of developing severe illness. Read the statement written by Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, Regional Director for Europe here. Cases in the South-East Asia Region begin to climb, and the Regional Director Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh held a virtual meeting with regional Health Ministers to solidify the approach in the health community, as a gestalt whole. More info is available here.

Additionally, the Pan American Organization (PAHO) issued an appeal on Thursday to receive funds to help public health measures needed to assist Latin American and Caribbean nations. The funds will be implemented through PAHO's COVID-19 Response Strategy. More information on the development can be found here.

Finally, airports, ground crossings, and ports require constant vigilance in monitoring. This is why the WHO has designed two online interactive courses — to give guidance to management of ill travelers, and to help manage coronavirus cases or outbreaks on ships.

UPDATE April 3, 2:45 PM EDT: Canada has signed Amazon to distribute sorely-needed medical supplies across country

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada announced on Friday that Canada has signed an agreement with Amazon to distribute crucial medical supplies across the North American country, reports Yahoo! Finance.

The Canadian federal government has tapped the megacorporation to manage the distribution of various medical necessities like face shields, gowns, test kits, masks, and ventilators. Trudeau added that the company will use its large distribution network "to deliver medical equipment where it is needed most."

"For the past few weeks, our government has been working closely with industry to produce the supplies our healthcare workers need like masks, face shields, gowns, ventilators, and test kits," said Trudeau during his daily press conference on Friday.

"Today, I can announce that our government has signed an agreement with Amazon Canada to manage the distribution of this equipment to the provinces and territories."

UPDATE April 3, 2:43 PM EDT: Airbus donates more than 400,000 surgical masks to the NHS amid coronavirus crisis

The company Airbus will give 400,000 surgical masks to the U.K.'s National Health Service, in a bid to curb the growth of the novel coronavirus.

Companies across the globe are repurposing factories and workforces to develop crucial medical supplies sorely needed by hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

UPDATE April 3, 2:16 PM EDT: France reports 5,233 new coronavirus cases and 1,120 deaths

There are at least 5,233 new cases of the novel coronavirus in France as of Friday, reports BNO News. This includes 1,120 additional deaths, 532 of whom died in nursing homes, not previously included in the death count.

UPDATE: April 3, 2:12 PM EDT: People infected with the novel coronavirus might be most infectious during the first week of symptoms

People with coronavirus seem to be most infectious within their first week of showing symptoms, according to research published in the journal Nature on Friday.

The researchers analyzed new data collected from nine patients showing "relatively mild" coronavirus symptoms in Munich, Germany, to learn how infectious they were throughout a 14-day period, reports Technology Review.

The researchers checked samples from throat and lung swabs for viral load, in addition to sputum (coughed-up saliva and mucus), stool, urine, and blood.

They found out that COVID-19 replicates in the throat, with concentrations of the novel virus reaching a peak in the first five days following initial symptoms. The researchers did not detect the coronavirus in stool, blood, or urine samples.

Interestingly, four of the nine patients lost their sense of smell or taste — and King's College London recently found these symptoms to be a "strong predictor" that someone has been infected.

UPDATE April 3, 9:34 AM EDT: NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's daily coronavirus news briefings 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has commenced daily press briefings about the coronavirus, which have been welcomed with open arms now only by his regular followers but now also by his rivals. He not only discusses the numbers but also speaks in a more personal manner as he urges people to call their loved ones and openly shares his own family's situation. 

Gov. Cuomo is "doing a good job providing the voice and the leadership that is necessary at this time," commented Marc Molinaro the Republican who ran against Cuomo for reelection in 2018.

UPDATE April 3, 9:26 AM EDT: Scientists create a trial drug that blocks the coronavirus in engineered human tissues

An international team of scientists led by the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada has found a trial drug that essentially blocks the cellular door that COVID-19 uses to infect its hosts. 

The study shares new insights on the coronavirus, its interactions on the cellular level, and how the virus infects blood vessels and kidneys. "We are hopeful our results have implications for the development of a novel drug for the treatment of this unprecedented pandemic," said Dr. Josef Penninger, lead researcher of the project from UBC.

UPDATE April 3, 9:17 AM EDT: Pinterest CEO and scientists create app where self-reported COVID-19 infected people are tracked

The "How We Feel" free app was developed by Pinterest's CEO and co-founder Ben Silbermann and scientists and works on both Android and iOS. It is designed so that people can self-report their symptoms, or if they are already infected by COVID-19, whether they're in self-isolation or not, and for how long. 

The app doesn't ask for names, phone numbers or emails, and makes a huge effort to safeguard the users' privacy

The app will help people know whether or not they came into contact with infected people, and where they should avoid going in case that person will cross their path.

UPDATE April 3, 9:13 AM EDT: Florida finally accepts some of the cruise passengers off the ships

Some passengers who have been waiting in two Holland America cruise ships waiting off the coast of Florida have finally been allowed offboard. Fourteen critically ill people were allowed off the ships and were directly taken to hospitals. 

Other passengers will be allowed off in a slow and closely monitored manner, with Florida residents leaving first. All non-Florida-based passengers will be shuttled in private buses to the airport, where they will fly to their homes through chartered flights without going into the terminal. 

UPDATE April 3, 9:08 AM EDT: White House moves towards formalizing mask wearing

The Trump administration is looking to formalize new guidance that recommends Americans wear face masks in a bid to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. 

The recommendations were still being finalized on Thursday and are expected to be pushed out to those living in the hardest-hit areas.

UPDATE April 2, 4:51 PM EDT: CEO of Pinterest and team of leading scientists launch self-reporting COVID-19 tracking app

A new comprehensive and well-organized effort to chart the progress of COVID-19 across the U.S. and globally via crowd-sourced self-reporting systems has launched — developed in part by Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann, reports Tech Crunch.

Silberman and the Pinterest team enlisted the assistance of high school friend Dr. Feng Zhang, also regarded as a CRISPR gene-editing pioneer / MIT and Harvard Broad Institute member to build what Silberman dubbed in a press release a "bridge between citizens and scientists."

Called the How We Feel app, the new tech was also developed with help from a long and extensive list of computer science, public health, therapeutics, medical, and social science professors from Harvard, Stanford, Weill Cornell, MIT, and more.

As of writing, the app is available for free on both iOS and Android, and is designed for ease-of-use, so users can self-report whether they feel well, or not, without hassle.

The app asks to know whether a user has been tested for COVID-19, whether they are in self-isolation, and for how long. The purpose of this level of interaction is — on the user's side — intended for quick interface; one minute or less.

UPDATE April 2, 3:50 PM EDT: Invasive ventilators — needed to help severe coronavirus cases — will arrive in New York City tonight, says Elon Musk

After an earlier report from the Financial Times claimed that Tesla CEO Elon Musk had delivered the wrong ventilators to New York Hospital was rebutted by Musk, he added that invasive ventilators would see delivery to New York City on Thursday night, in a tweet.

"[W]e start delivery of intratracheal Medtronic units in NYC tonight," read the tweet.

This comes on the heels of Musk promising in a tweet the free worldwide delivery of FDA-approved ventilators to hospitals currently flooded with coronavirus patients, within Tesla's delivery regions.

UPDATE April 2, 11:50 AM EDT: WHO states that over 95% of those who have died from COVID-19 in Europe were over 60 years old

The WHO has reported that the majority of those who have died from the virus in Europe (95%) were over 60, further emphasizing that the coronavirus strongly impacts the older generations.

UPDATE April 2, 11:45 AM EDT: Leading European hospitals will run out of ICU medications in just two weeks

Nine leading European university hospitals have warned that they will run out of essential ICU meds needed to help save COVID-19 patients in the space of just two weeks. 

The European University Hospital Alliance shared the information and stated that putting aside from the need for protective gear and ventilators, "the most urgent need now is for the drugs that are necessary for intensive care patients." The group explained that existing stocks of muscle relaxants, sedatives and painkillers were likely to run out in two days at the hardest-hit hospitals, and in two weeks at others.

Some desperate hospitals are now turning to other drugs to assist them, or trying different dosages on patients. "It is extremely worrying that overworked and often less-experienced nurses and doctors-in-training, drafted to fill the gaps, have to use products and dosages that they are not used to," wrote the group, on behalf of hospitals in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Spain.

UPDATE April 2, 11:43 AM EDT: FDA has officially authorized COVID-19 antibody-based tests

The FDA granted its first authorization for COVID-19 testing based on antibody detection, which is different than the kind based on nose or throat examinations, reports The Verge.

Known as a serology test, the new detection method will diagnose past coronavirus infections but is less effective at detecting new or current cases of the disease, according to CNN.

The test, manufactured by the biotechnology company called Cellex, works by drawing blood from veins in a patient, and only works in certified labs — not a doctor's office.

Results are known in roughly 15 to 20 minutes, reports The Verge.

"JUST IN: @US_FDA announces approval of #COVID19 antibody test in @CBSNewsRadio interview," read the tweet announcing the development, on CBS News Radio's Twitter account.

This is important because it will help doctors know whether the patient showed serious symptoms, and whether they have a strong enough immunity to return to normal life, and, perhaps, work.

It will also help public health officials understand the true extent of the COVID-19 disease's spread throughout the population. However, this test will not detect patients whose bodies, despite being infected with the novel coronavirus, have not yet begun production of the antibodies specific to fighting the virus inside the human body.

UPDATE April 2, 11:40 AM EDT: U.K. promises to increase COVID-19 testing

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson's promise of wide-ranging COVID-19 testing across the U.K. has not been met. Only on Tuesday did the government confirm that 10,412 tests were carried out that day. Given the government had promised to carry out 10,000 tests a day weeks ago, and that this number would increase to 25,000 tests a day by mid-April, they are lagging far behind. 

Many scientists state that wider testing, even of mild cases, especially of medical workers who are self-isolating for fear of possibly having the virus, would enable more of the much-needed healthcare workers to return to work if their tests return negative. 

At the moment, mostly those who are hospitalized are being tested in the nation.

UPDATE April 2, 11:32 AM EDT: Two cruise ships waiting off the coast of Florida still awaiting docking permission

Two Holland America cruise ships are still stranded off of Florida with sick passengers on board as they await their docking orders at Port Everglades. A document stating their instructions is due to be released this morning (Thursday). 

Holland America did confirm that they received approval for 10 of the severely ill passengers to be treated. However, they are still waiting to know what to do with their 1,200 healthy passengers. So long as they are fit for travel according to the CDC's guidelines, they will be allowed off the ship. 

As per the statement "Guests fit for travel per the CDC would transfer straight from the ship to flights for onward travel home, the majority on charter flights. Out of an abundance of caution, these guests will be transported in coaches that will be sanitized, with limited person-to-person contact and while wearing masks."

There are approximately 45 passengerswho do not fit these guidelines and display mild conditions, they will remain on board and keep self-isolating until they show signs of being healthy again.

UPDATE April 2, 11:28 AM EDT: New England Patriots' private plane delivers over 1 million N95 masks from China to Boston

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker secured more than 1 million N95 respiratory face masks from Chinese manufacturers, but had not way of shuttling them from China to the U.S. 

In a positive turn of generosity, the American football team, the New England Patriots, offered the team's private plane to collect the masks and bring them across to Boston. The masks are critical in keeping health workers safe during the pandemic, and are in short supply around the world.

It was the team's owner, Robert Kraft, who stood up to offer the team's plane, and said "In today’s world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so with all the assets we have available to us."

UPDATE April 2, 11:24 AM EDT: Russia's President Vladimir Putin orders most of the country not to work until May

On Thursday, President Putin ordered that most Russians stay off work until the end of April as part of a temporary industrial shutdown to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Putin stated that salaries would still be paid as normal during this period. 

Exceptions for supermarkets, pharmacies, and essential industries will be made. 

UPDATE April 2, 11:16 AM EDT: As virus slowly spreads in Africa, fears of an "existential threat" arise

The African continent is considered to be the one least well prepared for the hit of the coronavirus pandemic as there is an "enormous gap" in critical medical ventilators and other equipment. 

The continent has registered around 6,000 cases, and it's estimated that some African natinos will see as many as 10,000 cases by the end of the month. The head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John Nkengasong, told reporters that the continent is "very, very close" to where Europe was after a 40-day period. 

As the continent's countries try to find as many ventilators for their hospitals as possible, Dr. Nkengasong said "We’ve seen a lot of goodwill expressed to supporting Africa from bilateral and multilateral partners," but "we still have to see that translate into concrete action."

For instance, Central African Republic only has three ventilators, and other countries such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast are already looking into tents as they are already running out of hospital beds.

UPDATE April 2, 7:22 PM EDT: COP26 global climate change conference has been posponed until 2021 amid coronavirus pandemic

The COP26 summit was due to happen in the U.K. this November, following hte last landmark summit in Paris, but was postponed until 2021 amid fears of contracting the novel coronavirus, reports CNBC.

A major conference on climate change involving the UN the summit was set to take place at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, Scotland, with more than 30,000 people in attendance.

The announcement was originally made in a statement released on Wednesday, in which the U.K. government said new dates for the historic conference would be "set out in due course" after additional talks.

"In light of the ongoing , worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive COP26 in November 2020 is no longer possible," said the government.

UPDATE April 2, 3:52 AM EDT: Yale has released COVID-19 algorithm to treat the disease

Infectious disease physicians at Yale are leading a COVID-19 Treatment team have created a treatment plan for non-severe and severe cases of the disease, for use across Yale New Haven Health, according to the Yale School of Medicine blog. The updated algorithm designed by the team features a list of recommended medications, including a conditions-for-use rationale, noted adverse reactions, and additional considerations.

A member of the group, Charles Dela Cruz, MD, Ph.D., said: "We have representatives from many disciplines who worked on developing the treatment plan and who meet frequently to evaluate new developments."

"We've worked with doctors on the floor treating the patients to determine what other markers or clinical findings should be reviewed. We have a set protocol now to treat these patients and will continue to look at the data to see if the algorithm needs adjustment," she added.

The algorithm is based on personal observations, available knowledge, and communications from other institutions. Without firm evidence for the best treatments, the algorithm will be treated as an in-progress working document, subject to changes, according to the Yale blog.

UPDATE April 1, 4:48 PM EDT: Virgin Galactic and other industry aerospace engineers developing low-cost breathing devices to help coronavirus patients

Virgin Galactic's engineering teams and aerospace engineers are working to create relatively low-cost breathing apparatuses to help supply crucial oxygen to coronavirus patients, according to a tweet from the Virgin Galactic official Twitter account.

"Our engineering teams, in collaboration with industry aerospace engineers, have been working on designs to manufacture a low-cost breathing hood that provides oxygen-rich positive pressure to patients in need," read the tweet.

There were no details regarding when the new "breathing hoods" will be made available to hospitals, or the public, nor word on a specific price.

Earlier in the Twitter thread, the company said it is supporting the purchase of COVID-19 testing machines in California and New Mexico to improve diagnostic times. Virgin Galactic also stressed that quick detection times are directly correlated to the global ability to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Additionally, the company said turning the tide on the coronavirus pandemic is key to putting the economy on the right track.

UPDATE April 1: 4:41 PM EDT: Coronavirus cases soar past 900,000 worldwide

The global total of coronavirus cases surpassed 900,000 on Wednesday, according to Al Jazeera News.

In the UK, the death toll rose by 563 in one day, according to the health ministry — a record spike that took the country's total number of cases up to 2,352.

Spain recorded its highest death toll yet, with 864 cases terminating, and 102,136 total cases, up from 94,417.

In the U.S., the total killed from the novel coronavirus has blown past 4,000, with 200,000 confirmed cases.

Worldwide, more than 44,000 people have been killed by COVID-19, with 900,000 diagnosed with the novel virus, and roughly 190,000 recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

UPDATE April 1, 2:31 PM EDT: 509 dead in France from COVID-19, death toll soars past 4,000

On Wednesday, France reported its highest number of deaths in 24 hours from COVID-19 yet, with 509 more dead in hospitals, bringing the total killed by the virus up to 4,032, reports France24.

As of writing, 24,639 people were hospitalized in France from COVID-19, with 6,017 people in intensive care, according to the European county's Health Agency Director.

The rising French death toll consists only of those who died in hospitals, and does not include those who unfortunately passed away at home or homes for the elderly.

UPDATE April 1, 12:30 PM EDT: International Audi Group sites in Brussels and China are giving medical equipment in their regions

Audi centers in China, Brussels and elsewhere are supplying their respective surrounding areas with medical supplies, according to a tweet from Audi's official Twitter account.

"Local #support: The international #Audi Group sites like Audi #Brussels or Audi #China are providing medical equipment in their regions," read the tweet.

No additional details regarding the quantity, prioritizing method or geographic extent of each region were provided in the tweet.

This comes on the heels of other automakers like Tesla offering free delivery of ventilators and other medical supplies within its delivery area.

UPDATE April 1, 10:50 AM EDT: Volvo unveils its app-based maintenance service across the U.S. to keep human interaction a minimum

Volvo has officially rolled out its app-based valet system called Volvo Valet, for all Volvos requiring maintenance in the U.S.

The owners of the cars don't need to go anywhere, as an employee will come and pick up their car or drop off a loaner vehicle. Everything is organized and managed through the app, wihtout the Volvo owners needing to touch anything or meet anyone, keeping human interaction at a bare minimum. 

Volvo Car USA CEO, Anders Gustafsson, said "Volvo Valet gives owners the flexibility to service and maintain their vehicles in a way that works best for them. Volvo Valet has been very successful in pilot testing over the last year and it is now ready to serve our customers and retailers in this unprecedented time." 

UPDATE April 1, 10:48 AM EDT: MIT starts manufacturing face shields en masse

A team at MIT has designed and developed a face shield that can easily be massed produced so as to send out to hospitals in dire need of kit. 

There's a shortage of personal protective equipment for medical workers, which has become seriously problematic amid the virus spread. Quickly made and easily dispostable face shields need to be made in huge numbers, and fast. 

"These face shields have to be made rapidly and at low cost because they need to be disposable," explains Martin Culpepper, professor of mechanical engineering, director of Project Manus, and a member of MIT’s governance team on manufacturing opportunities for Covid-19. "Our technique combines low-cost materials with a high-rate manufacturing that has the potential of meeting the need for face shields nationwide."

UPDATE April 1, 10:44 AM EDT: Over 1,000 deaths in NYC with warnings of worse days ahead

New York City's Health Department reported on Tuesday that the city's death toll from the virus topped 1,000, and over 1,500 in total across the state. Brooklyn and Queens, two neighorhoods in the city, are suffering higher number than other areas. 

An emergency field hospital was opened on Wednesday in Central Park, the third makeshift hospital the city has opened as hospitals run out of ICU beds for patients. 

UPDATE April 1, 10:39 AM EDT: Germany widespread testing and early social distancing could explain their low death rate amid the outbreak

ICU beds in Germany are still available, a stark contrast to many other European nations at the moment. The European country has a very low death rate, again in comparison to its neighboring nations, and some are now saying it's thanks to Germany's forward-thinking action in which they developed relatively early during the pandemic. 

As of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University, Germany's total number of infected people stood at just over 71,000 and the death toll was 775 across the country. To offer a comparison, Italy reported almost 106,000 infections and over 12,400 deaths. 

"The reason why we in Germany have so few deaths at the moment compared to the number of infected can be largely explained by the fact that we are doing an extremely large number of lab diagnoses," said virologist Dr. Christian Drosten, whose team developed the first test for the new virus at Berlin’s Charité hospital. 

UPDATE April 1, 10:33 AM EDT: Florida struggles to let cruise lines dock at its ports

Two Holland America cruise ships with people infected by the coronavirus as well as some dead from the virus are awaiting official permission to dock at Florida's Port Everglades. Over 300 U.S. citizens are on board the ships. 

Governor Ron DeSantis said on Tuesday "Just to drop people off at the place where we’re having the highest number of cases right now just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense." To which President Trump responded "They’re dying on the ship. I’m going to do what’s right. Not only for us, but for humanity."

Over the weekend the coastguard issued new rules for all cruise ships to remain at sea where they are to remain "indefinitely" during the outbreak and that they should send ill passengers back to where the cruise ship is registered.

UPDATE: March 31, 11:36 AM EDT: FDA authorized two-minute test kit to detect the novel coronavirus

The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency authorization for a serological testing kit produced by Bodysphere Inc. — that detects a negative or positive result for the novel coronavirus in only two minutes, reports Axios.

Access to testing for the novel coronavirus has improved significantly thanks to commercial labs, according to Axios, but the wait time for a patient to receive results averages at four to five days — even weeks, according to some reports.

Antibody tests with FDA approval could help those in quarantine know if they can return to work, and could also help researchers track the scale and death rate of the global pandemic that is COVID-19 — both critical items for present and future policies toward outbreaks.

UPDATE March 31, 11:27 AM EDT: CEO of Tesla Elon Musk announces free worldwide delivery of FDA-approved ventilators to hospitals

Elon Musk — CEO of Tesla — announced that his company has FDA-approved ventilators, and will ship them worldwide within delivery regions, at no cost whatsoever, in a tweet.

"We have extra FDA-approved ventilators. Will ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse. Please [let] me kor @Tesla know," said Musk, in the tweet.

If Musk goes by Tesla's delivery regions for its cars, then candidate regions will include the U.S., Canada, Mexico, much of Europe, and Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea, in Asia.

However, Tesla did not initially say how many ventilators it can offer, or how it will prioritize requests, reports Reuters. Governments spanning the planet have requested help finding or manufacturing ventilators and other medical equipment amid a global pandemic from aerospace companies and automakers.

UPDATE March 31, 10:15 AM EDT: China reopens some factories and already experiencing a manufacturing rebound

China's manufacturing is already experiencing a rebound since anti-disease controls have been lifted and factoris reopen, showed an official survey on Tuesday. 

The nation is trying to revive its economy as it slowly tries to move forward since the coronavirus took its toll and saw most of its factories shut.

An industry group did warn, however, that the economy has yet to fully recover. "Looking forward, while the lowest point is behind us, it’s not the time to celebrate," said Larry Hu of Macquarie Capital.

China's shutdown of its economy saw huge repercussions across the world and notably in Asia where many countries provide raw materials and components for China's factories. 

UPDATE March 31, 10:09 AM EDT: Spain experiences its highest death toll due to coronavirus to date

Spain is feeling the weight of the coronavirus' impact as the country recorded 849 deaths over Monday night, the highest death toll the nation has experienced so far in the COVID-19 outbreak.

Spain has reported that hospitals in at least half of its regions are at or very close to their ICU bed capacities. The country has so far confirmed 8,189 deaths due to the coronavirus, forcing Spain to open a secondary temporary morgue after the ice rink converted last week became overwhelmed. 

UPDATE March 31, 10:02 AM EDT: Entire crew of a Russian nuclear submarine in quarantine after COVID-19 exposure

The entire crew of a nuclear missile-equipped submarine from the Russian Navy has been placed under quarantine after a civilian contractor came on board for business was confirmed as having been in contact with someone with COVID-19, according to the Driveand B-port.

This type of submarine can have a crew of up to 110 people, however, it's unsure exactly how many crew this submarine has. 

UPDATE March 31, 9:58 AM EDT: Ford to produce 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days

Carmaker Ford has committed to producing 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days along with GE Healthcare in its Michigan components plant, as per the company statement on Monday. 

Production is due to begin on April 20 and will cap at 30,000 per month once everything is up and running smoothly. 

These ventilators will be unique as they don't require any electricity in order to function, they only require air pressure and bottled oxygen to do so. 

Ford's president and CEO, Jim Hackett, stated "By producing this ventilator in Michigan, in strong partnership with the UAW, we can help health care workers save lives, and that's our No. 1 priority."

UPDATE March 31, 9:54 AM EDT: U.S. signs a $450 million coronavirus vaccine contract with Johnson & Johnson

Forbes reported that the Trump administration just signed a $456 million coronavirus vaccine with Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical arm Janssen. To date, it is the largest amount spent on looking for a vaccine in the country, even though the company has yet to start clinical trials, unlike other companies.

The Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) signed the deal on March 27th. 

UPDATE March 31, 9:48 AM EDT: Medtronic shares its portable ventilator design for all to use and recreate

Healthcare and biomedical company, Medtronic, plans on sharing its full design of its Puritan Bennett (PB) 560 portable ventilator hardware.

The compact and lightweight and portable medical equipment can easily be moved, making it handy in a hospital situation. The PB 560 came out in 2010, so it's had 10 years of experience and already has approval, making it an ideal candidate in the fight against the coronavirus. 

The fact that Medtronic will be sharing all of their design specifications will help companies and institutions produce more of the devices in a short space of time, something that's invaluable in the current situation.

UPDATE MARCH 31, 9:42 AM EDT: MIT team designs affordable emergency ventilator and will share details publicly for all to use

A team at MIT called E-Vent has also created an emergency ventilator to try and ease hospitals around the world currently suffering from a shortage of ICU ventilators, and plan on sharing the design online for companies and medical technicians to recreate themselves.

The MTI ventilator is not a replacement ICU ventilator, rather a first port of call when ICU ones are in shortage, to buy more time for medical workers. The MIT ventilator's parts only cost around $500 in total.

Moreover, the ventilator uses medical devices that most hospitals already have: Ambu resuscitation bags, and pumping machines to squeeze air in and out of the bag, and ultimately the patient's lungs. 

The team will be sharing the details on its official website once it's approved by the FDA.

UPDATE March 30, 2:00 PM EDT: Scientists wary of second coronavirus wave as China eases lockdown restrictions

Hubei — the province of China where the first coronavirus case emerged — is getting positive attention. COVID-19 cases have dropped to near-zero numbers, and travel restrictions have consequently been lifted in and out of the province, roughly 60 days after much of the province was locked down, according to the journal Nature.

Now the world watches as the ease of restrictions happens to see if further outbreaks pick up and grow into a second wave. Early analysis suggests that this dark possibility has not yet come to pass.

"It's time to relax the lockdown, but we need to be alert for a potential second wave of infections," said an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, named Ben Cowling. If a new second coronavirus wave hits, Cowling expects it to happen by the end of April.

UPDATE March 30, 10:00 AM EDT: IPC, IOC, Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and Tokyo Metropolitan government declare new dates for the Olympic and paralympic games in Tokyo 2020

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, The Government of Japan, and the Tokyo Metropolitan government agreed on Monday to new dates for the official games for the XXXII Olympiad, in 2021, according to the Olympic.org website. The games for Tokyo 2020 will be celebrated from July 23 to August 8, 2021. The parties also agreed on a new schedule for the paralympic games, which will go forward from August 24 until September 5, 2021.

Key parties' leaderships met via telephone conference on Monday, joined by the IOC President Thomas Bach, Tokyo 2020 President Mori Yoshirō, Olympic and Paralympic Minister Hashimoto Seiko, and Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko, and who all agreed on the new schedule.

The president of the IPC Andrew Parsons commented: "It is fantastic news that we could find new dates so quickly for the Tokyo 2020 Games. The new dates provide certainty for the athletes, reassurance for the stakeholders and something to look forward to for the whole world. When the Paralympic Games do take place in Tokyo next year, they will be an extra-special display of humanity uniting as one, a global celebration of human resilience and a sensational showcase of sport. With the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games 512 days away, the priority for all those involved in the Paralympic Movement must be to focus on staying safe with their friends and family during this unprecedented and difficult time."

UPDATE March 30, 8:17 AM EDT: Formula 1 team Mercedes has assisted in developing a breathing aid for the U.K.'s coronavirus patients

In an attempt to ease the pressure on the British health services, Mercedes worked closely with engineers at University College London (UCL) and clinicians and University College London Hospital to change and improve a device that closes the gap between an oxygen mask and a ventilator.

The device is known as continuous positive airway pressure has already been used in Italy and in China to bring oxygen to coronavirus patients' lungs during the pandemic. 

Currently, 100 of the devices are being sent to UCL's hospital for clinical trials. The machine works by pushing a mix of oxygen and air into the mouth and nose continuously, so as to assist the passage of oxygen into patients' lungs.

UPDATE March 30, 8:09 AM EDT: Spain's numbers of infections now surpass China's, and the situation in the U.S.

On Monday, Spain became the third country to surpass China's infection numbers, after Italy and the U.S.

85,195 of Spain's 47 million-strong population have been infected with the coronavirus. In one day the number of cases rose by eight per cent, and the European nation confirmed 812 deaths on Monday, bringing the total to 7,300. 

The U.S., which is now considered the current epicenter of the outbreak, has over 143,000 infections and 2,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Because of testing limitations, the numbers are believed to be much higher and unreported. 

Trump has extended federal guidelines and recommends that Americans remain at home for an additional 30 days, until the end of April so as to slow the spread of the virus. 

UPDATE March 30, 8:02 AM EDT: China reports a drop in coronavirus cases for fourth consecutive day

China's National Health Commission stated on Monday that mainland China has seen a drop in new coronavirus cases for four days in a row. On Sunday, for instance, China recorded 31new coronavirus cases, dropping from 45cases the day prior. 

Fourdeaths were reported on Sunday.

The number of new infections has dropped dramatically in China, and the government is exhorting businesses and factories to reopen as it attempts to push forward an economic recovery. 

In Hubei province, where the outbreak began, no new cases were reported for six consecutive days on Sunday, and the province partially lifted its traffic restrictions as well as resuming some domestic flights. 

UPDATE March 30, 8:00 AM EDT: The WHO publishes mental health guidance

The WHO's latest report states that one new country or territory has reported COVID-19 cases, in the Commonwealth of the Nothern Mariana Islands. 

The COVID-19 Solidarity Fund has received over $108 million from 203,000 individuals and organizations. 

The WHO is keeping a close eye on people's mental health during the pandemic and has issued information and guidance on how to upkeep positive and strong mental health.

UPDATE March 30, 6:00 AM EDT: Facebook invested $100 million in journalism amid COVID-19 pandemic

Facebook committed a $100 million investment in the news industry amid the coronavirus outbreak, reports The Verge. $25 million will be issued in grant funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project, with the remaining $75 million coming in the form of "additional marketing spend" to news organizations globally.

Publishers will be hit hard by the economic fallout of COVID-19. Advertising revenue — essential for many publishers — is enduring a bottleneck as companies cut marketing budgets amid financial markets' recent unreliability. The research firm, eMarketer, lowered its growth projections for global media ads spent by 3%, reports SearchEngineLand, while Reuters has said that the novel virus might cost the U.S. advertising industry billions of lost revenue dollars.

UPDATE March 29, 3:21 PM EDT: Microsoft sees 775% increase in cloud services, 44 million daily teams users, 900 million meeting minutes weekly

Microsoft Teams is seeing a tremendous coronavirus bump, with a 775% jump in cloud services, reports Forbes. This applies to areas with social distancing or shelter in place orders, which means much of India, Canada, China, several European nations, and more.

Microsoft Teams at present has more than 44 million daily users, and they created more than 900 million meeting and calling minutes, said Jared Spataro, corporate VP for Microsoft 365, in a blog post.

"We are hard at work providing services to support hundreds of millions of people who rely on Microsoft to stay connected and to work and play remotely," said Spataro, reports Forbes.

UPDATE March 29, 8:45 AM EDT: U.S. coronavirus deaths top 2,100 including the first infant death

U.S. coronavirus cases increased to more than 124,000, with more than 2,100 deaths. These included an infant in Illinois, who is believed to be the youngest death so far from the virus, reported CBS News.

UPDATE March 28, 8:00 PM EDT: Italy coronavirus death toll shoots past 10,000

Italy's death toll from the coronavirus topped 10,000 despite the lockdown. 889 new fatalities were reported on Saturday, just one day after the country registered 969 deaths, reported France 24.

UPDATE March 27, 6:19 PM EDT: COVID-19 cases in the US exceed 100,000; UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive

On Friday, the U.S. surpassed 100,000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, dragged into the pandemic by a jump of infections in New York and other hotspots across the country, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson becomes the first world leader to test positive for the novel coronavirus that has brought the entire world to a virtual standstill, reports The Daily Beast.

In a video posted on the Prime Minister's Twitter page, Johnson said he has tested positive for COVID-19, after developing "mild symptoms." He added that he'll continue to lead the United Kingdom's fight to curb the spread of the virus while he self-isolates at his home in 10 Downing Street.

UPDATE March 27, 2:00 PM EDT: Mark Zuckerberg pledges $25 million to Bill Gates' research on COVID-19 Therapeutics

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan's philanthropic group — called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) — have pledged $25 million to the "COVID-10 Therapeutics Accelerator," as of Friday, according to an announcement on the CZI website.

The donation was made in a joint partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mastercard, and Wellcome. This is the first official COVID-19 action taken by Zuckerberg, or CZI, which will help the planet develop a possible treatment for — or perhaps a vaccine to — the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're excited to partner with the Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard to help the biomedical research community quickly identify, develop, and test treatments for COVID-19," read the official statement on CZI's website. "The Therapeutics Accelerator will enable researchers to quickly determine whether or not existing drugs have a potential benefit against COVID-19. We hope these coordinated efforts will help stop the spread of COVID-19 as well as provide shared, reusable strategies to respond to future pandemics."

UPDATE March 27, 10:02 AM EDT: China closing its border to most foreign nationals from Saturday onwards

As China is experiencing a second wave of infections mostly brought in by nationals or foreigners returning from overseas, the nation has decided to take stricter measures and close its border to most incoming foreigners. 

Even those holding a valid visa or work permits will not be allowed into China, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday. Only Diplomats and people going to China "to engage in necessary economic, trade, scientific and technological activities, and for urgent humanitarian needs," are excluded said the ministry

Many other nations have already imposed similar travel bans. China has now joined these ranks as the country had mostly managed to control the spread of the virus and the nationa situation, but is currently seeing another influx of cases following many foreigners and nationals returning from abroad.

According to the National Health Commission in China, all 67 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday came from overseas, as was reported by the Xinhua News Agency.

UPDATE March 27, 9:58 AM EDT: Animation video shows the first contact that the coronavirus has with a cell and its point of entry

A short animation shows how the coronavirus gets into the cell, and its first point of entry.

UPDATE March 27, 9:50 AM EDT: 3 Babies in China may have been infected with coronavirus prenatally 

Further research needs to be carried out, however two reports from China have detailed three cases of newborn babies contracting the coronavirus. It still has to be seen if babies are being infected with the coronavirus in the womb, or immediately after birth.

Experts stress that this information does not prove that the new coronavirus can pass from mother to child during pregnancy, and that the evidence is still inconclusive

UPDATE March 27, 9:43 AM EDT: The WHO's latest report with guidance documents and the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan 

The WHO confirmed three new countries/territories/areas have confirmed cases of COVID-19, one in the Region of the Americas, and two in the African Region. 

The UN has launched a US$ 2 billion COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan to give support to the most vulnerable nations. More details here

The WHO director general mentioned important issues and steps of action to take to effectively combat the outbreak. Read the full report here, which includes information about social distancing vs. physical distancing. 

UPDATE March 26, 1:24 PM EDT: China will seal its borders to most foreigners starting Saturday

China declared that it will block nearly all foreigners from entering the country beginning Saturday in recognition that most novel coronavirus cases are coming from overseas now that the government has curbed the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, reports Bloomberg.

Foreigners will be prohibited from entering China even with valid visas and work permits, said the foreign ministry in a Thursday statement, in what it called a "necessary and temporary" measure.

However, diplomats are exempt from the order -- likewise are those entering the country "to engage in necessary economic, trade, scientific and technological activities, and for urgent humanitarian needs," said the statement.

This latest move reflects similar travel bans issued by several other countries, which China initially resisted when most global cases were inside its borders.

UPDATE March 26, 3:00 PM EDT: Tesla delivering crucial ventilators to New York State, says Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in a tweet that medical ventilators — critical to combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic — will be delivered to New York hospitals on Thursday night.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk will have Philips, ResMed, and Medtronic ventilators delivered to New York hospitals on Thursday night. "Working on that with Medtronic. Given NY pressing needs, we're delivering Resmed (sic), Philips, & Medtronic ventilators to NY hospitals starting tonight," tweeted Musk.

UPDATE March 26, 1:01 PM EDT: Italy shutters most of its factories due to the COVID-19 coronavirus

In a drastic move, Italy has become the first developed nation of the west to set most of its industry to idle in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, a precautionary tale to other governments, especially the Trump administration, which have resisted dramatic measures, reports MedicalXpress.

This comes after more than two weeks of a nationwide lockdown in Italy, and the Italian government expanded its closure of nonessential commercial activities in the EU's third-largest economy.

UPDATE March 26, 9:00 AM EDT: Hotels, guesthouses, and Airbnbs offer free accommodation to medics 

As the hospitality industry mostly shuts its doors to guests during the global coronavirus outbreak, some hotels, guesthouses and Airbnbs are now opening their doors to frontline medical workers for free. 

Airbnb is the first to kickstart the program with its Airbnb for Doctors and Nurses in Italy, along with a similar scheme in France. Airbnb will pay for the accommodation including any associated fees for up to two months for medical workers in Italy. The homes are provided by Airbnb hosts and the bookings are overseen by Milan-based OspitaMI hosting organization. 

In France, Airbnb's scheme is called Open Homes and works alongside the government. Airbnb is waiving the fees for hosts offering their homes to medical staff and offering €50 for cleaning fees. Hosts based near hospitals are being invited to join the program by offering their place for 15 days.

In the U.K., the Grand Hotel in Brighton has opened its doors to NHS workers until further notice. Hotel staff are working on a voluntary basis, and the NHS workers are planned to stay for 10 days at a time. 

Spain has similar local initiatives, as more and more of the world is applauding medical workers as they work hard to try and save lives amid the coronavirus outbreak.

UPDATE March 26, 8:47 AM EDT: Tesla expands its vehicle delivery options to adjust to the changing times

Tesla is adjusting as much as possible amid the coronavirus outbreak, and now customers looking to have a Tesla delivered now have a choice of three options. They can eiterh opt for an "Express," "Direct Drop," or "Tesla Direct" option. 

The Tesla Direct option was first rolled out last summer and delivers the new Tesla directly at the new owner's home or workplace. 

Express Delivery is when the customer checks in at a pre-arranged delivery center and is then guided through Tesla's location app to their new car. "All required documents will be waiting inside the car with highlights indicating where to sign. When you’re ready to get on the road, simply pass your documents to the advisor at the exit for review, and we’ll mount a temporary tag and license plate," notes Tesla.

The Direct Drop option is a completely touchless delivery experiencew where Tesla drops off the vehicle at the customer's location of choice. The customer can unlock their vehicle through Tesla's mobile app, and sends all paperwork beforehand. This method is only available in certain areas though: California, Hawai'i, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

UPDATE March 25, 9:02 AM EDT: New York Officials urging Elon Musk to reopen Gigafactory 2 to produce ventilators

New York State officials are calling for Tesla CEO Elon Musk to reopen Gigafatory 2 in Buffalo, New York, for the production of ventilators and other sorely-needed medical equipment. This comes on the heels of the automaker recently suspending its Giga New York plant amid the threat posed by the COVID-19 coronavirus to employees, according to Teslarati.

New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan noted in a statement to ABC7 News that everyone needs to do their part in helping the U.S. combat the novel coronavirus. He praised Elon Musk and the Tesla team for their work so far, but also suggested that the Buffalo-based facility be repurposed to make up the lost ground in providing sufficient medical supplies to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There is no doubt that COVID-19 has created an unprecedented challenge for New York, for our nation, and for the entire world. At this difficult time, it is critical that each of us do our part to ensure our state can respond to the growing pandemic. I thank Elon Musk and the team at Tesla for announcing that they are working on a plan. Tesla's factory in Buffalo would be an ideal location to ramp up ventilator production, and I urge them to make this commitment immediately," Ryan said in the statement.

In a separate letter to the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Ryan called for Musk to "ramp up ventilator production at the Tesla factory located in Buffalo, New York."

"With COVID-19 impacting every segment of our society and economy, Telsa's solar production factory in Buffalo has currently suspended operations. At this difficult time, it is critical that each of us do our part," added Ryan. He added that New York State is the most impacted state in the country, "with over 20,000 cases of COVID-19, and the numbers are growing every day."

Earlier, NYGOP Chairman Nick Langworthy tweeted to Musk that "emergency times call for emergency measures," which to Langworthy means repurposing Tesla's Solarglass Roof and Supercharger facility to produce ventilators and medical supplies.

"Perhaps the @Tesla plant in Buffalo owned by New York State and gifted to @elonmusk should be repurposed to manufacture ventilators and critical medical equipment as soon as humanly possible. Emergency times call for drastic measures," Langworthy wrote in his tweet.

UPDATE March 25, 8:24 AM EDT: SpaceX has reportedly quarantined a dozen employees after 2 workers tested positive for the novel coronavirus

SpaceX confirmed two cases of the novel coronavirus among its staff, subsequently sending a dozen home, reports The Telegraph.

A staff email sent on Monday and later seen by The Telegraph lists a medic and an employee at SpaceX's Hawthorne, California, premises have contracted the virus.

The employee was confirmed infected after returning from a trip abroad, and SpaceX said the risk of the virus spreading to other employees was "very low" and "no greater than going to the grocery store" because the person had been on-site for one singular day, last Monday.

The company subsequently asked any who'd come into contact with the employee on that day to go home and self-isolate for two weeks and also said it would do a "video review" of employees' movements to document those who may have also contracted the virus.

The medic had "close contact" with 12 employees, each of which was sent home, said the email. SpaceX has faced scrutiny for remaining open amid California's "shelter in place" order that bans all non-essential businesses from remaining open.

UPDATE March 25, 8:12 AM EDT: Spain has confirmed more than 730 new coronavirus deaths in one day, surpassing the death toll in China

Spain has announced more than 700 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, greater than the total number of fatalities in China, reports Business Insider.

The death toll rose to 3,434 from 2,696 on Wednesday after a confirmed 738 new deaths, according to Spain's Ministry of Health.

As of Wednesday, China's death toll was 3,285, with 81,661 total infections, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

For now, Spain's infection count stands at 47,610, which speaks to a fatality rate nearly twice that of China. The death toll in Italy — 6,820 — beat China's a long time ago.

Spain enforced a lockdown on March 14, with all private hospitals nationalized following March 16. Last week, camping sites and hotels were closed by the government mandate.

UPDATE March 25, 5:00 AM EDT: World Health Organization report for the day

Four additional countries, territories, or areas in the South-East Asia Region of the Americas have confirmed cases of COVID-19, reports the World Health Organization. WHO also delivered a new shipment of emergency medical supplies to the Islamic Republic of Iran, in a bid to help the country curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Additional information regarding the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean region is also available.

As of writing, the WHO WhatsApp Health Alert has gained 10 million users since its Friday launch, and the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund raised more than US$70 million in only 10 days.

WHO and FIFA jointly launched a campaign to equip the football community to beat COVID-19. The awareness campaign urges everyone in the world to follow five key steps to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

WHO and its partners are always working to enhance and strengthen the chains by which essential COVID-19 supplies arrive. As demand rises globally, WHO and its partners hope to ensure assistance reaches areas most in need.

UPDATE March 24, 8:09 PM EDT: Prime Minister of India declares 21-day lockdown to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus

India will mitigate the world's largest lockdown on Wednesday, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a TV address, warning citizens of his country to remain inside or risk inviting the global pandemic into their homes, and committing $2 billion to bolster India's overstrained health care system, reports AP News.

"To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out," said Modi on Tuesday night, affirming that the 21-day lockdown would seriously damage the economy, while also insisting the passive alternative would turn the country's clock back 21 years.

This announcement puts roughly one-fifth of the world's population on lockdown, and drove many neighborhoods into panic as concerned citizens rushed to markets to stock up on supplies. Police attempted to disperse crowds where possible or needed.

As of the announcement, India officials reported 469 active cases of COVID-19, and 10 deaths. Officials stress no evidence has been found of localized spread despite carrying out few tests for the disease. In a country where tens of millions reside in dense urban sectors with irregular access to clean water, experts predict local spreading as an inevitability.

UPDATE March 24, 10:00 PM EDT: Coronavirus could last on surfaces for much longer than thought

Traces of the coronavirus' RNA remained on the Diamond Princess cruise ship 17 days following the departure of all remaining passengers, according to a new study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, noted the CDC, "viral RNA doesn't necessarily mean live virus was present," which means the risk of infection from subsequent contact is still unknown.

Regardless, the need to be exceedingly thorough in cleaning homes and hospitals — everything really — continues to be a primary concern for everyone.

UPDATE March 24, 5:43 PM EDT: FDA will allow treatment of life-threatening COVID-19 cases with blood of patients recovered

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its rules to allow the use of experimental treatments for the continuing COVID-19 pandemic — specifically, to add the use of "convalescent plasma," in cases where an infected patient's life is in immediate danger, reports Tech Crunch.

This isn't approval for the procedure as treatment, but only an emergency clearance applicable in a case-by-case basis, for the most extreme cases in hopes of advancing research on the plasma of patients who have contracted and recovered from COVID-19.

The FDA granted this temporary authorization despite a lack of clinical trials under its Investigational New Drug Applicants (eINDS) exemption, in recognition of the extent and nature of the coronavirus epidemic.

UPDATE March 24, 1:59 PM EDT: The U.S. missed its chance to avoid COVID-19 shutdowns, businesses should stay closed, says Bill Gates

Co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates said on Tuesday that the United States missed its window to avoid compulsory shutdowns because the country failed to act fast enough to curb the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, reports CNBC.

"The U.S. is past this opportunity to control (COVID-19) without shutdown, said Gates during a TED Connects program broadcast online. "We did not act fast enough to have an ability to avoid the shutdown."

"It's January when everybody should've been on notice," said the computer scientist. The virus was initially discovered in China, in December.

U.S. government officials from coast to coast advised or directed those living within the country to stay home in the last several days, hoping to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Several locations, including New York City, California, and Washington, D.C., have compelled all nonessential businesses to close temporarily. Consequently, unemployment claims have surged with markets hitting their lowest marks in years.

UPDATE March 24, 1:20 PM EDT: Verizon Waives Late Fees and Overage, Adds Free 15GB of data amid COVID-19 outbreak

In line with the Federal Communications Commission's recent Keep Americans Connected Pledge, Verizon announced that it will waive some of its fees and add extra high-speed data for wireless and small business customers as countermeasures against the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, reports Gizmodo.

On Monday the company announced it will waive overage charges, late fees, and activation fees for residential and small-business users. A Verizon spokesperson told Gizmodo that the billing cycles are being waived, and won't require payment at a later date. The company also said it will automatically add 15GB of high-speed data to small-business and consumer plans from March 25 to April 30.

This will provide 15GB of additional 4G LTE hotspot data for unlimited customers, and 15GB of extra data for prepaid and postpaid customers on shared or standalone data plans.

Verizon added that the More Everything, Verizon Plan 1.0, Verizon Plan 2.0, all Mix & Match, and the Verizon Unlimited Plan customers will also be eligible, and should expect the upgrade automatically added to their plans.

UPDATE March 24, 10:49 AM EDT: Coronavirus may be a "chimera" of two different viruses, says genome analysis

An extensive study and analysis on the origins of the coronavirus has been conducted, to try and see what causes the virus. 

Results pointing to bats, in particular Rhinolophus, as the carriers of the virus are circulating, and that they constitute the reservoir of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, results of analyses on pangolins carrying the virus RaTG13 also point towards them as being the original hosts. 

After genomic comparisons have been carried out, it is believed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a combination between two different viruses, one close to RaTG13, and one closer to the pangolin virus. Thus, COVID-19 it is a chimera between two viruses.

UPDATE March 24, 10:46 AM EDT: Elon Musk delivers 1,000 ventilators to hospitals in California to help fight the coronavirus

Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, stated on Monday that Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, had delivered over 1,000 ventilators for hospitals in the state. These ventilators will help save the lives of those battling against the virus. 

"I told you a few days ago that [Musk] was likely to have 1,000 ventilators this week," Newsom said, adding: "They've arrived in Los Angeles... It was a heroic effort."

UPDATE March 24, 10:40 AM EDT: SpaceX feeling the consequences of the coronavirus

As Argentina tightens its travel restrictions around the coronavirus outbreak, SpaceX is having to indefinitely delay its next scheduled rocket launch. Due to take off on March 30th from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the SAOCOM 1B satellite payload's production facilities are in Bariloche, Argentina. 

Teams in Argentina aren't able to travel to Cape Canaveral in time to prepare the launch. Regardless, it was looking very unlikely that the future launch was going to take place, given the strict measures implemented each day surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. 

But once the restrictions are lifted and life resumes a new pace, SpaceX's launch will most likely make history. 

UPDATE March 24, 10:34 AM EDT: Samsung, LG, and other phone brands pause manufacturing as India goes on lockdown

The last few days have seen several Indian states close under lockdown to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus. Due to this, many phone manufacturers based in India, the world's second-largest smartphone market, will have to shut down their production. 

Companies such as Samsung, LG, Vivo, and Oppo, announced on Monday that they were closing their factories in India for various amounts of time. For instance, Samsung is temporarily closing its Noida factory — the world's biggest mobile phone manufacturing facilty — from March 23 until March 25

UPDATE March 24, 10:28 AM EDT: China partially lifting lockdown in Wuhan, where the outbreak is believed to have started

April 8th marks the day that Wuhan will see a lift on its lockdown, which has been in place since mid-January. Similar lockdown measures will be lifted on Wednesday in other cities in Hubei province, where Wuhan is situated, as per what provincial authorities have declared on Tuesday

The lift comes after significant drops in cases have happened. Since March 19th, Hubei has recorded no new cases for five consecutive days — down from thousands of new cases per day at the height of the epidemic in February. 

The lockdown restrictions have been very strict in Hubei, locking down nearly 60 million people in total, however they seem to have slowed down the spread of the virus. However, even with no new domestic cases being confirmed, cases imported from people traveling back to China have seen a spike in numbers.

UPDATE March 24, 10:23 AM EDT: Italy records two days straight of fewer new coronavirus cases

Italy recorded a lower day-to-day increase of new coronavirus cases for two days in a row, on Monday. 

Italy's Civil Protection agency noted 4,789 new cases on Monday, 700 down from 5,560 new cases on Sunday. However, officials have warned that it's still too early to tell if the country's seen its hardest days. 

The day to day count of deaths also went down on Monday, to just over 600 deaths, down from 651 deaths on Sunday. 

Italy has been hit hard, with 6,077 deaths so far, and 63,927 confirmed cases so far.

UPDATE March 24, 10:07 AM EDT: Amazon will deliver at-home COVID-19 test kits to Seattle residents as part of a trial

Amazon Care is partnering with the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, which is backed by the Gates Foundation, to deliver COVID-19 test kits to people staying at home.

The trial delivery of these test kits will be limited to a certain amount of kits, but the hope is that it will increase the number of tests for the virus without having to rely on regular mail delivery systems. 

Amazon told CNBC that every driver has been trained in how to handle medical material. The test kits include the regular swabs that are being used int he drive-through testing locations, and if a person's results are positive a healthcare professional will be directly in touch with them. 

UPDATE March 24, 10:01 AM EDT: NASA employee at Kennedy Space Center tests positive 

The information was discovered 10 days after the NASA employee was at the Kennedy Space Center, as explained by the space agency's spokesperson, Tracy Young. 

So it is most likely that the employee contracted the virus after they'd last been at the Kennedy Space Center. As Young explained "Based on the circumstances and elapsed time since the employee was on site, we believe it was acquired after they had started teleworking and there is no additional risk at the center from this person."

At this stage, all NASA personnel has already been working remotely for a week, aside from critial mission personnel.

UPDATE March 24, 9:56 AM EDT: The WHO reports that 85% of new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours have been in Europe and the U.S.

Italy is considered as the current epicenter of the outbreak with 63,928 confirmed cases, and Spain is the third worst-hit country in the world with 39,673 cases

The U.S. has over 41,000 confirmed cases, with New York alone encompassing 5% of the world's total cases, with 12,305 infected

Stricter measures have been imposed on a global scale by countries' leaders with many populations under strict lockdown. The hope is to try and ease the strain on frontline medical workers who are working hard around the clock to save lives.

UPDATE March 24, 9:02 AM EDT: Japan, IOC to postpone 2020 Tokyo Olympics by roughly one year

On Tuesday, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed until 2021 as the novel coronavirus sweeps the world, representing the disruption of the largest sporting event that puts an athletic universe of sponsors, sports organizations, broadcasters, and athletes in an extended period of uncertainty, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The decision to delay was reached via a phone call on Tuesday between the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach.

UPDATE March 24, 7:45 AM EDT: Loss of sense of smell, taste, could point to infection as 'hidden carrier' of the novel coronavirus

Those who experience a sudden loss of taste or smell might be a "hidden carrier" of the novel coronavirus, even if they show no additional symptoms, according to evidence collected by leading rhinologists in the UK, reports Business Insider.

In Italy, China, and South Korea, roughly one-third of patients who are confirmed to have COVID-19 have also reported a distinct loss in their sense of smell — also called anosmia or hyposmia — according to leading nose, ear, and throat experts in the UK, Business Insider reports.

"In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases," said the President of the British Rhinological Society Professor, Clare Hopkins, along with the president of the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology, professor Nirmal Kumar, in a joint statement.

UPDATE March 23, 7:35 EDT: Brazilian startup has developed rapid COVID-19 test

A startup based in Brazil called Hi Technologies announced that it is currently in mass production of a quick test for COVID-19, one that gives results in only 15 minutes, according to ZD Net.

The company added that all of its 130 employees are focused on making and delivering the novel test, projected for completion in the second week of April.

Priority will go to Brazilian states.

UPDATE March 23, 5:01 PM EDT: Apple has lost its status as a trillion-dollar company

Apple, the world's most valuable public company, is no longer a trillion-dollar company, reports Bloomberg.

NASDAQ along with other U.S. indices continued to fall as a coronavirus-fueled panic sell-off by investors also continued. All of this despite the most serious measures ever taken by the US Federal Reserve. Amid the corporate bloodshed, Apple lost its trillion-dollar status, with shares trading at $220 per unit, at the time of writing, according to The Tech Portal.

Apple's shares have fallen up to 4% — leaving Microsoft as the only remaining U.S. stock with a stock value breaching a trillion dollars. The plunge, which happened immediately following the markets' opening at 9:40 AM EDT, dragged the initially trillion-dollar company's market value down to $960 billion.

Apple was one of the first companies to disclose the growing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their financials and declared it would no longer meet its quarter guidance range of $63 to $67 billion, reports The Tech Portal. Global manufacturers are having difficulty managing the effects of the pandemic on their supply chains, which are extremely dependent on China.

Right when the COVID-19 disease seemed to be losing steam in China, the coronavirus pandemic swept through the U.S. and Europe at its most incredible speed yet, dragging the cultural epicenter from China to western countries.

Earlier in March, Apple shut down offices and employees started working remotely much like employees of other tech giants. Weeks ago, Apple shut down every store outside Greater China in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus while the company's online presence remained.

UPDATE March 23, 2:39 PM EDT: Uber moves for government to include drivers in COVID-19 stimulus package

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called on U.S. lawmakers to include the ride-share company's drivers and delivery workers in the COVID-19 stimulus package currently under negotiation, in a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump.

"My goal in writing to you is not to ask for a bailout for Uber, but rather for support for independent workers and, once we move past the immediate crisis, the opportunity to legally provide them with a real safety net going forward," said Khosrowshahi in the letter.

Ride-hailing drivers were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Khosrowshahi recently said to investors that the company's ride volume decreased by 60 to 70 percent in cities like Seattle. Earlier in March, Uber said it would give drivers financial assistance for up to 14 days if they're unable to work because of a diagnosis of COVID-19, or a quarantine.

As it stands, the stimulus package will allow most Americans to receive $1,200 direct deposit from the federal government. If it passes, the stimulus package will also help people access up to 39 weeks of unemployment insurance. However, since Uber drivers and delivery drivers are contractors, they're not entitled to unemployment insurance.

While Khosrowshahi's appeal seems altruistic, in the second part of the letter he asks the federal government to give more protections to contractors. "Put simply, our laws should protect all workers, not just one type of work," he wrote. "I urge you to act quickly to provide protections for independent workers, and in your ongoing efforts to consider legislative action on a 'third way' that would update our labor laws to remove the forced choice between flexibility and protection for millions of American workers."

UPDATE March 23, 2:00 PM EDT: TikTok donates $10 million to the World Health Organization in bid to combat the novel coronavirus

The ByteDance-owned video sharing platform TikTok announced a $10 million donation to the World Health Organization (WHO) Solidarity Response Fund, according to a blog post written by TikTok President Alex Zhu.

"In this time of global distress and concernabouthteimpactofCOVID-19, we've been inspired by people in towns and cities everywhere whose fundamental humanity is shining through when we need it most," said Zhu in the blog bost.

He added: "people serenading across quarantined buildings; neighbors delivering food and medicine to those who cannot leave their homes; global outpourings of empathy and support for grieving families."

"This humanity transcends borders and backgrounds, and we're moved by how people are sharing their strength when we need it most."

The President & CEO of the UN Foundation Elizabeth Cousens said of TikTok's donation: "We can only stop this virus with a coordinated, global response, where everyone — from every sector — is doing their part," according to Music Business World.

Cousens added: "TikTok's extraordinary generous contribution to the World Health Organization's global effort is a perfect example of that. Now is the time for all individuals and companies to come together and fight this virus — because the case for cooperation simply couldn't be clearer."

UPDATE March 23, 1:00 PM EDT: Boeing temporarily closing all factories across Washington state following death of employee from COVID-19

On Monday, Boeing announced it would suspend production at its facilities within Washington state for two weeks amid the continued threat of the novel coronavirus outbreak, reports Business Insider.

The move to cease production comes one day following the death of an employee from COVID-19, who worked in Boeing's Everett, Washington, plant. The worker — who was not initially named — was the first death related to the novel virus among the company's workforce, reports Business Insider.

As of Sunday, there were 29 confirmed cases of the virus among Boeing's employees, reports the Seattle Times. Of those, 24 were in the Puget Sound area of Washington state.

In Boeing's press release, the company stated that affected employees who are unable to work from home will continue to be paid for 10 business days, covering the entirety of the suspension period.

"These actions are being taken to ensure the well-being of employees, their families and the local community, and will include an orderly shutdown consistent with the requirements of its customers," said the press release.

"This necessary step protects our employees and the communities where they work and live," said Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun in the release. "We continue to work closely with public health officials, and we're in contact with our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders who are affected by this temporary suspension."

Roughly 70,000 people are employed at the two major factories and several smaller facilities in the Puget Sounds area. The company's other production sites in South Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Missouri, will remain open, however.

The state of Washington, the hardest-hit state in the U.S. so far, was first to declare a state of emergency in the country.

UPDATE March 23, 10:50 AM EDT: European Union to give 20 million euros in humanitarian aid to Iran

The European Union will give Iran 20 million euros in humanitarian aid — despite U.S. sanctions on the Middle Eastern country — in hopes of alleviating the effects of the coronavirus, and also to support Tehran's request to IMF for financial assistance, according to a top EU diplomat, reports Reuters. 

"We've not been able to provide a lot of humanitarian help but there is some 20 million euros in the pipeline .. that we expect to be delivered over the next weeks," said Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief, in a video news conference on Monday, according to Reuters.

"We also agree in supporting the request by Iran and also by Venezuela to the International Monetary Fund to have financial support," said the EU diplomat following a video conference of EU foreign ministers, without adding more details.

Of all Middle Eastern nations, Iran is hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, suffering more than 1,800 deaths and 23,049 cases of infection. One person in Iran dies every 10 minutes, according to the country's health ministry, reports Reuters.

UPDATE March 23, 8:38 AM EDT: Scientists find 69 drugs that may be effective in treating the coronavirus

On Sunday night a team of researchers reported that nearly 70 drugs may be effective in treating COVID-19. Some of these are already used to treat other diseases, and may be repurporsed to treat COVID-19, which may be a faster approach than waiting for a vaccine to be put together from scratch.

Hundreds of researchers studied the genes of the coronavirus in order to come up with this comprehensive list of drugs, however, more data at every level is still needed before being able to proceed to using these drugs against the coronavirus.

UPDATE March 23, 8:31 AM EDT: Lost sense of smell and taste may indicate coronavirus infection

After COVID-19-infected patients from South Korea, China, and Italy have stated a loss of smell and taste after contracting the virus, it is now believed that these may be telltale signs of having caught the infection. 

This may help to identify people at risk of having the coronavirus and who will require testing and isolation. 

NBA player Rudy Gobert-Bourgarel, who is infected with COVID-19, shared the news that he experienced loss of smell and taste.

UPDATE March 23, 8:23 AM EDT: Scientists pushing for more testing as many coronavirus cases show little to no symptoms

The number of silent COVID-19 carriers may be higher than was previously thought, as per scientists who are now pushing for more tests to be carried out on more people. 

Iceland, which has tested more people than any other country so far, has stated that half of those who tested positive for COVID-19 showed no signs, as per the country's chief epidemiologist, Thorolfur Gudnason, statement to BuzzFeed News. As much as up to a third of tested people showed delayed symptoms, or none at all, of coronavirus.

Asymptomatic people may create an issue in trying to curb the virus as it continues to spread unbeknownst to those who carry it. 

Scott Gottlieb, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated that "It’s becoming clearer that spread of Covid-19 by people who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic may be responsible for more transmission than previously thought; making control of the virus more difficult."

More testing may help in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

UPDATE March 23, 8:16 AM EDT: NASCAR goes virtual with iRacing

As the coronavirus has put all sporting matches and group activities to a worldwide halt, NASCAR decided to run a virtual race. As NASCAR has stopped all racing until at least May 9th, in the space of a week the inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series was put together instead. 

Drivers agreed to take part, even though many didn't have any previous eracing expertise. 

Denny Hamlin, the three-time Daytona 500 winner, virtually raced barefoot from the comfort of his North Carolina living room, and won by beating Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Sunday.

UPDATE March 22, 5:30 AM EDT: Apple donates millions of masks to medical staff in the U.S. and Europe

Apple is donating millions of masks to medical staff in the U.S. and Europe, according to a tweet by CEO Tim Cook. "Our teams at Apple have been working to help source supplies for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19. We’re donating millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe. To every one of the heroes on the front lines, we thank you," wrote Cook.

UPDATE March 22, 5:05 AM EDT: Amazon and IBM launch programs to get developers to solve COVID-19-related problems

Amazon and IBM have launched programs to help developers solve COVID-19 related problems, reported Tech Crunch. Amazon's program is called the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative while IBM is refocusing its 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge developer contest to go beyond just tackling global warming to tackling COVID-19 problems.

UPDATE March 21, 11: 30 AM EDT: YouTube, Amazon Prime and Netflix reduce streaming quality

Youtube and Amazon Prime are now joining Netflix in reducing their streaming quality in Europe in order to help internet infrastructures cope with the surge of traffic brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, reported The Independent

“We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default,” YouTube said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Prime Video said the platform was working with authorities “to help mitigate any network congestion”.

UPDATE March 21, 10: 30 AM EDT: Google launches COVID-19 dedicated site

Google has launched a special site dedicated to COVID-19 that can be accessed at google.com/covid19. For the time it targets U.S. visitors but aims to soon be available in other countries and other languages, according to TNW 

UPDATE March 20, 3:21 PM EDT: Trump activates the Defense Production Act to galvanize U.S. industry against coronavirus outbreak

U.S. President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to speed up the production of sorely needed medical supplies on front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, mobilizing the private sector against the viral outbreak, reports the New York Post.

Trump told a staffer, "Do it now," while on the phone with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

During the Friday morning call, Schumer (D-NY) strongly recommended that the president should immediately invoke the measure, to help correct a dire shortage of ventilators and respiratory masks in places like New York, which are the hardest hit in the U.S. by the COVID-19 pandemic, said a spokesman of the senator's office, to the Post.

While on the phone, Trump assured Schumer he would issue the act and then "yelled to someone in his office to 'Do it now,'" said the spokesman, according to the Post.

The president confirmed he was invoking the act on Friday morning during a briefing at the White House, which was Congress initially approved during the Korean War. The act was put into effect Thursday evening.

The executive action will open the door for the U.S. federal government to order private industries to rapidly-produce medical supplies presently in short supply as the novel coronavirus outbreak sweeps the country.

"We invoked it yesterday. We have a lot of people working very hard to get ventilators and various other things," said Trump, reports the Post.

"We're invoking it to use the powers of the federal government to help the states get things that they need like the masks, like the ventilators."

In the briefing on Friday, Trump said he had a "very good telephone conversation" with Schumer, leader of the Democrats' attempt to pass a $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill being negotiated in the Senate.

"We're working on various elements of the deal and the Democrats are very much wanting something and the Republicans likewise are very much wanting something," said Trump.

UPDATE March 20, 12:21 PM EDT: New York Governor Cuomo declares stay-at-home order: "New York State On PAUSE"

New York State Governor Cuomo declared that the way for the excelsior state to shut the "valve" on rapidly growing COVID-19 coronavirus cases threatening to overwhelm the New York health care system, he is placing all of New York State on "PAUSE;" an acronym for policies designed to keep as many New Yorkers at home as possible, and maximize social distancing, reports Gothamist.

PAUSE means Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone. Cuomo said 100% of non-essential workers are ordered to stay home, and non-essential businesses must close. This is a rise in mandatory curfew from 75 percent of the workforce that Cuomo ordered home earlier this week, on Thursday.

"This is the most drastic action we can take," said Cuomo to reporters, according to Gothamist.

The rules are most strict for those over the age of 70: they are ordered to remain home except for solitary exercise, wear masks in the presence of others, and must check the temperatures of any essential aides or visitors. Contact of any other kind is prohibited.

Cuomo calls this "Matilda's Law," after his 88-year-old mother.

Less vulnerable people face similarly stringent prohibitions. All non-essential gatherings are not permitted, New Yorkers are compelled to maintain a six-foot distance from one another when leaving the apartment for essentials like medicine and food, and sick New Yorkers are to stay home unless in need of urgent medical attention.

Solitary exercise, said the governor, is permitted.

New York State PAUSE Coronavirus
New York State's new PAUSE order goes into effect Sunday. Source: CBS News / YouTube

"There are people and places in New York City that look like life as usual, no this is not life as usual, and accept it and realize it and deal with it," said the mayor of New York.

"These are not helpful hints," said the governor. "These are legal provisions, they will be enforced, there will be a civil fine and mandatory closure for any business that's not in compliance." Cuomo declined requests to elaborate penalties for individuals, but added that there will violators of the legal provisions would be addressed.

"Again, your actions can affect my health, that's where we are. There is a social compact we have, government makes sure society is safe for everyone."

The governor said his administration is still working out what precisely is or isn't "essential business," law enforcement, transit workers, healthcare workers, firefighters, grocers, restaurant workers producing food for delivery and take out, child care workers, delivery workers, auto repair workers, utility workers, hardware store employees, and even liquor store employees are considered essential. A full list from an executive order signed earlier this weak is viewable here.

New York State Pause Policies Coronavirus
New York State policies for everyone under 70. Source: CBS News / YouTube

New York State's PAUSE goes into effect Sunday night. "This all comes down to the healthcare system and we're scrambling to increase the capacity of the healthcare system," said the governor.

Cuomo also said he would suspend all statewide evictions for 90 days, and that he was directing internet service to remove data caps at no extra cost to customers.

"This is a statewide order, it's not what your county executive is doing, it's not what your mayor is doing, it's not what anyone else but me is doing," said Cuomo of PAUSE. "I accept full responsibility."

He then added: "I want to be able to look back and say to the people of New York, 'I did everything we could do.'"

For more crucial news on the state of New York amid the coronavirus outbreak, and the COVID-19 pandemic globally, stay in-the-know here.

UPDATE March 20, 11:37 AM EDT: Big tech has lost a combined $1.3 trillion stock market value

Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet have collectively lost $1.3 trillion in value in the last month, while markets suffer under the stress of the novel coronavirus pandemic, reports Tech Radar.

Facebook took the biggest hit, losing 29.63% of its value while Amazon's slump was only 13.33%, insulated by a general uptick in ecommerce activity.

The broader S&P index — composed of 500 of the largest companies in the U.S. — fell by 29% in the same timeframe, devastating pension pots and stock portfolios globally.

The rapid progression of the novel coronavirus — which the World Health Organization declared a genuine pandemic — has shaken markets worldwide.

UPDATE March 20, 11:10 AM EDT: World's fastest supercomputer has determined 77 potential treatments to the COVID-19 coronavirus

Scientists told the world's fastest supercomputer to solve the megalithic task of sifting through thousands of simulations to arrive at drug compounds with the grit to fight the novel coronavirus, reports CNN.

The IBM supercomputer is known simply as "Summit" and housed within the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, U.S. — has identified 77 potential treatments that could stop the COVID-19 disease in its pandemic tracks.

The research — published in a paper uploaded to the preprint server ChemRxiv, might possibly help researchers curate a viable vaccine for the novel virus — however, it's only an initial advance in the battle.

"Our results don't mean that we have found a cure or treatment for the coronavirus," said Jeremy Smith, director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Center for Molecular Biophysics, in a statement.

"We are very hopeful, though, that our computational findings will both inform future studies and provide a framework that experimentalists will use to further investigate these compounds," he said.

Using prepared models of the coronavirus spike in populations, researchers simulated the motion of particles in viral proteins, which react differently in different drug compounds.

The researchers eliminated the list from 77 to the top seven most viable candidates to match the radical SARS-CoV-2 virus.

"Given the results from both sets of docking calculations, our work suggests that at least the seven compounds identified here would be reasonable initial compounds for experimental investigations in limiting SARS-CoV-2's virus-host interactions," said the paper.

UPDATE March 20, 11:00 AM EDT: NASCAR to replace canceled races with esports starring pro drivers

Global sports leagues and broadcasters are rushing to fill the void left by a seemingly-endless list of canceled competitions due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and together NASCAR and Fox Sports will replace NASCAR races with "simulation-style" competitions, reports Engadget.

The two organizations declared an inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series on Friday, which will include top-tier competitors like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Bobby Labonte, and Denny Hamlin, among others from various NASCAR series.

Broadcasters familiar to Fox audiences -- like Jeff Gordon -- will commentate on the 90-minute race programs. Fox said it would follow CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of the production.

The first event happens on March 22 at 1:30 PM EDT, on FS1 and the Fox Sports app.

UPDATE March 20, 10:27 AM EDT: This U.S. company's AI camera may be able to detect people with COVID-19

Austin-based Athena Security said that their security cameras with thermal imaging and computer vision technology may be able to detect people with fever, one of the main symptoms of the coronavirus. This could prove useful in monitoring the situation outside of people's homes.

Working as a large-scale scanner, Athena Security's camera detection system could be used for scanning large groups of people in hospitals, airports, and grocery stores, among other areas.

Athena CEO, Lisa Falzone, said that their cameras are able to detect the heat from 12 different places on our bodies with an accuracy of within a half degree. The company's software uses an AI model to zoom in on a subject's inner eye — which is the zone that's the most reflective of our actual body temperature. 

It can do 1,000 temperature readings in an hour without recording the faces of all people passing by the camera, however, it does record the faces of those with a temperature or fever. Let's see who will use Athena Security's tech, and what other tech companies come up with to help the current situation.

UPDATE March 20, 10:20 AM EDT: South of Europe feeling the strain of COVID-19

On Friday the death toll due to COVID-19 surpassed 10,000 worldwide. with the WHO noting a rapid increase of the virus' spread. 

The U.N. health agency said "It took over three months to reach the first 10,000 confirmed cases, and only 12 days to reach the next 100,000."

Italy and Spain have felt the majority of the strain in Europe so far, with overwhelmed hospitals. A nation of 60 million people, Italy has registered 3,405 deaths related to coronavirus, surpassing China who had 3,248 deaths in a nation 20 times larger than Italy. 

Spain is the second hardest hit country in Europe behind Italy with 1,002 deaths and 19,980 infections

UPDATE March 20, 10:00 AM EDT: Tesla offering a no-touch service with remote mobile technician assistance

A project that Tesla has been working on for the last few years will prove to be very useful during the coronavirus outbreak. Its "no touch" service experience allowes Tesla owners to have their cars serviced without them needing to be present or having to unlock the vehicle — it can all be done remotely by a mobile technician. 

Called the "Tesla Rangers", these technicians will prove to be very useful at the moment as more and more people are being urged to stay at home.

The technicians drive with all necessary tools to perform the necessary maintenance on Tesla vehicles. The company is now ready to set its Rangers out on their "no touch" service experience. 

UPDATE March 20, 9:53 AM EDT: The WHO's report states seven new countries confirm cases of COVID-19

The WHO's report from Thursday 19 March that seven new countries/territories/areas have declared cases of COVID-19. There are three in the African region, one in the Eastern Mediterranean region, one in the European region, and two in the region of the Americas. 

The report also stated that a new protocol to investigate COVID-19's reach in the world population has been developed. More details of the protocol can be read here.

UPDATE March 20, 8:14 AM EDT: NASA delays development of Moon rocket amid coronavirus pandemic

NASA said it will suspend development on a Moon rocket — or Space Launch System — at its Michoud facility in New Orleans, reports the BBC.

The space agency's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi — the testing ground for the rocket booster — will also close temporarily.

This might delay NASA's plans to return to the Moon in 2024.

"NASA (sic) will temporarily suspend production and testing of Space Launch System and Orion hardware," said administrator Jim Bridenstine. Only workers involved in security and critical infrastructure will be allowed.

"We realize there will be impacts to NASA missions, but as our teams work to analyze the full picture and reduce risks we understand that our top priority is the health and safety of the NASA workforce," added Bridenstine. "There is no team better prepared for doing hard things."

Thee new delay will adversely affect the testing and manufacturing of both the Space Launch System and Orion, the crew capsule slated to transport astronauts to the Moon. NASA had set the end of 2024 as a date to land on the Moon again.

UPDATE March 20, 7:30 AM EDT: Millennials aren't taking the COVID-10 coronavirus seriously, warns a top WHO official

A top World Health Organization official who directs the fight against the coronavirus pandemic has warned that millennials and other young people are shrugging off pleas from health officials to stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, reports TIME.

"This is one of the most serious diseases you will face in your lifetime, and recognize that and respect it," said Dr. Bruce Aylward, senior advisor to Director-General of WHO, to TIME.

Risks of severe symptoms and death are much higher for older people and people with underlying health conditions, but Aylward stresses that COVID-19 is more of a danger for young people than many know.

"One of the things that terrifies me now is, as this is spread in the west is, there's this sense of invulnerability among millennials," he said, according to TIME.

While there is no official age range for the marketing term "millennials," some sources define it as referring to people born between 1981 and 1996, although the U.S. Census has also said the birth years are 1982 and 2000.

"We don't understand why some young healthy people progress to severe disease and even die, and others don't," said the top official. "Never, never underestimate a new disease, there's just too much unknown."

UPDATE March 19, 2:38 PM EDT: Startup company to release $135 at-home coronavirus test

To close the gap in coronavirus tests, a U.S. medical-testing startup company will soon release a direct-to-consumer test for the novel coronavirus, reports Digital Trends.

Called Everlywell, the company will initially release 30,000 tests for public purchase beginning on Monday, March 23. Tests will cost $135, and include overnight sample delivery, reports Everlywell's press release.

However, prospective buyers will need to undergo initial screenings before they are approved to purchase the test. These will include questions based on COVID-19 coronavirus guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Results will be posted online in roughly 48 hours of the company's receipt of the test, and people who test positive for the test will be offered a free virtual consultation with a physician.

Everlywell added that it worked with exceptional scientists and laboratories to design and curate the test.

"The extreme shortage of tests for COVID-19 puts millions of Americans at risk. Everlywell is committed to helping stop the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. by making this test widely available. As the national leader in at-home lab testing, we want to use our resources and expertise to help as many people as we can. We are committed to this fight, and we're here to help," said Founder and Everlywell CEO Julia Cheek in the press release.

"All of Everlywell's laboratory partners conducting COVID-19 testing have had their validation data and reports reviewed by FDA under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) framework," said an Everlywell spokesperson to Digital trends.

Cheek added that Everlywell would gain no profits from the coronavirus tests, and that it contacted government and public health officials to explore ways to potentially offer the test for free.

With the U.S. in a seriously disorganized state regarding coronavirus testing, not to mention a shortage of tests, Everlywell's offer is a great first step in extending testing capabilities to the public.

UPDATE March 19, 2:00 PM EDT: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio requests new ventilators previously offered by Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Wednesday night, Elon Musk told a fan that Tesla "will make ventilators if there is a shortage." Hours later, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio replied to Musk, confirming that there is, in fact, a national shortage of ventilators, and that Musk should deliver on his offer. "@ elonmusk New York City is buying!" tweeted de Blasio, adding: "Our country is facing a drastic shortage and we need ventilators ASAP — we will need thousands in this city over the next few weeks."

De Blasio added: "We're reaching out to you directly."

More updates on Musk's prospective assist to the City of New York to follow.

UPDATE March 19, 1:56 PM EDT: Italy's coronavirus death toll surpasses China's

The novel coronavirus has killed more people in Italy than it has in any other country in the world, after deaths climbed by 427 in one day, reports BBC.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 in Italy is now at 3,405, more than in China — the origin of the radical virus.

As of writing, there have been 3,245 reported deaths by COVID-19 in China, but questions have been raised over the reliability of the country's data.

Italy imposed a lockdown on March 12, which has since been extended beyond the initial March 25 end date. Almost all Italians have been told to self-isolate in their homes.

Despite these serious measures, the number of new coronavirus cases and subsequent deaths continues to grow.

So far there have been 220,000 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus globally, with more than 9,000 killed by the disease.

UPDATE March 19, 12:33 PM EDT: Cannes Film Festival postponed amid coronavirus pandemic

The Cannes Film Festival said on Thursday that it is postponing the 2020 edition, in one of the most significant business and entertainment casualties of the novel virus, reports Deadline.

Organizers added that they are tentatively looking to dates in late June to early July, to make up for the now-canceled mid-May slot.

In a statement shared on Deadline, the festival said:

"At this time of global health crisis, our thoughts go to the victims of the COVID-19 and we express our solidarity with all of those who are fighting the disease.

Today we have made the following decision : The Festival de Cannes cannot be held on the scheduled dates, from May 12 to 23. Several options are considered in order to preserve its running, the main one being a simple postponement, in Cannes, until the end of June-beginning of July, 2020.

As soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility, we will make our decision known, in accordance with our ongoing consultation with the French Government and Cannes' City Hall as well as with the Festival's Board Members, Film industry professionals and all the partners of the event."

The Cannes Marché told Deadline that it won't happen as a separate virtual market in May. The virtual part of the festival will happen when the main event goes down, in June or July — for all who won't make it to the physical event.

UPDATE March 19, 9:37 AM EDT: Spanish authorities using drones to scold people for not social distancing

On Saturday, Spain officially placed its citizens under lockdown, yet depsite this some people still aren't adhering to the regulations. So, the spanish authorities are turning to technology to assist them and are now using drones mounted with microphones to scold people not sticking to the strict social distancing regulations.

The main point of staying indoord and socially distancing yourself from others is to flatten the upward moving curve of COVID-19, so as to ease the strain on overwhelmed medical and health systems. 

UPDATE March 19, 8:59 AM EDT: Robots deployed in Texas hotel that zap pathogens to curb coronavirus outbreak

The Westin Medical Center Hotel in Houston, Texas, has implemented new ultraviolet light robots to singe germs and pathogens out of existence throughout the coronavirus outbreak, and the company behind the robots said interest in the new technology is rising in proportion with the coronavirus crisis, reports AccuWeather.

Called LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots, the devices were deployed as an integral part of the hotel's cleaning process, offering a way to double-down on cleaning rooms between guests' stay.

The robot uses technology previously seen in the medical healthcare field, but are now proving effective against the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

UPDATE March 19, 8:19 AM EDT: Wuhan reported no new domestic coronavirus cases, whereas Italy looks set to surpass the China's total numbers

On Thursday the city of Wuhan in China declared it had no new domestic cases reported of the coronavirus, although it did report cases brought in from people returning to China from abroad. 

At the same time, Italy's numbers of cases keeps increasing, looking to surpass those of China. As of Wednesday, Italy declared it had 2,978 deaths, and given the European nation is registering around 350 deaths a day since March 15, it is looking to surpass China's registered 3,249 deaths

There is a glimmer of hope though, as the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, declared no new domestic cases. "Today, we have seen the dawn after so many days of hard effort," stated Jiao Yahui, a senior inspector at the National Health Commission. 

There were 34 recorded new cases in China, but now Wuhan, however these were all brought in from abroad, and there were eight recorded deaths on Wednesday.

UPDATE March 19, 8:14 AM EDT: Canada and U.S. partially close the border to non-essential travel

After discussions, the U.S. and Canada have come to an accord to close their border to all but essential traffic so as to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump tweeted "We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!"

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated "We’re encouraging people to stay home. We’re telling our citizens not to visit their neighbours if they don’t absolutely have to. This collaborative and reciprocal measure is an extension of that prudent approach. I want to be clear though, that essential travel will continue."

The question of supply chains is a crucial one between the two North American nations, and PM Trudeau continued by saying "Our governments recognise that it is critical that we preserve supply chains between both countries. These supply chains ensure that food, fuel and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border."

UPDATE March 19, 8:12 AM EDT: WHO now does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen for COVID-19 symptoms

After much back and forth over whether to use paracetamol over ibuprofen if people showed COVID-19 symptoms, the WHO has updated its advice via their official Twitter account. 

"Based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen."

UPDATE March 19, 8:02 AM EDT: Japanese flu drug appears to be effective in coronavirus patients, say medical authorities in China

On Wednesday, Japanese media stated that medical authorities in China praised a Japanese drug that is effective in coronavirus patients. 

The drug favipiravir, developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, has given positive outcomes to 340 patients undergoing clinical trials against the coronavirus in Wuhan and Shenzhen. 

Zhang Xinmin, an official of China's science and technology ministry said on Tuesday that "It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment."

Those infected with the coronavirus who took the drug tested negative after an average of four days, compared with 11 days for those recovering without it. Moreover, X-rays of the patients' lungs shows a 91% improvement with those treated with favipiravir, compared to 62% of those without it. 

Doctors in Japan are using the same drugs in clinical trials to find a treatment and vaccine against the coronavirus. It is originally intended to treat the flu, and it still needs government approval for full-scale use on COVID-19 patients.

UPDATE March 18, 7:31 AM EDT: NASA sending all 17,000 employees to work from home after two space centers confirm coronavirus cases

NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, stated on Tuesday that all 17,000 or soNASA employees would be sent him to work "until further notice." Only "mission-essential personnel" would be allowed on-site to keep working at space agency centers. 

"This is the first time NASA has been in this situation," stated a NASA spokesperson to Business Insider.

Bridenstine's statement was very clear "Effective immediately, all employees and contractors will move to mandatory telework until further notice. Mission-essential personnel will continue to be granted access onsite."

He continued "[I]t is imperative that we take this pre-emptive step to thwart further spreading of the virus among the workforce and our communities."

UPDATE March 18, 7:27 AM EDT: Daimler Group is shutting down production of vehicles in Europe for two weeks, initially

The Daimler Group, which holds numerous brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG, Smart, and Freightliner trucks, announed on Tuesday that it would be shutting down its operations for "an initial period of two weeks."

The automaker made a statement to Business Insider saying that "The suspension applies to Daimler's car, van and commercial vehicle plants in Europe and will start this week."

"Connected to this is an assessment of global supply chains, which currently cannot be maintained to their full extent. An extension of this measure will depend on further developments. Wherever operations need to be continued, the company will take appropriate precautions to prevent the infection of its employees."

Other car companies to have shut down their factories are Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Ducati.

UPDATE March 18, 7:23 AM EDT: Coronavirus has now been confirmed in all 50 US states

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has now officially been spread to all U.S. states, as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Up until Tuesday, the only state remaining clear of the coronavirus was West Virginia, however, they too confirmed cases. The first case was confirmed in Washington state on January 20th, and in the amount of time since then every state has confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

UPDATE March 18, 7:19 AM EDT: Google, Facebook, and other major tech companies are supposedly in talks with the US government to disclose people's whereabouts to help track the spread of COVID-19

Efforts to keep social distancing at a bare minimum are spreading across the world, enforced by countries' governments. Now, supposedly major tech firms like Google and Facebook are in talks with the U.S. government to provide information about their users' locations, to try and track the spread of the virus. 

The aim would be to map out how COVID-19 is spreading. 

The project raises red flags amongst privacy advocates, however, in times like these such measures may save lives. Moreover, the data is suspected to be aggregated and anonymized and would not enable government officials to track particular individuals' movements.

UPDATE March 18, 7:14 AM EDT: Tesla told to close down its California factory for three weeks

Tesla is no exception to the San Francisco Bay area shut downs, as county officials and the local sheriff's office have asked the electric carmaker to temporarily shut down its Fremont, California, factory. 

The closure is due to last three weeks and is part of a collective effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. However, the company kept its doors open today, which was meant to be its first day of closure.

This news may come as a clash against what Tesla believes to be "essential business", which are allowed to remain open at this stage. Reportedly, Tesla's human resources head Valerie Workman stated in an email that "People need access to transportation and energy, and we are essential to providing it," as such, marking the company as an essential business. 

Other automakers have been asked to suspend their activities as well, though they are not based in the Bay area. 

UPDATE March 18, 7:09 AM EDT: A China study states that people with blood type A may be more susceptible to the coronavirus

Preliminary research in Wuhan and Shenzhen in China points towards the fact that people with this blood type had a higher rate of infection of COVID-19 than any other type. On the flip side, those with blood type O had a lower rate of infection. 

The medical researchers in China took blood group patterns of more than 2,000 patients who had been infected with the coronavirus and compared them with local healthy people's. In doing so, they discovered that people with blood type A had a higher risk of infection than others, and that those with type O had a stronger resistance. 

Even though this is only a preliminary research with more work needing to be carried out, the researchers urged governments and medical facilities to take this into consideration when planning for mitigating measures or when treating patients.

UPDATE March 18, 7:07 AM EDT: US, Canada close mutual border to non-essential travel

The U.S. and Canada have mutually decided to "temporarily restrict all nonessential travel across the Canada-U.S. border," said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, reports Politico.

U.S. President Donald Trump also made an announcement on Twitter this Wednesday, to the same effect.

The collaborative move will almost completely close the largest non-militarized land border on Earth, representing the latest international restriction on normal activity as the novel coronavirus sweeps the planet and cases grow in number in both Canada and the U.S.

No one will be allowed to cross the border — north- or south-bound — for recreational reasons, said Trudeau, according to Politico. However, travel deemed "essential" — like shipping food, medicine, and fuel — will continue, he said.

Americans and Canadians engaged in "essential" work, or who possess "urgent" reasons for border-crossing will be allowed to do so, said Trudeau — who added that more details will soon follow.

"Travel restrictions will not apply to commerce or trade," said the Canadian Prime Minister.

The decision was made jointly and represents the most dramatic closure of the U.S.-Canadian border since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

UPDATE March 18, 5:00 AM EDT: Cuba develops effective treatment to fight CoViD-19 coronavirus, despite US blockade

A Cuban drug called Interferon Alpha 2B has proven effective in fighting the CoViD-19 coronavirus pandemic, reports OnCuba News.

The Cuban pharmaceutical industry is primed to begin treatment on thousands of possible CoViD-19 patients on the island nation, according to President of the BioCubaFarma Business Group Eduardo Martínez.

Last Friday, he said that 22 drugs produced in Cuba are part of a protocol envisioned on the island to combat the coronavirus disease. Of the disease, he said, "we have for the treatment of thousands of people and we are preparing to significantly increase the production of those with less coverage," according to OnCuba.

He added that "the vast majority of products that appear in the Cuban protocol are domestically manufactured"  — even though some are imported, according to OnCuba. Martínez pointed to the antiviral recombinant Interferon Alpha 2B — which has seen success in China — as a viable means of treating the disease.

"We think we are capable of satisfying not only the possible demand in Cuba but also the requests that we are getting from other countries, and that are increasing day by day," said Eulogio Pimentel, director of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), according to OnCuba. Pimental added that roughly 15 countries from several continents have already asked for or shown interest in this and other Cuban-made medicines.

UPDATE March 17, 4:27 PM EDT: EU Commission president said a German company might have a coronavirus vaccine by this fall

President Ursula von der Leyen of the EU Commission has said that a German company might have a coronavirus vaccine by the fall, according to a tweet by The Spectator Index.

This comes on the heels of a multimillion-dollar investment of the European Union in CureVac — German company — on Monday, which ABC News said is working on a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus amid reports that the U.S. government had an interest in acquiring the firm.

The tweet and the EU-funded German company CureVac could be one and the same, but be sure to follow-up here for more updates.

The European Union's funding of CureVac is one part of a coordinated EU reaction against CoViD-19, one that will use public and private funding to push research, said the European Commission, according to ABC News.

"I am proud that we have leading companies like CureVac in the EU,' said the EU Commission president. "Their home is here, but their vaccines will benefit everyone, in Europe and beyond."

The executive body of the EU didn't mention U.S. interest in CureVac, or whether the sale could or would happen, but the EU did say it will front up to 80 million euros ($89.4 million) in support of CureVac, so it can "scale up development and production of a vaccine against the coronavirus in Europe (sic)."

On Monday, CureVac denied reports that the government of the U.S. had taken action to acquire the company.

"CureVac has not received from the U.S. government or related entities an offer before, during and since the task force meeting in the White House on March 2," said the company on Twitter.

UPDATE March 17, 3:04 PM EDT: European Union will close all borders for 30 days in an attempt to curb the effects of the coronavirus pandemic

Leaders of the European Union agreed to close all external borders of the area in the latest attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, CNBC reports.

Angela Merkel — Chancellor of Germany — announced that the EU would close all external borders at a press conference on Tuesday, according to CNBC. Travel between member nations of the European Union will however still be allowed, she added.

"The union and its member states will do whatever it takes," said European Council President Charles Michel, reports CNBC. Michel added that the EU would take care to ensure the repatriation of EU citizens outside of EU member countries.

This comes amid similar steps taken by several other countries to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Justin Trudeau — prime minister of Canada — announced Canadian borders were to close to all foreigners on Monday, making an allowance for U.S. citizens.

UPDATE March 17, 10:21 AM EDT: China approves the first stage of clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine

Reuters reported that China has given the green light for researchers at China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, who are affiliated to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), to begin early-stage clinical human trials of a vaccine starting this week. 

Currently in "Phase 1", the clinical trial will examine if an experimental shot is safe to use on 108 healthy volunteers. The test will be carried out from March 16 until December 31. 

The news was shared on Tuesday by the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily. The trial is being led by China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, and a Hong Kong-listed biotech firm CanSino Biologics, as per the clinical trial registration database.

UPDATE March 17, 9:20 AM EDT: Amazon looking to hire 100,000 more workers as online orders rise

On Monday, Amazon said that it needs to hire 100,000 new employees in the U.S. to keep up with its rising online orders. As more people are staying at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, more are taking to buying goods online. 

The company also stated that it would offer a pay rise of $2 an hour through until the end of April to every hourly worker. Those who work for Amazon in the U.K. and European countries would see a similar pay rise. 

Dave Clark who oversees Amazon's warehouse and delivery network stated "We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year."

The company is attempting to keep a handle on its operations, having already said it could take longer than the usual two days for orders to arrive. 

UPDATE March 17, 9:09 AM EDT: EU leaders meeting a second time to discuss a joint response to the novel coronavirus 

On Tuesday, the European Union's leaders are set to meet virtually for a second time in the space of two weeks to discuss their joint effort to respond to the novel coronavirus. 

Currently, most E.U. states have responded separately to the spread of the coronavirus, introducing measures on-the-go, some with partial border closings, some in lockdown, or quarantine, without much consultation amongst each other. 

Their goal is to coordinate forces to halt the spread of the coronavirus, coordinate border crossings to ensure goods and necessary products keep flowing between the 27 nations, as well as ensuring vital medical equipment and food can make its way to those in need. 

There is talk of a potential 30-day travel ban on people looking to visit Europe for tourism or non-essential business. Exceptions for long-term E.U. residents, diplomats, and members of European families would be made, and healthcare and transport workers would be exempt.

As per E.U. Council Predisent Charles Michel, the aim is "to reduce unnecessary movement but at the same time to ensure the movement of merchandise, of goods, so that we can guarantee as much as possible the integrity of the single market, guarantee the deliveries that are needed."

 

UPDATE March 17, 8:37 AM EDT: Elon Musk says Tesla workers don't need to go to work if they feel ill or are concerned about the novel coronavirus

To Elon Musk's knowledge, no Tesla employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless, he sent all employees an email on Monday stating the following "I'd like to be super clear that if you feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable, please do not feel obligated to come to work," Musk said.

UPDATE March 17, 5:00 AM EDT: People with type A blood could be more vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic, reports study from China

People with type A blood could be more vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus — which causes the CoViD-19 disease — but people with type O blood show more resistance, according to a new preliminary study of patients in China, who previously contracted the CoViD-19 disease, reports the South China Morning Post.

Researchers in China took blood group patterns from more than 2,000 patients who had contracted the novel virus in Wuhan and Shenzhen and contrasted them with local healthy populations. They discovered that blood type A patients show a higher rate of infection and tend to develop more severe symptoms.

While the researchers were quick to add that the study was preliminary, with more work needed, they nonetheless urged world governments and medical facilities globally to consider blood type differences when mitigating treatment priority for the virus called SARS-CoV-2.

"People of blood group A might need particularly strengthened personal protection to reduce the chance of infection," wrote the researchers of Wuhan University's Centre for Evidence-Based Translational Medicine at Zhongnan Hospital.

UPDATE March 16, 9:30 PM EDT: Hundreds of prisoners escaped from São Paulo state prisons, take hostages, in southeast Brazil

Prison uprisings, hostage-taking, and escapes from prisons in South East Brazil on Monday, following the cancelation of temporary exits for Easter because of growing concerns regarding potential infection from the deadly coronavirus upon prisoners' return, reports G1 news.

In one escape, roughly 400 inmates escaped the Centro de Progressão Penitenciária (CPP) Dr Rubens Aleixo Sendin (sic), located in Mongaguá, on the São Paulo coast, according to The Sun.

The nine hostages were released and the prisoners who hadn't escaped later returned to their wards.

The prison was holding 2,796 — almost double its 1,640-prisoner capacity — according to Brazil's Secretariat of Penitentiary Administration.

UPDATE March 16, 2:27 PM EDT: Italy declares almost 28,000 cases of the deadly coronavirus, 2,158 dead

The total number of people in Italy with the deadly coronavirus reached 27,980 on Monday, including recovered and dead, announced Angelo Borrelli, the country's Civil Protection Department chief, reports NBC News.

The total in Italy had risen by more than 3,000 the day before, said Borrelli, with almost 350 people dead, bringing the total dead so far up to 2,158.

More than 23,000 people are still infected in Italy, with more than 11,000 hospitalized. Almost 2,000 of those in a hospital are currently in intensive care, with roughly 10,000 in isolation in their homes.

Much of the EU-member state remains in lockdown in hopes of curbing the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

UPDATE March 16, 1:46 PM EDT: Canada closes all borders to noncitizens amid fears of spreading coronavirus, U.S. citizens exempt 'for the moment'

Canada has closed its borders to all noncitizens as a response to the growing threat of the deadly coronavirus, but Justin Trudeau —Canadian prime minister — added that the ban doesn't include U.S. citizens "for the moment," reports CNBC.

"We can still slow the spread of this virus," said Trudeau at a press conference at Rideau Cottage, Ottawa, where he decalred that the border would close, according to CNBC.

"It is time to take every precaution to keep people safe."

As of writing, the ban will not affect shipment of goods in the country.

UPDATE March 16, 7:30 AM EDT: WHO urges rapid escalation in global coronavirus response, specifically for testing and isolation

The World Health Organization held a briefing to update the media on the present status on the global pandemic of the deadly coronavirus and criticized global efforts on what the agency's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described as lacking an "urgent enough" response, arguing for a more comprehensive approach to the crisis, reports TechCrunch.

In previously-readied remarks to begin the Q&A for media, Ghebreyesus said that while so far we have "seen a rapid escalation in social distancing measures, like closing schools and canceling spring events," there still have not been sufficient efforts on a global scale in the sense of "testing, isolation and contact tracing," which he argued represents the "backbone of the response."

"You cannot fight a fire blindfolded," said the director-general. "And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don't know who is infected. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case. If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with up to two days before they developed symptoms, and test those people too."

In total, the agency noted it had shipped 1.5 million tests to 120 countries so far. The U.S., specifically, has lagged behind its peers in terms of testing, having refused the WHO tests offered and instead preferring to develop its own CDC-developed tests, whose rollout schedule appears to some as more smoke-and-mirrors than not.

Based on data from last week, reports TechCrunch, despite private lab tests coming online to supplement the CDC-issued labs, the U.S. is still far behind the U.K., South Korea, Japan, Italy, and many others in terms of a per capita testing basis.

UPDATE March 16, 7:07 AM EDT: China case study believes that coronavirus cannot be transmitted from pregnant mothers to newborns

Four babiesborn in a hospital in Wuhan, the outbreak's epicenter, did not show signs of the infection and remain healthy today. 

A little bit of good news amist the storm: pregnant women most likely do not transmit the coronavirus to their newborns at birth. The findings of the Chinese professors working on this research were published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics.

The babies that were observed were immediately placed in neonatal intensive care units and fed formula. Three of the four babies observed tested negative for the coronavirus, whereas the fourth baby's mother refused to have the test carried out. 

All four babiesare healthy and their mothers have fully recovered from the coronavirus.

UPDATE March 16, 7:04 AM EDT: Trump administration confirms coronavirus mobile testing kits will be launched this week

On Sunday the federal government confirmed that it would be rolling out a nationwide coronavirus testing kit this week at mobile sites across the country.

By the end of the end, there should be 1.9 million test kits available to as many as 2,000 labs nationwide. Brett Giroir, a top deputy to health secretary Alex Azar, stated "We believe we’ve created a model, based on the public health and the FEMA system, that is optimized, that can be used for drive-through or potentially walk-through [testing]. Each of these pod-based units, we believe, can screen 2,000 to 4,000 individuals a day."

UPDATE March 16, 6:58 AM EDT: More than 3,800 passengers disembark from a cruise ship in Miami without any screening or testing for coronavirus whatsoever

Nearly 4,000 passengers from the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship have disembarked in Miami without any coronavirus testing. What's even more worrying than that is that a previous passenger on the same cruise ship had previously tested positive for the virus about a week beforehand. 

Unlike other cruise ships around the world, the MSC Meraviglia was not held offshore while coronavirus tests were carried out on its passengers and crew. Instead, all passengers were able to disembark freely. 

A passenger who reqested anonymity when speaking with the Miami Herald stated "When I say there was no check, there was none whatsoever. I expected us to have some kind of a screening. They didn't do a single thing. We walked straight off the ship. There wasn't any check on anyone for anything."

UPDATE March 16, 6:49 AM EDT: NY and LA's restaurants, bars, and other public spaces ordered to shut down

New York and Los Angeles join many of the cities worldwide to have their bars, restaurants, theaters, and cinemas shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

The U.S. Federal Reserve slashed interest rates, and other central banks have taken similar agressive steps to try and minimize the economic impact the virus will have. However, as of Monday the stock markets and the dollar continue to plummet. 

Nations in South and Central America are closing more and more of their borders, also in a bid to curb the pandemic in the region.

UPDATE March 16, 6:43 AM EDT: The U.K. asks over 70-year-olds to self-isolate for four months

In order to protect the more vulnerable and susceptible from the coronavirus, the U.K.'s health secretary, Matt Hancock, confirmed that people over the age of 70 will soon be asked to self-isolate for four months. 

Hancock confirmed to Sky that "That is in the action plan, yes, and we will be setting it out with more detail when it is the right time to do so because we absolutely appreciate that it is a very big ask of the elderly and the vulnerable, and it’s for their own self-protection."

The U.K. is taking some of these drastic measures, yet has yet to confirm whether or not gatherings of over 500 people will be banned. 

So far there have been 1,140 coronavirus cases across the U.K., and as of Saturday 21 confirmed deaths

UPDATE March 16, 6:39 AM EDT: Germany has closed its borders with Austria, France, and Switzerland

On Monday, Germany officially closed its borders to neighbouring countries, Austria, France, and Switzerland in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as well as bulk shopping by the borders. 

Free movements of goods as well as commuters will still be able to cross the borders. 

So far Germany has 5,426 coronavirus cases, and 11 deaths, and Chancellor Angela Merkel predicts that 70%of the overall population will infected.

Berlin and Cologne have already closed all bars, clubs, cinemas, theatres, and concert halls. Schools and universities are also shutting this week until the end of the Easter holidays. 

UPDATE March 16, 6:34 AM EDT: More events suspended as coronavirus spreads around the world

The latest events to be suspended are NASCAR, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA), and Formula-E racing. 

NASCAR stated that "We believe this decision is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our fans, competitors, officials and everyone associated with our sport. We will continue to monitor this dynamic situation as we assess future race events."

The USTA announced its events would be cancelled until at least April 20th.

And Formula-E 's chairman and founder, Alejandro Agag officially stated that "Motorsport plays a major part in our lives and it is important, but what is more important is the health and safety of our staff, fans and their families, as well as citizens in the cities we race."

UPDATE March 16, 6:25 AM EDT: First participant in a coronavirus vaccine trial tested on Monday

As researchers around the world work hard at finding a vaccine for the coronavirus, for which there exists no current cure, one participant in the U.S. will trial an experimental dose on Monday.

The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial which is taking place in Seattle. There has not yet been a public announcement, as this is still in its trial stages. 

Public health officials warn that it would most likely take up to 18 months for a vaccine to come through. 

Dozens of research groups around the world are working towards finding a vaccine for the coronavirus.

UPDATE March 16, 3:30 AM EDT: Possible 'cure' for coronavirus found in Australia

A team of researchers in Australia claims to have found a cure to the novel coronavirus and aim to enroll patients in a nationwide trial by the end of March, reports news.com.au.

Director of the University of Queensland's Centre for Clinical Research Professor David Paterson said to news.com.au that his team of researchers saw two drugs — also used to treat other conditions — completely wipe out the novel coronavirus in test tubes.

"It's a potentially effective treatment," said Peterson.

Both drugs are registered and fully available in Australia.

At the moment, Paterson and his team wish to conduct a large-scale clinical trial across Australia, using 50 hospitals to compare and contrast results from one drug to the other.

Until the drugs are fully tested across Australia and begin to see global success, it's best to proceed with cautious optimism. But, for now, the world is surely holding its breath. 

UPDATE March 15, 6:52 PM EDT: New York City closes the largest US public school system to slow the spread of coronavirus

New York City will close the largest U.S. public school system on Monday, urging more than 1.1 million children to stay home to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus, reports The Guardian.

This came via an announcement from New York mayor Bill de Blasio, who called it a "very troubling moment."

The New York City mayor decided to close public schools through at least April 20 of this year — and possibly for the rest of the school year, on the heels of an increasing number of closures in communities and entire states across the country and growing pressure from New York City residents, city council members, and teachers.

De Blasio called his decision a "very troubling moment, a moment when I'm just distraught at having to take this action, but I became convinced over the course of today that there is no other choice."

In the same announcement, the New York mayor said there were now five deaths in the city and that he is ordering the end of elective surgeries.

UPDATE March 15, 1:41 PM EDT: Italy reports 3,590 new cases and 368 new deaths

On Sunday, Italy reported 3,590 new cases and 368 new deaths, raising the total to 24,747 cases and 1,809 dead.

UPDATE March 15, 6:00 AM EDT: Ferrari to close Italy factories for two weeks

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Ferrari revealed on Saturday it closed its two Italian plants until March 27. The firm has been struggling with a shortage of parts.

In a statement, the company claimed it was "now experiencing the first serious supply chain issues, which no longer allow for continued production." 

UPDATE March 13, 4:36 PM EDT: Trump has declared a national emergency, adds he will 'likely' be tested

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday in response to the rapid growth of deadly coronavirus cases amid rampant criticism about his response so far to the crisis, reports ABC News.

He added that he will "most likely" be tested himself, despite having no official symptoms. "I think I will be," said Trump. "Fairly soon, we're working on that, we're working out a schedule," he said in reply to a reporter's question, adding that it's not because of exposure he may have had, "but because I think I will do it anyway."

Trump was photographed last weekend standing next to a coronavirus-infected Brazilian official.

Speaking in the Rose Garden, the President said: "To unleash the full power of the federal government, I am officially declaring a national emergency." He referred to it as "two very big words," and added that this would let him send $50 billion to U.S. states, territories, and localities "in our shared fight against this disease."

UPDATE March 13, 1:32 PM EDT: Eiffel Tower and Louvre in Paris to close as Macron confronts coronavirus outbreak

The world-renowned Parisian attraction seen for centuries as a symbol of the French capital has joined the Louvre in closing down, reports Express.

It will be closed down at 9:00 PM local time.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced school closures in a televised address of the nation on Thursday. He also stressed the need for people to avoid close contact for fear of spreading the virus that has already killed 61 people in the EU-member state, and infected nearly 3,000.

Attracting roughly 30,000 visitors every day, the Eiffel Tower is a potential breeding ground for the virus. The Louvre will refund all who bought advance tickets to its exhibitions.

UPDATE March 13, 1:30 PM EDT: Italy sees coronavirus deaths jump 250 in one day, with more than 2,500 cases

Deaths from coronavirus in Italy have jumped by 250 in one day, the biggest 24-hour rise yet seen in the hardest-hit EU-member state, reports AP News.

As of writing the count of Italian coronavirus cases has soared to more than 2,500 cases.

UPDATE March 13, 10:57 AM EDT: Spain is to declare a state of emergency amid coronavirus

The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, stated on Friday afternoon that the cabinet would convene on Saturday 14 March to declare a state of emergency in the country. 

So far Spain has over 4,200 confirmed cases and 120 deaths

In calling a state of emergency the government then has more freedom to limit its residents' movements, to temporarily requisition goods, and to ration basic items. 

The state of emergency will apply for two weeks, after when the government can decide to extend it with parliamentary approval. 

UPDATE March 13, 10:53 AM EDT: Nepal closes Mount Everest to all climbers

The Nepalese government issued a statement on Friday saying it has closed all of its Himalayan peaks, including Mount Everest, during this climbing season amid the coronavirus fears. The season lasts until the end of May.

The Asian nation typically makes $4.4 million each year thanks to permit fees for climbing Mount Everest. 

So far, Nepal has only confirmed one case out of 450 tested cases of coronavirus. 

UPDATE March 13, 10:50 AM EDT: Coronavirus sufferers roughly start showing symptoms after five days

If you have the coronavirus you will most likely be symptom-free for five days, said a study that also then reinforced the requirement for a 14-day quarantine period. 

A very small number of people needed the entire two weeks to show symptoms, with the majority starting to feel ill around day five

Senior author of the report and from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Justin Lessler said "Based on our analysis of publicly available data, the current recommendation of 14 days for active monitoring or quarantine is reasonable, although with that period some cases would be missed over the long term."

UPDATE March 13, 10:40 AM EDT: Scientists say that placing Wuhan on lockdown slowed down the spread by 80%

In a new study, scientists have stated that the decision to place Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, under lockdown in late January most likely slowed down the spread of the virus by 80%

The study found that case importations to other nations fell by 77% when international flights were halted to and from China. The import of cases in other countries then began to decline in mid-February 

The team has used a global disease transmission model known as Global Epidemic and Mobility Model (GLEAM). 

UPDATE March 13, 10:33 AM EDT: Latin America preparing itself for coronavirus oubreak by minimizing Europe travel links

The region has so far confirmed three deaths due to the coronavirus. In preparation of the outbreak hitting the region, Latin American nations have restricted travel links with Europe.

Still low compared with global figured, the region has reported more than 250 cases across 15 countries, and three deaths

The Peruvian government has suspended flights from Asia. And Edgar Melgarejo, president of Paraguay's National Directorate of Civil Aeronautics stated "This decision has been taken regionally, so there will be no flights to our continent from Europe."

Latin America's largest airline, Latam, is canceling 30% of its international flights for a two-month period. The measure will mostly affect flights to and from Europe and the U.S. to the region between April 1 and May 30, said Latam. 

Argentina has suspended flights from the worst-affected international countries, and declared a year-long health emergency. In Bolivia, schools and universities have been suspended, as well as travel restrictions put in place.

UPDATE March 13, 10:30 AM EDT: Disneyland in California will close its doors until at least the end of March

As of Saturday Disneyland in Anaheim, California will close its doors amid the coronavirus fears. As the world's second most-visited theme park it attracts over tens of thousands of visitors each day. 

It won't open at least until the end of March. 

A statement issued on Thursday said "After carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California's executive order and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure." 

UPDATE March 13, 10:24 AM EDT: NYC declares state of emergency

The city has now confirmed 95 cases of coronavirus, with 42 reported just in the last 24 hours. Mayor Bill de Blasio stated that this number could reach as high as 1,000 by next week. 

As such, Mayor de Blasio has issued a state of emergency in the city of New York, and warns that the crisis in the city could last as long as six months. 

The declaration enables the city to have a large range of authority, from creating curfews, shutting down public transport, closing public spaces, rationing goods, to imposing cost restrictions. 

More than 1,780 people are under voluntary quarantine in the city, and an additional 29 are under mandatory quarantine.

UPDATE March 12, 1:33 PM EDT: Another shocking 189 deaths in Italy over 24 hours from coronavirus

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Italy has shot up yet again in the last day, this time by 189, bringing the total to 1,016 killed by the deadly coronavirus — a 23% rise — according to the Civil Protection Agency, on Thursday, reports U.S. News.

Italy is the hardest-hit European country by far, with 15,113 cases, up from 12,462 yesterday. This is the biggest 24-hour rise in coronavirus figures since the outbreak first made headlines on Feb. 21.

The Italian agency added that — of people initially infected — 1,258 had fully recovered compared to 1,045 the day before. Roughly 1,153 people were held in intensive care, compared to 1,028 from the previous day.

UPDATE March 12, 11:01 AM EDT: For the first time in 260 years New York City's St. Patrick's Day Parade has been postponed

The iconic New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade has been a yearly occurrence since 1762, but now amid the coronavirus pandemic the parade has been officially postponed

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement on Wednesday following the WHO's declaration that the coronavirus outbreak is a pandemic. 

Gov. Cuomo stated "While I know the parade organizers did not make this decision lightly, public health experts agree that one of the most effective ways to contain the spread of the virus is to limit large gatherings and close contacts."

Typically, the parade boasts around 150,000 marchers, and attracts crowds of around two million spectators

Similarly, St. Patrick's Day Parades in Chicago and Boston have also been canceled this year.

UPDATE March 12, 10:58 AM EDT: Iceland has over 80 confirmed cases of coronavirus cases

Iceland confirmed on Wednesday that the island nation has 81 confirmed coronavirus cases. Out of a population of around 364,000 people, the number of infections could rise rapidly. 

Approximately 600 people are in quarantine, and 70 are in isolation. 

UPDATE March 12, 10:51 AM EDT: UEFA will hold discussions next week to decide what crisis steps to take 

UEFA will hold a crisis talk on Tuesday 17 March over the Champions League, the Europa League, and the Euro 2020 to discuss postponements and cancelations. 

Representatives from all 55 member associations have been invited to partake via Skype. 

As the European continent slowly comes to a standstill amid more and more coronavirus cases, the European football's governing body has to decide how the major competitions will proceed. Many believe that cancelations or postponements of all fixtures will take place. 

UPDATE March 12, 10:48 AM EDT: NBA season suspended after player tests positive for coronavirus

The basketball NBA league announced on Wednesday that this season would be suspended after a player preliminarily tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The news was shared after the game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was suddenly postponed on Wednesday evening. 

As per the NBA's statement: "The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight's schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic."

UPDATE March 12, 10:42 AM EDT: For the first time since 1962 Iran asks the IMF for immediate financial assistance

On Thursday, Iran sought financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the nation has been severely hit by the coronavirus outbreak. 

According to a tweet by Iran's top diplomat, the IMF's chief Kristina Georgieva had "stated that countries affected by #Covid19 will be supported via Rapid Financial Instrument (RFI)."

Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif reportedly tweeted back "Our central bank requested access to this facility immediately."

This will be the first time since 1962 that Iran has requested monetary assistance from the IMF. The request has yet to be confirmed.

As it stands, Iran has over 10,000 casesof coronavirus infections, and approximately 430 deaths. The WHO requested for Iran to receive more support in order to fight the oubreak in the country.

UPDATE March 12, 10:36 AM EDT: Actors Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson have coronavirus

One of the highest profile celebrities in the world, Tom Hanks, confirmed on Wednesday evening that him and his wife Rita Wilson, also an actor, tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Mr. Hanks who is currently in Australia filming a movie about the life of Elvis Presley, also announced that he and his wife will be keeping themselves in isolation as long as the public requires. 

UPDATE March 12, 10:31 AM EDT: Denmark becomes second country in Europe to set strict lockdown regulations

At a press conference on Wednesday evening, Denmark's PM Mette Frederiksen announced that public sector workers who do not perform critical functions will be sent home on paid leave. Public sector employees are encouraged to work from home as much as possible. 

Indoor events with more than 100 participants are banned, and kindergartens, schools and universities are to close for two weeks

Denmark has yet to confirm any deaths linked to the coronavirus, however the number of infected cases keeps increasing, with a total of 1,303 confirmed as of Wednesday. 

UPDATE March 12, 10:28 AM EDT: India effectively quarantines itself from the rest of the world for a month

As the WHO announced that the coronavirus is to be considered a pandemic on Wednesday, India reacted by virtually putting itself in quarantine for a month

All visas from outside nations will be suspended, except for those of diplomatic, official, U.N. and international organizations, and employment projects, until April 15

UPDATE March 12, 10:23 AM EDT: The U.S. will loan $50 billion to small businesses and defer taxes, said Trump 

President Donald Trump stated that individuals, and small and mid-sized businesses a three-month tax deferation in order to fight the economic impact the nation is feeling amid the coronavirus. 

Moreover, effective immediately the country will offer affected companies $50 billionmore in low-interest loans.

The move is meant to keep markets liquid, and businesses and consumers spending.

UPDATE March 12, 10:14 AM EDT: President Donald Trump suspends all travel from most of Europe to the U.S. for 30 days

U.S. President Trump announced on Wednesday that the U.S. would temporarily ban most travel from European Union countries to the U.S. as the country tries to keep a handle on the coronavirus situation. 

The suspension is due to begin on Friday and will last30 days. The ban does not apply to U.S. citizens or to passengers from the U.K.

UPDATE March 11, 4:56 PM EDT: Italy has ordered all shops to close except pharmacies and food stores

Italy has ordered all shops except pharmacies and food stores to close amid the growing coronavirus outbreak, reports the Huffington Post.

The entire country of Italy is in lockdown.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared the new retail restrictions to the lockdown on Wednesday, once developing figures showed the country posting the highest daily rate of deaths of any country in the world.

The record-breaking death of 196 people dead in 24 hours came on the heels of the World Health Organization's declaration that the coronavirus is a global pandemic.

Hairdressers and beauty parlors will also be closed, in addition to restaurants and bars unable to provide its employees a minimum distance of one meter (3.3 feet) from customers.

"We will only be able to see the effects of this great effort in a couple of weeks," said Giuseppe about daily updates on the number of deaths and cases of the novel coronavirus.

UPDATE March 11, 4:07 PM EDT: 196 more people dead in Italy from coronavirus, raising death toll to 827

The coronavirus outbreak's death toll has risen 31%, leaving 196 dead in just 24 hours in Italy, as European governments cancel events, close schools and issue draconian travel bans, following the World Health Organization's official designation of the novel virus as a pandemic, The Guardian reports.

Italy, which on Monday banned 62 million people from all travel unless certified as justified by health officials, was faced with calls to enact even stronger restrictions in the European nation's most coronavirus-afflicted areas.

Italy is the hardest-hit EU member state, where cases of the deadly coronavirus rose on Wednesday from 10,149 to 12,462, reports The Guardian.

UPDATE March 11, 12:30 PM EDT: World Health Organization has officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic

The World Health Organization officially designated the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic on Wednesday as the deadly coronavirus — previously unknown to the world only three months ago — has swept the world, and spread to more than 121,000 people from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and now even large areas of the United States.

"In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China increased thirteenfold and the number of affected countries has tripled," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference at the WHO's HQ in Geneva, reports CNBC.

Tedros added that several countries have shown the capability to suppress and control the deadly pandemic, scolding world leaders who failed to act quickly or drastically enough to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

"We're deeply concerened both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction," said Tedros, moments before declaring the pandemic.

"We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear," he said.

UPDATE March 11, 10:51 AM EDT: Israel's Ministry of Health adds extra measures to limit spread of coronavirus

Adding to previous implementations, Israel's Ministry of Health has now decided that all foreign nationals arriving into Israel starting from Thursday 12 March at 8 PM must undergo home quanrantine conditions for 14 days from the date of their entry into the country. 

The announcement also stated "This provision extends earlier implemented limitations that were applied on arriving from: Austria, Italy, Andorra, Germany, Japan, Egypt, China (People's Rep.), Macau (SAR China),  Hong Kong (SAR China), Singapore, San Marino, Spain, France, South Korea (Rep.), Switzerland and Thailand which has been in effect until now."

Israeli citizens, including their spouses and children, as well as residents with a valid Israeli I.D. entering the country from abroad will also have to go through 14 days of home quarantine upon re-entering Israel. 

An email written at least five daysin advance must be sent to the Consular Department of the relevant Israeli Embassy in the source country ahead of the scheduled trip. 

All relevant information can be found here.

UPDATE: March 11, 10:48 AM EDT: U.S. reaches 1,000 coronavirus cases, calling officials to cancel more and more large gatherings

On Tuesday the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. reached 1,000, leading many officials to clamp down on restrictions. 

More and more students are being called to take online classes, and large gatherings are being banned in certain counties and states. 

"We would like the country to realize that as a nation, we can't be doing the kinds of things we were doing a few months ago. It doesn't matter if you're in a state that has no cases or one case," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

UPDATE: March 11, 10:41 AM EDT: First New Jersey resident to die of coronavirus

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Tuesday that its first resident to die of the coronavirus had been registered. The patient was a man in his sixties living in Bergen county and had underlying health issues, as per news reports. He had been admitted into Hackensack University Medical Center on March 6th. 

According to WPIX-TV, there are 31 New Jersey residents under investigation for possible coronavirus infection.

The man in question is the first to die due to the coronavirus in the Northeastern part of the U.S., and brings the total amount of reported coronavirus deaths to 28.

UPDATE March 11, 10:35 AM EDT: San Francisco spending $5 million towards protecting the homeless amid the coronavirus outbreak

The $5 millionwill go towards deep-cleaning homeless shelters, supportive housing building, and Single Room Occupancies (SROs) daily. 

As it stands, San Francisco has 13 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and is taking as many necessary precautions to minimize the impact of the outbreak on the city. The 25,000 or so people living on the streets of the city are deemed as being more at risk of contracting the virus. 

The news was announced on Monday, when San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared that dozens of hired cleaners would start working on the project. Moreover, the funds will also be used to keep these homeless shelters open 24/7.

UPDATE March 11, 10:27 AM EDT: Massachusetts announces state of emergency amid coronavirus

On Tuesday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced a state of emergency in the state after 92 residents tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Gov. Baker stated that this declaration would enable his government to "respond to this evolving outbreak," with more flexibility. 

51 new reported cases of coronavirus were declared on Tuesday, bringing the total to 92 in the East coast state. The U.S. currently has 750 reported cases of coronavirus and 28 deaths. 

UPDATE March 11, 10:21 AM EDT: New Rochelle county, New York, facing crackdowns on large gatherings

Wuhan and Italy are both on complete lockdown, and now New Rochelle county in the state of New York is facing similar crackdowns in social restrictions. 

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated that schools and places of worship with a 1-mile radius of New Rochelle would be closed for two weeks in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus — there's an exception for grocery stores that will remain open as usual. 

New Rochelle saw a sharp increase in coronavirus cases, hence the restrictions. 

"This is not an exclusion or quarantine zone. No one is prohibited from entering or leaving the area," New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said. "This does not affect individual homeowners or families or businesses. It is purely a prohibition on large gatherings in order to make sure the spread of the virus is mitigated to the greatest degree possible."

UPDATE March 11, 10:19 AM EDT: Millions of coronavirus test kits on their way to clinics and labs in the U.S.

Vice President of the U.S., Mike Pence, told reporters on Monday evening that coronavirus test kits are on their way to labs and clinics nationwide. 

"Over a million tests have been distributed," Pence said, and "before the end of this week, another 4 million tests will be distributed."

Pence also stated that costs for testing would be covered by all health insurances, and that all restrictions on its testing would be lifted.

UPDATE March 10, 6:41 PM EDT: UK health minister in isolation after testing positive for the deadly coronavirus

The UK Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that a health minister — Nadine Dorries — is now in isolation after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, reports The Guardian.

An MP for Mid Bedfordshire and junior health minister, Dorries was confirmed infected by a spokeswoman who first told the Times that Dorries was undergoing treatment for COVID-19 and said a fuller-statement was imminent.

UPDATE March 10, 5:53 PM EDT: Turkey's health minister confirms the country's first case of deadly coronavirus

Turkey's minister of health, Fahrettin Koca, has confirmed the country's first positive case of the coronavirus, reports News Observatory.

"The first case of the virus was detected in Turkey," he said early in the morning, local Istanbul time.

This comes hours after an earlier speech by Koca to the Turkish parliament's Health Committee, in the capital, Ankara. During the initial speech, Koca told the public to take precautions against the virus throughout March.

"We should limit human touch, travel abroad as little as possible, self-quarantine ourselves, and take special care of the elderly," he said.

UPDATE March 10, 5:05 PM EDT: U.S. Democratic Primary Candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden cancel Tuesday campaign events amid coronavirus concerns, reports AP

Both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have canceled campaign events scheduled for Tuesday, reports the AP.

Sanders planned to speak at a convention center in Cleveland, Ohio, as results came in from six states voting on Tuesday in the Democratic presidential contests. But he canceled the event roughly three hours before it was slated to begin, and his campaign declared decisions to move forward or cancel future events would happen on a case-by-case basis, reports AP.

The AP report quotes Sanders' campaign spokesman Mike Casca, who said: "Out of concern for public health and safety, we are canceling tonights rally in Cleveland (sic). We are heeding the public warnings from Ohio state officials, who have communicated concern about holding large, indoor events during the coronavirus outbreak. All future Bernie 2020 events will be evaluated on a case by case basis."

While a Biden spokesman intimated that the former vice president's event would go forward as planned, the Biden campaign later released a statement that pulled the plug on the event, AP reports.

UPDATE March 10, 3:32 PM EDT: Apple has updated iPhone guidelines for cleaning amid growing coronavirus concerns 

On Monday, Apple updated its website to include instructions for cleaning Apple devices, allowing customers to use alcohol wipes as the coronavirus crisis continues its global growth, reports the New York Post.

"Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces," said the company.

For years, the iPhone-maker has told users to avoid using bleach on any of its products and instead suggested consumers avoid getting any moisture on the phone, for fear of some slipping in openings, or in submerging products completely in cleaning agents.

UPDATE March 10, 8:32 AM EDT: New study says that at least 15 million people will die of the coronavirus

According to a new study, the best-case scenario sees 15 million people dying of the coronavirus. The research was carried out by the Australian National University, and also stated that the global GDP could decrease by as much as $2.3 trillion even if the virus creates a "low-end" pandemic. 

In their worst-case scenario, the global death toll would reach a staggering 68 million. In keeping with the negative trend, again during a worst-case scenario case, certain countries' economies could shrink by as much as eight percent.

The two researchers who published the paper, Warwick McKibbon and Roshen Fernando, stated that "even a contained outbreak could significantly impact the global economy in the short run".

UPDATE March 10, 8:31 AM EDT: Apple to reportedly give retail workers unlimited sick leave if symptomatic of coronavirus, says 9to5Mac

The website 9to5Mac reports that Apple's retail arm will allow workers to take unlimited sick leave — without a doctor's note. At present, the company's U.S. retail stores remain open, but it's unknown how long this will go on.

It's also unknown whether employees who take this sick leave will be paid through their absence, despite Apple CEO Tim Cook's statement that his employees working from home will receive normal pay, the report says.

An internal memo sent over the weekend and obtained by Bloomberg shows Cook telling his staff at Apple's California, Seattle, Japan, Germany, South Korea, France, Italy, UK, and Switzerland offices that this week they may work from home "if their job allows."

The latest measures reportedly taken by Apple to protect its staff from the deadly coronavirus reflect steps taken by its peers.

Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter have also asked their staff to distance themselves from their Silicon Valley and Seattle HQs. Meanwhile, Google and Square (owned by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey) have ceased in-person interviews.

UPDATE March 10, 8:26 AM EDT: Entirety of Italy under lockdown

Tuesday morning saw the whole of Italy put in lockdown mode. The only reasons for any movement within the nation is only possible for "proven work needs or situations of necessity", or "serious health reasons."

The lockdown started on Tuesday 10 March and extends until April 3rd

Anyone who needs to move from one municipality to another has to have a justification as well as a self-certification. There is a form to download that has to be completed and shown when being checked. Each citizen has to be able to prove the reasons for their movement. 

As of March 9, Italy counted 9,172 cases of coronavirus, of whom 463 have already died, 724 have recovered so far, and over 700 are in intensive care. Italy is now the worst-hit country after China.

UPDATE March 10, 8:30 AM EDT: New York to produce its own hand sanitizer amid shortages

There has been a widespread shortage of hand sanitizer available during the coronavirus outbreak, as so many people around the world have been rushing to order bottles of the product. 

In a bid to curb bacteria and the virus from spreading, New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, stated on Monday that the state will be producing it's very own hand sanitizer. It'll go by the name of NYS Clean. 

At the press conference, Gov. Cuomo stated "We are introducing New York State Clean hand sanitizer, made conveniently by the State of New York." Cuomo went on to describe it as a "superior product to products now on the market." It'll supposedly have a higher alcohol content than that of Purrell's. 

There is no current table for the sanitizer, but the costs will range from $6.10 for a gallon of the product, to $0.84 for the smallest bottle. 

The hope is that price gouging for hand sanitizer will stop occurring, and people can go on in peace of mind with cleaner hands.

UPDATE March 10, 8:14 AM EDT: 31 out of 35 patients in Washington Life Care home infected with coronavirus

Washington state's Life Care nursing home confirmed on Monday that 31 out of their current 35 patients have contracted the coronavirus. Out of the four people who do not supposedly have coronavirus, one tested negative, and three were inconclusive. More testing will be carried out on the latter three

For the time being, those who tested positive will not be moved to hospitals unless their medical situation worsens. Those who have tested negative or inconclusive will be moved to another wing of the Life Care home. 

Employees of the establishment have not yet been tested. 

UPDATE March 9, 2:55 PM EDT: Netanyahu declares anyone entering Israel from abroad will be subject to mandatory isolation for 14 days

Benjamin Netanyahu — the Israeli prime minister — has announced that anyone entering the Middle-Eastern nation from abroad, including Israeli nationals, will be isolated for 14 hours, reports NBC News.

"This is a tough decision, but it is essential to maintain public health — and public health precedes everything," said Netanyahu. The mandate will remain in place for at least two weeks.

The Israeli prime minister made the announcement during a series of discussions with other leaders about the deadly coronavirus outbreak. He also claimed to have plans in the works to maintain the stability of the Israeli economy.

UPDATE March 9, 12:59 EDT: COVID-19 pandemic is now a 'very real threat,' warns World Health Organization — but director adds countries are 'not at the mercy' of the novel virus as number of worldwide cases hits 111,000

The growing threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus triggering a global pandemic is now 'very real,' warned the World Health Organization, reports Daily Mail.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director-general, said during a conference today that humankind is not "at the mercy" of the deadly virus. He stressed that even a pandemic would be controllable by authorities.

On Monday, more than 111,000 people globally have been infected with the deadly coronavirus, which causes pneumonia, and has left at least 3,892 dead.

The number of new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in China is at present decreasing, but elsewhere outbreaks are surging upward, especially in Iran and Europe.

While the precise definition of a pandemic is not universal, there are three primary criteria: evidence of global spread, continual person-to-person transmission, and a disease that causes sudden sickness or death.

For most confirmed infected with the deadly coronavirus (roughly 98%), the symptoms are a mild flu-like sickness, which is perhaps why authorities are reluctant to call it a proper pandemic.

"Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real," said the director-general at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

"But it would be the first pandemic that could be controlled. The bottom line is we are not at the mercy of the virus," he added.

UPDATE March 9, 8:34 AM EDT: Thousands of panicked Italians tried to escape its 16-million-person quarantine amid coronavirus crisis 

Thousands of people tried to flee Northern Italy following a government mandate for a 16-million-person quarantine was leaked to the press, reports Business Insider.

This comes on the heels of Italy shutting down its Northern Lombardy region, an area that includes the city of Milan and also 14 nearby provinces — constituting a national lockdown expected to last until at least April 3.

The order doesn't completely restrict movement within the quarantined areas, but it does mean that schools, museums, and theaters are closed, events like funerals and weddings are off, and restaurants and bars must keep customers at a minimum distance from one another.

While people may enter or leave the affected areas for emergencies, any entry or attempt to leave without following the new injunction may be subject to jail time.

A draft of the bill to enforce the mandate was reported by Corriere della Sera — an Italian newspaper — on Saturday, causing thousands of people to attempt an early exit before the orders were put into effect, reports the Guardian.

UPDATE March 9, 7:30 AM EDT: NASA Staff sent home 'until further notice' following employee testing positive for the deadly coronavirus

NASA has ordered staff from one of its biggest facilities home after one employee tested positive for the deadly coronavirus, reports Independent.

The space agency's Ames Research Center is now in lockdown, and staff have been informed their workplace has entered "MANDATORY telework status effective immediately and until further notice."

Located in Mountain View, California, the research center is home to several of NASA's most significant spaceflight and technology projects.

Restrictions mandate that all employees must work from home. Staff who don't have proper facilities at home or work areas like labs or who need technical equipment will be given additional information about what to do, said NASA.

The staff member who tested positive was declared infected with the coronavirus on March 8, the space agency said.

"We believe the exposure at the center has been limited but — out of an abundance of caution, and in consultation with NASA Headquarters and the NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer in accordance to the agency response plans — Ames Research Center will temporarily go to a mandatory telework status until further notice."

UPDATE March 9, 6:23 AM EDT: Home testing kits for the coronavirus may soon be ready in Seattle

Thanks to a team behind a Gates Foundation-backed project, testing whether or not someone is infected with the coronavirus could become much easier and safer. 

The team has been preparing a home testing kit that is meant to be delivered to Seattle-based residents in the "coming weeks." The test includes a swab that each person takes from their nose and sends back the samples to the lab to study. The results are then provided within one or two days. 

Moreover, if someone is infected they can complete an online questionnaire completing their contact and travel habits in case officials need to notify any other persons.

The hope is that the test kit will help lower the rate of infection from spreading.

UPDATE March 9, 6:15 AM EDT: Deaths in Washington state rise to 18, and coronavirus cases increase to 136

Seventeen out of the 18 deaths due to the coronavirus in Washington state, or COVID-19, were in King County, while one was in Snohomish County. The number increased to 18 as of Sunday, as per the state Department of Health

The total number of confirmed cases has risen to 136 in the state, and roughly 1,100 have tested negatively against the virus according to data shared. 

UPDATE March 8, 4:00 AM EDT: New York City declares a state of emergency

On Saturday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus in New York City, reported The New York Times. The number of cases in the city rose to 89.

"The declaration of emergency will allow the state to speed up the purchasing of supplies and the hiring of workers to assist local health departments that have been handling the monitoring of thousands of self-quarantined patients, Mr. Cuomo said," reported The New York Times. 

UPDATE March 8, 3:30 AM EDT: Northern Italy quarantines 16 million people

Update March 9, 6:21 AM EST: As of Sunday the confirmed number of cases reported in Italy due to the coronavirus amounted to 7,375. The number of deaths rose from 233 to 366 — a rise of more than 50% in just 24 hours.

Italy has put up to 16 million people under quarantine until April 3. reported BBC. The areas affected are Milan, Venice, Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces.

Italy has had the largest amount of coronavirus cases in Europe. On Saturday, the number of confirmed cases jumped suddenly by more than 1,200 to 5,883.

UPDATE March 7, 9:00 AM EST: Starbucks employee in Seattle diagnosed with virus

A Starbucks barista in Seattle, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S, has been diagnosed with the coronavirus leading the store to shut down. The employee has also self-quarantined, according to Bloomberg.

The branch located at First & University is now undergoing a deep cleaning. “We did talk with public health authorities as soon as we realized what happened,” a spokesperson told Bloomberg.

“These officials have encouraged us to reopen the store after further preventative cleaning, which we have already conducted, staffed by partners who have no known impact from Covid-19.”

UPDATE March 7, 8:05 AM EST: Stanford University cancels in person classes for the rest of quarter

U.S. University canceled all in person classes for the rest of the quarter according to its health alerts. "For the final two weeks of winter quarter, classes will not meet in person but will move to online formats. Large-group events also are being canceled or adjusted," said the website. There was no information as to when in person classes may be resumed.

UPDATE March 6, 4:30 PM EST: Elon Musk tweets coronavirus panic is 'dumb'

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the coronavirus panic is "dumb" in a tweet on Friday, his first known public comment on the coronavirus crisis.

UPDATE March 6, 3:30 PM EST: International tourist arrivals drop 3% due to coronavirus, reports UN

Tourists arriving at airports from international travel is due to see a sharp drop in 2020 because of the deadly coronavirus, according to the World Tourism Organization on Friday, reversing a previous prediction of substantial growth, reports Yahoo! News.

International arrivals are now expected to fall by 1.0-3.0% this year, instead of growing 3.0-4.0%, as expected at an earlier time, says the Madrid-based UN body.

This will be the first decline in the number of international tourists arriving at airports worldwide since the economic crisis in 2009.

UPDATE March 6, 11:22 AM EST: Trump signed an $8.3 billion emergency aid package for coronavirus crisis

President Trump has signed an emergency supplemental spending bill to help the U.S. curb the deadly coronavirus outbreak, reports The Verge.

The package will release $8.3 billion in federal assistance to government health officials and to lend assistance to research and development of a viable vaccine. Initially, Trump only sought $2 billion to curb the deadly virus, but Congress quadrupled the amount in its new version of the bill.

"We've signed the 8.3 billion [dollars], said Trump to reporters on Friday, reports The Verge. "I asked for two and a half and I got 8.3 and I'll take it."

UPDATE March 6, 8:15 AM EST: Coronavirus has stopped 300 million students from receiving education, as per UNESCO

Around 22 countriesover three continents have closed their schools for weeks on end amid fears of the coronavirus spreading. Some children have already spent weeks at home, with many partaking in online learning systems the schools have put in place.

Italy is the latest to shut its schools on Thursday until at least March 15th. 

Just two weeks ago, only China had closed its schools' doors, which goes to show just how rapidly the coronavirus is spreading around the world.

Some of the other nations where schools are shut nationwide are China, Hong Kong, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Japan, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Armenia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Mongolia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Countries that have locally closed certain schools are France, India's capital New Delhi, Pakistan, France, Germany, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the U.S., Vietnam, and the U.K.

"The global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education," stated Audrey Azoulay, director-general of Paris-based UNESCO.

UPDATE March 6, 8:11 AM EST: Apple and Google not allowing apps around coronavirus that aren't legitimately recognized

Apple and Google have seen many new apps become available amid the coronavirus as people around the world are trying to monitor the situation. 

However, the two tech giants have stated that they will only accept apps that are from credible sources and that are recognized by governments and hospitals. Google has released a list of recognized apps that share coronavirus-related information. 

Tech companies are doing their best to try and curb the spread of myths and misinformation around the coronavirus. 

UPDATE March 6, 8:08 AM EST: New York confirms 22 coronavirus cases

Officials of New York City stated on Thursday that 2,773 residentswere quarantined for observation, and that there are 22 confirmed coronavirus cases statewide. The majority of the cases are in Weschester County and two New York City residents have the virus. The latter are both in critical condition in hospital in NYC.

UPDATE March 6, 8:03 AM EST: The WHO says "this is not a drill", and international stock markets keep falling amid coronavirus fears

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that "We are concerned that some countries have either not taken this seriously enough, or have decided there is nothing they can do."

He continued, "This is not a drill, this is not a time to give up, this is not a time for excuses, this is a time for pulling out all the stops."

Just a day later on Friday, international stock markets dropped once more. In Asia sharp drops occurred in Japan, closely followed by South Korea, and Hong Kong. 

Further afield, Australia and the U.S. also saw drops in the stock market. On Wall Street, major indexes lost around 3.7%.

UPDATE March 6, 7:58 AM EST: Europe being hit by the coronavirus: Belgium cases more than double and Germany passes 530 cases

In just 24 hours the cases of coronavirus in Belgium more than doubled from 50 to 109, according to a government statement issued today, reports CNN. The majority of cases come from local residents having recently traveled to Italy. Belgium expects the number of cases to keep rising at this stage.

Neighboring Germany has confirmed over 530 cases nationwide, as per the German Center for Disease Control Robert-Koch Institute.

More live updates from CNN here.

UPDATE March 5, 3:13 PM EST: Coronavirus has undergone mutation into more aggressive disease, say scientists

The deadly coronavirus has mutated into two distinct strains, say researchers from Peking University's School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, reports The Guardian.

The "S-type" is older, milder, and less infectious than the other, "L-type" strain, which spreads more rapidly, and now represents roughly 70% of all coronavirus cases. While the L strain is more prevalent than the S strain, the latter was deemed to be the ancestral version.

A man in the U.S. underwent genetic analysis after he was confirmed infected with the deadly coronavirus on Jan. 21, and was found to have both strains of the virus.

This means anyone can be infected by both strains of coronavirus, simultaneously.

This could slow efforts to research and test a viable vaccine, reports say.

UPDATE March 5, 1:05 PM EST: Global concerns about coronavirus outbreak have led to the biggest drop in global oil demand in history

Worldwide oil demand is undergoing the sharpest drop in history, because of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, reports Gizmodo.

London-based financial data group IHS Markit — which recently canceled a major energy conference it hosts every year — published a research alert on Thursday, detailing how the first quarter of 2020 has not been kind to the oil industry.

The study shows an unprecedented shift in the global oil market.

COVID-19, the scientific designation for the novel virus, stopped the Chinese economy in its tracks. China is the largest importer of oil and gas in the world, which means this economic shock has sent the fossil fuel sector into a wild tailspin, one expected to worsen as other countries fight to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

UPDATE March 4, 5:10 PM EST: Los Angeles County declares health emergency amid coronavirus fears

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Department of Public Health declared a local and public health emergency, amid growing concerns of coronavirus infection spreading across the U.S., which saw six more cases in L.A. County, reports the Los Angeles Times.

All of the new cases in L.A. County came from close contacts to lines of transmission tracing back to Wuhan, the origin of the illness, and so were not community spread, nor are any of the cases linked to the first case confirmed in L.A. County in January.

"These declarations are a swift response to this emergent issue and will enhance our ability to effectively manage our response," said Kathryn Barger, supervisor and chair of the Board of Supervisors. "These actions will allow us to have even greater coordination to protect our more than 10 million residents and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities."

UPDATE March 4, 5:00 PM EST: New York has confirmed 5 new coronavirus cases

An additional family in the State of New York has tested positive for deadly coronavirus, tweeted Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday.

The family is from New Rochelle and is believed to have been in close proximity with an infected attorney who has been hospitalized. The attorney and family tested positive for the deadly virus on Wednesday.

This brings the total count of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York up to 11.

UPDATE March 4, 4:51 PM EST: United Airlines cuts down on flights in the US and internationally amid drop in demand from coronavirus crisis

United Airlines is the first airline to lower its US flight schedule as passengers worried about the increased coronavirus threat buy fewer tickets, reports CNN.

Based in Chicago, United Airlines will lower the number of flights in the U.S. and Canada by 10%, and also cut overseas flights by 20% in April, according to an email sent to employees and received by CNN.

UPDATE March 4, 4:00 PM EST: California reports its first coronavirus fatality

A patient has died in Placer County, Calif., marking the first death related to the deadly virus in the state, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The patient was of advanced age, and had pre-existing medical conditions, according to Placer County Public Health. The recently-deceased patient was likely exposed while they traveled internationally from Feb. 11 to 21 on a Princess cruise ship that left San Francisco for Mexico, said the release, and then died in isolation at Kaiser Permanente Roseville.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of this patient," said Dr. Aimee Sisson, county health officer at Placer. "While we have expected more cases, this death is an unfortunate milestone in our efforts to fight this disease, and one that we never wanted to see."

"While most cases of COVID-19 exhibit mild or moderate symptoms, this tragic death underscores the urgent need for us to take extra steps to protect residents who are particularly vulnerable to developing more serious illness, including elderly persons and those with underlying health conditions," said Sisson.

Five emergency workers and 10 health care workers who were in close proximity to the patient are now quarantined, and show no symptoms.

UPDATE March 4, 3:15 PM EST: Regeneron CEO says his company hopes to begin testing a coronavirus treatment by Summer

CEO of Regeneron Leonard Schleifer said his company hopes to have a coronavirus treatment ready for human testing by August, according to CNBC.

Deployment and viability for patient applications will depend on early animal data of the pharmaceutical company, said Schleifer on "The Exchange." "I think we can get a lot done very quickly."

Regeneron and other pharmaceutical companies like Sanofi Pasteur stress that this is a cooperative race to a viable treatment, which will be will not be overpriced.

"It doesn't do us any good, if we want to save lives, to make something that's not affordable," said Schleifer. "We will make this drug affordable."

UPDATE March 4, 3:07 PM EST: Turkish airline passenger confirmed infected with coronavirus, plane grounded at Changi Airport

A passenger of Turkish Airlines arriving in Singapore from Turkey tested positive for COVID-10 on Wednesday, Channel News Asia reports.

The Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) had confirmed the situation on Wednesday night.

A statement from the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said that Turkish Airlines flight TK55 didn't take off as scheduled from Changi Airport on Wednesday.

MOH also said it began contacting flight passengers who may have been in proximity to the newly-confirmed case while they were infectious.

UPDATE March 3, 11:00 PM EST: Google makes Hangouts Meet function free amid coronavirus threat

Google has made its Hangouts Meet function free to facilitate remote work, in the wake of coronavirus, reports Engadget. From this week to July 1, the company's G Suite and G Suite for Education customers may use Hangouts Meet's premium feature free of charge.

This means people can participate in virtual meetings with up to 250 people, and join live streams with up to 100,000 viewers, reports Engadget. Individuals may also save recordings of their meetings to Google Drive free of charge.

Relevant to Google's decision to extend the feature of Hangouts Meet is the spike in recent usage stats seen in places where coronavirus cases are most heavily-concentrated. In Vietnam and Hong Kong, Google has seen "hundreds of thousands" of students using Hangouts Meet and Classroom apps for remote classes taking place where public schools have closed.

The new offer will also help Google catch and keep up with competitors like Zoom, who are seeing similar spikes in app usage due to coronavirus.

"As more employees, educators, and students work remotely in response to the spread of COVID-19, we want to do our part to help them stay connected and productive," said Google. "We're committed to supporting our users and customers during this challenging time, and are continuing to scale our infrastructure to support greater Hangouts Meet demand, ensuring streamlined, reliable access to the service throughout this period."

This is just one of the numerous effects that coronavirus has had on the tech world, the more visible casualties being major conferences. For example, days ago Google declared it would hold its imminent Cloud Next conference online, instead of in the flesh.

UPDATE March 3, 10:34 PM EST: Amazon employee in Seattle confirmed infected with coronavirus, said company in email to employees

Amazon declared on Tuesday that one of its Seattle employees was confirmed infected with the deadly coronavirus, reports Business Insider.

An email to employees in Bellevue and Seattle stated that Amazon's health and safety office found an employee of the company's Brazil office building, located in Seattle, had tested positive for the virus.

"The employee went home feeling unwell on Tuesday, February 25 and has not entered Amazon offices since then," said the email. The company added that they were told that the employee was confirmed infected with COVID-19 — the disease that comes from coronavirus — on March 3.

The email also said that the employee is under quarantine, and employees who were in close proximity to the person have since been notified.

"The risk of transmission for employees who were not in close contact with this individual is assessed to be low," said the email.

UPDATE March 3, 5:07 PM EST: CDC says you may need to take a break from your life

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges U.S. citizens to do whatever it takes to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus, including taking an extended break from their life as they know and possibly love it, reports Ars Technica.

"You may need to take a break from your normal daily routine for two weeks," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, on Tuesday.

"What is happening now in the United States may be the beginning of what is happening abroad," Messonnier said in a press briefing, according to Ars Technica. "We will continue to maintain — for as long as practical — an aggressive national posture of containment. That said, you might see some local communities taking specific actions to mitigate the disease."

Specific actions probably mean school closures, canceled events and large gatherings, and self-isolating citizens.

UPDATE March 3, 3:51 PM EST: First coronavirus death in Spain, patient is man who traveled to Nepal, 'retrospective investigation' reveals

Spain confirmed its first death from coronavirus infection, reports Daily Mail.

Confirmation of the cause of death came after a "retrospective investigation" — post-mortem — for the man who traveled to Nepal.

When the man died, the cause of death was initially given to pneumonia of unknown origin.

While confirming another case of the deadly virus, Spain's regional health authority said: "We can confirm two new cases of coronavirus in the Valencia Community, which takes the number of cases to 19 positives," according to Daily Mail.

"They are a woman who is at Manises Hospital in Valencia and the case of a man in Arnau de Vilanova Hospital, detected following a retrospective investigation. He passed away on February 13," said the authority.

UPDATE March 3, 3:49 PM EST: Pharmaceutical company Pfizer is testing potential coronavirus treatments

The mega-pharmaceutical company Pfizer has identified compounds that might be used to curate a treatment for the deadly coronavirus, mLIVE reports.

Pfizer finished a preliminary assessment of certain antiviral compounds that inhibit the replication of coronaviruses that are similar to the one causing COVID-19 in cultured cells, a statement from the company said.

COVID-19 was identified as the biological culprit for the outbreak of a wave of respiratory illnesses that first swept through Wuhan City in Hubei Province, China. There have since been more than 91,000 cases around the world, with more than 3,000 deaths.

To fight this growing threat, Pfizer is working with a third party to screen compounds under an accelerated timeline, and at present expects results by the end of March.

If the test results are promising, the company might move forward with the development of antiviral treatment, said the statement.

However, Pfizer cautions that toxicology studies are needed before clinical development can begin. If all goes well, Pfizer estimates the treatment may be tested by 2020's end.

It's important to remember that antiviral treatments are purely preventative, and are not a vaccine. Coronavirus vaccines might be prepared in 18 months, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, in February.

"At Pfizer, we believe the best approach to address COVID-19 is to bring together the resources and know-how from across the pharmaceutical industry to rapidly develop and deliver vaccines and therapeutics," said Dolsten. "We are happy to volunteer our expertise and resources to aid the development and delivery of possible solutions."

UPDATE March 3, 3:20 PM EST: UAE schools will close for one month

Schools and universities across the country of UAE will close beginning on Sunday for a month to curb the spread of COVID-19, said the Ministry of Education on Tuesday, according to The National.

Spring Break was scheduled to start on March 20, but will now start on March 8 and last two weeks. Distance (or, remote) learning will cover the final two weeks when students and teachers will work from home, said the ministry.

The "Learn from Afar" program, to be implemented from March 22 to April 5, is scheduled to see trials in a set of public schools on Wednesday and Thursday.

Meanwhile, all schools, buses and universities will undergo a "sterilisation programme for educational facilities," said the ministry.

So far, patients confirmed infected with the deadly coronavirus in UAE include two Italians, two Russians, a Columbian and a German citizen, all of whom are "in a stable condition and receiving all the necessary health care required" according to the ministry.

UPDATE March 9, 9:21 AM EST: BMW quarantines 150 employees after employee tests positive for coronavirus

Although Germany has already confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the illness has now hit BMW. The automaker has ordered 150 employees home under quarantine after an employee tested positive for the deadly virus, reported Automotive News Europe on Monday.

The unnamed employee did not travel abroad and works in the company's research and development center, but the person may have come into contact with employees who have since been quarantined. BMW announced the situation with Roadshow, where it said operations would continue as usual once the area is cleaned and disinfected. Most notably, the employee is well at present, said BMW in the statement.

UPDATE March 3, 4:00 AM EST: Purell hand sanitizer selling out on Amazon, now some independent sellers are marketing it at over $100

As the fears surrounding the coronavirus keep increasing, Purell's hand sanitizer has now sold out from its brand storefront page on Amazon. 

Some third-party sellers are now selling Purell's hand sanitizer bottles for $119and higher for one pack of two eight-ounce bottles. 

"We have experienced several demand surges in the past during other outbreaks — and this is on the higher end of the spectrum but not unprecedented," a spokesperson for Purell parent company Gojo told Business Insider. "We have added shifts and have team members working overtime – in accordance with our plans for situations like this."

UPDATE March 3, 3:56 AM EST: Google Cloud cancels its largest event of the year because of coronavirus

Amid growing fears of coronavirus infection, Google Cloud has decided to cancel its largest event of the year. Due to be held in April in San Francisco, the Google Cloud Next will not be going forward as planned.

The company has stated that it will instead provide "streamed keynotes, breakout sessions, interactive learning and digital 'ask an expert' sessions with Google teams."

The company's statement went as follows: "The health and well-being of Google Cloud partners, customers, employees and the overall community is our top priority. Due to the growing concern around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in alignment with the best practices laid out by the CDC, WHO, and other relevant entities, Google Cloud has decided to reimagine Google Cloud Next '20, which will still take place from April 6-8."

UPDATE March 3, 3:53 AM EST: Six die in Washington State because of coronavirus

On Monday morning, health officials from Washington State confirmed that four more people have died of the coronavirus, bringing the death toll total in the state to six

The state of Georgia reported its first two cases of reported coronavirus on Monday, increasing the total to 15 states in the U.S. with confirmed cases.

UPDATE March 3, 3:48 AM EST: Alibaba's novel Artificial Intelligence tech can diagnose the coronvirus with 96% accuracy

Chinese tech giant, Alibaba, has developed an AI system that detects the novel coronavirus with an up to 96% accuracy rate. 

By using CT scans of patients' chests, the AI tech only needs 20 seconds to come up with a diagnosis. To compare, humans generally need around 15 minutes to come up with a diagnosis, as there are around 300 images to run through from a CT scan. 

The system was trained on images and data of 5,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and has already been tested in hospitals in China. 

UPDATE March 3, 3:43 AM EST: The CDC states that you should stay at least six feet away from anyone who appears sick 

The coronavirus primalry spreads through mucus and saliva, which can easily travel from someone's body between three and five feet away. So the CDC recommends staying at least six feetaway from anyone who appears sick, in order to minimize the risk of catching the disease. 

Avoiding close contact with anyone who is showing flu-like symptoms is also recommended.

UPDATE March 2, 7:40 PM EST: Twitter, Google, Coinbase tell some employees to work from home amid growing fears of spreading coronavirus

Most of the 8,000 employees at Google's Dublin, Ireland, office — its European headquarters — were told to work from home on Tuesday, after a member of its staff developed flu-like symptoms. Other companies including Coinbase and Twitter are following suit, reports Business Insider.

Google was quick to add that this is a precautionary measure, and is in line with medical experts' advice.

"We continue to take precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of our workforce, in accordance with the advice of medical experts, and as part of that effort we have asked our Dublin teams to work from home tomorrow," said a Google spokesperson to Business Insider.

Similar work-from-home precautionary measures are also being adopted among other tech titans, like Coinbase and Twitter.

Twitter recommends that all of its employees -- worldwide, almost 5,000 in total -- work from home. The company announced its recommendation out of an "abundance of caution" in a blog post on Monday, after it announced the suspension of all unnecessary travel for employees. Its CEO Jack Dorsey decided not to attend the SXSW conference in Austin, scheduled for later this month, said the Business Insider report.

"We are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they're able. Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us — and the world around us," said the post.

Coinbase — a cryptocurrency exchange platform — also declared its enacting similar measures, according to a document that Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, linked to Twitter.

"We're asking some employees to start working home this week," tweeted Armstrong. "Working from home is not a complete solution but it may help slow the growth of infections."

UPDATE March 2, 4:45 PM EST: There are now 100 cases of the deadly coronavirus in the US

There are 100 cases of the deadly coronavirus in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including state and local governments, reports CNN.

The CDC states there are 48 cases of the virus from repatriated citizens. CNN Health's tally of US cases so far detected and tested in the U.S. via public health systems shows 52 cases in 11 states. This brings the total cases of coronavirus up to 100.

This count includes presumptive cases that have tested positive in a public health lab that are as of yet pending confirmation from the CDC, and cases confirmed as positive results from the CDC.

So far, the state cases breakdown like so:

  • Arizona — 1
  • California — 18
  • Florida — 2
  • Illinois — 4
  • Massachusetts — 1
  • New York — 1
  • Oregon — 3
  • Rhode Island — 2
  • Washington state — 18 (including 6 fatalities)
  • Wisconsin — 1
  • New Hampshire — 1

UPDATE March 2, 11:37 AM EST: Saudi Arabia has confirmed its first case of the deadly coronavirus

The country of Saudi Arabia confirmed on Monday its first case of the deadly coronavirus, said its Health Ministry, reports CNN.

The patient is a Saudi male who recently returned from Iran via Bahrain crossing. He didn't say he came from Iran at the Saudi portal, said the ministry.

UPDATE March 2, 11:30 AM EST: Trump said he's requested accelerated vaccine research

U.S. President Trump said he has asked researchers to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine, reports CNN.

"We asked them to accelerate whatever they're doing in terms of the vaccine, absolutely," said Trump on Monday.

More than 20 potential vaccines designed to prevent infection by coronavirus disease are in development around the globe, according to the World Health Organization director-general.

However, health officials have consistently said that a vaccine is at least a year away from being proven effective, and is given the approvals required for widespread distribution.

UPDATE March 2, 9:00 AM EST: Iran's Supreme Leader Adviser dies of coronavirus, state radio reports

Iranian state media reported on Monday that an adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died after contracting the deadly coronavirus, reports CNN.

Mohammad Mirmohammadi was 71 and was a member of the Expediency Council tasked with advising Khamenei.

UPDATE March 2, 8:00 AM EST: EU coronavirus risk alert rises to high

The European Union raised its alert level for the deadly coronavirus from moderate to high, said President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission at a Monday news conference, reports CNN.

"ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) has announced today that the risk level has risen from moderate to high for people in the European Union, in other words the virus continues to spread," said von der Leyen.

As of early Monday, more than 2,000 cases of the deadly coronavirus have been confirmed in the EU, with the majority in Italy.

The EU Crisis Management Commissioner, Janez Lenarcic, said during the news conference that every country needs to be fully prepared.

"While we should not give in to panic, the situation is likely to still get worse. So we need to be prepared. Time is of the essence here."

UPDATE March 2, 7:00 AM EST: Portugal announces first coronavirus case, infection count in Germany rises to 158

Two people tested positive for the deadly coronavirus in Portugal, said Health Minister Marta Temido on Monday, reports CNN.

Additionally, Germany reports a total of 158 cases of coronavirus, in 10 states.

UPDATE March 2, 1:41 AM EST: Boris Johnson will hold an emergency meeting on the coronavirus today, reports CNN

Boris Johnson, British prime minister, will chair a "Cobra" emergency government meeting to speak about the coronavirus outbreak later today, reports CNN.

Cobra meetings are interdepartmental government meetings held during times of crisis. The name refers to the place where such emergency meetings usually happen: Cabinet Office Briefing Room A.

The committee will "discuss, finalize and sign off a battle plan containing a detailed set of countermeasures," said a statement on the UK government's website.

At the meeting, the government will consider courses of action and various preparations for the coming outbreak, since cases in the UK are slated to continue increasing in frequency, according to the statement.

The UK government will also establish a "war room," to bring together communications experts who will conduct a public information campaign to quicken response times to emergent issues.

As of early Monday, there are 35 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

UPDATE March 2, 1:38 AM EST: Indonesia confirms its first two cases of the deadly coronavirus

The country of Indonesia has reported its first two cases of the deadly coronavirus, according to state-run Antara News Agency, citing President Joko Widodo, CNN reports.

The two cases involve a 31-year-old woman and her 64-year-old mother, Antara reports Widodo said.

Both patients previously made content with a Japanese citizen who was tested positive for coronavirus after departing Indonesia, Antara said Widodo reportedly said, according to CNN.

UPDATE March 2, 12:58 AM EST: U.S. President Trump's coronavirus strategy under new scrutiny following second U.S. death

The White House warns that more Americans will be killed by the coronavirus as new cases pop up from coast to coast — despite this growing outbreak, top government officials scramble to prove they are in control of the situation, reports CNN.

Democratic presidential candidates are leveling heavy criticism of President Donald Trump for politicizing the outbreak. Trump's son and conservative media publications earlier claimed that public criticism of Trump's efforts constitutes an orchestrated political campaign to affect the president's reputation.

Negotiators on Capitol Hill are nearing a deal on an emergency funding package possibly worth up to $7 billion — far beyond the White House's earlier request for one amounting to $2.5 billion — to confront the threat of the novel coronavirus.

This comes amid appearances of Vice President Mike Pence on political talk shows on Sunday in his new Trump-appointed role as head of the American coronavirus task force.

As of early Monday, there are 89 confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus in the U.S., which includes 44 people evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and three people repatriated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the deadly disease.

UPDATE March 1, 10:53 PM EST: Italy sees 50% increase in confirmed cases of deadly coronavirus

The country of Italy reports a 50% increase in deadly coronavirus cases Sunday, while the U.S. restricts more travel and the renown La Scala opera house closes its doors amid fears of infection until March 8.

The Civil Protection Authority of Italy reported the country's confirmed coronavirus count his risen to 1,694 cases, up from 1,128 cases on Saturday. As of Sunday, 34 people have died from the infection.

Italy has the highest known rate of coronavirus cases outside of the Asian continent.

Delta Air Lines has suspended flights to Milan, the airline announced on Sunday. The final flight will depart New York City on Monday. The last return flight is scheduled for Tuesday.

Delta plans to resume flights to Milan on May 1. Flights to Rome remain unaffected by the crisis.

UPDATE March 1, 10:43 PM EST: Florida, Oregon and Rhode Island confirm presumptive cases of coronavirus

The U.S. States of Florida, Oregon, and Rhode Island have confirmed new presumptive positive cases of the deadly coronavirus, authorities in each of the states have said, reports CNN.

The case in Oregon is the second presumptive positive case of the deadly coronavirus in that state. The patient is a household contact of a Washington County resident, who made a statement.

"My thoughts are with the Oregonians who have contracted this virus, as well as their families. The developments of the last 48 hours in Oregon and across the globe are concerning, and we are taking this extremely seriously," said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown in a statement.

The Rhode Island patient is a young female teenager who is presently isolated at home with mild symptoms. She is the second such case confirmed in the state, after a man in his 40s was diagnosed with the deadly disease earlier.

Both patients recently went on a trip to Europe run by Saint Raphael Academy, a school in a city called Pawtucket.

All of the 38 who attended the trip will self-monitor for symptoms at home, for the full 14-day period of quarantine per CDC guidelines. They were told not to go to work or school, and remain home for the full quarantine.

UPDATE March 1, 10:17 PM EST: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city is prepared after first confirmed coronavirus

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said his city is "ready to respond" after the first case of the novel coronavirus was confirmed in Manhattan, reports CNN.

De Blasio tweeted his declaration Sunday, just after the State Governor Andrew Cuomo let his constituents know that New York has confirmed its first deadly coronavirus patient. She is a woman in her late 30s, who became infected with the virus while traveling in Iran. She is presently in isolation in her Manhattan-based home, according to the New York State Department of Health.

"From the beginning, we have said it was a matter of when, not if, there would be a positive case of coronavirus in New York," said de Blasio. "Our health authorities have been in a state of high alert for weeks, and are fully prepared to respond."

UPDATE March 1, 8:08 PM EST: First confirmed case of coronavirus in New York City

The first case of the deadly coronavirus was confirmed to be a woman in her late 30s on Sunday who recently returned from Iran, said a state official, reports the New York Post.

The woman lives in Manhattan, according to a source of the Post.

"The patient, a woman in her late thirties, contracted the virus while traveling aboard in Iran, and is currently isolated in her home," said New York State Governor Cuomo, in a statement.

Despite the gravity of the state's first case of the novel virus, Cuomo insisted, "There is no cause for surprise — this was expected."

"As I said from the beginning, it was a matter of when, not if there would be a positive case of novel coronavirus in New York."

As of Sunday evening, there were 76 cases of the deadly coronavirus confirmed, in the United States.

UPDATE March 1, 4:00 AM EST: Ireland and Armenia report their first coronavirus cases

On Sunday, Ireland and Armenia reported their first coronavirus cases while Thailand and Australia reported their first coronavirus deaths.

UPDATE February 29, 8:00 AM EST: Qatar reports its first case of coronavirus while Iran's death toll rises

Qatar reported ist first case of coronavirus on Saturday and said the patient was a recent visitor to Iran. Meanwhile, Iran's coronavirus death toll rises to 43 and includes a member of parliament. Still in the Middle East, Kuwait calls on its citizens to stop traveling outside the country.

UPDATE February 28, 3:30 PM EST: Bill Gates pens op-ed "How to respond to COVID-19"

Microsoft CEO and co-founder Bill Gates has published an op-ed on his website, GatesNotes, in which he argues the COVID-19 pandemic presents world leaders with an opportunity to help African countries and South Asia prepare for a pandemic now.

"The long-term challenge — improving our ability to respond to outbreaks — isn't new. Global health experts have been saying for years that another pandemic rivalling (sic) the speed and severity of the 1918 influenza epidemic wasn't a matter of if but when. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed significant resources in recent years to helping the world prepare for such a scenario," he wrote on his website.

He goes on to say the novel coronavirus may become the "once-in-a-century pathogen we worry about," and while he hopes for the best, he encourages everyone to expect otherwise.

Gates continues with an analysis of the current fatality rate of the coronavirus, which so far is reportedly 1%, compared to the much lower rate of the typical seasonal influenza, which puts it between the 1957 pandemic (0.6%) and the 1918 influenza pandemic (2%).

To Gates, preparing vulnerable or already-exposed areas of the world to curb the virus will help save lives and "slow the global circulation of the virus."

UPDATE February 28, 2:47 PM EST: US Federal Reserve chair warns that the deadly coronavirus is an "evolving risk" to economic activity

While the U.S. economy is at present strong, the deadly coronavirus presents an evolving risk to economic activity, said a statement from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

He also said that the Fed is closely monitoring developments and that the central bank plans to use its "tools and act as appropriate to support the economy."

UPDATE February 29, 2:45 PM EST: The number of coronavirus cases worldwide hits 85,000 and more travel bans are put into effect

The number of worldwide cases of coronavirus hit 85,000 with new cases reported in Washington State, U.S. and Ontario, Canada. Meanwhile, Australia banned travelers from Iran and Kuwait called on its citizens to avoid traveling. 

UPDATE February 28, 2:35 PM EST: Tim Cook, Apple CEO, says China is bringing coronavirus 'under control'

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a Thursday interview with Fox Business that he believes China will push back on the impact of the coronavirus, amid growing fears of the spread of the deadly virus, reports CNET.

"It feels to me that China is getting the coronavirus under control," said Cook during the interview. "You look at the numbers, they're coming down day by day by day. I'm very optimistic there."

Earlier in Feb., Apple said the novel virus has hurt demand from Chinese customers, in addition to production capabilities in the country. Apple assembles its smartphones in China, and has suppliers in Wuhan.

"It will take some time, but by and large I think this is a temporary condition, not a long-term kind of thing," Cook said to Susan Li of Fox Business.

UPDATE February 28, 2:31 PM EST: Amazon asks its employees to postpone all non-essential travel

Amazon is attempting to keep its employees from traveling due to fear of the rapidly-spreading coronavirus.

"We're asking employees to defer non-essential travel during this time," said the company in a statement to CNN.

This comes on the heels of a statement from the cloud computing arm of Amazon, called Amazon Web Services, which declared it would not attend a major conference for video game developers in San Francisco.

"While we won't get to see everyone at GDC this year, we will still have exciting things to share," said the company in an online post. "AWS Game Tech has decided to host a global online event, open to everyone, to showcase our planned content for GDC and more."

UPDATE February 28, 2:31 PM EST: Google has canceled summit amid growing coronavirus concerns

Google canceled its scheduled Google News Initiative Global Summit amid fears of the "novel coronavirus situation," according to an email sent to registered attendees on Friday.

The two-day event was to be held in Google's Sunnyvale, California office and was expected to bring hundreds of media industry experts to meet.

"We regret that we have to cancel our global Google News Initiative summit but the health and wellbeing of our guests is our number one priority," said Maggie Shiels, Google spokesperson, in the email.

UPDATE February 28, 11:01 AM EST: President Trump wants a "miracle" as fear of the deadly coronavirus grows

U.S. President Donald Trump hopes a "miracle" will make the coronavirus disappear but plummeting stock markets and increasing signs the disease will soon enter the U.S. are exacerbating Trump's inconsistent management of the health crisis, reports CNN.

The first case on U.S. soil that couldn't be traced to travel to countries fighting the virus, a significant Wall Street sell off, and worry that drug shortages are leaving White House efforts to demonstrate control wanting.

"It's going to disappear. One day it's like a miracle, it will disappear," said the U.S. President at the White House on Thursday as the coronavirus moved across Asia and Europe after U.S. officials warned the country to brace for severe disruption to everyday life.

Questions were raised about whether Trump will prioritize science as the reality of the deadly coronavirus sweeps the world when a White House ordered public health officials to clear all television appearances.

UPDATE February 28, 11:01 AM EST: Vietnam stopped granting visas to South Korean citizens.

On Friday Vietnam declared it will suspend the issuing of visas to South Korean citizens, reports CNN.

The South-East Asian government said the measure is an attempt to help Vietnam contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus epidemic and minimize the impact of the deadly virus on its economy and greater society.

The government of Vietnam also declared that any other foreign nationals who recently visited South Korea will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

South Korea has confirmed 2,337 cases of coronavirus — second only to mainland China.

On Friday, 16 cases of the coronavirus are confirmed in Vietnam.

UPDATE February 28, 11:01 AM EST: South Korea has confirmed 571 more cases of coronavirus

South Korea has confirmed an additional 571 cases of the deadly coronavirus on Friday, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports CNN.

This brings the total of infected patients in South Korea to 2,337 cases — the largest outbreak of the virus outside of mainland China.

The latest count includes one additional military person, which brings the total infected of South Korea's military up to 26,

There were no new deaths reported on Friday, which leaves the South Korean death toll at 13.

Of the 571 cases, 447 are Daegu residents, where the outbreak is concentrated. Many of these cases are linked to a religious group in the city.

UPDATE February 28, 11:00 AM EST: Lithuania has confirmed first coronavirus case within its borders

A female patient with "mild symptoms" is now the first case of the deadly coronavirus in Lithuania, said the country's Ministry of Health to CNN in a statement on Friday.

Presently she is in isolation in Republic Siauliai Hospital, which has sufficient infrastructure to handle the case, said the ministry.

Others who may have been in contact with her are being tracked down, to test for possible infection, the ministry added. None so far have experienced any symptoms.

"Despite the efforts made and the proactive preventive measures that we took among the first, we regret to declare that Lithuania did not avoid the coronavirus," Minister of Health Aurelijus Veryga said. "We were well aware that the threat existed, and we were actively getting ready for this scenario."

UPDATE February 28, 10:30 AM EST: President of Mongolia in quarantine after visiting China

Khaltmaagiin Battulga, the Mongolian President, was placed under a 14-day quarantine, following a one-day visit to China, reports CNN.

The state news agency, Montsame, said Battulga along with numerous other government officials, including the minister of foreign affairs, visited China to confer with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

The Mongolian delegation — which includes the President — were placed in a 14-day quarantine immediately following their return to Mongolia on Thursday night, as a precautionary step.

Battulga reportedly met with Xi while in China, said Montsame, to discuss joint efforts to reverse the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Battulga also declared a donation of 30,000 sheep to China.

There are no reported cases of the virus in Mongolia, at present.

UPDATE February 28, 10:13 AM EST: US Navy ships that have put to port in Pacific under orders to self-quarantine

The United States Navy has ordered all ships that have made stops in Pacific countries to self-quarantine and stay at sea for at least 14 days, to monitor sailors for possible coronavirus symptoms, reports CNN.

"Out of an abundance of caution, Pacific Fleet is implementing additional mitigations to prevent Sailors from contracting COVID-19, and to monitor Sailors who have traveled to higher-risk areas," Lt. James Adams, US Navy spokesman, said to CNN.

Lt. Adams said that "at this time, there are no indications that any US Navy personnel have contracted" the deadly virus but added that the Navy acted out of caution.

UPDATE February 28, 10:12 AM EST: Nigeria confirms first coronavirus case, an Italian citizen

The first patient confirmed infected with the deadly coronavirus was confirmed in Nigeria, and is an Italian citizen who traveled to Lagos, said Nigeria's Health Ministry in a statement, reports CNN.

The patient works in Nigeria, and returned from Milan on Feb. 25, said the ministry.

"The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos," said the ministry.

Nigeria is Africa's largest country by population, with more than 200 million people.

Health officials in the country are working to identify everyone the patient had contact with since returning to the country, and have urged Nigerian citizens to remain calm.

"Citizens must not abuse social media and indulge in spreading misinformation that causes fear and panic," said the statement.

The government of Nigeria has strengthened its ability "to ensure an outbreak in Nigeria is controlled and contained quickly," read the statement.

Nigeria's first case of the deadly coronavirus is also the first such case in Sub-Saharan Africa.

UPDATE February 28, 10:12 AM EST: First coronavirus case confirmed in Belarus

Belarus has confirmed its first case of the deadly coronavirus within its borders; a student from Iran, said the Belarus Ministry of Health on its official website on Friday, reports CNN.

"During a laboratory test on February 27, the virus was detected in an Iranian citizen who arrived on a flight from Baku on February 22," read the statement. "The patient and those who were in contact with him are quarantined in Minsk, the young man's condition is satisfactory."

The country's health ministry also said it started testing all travelers coming from Iran, Italy, and South Korea on February 20.

UPDATE February 28, 10:11 AM EST: The UN sanctions committee approves export of medical equipment to North Korea

A sanctions committee of the United Nations has permitted Doctors without Borders, — also called Médecins Sans Frontièrs (MSF), to lend support to North Korea with equipment for diagnostic work. They hope the equipment will help prevent coronavirus outbreaks in the isolated country, reports CNN.

However, it's unclear when the equipment will reach North Korea.

The shipment will include thermometers, stethoscopes, and goggles, including kits to detect if sick people have the deadly virus, said Christoph Heusgen, leader of the committee and German UN Ambassador, to CNN.

"The committee immediately had given permission to export the equipment. The problem is that right now North Korea has closed the border. Around the table the appeal was made for North Korea to allow this equipment in so that the population can be better protected," said Heusgen.

UPDATE February 28, 10:04 AM EST: Foreign diplomats will evacuate from North Korea

A plan is in motion to evacuate foreign diplomats presently quarantined in Pyongyang, North Korea, a source inside the country reported to CNN.

The source spoke to the news service on condition of anonymity, in consideration of the extreme sensitivity of the developing situation.

The French Cooperation Office, the German Embassy, and the Swiss Development Operation will completely close their Pyongyang operations, the source told CNN.

Other countries with diplomatic posts in North Korea also have plans to reduce operations, said the source.

"I would expect around 60 people to be on the flight," the source told CNN.

The evacuation flight has yet to be confirmed, but CNN's source says it will fly from Pyongyang to Vladivostok, Russia. The exact number of foreign diplomats posted in North Korea is not known, but the estimated number is a few hundred.

UPDATE February 28, 8:16 AM EST: Visits between Rome priests and Pope Francis have been canceled as the pontiff is "slightly" ill, as well as the coronvirus outbreak in Italy

Pope Francis has canceled a Mass with priests from Rome that was due to happen on Thursday.

No official statement from the Vatican has been declared, however the Pope was seen blowing his nose and coughing at an Ash Wednesday event this week. So far, all the Vatican has said is that the pontiff has a "slight indisposition."

Moreover, Italy currently has over 400 infected casesof coronavirus, making it the most infected nation outside of Asia so far. There have only been three cases reported in Rome, all of which have been cured.

Commenting on the coronavirus oubreak on Wednesday, the Pope expressed his "closeness to those who are ill with coronavirus and to health care workers who are caring for them”

UPDATE February 28, 8:10 AM EST: Apple CEO, Tim Cook, says he's confident China will "curb" the coronavirus impact

In an interview held on Thursday with Fox Business, Apple's CEO Tim Cook stated that he believes China has the coronavirus "under control."

Cook stated "It feels to me that China is getting the coronavirus under control. You look at the numbers, they're coming down day by day by day. I'm very optimistic there ."

Earlier this month Apple had stated that the virus has hurt Chinese demand on their products, as wellas impacting its production capabilities in China. Many of Apple's products are assembled in China, where there has been a lockdown of many factories amid fears of the outbreak.

UPDATE February 28, 2:01 AM EST: Pope Francis has 'slight' illness,' cancels visit to meet with Rome priests, amid coronavirus outbreak

Pope Francis is ill and skipped a scheduled Mass with Rome clergy throughout the town on Thursday, said officials to the South China Morning Post.

The 83-year-old leader of the catholic world had a "slight indisposition," and would carry out the rest of his schedule for Thursday, according to the Vatican. However, Francis "preferred to stay near Santa Marta;" the Vatican hotel in which the Pope lives.

There was no news from teh Vatican regarding what kind of illness he has, but the pope was seen blowing his nose and coughing throughout the Ash Wednesday Mass.

This comes amid an outbreak of the deadly coronavirus that has infected more than 400 people, most of them from the northern region of Italy. Rome has had three cases, all of which were cured.

UPDATE February 27, 5:00 PM EST: The first US coronavirus case of 'unknown' origin has happened

For the first time, a patient in the United States with no known connections to prior cases was confirmed infected with the novel coronavirus, in California, reports CNN.

The patient has no history of contact with people or places known to be at risk for coronavirus infections, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In other words, this was a "community spread" transfer, which is when the source of viral infection is not known.

The patient resided in Solano County, California and was moved to UC Davis Medical Center last week, but had to wait until Sunday for proper testing, according to a letter sent Wednesday to UC Davis staff.

UC Davis initially requested coronavirus testing for the patient, but they "did not fit the existing CDC criteria" for testing, said the letter.

The unknown origin of this infection is significant, said Dean Blumberg, a specialist in infectious disease at UC Davis Medical Center, to CNN.

"That suggests that the virus is out there in the community, and that means pretty much that everybody's at risk," he said to CNN affiliate KCRA. "We don't know who might be carrying it. We don't know who we can get it from."

He added that whoever exposed this patient to the coronavirus probably exposed other people who are as of yet undocumented. Health officials are currently working to trace those who may have been in proximity to the UC Davis patient.

"We currently have people in the field working in the community from the local, from the state and also from the CDC," said Director of the California Department of Public Health, Sonia Angell, to CNN.

Angell said that "the risk of infection to the general public remains low."

There are at present 60 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary.

  • 42 of the infected are former passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
  • 3 are Americans returned from Wuhan, China, the outbreak's epicenter.
  • 1 patient was infected by unknown means and is currently at UC David Medical Center.
  • The majority of the other 14 patients have either recently visited China, or are married to another who has returned from China.

UPDATE February 27, 2:27 PM EST: Northern Ireland reports its first case of the deadly coronavirus

The Public Health Agency of Northern Ireland has confirmed the first case of the deadly coronavirus in the region, according to a statement reported on CNN.

"Testing of a patient in Northern Ireland has resulted in a presumptive positive test for coronavirus (COVID-19)," read the statement.

No additional details as to the patient's nation of origin, or how they contracted the virus are available.

"The patient is receiving specialist care and Public Health Agency personnel are working rapidly to identify any contacts the patient had, with the aim of preventing further spread," said the statement, reports CNN.

UPDATE February 27, 2:50 PM EST: Germany reports a total of 19 new coronavirus cases, reports U.S. News

Three western German states have confirmed a total of 19 new cases of the deadly coronavirus on Thursday, one day after the federal health minister said the European country is at the beginning of an epidemic, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The health ministry of Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, had said 14 more people were confirmed to have the coronavirus on Thursday in the Heinsberg region, which is also where a couple were the first who tested positive for the disease in the state.

The new cases bring the total of confirmed cases in the Heinsberg area up to 20. Of the latest new cases, all were isolated at home, and do not require hospital treatment, said the state's health ministry.

The state of Rhineland-Palatinate also declared on Thursday that a man in the region, specifically located in Kaiserslautern, was confirmed infected with the virus.

"The male patient is doing well so far. He's in isolation," tweeted the Rhineland-Palatinate's state government.

UPDATE February 27, 2:10 PM EST: France reports 20 new cases of the deadly coronavirus

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in France jumped from 18 to 38 in only 24 hours while global leaders warn that "an epidemic is coming," reports The Local, a French news website.

The new Health Minister of France, Olivier Véran, confirmed on Thursday night that the country has experienced a 20-person jump in the total cases of coronavirus, on Wednesday.

Repeating the words of French President Emmanuel Macron earlier Thursday, Véran said: "We are preparing for an epidemic."

Two of the 20 cases are in serious condition. Both of these people had recently returned to France from Egypt, along with a tour group.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has asked the public not to panic, and instead to practice basic health protection advice, like using disposable tissues, coughing into one's elbow, and regular hand washing.

UPDATE February 27, 2:01 PM EST: Collective Friday prayers in Tehran, Iran have been canceled due to coronavirus fears

It has been announced that collective Friday prayers — an essential part of Iranian culture — will not be held due to coronavirus fears in Tehran, the capital of Iran, according to a tweet of a local news source.

This measure will also be taken in other states of the Iranian country.

No further details are available, but be sure to check back here for more updates on the deadly coronavirus.

UPDATE February 27, 1:38 PM EST: Several Iranian senior officials, including Vice President, Head of Parliament's National Security, confirmed infected with coronavirus

An Iranian cabinet member who sits only a few seats down from President Hassan Rouhani has contracted the deadly coronavirus, reports the New York Times. This makes her the sixth Iranian official to test positive for the virus, counting another prominent cleric who has been killed by the deadly virus.

Mr. Rouhani's Deputy for Women's Affairs and the highest-ranking woman in the government, Masoumeh Ebtekar, said on Thursday she was confirmed infected with the coronavirus and had been quarantined in her home. Her announcement came one day after a cabinet meeting where she may have been exposed to other carriers, like Mr. Rouhani.

A photo tweeted by a reporter for BBC Persia shows her just a few meters (yards) from Mr. Rouhani.

Ms. Ebtekar was previously known to Americans as Mary during the Tehran hostage crisis 40 years ago. During the crisis, Ebtekar was a young revolutionary and spoke for the captors of the 52 Americans held at the United States Embassy.

More than any other country, Iran has the highest number of officials infected with the deadly coronavirus, which first made landfall in the holy Iranian city of Qom. The coronavirus is believed to have spread there from China, which has kept close economic relations with Tehran despite severe sanctions from the U.S.

UPDATE February 27, 12:14 PM EST: US Vice President Pence's handling of coronavirus under scrutiny in light of previous "mishandled" HIV outbreak

U.S. President Trump said Vice President Mike Pence has been tasked with leading the American response to the spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) on Wednesday, but critics have said Pence's previous record on a "mishandled" HIV outbreak put his ability into question, reports Now This News.

As governor of Indiana, Pence's leadership contributed to the worst HIV outbreak in the Midwestern state's history. The outbreak — which happened in 2015 — has been linked to the sharing of drug needles, which may have been prevented with a needle exchange program, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At the time, the CDC had advised Pence to implement the program, but he only followed their suggestion after infections in the state had grown far beyond control. Under Pence's leadership, Indiana also spent 5% more than other comparable states on public health.

UPDATE February 27, 10:00 AM EST: Facebook has canceled F8 developer conference amid fears of the rapid spread of coronavirus

Facebook announced on Thursday that the annual F8 conference for developers will not go forward amid concerns regarding the rapid spread of the coronavirus, reports CNET. This move shows how the expanding outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 impacts the livelihood of the world's biggest tech companies.

More updates to come.

UPDATE February 27, 3:31 AM EST: San Francisco declares a state of emergency to combat the coronavirus outbreak

San Francisco in California has issued a state of emergency in a bid to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus — even though there have been no confirmed cases in the city.

Mayor London Breed stated "This declaration of emergency is all about preparedness."

The move will help the city to receive reimbursements by state and federal governments for the money it puts towards its preparations. 

Other Californian cities, such as San Diego and Santa Clara have issues similar statements.

UPDATE February 27, 3:25 AM EST: Australia issues emergency response plan to the novel coronavirus

Australia issued an emergency response plan on Thursday, in which it states that the impact of the outbreak will be determined by a few of the following factors, as per the Guardian

  • The clinical severity of the outbreak (how severe cases are, and many people need to be hospitalised)
  • Tts transmissibility (how easily it is spread, currently it has a preliminary reproduction number of 1.4 to 2.5)
  • The capacity of the health system to treat infected patients
  • The effectiveness of interventions to treat the illness or stop it spreading

UPDATE February 27, 3:21 AM EST: Japanese tour-bus guide has tested positive for the coronavirus a second time

In a first known case in Japan, a woman operating as a tour-bus guide in the city of Osaka has been tested positive for the coronavirus a second time

China so far has been the only country to confirm cases of re-infection (see below), and this is now the first reported case of re-infection of the novel coronavirus in a person in Japan. 

As of Thursday, Japan confirmed 186 infection cases of the virus, up from 170 the day before. These 186 cases are separate from the 704 reported from the Diamond Princess cruise liner. Seven people have died in Japan from the virus, four of which were from the cruise liner. 

UPDATE February 27, 3:15 AM EST: World's biggest iPhone maker reopens factory in China, and hires "SARS hero" to oversee its reopening

During the early 2000s SARS outbreak, Zhong Nanshan, was credited with discovering the Severy Acute Respiratory Syndrome, as well as how to treat it. Zhong is now leading China's investigation against the coronavirus. 

It comes as no surprise that Zhong is held in high regard. Hence why Foxconn, the world's largest iPhone maker, has hired Zhong as an adviser while they reopen their factory. Moreover, the company is offering $1,000 to each new employee in a bid to entice more people to return to work. 

Production came to a screeching halt during the coronavirus outbreak, but now some doors are slowly opening up again, Foxconn included. The company hopes to resume at least half-production by the end of the month.

UPDATE February 27, 3:11 AM EST: 14% of cured coronavirus patients in Guangdong province have tested positive once again for the virus

A local health authority in Guangdong province, China, has confirmed that 14% of patients cured of the novel coronavirus and were discharged from hospital, have caught the virus once more. 

A positive test could suggest that recovered patients could still carry the virus, adding more complexity to the outbreak.

UPDATE February 27, 3:00 AM EST: Korean Air flight attendant with coronavirus reportedly worked on to the U.S. and Israel, potentially affecting over 400 passengers 

The South Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that a Korean Air flight attendant infected with coronavirus serviced a flight between Seoul and Tel Aviv, Israel on February 15th, which subsequently confirmed 31 cases of coronavirus from the flight.

The airline has yet to disclose other routes this flight attendant serviced, however it's believed that the employee flew to U.S. destinations as well. 

UPDATE February 26, 4:59 PM EST: Energy and oil stocks crushed amid fears of coronavirus

The rapid spread of coronavirus worldwide has sent shockwaves through an oil market that is simply not prepared for the significant blow to the world's energy demand, reports CNN.

Oil prices fell lower on Wednesday, which reflects the rampant fears about economic repercussions from the fast-growing health crisis. Economists have warned that the coronavirus could spark a severe economic slowdown, and possibly a recession, in the U.S. and globally.

U.S. crude oil stock fell another 2.3% on Wednesday, to $48.73 per barrel. This is the lowest price since January of 2019, and it marks a 23% fall from the last recent peak of $63.27 per barrel on Jan. 5.

"You're seeing the ripple effects of the coronavirus proliferate outside of China. That is what is turning investor sentiment on oil and other risk assets as well," said Director of global energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets, Michael Tran.

UPDATE February 26, 3:50 PM EST: Norway has confirmed its first coronavirus case

Norway has confirmed its first case of a person infected with the deadly coronavirus, according to the country's Institute for Public Health (NIIPH), declared in a statement.

The infected person has shown no symptoms but was tested after a return trip from China, specifically an area affected by the outbreak. The NIPH elaborated that the new case is a "weak positive result."

"The NIPH considers it very unlikely that the person poses an infection risk to others," said Director of the Department of Infection Control and Preparedness at NIPH, Line Vold.

The person is currently under quarantine at their home, as a precautionary measure, added Vold.

UPDATE February 26, 3:47 PM EST: It is "highly probable" New York will see cases of the deadly coronavirus, says governor

The state of New York has "explored" 27 cases of the deadly coronavirus, and so far all tests have had proved negative, excluding one test, which is still pending, said Andrew Cuomo, NY State governor at a press conference.

Cuomo added that he believes the pending case is in Nassau County, on Long Island, NY.

"It is highly probable that you will see a continuing spread of the virus. It is highly probable that we will have people in New York State who test positive," said Cuomo.

He also said he'd submit an emergency supplemental appropriations bill to the state legislature, to ask for an additional $40 million for the New York Department of Health to adequately respond to the threat of the deadly virus.

Cuomo also said that New York State is presently engaged in the "containment phase" of handling the virus. "Our operating paradigm is always prepare for the worst and hope for the best," said Cuomo.

Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association was with Cuomo at the press conference, and said that hospitals have prepared for the coronavirus for weeks.

He added that resources available to the system in confronting potential cases are "significant."

UPDATE February 26, 3:35 PM EST: More coronavirus cases were reported outside than inside China today

Update February 27, 3:32 AM EST: More than 3,500 cases confirmed outside of China

For the first time in the deadly coronavirus outbreak, the number of new cases reported outside of China in a single day outweighs those reported inside China, reports the World Health Organization.

In China, 412 cases were confirmed today, while 459 cases were confirmed outside of China, according to the WHO's daily report.

The majority of cases in China came from Hubei province, which had 401 new cases. Six came from outside mainland China, which included four from Hong Kong, counted in WHO's total China count.

More than half of the new coronavirus cases outside of China happened in South Korea, which has reported 284 cases.

UPDATE February 26, 6:37 AM EST: European cases of coronavirus continue to spread, with France confirming its first death due to the virus

On Tuesday night, a 60-year-old French citizen died of the coronavirus in a Paris hospital. This is the first confirmed death in the nation that has now 17 cases of infected people. 

Europe's cases of coronavirus are spreading rapidly, with Italy harboring the highest number of coronavirus cases outside of Asia — see information below.

Jérôme Salomon, France's health minister, confirmed the death of the 60-year-old unnamed French citizen on Wednesday morning.

UPDATE February 26, 3:45 AM EST: Top U.S. health official says the nation needs at least 300 million face masks for healthcare workers, however, masks aren't enough to stop the coronavirus

Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services Secretary in the U.S., has stated that at least 300 millionface masks are needed for local healthcare workers. However, the effectiveness of these masks in stemming the coronavirus' spread is questionable. 

So far, the Trump administration has requested that Congress allocate $2.5 billion towards the coronavirus relief. These funds would be used for vaccine development, protective equipment, and other measures. 

The issue with face masks is that they can't entirely filter out airborne coronavirus particles. Coronavirus particles measure between 0.05 and 0.2 microns in diameter, and the masks can block out particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter, according to the Lancet journal. 

As of Tuesday, 57 U.S. nationals have been infected by the coronavirus.

UPDATE February 26, 3:41 AM EST: The latest numbers of cases of coronavirus infections and deaths show a surge in fatalities outside of China

The WHO's latest report on the coronavirus outbreak explains that four new Member States have confirmed coronavirus cases: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, and Oman.

Moreover, the report stated that confirmed cases worlwide have reached80,239 (908 of these are new in the last 24 hours). The majority of these cases are in China, 77,780 in total.

Outside of China, 33 countries have confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and there have been 34 deaths (11 of which were new in the last 24 hours). China has confirmed 2,666 deaths.

UPDATE February 26, 3:37 AM EST: Samsung reopens Galaxy Z flip phone factory after an emergency shutdown last weekend

A Samsung factory in Gumi, South Korea, shut down all operations over the weekend amid fears that an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. This person was in charge of phone production. 

The factory reopened on Monday, and Samsung does not expect any impact on its production to take place. The company stated that "The health and safety of our employees are our highest priority. The company plans to implement all necessary measures for disinfection and containment promptly."

UPDATE February 25, 3:00 PM EST: Woman in mainland Spain tests positive for deadly coronavirus

A woman in Barcelona has been confirmed infected with the deadly coronavirus, according to the Secretary of Public Health in Catalonia, Joan Guix, CNN reports.

The patient is a 36-year-old Italian citizen living in Barcelona, Guix said Guix. She traveled to Bergamo and Milan, Italy, from Feb. 12 to Sunday, Feb. 23. She is presently in isolation in a hospital.

Two other people had previously tested positive for the virus on the Spanish resort island of Tenerife, causing their hotel to go into lockdown.

Eight additional cases are presently under investigation.

UPDATE February 25, 2:25 PM EST: The Dow has now dropped more than 700 points

Stocks have made a sharply negative turn amid growing coronavirus fears. The Dow has fallen more than 700 points.

Yesterday, the Dow plummeted by more than 1,000 points; its worst day in two years.

UPDATE February 25, 2:22 PM EST: US-South Korea military exercises are expected to be scaled down amid coronavirus fears

South Korea and the U.S. are expected to announce Tuesday that a critical joint military exercise will be scaled down because the deadly coronavirus is severely reducing the ability of both militaries to participate, according to three U.S. officials, reports CNN.

If this happens, it will be the first major impact of coronavirus on U.S. military readiness, added the officials. Instead of a full-scale exercise, the U.S. may lose ground in its ability to effectively conduct future operations in a coordinated and highly-synchronized manner with the Republic of Korea, should the North Korean government take advantage of the crisis, one of the officials said.

The two allies are finalizing details of the reduced effort.

UPDATE February 25, 1:25 PM EST: France has confirmed 2 new coronavirus cases

Two additional people in France have been confirmed infected with the deadly coronavirus, said Jérôme Salomon, the country's general director of Health.

"We have two new cases tonight. Case No. 13 is the case of a young Chinese woman who returned from China on February 7 and was hospitalized in Paris. Case No. 14 is a French man returning from Lombardy; he's being hospitalized in Auvergne Rhône Alpes," said Salomon.

This comes on the heels of France declaring yesterday that it had "cured coronavirus" in its country, in that the last known case of the virus was cured.

UPDATE February 25, 1:25 PM EST: DOW plummets more than 500 points amid coronavirus fears

Stocks have reversed an earlier rise on Tuesday, overwhelmed by coronavirus fears. The Dow plummeted by more than 500 points on Tuesday.

Yesterday the Dow fell more than 1,000 points — its worst day in two years.

UPDATE February 25, 12:46 PM EST: Goldman Sachs employees are restricted from travel to South Korea and parts of Italy amid coronavirus fears

Goldman Sachs is restricting all business travel to South Korea, and also some regions in Italy amid coronavirus fears, according to an investment bank announcement on Tuesday, reports CNN.

Employees who have recently traveled to South Korea, or the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy, or who have experienced proximity to anyone who has been to these areas, are compelled to stay out-of-office for at least 14 days, said Goldman Sachs on Tuesday.

Goldman has also asked employees to delay non-essential travel to other parts of Italy and Asia. The company previously asked employees not to travel to China when the novel coronavirus first took hold in Wuhan.

Here is the full press release from Goldman Sachs:

"We are restricting all business travel to, from and within South Korea, as well as the Lombardy and Veneto regions in Italy, and asking that non-essential business travel to other parts of Italy and Asia be postponed. In addition to the previous policy for mainland China, all employees who have traveled to South Korea or the impacted regions in Italy, or who have been in close contact with individuals who have been to these areas, are required to remain out of the office for at least 14 days."

UPDATE February 25, 12:26 PM EST: US health official warns coronavirus is close to becoming a pandemic

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said the deadly coronavirus has satisfied some of the criteria for a pandemic — but not all, reports CNN.

"The fact that this virus has caused illness — including illness that has resulted in death — and sustained person-to-person spread is concerning. These factors meet two of the criteria for a pandemic," Messonnier said.

She added that the virus is "moving closer" to satisfying the third criteria: the worldwide spread of the new virus.

Messonnier also added: "But as more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder."

"Ultimately we expect we will see community spread in this country. It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness. We will maintain, for as long as [is] practical, a dual approach where we continue measures to contain this disease, but also employ strategies to minimize the impact of our communities," said Messonnier.

UPDATE February 25, 11:20 AM EST: US Senators briefed on coronavirus, and share thoughts on the crisis

U.S. Senators discussed the coronavirus during a classified briefing on Tuesday morning.

On their way out, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Lamar Alexander, and Dick Durban shared concerns over the spread of the deadly coronavirus in countries around the world, reports CNN.

According to Democrat Whip Durban, a key question is "whether or not [countries] will be aggressive in quarantine in cases and reduce the spread beyond their borders. We still have to wait and see."

GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy said that the end of the briefing was met with officials saying "it didn't need to be" classified. Sen. Roy Blunt (Republican) affirmed that nothing "top secret" was happening.

Durbin added that he believes the Trump administration's request for roughly $2 billion in additional funds to confront the coronavirus is a "wise allocation" but was quick to add that it "may not even be enough," echoing warnings of other Democrats.

Durbin also criticized the Trump administration budget request, which cuts funds for health agencies like CDC, and NIH, as "completely backwards." He also expressed hopes that the president will reconsider his budget request, because "we've got to anticipate that more resources will be needed," reports CNN.

Meanwhile, GOP Sen. Mike Braun (Indiana) said "panicking about this does not make sense," when asked if people residing in the U.S. should worry about the coronavirus. Braun stresses the low-level impact of the 14 cases detected within the country so far, excluding those infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

UPDATE February 25, 11:11 AM EST: Austria, neighboring Italy, confirms first cases of deadly coronavirus

Two people in Austria have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to the Tyrol Region government press office, reports CNN.

The genders and nationalities of the two infected people are still unknown, but they tested positive in the city of Innsbruck.

Austria shares a 404-kilometer (251-mile) border with Italy, where most of Europe's coronavirus cases have occurred. Currently, 7 have died in Italy, and more than 280 coronavirus infections have been confirmed.

UPDATE February 25, 11:08 AM EST: There are 10 Northern Italian towns on lockdown

Update on February 26, 6:40 AM EST: 11 towns in Italy are now on lockdown, with 11 deaths confirmed in the nation

As of Wednesday morning, Italy has become the most infected country outside of Asia, with 322 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Italy's Lombardy region press office has released a list of towns and villages currently under lockdown inside the so-called "red zones" declared to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

They include:

1. Codogno

2. Castiglione D'Adda

4. Fombio

5. Maleo

6. Somaglia

7. Bertonico

8. Terranova Dei Passerini

9. Castelgerundo

10. San Fioran

Measures taken in "red zones" include a total ban on public entry into the zone, closing of train stations, and complete suspension of public transit, including buses.

At present Italy has the highest number of coronavirus infections outside Asia, with 54 cases detected in the northern region of the country overnight, which brings the total up to 283, according to an Italian civil protection agency report on Tuesday. Cases are most common in the region of Lombardy, where there are 212 confirmed infections. So far, seven people have died from the virus in Italy.

UPDATE February 25, 11:07 AM EST: A vaccine to the coronavirus is at least one year away, US senators are told

Administration officials informed U.S. senators that a vaccine was at least 12 to 18 months away, according to three senators present at the closed coronavirus briefing that happened earlier on Tuesday.

In reply to questions about the wait-time for a coronavirus vaccine, Sen. Roy Blunt said: "We will not have a vaccine in the next 12 to 18 months."

Senator Joe Manchin claimed to have asked National Institutes of Health's Tony Fauci if they were close to a vaccine, and Faucci replied "no," said Manchin. "I guess Tony should know ... It's very contagious."

"The vaccine for the coronavirus is moving more rapidly than any vaccine we have already tried to approve — but it will take a year or 18 months. The way to stop (an outbreak) is quarantine and monitoring," said the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair, Lamar Alexander.

"I believe it's under control," Alexander said, reports CNN. "Do I think it will spread to the United States? The advice we got today is inevitably it will spread."

Meanwhile, U.S. President Trump has continued to express confidence to the public throughout his administration's engagement with the crisis. He added that he thinks the coronavirus crisis will be short-lived.

"I think that the whole situation will start working out. A lot of talent, a lot of brain power is being pushed behind it," said Trump during a Tuesday news conference in New Delhi, India.

UPDATE February 25, 10:54 AM EST: Iran's deputy health minister tests positive for deadly coronavirus, says state media

The Iranian deputy health minister tested positive on Tuesday, reports the country's ILNA news agency, according to Reuters.

During an interview on state television, a spokesperson for the health ministry confirmed a coronavirus infection of Deputy Iraj Harirchi and added that he has been quarantined.

There are 95 confirmed coronavirus cases in Iran, and 15 confirmed dead from infection.

UPDATE February 25, 10:13 EST: At least 4 passengers of from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have died from coronavirus

The death of an 80-year-old passenger from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has been confirmed by Japan's Ministry of Health, reports CNN.

The man passed away in the hospital and is the fourth passenger from the cruise ship to die. The total death toll from the coronavirus is five people.

UPDATE February 25, 8:11 AM EST: Harvard scientist claims 70% of the world's population will catch the coronavirus

Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist from Harvard University, predicts that between 40% to 70% of the world's entire population will be infected by the coronavirus within a year.

Not wanting to alarm everyone, Lipsitch also stated that most people won't have severe illnesses or even show symptoms, which is already the case for current coronavirus cases.

This is why he believes the virus can't be stopped. As it is sometimes asymptomatic, Lipsitch believes many people will go about their day to day lives without even realizing they've contracted the disease. 

UPDATE February 25, 5:23 AM EST: U.S. woman on the Westerdam cruise line does not have the coronavirus and did not spread it to other passengers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that a woman traveling on Holland America Line's Westerdam cruise ship does not in fact have the coronavirus. It had been believed that she had spread it to fellow passengers. 

The Westerdam had been denied docking at five ports amid rumors that its passengers had the coronavirus, even after the cruise line had confirmed that none aboard had the virus. 

In mid-February, passengers were finally allowed to disembark in Cambodia. However, fears were stoked later as an 83-year-old woman who had been aboard the cruise ship supposedly tested positive for carrying the virus. 

It ultimately turns out that she does not have the virus, as per the CDC.

UPDATE: February 25, 5:20 AM EST: Major American companies are suffering amid the coronavirus outbreak

Major U.S. companies such as United Airlines, which had to suspend its flights to four major Chinese cities — routes that represent approximately 5% of its planned capacity — are suffering due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Another big company's business that's suffering because of the coronavirus is Mastercard, who updated its first quarter and full-year 2020 outlook, and it didn't look promising. 

UPDATE February 25, 5:18 AM EST: Two-thirds of coronavirus cases may still be undetected

A report by Imperial College London has shared the worrying information that a potential two-thirds of coronavirus infections have yet to be discovered, or disclosed. 

As lead researcher of the study, Sangeeta Bhatia, stated "We compared the average monthly number of passengers traveling from [outbreak epicenter] Wuhan to major international destinations with the number of COVID-19 cases that have been detected overseas. Based on these data, we then estimate the number of cases that are undetected globally and find that approximately two thirds of the cases might be undetected at this point."

UPDATE February 24, 12:00 PM EST: "We are in the phase of preparedness for a potential pandemic," says health official

Executive Director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme Mike Ryan said on Monday that it's too early to declare the deadly coronavirus a pandemic — but the time to prepare for one is now.

"Look what's happened in China, we've seen a significant drop in cases, huge pressure placed on the virus and a sequential decrease in the number of cases, that goes against the logic of pandemic. Yet we see in contrast to that, an acceleration of cases in places like Korea, and therefore we are still in the balance," said Ryan, reports CNN.

"We are in the phase of preparedness for a potential pandemic," he added.

Ryan encourages countries of the world to prepare to take and treat patients and work toward containment.

UPDATE February 24, 10:28 AM EST: The deadly coronavirus has pandemic potential, but it's not there yet, says World Health Organization

Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization said on Monday that the deadly coronavirus has pandemic potential — but isn't a pandemic yet.

Tedros added that the decision to use the word pandemic is merely descriptive term that refers to the geographic spread of the virus, severity, and impact on society, and also that for the moment the WHO is not witnessing the uncontained global spread of the virus endemic of the word "pandemic."

He clarified that the virus is affecting countries around the world in disparate ways, which each require a unique and tailored response, not a "one-size-fits-all" response, reports CNN.

Previously, WHO had declared the novel coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.

However, it's important to remember that there is no rigid definition of "pandemic;" mathematical or otherwise. Nor is it subjective.

Outbreaks are characterized as pandemics by epidemiologists — who have yet to use the term to refer to the coronavirus. This is because they haven't yet seen sustained transmission among people who've not recently traveled to China, or had close contact with someone who was recently there.

It is insufficient for a cluster of disease in one country to exist and even spread beyond — it must spread in a sustained way, from person to person, over and over, through several generations of transmission, before the word "pandemic" applies.

UPDATE February 24, 9:36 AM EST: US stocks plunge amid fears of coronavirus

U.S. stocks plunged this morning as worries surrounding the spread of the deadly coronavirus spreading beyond mainland China to other major economies of the world swelled, reports CNN.

  • The S&P 500 declined by 3.1%
  • The Dow dropped to 997 points or 3.4%
  • The Nasdaq fell 3.9%

Having lost more than 1,400 points in three trading days, the Dow has been seriously affected by the deadly coronavirus. This massive drop virtually erased the Dow's gains for 2020, which leaves the index for the year in the negative. The S&P 500 remains, however, positive for 2020.

UPDATE February 24, 8:43 AM EST: First coronavirus case in Iraq is a student from Iran

An Iranian student who made entry into Iraq before the latter's travel ban on Iran is now confirmed infected with the deadly coronavirus, according to a statement from the Iraqi Ministry of Health on Monday.

The student has since been restricted to quarantine in the city of Najaf, added the ministry.

"The ministry would like to clarify that the tests (sic) results made today for one Iranian student showed a positive infection of a student who entered Iraq before the travel ban decision," said the statement, reports CNN.

UPDATE February 24, 8:30 AM EST: CDC declares new travel advisories for Iran and Italy

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared new travel advisories Sunday night for Italy and Iran, following a surge in confirmed coronavirus cases in both nations.

These constitute the fourth and fifth travel advisories the agency has issued beyond mainland China.

Specifically, the CDC advises travelers to "practice usual precautions" in both nations, according to a "Watch - Level 1" notice of the three possible such advisories.

UPDATE February 24, 7:40 AM EST: Chinese government approves implementation of policy to ban the consumption of wild animals

China's highest political body just approved a decision on Monday to officially ban the consumption and illegal trade of wild animals, believed by some experts to be the source of the virus.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee approved the ban on Monday, as a measure to help "safeguard the health and ecological security," according to state media of China.

The measure was created to "completely ban the eating of wild animals," while simultaneously "cracking down on illegal trade of wildlife," reports Chinese state media.

This means the use of wild animals for scientific research, exhibition, or medicine must now undergo "strict examination and approval" by the supervising department, according to regulations.

This comes nearly a month after Chinese authorities suspended the trade of wild animals on Jan. 26, which was an early measure taken to contain the virus.

UPDATE February 24, 7:34 AM EST: Passengers from Diamond Princess cruise ship were released by mistake, says Japan

Authorities in Japan are in contact with each of the 23 passengers who were mistakenly released from the Diamond Princess, the country's health ministry said to CNN, to which it added that at least three of the passengers have also retested negative for the deadly coronavirus.

The accidentally-free 23 passengers were compelled to take a second test because their first test came before Feb. 5, when a ship-wide quarantine was issued, according to the ministry, reports CNN.

Passengers in close contact with someone infected with the deadly coronavirus after their initial test were also compelled to take a second test, and reset their 14-day quarantine since their last contact with infected proxies, before receiving permission to disembark.

There was no specific time window in which the tests must be taken, the Japanese health ministry said to CNN, the 23 in question simply needed to arrange to be tested during their respective quarantine periods.

UPDATE February 24, 7:24 AM EST: Italy has confirmed 219 cases of coronavirus, with five deaths

Italy has confirmed 219 cases of the deadly coronavirus, said Angelo Borrelli, head of the country's civil protection agency, during a Monday press briefing.

Five of the 219 people infected with coronavirus have died, he said.

In addition, 91 of the cases are currently in isolation, at home, said Borrelli.

Hardest hit in Italy is the northern region of Lombardy, with 167 cases and four of the reported deaths, Borrelli added.

UPDATE February 24, 6:10 AM EST: Hundreds of tourists from East Asia to be flown from Israel back home

Hundreds of non-Israeli nationals from East Asian countries currently visiting Israel will be returned home via chartered flights in the coming days, the Israel Airport Authority said in a statement on Monday, reports CNN.

As of Monday, there are between 800 and 900 East Asian tourists in Israel. While there is no precise figure on how many South Koreans are present in the middle-eastern country, authorities have said that a representative of the South Korean embassy will be available, provided by the Ministry of Tourism.

As of Sunday night, 622 South Korean citizens touring Israel have returned to their home country. An additional 879 foreign nationals from different East Asian countries have also returned to their respective homes, the airport authority said.

Israel restricted entry for foreign nationals who have recently been to China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and Macau in the last 14 days.

UPDATE February 23, 6:20 AM EST: Israel closes its borders to Japanese and South Korean nationals and Iran's death toll rises to 8

On Sunday, Israel closed its borders to Japanese and South Korean nationals in an attempt to control the virus' outbreak while officials announced Iran's death toll has now reached 8.

UPDATE February 23, 2:10 AM EST: Tehran universities suspend teaching while more deaths from the virus are reported

Tehran announced on Sunday it would suspend teaching amid coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, South Korea reports 5th death and the death toll in China rises to 2442.

UPDATE February 22, 7:30 AM EST: Iran reports its 5th death from the virus while Lebanon confirms three more cases of infection

Iranian health authorities on Saturday reported a fifth death from the virus. The authorities also confirmed 10 new cases of the virus in Iran. In the meantime, Lebanon reported three new cases of infection.

UPDATE February 22, 5:40 AM EST: Second coronavirus death in Italy

A second patient infected with the coronavirus has died in ItalyThe victim was a female resident in Milan's Lombardy region.

Furthermore, the outbreak of the coronavirus in Northern Italy has considerably worsened on Friday, and officials now confirm 30 cases in the wealthy region of Lombardy and two in the region of Veneto.

Before Friday, only three cases of the virus had been reported by Italy.

UPDATE February 23, 5:20 AM EST: South Korea raises alert to the highest level

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday put South Korea on the highest possible alert. “The coming few days will be a critical time for us,” Jae-in said at an emergency meeting.

“This will be a momentous time when the central government, local governments, health officials and medical personnel and the entire people must wage an all-out, concerted response to the problem.” In just days, the country has reached 602 confirmed infections and five deaths.

UPDATE February 22, 5:20 AM EST: Italy reports its first coronavirus death

A 78-year-old Italian man with coronavirus died on Friday becoming the first death of the country and marking the first European death. He was one of two people who had tested positive for the virus in the Veneto region. He died in the hospital.

UPDATE February 21, 1:47 PM EST: The United States changes its criteria for identifying coronavirus cases

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is switching-up its criteria for defining confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, to consolidate cases into two distinct and separate groups: those repatriated by the U.S. Department of State, and those who were identified by the U.S. public health network.

This means there are now 21 confirmed cases from repatriated citizens and 13 cases from Americans first identified within the country, according to Director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease Nancy Messonnier, reports CNN.

Until Thursday, the CDC had reported 15 cases within the United States. The number has fallen to 13 because two cases have been reclassified as repatriated individuals.

This systemic change goes into effect on Friday.

 

UPDATE February 21, 11:05 AM EST: 253 people disembark from the Diamond Princess cruise ship

On Friday, 253 people who tested negative for the deadly coronavirus after a 14-day quarantine have disembarked from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to a press release by the Japanese Ministry of Health, reports CNN.

The process of offloading passengers who have tested negative for the virus will continue at least through Saturday, said a spokesperson for Princess Cruises, to CNN.

 

UPDATE February 21, 10:59 AM EST: "The window of opportunity is narrowing" for coronavirus containment, says health expert

There is growing concern regarding the spread of the deadly coronavirus in countries beyond mainland China among people without a connection to China or Wuhan, according to a statement made by the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reports CNN.

Tedros clarified that while there remains a possibility of containing the virus, "the window of opportunity is narrowing."

WHO is asking countries to continue containment procedures while also preparing for community transmission, Tedros said. He added that China's containment procedures in Wuhan and elsewhere are "hammering" the virus — in other words, the measures are working.

"We must not look back and regret that we failed to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have," said Tedros.

Tedros believes the outbreak can still move in any direction, which is why countries need to prepare for that inevitability now, instead of later.

UPDATE February 21, 10:00 AM EST: Lebanon declares its first confirmed coronavirus patient

The country of Lebanon has confirmed its first confirmed case of the infectious coronavirus, said Lebanese Health Minister Hammad Hassan during a news conference on Friday, reports CNN.

Hassan added that the patient is a 45-year-old female, returned yesterday from the city of Qom, Iran. Two more suspected cases exist in the nation, but neither are as of yet confirmed to be infected.

Hassan further announced that all travelers returning from Iran will henceforth be subject to quarantine for 14 days.

This comes on the heels of Iran's announcement that 18 coronavirus cases have occurred within its borders. Four have died of the deadly virus in Iran.

UPDATE February 21, 9:18 AM EST: Israel confirms first coronavirus patient

Israel's Ministry of Health has confirmed its first-ever case of coronavirus after a woman evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan was diagnosed with the illness, in a statement Friday morning, reports CNN.

The woman was one of eleven Israeli-bound passengers on the Diamond Princess, recently returned via a chartered plane. The other ten passengers have tested negative for the virus.

All passengers are currently in isolation at Sheba Medical Center, near Tel Aviv, where they will remain for 14 days.

Four other Israeli citizens diagnosed with the coronavirus remain on the cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.

UPDATE February 21, 9:05 AM EST: South Korea confirms second death from coronavirus infection

Another coronavirus patient in South Korea has died of infection, according to the country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new victim was a woman born in 1965 and was confirmed infected with the coronavirus on Friday.

The first South Korean patient to die of the deadly coronavirus had a chronic lung disease which caused the patient to be hospitalized for a long time, according to Jung Eun-Kyeong, an official at the South Korean CDC, said CNN.

UPDATE February 21, 8:04 AM EST: Iran has confirmed 18 coronaviruses infections and 4 deaths

Two additional coronavirus-related deaths have happened in Iran, with 13 new cases of the infection, according to Iran's health ministry.

"According to the latest laboratory reports 13 contractions of coronavirus have been confirmed, including 7 in Qom, 4 in Tehran, and two in Gilan. Unfortunately, out of these cases two have lost their lives," said Kianoosh Jahanpour, the nation's health ministry spokesman, in a tweet on Friday. "Most of the cases are residents of Qom or have traveled to Qom in recent days and weeks," he added.

These developments come during Iran's parliamentary elections on Friday. Some voters have elected to don protective masks, and numerous polling stations are forgoing mandatory fingerprint screenings in hopes of slowing the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

UPDATE February 21, 4:27 AM EST: Coronavirus may be spreading through fecal matter 

Watch out, there may be another way in which the deadly coronavirus is spreading, and it's not a very pleasant one. 

The Chinese Center for Disease Control published a report that stated that the coronavirus patients had "live virus in stool specimens," which suggests that the virus could be spread through fecal matter.

"This virus has many routes of transmission, which can partially explain its strong transmission and fast transmission speed," said the report.

Another study also published findings that showed the coronavirus showing up in both blood and anal swabs. 

The advice to minimize risk remains the same: wash your hands regularly, avoid contact with farm animals, and stay away from people who show symptoms of having the virus. 

UPDATE February 21, 3:20 AM EST: Coronavirus deaths rise to over 2,200, and new cases keep increasing

An additional 411 cases of infected people in Hubei province in China were confirmed on Thursday morning, which was 62 more than the previous day. In Hubei province alone the total number of coronavirus cases has reached 62,442

Outside of the epicenter, there are around 14,000 cases in China.

The death toll has reached 2,247.

Outside of China, South Korea and Japan hold the highest numbers of infected people. Just one week ago the number of infected people in South Korea was at 28, whereas now it stands at 156

UPDATE February 20, 1:22 PM EST: International airlines could lose billions from coronavirus

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that the total global loss in revenue for airlines could be $29.3 billion due to the deadly coronavirus, CNN reports.

IATA made its announcement after assessing the impact of the deadly 2019 coronavirus outbreak — also called COVID-19 — and found a potential 13% full-year loss in passenger demand for carriers in the Asia-Pacific region.

"This sharp downturn in demand as a result of COVID-19 will have a financial impact on airlines — severe for those particularly exposed to the China market," said Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac of IATA.

"Considering that growth for the region's airlines was forecast to be 4.8%, the net impact will be an 8.2% full-year contraction compared to 2019 demand levels. In this scenario, that would translate into a $27.8 billion revenue loss in 2020 for carriers in the Asia-Pacific region -- the bulk of which would be borne by carriers registered in China, with a $12.8 billion loss in the China domestic market alone. In the same scenario, carriers outside Asia-Pacific are forecast to bear a revenue loss of $1.5 billion, assuming the loss of demand is limited to markets to China. This would bring total global lost revenue to $29.3 billion (5% lower passenger revenues compared to what IATA forecast in December) and present a 4.7% hit to global demand."

Since this announcement, Kuwait Airways has suspended flights to Iran due to coronavirus concerns, until further notice. It advises its citizens not to travel to Qom amid coronavirus cases in the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to Kuwait Airways and state news.

UPDATE February 20, 12:12 PM EST: US health officials issue travel advisory for Japan amid coronavirus concerns

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new travel advisory for Japan out of concerns regarding the deadly coronavirus outbreak. This is the second coronavirus-related travel advisory the CDC has issued outside mainland China.

The CDC advises travelers to "practice usual precautions," in line with a "Watch - Level 1" notice of three possible levels.

On Wednesday, the CDC listed the first travel notice beyond mainland China — for Hong Kong, for which the agency also stipulated a "Level 1" advisory.

Precautions stipulate avoiding sick people, and thoroughly cleaning hands. The CDC also suggests people find medical advice if they have spent time in Japan in the last two weeks, or feel ill with respiratory symptoms or fever.

"At this time, CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to Japan," said a post on the agency's website.

Mainland China is listed as "Warning - Level 3" and suggests travelers "avoid nonessential travel." The notice excludes Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong.

UPDATE February 20, 11:44 AM EST: US health experts are officially part of the team investigating the coronavirus outbreak in China

U.S. health experts are part of a team of World Health Organization experts, present in China, who are investigating the deadly coronavirus outbreak, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhonom Ghebreyesus during a Thursday press briefing, CNN reports.

Tedros said the team in China consists of experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and also experts from Singapore, Japan, Germany, Korea, Russia, and Nigeria. The experts are specialists in fields of epidemiology, virology, clinical management, public health, and outbreak control, he added.

The team members and their Chinese counterparts are studying transmissibility of the virus, and also the effectiveness of measures already taken in China said Tedros.

U.S. health officials claim they've made numerous offers, beginning in early January, to send China much-needed health experts, and was previously frustrated that U.S. experts were not immediately invited into the process.

UPDATE February 20, 10:18 AM EST: Americans testing positive for coronavirus must meet 3 criteria before returning home

U.S. citizens previously aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship who tested positive for the deadly coronavirus must pass three criteria before returning home, according to letters sent from the U.S. embassy in Tokyo to these passengers, reports CNN.

The guidelines were sent to at least one American still within Japan. The U.S. began moving passengers from Japan earlier this week.

Eligibility for access to U.S.-bound flights, Americans must meet three key criteria:

1. Any fever must have resolved without medication.

2. There must also be an improvement in any symptoms or signs of illness.

3. Patients must test negative on two sets of the throat and nasal swabs spaced 24 hours apart.

These criteria are in accordance with existing guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding when patients may be released from isolation in hospitals.

"You will not be cleared to travel simply by waiting 14 days," the embassy specified. Fourteen days is the higher estimate for the coronavirus' incubation period.

UPDATE February 20, 7:45 AM EST: Japan's Health Ministry confirms 244 passengers from Diamond Princess disembarked Thursday

Two weeks into quarantine, 244 passengers have disembarked from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan, on Thursday, according to the Japanese Health Ministry, said a CNN report.

The recently departed (from the cruise ship) had tested negative for the deadly coronavirus and were set free from the vessel, with full travel privileges.

The ministry said to CNN that it previously expected 800 passengers to leave the vessel on Wednesday, but only 443 did.

UPDATE February 20, 7:25 AM EST: China reclassifies criteria for confirmed coronavirus cases, after gaining better testing capability

China has updated its criteria for diagnosing coronavirus cases, citing improved testing capacity, according to Wang Guiqiang, director of the Society of Infectious Diseases of the Chinese Medical Association.

To declare a "confirmed case" of coronavirus, a potential case must be formally diagnosed before they are added to the totals.

The National Health Commission stated earlier that confirmed cases in Hubei province would now only list people who had positive lab test results from patient samples that match both nucleic acid and the genetic sequencing of the virus.

At Thursday's press conference, Guiqiang said:

"In order to resolve the conflict between diagnosis and treatment, in Hubei, such clinical diagnosis was introduced to enable timely treatment of possible patients and reduce fatality rate," he said. "But now that the situation in Hubei has changed[, t]he nucleic acid testing capability has been greatly improved. And now all suspected cases or unconfirmed cases can be tested for nucleic acids quickly. Nucleic testing is no longer an issue," Wang added.

On Thursday, following this change, mainland China's national count fell to 394 new cases, one of the lowest in weeks.

UPDATE February 20, 7:00 AM EST: the UK plans to evacuate British tourists still aboard Diamond Princess

The UK government has planned an evacuation flight for British citizens still aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, still quarantined in Yokohama, Japan.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the flight will leave Tokyo this Friday.

"Details have been sent to those who have registered for the flight. We urge other British nationals still seeking to leave to contact us," said Raab. "We will continue to support British nationals who wish to stay in Japan."

UPDATE February 20, 6:43 AM EST: Patient confirmed infected with coronavirus after dying in South Korea

A patient has died in South Korea and was later confirmed to be infected with the deadly coronavirus, according to the country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The cause of death is still under investigation, said a KCDC official.

This comes amid a significant jump in cases across the Asian nation. The KCDC says there have been 22 confirmed cases, which brings South Korea's total coronavirus infection count to 104 on Thursday.

UPDATE February 20, 3:58 AM EST: Japanese couple flying from Hawaii back to Japan on Delta Airlines has tested positive for the coronavirus, the airline is notifying all other passengers

A couple who was visiting Hawaii over January and February have tested positive for the coronavirus. They flew with Delta Airlines from the Hawaiian islands back to their home in Japan, and now the airline is notifying all other passengers of their flight. 

The man started showing symptoms of the virus while visiting the Hawaiian island of O'ahu, and upon returning to Japan tested positive. His partner also tested positive a day later.

UPDATE February 20, 3:55 AM EST: Scientists use Nobel prize method to create an atomic-level image of the coronavirus 

Scientists have managed to create an image of the novel coronavirus by using an atomic level method. This image could help in the development of treatments or vaccines, something that's crucial if scientists are to curb the ongoing outbreak.

Have a look at the image here.

UPDATE February 19, 1:29 PM EST: Chinese health officials voice their appraisal of how deadly the coronavirus is

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has calculated a case fatality rate of 2.3% for the