China on Monday denied a report that three Wuhan Institute of Virology employees were hospitalized with possible coronavirus symptoms in November 2019, a claim that if true would further fuel debate over the origins of the pandemic.
The Wall Street Journal cited a U.S. intelligence report, saying previously undisclosed information provides fresh details on the timing of the hospital visits about a month before China reported the first infections. China and the World Health Organization have downplayed calls for a broader investigation into whether the virus could have escaped from the laboratory.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, on Monday called the claim “completely untrue.”
“The US continues to hype the lab leak theory. Is the real intention to express concern over the virus origin or to divert attention?” Zhao asked
Yuan Zhiming, director of the lab, also denied the report.
“Those claims are groundless,” Yuan told the Global Times. “The lab has not been aware of this situation (sick researchers), and I don’t even know where such information came from.”
Also in the news:
►Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer apologized Sunday after apparently violating state-mandated social distancing guidelines at an East Lansing bar.
►The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking into reports that a very small number of young adults and teenagers vaccinated against the coronavirus may have experienced myocarditis, or heart problems.
►Two more Major League Baseball teams have been able to relax coronavirus protocols after 85% of their players and other on-field personnel completed vaccination, raising the total to 14 of the 30 clubs.
►The Navajo Nation has reported 12 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said more than half of the reservation’s adult population has been vaccinated.
►John Coates, an International Olympic Committee vice president, says the Tokyo Olympics would go ahead this summer, even if a state of emergency is in force. Polls show about 80% of Japanese want the Olympics postponed or canceled.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and almost 589,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 167.2 million cases and more than 3.46 million deaths. More than 357.2 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 285.7 million administered, according to the CDC. More than 130 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 39% of the population.
📘 What we’re reading: As the pandemic continues, more information is accumulating about the loss of smell that afflicts as many as 70% to 80% of people who catch COVID-19 and seems particularly common among those with mild disease.
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US tally of new infections, deaths continue steep decline
The United States is now averaging about 25,000 reported coronavirus cases a day, barely more than one-tenth the average from earlier this year, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The country had been reporting about 230,000 every day.
The country is now reporting about 550 deaths per day, down from a peak of about 3,400. And the United States is on track to have about 1 million reported cases this month, the lowest reported since June 2020. It could report about 18,000 deaths in May, the lowest number seen since March 2020.
– Mike Stucka
India struggles with rising death totals, shortage of vaccines
India’s confirmed death total surpassed 300,000 on Monday as the nation of 1.4 billion people struggled with a shortage of vaccine. India has reported more than 26 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, with almost half occurring in the past two months. India’s death toll is the third-highest reported in the world after the U.S. and Brazil, accounting for 8.6% of the nearly 34.7 million coronavirus fatalities globally, though the true numbers are thought to be significantly greater.
COVID is now surging in the country’s smaller towns and villages, causing desperation among people there and in families overseas. Across India, families scour cities for coronavirus tests, medicine, ambulances, oxygen and hospital beds. When none of that works, some have to deal with the deaths of loved ones.
COVID breath test wins provisional authorization in Singapore
A 60-second breath test for the coronavirus has won provisional authorization in Singapore. The BreFence Go COVID-19 Breath Test System, developed by Singapore-based Breathonix, is intended for use in clinical laboratories, clinical settings, hospitals or by personnel trained to the operation of the system. The test achieved more than 90% accuracy in a clinical trial, the company says. Singapore, which reported 24 new homegrown cases and 12 cases “imported” from other countries on Monday, has re-imposed restrictions on social gatherings in an effort to halt the infection’s spread.
Florida’s positivity rate remains under 4%; state vaccinates 10 million
Florida’s positivity rate for new COVID-19 cases increased slightly Sunday but remained under 4% for the third time in four days. Florida also hit a milestone Sunday with more than 10 million residents vaccinated, according to the Florida Department of Health. That includes nearly 8 million people who have completed their dosage.
The state announced 2,069 new cases of the virus Sunday and 13 total deaths, marking the fewest deaths in one day since April 11. More than 37,000 people in Florida have died after being infected with coronavirus.
– Jorge Milian, Palm Beach Post
‘Massive increases’ in cases of eating disorders during pandemic
Months of isolation and anxiety brought on by the pandemic have led to a spike in eating disorders, which under normal circumstances cause an estimated 10,000 deaths a year in the U.S. “We are absolutely seeing massive increases,’’ said Jennifer Wildes, an associate psychiatry professor and director of an outpatient eating disorders program at the University of Chicago Medicine. She said some patients have to wait four to five months for treatment or medication, about quadruple the previous wait time.
An analysis of electronic medical records data from about 80 U.S. hospitals found a 30% increase in cases of eating disorders starting after March 2020. Dietitian Jillian Lampert of The Emily Program, a multistate treatment center for eating disorders, said the pandemic has created conditions that are especially suited for the development of these issues.
‘’We know that anxiety and isolation are typically very significant components of eating disorders,’’ she said
Contributing: The Associated Press.