Trial drug for 2019 nCoV now ready to be administered to over 700 patients

Maris Federez   •   February 7, 2020   •   1696

China’s health authorities have announced that registration for clinical trials on a potential antiviral drug for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been approved.

The antiviral drug called “Remdesivir” will be made available to the more than 700 patients that tested positive of the 2019 nCoV in Wuhan City, China for its clinical trial.

Authorities said that aside from the 2019 nCoV, the drug can also be used to fight Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and even Ebola infection.

Remdesivir was developed by the American pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences.

China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Health Commission, and the National Medical Products Administration support the approval of the said drug. —(details from Grace Casin) /mbmf

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Last Congo Ebola patient discharged with end of outbreak in sight

UNTV News   •   March 4, 2020

The last patient being treated for Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo was discharged on Tuesday (March 3), the World Health Organization (WHO) said, bringing the 19-month-old outbreak closer than ever to an end.

Masika Semida’s release from hospital in the eastern city of Beni, feted by hospital staff who sang, danced and drummed, marks the first time there has been no active cases since the outbreak was declared in August 2018.

In that period, the virus has killed 2,264 people and infected nearly 1,200 more, making it the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history. Only the 2013-16 epidemic in West Africa was deadlier, killing more than 11,000.

Congo has now gone 14 days without any new confirmed cases. The outbreak can be declared over once 42 days have passed without a new case – equivalent to two cycles of 21 days, the maximum incubation period for the virus. (Reuters Connect)

(Production: Edwin Waita, Erikas Mwisi, Louisa Naks)

Brazilian scientists decode coronavirus DNA

UNTV News   •   March 3, 2020

Just days after the country’s first coronavirus case was confirmed, scientists in Brazil have sequenced the virus’ DNA to better understand and tackle the feared epidemic.

The investigative work was carried in a laboratory at the Medicine Faculty in Sao Paulo University in collaboration with Oxford University. Scientists say previous work on zika meant investigators were able to move quick.

With a DNA map of coronavirus, scientists hope that they can better monitor the virus and hopefully speed up the availability of a vaccine.

At the weekend, Brazil’s Health Ministry confirmed the country’s second case of the fast-spreading new coronavirus.

There are 85,403 confirmed cases globally, the Brazilian health ministry said on Saturday (February 29), citing data from the World Health Organisation. The epidemic, which began in China, has killed almost 3,000 people worldwide, the ministry said. (Reuters Connect)

(Production: Pablo Garcia, Paul Vieira)

Shanghai student attends online classes amid virus-induced school closure

UNTV News   •   March 3, 2020

Shanghai has required all schools to remain closed amid an ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the country, which has killed more than 2,900 people in mainland China and spread to more than 60 countries around the world.

Time off from school might not be as interesting as Sha Jie, a third grader in Shanghai, thought it would be. He has spent most of his time at home since early January when Chinese authorities started to implement strict policies that limited public activities, including going to school.

Sha Jie said to Reuters: “I still prefer offline lessons because there is more interaction with my classmates.”

Sha’s mother, Zhang Xingmei, worries about the prolonged period of online schooling for her child as she says that normal lessons may only resume on May 1.

“It won’t affect the children much if we have them do online courses for just one or two weeks. At the start he might feel it’s fresh and be full of energy. But if it lasts for one or two months, and you hand over electronic gadgets like the iPad to him, he could easily be wandering,” she said.

She also expressed concern about the shortened class time in the online material provided, as compared to normal classes her child attends in school.

The new coronavirus appears to now be spreading much more rapidly outside China than within, and airports in hard-hit countries were ramping up screening of travellers.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said almost eight times as many cases had been reported outside China as inside in the previous 24 hours, adding that the risk of coronavirus spreading was now very high at a global level.

The global death toll exceeded 3,000, with the number of dead in Italy jumping by 18 to 52. Latvia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Morocco reported cases for the first time, bringing the total to more than 60 countries with the illness known as COVID-19. (Reuters Connect)

(Production: Xihao Jiang, Fang Nanlin)

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