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World News

‘No Exceptions’: Philippines Bans All Foreigners over Coronavirus

Breitbart – The Philippines stopped issuing visas to foreigners, banning all nationalities from entering the country, on Thursday in an effort to stop the spread of the Chinese coronavirus throughout the island nation.

Officials did not provide a timeframe for the measures. Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy” Locsin, Jr., announced the decision via Twitter.

UK Army Prepares to Be Deployed on City Streets for Six Months to Curb COVID-19 Outbreak – Report

Sputnik – According to NHS data, some 3,269 cases of COVID-19 have been registered in the UK with the death toll rising to 144 people on 19 March. The epidemic in the country has already led the government to recommend citizens stay in their homes and take financial measures to support local businesses.

The UK Army has been readying up to be deployed on the streets of British cities if such a need arises amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Daily Mail reported, citing a note written by General Sir Nicholas Carter, head of the country’s Armed Forces. The possible deployment is expected to last up to six months according to the media outlet.

While troops have not yet been ordered to take any action, this could reportedly change in two or three months, according to the document cited by the Daily Mail. The Army is expected to achieve operational readiness to help with the outbreak by the middle of April.

Finnish health boss questions WHO coronavirus testing advice

Reuters – Finland’s national health authority questioned on Friday the World Health Organization’s call on countries to test as many patients as possible for coronavirus, after the country ran out of testing capacity this week.

Unlike many other countries, Finland is limiting coronavirus tests to the most vulnerable groups and healthcare personnel only. The national health authority says testing people with mild symptoms would be a waste of healthcare resources.

“We don’t understand the WHO’s instructions for testing. We can’t fully remove the disease from the world anymore. If someone claims that, they don’t understand pandemics,” Finland’s head of health security Mika Salminen of the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare told the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.

The WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday the test and trace strategy “must be the backbone of the response in every country”.

Finland’s visibility of the spread of the disease has weakened rapidly after it began restricting testing last week, with authorities citing lack of capacity to meet high demand.

Coronavirus: Dozens of Nuns in Rome Convents Infected

Breitbart – Outbreaks of the coronavirus have stricken two convents in the Rome area.

Rome daily Il Messaggero quoted the Lazio region´s health commissioner on Friday as saying 59 nuns at the Institute of Daughters of St. Camillo, in the hill town of Grottaferrata, have tested positive for COVID-19. One of the nuns has been hospitalized.

Coronavirus: Italian Doctor Dies After Working Without Gloves due to Shortage

Breitbart – A 57-year-old Italian doctor working without gloves due to a shortage at his hospital has died of the coronavirus. “They’ve run out,” said the doctor of the glove shortage in one of his last interviews with the media before he succumbed to the Chinese virus.

“It’s a war,” said 57-year-old doctor Marcello Natali of Italy’s coronavirus crisis before he died of the disease, according to a report by Euronews.

Italian Government Study: 99% of their Coronavirus Fatalities Were Already Sick; Half Diagnosed with 3 or More Diseases

Green Med Info – Serious doubts about the accuracy of COVID-19 testing methods, results, mortality rates, and the supposedly unique and extreme lethality of this virus are starting to emerge, even within mainstream media and government reporting. A recent study released by Italy’s national health authority found that nearly everyone who was pronounced dead from COVID-19 was already struggling with serious chronic disease(s).

A recent article in Bloomberg titled, “99% of Those Who Died From Virus Had Other Illness, Italy Says,” illustrates an overlooked point in the corona-panic taking the world by storm: the status of one’s immune system and overall health determines morbidity and mortality, and likely your susceptibility to infection in the first place.

The study found that,

“More than 99% of Italy’s coronavirus fatalities were people who suffered from previous medical conditions, according to a study by the country’s national health authority.”

Moreover,

The Bloomberg article also pointed out that the primary threat is to the elderly (the average age of someone who died was 79.5) and that the fatality rate may have been significantly overblown: instead of 8%, the fatality rate may, in fact, be closer to the global average of about 2%.

“The median age of the infected is 63 but most of those who die are older.

The average age of those who’ve died from the virus in Italy is 79.5. As of March 17, 17 people under 50 had died from the disease. All of Italy’s victims under 40 have been males with serious existing medical conditions.

While data released Tuesday points to a slowdown in the increase of cases, with a 12.6% rise, a separate study shows Italy could be underestimating the real number of cases by testing only patients presenting symptoms.

This new report challenges much of the global reporting on the topic which presents a unilateral narrative that simply being exposed (within six feet) to someone who may have tested positive for the virus is life-threatening, independent of one’s health status and other precautions one might take, such as supporting one’s immune system.  Elderly people, already experiencing polypharmacy for multiple life-threatening diagnoses for chronic diseases, are highly susceptible to opportunistic infections due to their chronic conditions, the adverse effects of pharmaceuticals, and subsequently weakened immune systems.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

California Gov. Gavin Newsom Issues Statewide “Stay at Home” Order for 40 Million

Democracy Now – In the United States, where confirmed coronavirus cases have doubled over the past two days, California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered all of California — 40 million residents — to remain at home, effective immediately. The order came as models for the coronavirus outbreak estimated 56% of Californians — or over 22 million people — will become infected, with the state’s hospital capacity at 20,000 fewer beds than will be needed at the peak of the epidemic.

Gov. Gavin Newsom: “We need to bend the curve in the state of California. And in order to do that, we need to recognize the reality. The fact is, the experience we’re having on the ground throughout the state of California, the experience that’s manifesting all across the United States and, for that matter, around the rest of the world, require us to adjust our thinking and to adjust our activities.”

Governor Newsom’s order will close restaurants, bars, social clubs and gyms across California. Essential services will remain open, including pharmacies, grocery stores, takeout and delivery restaurants, and banks.

The lockdown order came as a group of unhoused and housing-insecure people in Los Angeles — including mothers and their children — have moved into at least 12 vacant and publicly owned homes in the neighborhood of El Sereno. The families say the government has failed to provide them with shelter to protect their health during the pandemic.

New York Governor Mandates All Non-Essential Workers Stay Home

The Hollywood Reporter – Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the “New York state on pause” mandate in a press conference Friday morning.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued a stay-at-home order to more aggressively combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The “New York state on pause” directive — outlined as “Policies that Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone” — requires 100 percent of the state’s non-essential workforce to stay home.

“This is the most drastic action we can take,” said Cuomo on Friday morning of taking a tougher stance to “close the valve” and flatten the curve of the spread of the virus by further reducing density.

The main two rules shared by Cuomo are that only essential businesses will be functioning and that resident are to remain indoors to the greatest extend to protect physical and mental health.

After first reducing the state workforce to 50 percent and then 75 percent, Cuomo is now mandating that 100 percent of the state’s workforce, excluding essential services, must stay at home.

“We’re going to take it to the ultimate step which is to close the valve,” he explained of the measures. “Because the rate in increase portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system. We need everyone to be safe, otherwise no one can be safe.”

The provisions will be enforced with civil fines, Cuomo stressed — aiming the warning to young people who are not heeding the directive to social distance and stay at home.

Before Virus Outbreak, a Cascade of Warnings Went Unheeded

NY Times – The outbreak of the respiratory virus began in China and was quickly spread around the world by air travelers, who ran high fevers. In the United States, it was first detected in Chicago, and 47 days later, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. By then it was too late: 110 million Americans were expected to become ill, leading to 7.7 million hospitalized and 586,000 dead.

That scenario, code-named “Crimson Contagion,” was simulated by the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services in a series of exercises that ran from last January to August.

The simulation’s sobering results — contained in a draft report dated October 2019 that has not previously been reported — drove home just how underfunded, underprepared and uncoordinated the federal government would be for a life-or-death battle with a virus for which no treatment existed.

The full story of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus is still playing out. Government officials, health professionals, journalists and historians will spend years looking back on the muddled messages and missed opportunities of the past three months, as President Trump moved from dismissing the coronavirus as a few cases that would soon be “under control” to his revisionist announcement on Monday that he had known all along that a pandemic was on the way.

What the scenario makes clear, however, is that his own administration had already modeled a similar pandemic and understood its potential trajectory.

The White House defended its record, saying it responded to the 2019 exercise with an executive order to improve the availability and quality of flu vaccines, and that it moved early this year to increase funding for the Department of Health and Human Services’ program that focuses on global pandemic threats.

But officials have declined to say why the administration was so slow to roll out broad testing or to move faster, as the simulations all indicated it should, to urge social distancing and school closings.

Asked at his news briefing on Thursday about the government’s preparedness, Mr. Trump responded: “Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion. Nobody has ever seen anything like this before.”

‘Chilling’ Plans: Who Gets Care When Hospitals Reach Max?

Dnyuz – Medical leaders in Washington State, which has the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the country, have quietly begun preparing a bleak triage strategy to determine which patients may have to be denied complete medical care in the event that the health system becomes overwhelmed by the coronavirus in the coming weeks.

Fearing a critical shortage of supplies, including the ventilators needed to help the most seriously ill patients breathe, state officials and hospital leaders held a conference call on Wednesday night to discuss the plans, according to several people involved in the talks. The triage document, still under consideration, will assess factors such as age, health and likelihood of survival in determining who will get access to full care and who will merely be provided comfort care, with the expectation that they will die.

The effort is statewide so individual doctors and hospitals will not be left to make such decisions, said Cassie Sauer, chief executive of the Washington State Hospital Association, one of the groups convening the call.

“It’s protecting the clinicians so you don’t have one person who’s kind of playing God,” she said, adding, “It is chilling, and it should not happen in America.”

Ms. Sauer stressed that several things, including more hospital beds and equipment, could reduce the need to make such decisions. “This country has resources,” she said.

The state has been urgently seeking ventilators for patients and protective masks for health care workers, including from the Strategic National Stockpile, a repository of critical medical supplies for public health emergencies. Officials have also been looking to have the U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy, which has 80 intensive care beds, dock near Seattle to handle seriously ill patients other than those who have contracted Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Did Disney predict coronavirus? Fans lose it as they realise Tangled locks Rapunzel in a tower away from the village of Corona…

Metro – Disney may have weirdly predicted that the world was going to be struck down by coronavirus and everyone would need to self-isolate. We’re not kidding. Y’know how The Simpsons is eerily spot on with its predictions that play out onscreen, well, turns out Disney knew a thing or two about putting yourself in quarantine when anything called Corona is involved. Cast your minds back to 2010 when Disney dropped Tangled, a new and improved version of Rapunzel that we all instantly fell in love with, if not purely because of Rapunzel’s pet chameleon Pascal.

If you’re not quite familiar with the story, Rapunzel has magic hair that stops her mumma from aging, so Mother Gothel decides to lock Rapunzel away in a tower to keep herself looking young. Who needs anti-wrinkle cream, eh. But, in some weird coincidence that has truly blown our minds, the village Rapunzel is kept away from is Corona and she’s locked in quarantine for days on end (until Flynn Rider rocks up, that is). Ergo, we are Rapunzel and the village is actually a pandemic. Disney fans have been making the link on Twitter and it’s safe to say they’re completely losing it. One fan tweeted: ‘remember the film tangled? and how she was locked up in a castle?? AS IF the castle was called CORONA castle… shame we’re not living a fairytail, i’d rather be locked up in a castle tbf.’

US urged to explain military lab shutdown

Global Times – Netizens and experts are calling for the US government to release information on the suspension of an infectious disease research lab under the US Army, as a petition on the White House website listed coincident events between the closure and the outbreak of COVID-19, urging the US government to clarify whether the lab was related to the deadly virus.

While the origin of the novel coronavirus is still unknown and conspiracy theories have caused widespread panic, experts said that timely information disclosure to the public would benefit global unity and cooperation against the pandemic, which had infected more than 150,000 people and killed 5,400 around the world as of Saturday.

The Fort Detrick laboratory that handles high-level disease-causing material, such as Ebola, in Fredrick, Maryland was shut after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a cease and desist order to the organization in July, 2019 according to local media.

The suspension was due to multiple causes, including failure to follow local procedures and a lack of periodic recertification training for workers in the biocontainment laboratories. The wastewater decontamination system of the lab also failed to meet standards set by the Federal Select Agent Program, media reported.

The lab, which was closed more than half a year ago, recently caught public attention as a petition submitted to the White House website on March 10 listed some coincidences in time between the closure and the COVID-19 outbreak.

For example, “a large-scale ‘influenza’ killed more than 10,000 people” in the US in August 2019 following the closure; and the COVID-19 epidemic broke out globally in February 2020 after the US organized Event 201 – A Global Pandemic Exercise – in October 2019.

The petition also noted that many English-language news reports about the closure of Fort Detrick were deleted amid the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, raising suspicions over the lab’s relationship with the novel coronavirus.

Petitioners urged the US government to publish the real reason for the lab’s closure and to clarify whether the lab was related to the novel coronavirus and whether there was a virus leak.

Two GOP senators face questions over stock sales ahead of the market’s coronavirus slide

NBC – Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., is facing questions about his decision to sell between $630,000 and $1.7 million worth of stock one week before global financial markets began a historic slide in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A second Republican senator, Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler, also sold large amounts of stock in late January and early February, when U.S. markets were hitting all-time highs.

Both Burr and Loeffler have received non-public information about the global spread of coronavirus from Executive Branch officials, who have been briefing senators regularly since at least January.

In a statement Friday, Burr said his decision to off-load his stock was based “solely on public news reports,” including those from CNBC.

Loeffler recently disclosed a string of stock sales that began on Jan. 24, the same day Loeffler’s Senate committee hosted a private, senators-only briefing about the spread of the new coronavirus.

Over the next three weeks, Loeffler and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher sold shares worth between $1.25 million and $3.1 million, according to her disclosure records. Sprecher is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and chairman and CEO of its holding company International Exchange.

Loeffler’s transactions were first reported Thursday by The Daily Beast. Burr’s trades were reported by ProPublica.

Reached for comment, Loeffler’s spokeswoman called the Daily Beast story “a ridiculous and baseless attack.” She said the senator “does not make investment decisions for her portfolio. Investment decisions are made by multiple third-party advisors without her or her husband’s knowledge or involvement.”

Demands for resignations

NY Post – Two more senators made hefty stock sales before the coronavirus pandemic tanked global markets, records revealed as two other lawmakers who dumped millions in shares faced mounting calls to resign.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Jim Inhofe sold as much as $6.4 million worth of stock in the weeks before panic about the coronavirus sparked a worldwide selloff, according to disclosure filings first reported by the New York Times.

The additional revelations came amid widespread outrage toward GOP Sens. Richard Burr and Kelly Loeffler, who reportedly sold shares after getting briefings on the coronavirus threat.

Feinstein, a California Democrat, sold $500,001 to $1 million worth of stock in a company called Allogene Therapeutics on Jan. 31, less than a month before panic about the virus caused markets to plunge, Senate records show. Her husband sold $1,000,001 to $5 million worth of Allogene shares on Feb. 18, according to financial disclosures.

And Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, dumped as much as $400,000 worth of stock on Jan. 27, records show. He sold shares in five different companies including Apple, PayPal and Brookfield Asset Management, according to a disclosure report.

Feinstein spokesman Tom Mentzer said her husband made the transactions, not the senator herself.

“All of Senator Feinstein’s assets are in a blind trust, as they have been since she came to the Senate,” Mentzer said in an email. “She has no involvement in any of her husband’s financial decisions.”

Inhofe said he is not involved in his investment decisions. The senator asked his financial adviser in December 2018 to move his portfolio entirely out of stocks and into mutual funds in December 2018 “to avoid any appearance of controversy,” he said.

“My adviser has been doing so faithfully since that time and I am not aware of or consulted about any transactions,” Inhofe said in a statement.

The revelations came as figures across the political spectrum said Burr and Loeffler should resign for using sensitive information to cash in before fears about the virus tanked global stock markets.

Economy & Business

Markets lifted as central banks, governments pour in cash

Reuters – Stock markets rebounded from some of their recent huge losses on Friday, pulling further away from three-year lows as central banks and governments pledged masses of cash to reduce the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

US tax filing deadline moved to July 15, Mnuchin says

CNN – Americans will have an additional three months to file their taxes amid the coronavirus pandemic, the US treasury secretary said on Friday.

“We are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15,” Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted. “All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.”

He said he was acting at President Donald Trump’s direction.

The White House had announced previously they were deferring tax payments for 90 days, but that Americans would still need to file by April 15.

Now, the deadline will be extended into the summer.

Mnuchin said Americans with refunds should still file now.

“I encourage all taxpayers who may have tax refunds to file now to get your money,” he wrote.

U.S. jobless claims may reach 2.25 million, Goldman Sachs economist estimates

Market Watch – The first real bad U.S. economic data from the coronavirus outbreak was released on Thursday, as initial jobless claims surged 70,000 to 281,000, the highest level in 2.5 years.

But that is not anything compared with what is in store.

David Choi, an economist from Goldman Sachs, says initial claims for the week ending March 21 may jump to a seasonally adjusted 2.25 million. His analysis is based on recent anecdotes from press reports as well as company announcements. Over 30 states have provided preliminary data.

He said that even the most conservative assumption would be claims reaching over 1 million, which would top the record high of 695,000 in 1982.

He also estimated revenue declines in consumer-facing businesses, using a similar methodology.

U.S. to Iran: Coronavirus won’t save you from sanctions

Reuters – The United States sent Iran a blunt message this week: the spread of the coronavirus will not save it from U.S. sanctions that are choking off its oil revenues and isolating its economy.

Iran is the Middle Eastern nation worst hit by coronavirus, with its death toll climbing to 1,284 and one person dying from it every 10 minutes and 50 becoming infected every hour, the health ministry said.

The United States, which argues that its “maximum pressure” campaign to curb Iran’s nuclear, missile and regional activities does not stop the flow of humanitarian goods, imposed new sanctions this week.

The Trump administration blacklisted five companies based in the United Arab Emirates, three in mainland China, three in Hong Kong and one in South Africa for trade in Iran’s petrochemicals.

“Washington’s increased pressure against Iran is a crime against humanity,” an Iranian official told Reuters. “All the world should help each other to overcome this disease.”

U.S. internet well-equipped to handle work from home surge, experts say

However, connections could stumble for some if too many family members try to videoconference at the same time.

NBC – The U.S. internet won’t get overloaded by spikes in traffic from the millions of Americans now working from home to discourage the spread of the new coronavirus, experts say. But connections could stumble for many if too many family members try to videoconference at the same time.

Some may have to settle for audio, which is much less demanding of bandwidth.

Separately, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia on Saturday applauded announcements by several major U.S. internet providers for taking measures — including the temporary suspension of data caps and free broadband for 60 days for households with children who lack it — designed to better accommodate remote access for students, workers and public health officials. He and 17 other colleagues, Democrats and independents, had called for such measures in a letter Thursday to CEOs of AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Verizon, CenturyLink, Sprint and T-Mobile.

The core of the U.S. network is more than capable of handling the virus-related surge in demand because it has evolved to be able to easily handle bandwidth-greedy Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services.

But if parents are videoconferencing for work at the same time college and high school students are trying to beam into school, they could experience congestion. Figure a packet-dropping threshold of five or more users. That’s because the so-called last mile is for most Americans provisioned for cable — download capacity is robust but upload limited. Fiber optic connections don’t have the same issues and will do fine.

Italy’s internet saw a 30 percent spike in peak-hour traffic early this past week after the government sent everyone home into isolation, said Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, which shapes and secures internet traffic for websites, more than 10% of which sit behind its network.

Prince said in an interview Friday that Cloudflare saw no evidence, however, that the Italian internet has gotten any slower. World Cup soccer matches have posed a greater burden.

Peak internet usage times in nations where work has shifted from the office to home due to COVID-19 have also shifted — from about dinner time to about 11 a.m. Prince says it happened in Italy and South Korea and expects the same in the U.S.

Science & Technology

Medical company threatens to sue volunteers that 3D-printed valves for life-saving coronavirus treatments

The valve typically costs about $11,000 — the volunteers made them for about $1

Station Gossip – A medical device manufacturer has threatened to sue a group of volunteers in Italy that 3D printed a valve used for life-saving coronavirus treatments. The valve typically costs about $11,000 from the medical device manufacturer, but the volunteers were able to print replicas for about $1 (via Techdirt).

A hospital in Italy was in need of the valves after running out while treating patients for COVID-19. The hospital’s usual supplier said they could not make the valves in time to treat the patients, according to Metro. That launched a search for a way to 3D print a replica part, and Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Ramaioli, who work at Italian startup Isinnova, offered their company’s printer for the job, reports Business Insider.

However, when the pair asked the manufacturer of the valves for blueprints they could use to print replicas, the company declined and threatened to sue for patent infringement, according to Business Insider Italia. Fracassi and Ramaioli moved ahead anyway by measuring the valves and 3D printing three different versions of them.

So far, the valves they made have worked on 10 patients as of March 14th, according to Massimo Temporelli, the founder of Italian manufacturing solutions company FabLab who helped recruit Fracassi and Ramaioli to print the replica valves.

“[The patients] were people in danger of life, and we acted. Period,” said Fracassi in a Facebook post. He also said that “we have no intention of profit on this situation, we are not going to use the designs or product beyond the strict need for us forced to act, we are not going to spread the drawing.”

Pentagon says successfully tested hypersonic missile

RT – The Pentagon has announced that it has successfully tested a hypersonic glide body, saying that the launch will play an important role in future hypersonic technology development.

The US Navy released a clip of the projectile’s launch, which was carried out in cooperation with the Army.

This improvement is seen as crucial, as Washington had said earlier that it has lagged behind other states, like Russia, when it comes to the development of such arms.

Moscow is already taking deliveries of the Kinzhal (meaning dagger) air-launched hypersonic missiles, while the first of its silo-based Avangard gliders have already been deployed.

The latter can reportedly reach a speed of Mach 27 and its testing last year prompted a retired US Chief of Staff to declare that existing American defense systems are “simply incapable” of countering such a weapon.

Energy & Environment

UPDATE: Locust crisis poses a danger to millions, forecasters warn

Experts fear swarms like those seen in Africa will become more common as tropical storms create favourable breeding conditions

Guardian – The locust crisis that has now reached 10 countries could carry on to endanger millions more people, forecasters have said.

Climate change created unprecedented conditions for the locusts to breed in the usually barren desert of the Arabian gulf, according to experts, and the insects were then able to spread through Yemen, where civil war has devastated the ability to control locust populations.

It was Cyclone Mekunu, which struck in 2018, that allowed several generations of desert locusts the moist sand and vegetation to thrive in the desert between Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman known as the Empty Quarter, breeding and forming into crop-devouring swarms, said Keith Cressman, locust forecasting expert for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“That’s fine, that’s quite good in itself, but just about when those conditions are drying out and the breeding is coming to an end, a second cyclone came to the area,” he said.

“That allowed the conditions to continue to be favourable and another generation of breeding, so instead of increasing 400-fold, they increased 8,000-fold.

“Usually a cyclone brings favourable conditions for about six months and then the habitat dries out, and so it’s not favourable for reproduction and they die and migrate.”

The amount of cyclones in the area seem to be increasing, said Cressman, making it likely that locust swarms will also become more common.

The FAO has warned that the food security of 25 million people could be endangered by the locusts, which according to the agency’s locust monitoring service have been spotted in at least 10 countries over recent months. One swarm recently reported in Kenya covered an area the size of Luxembourg.

Health

US scientists resurrect deadly 1918 flu

New Scientist – In a surprise announcement, scientists in the US say they have recreated the influenza virus that killed at least 50 million people in 1918, and they have infected mice with it.

They say the need to understand how flu viruses cause lethal pandemics outweighs any safety risks. But the risks may not be negligible.

By painstakingly piecing together viral fragments from hospital specimens and a victim buried in Alaskan permafrost, Jeff Taubenberger and colleagues at the US Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Rockville, Maryland, have now sequenced all eight coding regions of the 1918 flu virus’s genome. They published the last three – coding for the polymerase complex that allows the virus to replicate.

Meanwhile, Terrence Tumpey at the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and colleagues used the sequences to rebuild the virus itself, and infect mice with it. They report this week that unlike other flu viruses, 1918 does not need a protein-splitting enzyme from its surroundings to replicate, instead using some hitherto-unknown mechanism. And as in 1918, it rapidly destroys lungs.

Coronavirus: How To Keep Your Gut Microbiome Healthy to Fight COVID-19

NatualBlaze – These are unprecedented times. COVID-19 (the illness caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2) has officially been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Many countries have sealed their borders and put the population under voluntary or enforced lockdown. Cultural and sporting events have been cancelled or postponed – including Euro 2020 and the Glastonbury festival – pubs and restaurants are closing, and people are panic buying staples such as toilet paper and pasta. But although it can feel like the situation is out of control, there are still plenty of things you can do to protect your health and that of the people around you.

First and foremost, follow national guidance for preventing COVID-19: avoid spreading the virus and cut your chances of catching it by regularly washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and reducing social contact. This is particularly important for protecting at-risk groups including people with existing health conditions, the elderly and pregnant women.

As well as protecting yourself from the virus on the outside, you can also build up your defences from the inside by strengthening your immune system. Many people, especially the young, develop only very mild disease. The immune system is complex and highly responsive to the world around us, so it’s not surprising that many factors affect its function. What’s important to know is that most of these factors are not hard-coded in our genes but are influenced by lifestyle and the world around us.

One thing that you can control immediately is the health of the trillions of microbes living in your gut, collectively known as the microbiome. Recent research has shown that the gut microbiome plays an essential role in the body’s immune response to infection and in maintaining overall health. As well as mounting a response to infectious pathogens like coronavirus, a healthy gut microbiome also helps to prevent potentially dangerous immune over-reactions that damage the lungs and other vital organs. These excessive immune responses can cause respiratory failure and death.

Healthy microbiome, healthy gut, healthy body

A diverse microbiome is a healthy microbiome, containing many different species that each play their part in immunity and health. Microbiome diversity declines as you get older, which may help to explain some of the age-related changes we see in immune responses, so it’s even more necessary to maintain a healthy microbiome throughout life.

Eat to feed your microbiome

The best way to increase microbiome diversity is by eating a wide range of plant-based foods, which are high in fibre, and limiting ultra-processed foods including junk food. Following a Mediterranean diet has also been shown to improve gut microbiome diversity and reduce inflammation: eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains; healthy fats like high-quality extra virgin olive oil; and lean meat or fish. Avoid alcohol, salt, sugar and sugary drinks, and artificial sweeteners or other additives.

If you are concerned about getting hold of fresh produce while self-isolating or quarantined, frozen fruit, berries and vegetables are just as healthy as their fresh counterparts and will last much longer than the currently recommended two-week isolation period. Canned fruit, beans and pulses are another long-lasting option.

You can also support your microbiome by regularly eating natural yoghurt and artisan cheeses, which contain live microbes (probiotics). Another source of natural probiotics are bacteria and yeast-rich drinks like kefir (fermented milk) or kombucha (fermented tea). Fermented vegetable-based foods, such as Korean kimchi (and German sauerkraut) are another good option.

Whether you’re shopping for yourself, your family or for elderly relatives or friends, choosing foods that support a healthy gut microbiome is much more important than stockpiling toilet paper. Managing your mental health, staying physically active and getting enough sleep will also help to keep your immune system in good shape. And don’t forget to wash your hands.

Fight Inflammation With Tart Cherry Juice

Newsmax – Tart cherry juice is the latest health rage and for good reason. The cancer-fighting beverage may also protect against heart disease, reduce arthritis symptoms, and help you sleep more soundly.

“Tart cherries are loaded with important nutrients, but you’d have to eat an entire bag of them to obtain all the benefits you get by sipping the juice,” says Michele Turcotte, M.S., R.D., a dietitian and nutritionist in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. “Its juice contains many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which can help alleviate a variety of ailments like asthma symptoms and pain.”

Turcotte explains that tart cherries, like all red fruits and vegetables, are rich in anthocyanins, a particularly potent antioxidant phytochemical.

“Anthocyanins encourage healthy circulation, ensure proper nerve function, and offer cancer-fighting properties,” says the expert. A research study published in the Journal of Nutrition says that tart cherry juice provides older adults great protection against the development of heart disease, cancer and age-related cognitive decline.

Here are more health benefits:

* Heart disease and diabetes. The quercetin found in tart cherry juice is another powerful antioxidant that helps prevent free radical damage caused by low-density lipoprotein or LDL, according to a 2013 study. When LDL cholesterol is oxidized, its more likely to stick to arterial walls, forming plaque that contributes to heart attack and stroke.

1 thought on “Today’s News: March 20, 2020”

  1. So, they need to restart the 1918 flu virus, do they now? It’s to ‘understand how viruses cause pandemics’, they claim. If they need some help in answering this question, they only need look in the mirror.

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