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COVID-19: The Beginning of the Pandemic

Al Jazeera

In the beginning of 2020, the world watched as China placed entire regions in quarantine to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus. At the time, few could imagine that many countries would follow suit. But on March 11, COVID-19 had already spread to more than 110 countries, and the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Since then, countries around the world have also introduced sweeping measures to slow the spread of the virus. Our Asia Correspondent, Scott Heidler, takes us into his experience covering the beginnings of a pandemic in China.

Why coronavirus superspreaders may mean we avoid a deadly pandemic

New Scientist

For yet another week, covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has remained poised just short of becoming a pandemic. As case counts stabilise in China, and don't take off elsewhere, the big question is: will it happen? "Every scenario is still on the table," said Tedros Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization (WHO), in Geneva, Switzerland, this week.

Can AI help in the fight against COVID-19?


On 9th April 2020, Queensland AI hosted a special online panel, exploring a very topical question, "Can AI help in the fight against COVID-19?" During the hour-long webinar discussion, Nicholas Therkelsen-Terry, CEO of Max Kelsen and Head of Queensland AI, hosted a multi-disciplinary panel of medical and AI experts directly involved in the COVID-19 response. Over the hour, the panellists discussed the role of artificial intelligence and data science in the fight against COVID-19. The panellists brought a range of perspectives and a wealth of experience to the discussion, creating a balanced conversation that considered both the clinical and technical sides of the equation. A shift away from classic statistical analysis using P-value confidence indicators and a movement towards a more precautionary, cost-benefit analysis approach for guiding health policy is key to gaining control of the pandemic.

G20 health ministers say pandemic reveals 'systemic weakness'

The Japan Times

Health ministers from the Group of 20 leading economies said the COVID-19 pandemic "has highlighted systemic weaknesses" in health readiness around the world. The officials commented in a communique issued from Riyadh after a teleconference hosted by Saudi Arabia. The ministers "addressed the need to improve the effectiveness of global health systems by sharing knowledge and closing the gap in response capabilities and readiness," they said in the document. They acknowledged the "social-economic impacts" brought on by the spread of coronavirus. Not mentioned, though, was the World Health Organization, less than a week after U.S. President Donald Trump said he's temporarily halting funding for the Geneva-based agency.

Coronavirus latest: Lockdown in Wuhan, China is lifted

New Scientist

The lockdown in Wuhan, China, which has been in place since 23 January was lifted today, four months after the world's first reported coronavirus cases were detected there last year. People with a "green" code on a government-issued smartphone health app are now allowed to leave the city, and train, road and rail connections have reopened. Some limits on transport remain and schools will stay closed for now. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa has passed 10,000, with more than 500 deaths across the continent from covid-19 so far. The US recorded the world's highest death toll in a single day on Tuesday, with more than 1800 deaths. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's condition is "improving" after he spent two nights in intensive care in hospital being treated for covid-19. Mauro Ferrari, the president of the European Research Council (ERC), the EU's most prestigious scientific research organisation, has resigned and criticised the EU's coronavirus response. Ferrari wanted the ERC to provide funding for a large-scale programme to support scientists researching covid-19, but his proposal was rejected. The coronavirus can infect and replicate in domestic cats and ferrets, but replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks, according to a study. The virus is thought to have originated in bats, although it is not known if the virus crossed over into other animals before it first spread to humans. Researchers are investigating whether people who have recently recovered from mild coronavirus infections can become infected again. A preliminary study found that 175 recently-recovered individuals had unexpectedly low levels of antibodies against the virus, which might be too low to provide protection. The worldwide death toll has passed 83,000. The number of confirmed cases is more than 1,400,000, according to the map and dashboard from Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher. Protecting children: Children will face many hidden negative effects from the new coronavirus, but it's not too late to avert them, says Paul Ramchandani. Covid-19 risk for underlying conditions: Does a cell surface protein explain why the coronavirus is more likely to kill people with diabetes or heart disease? Researchers are trying to find out. Coronavirus under control in Australia: Early signs suggest Australia is starting to beat the coronavirus, with the rate of new infections slowing for more than a week. How is it achieving this and will the trend continue? What are the worst symptoms and how deadly is covid-19?