Health News Roundup: Argentina COVID-19 deaths hit 60,000; Remdesivir appears safe for seriously ill children and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Argentina COVID-19 deaths hit 60,000 in pandemic's 'worst moment'
Argentina is going through its "worst moment" of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health minister said on Wednesday, as deaths from the virus hit 60,000 amid a sharp second wave that has forced the country to re-impose some lockdown measures. Health Minister Carla Vizzotti warned that the South American country's healthcare system was at risk, especially in the metropolitan area around the capital Buenos Aires, which had forced the government to restrict movement and suspend indoor activities.
Remdesivir appears safe for seriously ill children; patients may not pose highest risk to hospital staff
The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Antiviral remdesivir appears safe for children
India posts daily rise of over 300,000 COVID-19 cases, record death toll
India on Thursday reported more than 300,000 coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, the highest daily global total, while COVID-19-related deaths also jumped by a record. India's daily jump in cases of 314,835 surpasses the previous highest one-day rise in the world of 297,430 cases posted by the United States in January. India's total cases are now at 15.93 million, while deaths rose by 2,104 to reach a total of 184,657, according to health ministry data.
Peeling paint, shoddy cleanups among issues at U.S. plant making J&J COVID-19 vaccine: FDA
A U.S. plant that was making Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint, shoddy cleanups, and poorly-trained staff to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration. Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.
Singapore, Hong Kong call off air travel bubble announcement: Bloomberg News
Singapore and Hong Kong on Thursday called off an announcement for an air travel bubble between Asia's two major financial hubs, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources. The two cities delayed December an air travel bubble because of a spike in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong.
How South Korea turbocharged specialty syringe production for COVID-19 vaccines
It was 7:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve when Cha Jung-hoon, South Korea's deputy minister for small businesses, got a call from his boss to make an urgent three-hour car trip to visit syringe maker Poonglim Pharmatech. The brief: work out how the government could convince and aid Poonglim, which had only about 80 employees, to rapidly scale up production of their low dead space (LDS) syringes, a type of syringe designed to minimize the amount of a drug left in the device after injection.
Recession risk looms as Japan eyes 3rd state of emergency to contain pandemic
Japan's government is expected to issue a third state of emergency on Tokyo and three western prefectures that could last for about two weeks, according to media reports, underscoring its struggle to deal with a surge in new COVID-19 case numbers. Some analysts say the decision, expected to be made as early as Friday, may push Japan back into recession if retailers are asked to close during the Golden Week holidays, which start next week and run through early May.
EU countries ready to start using J&J shot as deliveries resume
European countries prepared on Wednesday to start using Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine and speed up their vaccination campaigns after Europe's drug regulator backed the shot and deliveries started trickling in after a week-long pause. Germany's health ministry said it would start deliveries to federal states for use in vaccination centers shortly, and that family doctor should resume the use of the vaccine as of Wednesday, while France will receive the vaccine from the week after next.
Ecuador announces curfew, curbs as COVID again overwhelms hospitals
Ecuador on Wednesday implemented a nighttime curfew and other mobility restrictions as a spike in coronavirus cases again overwhelms hospitals in the Andean country, which in 2020 experienced one of the region's worst COVID-19 outbreaks. In 16 of the country's 24 provinces, only workers in the healthcare, food and other sectors deemed essential will be allowed to circulate over weekends and during evenings from Monday through Thursday, according to the decree signed by President Lenin Moreno.
Australia states investigate COVID-19 spread in quarantine hotels
Two Australian states urged staff and guests in COVID-19 quarantine hotels to get tested immediately and fully self-isolate, launching investigations into three suspected cases of travelers contracting the virus from other residents.
Australia closed its borders to non-citizens and permanent residents more than a year ago to contain the pandemic, and travelers arriving from overseas are required to undergo a two-week hotel quarantine at their own expense.
(With inputs from agencies.)