HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam’s health ministry said on Saturday up to 800,000 visitors to Danang city, the country’s new novel coronavirus epicentre, have left for other parts of the country since July 1.
Vietnam last week detected its first locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in more than three months in Danang, a tourism hot spot.
The total number of infections in the country has since risen to 558 from 413, with most of the new cases linked to three hospitals in Danang.
More than 41,000 people have visited the three hospitals since July 1, the ministry said in a statement.
The Southeast Asian country reported its first two COVID-19 deaths on Friday, and the toll rose to three on Saturday.
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Fauci says the emergent flu is not ‘an immediate threat,’ but ‘it’s something we need to keep our eye on’
An emergent strain of flu in China is attracting the attention of scientists just as the world is wrestling with the worst pandemic since the 1918 Spanish flu.
Chinese researchers identified a novel strain of influenza that is infecting pigs in China and that has characteristics of the so-called swine flu, or H1N1, that resulted in the 2009 pandemic.
Researchers earlier this week published a report in peer-reviewed science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS, that identifies a strain of flu — G4 EA H1N1 — that has traits akin to H1N1 and could be transmitted to humans.
The scientists, who conducted research on Chinese pig populations in various provinces from 2011 to 2018, described the novel flu as having all the necessary attributes for a pandemic.
“G4 viruses have all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus,” the report read. “Controlling the prevailing G4 EA H1N1 viruses in pigs and close monitoring in human populations, especially the workers in swine industry, should be urgently implemented,” the researchers wrote.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines swine flu as a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza in pigs.
Talk of a emergent illness comes as the world is dealing with SAR-COV2, the novel strain of coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory illness that was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December.
There are more than 10 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and at least 507,014 people have died, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. continues to lead the world, with a case tally of 2.6 million and death toll of 126,360. The data have been revised down since this morning.
On Tuesday, The U.S.’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that there’s “the possibility that you might have another swine flu-type outbreak as we had in 2009,” in testimony to a Senate committee about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s something that still is in the stage of examination,” the public-health expert said. Fauci said the flu was not “an immediate threat where you’re seeing infections, but it’s something we need to keep our eye on, just the way we did in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu.”
Mr Joyce added that Qantas, and its budget subsidiary Jetstar, would continue to extend a furlough for about 15,000 workers “as we wait for the recovery we know is coming”.
Australia has flattened its virus curve faster than other nations, meaning demand for domestic flights has returned and is expected to fully recover by 2022.
But international demand at that time is forecast to be half of what it was, Qantas said.
The airline also plans to raise A$1.9bn (£1.05bn; $1.3bn) in equity – its first such move in 10 years – to bring in new funds and help “accelerate” its recovery.
Other short-term savings will be found by grounding up to 100 planes, including its A380 fleet, and deferring the purchase of new planes, it said.
Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor of FlightGlobal, told the BBC that the measures should help support the airline as it deals with the fallout from the pandemic.
“Qantas’s mix of job cuts, fleet reductions, and capital raising are designed to reduce costs during a demand crisis for the industry, and retain a solid core for the eventual rebound. In the short to medium term, Australia’s strong domestic market should help Qantas’s revenue partially revive.”
Decisions offer insight on Australia border question
Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Sydney
Australia’s borders remain pretty much shut in and out – apart from returning citizens or for passengers with exceptional circumstances. And the comments by Qantas today are telling.
By grounding most of its international fleet “for at least the next year”, the airline is clearly not expecting international borders to open up in a meaningful way until at least June 2021.
Should the much talked-about trans-Tasman bubble between Australia and New Zealand open up, Qantas will doubtless be part of that.
But for non-Australians hoping to visit family abroad – or for Aussies eyeing a holiday to Bali – there’s no need to pack the passport for a while yet.
Of course today the biggest thoughts go to the 6,000 or so Qantas staff who are losing their jobs, and the 15,000 employees who remain stood down.
Mr Joyce is hopeful about half of that latter group will be back helping the airline run domestic routes by the end of the year on the back of ramped-up demand to fly around this vast country. That hinges on Australia’s states opening borders to allow free travel.
And that depends on Australia keeping Covid-19 well under control – so outbreaks like the one we’re seeing right now in Melbourne do not become the norm.
The airline said its massive loyalty programme – which has 13 million members or around half Australia’s population – would be its best hope of recovery while borders remain closed.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) – the peak body for airlines – has warned that global airline revenue has seen a 55% decline on 2019 levels. IATA says it will take more than three years for global travel to return to 2019 levels.
Aviation industry analyst Shukor Yusof from Endau Analytics warned that worse is still to come for the world’s airlines as they deal with the impact of the coronavirus.
“The crisis is deeper and wider than what many think it is, and it will have a debilitating effect on the industry. We are seeing just the beginning of what is going to be at least 12 to 18 months of pain and suffering before airlines slowly recover.”
Microdroplets generated by speech can remain suspended in the air in an enclosed space for more than ten minutes, a study published Wednesday showed, underscoring their likely role in spreading COVID-19.
Researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) had a person loudly repeat the phrase “Stay healthy” for 25 seconds inside a closed box.
A laser projected into the box illuminated droplets, allowing them to be seen and counted.
They stayed in the air for an average of 12 minutes, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) showed.
Taking into account the known concentration of coronavirus in saliva, scientists estimated that each minute of loudly speaking can generate more than 1,000 virus-containing droplets capable of remaining airborne for eight minutes or more in a closed space.
“This direct visualization demonstrates how normal speech generates airborne droplets that can remain suspended for tens of minutes or longer and are eminently capable of transmitting disease in confined spaces,” the researchers conclude.
The same team had observed that speaking less loudly generates fewer droplets, in a work published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April.
If the level of infectiousness of COVID-19 through speech can be confirmed, it could give a scientific boost to recommendations in many countries to wear a face mask, and help explain the virus’s rapid spread.