Nearly 280,000 US Schoolchildren Have Contracted Coronavirus – Study

File photo: STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT – SEPTEMBER 23: Children including kindergartner Anderson Moore (L), 5, the photographer’s son, walk to a bus stop before school on September 23, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.  John Moore/Getty Images/AFP

 

Almost 280,000 school-aged children were infected with the novel coronavirus between March 1 and September 19, according to detailed data released Monday in a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The figure accounted for roughly four per cent of the total US caseload over this period, with children aged 12-17 approximately twice as likely to be infected as those aged 5-11.

The rate of new cases rose steadily during the spring and then shot up over the summer, peaking on July 19 with an average weekly incidence of 37.9 per 100,000.

The new cases then plateaued for several weeks before declining in late August — though it appears they are now rising again towards summer levels.

The authors wrote that the data helped establish a baseline for monitoring trends of Covid-19 infection as some schools return to in-person learning now and in the coming months.

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT – SEPTEMBER 23: Masked school children wait to have their portraits taken during picture day at Rogers International School on September 23, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.  John Moore/Getty Images/AFP

 

“School studies suggest that in-person learning can be safe in communities with low SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates, but might increase transmission risk in communities where transmission is already high,” they said.

The report provides more data for trends that were already known, such as that Hispanic and black minority groups are at heightened risk of developing severe Covid-19, as are children with underlying conditions.

Overall, 277,285 children were infected, 3,240 hospitalized (or 1.2 percent); 404 admitted to intensive care (0.1 percent); and 51 died (0.01 percent).

The real rates of hospitalization, intensive care admission and death are likely to be even lower in reality because the actual number of children infected was probably far higher and not recorded, given the number of asymptomatic cases.

Though the risk to children is relatively low, health experts are more worried about the onward transmission risk children could present to their parents or grandparents.

Children in the 5-11 group accounted for 101,503 cases and 20 deaths while those in the 12–17 group accounted for 175,782 cases and 31 deaths.

Chronic lung disease — which includes asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), for example — was the most prevalent underlying condition.

The rates of infection varied greatly from region to region and the authors emphasized that local authorities should closely monitor the situation to arrive at the best decision about in-person learning.

AFP

COVID-19: US Supports Nigeria With $2.1m To Conduct Survey

Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard
Mary Beth Leonard, US Ambassador to Nigeria. Photo: US Embassy.

 

The United States Government, through the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has provided $2.1 million support to Nigeria.

In a statement issued by the US Mission in Abuja, the sum is to conduct a household survey to determine the extent of COVID-19 transmission in Gombe, Enugu, and Nasarawa states.

“The U.S. CDC is funding the full cost of the survey ($2.1 million) and providing technical assistance as part of the U.S. Government’s bilateral efforts to improve the health and well-being of the Nigerian people,” the statement partly read.

“The survey will estimate the proportion of the population in these states who have ever been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 disease.

“This will be accomplished by measuring the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in the blood of volunteers.

“These antibodies, specialized proteins produced by the immune system to fight infection, are generated as part of the body’s response to COVID-19 and are an indication of previous infection.”

The US said the survey would also estimate the proportion of people who have the disease but are not showing any symptoms, determine risk factors for infection, and measure the intra-household transmission of COVID-19.

It added that the survey would also estimate the prevalence of malaria and its potential relationship to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

While revealing that the CDC is working with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), one of its implementing partners in Nigeria, the US pledged to provide technical assistance and oversee field implementation of the survey.

The survey, it noted, would be conducted between September and November with preliminary results expected to be released by December 2020.

Africa CDC Says Tanzania COVID-19 Tests ‘Very Reliable’

 

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday sought to ease concerns by Tanzania that the country’s coronavirus test kits were faulty.

President John Magufuli on Monday suspended top officials at the country’s national laboratory, after saying he had secretly had animals and fruits tested — and a goat, a quail and pawpaw were found positive with the virus.

He cast doubt on the credibility of laboratory equipment and technicians and questioned official data on the epidemic.

“The tests that Tanzania and all African countries are using are tests that we have validated and we know that they are performing very well,” said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC.

“We are very instrumental in training, providing training to nearly all countries and providing them with test kits. We’ve also in the last couple of weeks and months distributed tests from the Jack Ma Foundation that have been validated and proven to be very, very reliable.”

Magufuli has come under fire for repeatedly playing down the gravity of the virus, and his country is one of few in Africa that have not taken extensive measures to curb the spread.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Death Toll Tops 150,000 In Europe

After Magufuli on April 22 accused the health ministry of stoking panic by releasing new figures, the country has only updated its numbers once, on April 29, at which date it had recorded 480 cases.

He has urged citizens to keep attending church and the mosque, and his officials have suggested inhaling steam to fight the virus. Magufuli has also said he is in talks with Madagascar for a herbal tea the island nation claims cures the disease.

Baptised Covid-Organics, the drink is derived from artemisia — a plant with proven efficacy in malaria treatment — and other indigenous herbs.

Several African nations have expressed an interest in the purported remedy and the African Union has sought technical data from Madagascar.

“We should not discount anything at this point, we should know that the solutions may come completely from unexpected quarters,” said Nkengasong.

But he reiterated the scientific position that any claimed cure should be submitted to meticulous testing to see whether it is safe and effective.

“All we ask is that there should be a standard way of doing things that follow a standard protocol that is known in the scientific community,” he said.

“Scientists and public health experts should be leading these efforts in the country and… no-one should be in the haste to declare and make any announcement on any remedy or herbal product that has not been tested rigorously.”

AFP

US Investigates 14 New Zika Cases

ZikaThe US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) says it is investigating 14 new reports of possible sexual transmission of the Zika virus. This includes several pregnant women.

The CDC made the revelation as it published new guidance on sexual transmission of the virus.

The guidance has been issued in response to confirmation of the first case of Zika in a non-traveller in the continental United States.

That case was linked to sexual contact with an infected partner.

The CDC is advising all men who have travelled to an area active with the Zika virus to use protection or abstain from intercourse for the length of the pregnancy.

The health body said that there is no evidence yet that women can transmit Zika virus to their partners, but more research is needed to understand this issue.

Zika is linked to the microcephaly birth defects in babies.

The primary method of infection of the virus remains mosquito bites. Experts said that women who are pregnant, should try to avoid the insects.

On Tuesday, Margaret Chan, the Head of the World Health Organization, said the world faced “a long journey” to defeat Zika.

Speaking in Brazil, where most cases had been recorded, she said it was a “very tricky, tenacious and difficult virus”.

Pentagon Mistakenly Shipped Live Anthrax To Labs

PentagonThe Pentagon has admitted that it accidentally sent live anthrax samples to as many as nine laboratories across the country and to a U.S. Military Base in South Korea.

Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium, Bacillus Anthracis, in which most of its forms are lethal, affecting mostly animals.It is not contagious but can be transmitted through contact or consumption of infected meat.

The U.S. military said 22 military personnel at the Osan Air Base in South Korea are receiving preventive treatment after being possibly exposed to the sample.

Four civilians are also receiving treatment in the U.S. – although authorities say they face a “minimal risk”.

Pentagon Spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren, said “the sample was destroyed in accordance with appropriate protocols”.

Experts in bio-safety said they are astonished by the lapse and called for greater precautions.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun an investigation into the incident.

Colonel Warren said, “Out of an abundance of caution, the Defence Department has stopped the shipment of this material from its labs pending completion of the investigation”.

CDC spokesman, Kathy Harden, said that samples involved in the investigation will be securely transferred to CDC or affiliated laboratories “for further testing”, Ms Harden said that the CDC has also sent officials to the labs “to conduct on-site investigations”.

U.S. Government Spending Bill To Contain New Funds To Fight Ebola

EbolaThe US House Appropriations Committee Chairman, Harold Rogers, said on Monday that Legislation to extend U.S. government funding into the new fiscal year would contain additional funds to fight the Ebola epidemic in Africa.

Rogers said that he was reviewing the Obama administration’s request for additional funds for efforts to fight the deadly virus, but declined to say whether the full amount would be granted.

“There will be extra money for the Ebola,” the Kentucky Republican said. “We’re looking at the numbers now.”

The Obama administration has requested an additional $88 million to fight Ebola as part of the spending bill, including $58 million to speed production of the ZMapp experimental antiviral drug and two Ebola vaccine candidates.

The request also contains $30 million for additional staff at the Centers for Disease Control to coordinate the response to the epidemic.

The World Health Organization said on Monday that it would likely take six to nine months to contain the epidemic in West Africa, and the disease may infect up to 20,000 people.

The epidemic has killed 2,100 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria and has also spread to Senegal.

Rogers said that the additional U.S. Ebola funds would be offset by savings elsewhere in the federal budget to stay within previously determined spending caps.

He said that he expects the legislation to be introduced on Tuesday so that it can come up for a vote in the House during the week.

He said that it would be a “clean” continuing resolution that extends current funding levels for several weeks from Oct. 1 with no new controversial policy provisions.

Rogers also declined to provide details on the length of the measure, which congressional aides have said would likely last until about mid-December.