One in five U.S. children with coronavirus may need hospital care: CDC

By Gene Emery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Up to 20% of U.S. children infected by the novel coronavirus require hospitalization, with infants under age 1 most likely to be in that group, according to the government’s first in-depth analysis of the disease in the youngest patient population.

Compared with adults, children infected with the coronavirus are less likely to have symptoms and more likely to have a mild illness, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) analysis also found.

That confirms published studies from China, where the virus originated, suggesting the illness known as COVID-19 might be overlooked in children even as they are spreading it to adults.

Although children under age 18 make up 22% of the U.S. population, they accounted for only 1.7% of the 149,082 confirmed COVID-19 cases for which the patient’s age was known, researchers wrote in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Up to 2% of infected children required intensive care unit admission, the analysis found.

The rates for children are significantly lower than for adults under age 65, up to a third of whom require hospitalization, with up to 4.5% needing intensive care.

CDC researchers emphasize the findings are still based on incomplete data, as most cases lacked information on disease symptoms, severity or patients’ underlying conditions.

Despite the limitations, the data show COVID-19 may be producing different symptoms in the young.

While 56% of children for whom data was available had fever, the rate was 71% in adults. Cough was a symptom in 54% of kids versus 80% of adults. Shortness of breath developed in 13% of those under 18 versus 43% of adults under age 65.

Muscle aches and pains, sore throat, headache, and diarrhea were also less common in children.

One child who tested positive for the disease had no symptoms at all. Three infected children have died.

More than 355,000 people in the United States have tested positive for the disease, with coronavirus-related deaths crossing the 10,000 mark on Monday.

Among all the 2,572 cases in U.S. children through April 2, 33% were in New York City, 23% were from the rest of New York, 15% were in New Jersey and 29% were from the rest of the country.

The first pediatric case in the U.S. was reported to the CDC on March 2.

(Reporting by Gene Emery; editing by Nancy Lapid and Bill Berkrot)

U.S. health officials consider face masks for Americans to slow coronavirus, but ‘not there yet’

By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. health officials said on Tuesday they are discussing whether to recommend that the general public wear face masks as a way to prevent transmission of the new coronavirus, but that it was too soon to take that step.

The wide use of masks outside the healthcare setting, which has been employed in other countries with some success, is under active consideration by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the White House coronavirus task force will discuss it on Tuesday, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

“The thing that has inhibited that bit is to make sure that we don’t take away the supply of masks from the healthcare workers who need them,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN.

The coronavirus outbreak in the United States has prompted more Americans to don surgical or other cotton masks or even makeshift masks when they leave home to buy groceries or get some exercise.

Meanwhile, healthcare workers across the country are facing acute shortages of personal protective equipment including N95 respirator masks and surgical masks as they treat an onslaught of highly contagious patients.

When the country gets into a situation where there are enough masks, Fauci said, there will be very serious consideration of broadening the recommendation on face masks.

“We’re not there yet, but I think we’re coming close to some determination, because if in fact a person who may or may not be infected wants to prevent infecting someone else, one of the best ways to do that is with a mask,” Fauci said.

The consideration of wider use of masks stems from the likelihood that people who have no idea they are infected are spreading the virus because they either have no symptoms or have not begun to experience symptoms.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams cautioned that wearing surgical-type cotton masks may not protect healthy Americans from contracting coronavirus and may even put them more at risk, since people who wear masks were likely to touch their face to make adjustments.

“Wearing a mask improperly can actually increase your risk of getting disease. It can also give you a false sense of security,” Adams told Fox News.

The CDC is looking at data involving the cotton masks, Adams said.

“The data doesn’t show that it helps individuals,” he said. “If you’re sick, wear a mask. If you have a mask and it makes you feel better then by all means wear it. But know that the more you touch your face the more you put yourself at risk.

“There may be a day when we change our recommendations – particularly for areas that have large spread going on – about wearing cotton masks,” Adams said. “But again, the data’s not there yet.”

The idea is being pushed by some health experts, including Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In a pandemic roadmap for the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, Gottlieb advocated that the public “initially be asked to wear fabric nonmedical face masks while in the community to reduce their risk of asymptomatic spread.”

President Donald Trump said at the White House coronavirus briefing on Monday, “it’s certainly something we could discuss.”

“After we get back into gear, people could – I could see something like that happening for a period of time, but I would hope it would be a very limited period of time,” Trump said.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Only 50 per show, please, says theater-operator AMC

By Supantha Mukherjee

(Reuters) – AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc said on Monday it will limit attendance at its U.S. theaters to a maximum of 50 people per show, effective immediately, due to the spread of coronavirus, sending its shares down 21%.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday issued  a guidance to cancel or postpone events throughout the country that consist of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks.

U.S. officials have so far recorded nearly 3,000 cases and 65 deaths. Globally, more than 162,000 have been infected and over 6,000 have died.

AMC said it was adhering to CDC’s recommendation even though it was not a legal requirement for businesses in most U.S. jurisdictions.

“We anticipate that these headwinds are transitory and we expect a growth reset over the medium term,” Benchmark analysts said after downgrading the stock to “hold” from “buy”.

However, the brokerage said it was concerned if AMC will have enough financial flexibility to cover a longer-than-anticipated slowdown or a complete shutdown of its theatrical network.

AMC operates 1,004 theaters and 11,041 screens in 15 countries, including 636 theaters and 8,094 screens in the United States.

Theater chains, which have been facing off against streaming services Netflix and Disney+, were also hit by postponement of several films.

Hollywood studios have postponed upcoming blockbuster film James Bond thriller “No Time to Die”, Disney’s epic “Mulan” and the ninth “Fast and Furious” movie from Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures.

AMC and Cineworld Group Plc’s Regal Cinemas on Friday halved their seating capacity to allow more space between moviegoers to prevent virus transmission.

Marcus Theatres, an unit of Marcus Corp, also said on Monday it plans to limit capacity by 50%.

Rival Cinemark Holdings did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the latest steps it has taken.

Cinemark shares were down 20%, and those of London-listed Cineworld’s fell 17%.

Shares of AMC have more than halved so far this year.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shinjini Ganguli)

Six dead of coronavirus in Seattle area, U.S. officials scramble to prepare for more cases

By Steve Holland and Michael Erman

(Reuters) – Six people in the Seattle area have died of illness caused by the new coronavirus, health officials said on Monday, as authorities across the United States scrambled to prepare for more infections, with the emphasis on ratcheting up the number of available test kits.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, chief health officer for Seattle and King County Public Health agency, announced the increase in fatalities from the previous two in Washington state. He told a news conference that the county was not recommending school closures or cancellation of any events at this point, but they do expect the increase in cases to continue.

The total number of cases in Washington state was now at 18. Five of the deaths were in King County and one from Snohomish County, also in the Puget Sound region just north of Seattle.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state has one confirmed case, welcomed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allowing New York to test for the virus that has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide since it emerged in China in December.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio deliver remarks at a news conference regarding the first confirmed case of coronavirus in New York State in Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

“I would like to have a goal of 1,000 tests per day capacity within one week because again the more testing the better,” Cuomo said at a briefing on Monday.

Federal health officials have said the number of test kits for coronavirus would be radically expanded in coming weeks. The United States appeared poised for a spike in cases, partly because there would be more testing to confirm infections.

The number of cases in the United States as of March 1 had risen to 91, according to the CDC. There has been a jump in presumed cases reported by the states to 27 from seven. The CDC will confirm the tests sent by states with their own diagnostics. So far, 10 states including California and New York have confirmed or presumed coronavirus cases.

Protective gear and test kits were being distributed to U.S. military facilities with a priority on distribution to the Korean Peninsula, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said at a briefing.

South Korea is one of the hardest hit countries with 4,335 cases and 26 deaths.

U.S. government military laboratories were working to develop a vaccine, Milley said.

President Donald Trump said his administration has asked pharmaceutical companies to accelerate work on the development of a coronavirus vaccine, but provided no details.

Top U.S. health officials have said any vaccine is up to 18 months away and there is no treatment for the respiratory disease, although patients can receive supportive care.

Trump and his task force on the outbreak will meet with drug company executives on Monday afternoon. Executives from GlaxoSmithKline Kline Plc, Sanofi SA , Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Inc will attend the meeting, according to representatives for the companies.

The White House is also expected to meet this week with top executives from U.S. airlines and the cruise industry over the impact of the virus to their businesses, two people briefed on the matter said.

There have been more than 87,000 cases worldwide and nearly 3,000 deaths in 60 countries, the World Health Organization said. The global death toll was up to 3,044, according to a Reuters tally.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said he was concerned the number of U.S. cases could jump in coming weeks.

“When you have a number of cases that you’ve identified and they’ve been in the community for a while, you’re going to wind up seeing a lot more cases than you would have predicted,” he told CNN.

The U.S. Congress is expected to take up a spending measure in coming days that could allocate billions more dollars for the virus response.

World stock markets, after a week-long slide, on Monday regained a measure of calm amid hope of a possible stimulus, while U.S. stocks were up around 3%. [MKTS/GLOB]

(Reporting by Steve Holland, David Shepardson, Susan Heavey, Lisa Lambert, Makini Brice, David Morgan, Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart in Washington, Michael Erman and Caroline Humer in New York and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru, Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Coronavirus pandemic a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’, warns U.S.

By David Stanway and Josh Smith

SHANGHAI/SEOUL (Reuters) – Asia reported hundreds of new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, including a U.S. soldier stationed in South Korea, as the United States warned of an inevitable pandemic and outbreaks in Italy and Iran spread to other countries.

World stocks tumbled for the fifth day on fears of prolonged disruption to global supply chains, while safe-haven gold rose back toward seven-year highs and U.S. bond yields held near record lows.

Stock markets globally have wiped out $3.3 trillion of value in the past four trading sessions, as measured by the MSCI all-country index.

The disease is believed to have originated in a market selling wildlife in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,700, the vast majority in China.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to prepare, saying that while the immediate risk there was low the global situation suggested a pandemic was likely.

“It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when and how many people will be infected,” the CDC’s principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat, said on Tuesday.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, however, advised against referring to a pandemic.

“We should not be too eager to declare a pandemic without a careful and clear-minded analysis of the facts,” Tedros said in remarks to Geneva-based diplomats.

“Using the word pandemic carelessly has no tangible benefit, but it does have significant risk in terms of amplifying unnecessary and unjustified fear and stigma, and paralyzing systems. It may also signal that we can no longer contain the virus, which is not true.”

 

‘DON’T WAIT’

The United States has reported 57 cases of the virus. U.S. President Donald Trump, back in Washington after a visit to India, said on Twitter that he would meet U.S. officials for a briefing on the coronavirus on Wednesday.

Dr Bruce Aylward, head of a joint WHO-Chinese mission on the outbreak, told reporters on his return to Geneva that countries’ preparations should not wait.

“Think the virus is going to show up tomorrow. If you don’t think that way, you’re not going to be ready,” he said. “This a rapidly escalating epidemic in different places that we have got to tackle super-fast to prevent a pandemic.”

Aylward said China’s “extraordinary mobilization” showed how an aggressive public health policy could curb its spread.

The WHO says the outbreak peaked in China around Feb. 2, after authorities isolated Hubei province and imposed other containment measures.

China’s National Health Commission reported another 406 new infections on Wednesday, down from 508 a day earlier and bringing the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 78,064. Its death toll rose by 52 to 2,715.

The WHO said only 10 new cases were reported in China on Tuesday outside Hubei.

South Korea, which with 1,261 cases has the most outside China, reported 284 new ones including a U.S. soldier, as authorities readied an ambitious plan to test more than 200,000 members of a church at the center of the outbreak.

Of the new cases, 134 were from Daegu city, where the virus is believed to have been passed among members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The U.S. military said a 23-year-old soldier based in Camp Carroll, about 20 km (12 miles) from Daegu, had been infected and was in self-quarantine at home.

OLYMPIC WORRIES

 

In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for sports and cultural events to be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks to stem the virus as concern mounted for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Japan’s professional baseball teams would play matches without spectators until March 15 due to virus concerns, Kyodo news agency reported.

Japan has nearly 170 virus cases, besides the 691 linked to a cruise ship that was quarantined of its coast this month. Six people have died in Japan, including four from the ship.

There have been nearly 50 deaths outside China, including 11 in Italy and 19 in Iran, the most outside China, according to a Reuters tally.

Iran’s deputy health minister – seen mopping his brow at a televised news conference – was among its 139 coronavirus infections. Cases linked to Iran have been reported across the fregion.

Kuwait said six new coronavirus cases, all linked to travel to Iran, took its tally to 18, while Bahrain said its infections had risen to 26 after three new ones on a flight from Iran.

The United Arab Emirates, which has reported 13 coronavirus cases, is prepared for “worst case scenarios” as it spreads in the Middle East, a government official said.

In Europe, Italy has become a front line in the global outbreak with 322 cases. Italians or people who had recently visited the country, have tested positive in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Romania, Spain and Switzerland.

Two hotels, one in Austria and one in Spain’s Canary Islands, were also locked down after cases emerged linked to Italy. Spain also reported its first three cases on the mainland.

France, with 17 cases, reported its second death.

 

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen and Susan Heavy in Washington, Diane Bartz in Chicago, Gavin Jones, Francesca Piscioneri and Crispian Balmer in Rome, Ryan Woo, Yilei Sun and Lusha Zhang in Beijing; Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith in Seoul; Paresi Hafezi and Alexander Cornwell in Dubai; Stephanie Nebehay and Michael Shields in Geneva; Writing by Michael Perry and Nick Macfie; Editing by Stephen Coates, Simon Cameron-Moore and Alex Richardson)

Yosemite National Park says 170 people ill in possible norovirus outbreak

(Reuters) – Some 170 people who have spent time in Yosemite National Park in recent weeks have suffered from a gastrointestinal ailment “consistent with norovirus” and two have been diagnosed with the illness, park officials said on Thursday.

Most of those who became ill spent time in Yosemite Valley during or around the first week in January, park spokesman Scott Gediman said in a written statement, while the number of new cases reported has declined in the past several days.

Yosemite and national park health officials were investigating the outbreak, Gediman said, adding: “The overwhelming majority of the reported cases are consistent with norovirus.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes norovirus as a very contagious stomach illness, spread by contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces, that causes vomiting and diarrhea.

Gediman said Yosemite was undertaking “extensive cleaning and enhanced sanitation protocols” following the outbreak.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Culver City, California; editing by Richard Pullin)

U.S. records no new measles cases for first week since outbreak began

An illustration provides a 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle studded with glycoprotein tubercles in this handout image obtained by Reuters April 9, 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Health officials recorded no new cases of measles in the United States last week, marking the first week without new cases of the disease since the start of an outbreak largely linked to parents who declined to vaccinate their children.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday it had recorded 1,241 cases of the highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease in 31 states as of Sept. 12.

The current outbreak of measles is the worst to hit the country since 1992, when 2,126 cases were reported, and threatens to end the nation’s measles-free status.

The majority of U.S. measles cases this year have occurred in children who had not received the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which confers immunity to the disease.

Federal health officials have attributed the outbreak in large part to a vocal fringe of U.S. parents who refuse to vaccinate their children because they believe, contrary to scientific evidence, that ingredients in them can cause autism.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in an April that the current outbreak is “completely avoidable” and the unfortunate result of some people’s choice to deny the proven safety of vaccines.

The weekly increase in the number of cases has tapered down over the last few months, dropping to 7 new cases last week. The report of zero new cases is the latest indication that the outbreak is petering out after dozens of cases were reported per week earlier this year.

The disease was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, meaning there was no continuous transmission of the disease for a year. Still, cases of the virus occur and spread via travelers coming from countries where measles is common.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York and Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Nick Zieminski)

U.S. records 16 new measles cases as outbreak shows signs of slowing

FILE PHOTO: Materials are seen left at demonstration by people opposed to childhood vaccination after officials in Rockland County, a New York City suburb, banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces, in West Nyack, New York, U.S. March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

(Reuters) – The United States recorded 16 new measles cases between July 18 and July 25, federal health officials said on Monday, as the spread of the disease, which has infected 1,164 people this year in the worst U.S. outbreak since 1992, shows signs of slowing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the new cases represented a 1.4% increase in the number of cases of the highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease since the previous week.

In recent weeks, the CDC has reported smaller increases in the number of measles cases, compared with a surge of more than a hundred cases reported in a single week earlier this year.

The running tally of cases this year, which have popped up in 30 states, includes active cases and those that have since resolved. No fatalities have been reported.

Health experts say the virus has spread mostly among school-age children whose parents declined to give them the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine, which confers immunity to the disease. A vocal fringe of U.S. parents cites concerns that the vaccine may cause autism despite scientific studies that have debunked such claims.

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, meaning there was no continuous transmission of the disease for a year. Still, cases of the virus occur and spread via travelers coming from countries where measles is common.

CDC officials have warned that the country risks losing its measles elimination status if the ongoing outbreak, which began in October 2018 in New York, continues until October 2019.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; editing by Maju Samuel and Jonathan Oatis)

U.S. recorded 18 new cases of measles last week

FILE PHOTO: Materials are seen left at demonstration by people opposed to childhood vaccination after officials in Rockland County, a New York City suburb, banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces, in West Nyack, New York, U.S. March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

(Reuters) – The United States recorded 18 new measles cases last week, taking the total for the year to 1,095 in the worst outbreak since 1992, federal health officials said on Monday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it has recorded cases of the highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease in 28 states as of June 27, the majority of them in New York City and nearby Rockland County.

The running tally includes both active cases and those that have since resolved. No fatalities have been reported.

Health experts say the virus has spread among school-age children whose parents declined to give them the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which confers immunity to the disease. A vocal fringe of U.S. parents cite concerns that the vaccine may cause autism, despite scientific studies that have debunked such claims.

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, meaning there was no continuous transmission of the disease for a year. Still, cases of the virus occur and spread via travelers coming from countries where measles is common.

CDC officials have warned that the country risks losing its measles elimination status if the ongoing outbreak, which began in October 2018 in New York, continues until October 2019.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Bill Berkrot)

U.S. measles outbreak spreads to Idaho and Virginia, hits 1,022 cases

FILE PHOTO: A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo

The United States’ worst measles outbreak in a quarter-century spread to Idaho and Virginia last week as public health authorities on Monday reported 41 new cases of the highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease.

The U.S. has recorded 1,022 cases of the diseases this year as of June 6, in an outbreak blamed on misinformation about vaccines, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The 2019 outbreak, which has reached 28 states, is the worst since 1992, when 2,126 cases were recorded.

Federal health officials attribute this year’s outbreak to U.S. parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. These parents believe, contrary to scientific evidence, that ingredients in the vaccine can cause autism.

“We cannot say this enough: Vaccines are a safe and highly effective public health tool that can prevent this disease and end the current outbreak,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement last week.

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, meaning there was no continuous transmission of the disease for a year. Still, cases of the virus occur and spread via travelers coming from countries where measles is common.

CDC officials have warned that the country risks losing its measles elimination status if the ongoing outbreak, which began in October 2018 in New York, continues until October 2019.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York and Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Scott Malone and Susan Thomas)