(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
No signs of containing the virus
Only last week, Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s maritime minister and close confidant of the country’s president, touted herbal mangosteen juice as a coronavirus remedy, reflecting the unscientific approach to battling the coronavirus in the world’s fourth-most populous country.
Indonesia, where the rate of testing is among the world’s lowest, contact tracing is minimal and authorities have resisted lockdowns even as infections spiked, shows no signs of containing the virus.
It now has the fastest infection spread in East Asia, with 17% of people tested turning out positive, rising close to 25% outside the capital, Jakarta. Figures above 5% mean an outbreak is not under control, according to the World Health Organization.
“This virus has already spread all over Indonesia. What we are doing is basically herd immunity,” said Prijo Sidipratomo, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the National Veterans Development University in Jakarta. “So, we should just dig many, many graves.” Herd immunity describes a scenario where a large proportion of the population contracts the virus and then widespread immunity stops the disease from spreading.
Grave situation in renewed South Korea outbreak
Novel coronavirus infections have spread nationwide from a church in the South Korean capital, raising fears that one of the world’s virus mitigation success stories might yet suffer a disastrous outbreak, a top health official said on Thursday.
“The reason we take the recent situation seriously is because this transmission, which began to spread around a specific religious facility, is appearing nationwide through certain rallies,” Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing.
The positive cases from the rallies include people from nine different cities and provinces across the country. Kim did not identify those places but said 114 facilities, including the places of work of infected people, were facing risk of transmission.
U.S. economy rebounds, shaking off concerns
The U.S. economy is rebounding “very, very strongly,” and fresh federal aid will reach unemployed Americans in the next week or two, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Wednesday, shaking off concerns about a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Kudlow, speaking to reporters at the White House, defended a reduction in the unemployment supplement to $300 from $600, saying stimulus measures should be reduced slowly as the economy strengthens.
He said the number of infections should continue to decline since more Americans were now using face masks, maintaining social distancing and regularly washing their hands.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday reported 5,460,429 cases of the novel coronavirus in the country, an increase of 39,318 from its previous count, and said the number of deaths had risen by 1,172 to 171,012.
Trump touts convalescent plasma as treatment
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday touted the use of convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 and suggested a reported decision by regulators to put on hold an emergency authorization for its use could be politically motivated. “I’ve heard fantastic things about convalescent plasma,” Trump told a briefing.
An emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the use of blood plasma as a coronavirus treatment has been put on hold over concerns the data backing it was too weak, the New York Times reported on Wednesday. The FDA did not respond to a request for comment.
People who survive an infectious disease such as COVID-19 are left with blood plasma containing antibodies the body’s immune system created to fight off a virus. This can be transfused into newly infected patients to try to aid recovery.
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