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New swine flu 'has pandemic potential'
Researchers in China have discovered a new type of swine flu that is capable of triggering a pandemic, according to a study published in the US science journal PNAS.
Named G4, it is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.
It possesses "all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans," say the authors, scientists at Chinese universities and China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
From 2011 to 2018, researchers took 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs in slaughterhouses in 10 Chinese provinces and in a veterinary hospital, allowing them to isolate 179 swine flu viruses.
The authors called for urgent measures to monitor people working with pigs.
300 new cases of rare Covid-linked syndrome
Nearly 300 cases of a rare, life-threatening syndrome in children and adolescents associated with the novel coronavirus have been identified in the United States in two studies in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The US studies published on Monday follow several reports of the syndrome among Covid-19 patients in Britain France, Italy and Spain.
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), shares symptoms with toxic shock and Kawasaki disease, including fever, rashes, swollen glands and, in severe cases, heart inflammation.
A consistent picture is emerging of the syndrome occurring two to four weeks after infection by the coronavirus, Michael Levin, professor of pediatrics and international child health at Imperial College London, said in an accompanying editorial.
The syndrome affects 2 in 100,000 young people, defined as under age 21, out of 322 in 100,000 in that group who get Covid-19, he wrote.
Baby boom in Philippines
More than 214,000 extra babies could be born in the Philippines next year as strict coronavirus lockdowns have left hundreds of thousands unable to access family planning services.
It is thought that around 10 per cent of the unplanned pregnancies will be among teenagers aged 15-19, according to the country's Commission on Population and Development (Popcom).
The spike in births - expected to be the highest in two decades - has been caused by restrictions on movement preventing access to clinics, and the lack of availability of contraceptives, like condoms, in the wake of the pandemic.
Nearly 3.6m women aged between 15 and 49 years old have had an “unmet need for family planning” in the outbreak, Popcom said, almost a fifth more than usual.
Tracing app finds no contacts
The Australian government has admitted its Covid-19 contact tracing app has not identified a single contact not already known as the country recorded its highest number of daily new cases since April.
The surge was largely in the state of Victoria where 75 new cases were recorded in 24 hours, making up the vast majority of the 85 new infections recorded across the entire country.
The state's health minister Jenny Mikakos said the latest cases were “overwhelmingly concentrated” in ten suburbs of the state’s capital, Melbourne, which had been identified as community transmission hotspots.
The rise marked the 13th consecutive day of double-digit increases in the number of coronavirus cases in the state, whose tally since the pandemic began now stands at 2,099.
China approves vaccine for military
China's military has approved a coronavirus vaccine developed by its own research staff and a Chinese biotech firm, it was announced on Monday.
The vaccine was given the green light for use by troops after trials proved it was both safe and effective, said CanSino Biologics, the biotech firm involved.
However, its use for the time being will be restricted to military personnel, who offer a tighter medical control group than the general public.
The vaccine candidate, named Ad5-nCoV, was developed jointly by CanSino and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in the Academy of Military Medical Sciences. It has been in development since March.
Read more: Chinese vaccine to be used by military
Measured reopening in Thailand
Thailand's celebrated nightlife will restart this week - with some restrictions. The kingdom's tourism-reliant economy has suffered badly and the move forms part of a much needed return to normality. Business travellers and "medical tourists" will also soon be allowed to visit.
So far Thailand has had just 3,169 cases with 58 deaths from Covid-19, perhaps due to the country being the first outside China to register a case, in mid-January.
Antibodies from SARS could help treatment
A drug derived from the antibodies of patients who recovered from the SARS coronavirus is one of a new type of treatments being developed to help people with Covid-19.
The monoclonal antibodies are the first treatments specifically designed for coronavirus and can be given at an early stage of the disease. Two US pharmaceutical firms, Eli Lilly and Regeneron, launched safety studies of the antibodies earlier this month, with trials expected in the autumn.
Air-flow filters can make masks less effective
Masks with air-flow filters do not work as well as plain cloth masks, experts in the US have warned, as the coin-sized valves can allow droplets to escape.
Masks with filters were designed mainly for use on construction sites, to stop dust being inhaled and to let air out easily to keep the wearer cool.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health said a valve "allows droplets to be released from the mask, putting others nearby at risk".
What you might have missed
Six months since the start of the outbreak, the pandemic is "not even close to being over", World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over," he told a virtual briefing. The UN health agency is sending a team to China next week in connection with the search for the origin of the virus that sparked the pandemic.
Israel's Defence Minister Benny Gantz said that any annexation of West Bank territory, provided for under US President Donald Trump's controversial Middle East peace proposals, must wait until the coronavirus crisis has been contained. "Anything unrelated to the battle against the coronavirus will wait until the after the virus," MR Gantz said. His office later clarified that he was referring specifically to the annexation plan.
The US city where Republicans are due to hold their national convention in August has declared face masks mandatory amid a new surge in infections. The party relocated its convention, which will nominate Donald Trump for re-election, to Jacksonville in Florida, after Charlotte, North Carolina, mandated strict social distancing measures.
Stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic rebound from last week's losses following optimism over easing lockdowns. By the close, European key markets were more than 1pc higher, helped by steady gains on Wall Street over the New York morning after last week's tumble.
New York's iconic Broadway theatre district will stay closed until the end of the year, due to the unpredictability of the pandemic. Meanwhile, Canada's Cirque du Soleil said it is filing for bankruptcy protection in the US, as the world's most famous circus troupe seeks to restructure its debt to survive the pandemic.
The annual Geneva International Motor Show is to be cancelled for a second year in the row amid the pandemic, as organisers said they are scrapping the 2021 edition as the auto industry reels from the crisis.