Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Bolsonaro calls coronavirus lockdown in Brazil's major cities a 'crime'
President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday blasted as criminals the governors and mayors of Brazil's largest states and cities for imposing lockdowns to slow the coronavirus outbreak, as tensions with his health minister simmered. The death toll rose to 57 from 46 while confirmed cases rose to 2,433 from 2,201 the day before.
Factbox: Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
New York, experiencing more coronavirus deaths and infections than any other U.S. state, is showing tentative signs of slowing the spread of the virus, as U.S. senators were set to vote on Wednesday a $2 trillion bipartisan package of legislation to alleviate the devastating economic impact of the pandemic. DEATHS, INFECTIONS
Pharmacies set policies to stop U.S. hoarding of potential coronavirus treatments
CVS Health Corp and Express Scripts, which set pharmacy policies for tens of millions of Americans, are putting in place measures to prevent hoarding of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and other treatments being tried against the new coronavirus. Walgreens Boots Alliance has placed limits on prescriptions of hydroxychloroquine and the related malaria treatment chloroquine.
As virus explodes, world races to mask up
Spiez Lab, a government-run institute in the Swiss mountains, was set up to protect the nation from nuclear, biological and chemical threats. "For a world without weapons of mass destruction," runs its slogan. It is now fighting another global menace - the coronavirus - by providing face masks, the demand for which is growing faster than the disease they're meant to fend off. Hospitals treating COVID-19, the pandemic caused by the virus, can need up to nine times the protective equipment they do when dealing with normal flu, according to the American Hospital Association.
Mexico City coronavirus test lab draws lines of people
Dozens of people waited in their cars and on the sidewalk at a laboratory in an upscale Mexico City neighborhood on Wednesday to be tested for coronavirus, eager for diagnoses despite the government's insistence that not everyone needs to be tested. Mexico has reported 475 cases of coronavirus since detecting the first infection in late February, although some experts say the government's limited testing means the true number could be higher. Six people with the virus have died.
Spain's coronavirus death toll overtakes China's
Spain struggled to cope on Wednesday with a mounting coronavirus crisis as its death toll exceeded China's with another 738 lives lost in a single day, and a third senior government minister was diagnosed with the virus. With 3,434 fatalities, Spain now has the second-highest number of deaths globally after Italy's 6,820. Nursing homes across the country have been overwhelmed and a skating rink in Madrid has been turned into a makeshift morgue.
China reports second consecutive day of no new local coronavirus transmissions, imported cases rise
Mainland China reported a second consecutive day of no new local coronavirus cases as the country's epicenter of the epidemic Hubei province opened its borders, but imported cases rose as Beijing ramped controls to prevent a resurgence of infections. A total of 67 new cases were reported as of end-Wednesday, up from 47 a day earlier, all of which were imported, China's National Health Commission said in a statement on Thursday.
Countries must not squander chance to control coronavirus: WHO
Countries that have locked down their populations to prevent the spread of coronavirus need to put a premium on finding new cases and doing everything they can "to suppress and control" the virus, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said U.S. President Donald Trump had displayed "political commitment" and "leadership" to fight the growing epidemic in the United States.
Japan to set up coronavirus task force, not planning emergency now
Japan is to set up a coronavirus taskforce, the government said on Thursday, as it warned of a high risk the wide spread of the virus but the economy minister said the government was not thinking of declaring a state of emergency for now. Japan has had 1,313 domestic cases of coronavirus as of Thursday morning, separate from 712 from a cruise ship that was moored near Tokyo last month, broadcaster NHK reported. There have been 45 domestic deaths and 10 from the cruise ship.
New York sees glimmer of progress against coronavirus, New Orleans worsens
New York state, leading the nation in coronavirus infections and deaths, is showing tentative signs of curbing the spread of the disease, the governor said on Wednesday, even as fatalities in New York City jumped while the health crisis deepened in hard-hit New Orleans and elsewhere. The rate of hospitalizations in New York has slowed in recent days, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, with numbers he called "almost too good to be true." He also hailed the enlistment of 40,000 retired nurses, physicians and other medical professionals signing up for a "surge health care force," but warned much remains to be done.