Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

U.S. coronavirus lockdown to last 10-12 weeks, top Trump official says

The lockdown affecting large segments of the American public to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus is likely to last 10 to 12 weeks, or until early June, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday. Americans are adapting to the biggest change in daily life since World War Two with schools closed, sports canceled and economic upheaval as job losses mount with the shuttering of businesses across many industries.

Amazon teams up with Bill Gates-backed group to deliver coronavirus test kits Inc is partnering with a research program funded by Bill Gates to pick up and deliver coronavirus test kits in Seattle, the e-commerce giant said on Monday. The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, a group of medical, public health and research organizations, is collecting nasal swabs from a sample of people across King County and Seattle to learn how the infection is spreading in the areas.

Suspected coronavirus case among White House press corp - press group

A White House reporter is suspected of having contracted the coronavirus, the White House Correspondents Association said on Monday, raising questions about daily press briefings that gather dozens of journalists and Trump administration officials in a single room. In a statement, the association did not disclose the name of the individual but said it has been in contact with the White House physician and the journalist's news organization.

Italy's coronavirus deaths slow, offering glimmer of hope

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy rose by 602 on Monday, the smallest increase for four days, while the number of new cases also slowed, raising hope that the most aggressive phase of the epidemic may be passing. The Civil Protection Agency said the number of fatalities from the month-old contagion stood at 6,077, while confirmed cases totaled 63,927, an increase of 4,789 over the past 24 hours -- the smallest rise for five days.

French prime minister says coronavirus lockdown could last weeks

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said a virtual lockdown in France imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus could last several more weeks and that his government was tightening restrictions even further. He said citizens from Tuesday would only be able to exercise once a day, within 1 kilometre of their home, and that burial ceremonies would be restricted to 20 people. Open-air markets should close, he added.

U.S. surgeon general says coronavirus outbreak 'to get bad' this week

The U.S. surgeon general issued his starkest warning to date on Monday about the health risk posed by the coronavirus outbreak, warning Americans that the crisis was "going to get bad" this week. The country's top public health official, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, sounded the alarm as nearly one-third of Americans awoke to "stay at home orders."

In battle against coronavirus, Colombia transforms military hospital

Colombia's central military hospital, which for decades was inundated with victims of landmines and other casualties of the country's internal conflict, is being outfitted to battle a new enemy: coronavirus. The hospital's staff parking lot is now home to eight generator-supplied tents, each with 11 beds, meant to house coronavirus patients without respiratory complications in an effort to avoid crowding the existing intensive care unit.

Italy coronavirus deaths rise by 602 in a day, lifting total death toll to 6,077

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has grown by 602 to 6,077, the head of the Civil Protection Agency said on Monday, the smallest rise in numerical terms since Thursday, suggesting a clear downward trend. The Civil Protection Agency initially said 601 people died on Monday, but the agency head told reporters the real number was 602. However, the agency said in a subsequent statement that a death had been wrongly added to Sunday's total, meaning the total tally on Monday was 6,077 not 6,078.

Exclusive: U.S. axed CDC expert job in China months before virus outbreak

Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, Reuters has learned. The American disease expert, a medical epidemiologist embedded in China's disease control agency, left her post in July, according to four sources with knowledge of the issue. The first cases of the new coronavirus may have emerged as early as November, and as cases exploded, the Trump administration in February chastised China for censoring information about the outbreak and keeping U.S. experts from entering the country to help.

Pence says U.S. coronavirus guidance to be re-evaluated after 15-day period ends

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading a U.S. task force to address the coronavirus outbreak, said on Monday the Trump administration would re-evaluate its guidance after the current 15-day guidance period ends. "At the end of this 15 days, we're going to get with our health experts, we're going to evaluate ways in which we might be able to adjust that guidance for the American people," he told reporters when asked whether the guidance could be eased to help protect the economy.