Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

China's imported coronavirus cases rise as local infections drop again

The number of new coronavirus cases imported into mainland China from overseas surpassed the number of locally transmitted new infections for the first time on Friday, according to data released by the National Health Commission. Mainland China had 11 new confirmed cases on Friday, up from eight cases a day earlier, but only four of those - all in the virus epicenter of Hubei province - were locally transmitted, according to the data released on Saturday.

U.S. hospitals say coronavirus school closures add to staffing pressure

U.S. hospitals, gearing up for a large surge in patients as the new coronavirus spreads throughout the country, are reaching out to temporary staff agencies and exploring other ways to maintain workforce levels as school closures add to pressure on doctors and nurses. "The biggest issue right now is we need to plan for a logarithmic increase in patient numbers," Dr. Jason Persoff, assistant director of emergency preparedness at UCHealth, Colorado's largest health system. "We are learning a lot from what happened in Washington state and in Italy ... there are a lot of issues with childcare."

Confirmed Dutch coronavirus infections rise by 155 to 959, two more deaths

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the Netherlands rose by 155 to 959, Dutch health authorities said on Saturday. The number of deaths rose by 2 to a total of 12 from a day earlier, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said in a statement.

New York governor says 82-year-old woman is state's first COVID-19 death

An 82-year-old woman who previously suffered from emphysema died at a Manhattan hospital of COVID-19, becoming New York state's first coronavirus-related death, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday. The number of cases throughout the state increased to more than 500, Cuomo told local reporters on a media call.

Like the flu? Trump's coronavirus messaging confuses public, pandemic researchers say

The coronavirus is not as bad as the seasonal flu. President Donald Trump is not worried about having had direct exposure to the virus. The United States is in far better shape than other countries. Those are some of the messages from Trump to the American public in recent days

World closes borders, restricts travel to contain coronavirus spread

Countries around the world on Saturday continued to close borders, impose strict entry and quarantine requirements and restrict large gatherings in efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. Apple Inc said it will close all its retail stores worldwide, outside Greater China, until March 27. Apple reopened all 42 of its branded stores in China on Friday as the spread of the virus on mainland China slowed dramatically.

Canada's hardest hit province limits virus testing as demand grows for swabs

Canada's most populous province of Ontario, which has reported more than 100 new coronavirus cases, on Saturday said it would limit testing for the respiratory illness until it can guarantee a more steady supply of swabs. "There is in an increased global demand for viral nasopharyngeal swabs due to COVID-19," Public Health Ontario said on its Web site. "In an effort to ensure swabs are available where most needed, the Public Health Laboratory is limiting the volume of swabs supplied."

Four more African nations confirm coronavirus, new controls put in place

Mauritania, Rwanda, Seychelles and Central African Republic confirmed their first coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing to 23 the number of African countries that have reported positive tests for the virus. Moving swiftly to contain its spread, Rwanda, Senegal, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco and Kenya announced tougher control measures, including bans on public gatherings, halting flights and closing schools and universities.

Syria, insisting it is coronavirus-free, takes broad steps to prevent spread

Syria has delayed parliamentary elections, shut schools and canceled most public events to prevent any spread of the coronavirus, as officials said the war-ravaged country was still free of the virus despite reports it was hiding cases. Education Minister Imad al-Azab told a news conference on Saturday schools would be closed until April 2 as authorities monitor for the virus, saying it was "not possible" for the government to conceal infections.

Ten more people die in England from coronavirus - health service

Health authorities in England announced on Saturday a further 10 deaths caused by coronavirus, almost doubling the number of fatalities in Britain since Friday. "I am sorry to confirm 10 further patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in England have died," Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said in a statement. "All 10 individuals were in the at-risk groups."