Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Egypt's confirmed coronavirus cases increase to 67
Egypt has registered seven new coronavirus cases bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 67, the health ministry said on Wednesday. Of the total number, at least 45 cases have been detected on a River Nile cruise ship in the popular tourist destination of Luxor, and a German tourist who died in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.
U.S. government aims at high insulin prices with plan for $35 copay in Medicare
The Trump administration on Wednesday turned back to its pledge to fight high U.S. drug prices with a plan to limit the out-of-pocket cost for insulin, a life-saving medicine, to $35 per month for many people with diabetes who are enrolled in Medicare. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is lining up drug makers and the private insurers who manage Medicare drug benefits to volunteer to test out the new pricing in 2021. Medicare drug plans cover about 46 million people aged 65 and older and with disabilities.
Some in Wuhan told to go back to work as new coronavirus cases subside in China
Some vital industries in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic, were told they can resume work on Wednesday, a day after President Xi Jinping visited there for the first time since the outbreak began. The city of 11 million has been in lockdown since late January but Xi's visit signaled the tide was turning in the government's favor as it fights to contain a virus that as of Tuesday had infected 80,778 people in China and killed 3,158.
WHO calls coronavirus a pandemic as Britain, Italy shore up defenses
The World Health Organization described the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic for the first time on Wednesday as Britain and Italy announced multi-billion-dollar war chests to fight the disease. The United States also said it was considering new steps to battle the virus that emerged in China in December and has spread around the world, halting industry, grounding flights, closing schools and forcing events to be postponed.
World Health Organization calls coronavirus outbreak 'pandemic' for first time
The World Health Organization described the new coronavirus as a pandemic for the first time on Wednesday, adding that Italy and Iran were now on the frontline of the disease and other countries would soon join them. "We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference on Wednesday.
U.S. likely to advise Americans against travel to Europe: sources
The Trump administration is likely to discourage Americans from taking trips to Europe with a new advisory as soon as Wednesday that would warn against non-essential travel to the region over coronavirus concerns, sources said. The White House is set to discuss the advisories as well as potential new travel restrictions on travelers from Europe entering the United States at a meeting on Wednesday, sources familiar with the discussions said. Reuters was first to report on the impending advisories.
Many willing to trade genetic data for compensation, control
(Reuters Health) - More than half of Americans want money and control when companies or organizations use their genetic data, a new study suggests. Public views about the value of DNA continue to evolve, especially as people become more concerned about privacy, the study authors write in PLoS ONE.
U.S. weighs limits on travelers from Europe as coronavirus hits home
The Trump administration was set on Wednesday to discuss new restrictions on travelers from European countries to fight coronavirus, sources said, as a top U.S. health official warned that the pandemic "is going to get worse" in the United States after ravaging China, Italy and other countries. The potential new measures could mirror a ban on travel to the United States imposed on foreigners who visited China in the prior two weeks, which was later extended to Iran, sources familiar with the discussions said. Advisories recommending Americans cancel travel to certain European countries are also under consideration, the people said.
As pressure for coronavirus vaccine mounts, scientists debate risks of accelerated testing
Drugmakers are working as quickly as possible to develop a vaccine to combat the rapidly spreading coronavirus that has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide. Behind the scenes, scientists and medical experts are concerned that rushing a vaccine could end up worsening the infection in some patients rather than preventing it.
U.S. states struggle to expand coronavirus testing despite federal push
New York and Washington, the U.S. states hit the hardest by the coronavirus outbreak, are struggling to make testing for the virus widely available, with local officials estimating it could take weeks more to reach peak testing capacity. While 1,039 people have been confirmed to have the virus in the United States - and 29 have died - according to data from Johns Hopkins University, experts estimate the real number of cases may be far greater.