Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Coronavirus outbreak begins to disrupt booming China drug trials

The fast-spreading coronavirus is starting to disrupt testing of experimental medicines in China, posing a threat to plans by global drugmakers that have invested billions of dollars to harness the potential of the Asian economic powerhouse. The U.S. clinical trials database lists nearly 500 studies with a site in the city of Wuhan, which has endured the brunt of an outbreak that has killed more than 1,100 people and infected more than 44,000 in China. About 20% of global trials are now conducted in China, up from about 10% just five years ago, according to GlobalData Plc.

Sleep difficulties are perfectly normal for babies, study confirms

New parents who struggle to get babies to sleep through the night may not be doing anything wrong, according to new research suggesting that many apparent sleep problems are really part of normal infant development. For example, the study found that 6-month-old babies still take 20 minutes, on average, to fall asleep. And by age 2, toddlers still wake up an average of once each night.

To fight coronavirus, disinfectant tunnel in China sprays industrial workers

A company in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing has built a tunnel to spray employees at an industrial complex with disinfectant before they begin work, according to a local media report, as the country battles a coronavirus outbreak. The tunnel is equipped with infrared detectors that activate a spray from misters when a person enters, the report by China News Service said.

U.S. CDC says not yet invited to assist with coronavirus investigation in China

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday it had not yet been invited to send in experts to assist with the investigation of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed over 1,000 people. An advance team of World Health Organization medical experts arrived in China on Monday to help investigate the outbreak, and the United States has been waiting for approval to send its experts as part of the WHO team.

Injected heroin use still near all-time highs in U.S., may explain hepatitis-C rise

Heroin use by injection has leveled off in recent years but had been rising steadily for more than a decade, a study finds. Rates of heroin use, injection and addiction all rose steadily between 2008 and 2016, then apparently plateaued or fell slightly during subsequent years, researchers say.

Japan cruise ship coronavirus cases climb to 175, including quarantine officer

Another 39 people have tested positive for the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan, with one quarantine officer also infected, bringing the total to 175, the health ministry said on Wednesday. The Diamond Princess was placed in quarantine for two weeks on arriving in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Feb. 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus.

Britain's Native Antigen Company introduces novel coronavirus antigens

British-based The Native Antigen Company said on Wednesday that it had introduced novel antigens to deal with the coronavirus afflicting China. "The Native Antigen Company, one of the world's leading suppliers of reagents that enables research into vaccines and diagnostics for emerging and endemic infectious diseases, today announced the commercial introduction of its Novel Coronavirus antigens, derived from the emerging Wuhan strain," it said in a statement.

China's new coronavirus cases drop, world still scared

China reported on Wednesday its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in two weeks, bolstering a forecast by Beijing's senior medical adviser for the outbreak there to end by April, but U.N. health authorities warned it could still "go in any direction". The 2,015 new confirmed cases took China's total to 44,653. That was the lowest daily rise since Jan. 30 and came a day after epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan said the epidemic should peak in China this month before subsiding.

Virtual reality may help relieve pain during childbirth

Immersion in virtual reality may relieve some of the pain of contractions before childbirth, a small study suggests. In a half-hour test among 40 hospitalized women in labor, those who used VR headsets that provided relaxing scenes and messages reported pain reductions compared with those who didn't get headsets, researchers said in a presentation at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Grapevine, Texas.

Coronavirus outbreak 'just beginning' outside China, says expert

The coronavirus epidemic may be peaking in China where it was first detected in the central city of Wuhan but it is just beginning in the rest of the world and likely to spread, a global expert on infectious diseases said on Wednesday. The Chinese government's senior medical adviser has said the disease is hitting a peak in China and may be over by April. He said he was basing the forecast on mathematical modelling, recent events and government action.