Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Experts fear China reluctant to accept WHO ground mission

China is dragging its heels in accepting help on the ground from international health specialists, diplomats and experts said on Thursday, noting four days after a World Health Organization (WHO) advance team arrived in Beijing no details have been released on how and when the full mission will deploy.

China has recorded 48,206 cases of a new coronavirus, now known as SARS-CoV-2, which emerged in a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan in December. The virus has spread to 24 countries infecting more than 440 people, the WHO says.

China pushes for cheaper health insurance products to battle virus: sources

China is nudging insurers to work on cheaper medical cover linked to the coronavirus and is assuring them of fast-track approval for these new products, people with knowledge of the matter said. The move will mark a shift in the Chinese insurance market where the bulk of existing products are essentially investment schemes and pure healthcare coverage accounts for only about a fifth of the total life insurance premium.

Rise in new coronavirus cases in China reflects 'broader definition' of infection: WHO

A jump in the number of new cases of coronavirus in China reflects a "broader definition" of a case of infection, World Health Organization (WHO) officials said on Thursday. "It is our current understanding that the new case definition widens the net, and includes not only lab-confirmed cases but also clinically diagnosed cases based on symptoms and exposure," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters.

Cruise passengers shunned over coronavirus to head home after Cambodia reprieve

Passengers on a cruise ship that spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by five countries over coronavirus fears cheered and clapped as the vessel finally arrived at a port in Cambodia on Thursday. The MS Westerdam, carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, docked in Sihanoukville in the evening after anchoring offshore early in the morning to allow Cambodian officials to board and collect samples from passengers with any signs of ill health or flu-like symptoms.

Indian generic drugmakers may face supply shortages from China if coronavirus drags on

Shortages and potential price increases of generic drugs from India loom if the coronavirus outbreak disrupts suppliers of pharmaceutical ingredients in China past April, according to industry experts. An important supplier of generic drugs to the world, Indian companies procure almost 70% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for their medicines from China.

Air pollution may aggravate nasal suffering with colds and seasonal allergies

People who get rhinitis - an inflamed or congested nose - from colds or allergies may feel much worse if they're exposed to high levels of air pollution, a recent study suggests. Rhinitis usually involves some combination of congestion, sneezing, nasal irritation and sometimes a reduced sense of smell, and it affects up to half of the world's population, the study team writes in Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

Spike in China virus cases doesn't show big shift in epidemic: WHO

The spike in cases reported from China reflects reclassifying a backlog of suspect cases using patients' chest images and not necessarily the "tip of an iceberg" of a wider epidemic, a top World Health Organization official said on Thursday. Mike Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies program, said that more than 13,300 cases reported in Hubei province overnight came after a change to include results from quicker computerized tomography (CT) scans that reveal lung infections, rather than relying on laboratory tests.

Hunt on for 'patient zero' who spread coronavirus globally from Singapore

As lion dancers snaked between conference room tables laden with plastic bottles, pens, notebooks and laptops, some staff from British gas analytics firm Servomex snapped photos of the performance meant to bring good luck and fortune. But the January sales meeting in a luxury Singapore hotel was far from auspicious.

Plenty to squawk about: Spanish capital plans for huge cull of parrots

Madrid has begun planning for a cull of almost all the city's population of thousands of Kramer and Monk parrots, invasive species that the city council says are a nuisance to human neighbours and a threat to public health. More than 11,000 birds, or some 90% of the capital's total population of the birds, will be culled under the programme, local government officials said on Thursday.

China reports big rise in coronavirus deaths, WHO sees no 'tip of iceberg'

The Chinese province at the center of the coronavirus outbreak reported a record rise in deaths and thousands more infections using a broader definition on Thursday, while Japan became the third place outside mainland China to suffer a fatality. The epidemic has given China's ruling Communist Party one of its sternest challenges in years, constrained the world's second largest economy and triggered a purge of provincial bureaucrats.