Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

U.S. states reject $18 billion proposal to settle opioid lawsuits, discussions ongoing: sources

Twenty one states have rejected an $18 billion settlement proposal from three major U.S. drug distributors to resolve lawsuits over their alleged role in the opioid crisis, but discussion are still active, according to three sources familiar with the matter. More than 2,500 lawsuits have been brought nationwide by states, local and tribal governments over the toll the opioid crisis has taken on their communities.

WHO says joint China mission to start coronavirus probe this weekend

A World Health Organization-led mission to China will start its outbreak investigation this weekend and will focus on how the new coronavirus is spreading and the severity of the disease, the WHO's director-general said on Friday. The joint team, composed of 12 international members and their 12 Chinese counterparts, will seek more details on how, where and when the more than 1,700 health workers infected so far contracted the new virus, WHO officials said.

Why your Valentine might want hot chocolate for that walk on the beach

Drinking cocoa rich in flavonols - plant compounds also found in fruits, vegetables and tea - might make walking easier for some older adults with poor circulation, a study suggests. Flavonol-rich dark chocolate and unprocessed cocoa, similar to unsweetened cocoa powder used for baking, have been linked to improved blood flow and increased walking ability in a small number of preliminary studies in animals and humans.

Deaths from dengue fever in Paraguay spike to 16 under strained health system

Paraguay health officials said on Friday that deaths from dengue fever increased to 16 in the South American country's worst outbreak of the disease in the last decade, severely straining its health system. There are also 89 deaths under review to determine if they were caused by dengue. The death toll indicates a sharp increase from the previous week, when the Public Health Ministry registered six deaths from dengue with 50 other deaths under review since the start of the year.

Biotech firm Novacyt to launch coronavirus test next week

Biotechnology company Novacyt said on Friday it would launch a certified test for the coronavirus next week, sending its London-listed shares to a record high. The company said last week that it had applied for U.S. regulatory approval for the test.

U.S. CDC to work with labs in five states to track people with influenza-like illness

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday it was working with public health laboratories in five states to track people with illnesses similar to influenza, as the agency strives to contain the deadly coronavirus. The agency said the labs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York City will test those people for coronavirus who tested negative for the flu.

In China's coronavirus epicenter, volunteers keep stricken city moving

A day after the city government of Wuhan locked down all of its public transportation to keep the coronavirus outbreak that began in the city from spreading further, three nurses found themselves stranded outside Hankou train station. They had returned early from the Lunar New Year holiday to go back to work at Tongji hospital, just five kilometers away, but laden with luggage and food from concerned relatives, they had no way to reach there.

People returning to Beijing under quarantine as China struggles to pick up economy

The Chinese capital Beijing on Friday imposed a 14-day self-quarantine on people returning to the city from holidays to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, and threatened to punish those who failed to comply. It was not immediately clear how the restriction, relayed by the official Beijing Daily newspaper, would be enforced, or whether it would apply to non-residents of Beijing or foreigners arriving from abroad.

Dying a desperate death: A Wuhan family's coronavirus ordeal

There were no doctors, nurses or medical equipment at the Wuhan hotel converted into a temporary quarantine facility for suspected coronavirus patients when brothers Wang Xiangkai and Wang Xiangyou arrived two weeks ago. The next day, Xiangkai, 61, woke to find that Xiangyou, 62, had died.

After first death, Japan pledges more containment effort; cases increase

Japan on Friday vowed to step up testing and efforts to contain the spread of a new coronavirus after suffering its first death and finding new cases, including a doctor and at least one taxi driver, in different parts of the country. The biggest cluster of coronavirus infections outside China is linked to a cruise liner quarantined in a Japanese port, with 218 people from the ship confirmed as infected and taken off to hospital.