Reuters Health News Summary

·4 min read

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Cruise line bans China citizens; Outrage as doctor who sounded alarm over virus dies

The coronavirus death of a Chinese doctor who had been reprimanded for sounding an early warning about the disease triggered anger at the government on Friday, while a major cruise line took the extraordinary step of banning citizens of China regardless of when they were last there. The death of Li Wenliang, 34, came as President Xi Jinping reassured the United States and the World Health Organization (WHO) of transparency and maximum effort to combat the virus.

Miso soup might be one comfort food that helps you live longer

People who eat lots of miso and other fermented soy products may get to enjoy them for a long time, according to a Japanese study that links eating these foods with a lower risk of premature death. Middle aged and older men who ate the most fermented soy were about 10% less likely to die prematurely of all causes than men who rarely ate these foods, the study found, while women who ate the most fermented soy had an 11% lower risk of premature death.

China's virus epicentre Hubei speeds testing after complaints

China's Hubei province, the coronavirus outbreak epicentre, has started using a faster and more convenient method of testing in order to isolate patients more quickly, the official People's Daily reported on Friday. Reuters reported last month that a lack of RNA test kits in Hubei capital Wuhan may have delayed patients from being properly diagnosed and treated, contributing to the spread of the virus in the early days of the outbreak.

Budapest orchestra helps deaf people 'hear' Beethoven through touch

Zsuzsanna Foldi has been deaf all her life. Still, with her hands placed on the double bass, sitting among musicians in Budapest's Danubia orchestra, she can enjoy and literally feel Beethoven's famous Fifth Symphony. "When I sat next to the musician who played the bass today, I started crying," she said.

Peak coronavirus? Epidemic forecasts are often wrong but can be useful

Predicting "peak virus" is often destined to fail. But that's not to say it is pointless. Many health, policy and economic experts worldwide are now trying to do just this with the epidemic of coronavirus disease spreading from China. They are working together to map the curve of the outbreak, but warn there are too many holes in the data to reliably predict when it will reach its peak - when the number of new daily cases starts to decline consistently.

Jury orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $750 million in New Jersey talc case

Johnson & Johnson was ordered on Thursday by a New Jersey state jury to pay punitive damages of $750 million to four plaintiffs who allege that the company's Baby Powder caused their cancer, a ruling that will be reduced to around $185 million because of state laws, according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs and the company. During an earlier phase of the trial, a different jury held J&J liable for the plaintiffs' cancers and awarded them $37.2 million in compensation.

Desperate for coronavirus solutions, Chinese turn to HIV drugs, gray market and traditional cures

The rapidly spreading virus in China and a shortage of medical resources are prompting people to resort to unorthodox ways to obtain treatment, with some appealing to HIV patients and unauthorized importers for medicine. Chinese health authorities have said there is not yet any effective cure for the virus, which has killed more than 500 people in China. Although there is no evidence from clinical trials, China's National Health Commision said the HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir can be used for coronavirus patients, without specifying how they might help.

WHO warns of global shortage of coronavirus protective equipment

The world is facing a chronic shortage of gowns, masks, gloves and other protective equipment in the fight against a spreading coronavirus epidemic, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday. The U.N. agency has been sending testing kits, masks, gloves, respirators and gowns to every region, Tedros told the WHO Executive Board in Geneva.

Biotech company Novacyt seeks emergency approval for coronavirus test

Biotechnology company Novacyt has applied for emergency approval from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as it races to roll out a product that tests for the coronavirus, the company said on Friday. Novacyt, which is listed in Paris and London, also said it was in talks with public sector hospitals in Britain.

Scientists question work suggesting pangolin coronavirus link

Independent scientists questioned research on Friday that suggested that the outbreak of coronavirus disease spreading from China might have passed from bats to humans through the illegal traffic of pangolins. South China Agricultural University, which said it had led the research, said on its website that the "discovery will be of great significance for the prevention and control of the origin (of the new virus)".