New Scientist International Edition

New Scientist International Edition 14-Mar-20

New Scientist covers the latest developments in science and technology that will impact your world. New Scientist employs and commissions the best writers in their fields from all over the world. Our editorial team provide cutting-edge news, award-winning features and reports, written in concise and clear language that puts discoveries and advances in the context of everyday life today and in the future.

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2 minuti
this really is nothing like flu

FOR weeks now, the news has been dominated by the coronavirus. This is hardly surprising: it is an unprecedented global story with an unknown ending, featuring a new virus we don’t yet fully understand. The planet’s most populous nation shut down an entire province to try to contain it, and now there is an exponential uptick in cases worldwide. It is also no wonder everyone is talking about the virus, given many people are worrying about the risks to themselves or their loved ones. No wonder, too, that inaccurate articles and even conspiracy theories are flourishing, and that warnings to be ready for self-isolation have led to panic-buying. Inevitably perhaps – with the numbers of diagnosed cases currently still low in many countries – a backlash is under way. There is a…

3 minuti
italy in lockdown

ITALY has put the country’s 60 million people on lockdown in the most drastic action taken outside China to tackle the spread of coronavirus. As of 10 March, the country had diagnosed more than 10,000 cases, second only to China. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said Italy may not stop at the current restrictions and could use further “massive shock therapy”. Travel restrictions for northern Italy were first leaked on Saturday, causing panicked reactions before an official decree was published on Sunday. The measure, extended to the whole of Italy on Monday night, means people must limit travel except for work or medical reasons, or risk a three-month prison sentence or a €206 fine. The travel ban is being enforced on roads by the Carabinieri (military police), while rail services, including night…

3 minuti
major testing issues in us

IT IS more than seven weeks since the first case of coronavirus in the US, but according to one estimate, fewer than 2000 people across the country had been tested for the infection by 7 March. In contrast, reports suggest that more than 190,000 people have been checked in South Korea. One reason for the low figure in the US lies in problems with the tests developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although it sent test kits out to state laboratories on 5 February, by 12 February it was clear there was a hitch with one reagent used in the test, and many state labs couldn’t use the kits. On its own, this might not have had such a severe impact on testing in the US because, says…

2 minuti
why coronavirus death rate is so hard to pin down

HOW many of those infected by the coronavirus will die? It is still hard to say for sure, not least because the proportion of deaths will vary depending on local circumstances and how the outbreak is handled. So what do we know? Last week, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s take on this was widely reported. “Globally, about 3.4 per cent of reported covid-19 cases have died,” he said. That statement is correct, but was misunderstood by some as being the true death rate. Dividing the number of deaths by the number of reported cases doesn’t reveal how many will die. This is because some of those recently confirmed to have the coronavirus and included in the reported case count might still die, pushing the true figure up. On the other hand,…

1 minuti
age, diabetes and heart disease linked to risk of death

TWO small studies this week shed light on who may be most at risk of dying from covid-19, and how long it takes to develop symptoms. Early on in the outbreak, two hospitals in Wuhan, China, were designated to treat people with the coronavirus. Bin Cao at Capital Medical University in Beijing and his colleagues have assessed all patients who had been discharged from or died at the hospitals by 31 January. They found that the average age was 56, and 62 per cent were men. Around half of those treated had underlying medical conditions, most often diabetes and high blood pressure (The Lancet, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30566-3). 62% of study patients being treated for covid-19 were men The average time from the onset of illness to discharge was 22 days. Of the 191 people…

3 minuti
number of cases across africa remains low

EXPERTS still don’t know why so few cases of the new coronavirus have been reported in Africa, despite China being the continent’s top trading partner and the continent having a population of 1.3 billion people. As of 10 March, there were just 95 official cases on the continent, though two countries – Cameroon and Togo – recently reported their first cases. The highest number of official cases is in Egypt, which rose from two to 59 last weekend. Most cases in Africa have been imported not from China but from Europe. Africa is of particular concern because of the fragility of some countries’ health systems, and the fact that the continent already faces big public health issues, particularly malaria, tuberculosis and HIV. The World Health Organization (WHO) has helped prepare African countries for…