New coronavirus cases fall in China, but WHO concerned by global spread

BEIJING (Reuters) – China reported a sharp fall in new deaths and cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, but world health officials warned it was too early to make predictions about the outbreak as new infections continued to rise in other countries.

Chinese authorities said the mainland had 397 new confirmed cases on Friday, down from 889 a day earlier. The numbers surged elsewhere, though, with outbreaks worsening in South Korea, Iran, Italy and Lebanon.

In South Korea, authorities said on Saturday the number of new infections had doubled to 433, and suggested the tally could rise significantly as more than 1,000 people who attended a church at the center of the outbreak reported flu-like symptoms.

Factbox: Latest on coronavirus spreading in China and beyond

(Reuters) – China reported a sharp decrease in new deaths and cases of the coronavirus on Saturday but a doubling of infections in South Korea and 10 new cases in Iran added to unease about its rapid spread and global reach.

** China has reported a total of 75,569 cases of the disease caused by the virus, known as COVID-19, including 2,239 deaths.

** Mainland China had 397 new confirmed cases on Friday, down from 889 a day earlier, but only 31 cases were outside of the virus epicenter of Hubei province, the lowest number since the National Health Commission started compiling nationwide data a month ago.

Netflix’s Stranger Things raised awareness about rare disorder

(Reuters Health) – Popular TV shows can help raise awareness and public interest in rare diseases, as the Netflix series “Stranger Things” has done for a little-known bone-growth disorder, a study shows.

FILE PHOTO: 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards – Arrivals – Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 19, 2020 – Gaten Matarazzo. REUTERS/Monica Almeida

Researchers found that with the launch of each of the show’s first three seasons, there was a surge in internet searches for information on cleidocranial dysplasia, a congenital condition that causes missing or abnormal growth of teeth and collarbones.

In brains of dead athletes, researchers seek clues to head trauma

BOSTON (Reuters) – Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University studies the brains of deceased football players at the world’s largest brain bank, hoping to learn about the long-term impact of repeated head traumas for people ranging from professional athletes to victims of domestic abuse.

“For the last 12 years, we’ve really focused on the long-term effects of head trauma, including what we call repetitive head trauma,” where the impact doesn’t cause a concussion, said McKee, chief of neuropathology at VA Boston University and director of the CTE Center of Boston University.

In Tornado Alley, Storms Are Even More Dangerous For People With Disabilities

John High has diabetes, which led to his leg being amputated below the knee two years ago. He has been using a wheelchair since then and hasn’t gotten used to having to work out solutions to everyday problems — such as getting into and out of the shower in the small rental house he shares with his son in Norman, Oklahoma. And when he hears a tornado siren blaring out its high-pitched warning, he feels a spasm of fear and dread. He knows he’s on his own.

South Korea city deserted after coronavirus ‘super-spreads’ through church

SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) – The streets of South Korea’s fourth-largest city were abandoned on Thursday, with residents holed up indoors after dozens of people caught the coronavirus in what the authorities described as a “super-spreading event” at a church.

The deserted shopping malls and cinemas of Daegu, a city of 2.5 million people, became one of the most striking images outside China of an outbreak that international authorities are trying stop from becoming a global pandemic.

More coronavirus cases in Iran’s Qom; religious gatherings seen at risk

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian health officials urged all religious gatherings to be suspended in Qom, news agency ISNA said on Thursday, after two more people tested positive for the coronavirus in the holy city, where two died of it this week.

Iranian couple wearing protective masks to prevent contracting a coronavirus walk at Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran February 20, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Nazanin Tabatabaee via REUTERS

In all, three more people had tested positive for the virus, an Iranian health ministry spokesman said.

Analysis: Who Profits From Steep Medical Bills? The People Tasked With Fixing Them.

Every politician condemns the phenomenon of “surprise” medical bills.

Last week, two committees in the House were marking up new surprise billing legislation. One of the few policy proposals President Donald Trump brought up in this year’s State of the Union address was his 2019 executive order targeting “balance bills.” In the Democratic debates, candidates have railed against such medical bills, and during commercial breaks, back-to-back ads from groups representing doctors and insurers proclaimed how much the health care sector also abhors this uniquely American form of patient extortion.

Five Years Later, HIV-Hit Town Rebounds. But The Nation Is Slow To Heed Lessons.

AUSTIN, Ind. — Ethan Howard cradled his prized Martin-brand guitar, strumming gently as he sang of happiness he thought he’d never find.

With support from his family and community, the 26-year-old is making his way as a musician after emerging from the hell of addiction, disease and stigma. The former intravenous drug user was among the first of 235 people in this southern Indiana community to be diagnosed in the worst drug-fueled HIV outbreak ever to hit rural America.

Passengers depart coronavirus cruise ship at last; Japan’s effort under fire

TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) – Hundreds of passengers trundled off a cruise ship in Japan on Wednesday after being held on board in quarantine for more than two weeks, as criticism mounted of Japan’s handling of the biggest coronavirus outbreak outside China.

Even as passengers rolled their luggage off the Diamond Princess cruise liner, Japanese authorities announced 79 new cases had been discovered on board, bringing the total above 620, well over half of the known cases outside mainland China.