Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Global cases of the novel coronavirus have reached over 8 million, as infections surge in Latin America, and the United States and China grapple with fresh outbreaks. Global deaths stand at over 434,000 and have doubled in seven weeks.
A new forecast projects 201,129 deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States through the beginning of October mainly due to reopening measures underway, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington said on Monday. The IHME said Florida, California, Georgia and Arizona would be among the hardest-hit states.
Brazil’s death toll rose to nearly 44,000 on Monday, according to Health Ministry data, as the country continued easing restrictions on circulation despite the world’s second-worst outbreak after the United States.
Tightening capital movement
Beijing banned high-risk people, such as close contacts of confirmed cases, from leaving the Chinese capital and halted all outbound taxi and car-hailing services as well as some long-distance bus routes to stop the spread of a fresh outbreak.
The financial hub of Shanghai demanded some travellers from Beijing be quarantined for two weeks, as 27 new COVID-19 cases took Beijing’s current outbreak to 106 since Thursday. The stakes are high for Shanghai, which has been invited to host two Formula One races this season. U.S. airlines are also poised to resume flights there.
A genetic mutation in the new coronavirus that significantly increases its ability to infect cells may explain why outbreaks in northern Italy and New York were larger than ones seen earlier in the pandemic.
Scientists at Scripps Research in Florida say the mutated virus was seen infrequently in March, but by April accounted for some 65% of cases submitted from around the world to the GenBank database run by the National Institutes of Health.
The mutation, designated D614G, increased the number of “spikes” the virus uses to bind to and break into cells, and made them more stable, researchers found in the study undergoing peer review. In test tube experiments, the mutated virus was roughly nine times more efficient at breaking into cells and infecting them.
Making masks compulsory for plane travel
Major U.S. airlines may prevent anyone not wearing a mask during the novel coronavirus pandemic from boarding and provide the coverings to passengers who have none. Once onboard, however, flight attendants have had little power over passengers who remove the face covering.
Each carrier will decide the appropriate consequences for passengers who fail to comply, up to and including being put on that airline’s no-fly list, the industry’s main lobby group said on Monday.
Carriers with the stricter policy include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, Airlines for America said in a statement.