WHO team in China to begin investigation
A two-member advance team of World Health Organization (WHO) experts is in China to help pinpoint the origins of the virus. The specialists in animal health and epidemiology will work with Chinese scientists to determine the scope and itinerary of the investigation, said WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris, declining to identify them.
“We know it’s very, very similar to the virus in the bat, but did it go through an intermediate species? This is a question we all need answered,” Harris told a news briefing.
The virus is believed to have emerged in a wholesale market in China’s central city of Wuhan late last year after jumping the species barrier from the animal kingdom to infect humans.
Fourth in the world for most new cases
Florida reported a record increase of more than 15,000 new virus cases in 24 hours on Sunday, as the Trump administration renewed its push for schools to reopen and anti-mask protests were planned in Michigan and Missouri.
If Florida were a country, it would rank fourth worldwide for the most new daily cases, after the United States, Brazil and India, according to a Reuters analysis.
Health officials have pleaded with the public to wear masks to limit the virus spread, but the issue has become politically divisive in the United States, unlike many other countries with far fewer infections and deaths.
Many Americans still refuse to wear a mask, which health experts say helps stop transmission of the virus that has killed more than 134,000 Americans.
Outbreaks on U.S. military bases
Japan and the United States are sharing infection information after about 62 cases at three U.S. military bases from July 7 to Sunday provoked ire in the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, a top Japanese official said on Monday.
“I can’t help but have strong doubts about the U.S. military’s measures to prevent infections,” said Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki, pointing to reports of personnel leaving base for beach parties and visits to nightlife districts around Independence Day on July 4.
On its Facebook page for Pacific bases, the Marine Corps said it was prohibiting off-base activity for all installations across Okinawa, except essential needs such as medical appointments approved by a commanding officer.
Inspiring confidence in air travel
The Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport (DFW), home base of American Airlines, is working with the airline to roll out a self check-in for luggage, with all its restrooms to be entirely touch-free by the end of July, using technology developed by Infax Inc.
From hands-free sinks, soap and flushing toilets to paper towel dispensers, all will have sensors to warn of low supplies.
Last year DFW rolled out biometric boarding for international flights based on facial recognition and hopes to widen the VeriScan technology to arrivals too, making use of a traffic lull for work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DFW chief executive Sean Donohue said.
The airport is also testing new sanitization technology that uses ultraviolet to keep germs out of the HVAC circulation. It has deployed electrostatic foggers and hired a “hit team” of 150 people to physically sanitise high-touch areas in terminals.
Pictured: A Victoria Police officer works at a vehicle checkpoint along the Princes Freeway outside of Melbourne after the city went into lockdown in response to an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), near Melbourne, Australia, July 13, 2020. AAP Image/James Ross via REUTERS