Beijing lowers virus emergency response
BEIJING • Beijing’s municipal government will lower its coronavirus emergency response from level two to level three from today, state media reported. The change removes quarantine requirements for people from Hubei province, the original epicentre of the outbreak. Beijing has had no confirmed local cases over the past 50 days.
Fiji declares itself free of Covid-19
SUVA • Fiji announced yesterday it was free of the coronavirus, after the island nation’s last known patient was given the all-clear.
“It’s now been 45 days since we recorded our last case,” Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama tweeted. “With no deaths, our recovery rate is 100 per cent.”
Fiji was initially seen as among the world’s most vulnerable to the virus due to its poor healthcare systems and health issues. But isolation and border controls kept a lid on infections, which peaked at 18 cases.
Higher risks for hypertension patients
PARIS • Patients with high blood pressure admitted to hospital with coronavirus infections are twice as likely to die as those without the condition, researchers reported in the European Heart Journal yesterday.
For those who had stopped taking blood pressure medication, the risk of dying doubled again.
Researchers in China and Ireland examined cases admitted to Wuhan’s Huoshenshan Hospital from Feb 5 to March 15. Nearly 30 per cent – 850 patients – had a history of hypertension. Four per cent died, against just over 1 per cent of the 2,027 without hypertension.
After adjusting for age, sex and other medical conditions, the researchers calculated that having high blood pressure increased the risk of dying twofold.
Aussie biotech firm to help fund vaccine
SYDNEY • Australia’s biggest biotech firm CSL said it would help fund the development of a University of Queensland Covid-19 vaccine candidate, and if it was successful, it could make up to 100 million doses towards the end of next year.
Early pre-clinical results have shown the vaccine candidate produced high levels of antibodies that can neutralise the virus, CSL said. Initial production would start in CSL’s biotech manufacturing facilities in Melbourne. CSL would also subcontract other global drug makers to increase the number of doses and broaden distribution.
$3m order for sweets leaves sour aftertaste
ANTANANARIVO • Madagascar’s education minister was sacked on Thursday after announcing a plan to buy sweets for students to take the edge off the “bitter taste” of a herbal tea the country’s president says is a coronavirus remedy.
Minister Rijasoa Andriamanana said last week she was ordering US$2.2 million (S$3 million) worth of sweets to go with the Covid-Organics concoction, which some experts warn is useless against Covid-19.
That such expense was going to sweets in one of the world’s poorest countries sparked outrage. The minister was relieved of her duties by the Cabinet.