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COVID-19 cases could be up to 13 times higher than reported in parts of US: study

“These data continue to show that the number of people who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 far exceeds the number of reported cases,” said Dr Fiona Havers, the CDC researcher who led the study.

About 40 per cent of infected people do not develop symptoms, but they may still pass the virus on to others. The US now tests roughly 700,000 people a day. The new results highlight the need for much more testing to detect infection levels and contain the viral spread in various parts of the country.

The researchers analysed blood samples from people who had routine clinical tests or were hospitalised to determine if they had antibodies against the coronavirus — evidence of prior infection. They had released early data from six cities and states in June. The study published in the journal JAMA on Tuesday expands that research by including four more regions.

The results indicate that in vast swaths of the country, the coronavirus still has touched only a small fraction of the population. In Utah, for example, just over 1 per cent of people had been exposed to the virus by early June. The rate was 2.2 per cent for Minneapolis-St Paul as of the first week of June, 3.6 per cent for the Philadelphia metropolitan region as of May 30 and 1 per cent for the San Francisco Bay Area as of April 30.

Pandemic ‘shows no signs of slowing down in Americas’

The novel coronavirus pandemic is showing “no signs of slowing down” in the Americas, the Pan American Health Organisation’s director said on Tuesday, with the virus landing in Guianese shield countries on the continent`s north-eastern coast and surges in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.

Carissa Etienne told a virtual briefing from PAHO’s Washington headquarters that some Central American nations were seeing their highest weekly increase of cases since the virus landed, and that because of the high burden of infectious diseases and chronic conditions in the Americas, three out of 10 people – 325 million – were at “increased risk” of developing complications from COVID-19.

“The impact of co-morbidities on the spread of the virus should be a clarion call to every country in the Americas: Use data to tailor your response and make health your top priority,” she said.

She highlighted 900,000 new cases and nearly 22,000 deaths reported in the region over the past week, most of them in Brazil, Mexico and the US.

A truck displays a sign that says   "Caution! You are entering a high contagion zone" in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City.

A truck displays a sign that says   “Caution! You are entering a high contagion zone” in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City.Credit:Bloomberg

Etienne said there were some bright spots. Chile, Argentina and Uruguay made “important progress” in strengthening influenza surveillance and vaccination programs, and there had been “very low” circulation of influenza this year, also highlighting the value of COVID-19 prevention measures such as hand-washing and social distancing.

She said several Caribbean countries had implemented effective travel restrictions to control outbreak clusters, and as a result, had now been able to resume non-essential travel.

PAHO officials cautioned however, that reopening to attract key tourism income should be done gradually and that testing before travel could create a false sense of security.

More than 22 per cent of people in Delhi have had virus: study

More than one in five people in Delhi have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a study released on Tuesday, indicating that most cases in the Indian capital region have gone undetected.

The National Centre for Disease Control tested 21,387 people selected randomly across Delhi, the state that includes New Delhi, and found that 23.48 per cent had antibodies to the virus. Adjusting for false positives and negatives, it estimated that 22.86 per cent of the population had been infected by the virus, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, who heads the institute, said.

Delhi, with a population of 29 million, has officially reported 123,747 cases and 3663 deaths. The study, however, indicates more than 6.6 million likely cases, with most not identified or tested.

Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil, an epidemiologist at the Christian Medical College in the southern city of Vellore who is advising the government on virus surveillance, noted that the survey results are an average and the percentage of people infected could be much higher in certain areas, such as slums.

“You need to look at different clusters,” he said.

The study was conducted between June 27 and July 10, and Muliyil said the number of infections has likely increased since then.

Florida recording more deaths than any US state

Florida’s skyrocketing coronavirus death rate is now higher than any other state, edging out Texas, which has about 25 per cent more people.

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Florida recorded another 134 deaths on Tuesday, bringing its daily average for the past week to 115, topping the 112 deaths a day Texas has reported during that time, AP statistics show. A month ago, Florida was averaging 33 coronavirus deaths a day.

Overall, 5317 people have died in Florida from COVID-19 since March 1 and nearly 370,000 have tested positive for the disease. About 19 per cent of tests have returned positive in Florida over the past week, compared to 10 per cent a month ago and 2.3 per cent in late May.

The state reported that an additional 517 people have been admitted to hospitals with the disease.

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The New York Times, Reuters, AP

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