Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which include the common cold and Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome). They cause respiratory infections in humans and animals, with four or five strai

Show more
Ritual gives way to precautions as China mourns Covid-19 victims
Kyle Hui never got to see his mother one last time. He had planned to travel from Shanghai back to Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported, for the Lunar New Year holiday, a time for family reunions. But his mother fell ill before he arrived. She had symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, but test kits were not readily available at the time. Hui’s older brother saw the last glimpse of their mother through a glass door as she was being wheeled into an isolation ward on January 11. A few days later, she was wheeled out wrapped in a yellow body bag that the family was forbidden to open because of infection concerns. Her burial
Does wearing a mask make you touch your face more often?
In warning against the universal use of face masks, American health authorities had made the argument that wearing the protective gear is not just unnecessary but potentially dangerous. A mask on your face, they said, could make you touch your face more often, hence increasing the risk of infection by transferring pathogens from your hand to your eyes or nose. But this argument appears to be giving way as a growing number of American officials have joined several European countries and much of East Asia in recommending broader use of face coverings amid the coronavirus pandemic. The US government on Thursday appeared ready to make a conditional endorsement of masks. “If people want to wear
The coronavirus crisis is a human failure, says author of ‘Sapiens’
While most people alive today have never experienced an event like the coronavirus pandemic, it is not the first time humanity has come face to face with a global contagion. Historian Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, answers questions from the South China Morning Post on how the coronavirus pandemic poses unprecedented challenges in biometric surveillance, governance and global cooperation. He also proposes five steps the world should take moving forward. Q: You wrote “if we are indeed bringing famine, plague and war under control …” in Homo Deus. Given that the spread of the coronavirus pandemic continues unabated, do you still believe mankind has largely reined in plagu
Coronavirus lockdowns may need to last 6 weeks to be effective
Populations might have to endure lockdowns or stay-at-home orders of more than six weeks before the coronavirus pandemic can be brought under control in their area, researchers in the United States have said. According to the study published this week on SSRN, an open-source journal for early-stage research, countries adopting aggressive interventions might see a moderation of an outbreak after almost three weeks, control of the spread after one month, and containment after 45 days. The researchers defined aggressive intervention as lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, mass testing and quarantine. With less aggressive intervention, the process could take much longer. “In the absence of a vaccine,
Chinese county locked down amid fear of second coronavirus wave
A county in central China has been put under total lockdown as authorities try to fend off a second coronavirus wave in the midst of a push to revive the economy. Curfew-like measures came into effect on Tuesday in Jia county, Henan province, with the area’s roughly 600,000 residents told to stay home, according to a notice on the country’s official social media account on Weibo. After months of restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus, China has reported a decline in domestic cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. On Wednesday, the country reported 36 new infections – all but one imported cases. Chinese leaders are eager to restart the economy, but have been wary o
Coronavirus researchers aren’t sure if airborne spread is possible
Scientists are exploring the possibility that the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 could be spread through the air over a much wider area than via coughs and sneezes.  However, the World Health Organization has urged caution, saying the available evidence has yet to support this. “Airborne transmissions” are defined as tiny aerosol droplets – smaller than 5 micrometers in diameter – that can linger in the air for hours. They can also spread the disease much farther than the 6 feet covered by the respiratory droplets, which are believed to be the primary means of spreading the disease. Aerosols can also cause more damage when inhaled because they travel further into the lungs. Hanan Balkhy,
Economic toll of coronavirus could be unlike anything we’ve seen before
Before the coronavirus crisis began rippling through the global economy, Susan Wang had big plans for 2020. Not only was she going to buy a new Apple MacBook and iPad, plus a projector so she could host friends for movies at home, but she was set on making a career move. “I was planning to change my job, but my headhunter told me that all recruitment had been postponed to the second quarter,” said the 27-year-old who works for a British company in Hong Kong. “Our headquarters in London has a plan for redundancy, too. It is better to save some money in case I get laid off.” As Covid-19 spreads across the world, sending stock markets reeling and prompting companies to slash jobs, Wang has bec
She ‘recovered’ from the coronavirus. Then she tested positive again
For Adele Jiang, 24, a previously “recovered” coronavirus patient in China, the past two months have been a nightmare. Jiang, a master’s student in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, was diagnosed with Covid-19 in late January. She was deemed recovered and discharged from the hospital a month later, but was sent back to the hospital after testing positive for the virus again while being monitored at an isolation facility. Her experience highlights the potentially long and difficult road to recovery for coronavirus patients and the stress this could put on any country’s health care system. While there are no national numbers for patients like Jiang, health authorities in the southern province
China’s fentanyl vendors are now peddling unproven coronavirus drugs
Once a flashpoint in US-China relations over the sale of synthetic opioids and their precursors, online drug vendors in China are pivoting to other white powdered substances: unproven treatments for Covid-19. Chemical vendors on social media and e-commerce platforms are responding to surging demand for antiviral medication like chloroquine and remdesivir. They are exploiting the wave of hope propelled by as-yet inconclusive trials and US President Donald Trump’s repeated promotions of the drugs.  Both drugs – long-time treatments of malaria that are yet to be clinically proven in the US as safe and effective on Covid-19 patients – are already being hoarded around the world and used for self-