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Coronavirus Outbreak: Latest Updates

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This article was updated May 11, 2021, at 5:33 p.m. ET.

The United States leads the world in cases of COVID-19. We'll provide the latest updates on coronavirus cases, government response, impacts to our daily life, and more.

What is the latest news?

COVID Deaths Hit Zero as England Eases Restrictions

May 11, 5:33 p.m.

The vaccination program is paying off in the United Kingdom: On Monday, no COVID-19 deaths were reported in England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland for the first time since July 30, The Guardian reported. However, four COVID deaths were reported that day in Wales.

Experts cautioned that the death count on Monday might reflect a weekend lag in reporting.

“We know that reported numbers of deaths varies a little depending on the day of the week, which reflect the lag time in the system and indeed also difficulties with real-time reporting,” Michael Head, MD, a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, told The Guardian. 

“However, regardless of reporting idiosyncrasies, the daily numbers of Covid-19 deaths are much lower than even three months ago. This is great news and excellent progress.”

The daily death count hit 1,000 months ago and has dropped to near zero in recent days, apparently because of the vaccination program and lockdowns.

On Monday, the United Kingdom’s chief medical officers dropped the COVID alert level to 3, meaning the epidemic is in general circulation, from 4, meaning transmission is high or rising exponentially.

As of May 17, children in schools will not be required to wear face masks, and the limit on outdoor gatherings will be increased to 30 people, with the indoor limit changed to six people or two households.

Bars and restaurants can serve people indoors and the number of people allowed to visit in nursing homes increased, provided they have tested negative.

But social distancing is still required. “You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops and places of worship, and on public transport, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse. This is the law,” the government guidance says.

The UK has a major problem with COVID-related deaths. It ranks fifth in the world with 127,890 deaths, behind Mexico (219,000), India (almost 250,000), Brazil (423,000), and the United States (582,000). 

Deaths also were increased by the variant first found in the United Kingdom, B.1.1.7. Public Health England said the variant existed in the U.K. since September and circulated at very low levels until mid-November.

“We won’t get zero deaths every day over the next few weeks, but we can expect the numbers to remain low,” Head told the Guardian. “This is thanks to the recent lockdown that helped to reduce transmission, but also the vaccines for protecting the older and vulnerable population.”

Study: Non-Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients Have Low Risk of Severe Long-Term Effects

May 11, 4:31 p.m.

People who get COVID-19 but don’t have to go to the hospital have a low risk of developing severe complications later, a new study says. 

But those non-hospitalized patients end up making more visits to general practitioners and hospital outpatient clinics than people who didn’t have COVID-19 at all, according to the study published in The Lancet.

The study was conducted between Feb. 27, 2020, and May 31, 2020, in Denmark by studying medical information of almost 9,000 people who tested positive for COVID-19 but were not hospitalized and about 81,000 people who tested negative. Their medical histories were followed for a 6-month period.  

The people who tested positive visited general practitioners about 20% more often and hospital outpatient clinics about 10% more often than people who tested negative, a news release from The Lancet said. There was no difference in how often they visited the emergency room.

Those who tested positive had a higher chance of being diagnosed with breathing difficulties and blood clots than the people who tested negative. The people who tested positive had a slightly higher rate of being prescribed medications to widen breathing passages and to treat migraines, the news release said.

"Until now, most research investigating long-term complications from COVID-19 has been focused on hospitalized patients,” the study’s senior author, professor Anton Pottegård from the University of Southern Denmark, said in the news release. “But the reality is that the majority of people with COVID-19 are not admitted to the hospital. 

“Our study finds a very low risk of severe delayed effects from COVID-19 in people who didn't require hospitalization for the infection. However, our research provided evidence for some long-term effects that did not require hospitalization or the use of new medicines, which we found reflected in higher use of primary health-care services after infection. This highlights the need to ensure clinicians have the resources and support to manage any potential long-term conditions." 

Co-author Stine Hasling Mogensen from the Danish Medicines Agency noted the study probably underestimated problems for non-hospitalized COVID patients because it did not count people who suffered fatigue or breathing problems that didn’t require medical treatment.

The researchers called for studies of larger population groups for longer periods to determine the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Pets Adopted During Pandemic Being Returned at Record Numbers

May 11, 3:59 p.m.

Pet shelters across the U.S. are reporting higher-than-average rates of returns as the pandemic begins to wane, according to the BBC.

Around this time last year, shelters reported a spike in adoptions as people experienced lockdown measures and wanted company at home. Now that people are readjusting to their previous routines, however, they’re returning to work and travel and feel like they can’t care for their pets anymore. Dogs, in particular, are being returned in record numbers.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we absolutely saw a spike in people ready to adopt,” Ashley Roberts of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Arlington, VA, told the BBC.

“They were off work or working from home or had lower schedules,” she said. “But we, in the past couple of months, have definitely seen some more returns.”

Sometimes people don’t think through the serious commitment of taking care of a pet, she said. As new pet owners return to their routines, they’re realizing that puppies and dogs may not fit their lifestyle, so they’re giving them back, according to KDVR, a Fox affiliate in Colorado.

“We made a lot of changes to our adoption process to prevent people from returning dogs once the pandemic ended,” Aron Jones, executive director of Moms and Mutts Colorado Rescue in Englewood, CO, told the news station.

“But for the past 4 months, we have had an extreme number of returns,” she said. “They are returning them instead of trying to make adjustments to keep their dog now that the world is opening up.”

The rescue has received more returns so far in 2021 than they typically have in an entire year. With more than 200 dogs available, they’re facing financial constraints and need more food to feed all of the animals.

In addition, lockdown measures prevented pet owners from getting their dogs spayed or neutered, so shelters are seeing an increase in the number of puppy litters that need new homes, the BBC reported.

However, not all shelters have seen an uptick in returns, according to WRGB, a CBS affiliate in New York. The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, for instance, prepared new pet owners for the responsibility of adoption when the boom happened last year.

“The expectation is it’s a lifelong commitment for the life that you have this animal,” Ashley Bouch, CEO of the humane society in Menands, NY, told the news station.

“That’s always been a part of our process that we really want to find the best match,” she said. “We want to match and set everybody up for success.”

Distracted Nurse Gives Patient 6 COVID-19 Vaccine Doses in Single Shot

May 11, 2:02 p.m.

A nurse in Italy accidentally administered six doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a patient as a single shot, according to CBS News.

The 23-year-old patient received the vaccination on Sunday morning and was observed at the Noa Hospital in Tuscany for 24 hours. She was given fluids and anti-inflammatory and fever medications and released on Monday. She didn’t experience any adverse reactions.

“This person at this time will certainly not have side effects,” Antonella Vicenti, MD, director of infectious diseases at Noa Hospital, told the news outlet.

Each vial of the Pfizer vaccine contains six doses. Each dose is extracted individually and placed in separate diluted vials. On Sunday, the nurse giving the vaccine injected the full amount from an undiluted vial.

The nurse realized the error and immediately told the patient and attending physician, who began monitoring the woman for adverse reactions, CBS News reported. They alerted local health authorities and the patient’s family as well.

Pfizer studies have found that people who receive up to five times the normal dosage don’t have additional reactions, Vicenti said. In addition, patients in Israel and Germany who have accidentally received six doses haven’t showed adverse reactions, CBS News reported.

“The patient did not have fever and did not have any pain except for pain at the inoculation site, nor any other manifestations,” she said. “She was a bit frightened, thus we preferred to keep her here until this morning.”

The hospital will test the patient’s blood regularly to monitor her immune response and long-term effects, CBS News reported. The hospital has also launched an investigation to review safety procedures.

“This is something that should never happen,” Tommaso Bellandi, director of patient security for the northwest Tuscany healthy authority, told the news outlet.

“Unfortunately, due to our limits as human beings, as well as organizational limits, these things can happen,” he said.

‘Dracula’s Castle’ Offering Free COVID-19 Shots

May 10, 2021, at 6:31 p.m.

Dracula was not known for leading a healthy lifestyle, with all the blood drinking and sleeping in a casket, but the castle credited with inspiring the Dracula story is taking steps to keep people from catching COVID-19.

Tourists who visit the 14th-century Bran Castle in Brasov County, Romania, can get a free Pfizer vaccination at the castle on weekends through May, Reuters reported. They’ll get free admission and view the 52 medieval torture instruments on display. 

"The idea ... was to show how people got jabbed 500-600 years ago in Europe," the castle's marketing director, Alexandru Priscu, told Reuters.

The number of people visiting the castle plummeted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Romanian government hopes to vaccinate 10 million people by September, which could open up the economy. But a think tank showed Romanians had the highest level of vaccine hesitancy among European Union nations, Reuters said.

A visitor last weekend, Fernando Orozco, 37, said the vaccination was a good deal.

"I was already planning to come to the castle and I just thought it was the two-for-one special," he said.

How many people have been diagnosed with the virus worldwide, and how many have died?

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 159.12 million cases and more than 3.30 million deaths worldwide.

How many cases of COVID-19 are in the United States?

There are more than 32.75 million cases in the U.S. of COVID-19 and more than 582,350 deaths, according Johns Hopkins University.

WebMD Health News

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