(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Warning of airborne spread
Supercomputer-driven models simulated in Japan suggested that operating commuter trains with windows open and limiting the number of passengers may help reduce the risk of coronavirus infections, as scientists warn of airborne spread of the virus.
In an open letter published on Monday, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in.
The World Health Organization acknowledged “evidence emerging” of airborne transmission, but said it was not definitive.
The recent study by Japanese research giant Riken using the world’s fastest supercomputer, the Fugaku, to simulate how the virus travels in the air in various environments advised several ways to lower infection risks in public settings.
The U.S. coronavirus outbreak crossed a grim milestone of over 3 million confirmed cases on Tuesday as more states reported record numbers of new infections, and Florida faced an impending shortage of intensive care unit hospital beds.
Authorities have reported alarming upswings of daily caseloads in roughly two dozen states over the past two weeks, a sign that efforts to control transmission of the novel coronavirus have failed in large swathes of the country.
In Texas alone, the number of hospitalized patients more than doubled in just two weeks. In Houston, a line of more than 200 cars snaked around the United Memorial Medical Center as people waited hours in sweltering heat to get tested.
Scientists warned on Wednesday of a potential wave of coronavirus-related brain damage as new evidence suggested COVID-19 can lead to severe neurological complications, including inflammation, psychosis and delirium.
A study by researchers at University College London (UCL) described 43 cases of patients with COVID-19 who suffered either temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage or other serious brain effects.
Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist at Western University in Canada, said the emerging evidence underlined the need for large, detailed studies and global data collection to assess how common such neurological and psychiatric complications were.
He is running an international research project at covidbrainstudy.com where patients can sign up to complete a series of cognitive tests to see whether their brain functions have altered since getting COVID-19.
Australia should slow down the return of its citizens from abroad, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday, as the country grapples with a fresh coronavirus outbreak that has forced it to isolate its second most populous state.
The border between Victoria and New South Wales, the busiest in the country, was closed overnight and around 4.9 million residents in the Victorian capital of Melbourne will return to partial lockdown at midnight following a spike in COVID-19 cases in the city.
“The rest of the country knows that the sacrifice that you’re going through right now is not just for you and your own family, but it’s for the broader Australian community,” Morrison said during a televised media conference.
Red flags have been raised by potential quarantine breaches that the Victorian state government believes led to returnees spreading the virus.
Rioting in Serbia
Dozens of demonstrators and police were injured in overnight rioting in Belgrade, triggered when a crowd stormed Serbia’s parliament in protest at plans to reimpose a lockdown following a surge in coronavirus cases.
Footage showed police kicking and beating people with truncheons while protesters pelted officers with stones and bottles, after thousands chanting for the resignation of President Aleksandar Vucic gathered outside the building.
Vucic announced the new lockdown on Tuesday, saying it was needed because of the rising number of coronavirus cases.
The government’s critics say its decisions to allow soccer matches, religious festivities, parties, and private gatherings to resume, and parliamentary elections to go ahead on June 21, are to blame for the spike in infections.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes and Karishma Singh; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)