(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
The increasingly common D614G mutation of the novel coronavirus found in Europe, North America and parts of Asia may be more infectious but appears less deadly, according to Paul Tambyah, senior consultant at the National University of Singapore and president-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases.
Evidence suggests the proliferation of this mutation in some parts of the world has coincided with a drop in death rates, suggesting it is less lethal, said Tambyah, adding that most viruses tend to become less virulent as they mutate.
“It is in the virus’ interest to infect more people but not to kill them because a virus depends on the host for food and for shelter,” he said. Scientists discovered the mutation as early as February, the World Health Organization said.
Younger adults increasingly unknowing carriers
The spread of the coronavirus is being increasingly driven by people aged in their 20s, 30s and 40s and many are not aware that they have been infected, the World Health Organization’s regional director for the Western Pacific said on Tuesday.
“This increases the risk of spillovers to the more vulnerable: the elderly, the sick people in long-term care, people who live in densely populated areas and underserved areas,” Takeshi Kasai told a virtual briefing.
Link to diabetes?
Cases of type 1 diabetes among children in a small UK study almost doubled during the peak of Britain’s COVID-19 epidemic, suggesting a possible link between the two diseases that needs more investigation, scientists said.
While the study is based on only a handful of cases, it is the first to link COVID-19 and new-onset type 1 diabetes in children, and doctors should be on the look-out, the Imperial College London researchers said.
“Our analysis shows that during the peak of the pandemic the number of new cases of type 1 diabetes in children was unusually high in two of the hospitals (we studied) compared to previous years,” said Karen Logan, who co-led the study.
“When we investigated further, some of these children had active coronavirus or had previously been exposed to the virus.”
South Korea tightens curbs
South Korea tightened social distancing rules on Tuesday as it reported a three-digit increase in novel coronavirus cases for a fifth day and authorities scrambled to trace hundreds of members of a church congregation.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 246 new cases as of midnight on Monday, bringing its total infections to 15,761, with 306 deaths.
South Korea has been one of the world’s coronavirus mitigation success stories but it has suffered repeated spikes in cases.
Two days after re-imposing stricter social distancing in Seoul, the government expanded the curbs to include the port city of Incheon, while ordering the closure of nightclubs, karaoke bars, buffets and cyber cafes.
Ardern hits back at Trump
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hit back on Tuesday against U.S. President Donald Trump for saying her country is experiencing a “big surge” in COVID-19, calling the remarks “patently wrong”.
Trump sparked uproar in New Zealand when he told a crowd in Minnesota that the South Pacific country of 5 million people was in the grip of a “terrible” upsurge in COVID-19 cases, having earlier succeeded in eliminating the disease.
Thirteen new infections were confirmed in New Zealand on Tuesday, taking the country’s total number of cases since the pandemic began to 1,293, with 22 deaths. This compares with the U.S. tally of more than 5.2 million cases and 170,000 deaths.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh and Linda Noakes; Editing by Giles Elgood)