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WHO drawing closer to declaring a pandemic

first_imgJun 2, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The global novel H1N1 influenza situation is drawing closer to the status of a true pandemic but is not there yet, the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) lead spokesman on the issue said today.”Globally we believe we’re in phase 5 but are getting closer to phase 6,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO assistant director-general for health security and the environment, referring to the WHO’s pandemic alert phases.By the WHO definition, phase 5 means a novel virus is causing sustained community outbreaks in more than one country within one WHO region, in this case the Americas. Phase 6 signals a full pandemic, defined as a novel virus spreading widely in more than one global region. The phases as currently defined do not say anything about the severity of the disease, only its geographic extent.Speaking at a news briefing, Fukuda also said the WHO will come up with ways to describe the severity of the epidemic and provide related guidance so that governments will have more information on how to respond to the situation.Last week, after a number of countries voiced concern that a pandemic declaration would cause undue alarm and disruption in the context of a generally mild disease, Fukuda said the WHO would consider modifying its phase definitions. Today, in the wake of a teleconference with experts yesterday, he signaled that the WHO will stick with the current definitions, but promised the agency would supplement them by finding a way to describe the severity of the disease threat.Transitional countriesFukuda said several countries outside North America, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan, Chile, and Australia, seem to be moving from having limited H1N1 outbreaks related to travelers and institutions to having widespread community transmission.”However, we still are waiting for evidence of really widespread community activity in these countries, so I think it’s fair to say that they are in transition and are not quite there yet,” he said.He contrasted those countries with the United States, Mexico, and Canada, where the virus is widespread, and most other countries, where cases are limited and mostly linked to travel or to institutional outbreaks.As of today, the WHO has confirmations of 18,365 novel H1N1 cases in 64 countries, with 117 deaths, Fukuda reported. He said the WHO now plans to update its online H1N1 case count on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, instead of 5 days a week.Offering a kind of one-word descriptor that the WHO has generally avoided, he said, “It’s probably fair to call the situation moderate right now. We have some hesitation in calling it mild, for a couple of reasons.”One reason is that while the number of serious and fatal cases appears relatively low, the WHO doesn’t know the true proportion of severe cases, he said. Another reason is that the infection can be fatal in some people, including those with underlying medical problems, pregnant women, and even some who were previously healthy.Creating a severity scaleThe WHO’s decision to assess severity but not change the pandemic phase definitions comes out of a series of telephone consultations yesterday with about 30 experts from 23 countries, Fukuda reported.He said the discussions were fruitful and produced consensus in a number of areas: “The experts urged WHO to continue to use geographic spread as the basis for moving to phase 6, but also said WHO should modify this movement with an assessment of severity, and WHO should provide more tailored guidance to countries, responding to the severity.”Much of the discussion focused on how to assess severity, which has to do not only with the virulence of the virus but also with the vulnerability and resilience of populations, which are likely to vary from country to country, he said.The WHO may come up with something like a 3-point severity scale, Fukuda said. The agency hopes to develop a general severity assessment that will be useful to all countries but link it with detailed guidance to help local authorities assess their own situation and respond appropriately.”One of the things we hope to do is reduce some of the more drastic actions that may be uncalled for, but also provide guidance to countries regarding what steps they can take,” he added. He cited embargoes on pork and the slaughter of pigs, measures used by some countries in the early stages of the epidemic, as examples of uncalled-for actions.In other comments, Fukuda said the novel virus seems to be behaving pretty much the same in the southern hemisphere as it has in the northern hemisphere. In Chile and Australia, for example, most cases have been mild, but some severe cases with respiratory failure have occurred, just as in North America.”Overall, what we’re seeing in the first few countries in the southern hemisphere is similar to what we’re seeing in the northern hemisphere,” he said.He also reported that most of the flu viruses identified recently in Chile have been the novel H1N1 rather than the seasonal flu viruses that normally show up at this time of year.See also: May 26 CIDRAP News story “WHO may redefine pandemic alert phases”last_img read more

Update on the latest sports

first_imgThe league also is looking at other rules changes, including an alternative to the onside kick.NFL clubs received a list of potential rules changes on Thursday. Owners will vote on the proposals at the upcoming league meeting to be held by video conference on May 28.The league’s competition committee told teams last month it supports studying ways to determine how officiating personnel who have access to a video feed could help on-field officials. A booth umpire would serve as an eighth game official. If owners don’t approve adding a booth umpire and/or a senior technology adviser, the league could test a version of both rules in the preseason for possible future implementation.The proposal that would give teams another option instead of an onside kick permits a team to maintain possession of the ball after a score by substituting one offensive play. The kicking team would attempt a fourth-and-15 from its 25-yard line. This could be done a maximum of two times per game. Onside kicks have become infrequent — and rarely successful — since the NFL changed rules on alignments for kickoffs.In other NFL news: Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditNFL-NEWSNFL looks at adding “booth umpire” and tech adviser for refsUNDATED (AP) — The NFL is considering adding a “booth umpire” and a senior technology adviser to the referee to assist the officiating crew. Update on the latest sports — IndyCar has made more revisions to its schedule. The open-wheel series has canceled the June 27 race in Richmond, Virginia, and the street course race in Toronto on July 12. IndyCar is slated to finally begin June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway but will not race after Texas until an event July 4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race scheduled for June 21 at Road America in Wisconsin has been changed to a doubleheader there on July 11-12. The season finale had already been changed to Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, which was scheduled as the season opener before the series was suspended March 13.— Golf Digest is reporting the European Tour hopes to resume its season in England the first weekend in August as part of a four-tournament “bubble” in the UK. The magazine cited sources as saying the British Masters would be followed by two tournaments in England and one in Wales at Celtic Manor for 1 million euros ($1.1 million) in prize money. The European Tour has postponed nine tournaments and canceled eight others on its schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a memo, the European Tour says priority rankings will stay the same for 2021 and there will not be Q-school.— Some Louisville football and basketball players will return to campus Wednesday in a phased approach and begin voluntary workouts in early June. The first phase of 30 football players and 15 men’s and women’s basketball players will arrive next week after being instructed on safety protocols. Testing and physicals will begin June 3, with voluntary training not directed by coaching staffs to begin five days later. Training will take place at three facilities with limited capacity. Pending additional direction from the NCAA, Louisville can include up to 15 swimming and diving athletes in the phase and open its natatorium with limited capacity. — East Carolina University is eliminating its men’s and women’s tennis and swimming and diving programs to help reduce a $4.9 million budget deficit. The move affects 68 student-athletes and nine coaches and reduces ECU’s sponsored sports from 20 to 16, including nine for women. The NCAA requires Division I FBS schools to carry minimums of 16 sports, eight for women.— Little League is offering youth baseball organizations a pathway forward as they eye a restart amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization has released a set of “best practice” guidelines it believes would allow baseball and softball to be played safely after local authorities give the groups the all-clear to return to play. The recommendations include eliminating all non-essential contact and banning the postgame handshake line in favor of lining up along the respective baselines and tipping your cap to the opponent. All players should wear masks while in the dugout and coaches and volunteers should wear masks and protective medical gloves at all times. — An NFL player is suing United Airlines, saying he was harassed and sexually assaulted by an intoxicated female passenger on a red-eye flight in February. The player said in a lawsuit that soon after boarding the cross-country flight, a woman sitting in the same row confronted him over a face mask that he was wearing as protection against the coronavirus. The player says the woman confronted him over his face mask, ripped off the mask and groped him. The NFL player and a companion who joined the lawsuit were not named. United confirms there was some sort of incident and a passenger was moved to a different seat, but says it won’t comment further.— Tom Brady’s journey to each of his nine Super Bowls with the New England Patriots will be the subject of an ESPN series released in 2021. Titled “The Man in the Arena: Tom Brady,” the nine-episode series will include a look from Brady’s perspective at the six NFL titles and three Super Bowl defeats he was a part of. It should be a rare opportunity for up-close revelations from the usually private quarterback who left New England this year after 20 seasons and is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The series will be produced by ESPN, 199 Productions, which is Brady’s production company, and Gotham Chopra of Religion of Sports.MLB-NEWSCubs institute pay cuts, Pirates announce furloughsUNDATED (AP) — The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates are trimming payroll while they await word on the fate of the Major League Baseball season. The Cubs are instituting pay cuts because of the coronavirus crisis, but there will be no furloughs through the end of June. The Pirates announced Thursday they are instituting furloughs for several employees in business operations beginning on June 1.Chicago’s cuts were based on compensation, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The person told The Associated Press that 80% of associates are taking a pay cut of 20% or less, and that president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and president of business operations Crane Kenney took the highest reductions.In other MLB news:— Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Brent Honeywell has had a decompression procedure on his right ulnar nerve and is set to begin strength and mobility exercises. Honeywell, who hasn’t pitched in the minors since September 2017, is scheduled to start exercises on Monday at the Rays’ spring training complex in Port Charlotte. Honeywell was among Tampa Bay’s top prospects after going 13-9 with a 3.49 ERA in 26 starts for Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham in 2017. He missed the following season after Tommy John surgery during spring training. He sat out 2019 after an operation last June to repair a right elbow fracture.VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPORTS VANDERBILT-ATHLETIC DIRECTORVanderbilt’s Lee becomes 1st black woman AD in SECNASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt has removed the interim title and made Candice Storey Lee the first woman to run a Southeastern Conference athletics program.Lee is one of only five women and the second black woman in charge of a Power Five program. Daniel Diermeier, who takes over as Vanderbilt’s chancellor on July 1, said Lee is the “living embodiment” of the university’s values and aspirations.The 41-year-old Lee is a former Commodores basketball captain. She took over as interim athletic director on Feb. 4 when Malcolm Turner resigned after one year on the job.center_img Boxing aims for June 9 return in Las VegasUNDATED (AP) — Add boxing to the list of sports on the comeback trail. Promoter Bob Arum says he plans to stage a card of five fights on June 9 at the MGM Grand, the first of a series of fights over the next two months at the Las Vegas hotel. A second fight card will be held two nights later, kicking off twice weekly shows at the hotel in June and July.No fans will be allowed, and Arum said fighters and everyone else will be tested at least twice during fight week for the new coronavirus. The fights are pending approval of the Nevada Athletic Commission, which meets next week to consider the events along with two cards that UFC plans to stage at its facility in Las Vegas. They are also pending the reopening of the MGM and other Las Vegas hotels.In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:— The return of Xfinity Series racing has been delayed once again by rain at Darlington Raceway. It’s the first race for the series since March 7 due to the coronvirus pandemic. It was originally set for Tuesday night, but heavy storms washed out that plan. Organizers were set to try again Thursday at noon but that, too, had to be put on hold because of rain at the old, country track. The NASCAR Cup Series had a successful return at Darlington with two races this week. COLLEGE ADMISSIONS-BRIBERYLoughlin, Giannulli to serve prison time for college scamBOSTON (AP) — Court papers show actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have agreed to plead guilty to charges that will include prison time in the college admissions bribery case.Loughlin has agreed to serve two months behind bars and Giannulli has agreed to serve five months under the deal, which must be approved by the judge. They will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of money laundering and federal programs bribery that were added after the case was filed. An attorney for the couple declined to comment.Loughlin and Giannulli were accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as crew team recruits.,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 — Horse racing’s National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has canceled its induction ceremony in August because of health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hall of Fame president John Hendrickson says the museum believes it’s “in the best interests of everyone involved and for the integrity of the event to postpone the ceremony for a year.” The Hall of Fame ceremony was scheduled for Friday, Aug. 7. This year’s class includes trainer Mark Casse, jockey Darrel McHargue, horses Wise Dan and Tom Bowling, and Pillars of the Turf Alice Headley Chandler, Keene Daingerfield, Jr., and George D. Widener, Jr. They will be inducted with next year’s class. The 44th Annual Museum Ball scheduled for Aug. 14 also was canceled. It’s traditionally one of the highlights of the Saratoga summer social season.— Tokyo Olympic organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto spoke Thursday about the need to take “countermeasures” to combat the coronavirus at next year’s postponed games. Muto acknowledged in an online news conference that “there are some in Japan” talking about holding the games without fans. Muto did not say this was going to happen. He was responding to comments in a BBC interview in which International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said an Olympics without fans “is not what we want.” But Bach did not rule it out, and said any such a decision would take more time.— The governing body of swimming has postponed the short course world championships for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. FINA (FEE’-nuh) says the championships scheduled for December in Abu Dhabi will now be staged Dec. 13-18, 2021, in the United Arab Emirates because of the “the uncertainty related with the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.” FINA’s president says swimming organizers have worked closely with the United Arab Emirates’ authorities and “we believe this is the most suitable solution for all those taking part in this competition.”— German soccer club Dynamo Dresden has reported another case of coronavirus. The already quarantined second-division club has now had four players test positive. Dresden says on its website that the latest positive result was found in a fifth wave of tests conducted on Wednesday. It adds that another “category one” close contact of its coaching staff has also tested positive for COVID-19. The player, staff member and staff member’s contact person must now go into quarantine at home for 14 days. Dresden’s entire team was ordered by local health authorities into 14 days of quarantine on May 9 after two players tested positive. The club says that all players who tested positive before were cleared in the fourth and fifth wave of tests and that they and the rest of the team will be able to resume training on Saturday.— English soccer club Manchester United says it believes it will miss out on $24 million because the Premier League will have to make refunds to broadcasters even if the pandemic-disrupted season is completed. The league is in talks with its rights holders about rebates because of delays and changes to the broadcasting schedule. The season was suspended in March. Empty stadiums will also change the TV product. The rebates will vary based on the final position in the standings and the number of games aired live. United is in fifth place with nine games remaining. The Premier League hasn’t provided details of the broadcasting rebate. May 21, 2020 Associated Press last_img read more

LA Dodgers feel Corey Seager’s power in victory over Atlanta Braves

first_imgBut Seager led off the fourth inning with a drive into the right-field pavilion. Thompson matched him in the fifth inning and Seager did it again in the sixth, a 414-foot drive that looked a lot like the first.In the eighth, he wedged another solo shot into the seats down the left-field line, just beyond the reach of Braves outfielder Mallex Smith.The three-homer night gives Seager a team-high 12 already this season – second only to Colorado’s Trevor Story (15) among full-time shortstops (Manny Machado has 14 while splitting time between third base and shortstop). Thompson is in his shadow with nine.When the Dodgers arrived in Colorado for a three-game series beginning on April 21, Seager was hitting just .226 with one home run. Since then, he is batting .308 with 11 home runs and an increasingly-firm grip on the National League Rookie of the Year race.“I’m enjoying the ride,” Roberts said. “I’m the enjoying the development, the evolution, whatever you want to call it. To see how he prepares himself, the process – it seems like every night he’s going to do something special.“The consistency with the glove should never be overlooked. But what he did tonight – three homers and to put us on his back – it’s hard to believe he’s 22 years old. It’s something special.”Kenta Maeda isn’t a rookie in the same sense that Seager and Thompson are. But his first year with the Dodgers has been filled with ups and downs. Friday’s start qualified as an up.Maeda was touched for an unearned run in the first inning when a passed ball by Grandal moved Freddie Freeman into scoring position and Adonis Garcia drove him in with a two-out RBI single.Again in the second inning, the Braves pushed across a run against Maeda. Singles by Tyler Flowers, Teheran and Mallex Smith were good for that one.But Maeda retired 14 of the next 17 batters he faced, pitching into the seventh inning despite cracking the 100-pitch barrier for only the third time in his 11 starts. Maeda threw a season-high 107 pitches after getting an extra day between starts to rest a sore right hand (caused by a line drive back to the mound in his start at Citi Field last Saturday). The Dodgers would never label this season a youth movement. But it has become one – luckily for them.Rookie shortstop Corey Seager hit three home runs and combined with Trayce Thompson to produce all of the Dodgers offense in a 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves Friday night.Seager is the first Dodgers rookie to hit three home runs in a game since Don Demeter did it at the Coliseum on April 21, 1959. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 22-year-old Seager is the sixth-youngest player in MLB history to have a three-homer game.“It was one of those nights where it doesn’t matter what he was throwing, it felt like it was on a tee,” Seager said. “You get kind of locked in. … You see everything and it’s right there at your hands.” Thompson added his own solo home run and a double, all the hits the Dodgers managed in the win over the Braves.In the bigger picture, Seager and Thompson have been carrying the Dodgers’ offense for awhile now. One or the other – each in their first full seasons in the big leagues – can claim the team lead in home runs, runs, RBI, hits, total bases (all Seager’s), slugging percentage, OPS and OPS-plus (Thompson’s).Given the frequently-somnambulant state of the Dodgers’ offense (and the ongoing slumps of more established hitters like Yasmani Grandal, Justin Turner and Carl Crawford), the prospects of an offense devoid of their 25-and-under demographic (a group that includes Seager and Thompson’s housemate, Joc Pederson) are not attractive.“Would you have thought that at the beginning of the season? Probably not,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “To get that production offensively from these guys is great. That production from the other guys is going to come.”It didn’t come against Braves starter Julio Teheran Friday. He retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, only a walk to Grandal marring the procession.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more