Month: April 2020

Coronavirus found in particles suspended in polluted air in northern Italy

Italian researchers have identified the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in air samples collected over three weeks in an industrial area in the province of Bergamo, northern Italy.

In a study still under review, whose preliminary version can now be consulted publicly, the team led by researcher Leonardo Setti, from the University of Bologna, claims to have identified the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in air samples collected over three weeks in an industrial area in the province of Bergamo, in northern Italy.

“This is the first preliminary evidence that SARS-CoV-2 RNA may be present in suspended particles, which suggests that, under conditions of atmospheric stability and large concentrations of suspended particles, SARS-CoV-2 may create agglomerates with the particles and, by reducing its diffusion coefficient, increase the persistence of the virus in the atmosphere”, explain the researchers.

In a theoretical hypothesis published before the release of these results, the same researchers had suggested the possibility that a greater exposure of the population of northern Italy – a more industrialized region – to airborne particles may have been responsible for a greater incidence of Covid-19 in that area of the country.

The possibility that the virus can be transmitted by particles suspended in polluted air is directly related to the way in which the virus itself is transmitted, and the World Health Organization has already repeated that it is not transmitted by air. In other words, according to WHO: “SARS-CoV-2 is only transmitted by droplets expelled by infected people, not being suspended in the air” – information that can now be called into question by these new studies.

Commerce will reopen “on the 4th and 18th of May and the 1st of June”, announces Costa

The prime minister Antonio Costa said today that on April 30th , the Council of Ministers will announce which commercial sectors will restart their activity with security standards on May 4 and 18 and June 1. António Costa spoke to journalists after meeting with the Confederation of Portuguese Commerce, which, in turn, invited the Lisbon, Viseu and Fafe traders’ associations to be present.

According to the prime minister, the meeting aimed to “test the hygiene rules for everyone to feel safe when going to establishments” from the moment the restrictions on the operation of these sectors are lifted.

“All sectors of activity are setting safety standards, which will have to be validated by the General Health Directorate. These standards must all be in a position to be applied when, on April 30, the Council of Ministers announces what is the release schedule for the containment rules “, stressed the executive leader.

According to António Costa, “the confinement release rules will come into force every 15 days, the first on 4 May, the second on 18 May and the other on 1 June”, although they do not yet include all sectors of activity.

“Therefore, on April 30, after the Council of Ministers, we will announce the activities that the 4th, 18th or 1st of June will be able to resume – and always with restrictions on capacity and in terms of protection of individual equipment, whether for those who are meet, in some cases for customers “, he stressed.

António Costa said that the executive’s objective, with this phased reopening calendar, “is to measure the impacts of the previous measure every 15 days, seeing if it is possible or not to take another step” in terms of lifting restrictions.

“It is better to go slowly and safely now than after having unpleasant surprises that force us to step back. Each time we release a containment rule, the risk of contamination increases. We know this and, as such, we have to maintain that level of controllable contamination, capable of responding to the National Health Service (SNS) “, he claimed.

Before the journalists, the leader of the executive said that the meeting also involved the association of hairdressers, so that this sector can also resume the activity in safety for professionals and their customers. “Naturally, safety standards are not the same for all sectors, pointing as an example the fact that the work of a hairdresser inevitably requires proximity to the client” .

Regarding the reopening plan for the commerce and services sectors, António Costa stressed that there will be no “pre-covid-19 normality, until there is a vaccine”.

“With all sectors of activity, we must prepare what are the conditions so that the rules of containment can be eased,” he added.

António Costa also said that, on the part of the Government, “an effort is being made to increase the response capacity of public transport, ensuring its hygiene”. “The Minister of Infrastructure [Pedro Nuno Santos] is currently meeting with the mayors of Cascais and Sintra to increase the offer and safety on trains”, he revealed.

“These are the two railway lines where there are greater difficulties in ensuring social distance”, he justified.

The latest developments on Covid-19 in Portugal and worldwide.

This Friday, Portugal registered 854 deaths associated with Covid-19, 34 more than on Thursday, and 22,797 infected (444 more), according to the epidemiological bulletin released by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

The North region continues to register the highest number of infections, totaling 13,707, followed by the region of Lisbon and Vale do Tejo, with 5,277.

The Prime Minister announced today that “the Government is going to enact for the weekend of the 1st of May the ban on inter-city travel”, in a similar way to what happened at Easter.

The United States today recorded one of the most deadly days since the pandemic began: 3,176 dead in the past 24 hours. In total, almost 50,000 people died in the country. At European level, Italy, Spain and France remain the countries affected by Covid-19 in the world.

Setúbal Chamber will distribute 80 thousand masks to the population

The Setúbal City Council will acquire 80,000 reusable masks, worth a total of 100,000 euros, to be made available free of charge to the population as of the end of April, the municipality revealed today.

“We intend to provide means that offer security to our citizens in the activities that they have to carry out in this period of health contingency “, told to Lusa the mayor, Maria das Dores Meira.

According to the mayor, the decision to purchase and distribute reusable masks to the population was made following the recommendation of the Directorate-General for Health for the “widespread use of masks in closed collective spaces, such as supermarkets and public transport”, alongside the concerns of social distance, hand hygiene and other measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that caused the covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Setúbal City Council, the community masks chosen by the municipality, which will be distributed through the citizens’ mailboxes (in a kit with three units), at the Setúbal bus terminal and train station, “allow greater profitability and durability of the than disposables, in particular more than fifty washes in a maximum daily use of seven hours “.

The Setúbal Chamber also says that half of the 80,000 masks are produced by a “company that sells masks certified by the Directorate-General for Health” and the other 40 thousand, in tnt fabric, by the seamstresses of the volunteer group `Solidariedade Entre Linhas´.

Globally, according to an AFP balance sheet, the covid-19 pandemic has already caused close to 184,000 deaths and infected more than 2.6 million people in 193 countries and territories.