World Roundup: Virus stays on skin for 9 hours—study

The coronavirus remains active on human skin for nine hours, Japanese researchers have found, in a discovery they said showed the need for frequent hand washing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pathogen that causes the flu survives on human skin for about 1.8 hours by comparison, said the study published this month in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal.

"The nine-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus strain that causes COVID-19) on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV (influenza A virus), thus accelerating the pandemic," it said.

The research team tested skin collected from autopsy specimens, about one day after death.

Both the coronavirus and the flu virus are inactivated within 15 seconds by applying ethanol, which is used in hand sanitizers.

End of the party in Paris

Shortly before the clock struck 9 p.m. on Saturday, restaurant shutters in Paris came down and people dashed home to beat a strict new curfew to battle the coronavirus outbreak.

Police patrolled streets which would ordinarily be bustling with party-goers to enforce the new anti-mingling measure as the country notched up a record of more than 32,000 positive COVID-19 tests in 24 hours, with 1,868 people in intensive care.

Densely-populated Paris has been an infection hotspot, with bars already shuttered since Oct. 6 although restaurants and other establishments that serve food were allowed to stay open.

The 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for Paris and a dozen other French cities—some 20 million inhabitants in all—will remain in place for at least four weeks.

Melbourne eases restrictions

Lockdown restrictions in Australia's second-biggest city were eased slightly Sunday following a steady decline in new coronavirus cases, but officials stopped short of ending a controversial "stay-at-home" rule.

More than 100 days after the lockdown was imposed on Melbourne's five million residents to fight an out-of-control surge of COVID-19 cases, authorities said that as of midnight they were lifting a two-hour limit on the time people could spend outside their homes for permitted activities.

They also extended from five to 25 kilometers the distance people could travel from their homes for several activities, including exercise, shopping for essentials, socializing and work in essential professions.

China's new biosecurity law

China has passed a new law to improve its handling of disease outbreaks —including protecting whistleblowers—following a cascade of criticism over its coronavirus response and accusations of an early cover-up.

The new biosecurity law, approved by lawmakers on Saturday, flags the right to report "acts that endanger biosecurity" and calls for risk prevention systems, ranging from active monitoring to emergency plans.

It takes effect from April 15 next year.

"Any work unit or individual has the right to report acts that endanger biosecurity," the regulation said.

"When a report is required according to the law, no work unit or individual shall conceal (it)... or hinder others from making a report," it added on infectious diseases and epidemics.

China's approval of the law comes in the face of Western criticism on the coronavirus, over accusations that it covered up the initial outbreak and silenced early whistleblowers.

But China has been trying to reshape this narrative, with authorities seeking instead to model the country as a vanguard in the pandemic fight.

Topics: COVID-19 , China , Clinical Infectious Diseases journal , France , Australia
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