(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Canada in second wave
Canada has entered a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, warning that the country was on the brink of a surge if people did not follow public health guidelines.
In a rare national address, Trudeau said the country “is at a crossroads” as a second wave emerges in four large provinces, adding that the government would do whatever it took to help the country recover from the pandemic.
“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring,” he said.
Canada’s COVID-19 cases have spiked in recent days, with an average of 1,123 new cases reported daily over the past week, compared with a daily average of 380 cases in mid-August.
Trump may block stricter FDA guidelines for vaccine
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he may or may not approve any new, more stringent FDA standards for an emergency authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine, saying such a proposal would appear political.
Trump has repeatedly said a vaccine could be ready for distribution ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would issue the guidance to boost transparency and public trust, as health experts have become increasingly concerned the Trump administration might be interfering in the approval process to rush out a vaccine.
More contagious strain now dominates in Houston
The first study to analyze the structure of the novel coronavirus from two waves of infection in a major city found that a more contagious strain dominates recent samples, researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital said on Wednesday.
They examined more than 5,000 genomes from viruses recovered in the earliest phase of the pandemic in Houston, an ethnically diverse city of 7 million, and from an ongoing more recent wave of infections.
The study, which has not yet been reviewed by outside experts, found that nearly all strains in the second wave had a mutation known as D614G, which has been shown to increase the number of “spikes” on the crown-shaped virus.
As the spikes are what allow the virus to bind to and infect cells, this increases the ability of the mutated virus to do so.
Madrid pleads for more doctors
Spain’s Madrid region on Wednesday requested urgent help to hire hundreds of foreign doctors and reinforce police, as they registered 1,290 new coronavirus infections and considered extending a partial lockdown to more areas.
Representing over a quarter of Spain’s 4,143 new cases in the past 24 hours, the capital region has been hardest hit by a second wave of COVID-19, with the number of daily deaths and infections soaring to levels not seen since May.
Madrid has already restricted movement between and within some districts where about 850,000 people live since midnight on Monday.
Spain’s cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus infections has spiked since the end of a nationwide lockdown in late June and now stands at 682,267 - the highest in Western Europe.
Dogs used to detect virus
Dogs trained to detect the novel coronavirus began sniffing passenger samples at Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa airport this week, authorities said, in a pilot project running alongside more usual testing at the hub.
The dogs’ efficiency has not been proven in comparative scientific studies so passengers who volunteer to be tested and are suspected of carrying the virus are instructed to also take a swab to confirm the result.
In the canine test, a passenger swipes their neck with a gauze, places it in a can which is then handed over to another room for a dog to sniff and to deliver an immediate result.
Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Jan Harvey
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