Hundreds in US Charged in $6B Medical Fraud Schemes

The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday announced charges against 345 people for committing over $6 billion in medical fraud. Those charged include more than 100 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who filed fraudulent claims to federal health care programs and private insurers, according to the Justice Department. The bulk of the fraud — $4.5 billion — was connected to telemedicine, which has surged during the pandemic. For example, the Cleveland Clinic went from averaging 5,000 telemedicine visits a month before the pandemic to 200,000 visits just in April, the Associated Press reported. “Telemedicine can foster efficient, high-quality care when practiced appropriately and lawfully. Unfortunately, bad actors attempt to abuse telemedicine services and leverage aggressive marketing techniques to mislead beneficiaries about their health care needs and bill the government for illegitimate services,” U.S. Health and Human Services Deputy Inspector General Gary Cantrell said in a statement. “Unfortunately, audacious schemes such as these are prevalent and often harmful.”  FILE – The U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building is seen in Washington, July 13, 2018.According to the Justice Department, some telemedicine company executives allegedly paid doctors and nurse practitioners to order unnecessary medical equipment, medical tests and pain medications without interacting with a patient or with only a brief telephone conversation with a patient they had never seen.  “Durable medical equipment companies, genetic testing laboratories, and pharmacies then purchased those orders in exchange for illegal kickbacks and bribes and submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and other government insurers,” according to a statement from the Justice Department. In addition to telemedicine fraud, other defendants were charged with more than $845 million worth of fraud related to substance abuse facilities, and more than $806 million was connected to other health care fraud, including the illegal distribution of opioids. “This nationwide enforcement operation is historic in both its size and scope, alleging billions of dollars in health care fraud across the country,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt said in a statement. “These cases hold accountable those medical professionals and others who have exploited health care benefit programs and patients for personal gain.” 
 

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Zimbabwe Officials Blame Bacterial Disease for Elephant Deaths

Zimbabwe parks authority officials say they suspect a bacterial disease called hemorrhagic septicemia is behind the recent deaths of at least 34 elephants in the northwestern part of the country.The elephant deaths, which began in late August, come soon after hundreds of elephants died in neighboring Botswana in mysterious circumstances. Authorities subsequently blamed the deaths on toxins produced by another type of bacterium.FILE – A combination photo shows dead elephants in Okavango Delta, Botswana, May-June, 2020. (Photographs obtained by Reuters)Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Director-General Fulton Mangwanya said Tuesday they have discovered 34 dead elephants, but suspect more may be found.  The elephants were found lying on their stomachs, suggesting a sudden death.Mangwanya said the dead elephants were discovered in an area between the Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls in west-central Zimbabwe, suggesting to him the outbreak has been isolated.Mangwanya said postmortems on some of the elephants showed inflamed livers and other organs. Samples have been sent to the UK and South Africa to confirm the type of disease.Experts say that Zimbabwe’s current elephant population could be close to 90,000.Elephants in Botswana and parts of Zimbabwe are at historically high levels — roughly half of the continent’s 400,000 elephants, according to estimates — but elsewhere on the continent, especially in forested areas, many populations are severely depleted, researchers say. 
 

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German Chancellor Imposes New COVID-19 Restrictions

After consulting with Germany’s 16 regional governors, German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday announced new restrictions on the size of gatherings to prevent the country’s coronavirus infection figures from accelerating.At a Berlin news briefing following her virtual meeting with the governors, Merkel said she wants to act regionally and address the virus where it is surging rather than shut down the whole country, which she said should be avoided at all costs.  “In order to achieve this, we must have minimum standards for certain frequencies of infections,” said Merkel.The German chancellor said in places where there are more than 35 new infections per 100,000 residents recorded in a week, the number of people attending gatherings at public or rented facilities should be limited to 50 and no more than 25 should attend events in private homes.She said that where infections hit at least 50 per 100,000 residents, those figures should be cut to 25 and 10 respectively.Merkel said she expects the rate of infection to rise as the change in weather means more people will spend time inside in the coming months. She said the number of daily infections could rise to 19,200 in three months if the rate of infection continues as it has over the past three months.  “This underlines the urgency for us to act,” said Merkel.The chancellor also discouraged travel to high risk areas in Europe in the coming months, saying staying in Germany was a good option. She said low risk European nations such as Italy might be a good option, noting the number of COVID-19 cases are very low there now and “they are acting very carefully.”Johns Hopkins University reports Germany has over 289,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and just over 9,450 deaths.

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Robot Arms Perform Tests to Detect COVID-19

The world recently reached a tragic milestone of one million known deaths linked to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.  Experts say more testing is key to combating the virus’s spread.  A biotech company in Taiwan has developed a robot capable of conducting thousands of COVID tests each day, making it possible to safely revive the economy.  VOA’s Arash Arabasadi has more.Camera: Reuters
Producer: Arash Arabasadi     

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COVID-19 Deaths Surpass 1 Million

The COVID-19 death toll has climbed to more than one million people worldwide.  And because of a recent surge of infections in many countries including in Europe and the United States, more coronavirus deaths are expected in the coming months. But there are also signs that death rates are dropping and people who contract the virus now are faring better than those infected early on.  VOA correspondent Mariama Diallo has more.Produced by:  Bakhtiyar Zamanov   

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Ghanaian Oncologists Want More Focus on Colon Cancer

By the time a patient comes to Dr. Clement Edusa with colon cancer, it is often too late.The medical director of the Sweden Ghana Medical Center will see cancer that has been misdiagnosed and spread, as the patient has sought out other treatments, including some from ill-equipped small clinics or herbalists.Edusa said while Ghana does not see many cases of colon cancer, as lifestyles change, he expects to see an increase, and there need to be systems in place to provide detection and affordable treatment.“Definitely, there is going to be an increase,” Edusa said. “But don’t forget that apart from that, you need to have a structure in place to do the screening. So, if you don’t have a national program which sort of pulls in the people to do the screening, you won’t get it early. So, you will have an increase in numbers and people coming late, and of course, more fatalities.”FILE – Chadwick Boseman poses in the press room at the American Music Awards on Nov. 24, 2019, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.While fans have been mourning the loss of American actor Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer a month ago, a beloved actor and preacher in Ghana also met this fate this year.Bernard Nyarko’s son Gideon said his dad’s illness was gradual. By the time he got his colon cancer diagnosis, doctors could do little, as it had spread.“He went to the hospital, but they were not able to diagnose the main source of his illness,” Nyarko said. “They were linking it to other sorts of illnesses. It was later that we discovered it was colon cancer. That was 2019.”When Gideon saw images of Boseman’s weight loss, he saw the similarities of how his own father looked toward the end.Gideon Kankam Nyarko with his late father, Ghanaian actor Bernard Nyarko who died this year of colon cancer. (Courtesy of Gideon Kankam Nyarko)He hopes both his father’s case and that of Boseman will create awareness of the need for early detection and better training in health services.Some organizations in Ghana have taken up this mantle.Cancer Support Network Ghana tries to get cancer survivors to speak out to encourage others to go for screenings, to ultimately lower fatality rates in Ghana, said oncology nurse Eric Brobbey.“People think that when you have this cancer you’re going to die, but there are people who have lived for many years, Brobbey said. “So, when they come out to share their stories, it encourages others to also seek treatment.”Ibrahim Rauf of the Zurak Cancer Foundation works to increase cancer awareness in low-income communities, in Accra, Ghana, Sept. 26, 2020. (Stacey Knott/VOA)Ibrahim Rauf from the Zurak Cancer Foundation focuses on low-income communities, advocating prevention, education and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.“The lifestyles that expose people to cancers kind of run through, regardless of which cancer you are referring to,” Rauf said. “So, we might not be heavily focused on colon cancer now, but then we believe the awareness we are creating is giving people the opportunities to adopt lifestyles that save them from it.”The ultimate hope is that more people will be aware of the signs and risks of cancers, including colon cancer, and that eventually all screenings, diagnoses and treatments will be funded by the government. 

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Amazon Launches Trial of Pay-by-Palm Device

Need to pay for some groceries? No problem, just wave your palm. That could be the new mode of payment at Amazon Go stores if current trials of its new technology in Seattle, Washington, are successful.   The technology, known as Amazon One, is a “free, contactless service that lets you use your palm to pay, enter or identify yourself,” according to its website. The product, which is undergoing trials at two Go stores in Seattle, will allow customers to enter their credit card details and cell phone number and scan their palm or palms for distinct details such as “surface area, lines and ridges as well as subcutaneous features such as vein patterns” on a biometric device. The individual palm details are then used to create a customer’s unique palm signature, and Amazon is counting on that to protect customer information. The e-commerce company assures customers that the Amazon One device does not store information. “We treat your palm signature just like other highly sensitive personal data and keep it safe using best-in-class technical and physical security controls,” according to the website.  Once sign-up is complete, customers can purchase goods and services with their palm prints by hovering over the payment device. It will also allow customers to use their palms as a form of ID, which allows them to enter Go stores without a code. If customers change their minds about using the service, Amazon says it will completely delete their information. “Amazon will permanently delete your palm signature from Amazon’s systems after completion of any remaining transactions,” the website says. “Your Amazon One ID will also be automatically deleted if you do not interact with an Amazon One device for two years.” Amazon says it hopes to replicate the technology in all of its Go stores after its pilot use in Seattle and that it looks forward to other retailers signing up for the service.  

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Scientists Claim Discovery of Multiple Liquid Water Lakes on Mars 

A team of scientists studying data from a satellite orbiting Mars say they have discovered evidence of several lakes of what they believe is salty, liquid water beneath the surface of the planet’s south pole.The discovery, detailed in a study published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy, expands upon a tentative finding in 2018, which was made using data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express satellite.A radar instrument known as the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) produced evidence of what astronomers believed was a large saltwater lake under the ice at Mars’s south pole, a finding that was met with excitement and some skepticism at the time.Since then, the same group of scientists examined 10 years’ worth of radar images sent from the spacecraft and found not only more evidence confirming the original salt lake, but enough for at least three more lying underneath the Martian surface.Confirming the existence of liquid water on Mars is significant, in that it could provide a possible habitat for life.The new evidence came after researchers examined over 100 radar images taken by the satellite from 2010 through 2019. The scientists saw what seemed to be several subglacial liquid bodies ranging in size from just over 19 kilometers across to as small as just under 5 kilometers.The average temperature on Mars is around minus 26 degrees Celsius, far too cold for water to remain liquid at the surface. But the researchers believe the lakes maintain their liquid state due to their high concentrations of salt. Some scientists believe Mars was once a wet, warm world and may even have hosted life forms at some point in its early history. But over time, the planet’s atmosphere was stripped away because it lacks a magnetic field like Earth’s, making it seemingly inhospitable.This latest discovery suggests that some pockets of the Martian terrain may be habitable and could contain some form of microbial life that escaped from the planet’s freezing surface to the waters beneath. 

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TikTok Launches US Election Guide

Chinese-owned video sharing platform TikTok says it is creating a guide “to protect against misinformation” during the 2020 U.S. elections. In a blog post Tuesday, the company said its guide would connect “100 million Americans with trusted information about the elections from the National Association of Secretaries of State, BallotReady, SignVote, and more.” “Our The U.S. head office of TikTok is seen in Culver City, California, Sept. 15, 2020.TikTok, which is especially popular with younger people, is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. TikTok has sought to alleviate U.S. concerns over privacy issues by forming a partnership with two U.S. companies, Oracle and WalMart. The deal has not been finalized, and there have been conflicting statements among the parties about how much of the new venture each company would own.  The Trump administration was moving forward to ban TikTok from app stores, but on Sunday, a judge blocked an order to prevent app stores from distributing it.  The judge gave lawyers for TikTok and the administration until Wednesday to meet and propose a schedule for further proceedings in the case.   
 

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British Company Testing Jet Suits For Use During Emergencies

A British jet suit company has teamed with a paramedic service to test the flying suits’ capabilities for emergency use in Britain’s mountainous northern lake district.Gravity Industries released video Tuesday of a recent test of its jet suit in simulated rescue situations in northwest Britain’s vast Lake District National Park in Cumbria.The jet suit company teamed up with local paramedic team Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), which says reaching walkers in distress is one of their biggest challenges.In one test simulation, a paramedic in a jet suit – which, in this case, was test pilot and Gravity Industries founder Richard Browning – was sent up a mountain in a scenario in which a 10-year-old girl had fallen from cliffs and sustained a serious leg injury.The paramedic, following coordinates given for the location of the casualty, follows a hiking trial up the steep, rocky terrain, traveling at about 51 kilometers per hour (kph) and reaches the scene in 90 seconds, traveling a distance that might have taken a rescuer as long as 25-30 minutes on foot.GNAAS director Andy Mawson, who reached out to Gravity Industries about using their jet suit for emergency services, says its lifesaving potential “is just huge.”The suit has an altitude limit of 3,658 meters, easily surpassing the height of the Lake District’s – and Britain’s – highest peak of 978 meters.Browning launched Gravity Industries in March 2017 and has since flown more than 100 flight events across 30 countries. 

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UN Chief Laments ‘Agonizing Milestone’ of 1 Million COVID-19 Deaths

The number of people killed by COVID-19 has surpassed 1 million, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, which put the total number of infections worldwide at more than 33 million.    Lamenting what he called “an agonizing milestone,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the world to overcome the challenge presented by the pandemic and to learn from past mistakes made at the outset. “Responsible leadership matters,” Gutteres said. “Science matters. Cooperation matters — and misinformation kills.” COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, late last year. As the pandemic reached the grim milestone, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said the actual toll is probably higher.     FILE – Coffins with the bodies of victims of coronavirus are stored waiting for burial or cremation at the Collserola morgue in Barcelona, Spain, Apr. 2, 2020.”If anything, the numbers currently reported probably represent an underestimate of those individuals who have either contracted COVID-19 or died as a cause of it,” Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergencies expert, said at a briefing in Geneva.  The one million fatalities are among the more than 33.2 million people around the world who have been sickened by the disease, and there are growing signs that many nations are about to experience a second wave of the outbreak, especially the United States, which leads the world with over 7.1 million total cases, including over 205,000 deaths. FILE – A caution tape is put up around the playground at Public School 33 following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, Sept. 27, 2020.Officials in New York City, the initial epicenter of the pandemic in the United States in March and April, are reporting a surge of new COVID-19 cases across the city after several months of decreasing numbers.  Officials are especially concerned with eight neighborhoods in the Brooklyn and Queens boroughs, some of them home to large Orthodox Jewish communities.  The increase comes as the city prepares to reopen its public schools to in-person instruction this week.  New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo also expressed concern Monday about a surge of new cases in two counties, Rockland and Orange, located north of New York City.  FILE – Dough Hassebroek walks his son Felix to Ardor School in Brooklyn, New York, Sept. 21, 2020.A new study released Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the rate of infections in children ages 12 to 17 is about twice that in children between the ages of five to 11.  But the CDC study pointed out that the statistics were collected during a period when most students were not attending in-person classes, suggesting that the low number of confirmed cases in children result from a lack of testing.   The CDC also said young children often have mild symptoms, and may even be asymptomatic, which could also account for their low numbers of confirmed cases. “The American people should anticipate that cases will rise in the days ahead,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned on Monday.   More testing  U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday promised to make 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests available.  He said the “massive and groundbreaking expansion” of testing would help protect the elderly in nursing homes, allow schools to reopen more safely, and help get the economy back on track.     President Donald Trump leaves after an event about coronavirus testing strategy, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sept. 28, 2020, in Washington.Trump had previously said he wanted to slow down testing because discovering more cases could make it appear the disease is spreading faster.    WHO announced that 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for the coronavirus will be made available to low- and middle-income countries.     WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said manufacturers Abbott and SD Biosensor are working in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “make 120 million of these new, highly portable and easy-to-use rapid COVID-19 diagnostic tests available over a period of six months.”          

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Trump Announces Plan to Distribute 150 Million Rapid Coronavirus Tests

U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to distribute 150 million rapid coronavirus tests and urged governors to use them to reopen schools, amid reporting that a member of his coronavirus task force is concerned the president is receiving incorrect information about the pandemic.In a speech at the White House Rose Garden, Trump called the plan a “massive and groundbreaking expansion” of testing capability, “more than double the number of tests already performed.“Fifty million tests will go to protect the most vulnerable communities, which we’ve always promised to do, including 18 million for nursing homes, 15 million for assisted living facilities,10 million for home health and hospice care, hospice care agencies and nearly 1 million for historically black colleges and universities, and also tribal nation colleges,” Trump said.The administration is encouraging schools to use the rapid Abbott Laboratories tests, which deliver results in 15 minutes, to help restart and maintain in-person teaching so that parents can return to work.   “One hundred million rapid, point-of-care tests will be given to states and territories to support efforts to reopen their economies in schools immediately and fast as they can,” Trump said.   Last week Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden criticized Trump for not having a national standard to safely reopen schools and said that he had released a plan to do so in July.   Biden stressed that reopening schools should only be done with adequate protections including masks and sanitizing and based on health considerations such as the reinfection rate. “If it’s down below one then it’s rational that you can, with those protections, go ahead and open a school but watch it very closely. But it requires testing and tracing to make sure you’re still on course there,” Biden said. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing “Review of Coronavirus Response Efforts” on Capitol Hill, Washington, Sept. 16, 2020.‘Everything he says is false’  Trump’s announcement came amid reporting that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, suggested in a conversation with a colleague Friday that Dr. Scott Atlas, the newest member of the president’s coronavirus task force, is arming Trump with misleading data about the virus, including on the efficacy of masks and the potential benefits of herd immunity.   “Everything he says is false,” Redfield said during a phone call made in public on a commercial airline and overheard by NBC News.   The CDC did not dispute that Redfield was speaking about Atlas in the overheard conversation. “NBC News is reporting one side of a private phone conversation by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield that was overheard on a plane from Atlanta Hartsfield airport. Dr. Redfield was having a private discussion regarding a number of points he has made publicly about COVID-19,” said a CDC spokesman in an email to NBC.   Atlas is a neuroradiologist with no background in infectious diseases or public health who was brought on to the White House task force in August. Before he joined the task force, Atlas was a frequent guest on Fox News, where he pushed to reopen the country and espoused views that more closely align with the president’s opinions on the pandemic. Trump invited Atlas to speak during the coronavirus testing announcement. Redfield was not present at Monday’s event, neither were two other members of the coronavirus task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. 

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Pelosi Says Democrats Unveil New COVID-19 Aid Bill 

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday that Democratic lawmakers unveiled a new, $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which she said was a compromise measure that reduces the costs of the economic aid. In a letter to Democratic lawmakers released by Pelosi’s office, she said the legislation “includes new funding needed to avert catastrophe for schools, small businesses, restaurants, performance spaces, airline workers and others.” “Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise with this updated bill,” she said. “We have been able to make critical additions and reduce the cost of the bill by shortening the time covered for now.” Pelosi in recent days has said she thinks a deal can be reached with the White House on a new coronavirus relief package and that talks were continuing. But she also said that she would offer legislation if the impasse continued with the Trump administration over the size and shape of another relief package. She did not say when there would be a vote on the latest Democratic proposal. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, left, walk to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 5, 2020.Formal talks among Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows aimed at hammering out a relief package broke down on Aug. 7 with the two sides far apart. Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke by phone on Sunday and again on Monday. They plan to speak again on Tuesday morning, her spokesman said. Pelosi and Schumer initially sought a $3.4 trillion relief package, then said they were willing to scale that back by at least a trillion dollars. But it was not clear whether the White House would consider the $2.2 trillion sum proposed in the new legislation. Meadows has said that Trump would be willing to sign a $1.3 trillion relief package. Pelosi also faces pressure from moderate House Democrats who say they want to see bipartisan aid proposals that have a chance of becoming law. The new proposal included $436 billion for state and local governments, as well as money for education, testing, airline industry workers and for a small business loan program known as the Paycheck Protection Program, a statement from House Democrats said. It would also provide a new round of direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per taxpayer and restore federal unemployment benefits of $600 a week through January. 

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Hot Baths Can Ward Off Cardiovascular Diseases, Study Shows

New research suggests that taking hot baths, soaking in hot tubs or using saunas can prevent cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. The research was presented last week at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), held virtually this year. Hisayuki Katsuyama, co-author of the new study, is a physician at Kohnodai Hospital in Ichikawa, Japan. He says that while drug treatments have helped people with Type 2 diabetes live better, longer lives, daily habits such as diet and exercise are still important for these patients.  Katsuyama says he and his colleagues looked at previous research suggesting heat therapy, such as baths, hot tubs or saunas, can lower risks of fatal heart disease and stroke, along with having a lower body fat percentage, and thought it could be promising as a Type 2 diabetes treatment. To test the theory, the researchers recruited 1,297 patients with Type 2 diabetes who regularly visited an outpatient hospital unit in Ichikawa between October 2018 and March 2019. They documented their bathing habits and noted water temperature, frequency and duration of each session, as well as a variety of medical notes.  Across the board, people who bathed more often had lower body mass indexes (BMI), diastolic blood pressure and glycated hemoglobin, a key risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. In their presentation, the researchers say their findings suggest daily heat exposure by hot tub bathing can “contribute to improvements of glycemia, hypertension and obesity, and thus, can be a therapeutic option for patients with Type 2 diabetes.” In an interview, Katsuyama says he suspects patients may benefit from heat therapy in a way similar to the benefit they get from exercise. He says both seem to improve insulin sensitivity and enhance energy expenditure.  Other research suggests bathing increases blood circulation, body temperature and the production of nitric oxide in the body, which appears to confer the positive benefits. Katsuyama says more research is needed before more conclusions can be made. The study has not yet been published or peer reviewed.
 

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Taiwan Tech Firm: Robot Capable of Processing 2,000 Coronavirus Tests Results Per Day

A Taiwan biotech company says it has developed a testing robot that can accurately process more than 2,000 coronavirus test results a day and is marketing the machine as a way for economies to get back up and running while still controlling the spread of the virus.The Taipei-based TCI company says its QVS-96 robot is the first fully automated virus scanner. It uses three robotic arms to manipulate large amounts of test specimens usually handled by multiple laboratory technicians.TCI chief supervisor Arvin Chen says the machine can process an initial round of 96 specimens in three-and-a-half hours, and, thereafter, can process 96 specimens every 60 to 70 minutes. The company says the QVS-96 achieves the same safety and quality standards as any laboratory.Chen suggests the QVS-96 could be deployed in major metropolitan airports, in places such as New York City or Singapore. He says with 100 of the robotic testing machines operating, “These airports can fully resume their flights and let the passengers travel safely and bring back the country’s economy.”TCI says the QVS-96 has also been programmed to detect the flu and differentiate it from the coronavirus which could be crucial in northern hemisphere nations in the coming months.The company recently announced a global distribution agreement to make the QVS-96 available worldwide. Earlier this year, the machine was officially registered with the U.S. Food and Drug AdministrationThe company says QVS-96 is currently being used in a selection of government agencies, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control and three hospitals in northern and central Taiwan.   

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Coronavirus Global Death Tally Approaches 1 Million

The World Health organization says 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for the coronavirus will be made available to low- and middle-income countries as the world approaches a death toll of 1 million. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva on Monday that the tests would cost less than $5.  He said manufacturers Abbott and SD Biosensor are working in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “make 120 million of these new, highly portable and easy-to-use rapid COVID-19 diagnostic tests available over a period of six months.” COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported Monday that there were close to 1 million deaths worldwide. It said there are more than 33 million infections around the globe.  In India, the country’s confirmed coronavirus infection tally reached 6 million Monday, behind only the United States, where infections passed 7 million last week. India’s Health Ministry on Monday reported 82,170 new coronavirus cases over a 24-hour period, as well as 1,039 new confirmed deaths, taking total fatalities in the country to 95,542.  Surge expected in USIn the United States, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NBC, “We’re nowhere near the end” of the coronavirus pandemic.FILE – Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at a hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19, Capitol Hill, Washington, Sept. 23, 2020.Redfield also repeated his argument that wearing a mask can be just as effective as a vaccine. “If every one of us did it, this pandemic would be over in eight to 12 weeks,” Redfield said. A CNN investigation of Johns Hopkins data reveals the number of cases has increased by at least 10% from the previous week in 21 U.S. states.   Dr. Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told CNN an expected “huge surge” in coronavirus infections in October in the United States is also expected to continue in November and December.   European countries debate next stepsMeanwhile, Europe is experiencing a new wave of coronavirus infections, leading some governments across the continent to reimpose restrictions on residents and businesses.FILE – A sign is placed across a closed road in London, Sept. 24, 2020, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is warning that his country could see a “second wave.” He said Sunday that “swift and decisive action” must be taken to battle the virus.  Britain reported 4,044 new cases on Monday. The number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at more than 437,000, according to Johns Hopkins. In France, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the government has no plan to order a new nationwide lockdown, despite a rising number of coronavirus cases.  Patrick Bouet, head of France’s National Council of the Order of Doctors, told Journal du Dimanche Sunday “if nothing changes, France will face a widespread outbreak across its whole territory for several long autumn and winter months,” and the health system would crumble under the demands.    In Spain, Madrid authorities and the national government are clashing over the extent of the steps needed to control the outbreak of new infections in the capital region.  Spain’s Health Ministry Monday reported 31,785 new cases since Friday. 

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