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International Medical Corps COVID-19 Situation Report #26, October 7, 2020

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Situation Report
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FAST FACTS

  • According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, which consolidates data from a range of sources, as of October 7, there have been 35,874,626 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in 188 countries and regions.

  • In the US, we are supporting 38 hospitals across the country, including in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Puerto Rico and Texas, with a range of services and equipment, including emergency medical field units, supplies and volunteer staff.

  • We have screened more than 1.8 million people for COVID-19 at our global missions and have distributed more than 17.4 million pieces of personal protective equipment and infection prevention and control items to supported health facilities.

  • We have trained more than 17,500 frontline healthcare professionals on COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

As the pandemic moves forward, the number of worldwide confirmed daily cases continues to grow, while the number of daily deaths continues to decline slowly.

Over the past week, 21 states in the US reported a rise in cases, while three— Texas, Missouri and South Carolina—reported decreases and the others held steady. At the same time, case numbers in many European countries continue to increase, with no sign of slowing. To stem the growth in new cases, some countries around the world have turned to rapid tests, in the hope of quickly identifying and quarantining positive cases.

Late last week, media reports revealed a sizeable COVID-19 outbreak in the White House and among members of the Republican party. Positive cases identified so far include the President, the First Lady, three Republican senators, the president's press secretary, the president's campaign manager, multiple presidential advisors and several journalists who cover the White House, among others. Last weekend, the President was moved to Walter Reed Hospital, where he received experimental treatments for the virus. He has now returned to the White House, where he will continue to be monitored and treated. Confirmed cases in the US now exceed 7.5 million, with deaths exceeding 210,000.

The European continent remains in the throes of a second-wave of COVID-19 infections. Governments continue attempts to balance the need for restrictions with the desire to avoid massive economic disruptions. Thus far, countries have attempted to utilize a regional approach to lockdowns and restrictions, with Spain and France both opting for localized measures in hotspots, such as Paris and Madrid. In Paris, bars have been forced to close, and restaurants have had more stringent rules placed upon them. In Madrid and other municipalities in Spain, the populace has been placed on partial lockdown: individuals are not allowed to exit or enter these cities except through work or medical grounds. The confirmed cases in several European countries are now higher than they were in the spring, but this may be due to low testing capacity at the beginning of the pandemic and, therefore, artificially low case numbers in the beginning of the year. Still, the increased caseloads show a clear and significant spread of the virus after months of relative containment.

The efficacy of rapid antigen tests have continued to be a topic of discussion amongst medical and public health experts. These rapid tests have a higher rate of false negatives than the standard PCR test, but are also much faster in providing results and are often cheaper. Proponents of the rapid tests say that these tests' speed and cost-effectiveness can enable more thorough surveillance of a population. Last week, the WHO announced an initiative to make 120 million rapid tests available to low- and middle-income countries. These tests were recently rolled out in Madrid in the hope of helping to alleviate the outbreak in the city.