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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters)

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Most infectious at the start

Studies show people with the coronavirus are most infectious just at the point when they first begin to feel unwell, World Health Organization (WHO) experts said on Tuesday.

Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert, said the novel coronavirus lodges in the upper respiratory tract, making it easier to transmit by droplets than related viruses such as SARS or MERS, which are in the lower tract.

“That means you could be in the restaurant feeling perfectly well and start to get a fever, you are feeling ok, you didn’t think to stay home, but that’s the moment at which your viral load could be actually quite high,” he said.

Intermittent lockdown

The WHO has recommended Pakistani authorities reimpose “intermittent lockdowns” of targeted areas to curb the spread of the coronavirus, stating the country did not meet any of the global body’s six conditions for lifting restrictions.

“WHO strongly recommends the government adapt the two weeks off and two weeks on strategy,” said a letter signed by WHO’s head of mission in Pakistan, Dr. Palitha Mahipala, which was sent on June 7 to health authorities of Pakistan’s two most populous provinces, Punjab and Sindh.

A surge of new cases has hit the South Asian nation after the government lifted its lockdown on May 9 citing economic pressures.

Dashed dreams

“The fear of losing jobs is worrying everyone at the moment,” said construction supervisor Sharif Uddin.

Like many South Asian migrant workers in Singapore, the 42-year-old sends the bulk of his wages to his family in Bangladesh and is still repaying loans taken out to pay off the recruitment agent that first got him a job in Singapore.

“The dreams of migrants … don’t get fulfilled very soon. It takes really long to chase them,” Uddin said.

Lawrence Wong, the co-head of Singapore’s virus task force, told Reuters the government’s waiving of levies and other steps have helped alleviate “major concerns” of workers around job security, but layoffs were possible given the grim economic outlook.

Tracing app inspired by U.S. school project

Singapore reached out to a Stanford University student, Rohan Suri, in January to understand his experiences and considerations while developing a prototype for a contact tracing app called kTrace as a high school project in 2014.

Suri had developed the prototype with a schoolmate as the Ebola epidemic ravaged western Africa.

He spent February and March volunteering on Singapore’s TraceTogether app alongside fellow Stanford students Nikhil Cheerla and Daniel Lee, giving Singapore a roadmap by sharing kTrace’s code and providing advice on stronger privacy protections.

Now, Suri has co-founded another app called Zero, which aims to attract users by bundling contact tracing technology with a safety-rating tool for shops and restaurants based on measures such as occupancy limits and mask rules.

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