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CDC report reveals coronavirus spread to 72% of inmates exposed in Louisiana

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A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report suggests that one coronavirus test may not be enough to be sure that someone has not been infected after exposure. 

The report, published Monday, found that more than 70 percent of inmates at a Louisiana prison who were exposed to someone infected with coronavirus ultimately came down with COVID-19. 

But about 25 percent of them tested negative once, or even twice, between exposure and getting a positive result. 

As the threat of asymptomatic spread becomes clearer and outbreaks rage in detention facilities the US, the CDC underscores the need to perform ‘serial’ diagnostic tests, especially on those who have been exposed to someone with coronavirus and those living in densely-packed group settings. 

It also comes as California’s San Quentin Prison revealed more than 1,000 of its inmates have been infected. 

Coronavirus has spread like wildfire in US prisons, including one in Louisiana where 72% of inmates in dorms where someone was infected caught the virus, despite stepped-up disinfecting measures and quarantines (file)

Coronavirus has spread like wildfire in US prisons, including one in Louisiana where 72% of inmates in dorms where someone was infected caught the virus, despite stepped-up disinfecting measures and quarantines (file)

Coronavirus has spread like wildfire in US prisons, including one in Louisiana where 72% of inmates in dorms where someone was infected caught the virus, despite stepped-up disinfecting measures and quarantines (file) 

US prisons, where overcrowding is a common problem, have become hotbeds for the spread of coronavirus. 

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is a highly contagious pathogen, far more so than its cousins in the coronavirus family, SARS and MERS. 

It loves nothing more than crowds in confined spaces, making prisons perfect fodder for coronavirus’s spread. 

On March 29, a staff member at one Louisiana prison (which the CDC does not name) developed coronavirus symptoms. 

Shortly thereafter, the person tested positive for COVID-19. 

Within a matter of days, two more employees of the facility and a first prisoner tested positive.   

In the entire prison’s complex, there were 700 prisoners, spread out across 15 dormitories. 

For the next month, the prison staff did daily temperature and blood-oxygen level screenings of the inmates, which led to the diagnoses of 35 inmates, spread across five dormitories between April 8 and May 7. 

The 98 inmates were tested for coronavirus daily, and 16 tested negative once and two tested negative twice before they were finally diagnosed with COVID-19 (file)

The 98 inmates were tested for coronavirus daily, and 16 tested negative once and two tested negative twice before they were finally diagnosed with COVID-19 (file)

The 98 inmates were tested for coronavirus daily, and 16 tested negative once and two tested negative twice before they were finally diagnosed with COVID-19 (file) 

Everyone who tested positive was transferred for treatment, and the 98 remaining prisoners in those dormitories were placed under quarantine. 

Then, the Louisiana Department of Health and the CDC swept in to begin a full-scale screening operation on May 7. 

Already, on day one, 53 people tested positive. 

The health officials continued to test the prisoners for two weeks. By the end of that period, 71 people tested positive, meaning that the virus spread to 72 percent of people sharing a building with the original 35 infected prisoners. 

Sixteen of those people tested negative once before eventually testing positive and two tested negative twice before their cases were confirmed. 

Nearly half of the prisoners (45 percent) said they had no symptoms when they were tested. 

‘The high attack rate within these five dormitories and the large proportion of asymptomatic persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection suggest that serial testing of close contacts, including those in congregate settings, should begin immediately after identification of a case to limit further transmission,’ the CDC report authors wrote. 

‘Some persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 were likely not detected until weeks after they had been infected, which could have contributed to rapid transmission within the quarantined dormitories.’ 

According to Politico, at least 1,327 inmates in federal prisons were covid-positive as of June 20. Another nearly 5,000 had been infected and recovered and 98 had died.  

The CDC report makes clear just how easily coronavirus can spread in the confined quarters of prisons – even if swift action is taken to isolate infected people. 

But it has implications beyond prison walls, too.  

‘High rates of COVID-19 transmission in correctional and detention facilities also have the potential to influence broader community transmission,’ the CDC report says. 

‘Reducing transmission in correctional and detention facilities potentially also reduces transmission in communities where staff members live and where detained persons return when released.’ 

REVEALED: More than 1,000 inmates at California’s San Quentin Prison now have coronavirus 

More than 1,000 inmates at California‘s San Quentin Prison have tested positive for coronavirus, meaning more than a third of the entire facility’s population now have the virus.

The number jumped from 823 on Sunday to 1,015 on Monday, a 22 percent increase. There have been 973 new cases in the prison in the last 14 days. 

The prison now has by far the highest number of cases out of all of California’s correctional facilities. 

Last week, 30 of the cases were prison staff and five infected inmates were released. 

More than 1,000 inmates at California's San Quentin Prison have tested positive for coronavirus, meaning more than a third of the entire facility's population now have the virus

More than 1,000 inmates at California's San Quentin Prison have tested positive for coronavirus, meaning more than a third of the entire facility's population now have the virus

More than 1,000 inmates at California’s San Quentin Prison have tested positive for coronavirus, meaning more than a third of the entire facility’s population now have the virus

This is how cases in the California prison system have spiked since the start of May. The blue line represents the prison system compared to the rest of the state and the country

This is how cases in the California prison system have spiked since the start of May. The blue line represents the prison system compared to the rest of the state and the country

This is how cases in the California prison system have spiked since the start of May. The blue line represents the prison system compared to the rest of the state and the country

It’s unclear where they were released to and if they were forced to quarantine once they had left custody.  

San Francisco Gate reports that the infections spiked a month ago when 121 inmates from the California Institute for Men at Chino were transferred. 

Those infected inmates were not separated enough from others when they arrived, and spread the virus quickly.

It also comes amid a surge in testing across the prison system. 

The spike in cases is not, however, being reflected in a spike in deaths.  

The increase in the prison system mirrors the ongoing increase in cases across the state and the rest of the country that is leading to fears another shutdown may be required.  

Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered nightlife to close amid the escalating numbers.

Florida, Arizona and Texas are also seeing worrying increases in case numbers.  

Newsom announced on Monday at a press conference that some of the inmates and guards may be moved to a medical center to be cared for. 

Prisons have been a source of concern since the pandemic began, with hundreds of inmates gathered in close quarters with no choice but to live on top of each other. 

It prompted many leaders to start releasing what they considered to be non-violent criminals from custody. 

There have not been any COVID-19 deaths at the prison whereas 16 inmates at the California Institute for Men died of the virus. 

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BARNEY CALMAN: Cystic fibrosis sufferers finally get ‘wonder drug’ after endless talks

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Dare we dream? Amid the flurry of tweets in response to our articles over the past fortnight that predicted the Government would soon strike a deal for a lifesaving cystic fibrosis drug, this simple sentence stood out. 

It summed up the hopes – and fears – of thousands of British families blighted by this horrible illness, which kills many sufferers before they reach their 40s. 

Last Tuesday, the drug, Kaftrio, was approved – and the dream finally became a reality, just as we had said it would. It was a watershed moment, and an end to many months of uncertainty. And the relief last week among both campaigners and those involved in the negotiations was palpable. 

The deal is, we can reveal, the biggest of its kind in NHS history – potentially amounting to £1billion over the next four years. 

But thousands of patients can now plan a future – one that’s not defined by pain, infections, hospital visits and gradually failing lungs. For those who are severely ill, the drug isn’t simply a lifeline, but a chance to live normally again. 

Over the past six months, in the run-up to last week’s announcement, the MoS has published a series of reports, lifting the lid on the secretive negotiations between NHS England and drug company Vertex on access to cystic fibrosis drugs. 

BARNEY CALMAN: The deal is, we can reveal, the biggest of its kind in NHS history - potentially amounting to £1billion over the next four years

BARNEY CALMAN: The deal is, we can reveal, the biggest of its kind in NHS history - potentially amounting to £1billion over the next four years

BARNEY CALMAN: The deal is, we can reveal, the biggest of its kind in NHS history – potentially amounting to £1billion over the next four years 

What was discussed during these talks is ‘commercially sensitive’, hence their shadowy nature – and patients were increasingly surprised that we knew so much. 

There are limits to what I can say, in order to protect the identity of our sources, but I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify a few points. We ran our first report last November, revealing that the Government had just signed a £100million deal for the now pretty much ‘obsolete’ cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi. 

It followed a row over cost for the tablets that began in 2017 – a dispute that dragged on so long that by the time an agreement was reached at the end of October 2019, the newer and vastly more effective Kaftrio was already being given to patients in America (where it’s known as Trikafta). 

When Orkambi was introduced in July 2015, it was the best drug on offer. Patients, of course, wanted access – the drug would, and has, made a difference. 

But overall the health improvements were often modest, many didn’t benefit, and many suffered intolerable side effects. Alone, it wasn’t worth the money. 

However, the drug’s maker, Vertex, was asking the NHS to invest in the future: buy Orkambi now, at the high price being asked for, and you can have Kaftrio when it comes out in a few years for no extra cost. A so-called pipeline deal. 

NHS England and its financial advisers, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), refused. Things became acrimonious. 

Vertex was repeatedly and publicly accused by our politicians and health chiefs of ‘poor practice’ for not ‘complying’ with their wishes and told they ‘ought to know better’. But by mid-2018 it was apparent from clinical trial results that Kaftrio was ‘the one’ everyone had been waiting for – ‘almost a cure’. 

BARNEY CALMAN: Over the past six months, in the run-up to last week's announcement, the MoS has published a series of reports, lifting the lid on the secretive negotiations between NHS England and drug company Vertex on access to cystic fibrosis drugs

BARNEY CALMAN: Over the past six months, in the run-up to last week's announcement, the MoS has published a series of reports, lifting the lid on the secretive negotiations between NHS England and drug company Vertex on access to cystic fibrosis drugs

BARNEY CALMAN: Over the past six months, in the run-up to last week’s announcement, the MoS has published a series of reports, lifting the lid on the secretive negotiations between NHS England and drug company Vertex on access to cystic fibrosis drugs

The company, really, held all the aces. And then, in May 2019 came a shocking decision that still makes little sense: the NHS agreed to take the triple therapy ‘off the table’ in talks, in order to get Orkambi at a lower price. 

In the run-up to the General Election, health chiefs had been under increasing pressure from Ministers to close the deal. But this ultimately meant three days after Kaftrio was approved in America, Orkambi – by then a five-year-old medicine that had been superseded – was given to UK patients. 

We were approached with the story by a group of whistleblowers, who told us how the NHS had not only ‘bought the wrong drug’ – but also that there was little hope of a resolution over Kaftrio. These were not the kind of people who normally talk to the press. But with a progressive condition such as cystic fibrosis, every single day counts – and they felt they could not afford further delay or deadlock. 

By making public what had been going on, they hoped to heap pressure on dealmakers to come to an agreement swiftly. And it worked. 

After our report, both parties returned to the negotiating table. Talks faltered again in May, but then came a breakthrough. Again, we ran stories to let them know that the world was watching. And finally, last week, came the result everyone had longed for. But did it have to be so difficult? 

The main lobbyists, the CF Trust, are a focal point in the cystic fibrosis community, providing ground-level support to families, giving advice and funding research. To say they are an integral part of thousands of patients lives is no understatement. 

BARNEY CALMAN: We were approached with the story by a group of whistleblowers who told us how the NHS had not only ¿bought the wrong drug¿ from Vertex (pictured, HQ in Boston, US) - but also, that there was little hope of resolution over Kaftrio

BARNEY CALMAN: We were approached with the story by a group of whistleblowers who told us how the NHS had not only ¿bought the wrong drug¿ from Vertex (pictured, HQ in Boston, US) - but also, that there was little hope of resolution over Kaftrio

BARNEY CALMAN: We were approached with the story by a group of whistleblowers who told us how the NHS had not only ‘bought the wrong drug’ from Vertex (pictured, HQ in Boston, US) – but also, that there was little hope of resolution over Kaftrio

But, as contentious as it is, there are some who say the Trust should not have campaigned for Orkambi, when the superior Kaftrio was on the near horizon. 

As far back as 2018, Kaftrio was already transforming the health of patients in trials. But when the drug was ‘taken off the table’ in talks, prior to the Orkambi deal last year, there appeared to be no public objection from them. 

It was common knowledge in the medical world by that time just how important Kaftrio was, so even some of those inside the Trust felt this was a missed opportunity. By the time the Kaftrio agreement was being thrashed out this year, the Trust appeared to have neither the ear of the Government, nor the drug company. 

Indeed, just a few weeks ago staff were reportedly told by boss David Ramsden that access to Kaftrio was ‘a long way off’ – at the very point that Ministers and Vertex were moving to close the deal. 

On Twitter, where cystic fibrosis campaigners are highly active, the Trust dismissed our reports that an agreement was close, saying it would be ‘months’ before anything happened. 

Given there was such urgency for the medicine during the Covid-19 pandemic – those with cystic fibrosis are at high risk – the mixed messages caused anxiety and upset. And, of course, the Trust was wrong in this instance. 

A CF Trust spokesman said: ‘We are incredibly proud to have worked alongside the cystic fibrosis community in the long campaign for life-saving medicines. The four-year battle to secure Orkambi was a critical step and it remains the only medicine suitable for many children. We have and will always fight for those with cystic fibrosis.’ 

And, to their credit, the Government and health chiefs have listened, and delivered. They did the deal they should have done almost a year ago – and, some feel they would have, if they’d been better advised by the CF Trust. 

In the end, the patients, parents, and concerned supporters who fought for Kaftrio dared to dream, and they won.  

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Breast cancer patients to be spared surgery thanks to ‘magnetic’ seed smaller than a grain of rice 

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Advanced breast cancer patients may be spared debilitating surgery thanks to a magnetic ‘seed’ implanted in the armpit. 

The pioneering device – smaller than a grain of rice – helps surgeons spot cancerous tissue so it can be removed without damaging surrounding healthy tissue. 

At present, some women have an operation to remove all the lymph glands under their arms, as this can be the first area that tumour cells spread into, but this can have irreversible repercussions. 

Lymph glands, or nodes, are a vital part of the lymphatic system, which helps the body fight off infection. Removing them disrupts the circulation to and from the arms, and women can be left with chronic pain and swelling, known as lymphoedema. 

Advanced breast cancer patients may be spared debilitating surgery thanks to a magnetic 'seed' - called Magseed -  implanted in the armpit

Advanced breast cancer patients may be spared debilitating surgery thanks to a magnetic 'seed' - called Magseed -  implanted in the armpit

Advanced breast cancer patients may be spared debilitating surgery thanks to a magnetic ‘seed’ – called Magseed –  implanted in the armpit

The pioneering device - smaller than a grain of rice - helps surgeons spot cancerous tissue so it can be removed without damaging surrounding healthy tissue (stock photo)

The pioneering device - smaller than a grain of rice - helps surgeons spot cancerous tissue so it can be removed without damaging surrounding healthy tissue (stock photo)

The pioneering device – smaller than a grain of rice – helps surgeons spot cancerous tissue so it can be removed without damaging surrounding healthy tissue (stock photo)

The new implant, called Magseed, acts as a marker, allowing surgeons to flag and remove only cancerous nodes, sparing the healthy ones. 

When women are first diagnosed with breast cancer, they undergo a series of tests. X-rays are taken to see if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the underarm area – which happens in half of all cases. 

Nodes that are enlarged are considered to be a sign of cancer. 

Surgeons may also carry out a minor procedure called a biopsy, which involves taking a tiny piece of tissue from problem lymph nodes and testing it.

Historically, breast cancer patients with cancerous lymph nodes had surgery to remove the disease, followed by chemotherapy and drugs to control any spread. 

The new implant, called Magseed, acts as a marker, allowing surgeons to flag and remove only cancerous nodes, sparing the healthy ones (stock photo)

The new implant, called Magseed, acts as a marker, allowing surgeons to flag and remove only cancerous nodes, sparing the healthy ones (stock photo)

The new implant, called Magseed, acts as a marker, allowing surgeons to flag and remove only cancerous nodes, sparing the healthy ones (stock photo)

Now, many patients have chemotherapy and medication first, which makes the tumours smaller and subsequent surgery to remove them more straightforward. But chemotherapy also reduces the size of cancerous lymph nodes. 

In the past, before chemotherapy, a minor procedure was performed to attach clips to cancerous nodes, marking them out to be removed during surgery. But when the lymph nodes shrink during chemotherapy, these become loose and can slip off, so surgeons struggle to tell which have been identified as cancerous. 

‘The result is that surgeons remove unnecessary amounts of healthy tissue to be sure they’ve removed the cancer,’ say Mr Peter Barry, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon at the Royal Marsden Hos­pital in London. 

Now, due to the Magseed’s ribbed texture, it stays in place on the lymph node throughout the patient’s chemotherapy treatment. 

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE… between dynamic and static stretching? 

Stretching helps loosen the body and prevents injury. Static stretching involves moving a joint or muscle as far as it can go, such as reaching down to touch your toes, and then holding that position for a length of time. 

It is an effective way of cooling down after exercise. 

Dynamic stretching is a good way of slowly warming up the muscles. Instead of holding a position, you repeatedly move the joints and muscles in a controlled fashion, such as continuous high-knee marching. 

This elevates the heart rate and body temperature, and therefore flexibility, ahead of the main activity. 

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A few weeks before chemotherapy, the tiny magnetic screws are implanted in the problem lymph nodes via a series of injections in the armpit area. The procedure lasts less than five minutes, under local anaesthetic, with surgeons using ultrasound scans to guide them. 

Surgery to remove the cancer takes place six months later, after the first course of chemotherapy treatment has finished. 

On the morning of the surgery, a specialised X-ray, known as a CT scan, is performed to show the position of the glands. The patient is then taken into theatre, where a magnetic wand, called Sentimag, is used to locate each Magseed, helping the surgeon identify the previously marked lymph nodes, which are then removed, leaving behind as much healthy tissue as possible. 

A test is performed on the extracted nodes, to look for signs of cancer. 

‘This tells us immediately whether the chemotherapy has worked – and if a patient needs more treatment,’ says Mr Barry. 

‘If it has, there’s no need to remove any further tissue.’ 

If cancer is detected, patients return two weeks later for another operation to remove more nodes. 

Jeevarani Sivapryan, 40, from Surrey, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2018. It had spread to nearby lymph nodes. 

After diagnosis, the mother-of-three had the Magseed injected in her cancerous node, prior to a six-month course of chemotherapy. 

The next year, in February, she underwent surgery. With the help of the Magseed, her surgeon removed the breast tumour, the cancerous node and a few surrounding it. 

Tests to see if the chemotherapy had eradicated the disease came back negative so no further lymph nodes needed to be removed. 

‘To be given this early-warning sign that my chemotherapy had worked was fantastic,’ she says. ‘I have a tiny scar under my armpit where it was inserted and removed, but that’s it. Anything which reassures women with breast cancer that their disease has gone is a massive achievement.’

WEIRD SCIENCE: The man who became a giant overnight 

A 64-year-old man from the Netherlands developed a condition overnight whereby he perceived everyone - and everything - to be tiny (pictured, 2016's The BFG film)

A 64-year-old man from the Netherlands developed a condition overnight whereby he perceived everyone - and everything - to be tiny (pictured, 2016's The BFG film)

A 64-year-old man from the Netherlands developed a condition overnight whereby he perceived everyone – and everything – to be tiny (pictured, 2016’s The BFG film)

Would you like to be a few inches taller? 

A 64-year-old man from the Netherlands developed a condition overnight whereby he perceived everyone – and everything – to be tiny. 

Despite being of average build, in his mind he’d become a giant. 

Doctors reported he would buy extra-large clothes and would avoid doors and corridors for fear he wouldn’t fit through them. 

However, brain scans revealed he’d suffered a stroke, resulting in significant damage to the regions of the brain involved in spatial awareness and leaving him in a permanently ‘shrunken’ world. 

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HEALTH NOTES: Thousands of children miss out on jabs because their mothers have mental health issues

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At least 5,000 children in the UK miss out on potentially lifesaving vaccines every year because their mothers have mental health problems, research has revealed. 

Conditions such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders leave mothers less likely to attend routine appointments where injections are given to protect under-fives against measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough and diphtheria. 

The Manchester University team tracked almost 480,000 families over 12 years and found infants whose mothers had psychiatric struggles were 14 per cent less likely to get all their jabs than those whose mothers were healthy. 

Dr Cemre Su Osam, from the university’s Centre for Women’s Mental Health, who co-authored the study, said the findings were a ‘public health concern’.

At least 5,000 children in the UK miss out on potentially lifesaving vaccines every year because their mothers have mental health problems, research has revealed (stock photo)

At least 5,000 children in the UK miss out on potentially lifesaving vaccines every year because their mothers have mental health problems, research has revealed (stock photo)

At least 5,000 children in the UK miss out on potentially lifesaving vaccines every year because their mothers have mental health problems, research has revealed (stock photos)

Blowing away sleep apnoea

Learning to play a wind instrument could help the five million Britons blighted by the condition sleep apnoea. 

Research shows that blowing into instruments that use two reeds, such as the oboe, firms up muscles in the airways. In sleep apnoea, soft tissue in the throat restricts intake of air, causing snoring. 

Learning to play a wind instrument could help the five million Britons blighted by the condition sleep apnoea (stock photo)

Learning to play a wind instrument could help the five million Britons blighted by the condition sleep apnoea (stock photo)

Learning to play a wind instrument could help the five million Britons blighted by the condition sleep apnoea (stock photo)

This disrupts breathing and wakes sufferers every few minutes, putting them at risk of high blood pressure. Scientists at the Academic Centre for Dentistry in Amsterdam used data from studies involving patients who took up wind instruments.

The results, in the Journal Of Clinical Sleep Medicine, showed they snored less and woke less often. 

A charity project that is posting free family photographs to dementia patients is hoping they’ll ease lockdown isolation and spark buried memories. 

Research shows that looking at pictures of loved ones can increase feelings of comfort and safety among people with early-stage dementia. 

The joint initiative, by the Alzheimer’s Society and printing firm Citizen Systems, is offering 25,000 free photo postcards. 

Family members can simply upload their pictures at myphotomessages.com and type in a message, and the card is delivered in a few days.

Twice as many younger smokers have quit the habit due to Covid-19 fears compared with those over 50, according to research by University College London (stock photo)

Twice as many younger smokers have quit the habit due to Covid-19 fears compared with those over 50, according to research by University College London (stock photo)

Twice as many younger smokers have quit the habit due to Covid-19 fears compared with those over 50, according to research by University College London (stock photo) 

Young smokers fear Covid

Twice as many younger smokers have quit the habit due to Covid-19 fears compared with those over 50, according to research by University College London. 

Despite facing half the risk of death from the virus than their elders, the study shows that Britons under 30 were much more likely to give up smoking in an effort to avoid becoming seriously ill. 

Pressure group Action On Smoking And Health suggest several factors could be behind the pattern, including less peer pressure in pubs and bars, financial insecurity and moving back to the family home.

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