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New Studies Warn of Dangers from Hydroxychloroquine, Falling Vaccination Rates

A pharmacy tech pours out pills of hydroxychloroquine at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, May 20, 2020.

A malaria drug that U.S. President Donald Trump says he has been taking to avoid contracting COVID-19 has been linked to increased risk of death in patients with the disease, according to a study published in a prominent medical journal.

The study, published Friday in the Lancet, monitored more than 96,000 COVID-19 hospital patients. It found that people treated with hydroxychloroquine, or the related drug chloroquine, were more likely to develop an irregular heart beat that could cause sudden death.

Trump began touting the use of the malaria drug as a coronavirus treatment in early April and said earlier this week he was taking it as a preventative measure.

The authors of the study suggested that hydroxychloroquine should not be used to treat COVID-19, outside of clinical trials, until results from those trials are available and confirm its safety for COVID-19 patients.

In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also issued a warning about the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus.

Another new study, this one by the World Health Organization, concluded the pandemic is interfering with immunization against diseases that could risk the lives of nearly 80 million infants. Global health officials say over half of 129 countries that had immunization data reported the suspension of vaccinations against cholera, measles, polio and other diseases.

India infections spike

As coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 5.1 million and deaths climbed above 333,000, according to John’s Hopkins University statistics, India’s health ministry said Friday the country recorded its largest one-day spike in COVID-19 infections, with 6,088.

There were 148 deaths in India during the same Thursday morning to Friday time frame, the health ministry said. The country has nearly 120,000 coronavirus infections overall.

Britain traveler quarantines, Latam outbreaks

In Britain’s fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus, everyone flying into the country, including citizens, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. International travelers will have to provide an address and will be subjected to spot checks and fines if they breach quarantine, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told Sky News on Friday. The new protocol is expected to begin next month.

While Europe has been hard-hit by the outbreak, Latin America is becoming a coronavirus hotspot. Brazil now has the third-highest number of cases in the world after the U.S. and Russia after recording more than 20,000 deaths and a record 1,188 deaths in a 24-hour period.

A grave digger at a cemetery outside Sao Paulo said "We've been working 12-hour days, burying them one after the other. It doesn't stop."

Chile, Mexico and Peru have also seen steady increases in infections.

Africa COVID-19 cases pass 100K

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that coronavirus cases on the continent have topped 100,000. Africa has so far not experienced the high numbers of cases seen in other parts of the world.

More than 3,100 people have died on the continent of 1.3 billion people and the Africa CDC director says the continent has seen about the same number of new cases in the past week as the week before. “We hope that trend continues,” Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said.

The United States continues to lead the world in the number of cases and deaths. The U.S. more than 1.5 million people who have been infected and nearly 95,000 have died.

Despite the grim statistics, President Trump has made clear he wants state governors to do more to ease virus-related restrictions as his November re-election bid draws closer.

At a roundtable discussion with African-American leaders in Michigan Thursday, Trump said Democratic governors who are easing restrictions more slowly than he would like are “hurting themselves, they’re hurting their state, and it’s not good.”

Trump added the Democratic governors are “being forced to open” and “I think they look at it as a possible November question; it’s not a November question.”

Meanwhile, Michigan's attorney general says Trump may not be invited back to the state if he refuses to wear a face mask in public.

Trump Thursday visited a Ford auto factory near Detroit that has been converted into a plant to build ventilators and was seen not wearing a mask, a violation of the governor’s executive order on masks.

Also on Thursday, Trump ordered flags on all federal buildings and monuments lowered to half-staff for three days in memory of all Americans who have lost their lives to the coronavirus.

He made the announcement on Twitter at the same time he said the lowered flags Monday will also honor servicemen and women “who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation” as the country marks Memorial Day.

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