Health Highlights: April 29, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

JetBlue Passengers Will Have to Wear Face Coverings

Face coverings will have to be worn by all passengers flying with JetBlue as of May 4, making it the first major U.S. airline to implement the precaution.

“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself, it’s about protecting those around you,” said Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s president and chief operating officer, CNN reported.

“This is the new flying etiquette. Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others. We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well.”

JetBlue already requires all crew members to wear face coverings while on the job.

Meanwhile, American Airlines said Tuesday that flight attendants will have to wear face masks during every mainline and regional flight, CNN reported.

Also, American Airlines and United Airlines said they’ll offer face masks for passengers beginning in May, but a United Airlines spokesperson said passengers won’t be required to wear them.

On Tuesday, it was announced that three major New York City area airports will restrict terminal access to ticketed passengers, airport employees and others who need to enter the airport for business, CNN reported.


Trump Orders Meat Processing Plants to Stay Open

An executive order mandating that U.S. meat processing plants remain open during the coronavirus pandemic was signed Tuesday by President Donald Trump.

The order classifies meat processing as a critical infrastructure and is an attempt to prevent a shortage of meat in stores, the Associated Press reported.

The move jeopardizes lives and places more importance on cold cuts than workers’ health, according to unions representing plant employees.

More than 20 U.S. meatpacking plants have closed temporarily, including two of the nation’s largest, and production has slowed at others due to workers becoming ill or staying home to avoid getting sick, the AP reported.


Coronavirus Found In Airborne Droplets

Scientists have found the new coronavirus in tiny airborne droplets in two hospitals in Wuhan, China, which adds to growing evidence that it can spread through the air.

Previous laboratory experiments made the same finding, but this is the first time the coronavirus was found in airborne droplets in real-world settings, The New York Times reported.

It’s not known if the coronavirus in the droplets was infectious, according to the study published this week in the journal Nature.

Such tiny droplets are expelled by breathing and talking and can remain in the air and be inhaled by other people, the Times reported.


Researchers Report First U.S. Dog With Coronavirus

A pet dog that’s part of a Duke University study is believed to be the first in the United States to test positive for the new coronavirus.

The dog is a pup named Wilson who belongs to a family in Chapel Hill, NC. The mother, father and son in the home also tested positive for the coronavirus, but another family dog and cat didn’t test positive, CBS News reported.

The family also has a lizard, which wasn’t tested.

“To our knowledge, this is the first instance in which the virus has been detected in a dog. Little additional information is known at this time as we work to learn more about the exposure,” Dr. Chris Woods, the lead investigator of the Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection (MESSI), said in a statement to CBS News.

Last month, health officials in Hong Kong said a coronavirus patient’s pet dog tested positive for the virus and was likely the first case of human-to-animal transmission.

Since then, there have been several suspected cases of coronavirus reported in cats, but research suggests that dogs have low susceptibility to the virus, according to CBS News.


Rare, Serious Illness May Occur in Children With COVID-19

Abdominal pain, gastrointestinal complaints and heart inflammation are among the symptoms in children with a rare syndrome that may be linked to COVID-19, British health officials say.

An urgent alert about a small rise in the number of cases of critically ill children with “overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki disease with blood parameters” among some children who’ve testing positive for COVID-19 was tweeted Sunday by the Paediatric Intensive Care Society (PICS) UK, CNN reported.

Kawasaki disease is a rare childhood illness that causes the walls of the blood vessels to become inflamed.

Over the last three weeks, “there has been an apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care across London and also in other regions of the UK,” according to the alert sent to U.K. general practitioners by the National Health Service (NHS), according to the Health Service Journal, CNN reported.

“There is a growing concern that a [covid-19]-related inflammatory syndrome is emerging in children in the UK, or that there may be another, as yet unidentified, infectious pathogen associated with these cases,” the alert stated.

PICS said there “very few cases” of critically unwell children with COVID-19 admitted to pediatric intensive care units in the U.K. and around the world, but they knew of a “small number of children nationally” who have the symptoms outlined in the NHS alert, CNN reported.

The risk of children becoming severely ill with COVID-19 remains low, according to health experts.

“Thankfully Kawasaki-like diseases are very rare, as currently are serious complications in children related to COVID-19, but it is important that clinicians are made aware of any potential emerging links so that they are able to give children and young people the right care fast,” Simon Kenny, NHS national clinical director for children and young people, told CNN.

Although a small number of children can become severely ill with COVID-19, it is “very rare,” and evidence shows that children appear to be least affected by the new coronavirus, according to Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

“However our advice remains the same: parents should be reassured that children are unlikely to be seriously ill with Covid-19 but if they are concerned about their children’s health for any reason, they should seek help from a health professional,” Viner told CNN.


Coronavirus Vaccine Shows Promise

A potential vaccine against the new coronavirus shows promise and could begin human testing within a few weeks.

The vaccine was developed by researchers at Oxford University in the U.K. and appears to be effective in lab animals. If regulators give approval, a clinical trial involving more than 6,000 people could be launched by the end of May, The New York Times reported.

U.S. National Institutes of Health scientists tested the vaccine on six rhesus macaque monkeys last month and got good results. Despite being exposed to large amounts of the coronavirus, all of the monkeys were still healthy more than four weeks later.

If the human trials go well and the vaccine is approved for use, the Oxford team said they could have a few million doses of the vaccine available by September, far sooner than other vaccine projects, the Times reported.