Lung damage found in Covid dead may shed light on 'long Covid' - study

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An X-ray of a Covid-19 patient's lungs at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, US, July 10, 2020.
An X-ray of a Covid-19 patient's lungs at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, US, July 10, 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare/File Photo

A study of the lungs of people who have died from Covid-19 has found persistent and extensive lung damage in most cases and may help doctors understand what is behind a syndrome known as 'long Covid', in which patients suffer ongoing symptoms for months.

In a telephone interview, Mauro Giacca, a professor at King's College London who co-led the work, said that while his research team found no overt signs of viral infection or prolonged inflammation in other organs, they discovered "really vast destruction of the architecture of the lungs", with healthy tissue "almost completely substituted by scar tissue".

Giacca said almost 90% of the 41 patients in the study had several characteristics unique to Covid-19 compared to other forms of pneumonia. One was that patients had extensive blood clotting of the lung arteries and veins. Another was that some lung cells were abnormally large and had many nuclei - a result of the fusion of different cells into single large cells in a process known as syncytia.

Pandemic chases many Japanese from cities

As the pandemic has pushed many companies to allow telecommuting, it has also caused population to flow out of Tokyo - the first time that has happened in years, the latest Japanese government data showed. September was the third straight month that those moving out outnumbered those moving in, the longest run on record, led by people in their 20s and 30s.

The shift could boost Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who made revitalising Japan's decaying rural regions a core plank of his socio-economic platform.

Jobs are also leaving the city, while some firms such as staffing company Caster Co have already based their business model on telecommuting, making it easy to hire workers by offering jobs wherever they are, said Shota Nakagawa, 34, CEO of the company in the southern Japanese city of Saito.

US coronavirus hospitalizations hit three-month high

The number of coronavirus patients in US hospitals breached 50,000 on Tuesday, the highest level in nearly three months, as a surge in infections threatens to push the nation's health care system to the edge of capacity.

Nationally, the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients rose over 64% since October 1 to 50,176 on Tuesday, the highest since August 7. The figure is still short of the record 58,370 hospitalizations set on July 22, according to a Reuters tally. Hospitalizations are a key metric because, unlike case counts, they are not influenced by the number of tests performed.

Health experts believe the virus is surging because of private social gatherings, colder temperatures driving people inside, and Americans' fatigue with Covid-19 restrictions that have now been in place for more than six months.  

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