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Health Highlights: March 11, 2020


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

FDA Halts Inspections of Foreign Plants Due to Coronavirus

Nearly all U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspections of overseas plants that make drugs, medical devices and other consumer goods for the U.S. have been halted due to the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus, the agency said Tuesday.

It said most inspections of foreign plants scheduled through April have been postponed because of federal guidelines prohibiting travel for government workers, the Associated Press reported.

Last month, the FDA postponed most inspections of plants in China.

Last year, the FDA conducted more than 3,100 inspections of foreign plants that make products such as food, drugs, cosmetics, medical supplies for the U.S., according to agency records, the AP reported.

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Coronavirus-Related Emergency Leave Policy Announced by Walmart

Walmart's 1.4 million hourly U.S. workers will be allowed to take time off without penalty if they're worried about the spread of the new coronavirus, the company said Tuesday.

The new emergency leave policy also provides store, club, office or distribution center hourly workers up to two weeks pay if told to go into quarantine by the government or by Walmart, the Associated Press reported.

Workers who are off work after testing positive for the coronavirus will also receive two weeks of pay. If they can't return to work after two weeks, they may receive additional pay for up to 26 weeks, according to the nation's largest employer.

On Tuesday, Walmart said a worker at its store in Cynthiana, Ky., tested positive for illness caused by the new coronavirus. An internal memo says the worker is receiving medical care and her condition is improving, the AP reported.

The store remains open after Walmart conferred with state officials.

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Trump Hasn't Been Tested for Coronavirus

Despite having contact with two members of Congress who self-quarantined over the new coronavirus, U.S. President Donald Trump hasn't been tested for the coronavirus, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Monday night in a statement.

She said Trump hasn't been tested "because he has neither had prolonged close contact with any known confirmed COVID-19 patients, nor does he have any symptoms," and added that Trump's physician "will continue to closely monitor him," the Associated Press reported.

Four Republican members of Congress -- Senator Ted Cruz and Congressmen Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar and Doug Collins -- quarantined themselves after they had contact last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference with a person who has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Two of them had contact with Trump after the conference. Gaetz traveled on Air Force One with Trump to Washington from Florida Monday. Collins shook hands with Trump last week and visited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta with him, the AP reported.

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Rapid Testing May Be Keeping Germany's Coronavirus Numbers Low

Experts say that rapid testing is likely why Germany has had just two coronavirus deaths so far, which is far fewer than other European countries with a similar number of reported infections.

Rapid testing as the outbreak spread means that Germany -- which has had more than 1,100 confirmed cases -- is able to diagnose a larger proportion of infected people, the Associated Press reported.

That's resulted in more opportunities to contain the virus and to prepare for it.

France has had just over 1,200 cases and 19 deaths, while Spain has had fewer than 1,000 cases and 25 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the AP reported.

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