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Health Highlights: March 13, 2020

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


Australian Politician With Coronavirus Had Close Contact With White House Officials

A senior member of the Australian government who's infected with the new coronavirus had close contact with White House officials, including Attorney General William Barr, Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway.

Peter Dutton, Australia's minister for home affairs, said Friday that he has been diagnosed with the coronavirus and admitted to hospital, where he is in isolation, USA Today reported.

Dutton was pictured March 6 standing with White House officials. He was in Washington for meetings about an intelligence alliance comprising the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Britain.

It wasn't immediately clear where in Washington the photo was taken or if Dutton visited the White House, USA Today reported.


New Coronavirus Has Long Survival Times in Air and on Surfaces

The new coronavirus can survive in the air and on certain surfaces for long periods of time, researchers report.

The team of scientists found that the coronavirus can live in the air for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel, the Associated Press reported.

The findings -- posted Wednesday on a website where researchers share their work before publication -- don't prove that people can be infected by breathing the coronavirus from the air or by touching contaminated surfaces, the researchers emphasized.

"We're not by any way saying there is aerosolized transmission of the virus," but these results show that the virus remains viable for long periods in those conditions, so it's theoretically possible," said study leader Neeltje van Doremalen, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the AP reported.


Princess Cruises Pauses Operations in Midst of Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has led Princess Cruises to pause worldwide operations of its 18 cruise ships for 60 days, canceling trips that were scheduled to depart March 12 to May 10.

Cruise ships have been particularly hard hit in the pandemic and have been turned away by dozens of ports and countries, the Associated Press reported.

An outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, held in quarantine in Japan last month, infected hundreds of passengers and crew, and evacuation and quarantine of thousands of passengers aboard the Grand Princess, docked in Oakland, Calif, was underway this week. At least 21 passengers aboard the Grand Princess were infected with COVID-19, including one death.

Passengers currently on a Princess cruise that will end in the next five days will finish the voyages, the company said, and current voyages that extend beyond March 17 will be completed at the most convenient location for guests.

By "taking this bold action of voluntarily pausing the operations of our ships, it is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all who sail with us," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, the AP reported.


Enoki Mushrooms From Korea Linked to Deadly U.S. Listeria Outbreak

Enoki mushrooms from Korea are the likely cause of a deadly listeria outbreak in the United States that sickened 36 people in 17 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Illnesses started between Nov. 23, 2016 to December 13, 2019, with 30 hospitalizations reported, and four deaths reported in California, Hawaii, and New Jersey.

Six cases involved pregnant women, resulting in the loss of two pregnancies, according to the CDC.

On March 9, 2020, Sun Hong Foods, Inc. recalled enoki mushrooms because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Enoki mushrooms are white, with long stems and small caps.

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