May 29, 2020 / 7:01 AM / 3 days ago

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) dons personal protective equipment before going into Elmhurst Hospital during the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Queens borough of New York, U.S., April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Hospitals slash use of hydroxychloroquine

U.S. hospitals said they have pulled way back on the use of hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump as a COVID-19 treatment, after several studies suggested it is not effective and may pose significant risks.

Early hopes for the drug were based in part on lab tests and its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. But its efficacy has so far failed to pan out in human trials, and at least two studies suggest it may increase the risk of death.

China plans to extend flight curbs

Chinese civil aviation authorities plan to extend until June 30 their curbs on international flights to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the U.S. embassy in Beijing said in a travel advisory on Friday.

China has drastically cut such flights since March to allay concerns over infections brought by arriving passengers. A so-called “Five One” policy allows mainland carriers to fly just one flight a week on one route to any country and foreign airlines to operate just one flight a week to China.

Washington has accused Beijing of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China.

Fighting misinformation

It’s not just U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets that are being fact-checked.

Twitter has also flagged a tweet written in March by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian that suggested the U.S. military brought the novel coronavirus to China, posting a blue exclamation mark under it with a comment urging readers to check the facts about COVID-19.

Clicking on the link directed readers to a page with the headline, “WHO says evidence suggests COVID-19 originated in animals and was not produced in a lab”.

Closed climbing season

Nepal’s Sherpa guides, famed for being the backbone of mountain expeditions in the Himalayas, have also found their livelihood hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

Many have returned to their villages, hiking officials say, as climbing and trekking activities have been suspended since March, and some are looking ahead with hope to the less popular autumn climbing season, which lasts from September to November.

Friday is the anniversary of the day Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa, and New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary became the first people to climb the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) high Mount Everest in 1953.

Compiled by Karishma Singh and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Frances Kerry

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