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      Convergence of climate-driven hurricanes and COVID-19: The impact of 2020 Hurricanes Eta and Iota on Nicaragua

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          Abstract

          The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was notable for a record-setting 30 named storms while, contemporaneously, the COVID-19 pandemic was circumnavigating the globe. The active spread of COVID-19 complicated disaster preparedness and response actions to safeguard coastal and island populations from hurricane hazards. Major hurricanes Eta and Iota, the most powerful storms of the 2020 Atlantic season, made November landfalls just two weeks apart, both coming ashore along the Miskito Coast in Nicaragua's North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region. Eta and Iota bore the hallmarks of climate-driven storms, including rapid intensification, high peak wind speeds, and decelerating forward motion prior to landfall. Hurricane warning systems, combined with timely evacuation and sheltering procedures, minimized loss of life during hurricane impact. Yet these protective actions potentially elevated risks for COVID-19 transmission for citizens sharing congregate shelters during the storms and for survivors who were displaced post-impact due to severe damage to their homes and communities. International border closures and travel restrictions that were in force to slow the spread of COVID-19 diminished the scope, timeliness, and effectiveness of the humanitarian response for survivors of Eta and Iota. Taken together, the extreme impacts from hurricanes Eta and Iota, compounded by the ubiquitous threat of COVID-19 transmission, and the impediments to international humanitarian response associated with movement restrictions during the pandemic, acted to exacerbate harms to population health for the citizens of Nicaragua.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Prevalence of Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection

          Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has spread rapidly throughout the world since the first cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were observed in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It has been suspected that infected persons who remain asymptomatic play a significant role in the ongoing pandemic, but their relative number and effect have been uncertain. The authors sought to review and synthesize the available evidence on asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Asymptomatic persons seem to account for approximately 40% to 45% of SARS-CoV-2 infections, and they can transmit the virus to others for an extended period, perhaps longer than 14 days. Asymptomatic infection may be associated with subclinical lung abnormalities, as detected by computed tomography. Because of the high risk for silent spread by asymptomatic persons, it is imperative that testing programs include those without symptoms. To supplement conventional diagnostic testing, which is constrained by capacity, cost, and its one-off nature, innovative tactics for public health surveillance, such as crowdsourcing digital wearable data and monitoring sewage sludge, might be helpful.
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            The increasing intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones.

            Atlantic tropical cyclones are getting stronger on average, with a 30-year trend that has been related to an increase in ocean temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere. Over the rest of the tropics, however, possible trends in tropical cyclone intensity are less obvious, owing to the unreliability and incompleteness of the observational record and to a restricted focus, in previous trend analyses, on changes in average intensity. Here we overcome these two limitations by examining trends in the upper quantiles of per-cyclone maximum wind speeds (that is, the maximum intensities that cyclones achieve during their lifetimes), estimated from homogeneous data derived from an archive of satellite records. We find significant upward trends for wind speed quantiles above the 70th percentile, with trends as high as 0.3 +/- 0.09 m s(-1) yr(-1) (s.e.) for the strongest cyclones. We note separate upward trends in the estimated lifetime-maximum wind speeds of the very strongest tropical cyclones (99th percentile) over each ocean basin, with the largest increase at this quantile occurring over the North Atlantic, although not all basins show statistically significant increases. Our results are qualitatively consistent with the hypothesis that as the seas warm, the ocean has more energy to convert to tropical cyclone wind.
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              The effect of large-scale anti-contagion policies on the COVID-19 pandemic

              Governments around the world are responding to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic1, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), with unprecedented policies designed to slow the growth rate of infections. Many policies, such as closing schools and restricting populations to their homes, impose large and visible costs on society; however, their benefits cannot be directly observed and are currently understood only through process-based simulations2-4. Here we compile data on 1,700 local, regional and national non-pharmaceutical interventions that were deployed in the ongoing pandemic across localities in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States. We then apply reduced-form econometric methods, commonly used to measure the effect of policies on economic growth5,6, to empirically evaluate the effect that these anti-contagion policies have had on the growth rate of infections. In the absence of policy actions, we estimate that early infections of COVID-19 exhibit exponential growth rates of approximately 38% per day. We find that anti-contagion policies have significantly and substantially slowed this growth. Some policies have different effects on different populations, but we obtain consistent evidence that the policy packages that were deployed to reduce the rate of transmission achieved large, beneficial and measurable health outcomes. We estimate that across these 6 countries, interventions prevented or delayed on the order of 61 million confirmed cases, corresponding to averting approximately 495 million total infections. These findings may help to inform decisions regarding whether or when these policies should be deployed, intensified or lifted, and they can support policy-making in the more than 180 other countries in which COVID-19 has been reported7.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                The Journal of Climate Change and Health
                Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.
                2667-2782
                2667-2782
                25 May 2021
                25 May 2021
                Affiliations
                [a ]Center for Disaster & Extreme Event Preparedness (DEEP Center), Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami FL USA 33136. Tel. 305-219-9011
                [b ]Americas Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, DC. Tel. 202-741-3862
                [c ]NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), Climate Science and Services Division, Madison, WI, Madison, WI 53706. Tel. 608-265-5356
                [d ]Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University & T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Senior International Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Tel. 808-262-2098
                [e ]Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33136. Tel. 305-613-2391
                [f ]Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33136. Tel. 954-204-5242
                [g ]Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33136. Tel. 786-473-4828
                [h ]Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida USA. Tel. 786-202-7450
                [i ]Robert A Knox Professor, School of Public Health, Boston University, 715 Albany Street - Talbot 301, Boston, MA 02118. Tel. 617-638-4644
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding Author.
                Article
                S2667-2782(21)00017-1 100019
                10.1016/j.joclim.2021.100019
                8146267
                © 2021 Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

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