Health Highlights: March 10, 2020
Rapid Testing May Be Keeping Germany's Coronavirus Numbers Low Americans Face Price Gouging for Hand Sanitizers, Other Virus Protection Products Ted Cruz in Self-Quarantine After Contact With Coronavirus Patient Facebook Bans Face Mask Ads
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
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.
Americans Face Price Gouging for Hand Sanitizers, Other Virus Protection Products
Some Americans say they're seeing much higher-than-normal prices for products such as face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, as demand outpaces supply due to fears over the new coronavirus.
"When I went in to pay, she said $50, and I think that's disgusting, and they're taking advantage of people right now," a woman in New Jersey who went to six stores before finding hand sanitizer told CBS News.
As soon as hand sanitizer comes in, "it's off the shelf," said Leon Tarasenko, the owner of Pasteur Pharmacy in Manhattan. "When an order comes in, within about an hour, it's all gone," he said. "We try to keep it to a limit. Three to a customer."
Online sales of virus protection products have spiked 817% in the last two months, and prices have skyrocketed, CBS News reported.
It said that two large bottles of Purell hand sanitizer that normally sell for about $9 a bottle were on sale for $299 on Amazon. Another listing offered four boxes of masks -- usually about $20 -- for more than $1,000.
Amazon said it's blocking or removing thousands of offers where it says "bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis," and states and cities are taking action, CBS News reported.
Businesses that violate price gouging laws "better be prepared to pay the price for your lawbreaking," California's attorney general warned, and New York City will levy $500 fines to any stores found price gouging.
"This is not a time to be trying to make a quick buck on the backs of hard-working people who are just very anxious and scared," said Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Lorelei Salas, CBS News reported. "The businesses are going to have to make sure that they either are keeping the prices what should be a normal fluctuation or they'll have to justify the price increase."
The best ways to protect yourself are to wash your hands for 20 seconds and avoid touching your face, experts say. They explain that masks are useful for people who are already sick -- so they don't infect others -- but wearing a mask won't protect you from getting the virus, CBS News reported.
Ted Cruz in Self-Quarantine After Contact With Coronavirus Patient
Republican Senator Ted Cruz had contact with a man who tested positive for the new coronavirus and is in self-quarantine at his home in Texas.
Cruz met the shook hands and briefly chatted with a man 10 days ago at the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Oxon Hill, Md., the Associated Press reported.
On Sunday, Cruz said he has no symptoms, feels fine and was told by health officials that the odds of transmission were extremely low.
However, Cruz said he's remain at home for another few days until a full 14 days have passed since he had contact with the infected man, the AP reported.
Facebook Bans Face Mask Ads
Face mask ads and commerce listings will be banned from its platforms, Facebook says.
"We are temporarily banning advertisements and commerce listings, like those on Marketplace, that sell medical face masks," the company said in a statement Friday, CBS News reported.
"We're monitoring COVID-19 closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency," Director of Product Management Rob Leathern tweeted.
"Supplies are short, prices are up, and we're against people exploiting this public health emergency," Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said in a tweet, CBS News reported.
Last month, Facebook announced a ban on ads for products claiming they could prevent coronavirus.
"We already prohibit people from making health or medical claims related to the coronavirus in product listings on commerce surfaces, including those listings that guarantee a product will prevent someone from contracting it," according to the company.
"We also have a dedicated channel for local governments to share listings they believe violate local laws."
Other actions by Facebook include blocking potentially dangerous hashtags, promoting the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in searches, giving WHO unlimited free advertising and removing content with false claims and conspiracy theories related to the virus, CBS News reported.
Other online platforms are also making changes, with eBay saying it will block new listings and remove current listings for face masks, hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes, and Amazon saying that it's monitoring prices and taking action on accounts that violate its "Fair Pricing" policy.