SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

323

An outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among passengers and crew on a cruise ship led to quarantine of approximately 3,700 passengers and crew that began on February 3, 2020, and lasted for nearly 4 weeks at the Port of Yokohama, Japan (1). By February 9, 20 cases had occurred among the ship’s crew members. By the end of quarantine, approximately 700 cases of COVID-19 had been laboratory-confirmed among passengers and crew. This report describes findings from the initial phase of the cruise ship investigation into COVID-19 cases among crew members during February 4-12, 2020.

251

No therapeutics have yet been proven effective for the treatment of severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2.

188

Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) banks from uses such as air conditioners or foams can be emitted after global production stops. Recent reports of unexpected emissions of CFC-11 raise the need to better quantify releases from these banks, and associated impacts on ozone depletion and climate change. Here we develop a Bayesian probabilistic model for CFC-11, 12, and 113 banks and their emissions, incorporating the broadest range of constraints to date. We find that bank sizes of CFC-11 and CFC-12 are larger than recent international scientific assessments suggested, and can account for much of current estimated CFC-11 and 12 emissions (with the exception of increased CFC-11 emissions after 2012). Left unrecovered, these CFC banks could delay Antarctic ozone hole recovery by about six years and contribute 9 billion metric tonnes of equivalent CO2 emission. Derived CFC-113 emissions are subject to uncertainty, but are much larger than expected, raising questions about its sources.

184

Climate change will cause a substantial future greenhouse gas release from warming and thawing permafrost-affected soils to the atmosphere enabling a positive feedback mechanism. Increasing the population density of big herbivores in northern high-latitude ecosystems will increase snow density and hence decrease the insulation strength of snow during winter. As a consequence, theoretically 80% of current permafrost-affected soils (<10 m) is projected to remain until 2100 even when assuming a strong warming using the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5. Importantly, permafrost temperature is estimated to remain below -4 °C on average after increasing herbivore population density. Such ecosystem management practices would be therefore theoretically an important additional climate change mitigation strategy. Our results also highlight the importance of new field experiments and observations, and the integration of fauna dynamics into complex Earth System models, in order to reliably project future ecosystem functions and climate.

178

To examine the association between reporting on suicides, especially deaths of celebrities by suicide, and subsequent suicides in the general population.

170

We estimate the distribution of serial intervals for 468 confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus disease reported in China as of February 8, 2020. The mean interval was 3.96 days (95% CI 3.53-4.39 days), SD 4.75 days (95% CI 4.46-5.07 days); 12.6% of case reports indicated presymptomatic transmission.

145

Protected areas (PAs) are a foundational and essential strategy for reducing biodiversity loss. However, many PAs around the world exist on paper only; thus, while logging and habitat conversion may be banned in these areas, illegal activities often continue to cause alarming habitat destruction. In such cases, the presence of armed conflict may ultimately prevent incursions to a greater extent than the absence of conflict. Although there are several reports of habitat destruction following cessation of conflict, there has never been a systematic and quantitative “before-and-after-conflict” analysis of a large sample of PAs and surrounding areas. Here we report the results of such a study in Colombia, using an open-access global forest change dataset. By analysing 39 PAs over three years before and after Colombia’s peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), we found a dramatic and highly significant increase in the deforestation rate for the majority of these areas and their buffer zones. We discuss the reasons behind such findings from the Colombian case, and debate some general conservation lessons applicable to other countries undergoing post-conflict transitions.

83

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and has since spread globally, resulting in >95,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide by March 5, 2020 (1). Singapore adopted a multipronged surveillance strategy that included applying the case definition at medical consults, tracing contacts of patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, enhancing surveillance among different patient groups (all patients with pneumonia, hospitalized patients in intensive care units [ICUs] with possible infectious diseases, primary care patients with influenza-like illness, and deaths from possible infectious etiologies), and allowing clinician discretion (i.e., option to order a test based on clinical suspicion, even if the case definition was not met) to identify COVID-19 patients. Containment measures, including patient isolation and quarantine, active monitoring of contacts, border controls, and community education and precautions, were performed to minimize disease spread. As of March 5, 2020, a total of 117 COVID-19 cases had been identified in Singapore. This report analyzes the first 100 COVID-19 patients in Singapore to determine the effectiveness of the surveillance and containment measures. COVID-19 patients were classified by the primary means by which they were detected. Application of the case definition and contact tracing identified 73 patients, 16 were detected by enhanced surveillance, and 11 were identified by laboratory testing based on providers' clinical discretion. Effectiveness of these measures was assessed by calculating the 7-day moving average of the interval from symptom onset to isolation in hospital or quarantine, which indicated significant decreasing trends for both local and imported COVID-19 cases. Rapid identification and isolation of cases, quarantine of close contacts, and active monitoring of other contacts have been effective in suppressing expansion of the outbreak and have implications for other countries experiencing outbreaks.

58

Recent sampling efforts in Madagascar and Zanzibar, as well as examinations of six-gilled sawsharks in several museum collections provided evidence for a complex of species within Pliotrema warreni Regan. The present manuscript contains a redescription of P. warreni involving the syntypes and additional material, as well as formal descriptions of two new species of Pliotrema Regan. All specimens of both new species were found in the western Indian Ocean. Individuals of the first new species, hereafter referred to as P. kajae sp. nov., were identified originating from Madagascar and the Mascarene Ridge. Specimens of the second new species, hereafter referred to as P. annae sp. nov., were only found off Zanzibar. Pliotrema kajae sp. nov. appears to inhabit upper insular slopes and submarine ridges at depths of 214-320 m, P. annae sp. nov. so far is only known from shallow waters (20-35 m). Both new species differ from P. warreni in a number of characteristics including the known distribution range and fresh coloration. Taxonomical differences include barbels that are situated approximately half way from rostral tip to mouth, with prebarbel length equidistant from barbel origin to symphysis of the upper jaw in P. kajae sp. nov. and P. annae sp. nov. (vs. about two thirds way from rostral tip to mouth, with prebarbel length about twice the distance from barbel origin to symphysis of upper jaw in P. warreni) and rostra that are clearly and slightly constricted between barbel origin and nostrils, respectively (vs. rostrum not constricted). Pliotrema kajae sp. nov. differs from P. annae sp. nov. in a longer snout, more numerous large lateral rostral teeth and upper jaw tooth rows, jaw teeth with (vs. without) sharp basal folds, and coloration, particularly pale to light brown (vs. medium to dark brown) dorsal coloration with (vs. without) two indistinct yellowish stripes. A revised diagnosis of Pliotrema and a key to the species are provided.

56

Our understanding of the earliest stages of crown bird evolution is hindered by an exceedingly sparse avian fossil record from the Mesozoic era. The most ancient phylogenetic divergences among crown birds are known to have occurred in the Cretaceous period1-3, but stem-lineage representatives of the deepest subclades of crown birds-Palaeognathae (ostriches and kin), Galloanserae (landfowl and waterfowl) and Neoaves (all other extant birds)-are unknown from the Mesozoic era. As a result, key questions related to the ecology4,5, biogeography3,6,7 and divergence times1,8-10 of ancestral crown birds remain unanswered. Here we report a new Mesozoic fossil that occupies a position close to the last common ancestor of Galloanserae and fills a key phylogenetic gap in the early evolutionary history of crown birds10,11. Asteriornis maastrichtensis, gen. et sp. nov., from the Maastrichtian age of Belgium (66.8-66.7 million years ago), is represented by a nearly complete, three-dimensionally preserved skull and associated postcranial elements. The fossil represents one of the only well-supported crown birds from the Mesozoic era12, and is the first Mesozoic crown bird with well-represented cranial remains. Asteriornis maastrichtensis exhibits a previously undocumented combination of galliform (landfowl)-like and anseriform (waterfowl)-like features, and its presence alongside a previously reported Ichthyornis-like taxon from the same locality13 provides direct evidence of the co-occurrence of crown birds and avialan stem birds. Its occurrence in the Northern Hemisphere challenges biogeographical hypotheses of a Gondwanan origin of crown birds3, and its relatively small size and possible littoral ecology may corroborate proposed ecological filters4,5,9 that influenced the persistence of crown birds through the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.