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Doctors trial Ebola and Aids drugs in scramble to fight disease

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Health officials check a man from Wuhan at the Chhawla facility, in New Delhi. Picture: AFP

Health officials check a man from Wuhan at the Chhawla facility, in New Delhi. Picture: AFP

Health officials check a man from Wuhan at the Chhawla facility, in New Delhi. Picture: AFP

Doctors are working to repurpose Ebola or Aids drugs to treat the coronavirus outbreak.

There are no drugs approved for fighting the virus so doctors are trialling drugs for several different diseases in an effort to contain the outbreak.

In Washington State a team of doctors successfully treated a patient with a broad spectrum antiviral used for Ebola. Dr Timothy Sheahan, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, said the patient responded to the drug within 24 hours but sounded a note of caution.

"Without a randomised controlled trial it's hard to say if the patient would have improved if they didn't get the drug. But we know that, in the lab at least, the drug is a potent antiviral," he said.

The drug is being developed by Gilead, the pharmaceutical giant, which has said it is working with Chinese authorities to fast-track a study.

In Thailand, authorities announced that, 48 hours after taking a cocktail of flu and HIV antiviral drugs, a patient tested negative for coronavirus. Doctors in China have also been using HIV drugs.

The World Health Organisation says it cannot recommend any treatment for the coronavirus and that unlicensed treatments should only be given in the context of clinical trials or under an emergency use framework.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has introduced smartphones to monitor anyone under quarantine. The island has 10 confirmed cases.

Taiwanese officials said direct contacts of the infected, who remain quarantined in their homes, had been issued with smartphones to allow medics to remotely check on their conditions and to ensure they did not breach strict curbs to protect public health. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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