Tag Archives: Science & disease

The British and Italian responses to the coronavirus have been very different, lawmakers said | Instant News

As Britain battles a second wave of coronavirus infections, lawmakers heard on Wednesday how Italy, the epicenter of the European coronavirus spread in February, managed to reverse the tide of the disease.

Italy’s response to the coronavirus outbreak was once considered too extreme, but one that is difficult since it helps suppress infection, a group of experts told the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on Wednesday.

Britain, on the other hand, was too complacent and even now, was like the country face a growing threat, the measures are not strict enough.

Britain is now facing a second wave of the virus and more temporary restrictions in Italy seems to have escaped a major resurgence of the disease so far. As of Wednesday, Britain has nearly 5,000 cases, while Italy has 1,300.

The two countries have the same size population but the cultural gulf between the two countries has produced different epidemiological results, Professor Paolo Vineis, head of the Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Unit at the Italian Institute for Genomic Medicine, told lawmakers.

“The Italian response was seen as exaggerated and too family-oriented, but effective,” he said.

The country has not seen a major resurgence of cases since the lifting of the lockdown in June, as the Italian government used the shutdown period to strengthen the regional network of general practitioners and establish a strong contract tracking system, the professor said.

Italians are also broadly “compliant” with the ongoing coronavirus measures and many continue to wear masks, he added.

The contrast between the British and Italian responses is very different, Professor Luca Richeldi, Associate Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Modena agrees and a member of Italy’s strategic committee on Covid-19 agrees.

“If I have to give my honest opinion on the UK’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, I am very surprised,” he told lawmakers.


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Travelers from Italy brought Covid-19 to one of four countries affected by the virus outside China, the study found | Instant News

But in the Western Pacific region, 83 percent of infections come from China, where the corona virus was first detected at the end of last year. More than half of the first cases in Southeast Asia also have travel links to China, while around 44 percent in the Eastern Mediterranean have a history of travel to Iran.

But the authors have warned that the first confirmed case in a particular country may not be the first actual infection, because there are likely to be many undetected.

They added that this study could only provide a partial description of the early days of the pandemic, because most cases were reported in middle and high income countries from Asia and Europe.

“The Covid-19 epidemiology in low-income countries and in Africa can be different, as reported in the previous influenza pandemic, and accurate data from this arrangement will be needed to assess the full global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Dr. Dawood said.

But that adds to the evidence that shows that the virus has soared all over the world. A report published by the Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium last month found that Covid-19 was brought to Britain on at least 1,300 separate occasions – and less than 0.1 percent of cases of imports originated from China.

“Closing borders must be highly targeted and intelligent (not possible in an early-stage pandemic) or absolute to have a real impact,” Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said at the time.

The latest CDC study also looked at the frequency and size of clusters based on transmission settings, and found that although there were household transmission clusters among the initial cases, those in occupational or community settings tended to be larger.

“Four major groups in our analysis, and major outbreaks reported elsewhere, have been linked to transmission in faith-based settings, highlighting the need to partner with faith-based organizations when designing and implementing community mitigation efforts,” Dr. Philip Ricks, a CDC Expert who co-authored the report.

“Six clusters related to health care were also identified, underscoring the need for strict infection prevention and control practices and monitoring health workers for signs of disease,” he added.

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Pakistan is worried about a surge in coronavirus as preparations begin for the upcoming religious holiday | Instant News

Pakistan faces a new surge in coronavirus cases from the next two religious holidays unless people pay more attention to long-distance prevention measures, health officials worry.

The upcoming Eid al-Adha and Muharram celebrations are at risk of being a replay of the Ramadan celebration in May which is blamed for causing widespread outbreaks during June.

Both Pakistan reported cases and deaths from Covid-19 accelerated last month in a country of 220 million, only unexpectedly returned in July.

The Imran Khan government has claimed the cases that fell are proof of that a “smart locking” strategy in a virus-affected environment working. But the opposition accuses them of cutting tests to suppress numbers and international health officials say the tests are so low that it is difficult to know how the pandemic is going on in the country.

Health officials are concerned that the bustling livestock market where Pakistanis buy animals to be slaughtered during Eid al-Adha will become a hotbed of infection. Celebration during the holidays itself is also risky.

Careless socialization during Idul Fitri at the end of May was blamed for a large number of cases in June. Politicians including Khan have repeatedly chided Pakistan for not heeding boundaries that distance and former cricket players asking them to be careful in the upcoming holidays.

“The current situation is relatively under control, but any mistakes can be reversed quickly, as happened after Eid,” said Muhammad Usman, health secretary in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.

He called on people “to be very careful, otherwise things can quickly go out of control,” reports the Dawn newspaper.

Dr Mahmood Shaukat, from the provincial coronavirus advisory group, said the situation appeared to be under control.

“However, there are concerns that these signs could be degrading if people are careful about the wind during Eid al-Adha and Muharram, as happened after Eid when the numbers skyrocketed within a few days.

“Apart from these two religious events, the hospital’s outpatient department is being reopened, which can cause a rush to this facility. This is why the government is trying to put extra pressure on the coronavirus protocol, which basically remains the same – masks, social distance, frequent hand washing and avoiding travel, “he told a press conference.


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Pakistan will continue its polio vaccination campaign for months after it was stopped by coronavirus | Instant News

Cases of the wild virus rose to 147 years ago, putting strong pressure on Pakistan to overhaul its efforts which failed to overcome public suspicion and were flooded by battles of political factions. Promising efforts to get eradication back on track then met with a coronavirus pandemic.

In Afghanistan, the disturbance occurred when violence and the Taliban’s decree banning polio workers had prevented hundreds of thousands of children from receiving drops.

“The impact of Covid-19 on our economy and society is unprecedented,” said Dr. Zafar Mirza, special assistant for health for Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan.

“With the disruption of important immunization services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, children continue to be at higher risk of contracting polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Efforts to eradicate polio for three decades around the world have cut the annual number of viruses from around 350,000 cases in 1988 to only 33 in 2018.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries left to have cases of wild polio virus. But while global health officials believe that the scourge can be defeated, the “final distance” to eradication has proven to be very hard.

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How Brazil became the South American Covid-19 hotspot | Instant News

This virus generally hits the poorest country in the country, highlighting the structural factors that triggered its surge in South America – especially the challenge of keeping poor people at home when they have little economic safety nets and have to work to put food on the table. Adding to inequality is a population of more than 200 million, the largest in the region, and one of the most diverse in the world.

But while structural factors afflict Brazil’s public health response, it should be stronger, experts say.

In contrast to the US and much of Africa, Brazil has a free universal health care system. Inspired by the British NHS, the ambitious Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS) was founded in 1988 outside the new Brazilian constitution because it left behind a history of military dictatorship.

“We know from various examples from around the world that if you have a strong integrated health care system where you have free services at the access point, that directly contributes to being able to manage the outbreak well,” said Dr. Clare Wenham, Assistant Professor of Policy Global Health at LSE.

Universal public health services – especially in poor countries – dispel fears of medical bills that can prevent patients from seeking medical attention, so cases are detected more quickly, Wenham said.

SUS has been stress-tested in the past and has been lucky, Zenham said. It defeated the Zika epidemic in 2018 and HIV in the 1990s and 2000s – which is praised internationally.

Despite the lack of funds and manpower, the SUS model that was designed comprehensively must respond to the epidemic well. This was decentralized to allow greater control at the city level. While uniform, coordinated policies can be launched at all levels of the state.

The problem is, “the government clearly doesn’t understand how it works,” Wenham said.

While Bolsonaro’s health minister, Luiz Mandetta, stepped up a response to the epidemic in April – using private hospitals and building temporary emergency hospitals to increase the capacity of ICU beds – he was fired because of a dispute. His successor, Nelson Teich, resigned four weeks into the job, also citing internal disputes.

The military general, Eduardo Pazuello, who has no medical experience, has since replaced Mandetta as interim minister and appointed other military officials to be senior ministers in the health role.


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