Displaying items by tag: Health
France’s parliament has given the green light for so-called Covid ‘health passes’ which people will have to carry when attending crowded events and venues. Some MPs have said it may lead to discrimination. The law committee of the National Assembly, the lower house of France’s parliament, has approved a bill on health passes which citizens will be required to carry in order to attend gatherings of more than 1,000 people. According to this proposal, the pass will prove that a person has been vaccinated, has tested negative for Covid-19, or has recovered from the virus. See The Norwegian prime minister has said the country will bring in Covid vaccine passports, which will allow holders to attend events, before the government brings in EU-compliant certificates later that month. The certificate means Norway can open society more quickly. It can be used for public events, cruises, and package tours.
It is fire season in Thailand, with hundreds of patches of farmland and forest ablaze in the north, belching toxic fumes into the atmosphere and poisoning the air. Tiny pollution particles caused an estimated 32,000 premature deaths in Thailand in 2019, according to a global report. Along with exhaust fumes and crop burning, smoke from the wildfires contributes to the problem. On the worst days this year, drifting smoke made Chiang Mai the most polluted city in the world. As the years go by, the pollution is getting worse. Each year, on average, northern Thailand has been swathed in smoke for eight weeks, causing thousands of health problems. In the first three months of this year 200,000 people in eight provinces have been made ill by toxic particles in the air, according to health officials. ‘Most of the people hospitalised already had chronic diseases,’ said the director-general of the ministry of public health.
Deaths in the UK have fallen below the five-year average for the first time since the summer. Experts say it means the winter wave of Covid deaths has ended, and lockdown and the vaccine rollout have saved lives. Prof Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London said, ‘The new data on deaths are encouraging in suggesting the second devastating wave of the pandemic is behind us. But calling epidemics 'waves' can be misleading in implying a phenomenon which has reached a natural end - that is not the case here. The rapid decline in deaths we have thankfully seen is entirely because of the lockdown and the rapid rollout of vaccines. So, while I'm optimistic that this means we will be able to return to something more like normal in the next few months, we need to remain vigilant and cautious - particularly given the threat still posed by new variants of the virus.’
So far Moldova has only received 36,000 doses of the Covid vaccine, barely enough for 1% of its population of 2.6 million. This stock isn't even enough to cover the country’s primary target - its 60,000 medical staff. A coordinator from the National Vaccine Program said a three-stage rollout is ready, but the doses are not. He explains that to keep to their target of immunising 70% of their population, ‘we need to have more negotiations with manufacturers. But we are a small country, with a small population; we are not as interesting for manufacturers as other countries. The consequences of the lack of doses are dire, especially for the most fragile’. An NGO distributing lunch boxes to elderly and isolated populations in a poor neighbourhood said, ‘The week we went there, the death rate had almost doubled compared to the previous week. Yet despite this, there is still no sign of more vaccines.’
The Covid surge hit key NHS services including cancer and routine surgery. Less than half the expected number of operations or scans were done, pushing the waiting list to a record high of 4.6 million. More than 300,000 of those have been waiting more than a year for treatment, compared to 1,600 before the pandemic began. Surgeons described a dire situation which would take a long time to turn around. One surgeon said, ‘Behind today's statistics are people waiting in limbo. Many will be in considerable pain; others will have restricted mobility and be at risk of isolation and loneliness. Dealing with this daunting backlog will take time, and sustained investment in the NHS.’ The true picture could be much worse with nearly 6 million fewer referrals made by GPs for routine treatments, including knee operations and hip replacements creating an additional hidden backlog.
On 21 February WHO confirmed that Russian authorities had reported what is believed to be ‘human infection with avian influenza H5N8’. A WHO Europe spokesperson said. ‘If confirmed, this would be the first time H5N8 has infected people,’. The reported cases were seven workers exposed to bird flocks, according to preliminary information. The statement added, ‘No onward human to human transmission was reported.’
Work-induced stress is a significant problem in the health service. Health and social care have some of the highest rates of self-reported illness due to stress, anxiety and depression. 1/3rd of ill health in the NHS is stress-related. Two of the many over-stretched UK hospitals are Guy’s and St Thomas’s, caring for hundreds of coronavirus patients, while rolling out the vaccination programme to thousands and continuing to run vital services in the hospitals and the community. Staff are re-deployed to other areas of work, to keep patients safe and support colleagues in the areas under greatest pressure. Everyone is working tirelessly - battling fear, anxiety, flashbacks and exhaustion to tackle this pandemic. A senior nurse on the intensive care unit said nothing could have prepared him and his colleagues for what they are facing. ‘You've been sent to a Covid-19 unit, then suddenly, you're on the front line. It’s just like shell shock. It hits you all of a sudden.’
An illness suffered by soldiers who took part in the 1991 Gulf War was not caused by inhaling depleted uranium, according to a scientific study. Instead, researchers believe Gulf War syndrome may be due to soldiers being exposed to the nerve agent Sarin. The Royal British Legion said a lack of understanding of the condition has had a ‘serious impact’ on veterans. Around 250,000 Gulf War veterans could be living with the syndrome, which can cause symptoms such as insomnia and memory problems. Former soldier Kerry Fuller was a fit 26- year-old who loved outdoor activities before the war. He suffered a stroke at 40 and now says he is so ill, it is hard just to get out of bed. ‘My whole world and way of being changed just like that’, he said, ‘and there's no going back. The damage is done and my ailments are only getting worse. I think myself and the thousands of other veterans would just like an acknowledgment, and being able to access the correct treatment.’
When the coronavirus pandemic struck, the government announced that anyone seeking a test or treatment for coronavirus would not have their immigration status checked. It is now being made explicit that this principle applies to vaccinations also; people living in the UK unlawfully will not risk deportation by coming forward for inoculation. Ministers are urging illegal immigrants to come forward and register with a GP. The vaccine is free, regardless of their immigration status. However, this is not an amnesty for immigrants; no-one will be given leave to remain in the UK as a result of being vaccinated. The last official estimate, dating back to 2005, was that about 430,000 people were in the country with no legal right to remain; independent research since then has put the number at over a million.
The NSPCC says the amount of counselling for loneliness provided by its Childline service has risen by 10% since the pandemic started. Pray for isolated and lonely children to receive the counselling support they need. Health visitors supporting parents and young babies are worried about the impact on newborns. The first two to three years of a baby's life are the most crucial period of development. This is known as the 1,001 days agenda. If children fall behind, they could have a lifelong disadvantage. Pray that no more babies fall behind in their development, and for more health visitors to be allocated to support new families. There are a million disabled children with special educational needs (SEN), with complex conditions requiring home care from specialists who have now been redeployed. Pray for adequate support and respite for families with SEN children. Pray also for protection for children whose parents have drug/alcohol dependency or severe mental health issues.