Almost a year ago, one of the busiest airports in the world- Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi had a deserted look brought about by the coronavirus. A year later, the airport has terminated operations on terminal 2 as a result of the reduced number of flights due to the second wave, which is turning out to be more deadly than the previous one.
The air travel industry has witnessed significant changes since the pandemic, even as two things remain constant - the threat from the virus and the effort to ensure a safer surrounding. While leisure travel has taken a halt, air travel still remains unavoidable for some - many people are returning home amid the second wave-to be with their families during these times or for other personal or family health emergencies
Cases reported on air travel spread have been minimal due to which flights are being considered as a safer travelling option, however, it is always good for travellers to be extra cautious and look out for their own safety and practice precautions while boarding a flight. While it is imperative to mask up, regularly sanitise and avoid unnecessary contact with people and surfaces, there are other things as well to keep in mind while taking a flight.
With the current safety concerns set to stay for the foreseeable future, EaseMyTrip.com shares with IANSlife list of precautions that a passenger should keep in mind while travelling by air.
Double Mask up for Maximum Protection
With the second wave of coronavirus spreading ferociously, people have realised the importance of doubling up the protection. Is double mask safer than a single mask? Indeed, studies done by Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that double masking can reduce one's exposure to the virus by up to 95 per cent. The CDC recommends layering a cloth mask over a surgical mask. Avoid combinations such as two surgical masks, or a K95/N95 and any other mask.
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Minimal Contact Clothing
Such testing times require cautious approach even while choosing your outfit for air travel. It is advisable to cover your body as much as possible, so track suits are a good option. Travellers should also avoid wearing open toed shoes to ensure minimal contact. Wearing goggles can also add a protective layer for your eyes. It is also advisable to wear socks so that your bare feet don't touch the airport floor during security check.
Reduce, Disinfect Your Baggage
The more the merrier? This saying has gone for a toss, at least while travelling during the Covid crisis. Despite safety protocols in place, your bag will pass through several channels and people from check-in to the final destination. It is advisable to check-in fewer bags. In the event that reducing the baggage is unavoidable, it should be thoroughly cleaned using disinfectant wipes after the journey. Apply sanitizing gel to a tissue and make sure to wipe the handles and bottom of the luggage.
Edging Towards the Window Seat
A window seat could come with an extra jab of protection owing to the less exposure and movement of passengers, and thus avoiding unnecessary contact. A person sitting in the window seat will essentially reduce the number of people within your 6-foot exposure radius by half. An aisle seat should be avoided as travellers tend to visit washrooms, touch surfaces and walk by, increasing one's exposure to the virus. So make sure that you book your ticket and seat way in advance from a travel portal such as EaseMyTrip.com.
Maintaining Distance and Hygiene Over the Course of The Journey
It is difficult to give up on a sip or two of water throughout the course of the journey. With Covid around, it is advisable to carry your own bottle to minimise contact with people, which is a possibility at the point of sale. While there is very little you can do on the plane to maintain distance, ensure that you keep your distance from people in the terminal. Walk around the terminal while you're waiting for your flight as the seating area could be a point of infection. It is also advisable to clean and use disinfectant wipes for surfaces such as the tray table or in-flight entertainment systems that you will be using in the flight. Similarly, precautions should be taken while accessing washrooms at airports and on flights, including using elbows to open the doors. It is advisable to stay away from washrooms that are crowded.
While it may not be possible to avoid all points of contact, the current global crisis merits a heightened sense of caution, and it is important for travellers to be aware of their surroundings and take all possible necessary precautions from their end to ensure a safe journey. It is also advisable to look up state wise air travel guidelines and notifications listed on https://www.easemytrip.com/covid19-help.html to ensure that one is up to date with all necessary travel and airline information.
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With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year and now its resurgence in the second wave we have been left unprepared in true sense to fight this biggest threat to human race in recent times. There are different aspects that need to be seen which in general can help us understand and plan better for future as this disease is here to stay and may not be gone so soon.
Issues with COVID Pandemic
COVID infection has posed a recent threat to mankind especially considering its intensity of spread and also severity and increased mortality in cases with comorbidities or older age. The best of the countries too have failed in providing adequate attention to ailing cases because of a simple reason of sudden rise in total number of cases in society surpassing limits that healthcare infrastructure can accommodate at any given time. Secondly, being totally new viral disease, assured and complete treatment and prevention will take time to develop by researchers. So to limit the spread and halt the rate of spread is the best way forward as of date.
COVID and Cancer
In the last one year, we have seen COVID infecting mostly older age group, but now even the young and children are getting infected in the second wave probably due to the new mutant variant. Although complications can arise in almost any case, mostly people with co-morbidities and immune-compromised state have been found to be infected earlier and also have more complicated clinical course with mortalities. Cancer being a known immuno-compromised state thus poses a risk factor. Moreover, issue with cancer is unawareness, late presentation and lack of timely treatment which has made cancer as one of the most dreaded diseases. With COVID scare in public - restrictions due to lockdown and prevention protocols, it has posed as a major roadblock in active management in needy cancer patients. This has left common public and also the care giver confused about the right approach in cancer care in this pandemic era.
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Effect of Covid on Cancer Management
Cancer is a disease that is known of stage progression if left untreated. Also, cure from cancer treatment largely depends on the stage that the patient presents. Thus cancer is a disease where we cannot hold treatment fearing a possible infection which may or may not affect the individual depending on exposure risk and on the contrary may also not be symptomatic or life threating even if infected, in all cases. At the same time in an already infected case, individual's capacity to fight infection in immune-compromised state created with cancer therapy and the risk of cancer progression outcome on survival if treatment delayed , is something that has to be weighed with caution.
Effect on Infrastructure and Care Givers
Apart from effect of COVID on individuals, the effect on infrastructure and care givers also decides the management in cancer cases. With sudden rise of Covid cases, as per government policies a big share of infrastructure (beds, ICUs, oxygen, medications, staff) is being diverted to COVID emergencies, which is logical too. However, this poses a serious threat to our capabilities of providing adequate care to non Covid oncological emergencies and timely intervention in needy patients. Although the priority between a COVID or an oncological malignancy is something that cannot be decided so easily, at least treatment related known morbidities and emergencies in cancer cases ï¿½is something that really needs to be looked into.
Lessons Learnt and Precautions for Future
To summarise, it should be known that COVID is here to stay. State, care givers and individuals in public have their own important role to play. First and the foremost role is of an individual to take all steps to avoid spread of Covid infection by social distancing, face masks and frequent hand-washing. Specific to cancer patients do understand that cancer growth will not stop so we cannot neglect this disease, be it a pandemic or no pandemic. Timely detection of symptoms, consultation by specialists be it physical with all Covid precautions or better by a virtual mode can atleast help detect urgency, stage and then prioritize treatment to see if it can be delayed or needs urgent start. Once diagnosed, care givers take all due precaution to decide appropriate treatments where routine management can be slightly modified with non invasive and less toxic therapies given priority.
Truncated iso-effective therapies needing lesser visits and monitoring if possible are preferred. More emphasis of preparing the patient for treatment with adequate nutrition, timely immunization prevention and preventive treatments to spare cases landing into severe treatment related complications and admission are advocated. Understanding limited resources especially as seen in this second wave, it will be prudent to choose alternatives where chances of medical emergencies and need of special care like oxygen and ICUs are reduced as far as possible.
Lastly there is a huge demand and need for the authorities from state health departments to understand the ardent need of expansion of our health care system, timely pre-planning of improving infrastructure and establish disaster management protocols where we are well prepared to fight such unpredicted emergencies and we have ample preparedness to support our ailing population in the time of need and none of them suffer due to lack of healthcare facilities at least. It's a ongoing battle, which we sure are going to win with patience, understanding, cooperation and collaboration.
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Along with physical and mental health, sexual health problems are also aggravated by the ongoing pandemic, a primary reason being increasing stress due to factors such as job, work life balance, financial challenges, lack of socialising and strained relationships. A recent study has revealed that Covid-19 increases the risk of developing erectile dysfunction (ED) by nearly six times.
Sexual health and wellness is defined as a state of physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual dimensions in relation to sexuality. Sexual intimacy is a highly stigmatised and taboo topic in India, and people are usually unwilling to talk openly about their sexuality and sexual health.
Stress directly affects our hormones and mood and can take away a person's libido, thereby affecting quality time of a couple. It can also cause one to indulge in smoking or alcohol consumption which in turn can adversely affect sexual performance. These can lead to problems such as premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, and male fertility.
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is a common condition that can make sexual activity difficult. It may lead to a loss of intimacy in a marriage or long-term relationship, affecting the mental well-being of both partners. Some leading Indian andrologists share their thoughts on the recent study and the co-relation between the coronavirus and erectile dysfunction.
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Pramod Krishnappa, Consultant Andrologist, NU Hospitals, Bangalore tells IANSlife: "The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on humans causing both physical and mental illness. Although the lung is the most prominent organ affected, a recent research paper from Miami has revealed the presence of Covid-19 viral particles in the most sensitive organ, penis. The authors have also hypothesised that this widespread endothelial dysfunction could lead to erectile dysfunction. An Italian survey led by Sansone also revealed that the erectile dysfunction was common among those who had Covid-19 infection in the past and very aptly commented that "Mask up to keep IT up"."
Raman Tanwar, MBBS, MS, FMAS, MCh (Urology) Gold Medallist, Department of Urology and Andrology at Uro centre, Jyoti Hospital, Gurugram adds, "Covid-19 infection leads to widespread endothelial dysfunction which means that the linings of blood vessels do not function properly once infected. For erection the optimal function of blood vessel lining is needed and many studies across the world are finding an increased incidence of erectile dysfunction in patients who are positive. Studies have also pointed that those who have ED are more likely to have Covid-19 infection."
If an individual is diagnosed with ED, the first step is to reach out to a doctor as it can be a sign of underlying health problem. Heart diseases, clogged blood vessels, high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, stress, depression and lifestyle habits like smoking and alcohol consumption are a few of the main causes of erectile dysfunction.
Vineet Malhotra, Clinical Director, Diyos Men's Health Centre shares: "The recent study conducted at the Miller School of medicine, Miami, USA notes the presence of Covid-19 in the penis even 7 months post infection. The increased risk of endothelial dysfunction can lead to a risk of erectile dysfunction in affected men."
Sanjay Pandey, Head of Uro-Andrology at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai tells IANSlife: "Covid-19 affects different men in different ways. There is a possibility that some men might develop ED after suffering from Covid-19. So particularly for young and healthy people who abruptly develop erectile dysfunction, and especially after having Covid-19, this can be a sign of something more serious going on. This could last for long term or short term. ED is usually a symptom of another medical condition. If your health isn't great to begin with, you're more likely to have severe or unwanted symptoms from Covid-19, such as ED."
Doctors suggest that with the number of cases increasing every day and multiple studies indicating that men are more prone to Covid-19, this study makes it more imperative that men must be extra cautious in their everyday life ignoring which could affect various aspects of their lives.
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Moscow, June 16 (IANS) Scientists at Russia's Gamaleya National Center claim to have identified a new variant of the coronavirus, dubbed "Moscow" strain as cases surge across the country.Scientists that designed the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine are studying the jab's effectiveness against the new strain, Gamaleya Center head Alexander Gintsburg was quoted as saying to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, the Moscow Times reported."We think that the vaccine will be effective, but we must wait for the study results," Gintsburg said.While epidemiologists have confirmed mutated coronavirus strains originating from Russia, information about these strains remains limited.New strains emerging in Moscow couldn't be ruled out, Gamaleya's deputy head Denis Logunov was quoted as saying.The chief doctor of Moscow's main Covid-19 hospital Denis Protsenko said last week that hospital patients were not responding to treatments that were previously effective, indicating that mutated Covid-19 strains were present in the capital, the report said.Russia has seen a spike in infections of the deadly virus. On Wednesday, the country confirmed 13,397 new coronavirus cases and 396 deaths. Of these, 5,782 cases are in Moscow.To curb the dramatic rise in infections, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced a "non-working week" from June 15 to 19.Sobyanin has also introduced mandatory vaccinations for service sector workers in Moscow. Only 12 per cent of the country's population has received at least one dose of a Covid jab so far.--IANSrvt/vd
Kuala Lumpur, June 16 (IANS) Malaysia will soon receive a contribution of CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech, Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Wednesday.Hishammuddin said the vaccine doses would greatly assist Malaysia in its efforts to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic."Malaysia is highly appreciative of the invaluable support extended thus far by the People's Republic of China. Through this recent initiative, Malaysia hopes the close and friendly ties will be further consolidated for the mutual benefits of our two countries," he said in a statement."This timely contribution will bolster the vaccination process and assist the ongoing rollout of Malaysia's national Covid-19 immunisation programme," he added.In a statement announcing the vaccines' donation, the Chinese embassy in Malaysia said the governments and the peoples of China and Malaysia have stood shoulder to shoulder and extended assistance to each other since the pandemic, Xinhua reported.Malaysia was the first country to sign an intergovernmental cooperation agreement on Covid-19 vaccines and make a reciprocal arrangement for vaccination with China. Both countries have engaged in all-round cooperation in vaccine production, development, trials, procurement, among others, highlighting the two countries' joint efforts to fight against the pandemic, said the embassy."The donation of vaccine made by China to Malaysia is another testament of the deep friendship between the two countries as a Malay proverb that goes, 'bukit sama didaki, lurah sama dituruni,' which means to climb the hill together and go down the ravine together," said the embassy, adding that China and Malaysia will deepen cooperation to improve health and wellbeing of the two peoples to make contribution to a global community of health for all.The Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine has been used in Malaysia's national immunization program since its National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) granted the vaccine conditional approval in March.Malaysia's leading pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga is also in partnership with Sinovac to produce locally fill-and-finish vaccine as the first ever human vaccine produced in Malaysia, which in turn is a significant milestone for Malaysia's pharmaceutical industry.Malaysia on Tuesday has also conditionally approved emergency use of the single-dose Covid-19 vaccine developed by Chinese company CanSino Biologics, with the company set to supply Malaysia with finished products and currently working with Malaysian partners over local manufacturing. --IANSint/
Take the example of Telangana, where health authorities recently stated that 37,332 children were infected with the virus between March and May 2021. This coupled with the fact that 19,824 children got infected from August-November 2020 tells us how we grossly underestimated the impact of Covid-19 on children.
Compared to the first wave, the number of positive cases and their severity has increased among children this time. Why is this concerning?
This is in contrast to what was earlier perceived globally that children will not suffer from the severe direct symptoms of the virus, the indirect fallout on their lives and rights is a topic for another discussion.
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Direct Impact on Children
Arrival of the mutant strain, delayed diagnosis and treatment, challenge of access to healthcare services, lack of space for social distancing are making children vulnerable. Children are showing symptoms of high grade fever, severe body aches, diarrhoea, coughing and abdominal pain requiring hospitalisation. In some cases, children are also showing symptoms of multi-system inflammatory syndrome.
The fear of a third wave affecting children more than the adults has set alarm bells ringing. To safeguard children, the Union Health Ministry has listed guidelines for Covid-19 treatment for those below 18 years of age. According to government data, around 26 per cent of people infected with Covid-19 in India since May 1 are in the 18-30 age group.
Debate- Is Vaccination safe for Children?
Vaccination for people above 18 in India has been anything but smooth with reports of acute vaccine shortage and difficulty in registering for vaccination online. Globally, a conversation around vaccination for children has started with countries like the US taking the lead. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6,00,000 children in the US between age 12 and 15 have received the Pfizer shot. Studies showed that the vaccine is 100 per cent effective in kids in the same age group.
Canada, Singapore and the UAE, too, approved the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use in the 12-15 age group. Moderna is currently conducting age de-escalation studies. Johnson & Johnson also plans to do the same.
Meanwhile, in India the Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for 2-18 age group will begin in June, which will include 525 subjects across canters in AIIMS (Delhi and Patna) and Meditrina Institute of Medical Sciences, Nagpur. India is also developing nasal vaccines which could prove to be a game changer. But these won't be ready until next year.
Vaccination and Covid Protocols For Children
Before vaccination for children is rolled out, it is imperative that trials are conducted following compliances and guidelines to prove the effectiveness of the vaccine and how safe it is. Instead of hastening the process, protocols and standard norms need to be maintained.
At this point, equitable access to a suitable and effective vaccine is critical and it is upto the global leaders to continue dialogue on this. Meanwhile, stringent public health measures like social distancing, wearing masks, sanitising hands and avoiding gathering of crowds need to be maintained.
Vaccination alone cannot help in ending the pandemic.
While it may take some time for vaccines to be available for children, early testing and detection are key to treating children with Covid and preventing hospitalisation. Simultaneously efforts have to be made to strengthen hospitals and other health facilities for providing quality care to those children who might require hospitalization. Management of the infection will depend on the severity of the case.
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Another issue to address is vaccine hesitancy as a large sample of the population are hesitant about receiving the vaccine owing to concerns about side effects or potential adverse outcomes and misinformation; especially when it concerns children. History shows that vaccine hesitancy has always existed; the experience of polio eradication in India has shown how it adversely impact the health of other children. An interesting fact: In the 19th Century, Charles Dickens had published several essays advocating the small pox vaccine and other public health initiatives in his weekly journal Household Words.
India is not alone, many Americans are hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine and to convince them the US government, the states and the local businesses are offering all kinds of incentives. Free doughnuts, lottery tickets, cash prizes, free to tickets to events and parks, even beer are being offered. With the looming fear of a third wave in India, vaccinating parents is important to ensure we protect our children.
Though rapidly changing, perceptions are that children have lower risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19, however, the infection can still impact children and be passed on from infected family members. While India has recently initiated vaccination trials for under 18, it is imperative that our central and state government agencies conduct mass awareness campaigns in rural and semi-rural areas to tackle vaccine hesitancy; to ensure the caregivers of children are protected.
Moreover, to bust the myths and rumours around vaccinations and the ongoing trials, the government needs to create and disseminated data on public forums for scientists, medical experts and parents to study.
In 2020, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s director-general, had said, "We're not just fighting a pandemic we're fighting an infodemic." Countries, healthcare workers and scientists need accurate data to design an effective response to control the pandemic.
"The first thing you could do is collect data on transmission and its severity among youth and children in your district, and analyse them on a regular basis. I urge all officers to make an assessment yourself; this will help you in preparing for the future," Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently told district collectors and field officials of 10 states.
The government should ensure the data collection is disaggregated by sex, age and disability, prioritising the most vulnerable and marginalised children, including those who are orphaned, living in street situations, those in child care institutions, belonging to migrant families, refugees and those internally displaced.
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