The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified the new Covid variant detected in southern Africa this week as the 'Variant of Concern' following the Technical Advisory Group meeting on Friday.
"Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology, the TAG-VE has advised WHO that this variant should be designated as a Variant of Concern and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron", said the global health body in a statement.
The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24, 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9, 2021.
The WHO has asked the countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants and submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database. The WHO has reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of Covid-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.
The WHO said that this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are of concern.
Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage, said the WHO.
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is an independent group of experts that periodically monitors and evaluates the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and assesses if specific mutations and combinations of mutations alter the behaviour of the virus. The TAG-VE was convened on 26 November 2021 to assess the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529. (agency)
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आगरा (21 नवंबर, 2021)- आधुनिक जीवनशैली और पर्यावरण में लगातार हो रहे बदलाव ने मानव स्वास्थ्य के सामने गंभीर संकट पैदा कर दिया है। वायु प्रदूषण अपने सबसे खतरनाक स्तर पर पहुँच चुका है। स्वास्थ्य पर प्रतिदिन इसका प्रतिकूल असर पड़ रहा है। लेकिन ये समझ में नहीं आ रहा कि इस वैश्विक स्वास्थ्य समस्या से अपनी और अपने परिवार की सुरक्षा कैसे की जाए? ऐसे में आयुर्वेद का प्राचीन विज्ञान आशा की किरण बनकर उभरा है। आयुर्वेद के माध्यम से इस स्वास्थ्य चुनौती का मुकाबला बखूबी किया जा सकता है क्योंकि इस चिकित्सा पद्धति में रोगों से लड़ने और प्राकृतिक घटकों के माध्यम से उसके निवारण की अद्भूत क्षमता निहित है। यही वजह है कि आयुर्वेद को स्वास्थ्य सेवाओं का भविष्य कहना अतिशयोक्ति नहीं होगी।
प्रसिद्ध आयुर्वेद चिकित्सक और पंचकर्म की विशेषज्ञ डॉ. मीनल गुप्ता ने उपरोक्त बाते निरोगस्ट्रीट द्वारा आगरा में आयोजित संगोष्ठी में कही जिसमें बड़ी संख्या में चिकित्सकों ने भाग लिया। डॉ. मीनल ने आयुर्वेद की महत्ता को रेखांकित करते हुए कहा कि आयुर्वेद उन सभी समस्याओं और कमियों का समाधान है जो वर्तमान स्वास्थ्य प्रणाली को कमजोर बनाती है। आयुर्वेद बिरादरी को पूरे पारिस्थितिकी तंत्र को बेहतर बनाने और दुनिया भर के रोगियों के लाभ के लिए इसे और अधिक सक्षम बनाने के साथ-साथ नियमित रूप से इस तरह के संगोष्ठियों और परिचर्चा को आयोजित करते रहने की जरूरत है।
यह भी पढ़े► कोरोना महामारी के दौरान आयुर्वेद के महत्व को दुनिया ने स्वीकारा
'आधुनिक दुनिया के परिप्रेक्ष्य में आयुर्वेद' (आधुनिक दुनिया में आयुर्वेद की प्राचीन प्रक्रियाएं) विषय पर आयोजित चिकित्सकों की संगोष्ठी में 'कोरोनावायरस' के बाद की स्वास्थ्य चुनौतियों और आयुर्वेद में उसकी भूमिका पर भी विस्तृत चर्चा हुई जिसमें बड़ी संख्या में चिकित्सकों ने भाग लिया। चर्चा के केंद्र में बिगड़ती हुई पर्यावरणीय परिस्थितियों में स्वस्थ जीवन के लिए आयुर्वेद की महत्ता रही जिसमें ये बात उभर कर सामने आयी कि 'प्रौद्योगिकी' (टेक्नॉलजी) के साथ 'आयुर्वेद' ग्लोबल हेल्थकेयर के भविष्य को पूरी तरह से बदल सकता है।
देश के सबसे बड़े आयुर्वेद चिकित्सकों के प्लेटफॉर्म 'निरोगस्ट्रीट' द्वारा आयोजित इस संगोष्ठी को व्यापक सफलता मिली जिसमें आगरा के साथ - साथ देशभर के 50 चिकित्सकों ने अपनी सहभागिता दर्ज कराई। पंचकर्म केरली आयुर्वेद केंद्र के चिकित्सकों ने भी संगोष्ठी के दौरान अपने विचार रखे।
यह अंग्रेज़ी में भी पढ़े► Medical Fraternity meet in Agra: Ancient Procedures of Ayurveda in the Modern World
The rise in air pollution, coupled with lousy lifestyle habits, is causing a spike in respiratory diseases. According to a Lancet report, the contribution of chronic respiratory diseases in India increased from 4.5 per cent in 1990 to 6.4 per cent in 2016. With respiratory issues on the rise, there is an increased demand for natural solutions to treat such issues. Instead of conventional medicine, people are turning to alternative medical therapies to find cures for ailments.
Common Lung Disorders
Bronchitis is a health condition that causes inflammation in the airways of the lungs. This leads to narrowing of the air pathways and excess mucus causes wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing. It is a chronic condition that interferes seriously with daily life.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
It is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that obstructs the airflow to the lungs. Symptoms of COPD include breathing difficulty, mucus (sputum) production, coughing, and wheezing. It can result from long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. Those affected by COPD are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, and a variety of other conditions.
This is another variation of COPD. Bronchitis causes a similar build-up of mucus that can cause inflammation and coughing. The lungs' airways are constantly inflamed as chronic bronchitis often lasts for months on end. Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include incessant coughing, whistling sounds while breathing, wheezing and a tightening of the chest.
It is said that the cure for all ailments is available the natural way. Here are some of the alternative medicine approaches to treat respiratory disorders.
Alternative Medicinal Approaches to Treat Respiratory Disorders
Asthma is one of the most common lung diseases. One of the primary causes of asthma is allergies, which often result from the food consumed. It is crucial, therefore, to first prepare a diet that is suitable for an individual. Often, dairy products, meats, and certain nuts can increase the production of mucus.
Foods like these must be avoided. Also, antioxidants can prevent damage resulting from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Diet is important in this regard, as fruits and vegetables high in Vitamins A, C, and E can improve the condition of COPD patients.
Yoga and Exercise
Treatment of lung disorders often involves the use of the lungs to promote healthy breathing habits. Exercises like cycling, swimming, yoga etc. that create a need for full capacity breathing are of great importance. Exercising the diaphragm is important and simple activities can go a long way in the treatment of the same.
Pranayama, the practise of controlled breathing, is an integral part of alternative treatment for people suffering from respiratory issues. This extensive breathing practice helps to expand the lungs and improve the capacity of the lungs, which helps an individual breathe more freely.
Nasal irrigation systems like JalNeti using a Neti pot can help to rinse the sinuses, which may provide some relief from symptoms of respiratory allergies.
The traditional Chinese practice of acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into the skin to stimulate certain parts of the body. According to a study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, people with allergic rhinitis who were given acupuncture treatments twice a week for eight weeks had fewer symptoms than those administered placebo.
It is important to remember that no one complementary or alternative therapy works well for everyone with respiratory issues. Therefore, a proper assessment is done before deciding on the approach to the treatment plan. For those considering alternative medicine for their respiratory problems, it is recommended to speak to an expert first and discuss the approach that may work best. (Vinoda Kumary, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute)
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While wearing double masks, which helps create a strong barrier against Covid-19 infection spread via airborne viral particles, has become the new normal, prolonged wearing of masks can develop hydration issues or other nagging breathing troubles, health experts said on Wednesday.
There has been enough evidence through the pandemic to show the importance of masks for effective pandemic control. At the start of the pandemic, it was seen that countries (primarily Asian nations) which enforced early masking had lesser mortality rates as compared to countries in the West where compulsory mask wearing was introduced quite late.
"Prolonged mask wearing can be associated with certain problems the most common being headaches, dehydration, acne and difficulty in breathing," Radhika Banka, Consultant Pulmonologist at P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mumbai, told IANS.
Breathing issues are "usually seen in mouth breathers and in people with underlying respiratory problems such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)", she added.
According to Ravi Shekhar Jha, Additional Director and HOD, Pulmonology, at Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, wearing double mask for long hours can also lead to dryness.
"It is because natural humidification of nasal mucosa gets impaired," Jha said.
There are various masks available in the market, including cloth masks, surgical masks and respirators such as N-95s.
The cloth mask has the least protection and the US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a disposable surgical mask along with a cloth mask for additional protection. For surgical masks, the knotted technique (that is knotting the ear loops to provide better fit and prevent leakage from the sides) is recommended.
But with full vaccination rolled out in most countries, are double masks still required?
"Even after double dose vaccination, people can get breakthrough infections and can still be asymptomatic carriers and spread the infection. Hence masking is important even after double vaccination," Banka said.
The health experts stated that for people living in India, double masks become more important as vaccination of children has not yet begun in the country, and asymptomatic transmission is the highest from children. Added to this is a high population density, where social distancing is not practically possible in many cases.
Most of the countries which have made masks voluntary are those in the West with low population density, where social distancing is feasible. These countries have managed to vaccinate more than 80 per cent of their population with two doses. Also, masks in these countries are still recommended in enclosed spaces, public transports, healthcare facilities etc.
"With only 48 per cent of our population being vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent being vaccinated with two doses, I do not think India can yet take the risk of removing the mandatory use of masks," Banka said.
However, according to Jha, "A single mask, if worn properly, is sufficient."
"People who wear double masks, have this tendency of adjusting their masks repeatedly due to breathing issues, and that way the whole purpose of wearing a mask is defeated," he said.
Jha added that for someone like a healthcare worker, who is in an area with high concentration of Covid viral droplets, an N-95 mask should be worn all the time. For other situations, a normal surgical mask (single) is sufficient.
"We need to ensure that masks are worn properly, with proper seal at nose. Improperly worn masks are more dangerous. It is also important to keep in mind that a mask alone may not protect. One needs to follow hand hygiene as well as maintain social distancing," Jha advised.
Although several countries have loosened mask restrictions citing vaccine efficacy, various studies and health experts have stressed on the need for continuing wearing masks, even after being fully vaccinated, including booster shots; and following other protective measures such as physical distancing and handwashing.
A recent study led by researchers from the Monash University and the University of Edinburgh analysed more than 30 studies from around the world and found a statistically significant 53 per cent reduction in the incidence of Covid with mask wearing, and 25 per cent reduction with physical distancing. Handwashing also indicated a substantial 53 per cent reduction in Covid incidence.
Most people are able to wear masks fairly well for a few hours, but if your job requires you to wear masks for a prolonged period, it is essential to take adequate breaks to hydrate oneself and prevent any skin problems, Banka suggested. (Agency)
Read More► 4 Ways Psoriasis Can Worsen If Not Managed Well
Some people believe that psoriasis is just a common cosmetic, skin problem. Many believe it is contagious, making it one of the most stigmatized of all skin conditions and cannot be managed. So, which is it?
Psoriasis occurs when one's immune system is overactive and attacks healthy skin tissue, causing inflammation and speeding up skin cell growth. As a result, the skin becomes itchy, painful and scaly, with inflamed red plaques (patches) or silvery scales. These can appear across the body, often on the scalp, knees, back or elbows. Still, many believe these patches cannot hurt them.
Shrichand G. Parasramani, Dermatologist, Anisha Clinic, Mumbai said, "Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease which can be controlled but has no cure. It can go into remission. Patients and their families have several misconceptions of the disease, such as it are infectious in nature and they have to live with it lifelong.
It affects the patient's quality of life to a large extent which increases his level of stress. Many patients are drawn towards alternative medicine such as Ayurveda or homoeopathy due to the failure of conventional therapy and at times high cost of treatment. This leads to irregularity in treatment, resulting in a flare-up of the disease or treatment failure.
However, patients must understand the importance of addressing the disease so as to avoid the progression of psoriasis and its underlying complications. They must be told that with newer treatment options patients can lead an almost near-normal life."
Here are 4 ways Psoriasis can worsen if not managed:
Inflammation: Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation. What's especially important to note is that even mild psoriasis can be a sign of significant inflammation in the body. This inflammation, in turn, can contribute to other associated health conditions.
Given that dermatologists are the key medical experts responsible for treating psoriasis, it is important to consult one to understand the condition and suitable and advanced treatment options such as biologics
Increased Risk of Health Complications: People living with psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing associated conditions or comorbidities. The most common of these is psoriatic arthritis which affects 30 per cent of psoriasis patients. It is a chronic and inflammatory disease of the joints, resulting in stiffness, pain, throbbing, swelling and tenderness in joints. If this is not treated, long-term joint damage can result.
People with psoriasis, particularly in more severe cases, are also more likely to have other inflammatory conditions, including heart attack, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. Other related health issues can also include obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, kidney or liver disease uveitis, and sleep apnea.
Treatment to Prevent Flare-Ups: If unmanaged, psoriasis can lead to plaques and scales that continue to build and spread. Over time, these can become quite painful, causing severe itching. Without adequate treatment to prevent flare-ups, these can increase in severity and frequency. This can even happen to patients who begin medication but suddenly discontinue adhering to their recommended prescription.
It's important to remember that psoriasis can be treated. By adopting advanced therapies, such as biologics, the disease, as well as flare-ups, can be effectively managed.
Mental Health & Quality of Life: Another long-term effect of psoriasis is its effects on an individual's mental health and across one's overall quality of life. Physical symptoms, especially in commonly visible areas like the face or hands can lead to distress and affect one's self-esteem. Psoriasis, which is highly stigmatized, can be isolating or even affect social relationships.
It is also associated with psychological conditions, including depression and anxiety. These place an individual in a vicious cycle increased plaques can lead to anxiety or depression, and such stressors act as common triggers for a psoriasis flare.
By striving to address one's psoriasis, while also attempting to manage stress such as through counselling or lifestyle changes or community support groups individuals may begin noticing improvements in their overall health and well-being.
What Steps You Should Take
First and foremost, consult a dermatologist. Typically, psoriasis can be diagnosed with a simple physical examination with the doctor taking a look at one's skin, scalp and nails.
Once diagnosed, adopting a holistic treatment plan depending on the severity of one's psoriasis is key. If previously taking medication for psoriasis with limited effects, this responsiveness to treatment may also be used to find an approach more suited to the individual, especially considering recent advancements in psoriasis treatment.
It is important to remember to treat psoriasis as a chronic condition with longer-term implications, as opposed to one with temporary treatment solutions. The main aim of psoriasis treatment is to reduce inflammation and plaques. Currently, there are newer, advanced and innovative treatments, including biologics to safely and effectively treat and manage psoriasis. These work by blocking reactions in the body that cause psoriasis and its symptoms.
Biologics are important treatment options, particularly for people with moderate-to-severe psoriasis. While they may believe their condition cannot be improved or are distressed about other treatments failing, biologics can have life-changing impacts, especially in controlling one's symptoms. (Shrichand G. Parasramani, Dermatologist, Anisha Clinic, Mumbai)
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Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones, making them less dense and increasing the chances of a fracture. Since there are no specific symptoms related to osteoporosis, people often fail to recognise the onset of the disease unless tested for it, or unfortunately, after breaking a bone.
For people suffering from osteoporosis, yoga can be an effective addition to their treatment plan. The ancient sacred practice slowly builds strength, stability, agility and flexibility in the body which helps to ease the symptoms, lower the risk of complications and improve bone health. A study conducted in 2009 found out that when yoga is done consistently and diligently, it can increase bone strength.
Dr. Rajeev Rajesh, Chief yoga Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute shares six yoga poses to be practiced for osteoporosis:
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose)
How To Do
Start on all fours to form a table-like structure.
Lift the hips, straighten the knees and elbows.
Make sure that the hands are in line with the shoulders and feet are in line with the hips.
While forming a V structure, press the hands on the mat and lengthen the neck.
Hold this position for at least 30 seconds and release gently.
Benefits: Apart from strengthening the core, this asana also strengthens the bones, improves blood flow and body posture, stretches the back and makes the arms stronger.
Veerbhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose)
How To Do
Stand straight with both feet together and arms by the side.
By keeping the right foot flat on the mat, lunge with the left leg.
Stretch the arms straight above the head.
Hold this position for a few seconds, release gently and repeat on the other side.
Benefits: This asana regulates the adrenal glands responsible for providing the body with adequate amounts of estrogen and androgen for healthy bones. It is also effective in increasing the strength of the spine, shoulders, arms, knees and elbows.
Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)
How To Do
Stand erect with the arms by the side of the body.
Bend the right knee slightly and place the right foot high up on the left leg.
Ensure that the legs are erect, inhale gently and raise the arms above the head into the Namaskar mudra.
Keep the spine straight and hold the position for 30 seconds.
Come back to the original position gently and repeat with the other leg.
Benefits: This pose improves poise and balance. This asana is also effective in toning the leg muscles while making the tendons and ligaments of the feet stronger.
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
How To Do
Stand with feet hip-width apart.
Raise the arms above the head in Namaskar mudra.
Bend the knees slightly, just like sitting in a chair so that the hips remain at a 45-degree angle.
While breathing, consistently hold the pose for a minute.
Release gently and repeat.
Benefits: This asana creates stability and strength in the shoulder joints. Apart from that, it also helps to strengthen the gluteus and quads.
Setubandhasana (Bridge Pose)
How To Do
Lie on the back and keep the arms by the side.
Bend the knees so that the feet are firmly pressed on the ground.
With the strength of the arms, push the pelvis off the floor.
Make sure that the neck and back lie flat on the ground.
Stay in this position for 30 seconds before releasing gently.
Benefits: The asana can be therapeutic for people suffering from osteoporosis. It is beneficial in the strengthening of the hips, spine, and thighs.
Santolanasana (Plank Pose)
How To Do
Lie on the stomach.
Bring the hands towards the shoulders by keeping the palms on the ground.
Now gently push up the body to form a straight line.
The arms must be perpendicular to the ground and the body must be parallel to the ground.
Hold the pose and come back to the original position.
Benefits: It strengthens the shoulders, arms and wrists. It is also good for the spine muscles and improves posture.(By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe)
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