Washington, Aug 11 (IANS) The White House has said it is exploring ways to support schools in Florida that are facing financial retribution as a result of defying the state's ban on mask mandates.White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told a daily press conference that the Biden administration was looking to support schools in the southern US state that "do the right thing" when it came to masking, praising Florida school leaders for showing "courage" and "boldness" as they sought "to protect students and keep schools safe and open."Psaki's remarks on Tuesday followed days of controversy during which Florida Governor Ron DeSantis threatened to withhold the salaries of those school leaders who defied the governor's earlier executive order banning school districts from issuing mask mandates at a time when students in the state are returning to schools for the fall semester, Xinhua reported."We are continuing to look for ways... for the US government to support districts and schools as they try to follow the science, do the right thing and save lives," Psaki said."I would note what is publicly available and knowable is that the American Rescue Plan funds that were distributed to Florida to provide assistance to schools have not yet been distributed from the state level," she said. "They're federal funds and... they're under federal discretion, so they just need to be distributed to these schools."Asked about the issue at his own press conference on Tuesday, Biden said he's checking if it is within the presidential power to intervene in the state mask bans. He said the anti-mask efforts by states including Florida and Texas were "totally counterintuitive and, quite frankly, disingenuous."As of Monday, superintendents of at least two Florida counties, namely Leon and Alachua, have come forward with their plans to enforce mask mandates, directly defying an emergency rule by the Florida Department of Health under DeSantis's direction that school districts must allow parents to decide whether their children will wear masks.DeSantis's reasoning is that mandating mask-wearing for children infringes on parents' right under Florida law to make decisions about their children's health and education.In implementing the mask mandates, however, the school leaders cited the latest surge in Covid-19 cases brought about by the Delta variant that not only made Florida the national epicentre of the pandemic in terms of overall infections, but also saw the state leading the country in the number of children hospitalized for contracting the virus."If, heaven forbid, we lost a child to this virus, I can't just simply blame the governor of the state of Florida," Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna said when announcing that children from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade will be required to wear masks when classes resume Wednesday in Tallahassee, seat of the county and also capital of the state.As of Monday, 179 pediatric Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in Florida, which leads the entire nation, and Texas came in second with 161 such cases, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. --IANSint/pgh
New York, Aug 10 (IANS) An Indian-origin researcher has developed copper-infused masks that may help employees manning the frontlines of customer service, particularly in the hospitality and tourism sectors.Ajay Aluri, founding director of the Hospitality Innovation and Technology (HIT) lab at the West Virginia University in the US, has developed Hygenmask -- a three-layered facemask containing a copper-infused nano-coated fabric, a sustainable bamboo fabric and an ePTFE (a biomaterial) filter.Wearers also don't have to worry about "elf ears" since the masks lack ear loops. Elastic head loops go over the head and can be tightened for a customised fit.Masking up is one safe precaution. But it's also an uncomfortable gesture, as some masks may inflict wear and tear on the face or not provide an adequate level of protection for the worker, Aluri said."Copper has a special place in the culture and tradition of India. People wear copper bracelets and use copper utensils for cooking. And there's a notion, from the Covid standpoint, that copper is antimicrobial," he added.Before Hygenmask, Aluri and his students had created Hygenkey, a copper touch tool with antiviral and antibacterial qualities, in response to the pandemic in 2020."The mask is ideally for people who are always at the front desk or talking to people six to eight hours at a time, whether in restaurants, resorts, airports or any hospitality and tourism industry," Aluri said."Some of these masks out there, if you wear them for a long time, it can be really rough on your skin. So we strived to make it more hygienic and sustainable from a fabric standpoint," he added.During testing, Aluri's mask was found to block up to 93 per cent of droplets being respired. The mask also helps people breathe more comfortably, making the wearer more likely to keep it on for a longer period of time.Aluri himself donned the mask during a 14-hour flight to India."I'm only taking it down when I'm eating or drinking. I had no marks on my face and it was quite comfortable," Aluri said.--IANSrvt/arm
The monsoon season is much loved by all a welcome respite from the hot summer, cool showers bring out a rich, earthy scent and a gentle breeze blowing through the hair. Despite it being the season of love and romance the monsoon can be quite unhealthy for the hair and scalp. Just like we should adapt our skincare routines to different weather; changing the hair care routine is also a must in order to meet the new, changing environmental conditions.
The increase in humidity can have multi-dimensional effects on long, lustrous locks leaving them dull, frizzy and prone to hair fall. Contact with acidic rainwater can leave the scalp extremely dry and flaky thus inviting dandruff related concerns. Air-drying the hair starts to take longer due to high humidity levels and dampness comes with its own set of concerns such as infections, itching etc.
While the above factors might make you love monsoons a little less simple additions can help adapt your hair to the changing season and bring out its best texture despite the conditions. While these alterations can surely help, The Body Shop India shares a well-rounded routine to ensure nourished hair all year round-
Cleansing- With the increased humidity there is a great chance to suffer from itchy scalp and dandruff. To maintain healthy hair and scalp wash your hair twice or thrice a week with a gentle shampoo that is suited for your hair and scalp type. Using an anti-bacterial and anti-dandruff shampoo once a week can also make a lot of difference and help get rid of the itchiness and flakes. Another word of caution is to use normal water to wash your hair, hot water can dry out & fry the hair, while cold water can shock it to damage.
Conditioner/Mask- While it may sound like a task but this one step can be a boon to help reduce breakage. Monsoon season tends to make the hair frizzy and lacklustre; to strengthen the hair and add shine always use a conditioner or a mask that will help boost moisture level and improve texture. Leave on the conditioner/mask for about 5-10 minutes for best results and to make the most of the product.
Serum- Leave on serums is a quick fix to get rid of tangles which often lead to extreme pulls in the hair thus increasing hair fall. It also creates a shine and brings an instant softness to the hair. Ideally, one should use 2-3 drops of hair serum gently on the damp hair.
Oiling- Choose an oil that is lightweight and provides adequate nourishment to the hair. Oiling has been a timeless tradition that helps in adding lustre to the hair. Leaving the hair overnight is ideal however an hour before cleansing can also help reap several benefits. Oil massage also improves the blood circulation in the scalp thereby strengthening the hair follicles, promoting an itch-free scalp and supplementing hair growth.
Styling- While styling the hair can always help the oomph factor, keeping it to the minimal is the better route to take -- focus on keeping the hair length manageable with regular trims, using wide-tooth wooden combs to reduce breakage and choose to air dry rather than using heated treatments such as blow dryers, straighteners, curling rods etc. The high-temperature setting on these devices can often burn hair and while there might not be any short-term effects, it can be especially damaging in the long run.
Healthy Diet- Treatments, styling and routines are a great addition to help hair texture, shine and health but it cannot substitute a healthy diet that is rich in all food groups. Boost your nutrition intake and include Vitamin A, Zinc, Iron and Biotin which help in promoting collagen and boosting cell regeneration.
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Washington, July 28 (IANS) Barely three months after suggesting that vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks, indoors or out, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now recommended people to resume wearing masks amid the surging delta variant, the media reported.Speaking to reporters in an afternoon news briefing, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, expressed disappointment and dismay that the summer surge in cases, driven by the delta variant's startling transmissibility and low vaccination rates in many areas, had forced the agency to reimpose its guidance that was lifted in May, the Washington post reported."It is not a welcome piece of news that masking is going to be a part of people's lives who have already been vaccinated," Walensky said. "This new guidance weighs heavily on me."The new guidance advised that people who live in high-transmission communities wear masks in indoor public spaces, even if they've been vaccinated. It also recommended that vaccinated people with vulnerable household members, including young children and those who are immunocompromised, wear masks indoors in public spaces, the report said.The agency also called for universal masking for teachers, staff members and students in schools, regardless of their vaccination status. The CDC continues to recommend that students return to in-person learning in the fall.In addition, the agency also now says that fully vaccinated people should get tested if they have any covid-19 symptoms or if they were recently exposed to someone who had a suspected or confirmed infection. Fully vaccinated Americans also should isolate if they test positive for the coronavirus or are experiencing symptoms, it said.Walensky described the delta variant as, in effect, a different virus, capable of generating outbreaks of infection even among people who are vaccinated. "The delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us and to be an opportunist in areas where we have not shown a fortified response against it," she said.The concern was also echoed by US top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci, who said that "the situation has clearly changed" since May 13, the Post reported."Vaccinated people are transmitting it, and the extent is unclear, but there's no doubt they're transmitting it. People who are vaccinated, even when they're asymptomatic, can transmit the virus, which is the scientific foundation of why this recommendation is being made," Fauci was quoted as saying.The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 34,603,658 and 611,409, respectively, according to the latest update by Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday morning.--IANSrvt/skp/
New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Responding to charges levelled by SpiceHealth of alleged breach of agreement, GeneStore has said that the recent allegations are motivated and iniquitous attempts to suppress price correction in Covid-19 RT-PCR testing in India.In a statement, GeneStore also said that it has issued requisite statutory notices under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, and is in the process of initiating appropriate proceedings under the said legislation. It has also issued a legal notice to SpiceHealth seeking recovery of outstanding dues. "The baseless allegations came after PathStore, GeneStore's pathology services brand, announced its revolutionary Covid-19 RT-PCR test pricing strategy through its campaign ‘Ab ki Baar RT-PCR', offering the testing service at RS 299 in India last week," the company said in a statement on Wednesday. Founder and CEO of GeneStore Global and PathStore, Anubhav Anusha, said that in September 2020, GeneStore aimed to rollout a Make in India initiative of developing and manufacturing mobile RT-PCR testing laboratories for low-cost RT-PCR testing at Rs 499 to support scaling-up of the testing infrastructure in India. As per the principal terms of the strategic agreement, GeneStore would invest its intellectual property and funds to manufacture proprietary Covid-19 RT-PCR mobile laboratories and build a testing service ecosystem, alongside procuring the necessary NABL and ICMR approvals, while SpiceHealth would be responsible for undertaking activities as a distributor, he said. "In the limited period of the partnership, GeneStore fulfilled its commitment, only to realise gross professional, ethical, and legal misconduct and malpractice on the side of SpiceHealth," Anusha said. In November 2020, SpiceHealth had procured a tender by ICMR, wherein GeneStore was enlisted as the technical partner for the deployment of its mobile RT-PCR laboratory services network at a price point of Rs 499 per test. However, GeneStore alleged that the "ulterior motives" on the part of SpiceHealth began to reveal when upon the launch of the joint venture in November 2020, SpiceJet and SpiceHealth started a campaign of fraudulent claims which stated that Avani Singh was the inventor behind the cutting-edge mobile RT-PCR laboratories that were actually developed by Anubhav Anusha, Founder of GeneStore. "No one from SpiceHealth or SpiceJet, including Ms Avani Singh, has any ground or right for having claimed the credit for my invention, concept and hard work. It was a nightmare for the GeneStore family and me, who became the victims in this case of being discredited for our path-breaking ideas, work and strategies," Anusha added. The company further claimed that between December and January 2021, SpiceHealth employees sought to steal GeneStore's IP and constructed its fixed RT-PCR laboratory in Gurugram. SpiceHealth employees then started to route away samples coming to GeneStore's mobile RT-PCR laboratories from the Delhi government to SpiceHealth's central laboratory in Gurugram, it said. Anusha said: "In May 2021, SpiceHealth dishonored two cheques amounting to approximately Rs 6 crore for services rendered and further defaulted on its payments for RT-PCR testing kits that were already supplied by GeneStore. Accordingly, GeneStore has already filed a complaint with the Economics Offices Wing of Delhi Police against SpiceHealth and its directors, Avanee Singh and Veena Aggarwal." Refuting the claims made by Anusha, SpiceHealth said in a statement on Wednesday that it carried out its obligation and has already made payments of Rs 9.37 crore as per the terms of the agreement, and it was GeneStore and Anubhav Anusha and affiliates who actually breached the terms of the agreement. "Anubhav's and GeneStore's flagrant breach of its non-compete and non-solicitation obligations with the criminal intent fundamentally alters the bargain between the parties. Hence SpiceHealth is under no obligation to pay anything to GeneStore and instead has a claim against them," it said. Last week, SpiceHealth had approached the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Delhi Health Minister against GeneStore India and its promoter Anubhav Anusha for allegedly violating the non-compete and non-solicitation agreement between the two companies. --IANS rrb/sn/arm
Mumbai, July 2 (IANS) Scientists at NMIMS University, Mumbai, have developed a battery-operated reusable mask that offers protection from airborne human pathogens.While regular masks protect from aerogel and large dust particles, they do not protect against most human pathogens.On the contrary, the new mask is four-layered cotton with a metallic mesh, which acts as an electrical filter. During inhaling and exhaling, the pathogens coming in contact with the mask get neutralised instantly, ensuring complete protection to the user.The mask is reusable, self-sterilising, and environment-friendly. The battery lasts for more than six months, if used with proper care, and is replaceable. This mask replaces more than 240 regular masks reducing the environmental burden, and is thus eco-friendly."We have used a lithium button battery, which can be used and thrown away. It can last up to six to eight months," Neetin Desai, Dean of NMIMS' Sunandan Divatia School of Science in Mumbai, told IANS."Under laboratory conditions, when continuously used up to 72 hrs, the mask showed 99.9 per cent inhibition of bacterial and fungal growth," Desai added.The masks will be commercially rolled out and marketed by pharma company Milton Group from next week. It will be priced between Rs 800 to Rs 1,000, he noted.--IANSrvt/vd