Category Archives: Life & Style

Social Distancing is a Social Project

The facts, the do’s and the don’ts

As the government renews its plea in the fight against COVID-19, are the measures in place encouraging a positive change?

The UK government has highlighted that critical weeks lie ahead with ‘absolutely no room for complacency’ at this time. As well as this, the NHS has been promised ‘life-saving equipment, testing strategy and contact tracing’.

Recent reports highlight that the government is developing an app to ensure accurate information is spread regarding the pandemic and how the UK is handling it.

Britain has also ordered 10,000 ventilators – of which the first batch will be delivered to the NHS next week.

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove told reporters that: “This weekend the first thousands of new ventilator devices will roll off the production line and be delivered to the NHS next week, from there they will be rapidly distributed to the front line.”

A doctor at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn commented that: “There are new cases everyday. There have been talks of deploying doctors from different specialities to treat COVID-19 patients. Although, with the lack of protective equipment at the moment it is proving to be a difficult task to set in motion.”


Sources: NHS, UK GOV, The Next Web, Reuters

COVID-19: The urgency to ‘flatten the curve’

What do we mean by ‘flatten the curve’?

When dealing with a pandemic like COVID-19, the ultimate goal is to stop the overall spread of the virus. In order to do so, the slowing down of the spread is a critical phase in achieving this. Hence, the social distancing measures in place across the world.

To ‘flatten the curve’ means to reduce the growth in the number of cases – giving medical professionals, institutional bodies and government officials more time to prepare and respond. As well as this, it accommodates for effective planning in a stressful situation as such.

For hospitals to function – doctors must be readily available to treat patients. However, with an influx of patients they must quickly adapt to the escalation of cases. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 cases through measures such as social distancing will not only save lives but ensure that we continue to progress ahead.

What do the curves on the graph represent?

‘Flatten the curve’

The curves represent the number of cases and how they are increasing/decreasing over time. A steep, higher curve signifies that cases are increasing fast. The lower curve indicates that cases are emerging slower, and that the virus is not spreading as faster.

By keeping the curve low, it allows for added time and preparation in controlling the spread of the virus.

How will social distancing determine the outcome of this pandemic?

The spread of the virus depends on how contagious it is, who is more vulnerable to it and how fast it impacts our immune systems. According to the World Health Organisations (WHO) COVID-19 is an ‘infectious disease’ primarily spreads through ‘droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose’ when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Seasonal flu has a lower fatality rate because people have been vaccinated against the virus or developed immunity. Coronavirus, on the other hand, does not have a vaccine and is known to have vigorous symptoms. As a result, people are more vulnerable to it.

Social distancing measures such as self-isolation and quarantine will decrease chances of transmission and consequently the spread of the virus.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that prior to the lockdown – one positive person would infect 2.6 other people. However, after social distancing measures were implemented – the figure reduced to 0.62. This means that the virus is being detained and should eventually burn out given the measures in place are strictly followed.

How should we go about this situation as individuals?

NHS guideline

In these uncertain times, it is natural to be overcome with anxiousness and self-awareness. Essential workers, doctors and patients are battling a wide-scale pandemic that is challenging day-to-day routines. As individuals of society, we have the duty to protect the most vulnerable of people amid this pandemic. By staying home, maintaining our hygiene and social distancing – we can encourage a safer, less disastrous outcome.

Institutions face structural changes to support students amid the COVID-19 pandemic

As the UK government begins to up its efforts in impeding the growth of the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions have been forced to introduce structural changes.

Multiple universities have moved to online classes through means of digital platforms such as Blackboard and Canvas – sites prominently used among institutions across the UK.

Blackboard CEO Bill Ballhaus took to its official site with a notice, highlighting their plans to support institutions across the UK during the outbreak. He ensured that Blackboard will continue making online learning feasible for both staff as well as students.

According to the statement, the number of online users ‘has doubled every day’ and the platform is working diligently to keep up with this unprecedented surge.

To meet service user needs, Blackboard’s pro-active measures include activating ‘cross-functional response teams’ to ensure the functioning of the platform.

Universities have introduced responsive measures such as online libraries to make academic sources and books accessible to students.

Nottingham Trent University recently announced that it will waive accommodation fees for students who have the left the city during the nation-wide lockdown. Students who have vacated their residence provided by the university and are not returning will no longer be required to pay rent.

In a statement, the professor’s vice-chancellor Edward Peck said: “At every stage in this national crisis Nottingham Trent University has been committed to following Government and PHE advice whilst ensuring that the interests of our students are always paramount in every decision that we take.”

“We understand that many of our students rent from private third-party providers, both purpose-built student accommodation and houses in multiple occupation. NTU is not able to make a unilateral decision on behalf of our students regarding accommodation fees charged by these providers.”

PhD and master’s students have also signed an open letter urging research councils to publish a plan outlining the additional financial support required for postgraduate students.

Due to fieldwork at halt and university labs and libraries being shut, many are unable to complete their research projects.

March is a typically active period of the academic year – with lecture theatres packed and assignment deadlines approaching. This year, there is an unprecedented silence.

Users took to social media sites expressing that they are ‘mentally tapped out’ and ‘paralysed’ from the on-going situation.  

A PhD student at the University of Westminster stated that: “The assumption to go about academic responsibilities in one’s home has been readily taken advantage of. For many, staying at home brings forth added care responsibilities.”

“At present, many of us are taking on this additional workload to help us survive in the face of a virus that knows no boundaries. If these changes that are being introduced are causing more stress to students, then perhaps it’s time to reorganise the education system.”

To learn more about the government response and information provided by universities regarding COVID-19, visit this webpage.

Coronavirus volunteer: “I felt that I cannot sit this one out”

With thousands of people isolating at home in the UK, depression and a feeling of being “left out” are already at epidemic levels, especially among the vulnerable ones. In what ways Britain is willing to tackle the abandonment among the lonely ones?

Thousands of volunteers gather around areas such as London, Cornwall and Norfolk to help those self-isolating.

Many people are joining Facebook groups offering food, support and other types of help for struggling families due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

According to GOV.UK, volunteering is now crucial in the response to Coronavirus especially during the lockdown.

 

A 27-year-old man, who has just received training from the outreach programme run by The Bridge of Heroes charity, is now ready to hit the streets.

However, Martin’s focus has now been shifted away from home-visits; instead he is running a press office and covering all their remote activities such as online cooking classes and exercises.

According to Martin, volunteers are provided with all the required PPE such as overalls, boot covers, face masks, eye protection, gloves and they are trained to implement decontamination procedures during the “shifts”.

The home visitors will also provide disposable face masks and gloves for the person they are visiting.

“I could either sit this one out and watch the pandemic evolve and unveil itself from the comfort of my own home, but instead I chose to get involved and help in whichever way possible.” – Martin said.

He said: “I felt that I cannot sit this one out. Instead I am going to receive as much training as possible to help those who are vulnerable.”better res


Free school meals: where did they start and what is being done for those reliant on them?

With the majority of UK schools closed, pupils and teachers are adjusting to working from home, but what does this mean for children who are dependent on the education system for hot meals? 

According to childrensociety.org, ‘free school meals are a crucial entitlement for families living in poverty’, and around 1.3 million children in the UK receive free school meals. Children who are eligible for free school meals include those whose parents are on income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, and support under Part VI of the immigration and Asylum Act 1999. 

Free school meals were first introduced to the UK in 1906 under the Education (Provision of Meals Act). In the 1980’s, the then government terminated the right to free meals in order to reduce the cost of school meals provided by local authorities. By 2004 school dinners had become a topic of debate which prompted Jamie Oliver to initiate a campaign into the improvement of school meals, which at the time largely consisted of deep fried food, such as chips and pizza. As of September 2014, children in the UK from reception to year 2 have been entitled to free hot meals, costing the government £2.30 per child. 

A Brief History of School Meals

In recent years, there has been a demand for healthier, more nutritionally balanced food in school meals from parents, school cooks and celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver. According to Gov.uk, successive governments have responded by working with schools to ensure that meals contain more healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables, and less fat, salt, and sugar; but with most schools now being shut, and children no longer having access to hot school meals, the Government has issued guidance on how disadvantaged children can still receive meals despite not being in school. 

The Government’s free school meal alternative will see eligible children being given £15 vouchers, the equivalent to £3 a day, (70p above the £2.30 the government pays), which can be redeemed in major supermarkets; however not all parents are satisfied with the new scheme, as some children were provided with lunch equating to ‘rations’. One mother in East London was left when her child was provided with ‘a loaf of bread, tinned tuna and a packet of crackers as their lunch’ the Sun reports.

Featured Image courtesy of Pexels.com

Restaurant owners fear the future

Since the year 2000, Geatano “Tonino” Copia runs the restaurant “Pinocchio” in Gummersbach (Germany). The native Sicilian has cooked his way into the heart of many customers with his big heart, lots of humour and good food. But now he must fear for his existence.

source: Private
a lot of restaurant owners in Europe now have to fear for their existence

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus he has to fight with financial cells. Fewer and fewer people have come because of the risk of infection. “I really noticed that since the beginning of February the costumers are missing. When I served in January at the weekend about 500-1000 costumers for lunch and dinner, it was only half of it in February. Of course, this had also a financial impact ” he said.

source: Private
this is where the costumers are normally served

Almost three weeks ago, the public health service closed down all restaurants and prohibited serving customers across Germany. The only way to earn money now is the delivery and pick up service his restaurant offers. But he remains sceptical: “It is good that my restaurant has a good reputation in this area and that I have so many loyal customers. But I fear the future. The cost remain the same, but the proceeds are only 50% compared to normal times. I had to send 90% of my employees in short-time work”, he says.

source: Private
Normally costumers would enjoy the sun outside on the terrace while eating their food

Besides the fear of existence, the fear for family and friends in Italy is in the foreground.“I brought my mother, who actually wanted to enjoy her retirement in Italy, already home. However, I have more relatives and friends there and when I see the pictures from Italy, I am really worried and scared. This is only natural”.

source: stock-photo-coronavirus-impact-empty-downtown-street-turin-italy-march-1672816441.jpg
Tonino is worried about friends and family, as the situation in Italy is dramatic

The federal government of North-Rhine Westphalia has approved a 25 billion- Euros rescue package for people like Tonino. It is designated to safe small businesses such as driving schools, restaurants or hotels from financial ruin and to avert the consequences of the crisis. It should be possible to obtain the permits quickly and easily.

“This help is really good and comes in very handy. I could probably close my business, because I don’t earn enough money to pay my rent, employees or the car I need for my delivery” complains the father of three and grandfather of two.

source: house-588389_640.jpg
The German government want to help people with small businesses

Geatano Copia is one example of many, who will be hit very hard by the crisis. The friendly pizza maker has one last appeal: Stay at home and do not lose your heart.

source: private
although times are hard now, Tonino hasn’t lost this humor

featured image: http://cheeseburger-820178_640.jpg

Safety precaution or fashion accessory?

Photo by Maatla Kebs on Pexels.com

The recent Coronavirus outbreak has had its time in the public eye, while individuals try to remain precautious and positive. The real demand has sprung from the high request of products such as face masks, hand gel and even toilet paper.

The awareness has been spread over the media as to what necessities are needed to stay fit in this health crisis, but one outcome that has taken a toll concerning the fashion industry is the popularity of face masks.

It can be certain that fashion industry strives upon social trends. At present, the majority of individuals globally are wearing masks; triggering the fashion industry to take part, whether it be for health reasons or to push a fashion trend.

Fashion accessory

Due to the virus, face masks have been sold out in the majority of places. But why not pay a little extra to get a luxury face mask? The mask with many meanings was once developed for streetwear fashion, some of which are still being produced today; from companies such as Bape and Off-White. Hypebeast brands such as the duo, live off online resellers such as StockX and are seen to double or even triple the cost of this accessory.

This product is seen to be the most on-trend piece at the moment and have been worn by A-listers over the past couple weeks. At the Grammy Awards, artist Billie Eilish was dressed head to toe in Gucci with a personalised face mask. Although promoting safety measures, there is a difference between a ‘surgical’ and ‘fashion’ face mask.

At present, people are buying or even making homemade masks as there is a lack of precautious masks out there to cater to such a diverse audience. This can be misled by what can be interpreted as a precautious mask and a fashion accessory. 

This pandemic has caused the United Kingdom to act and think fast, leaving the majority of the community without essentials to protect themselves from this crisis.

What are the different forms of masks? – Interview with a General Practitioner

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

An insight to the different types of face masks from Dr. Sikander Ladha a General Practitioner from Cheshire.

Surgical masks

These masks are used to protect others from oneself and does not prevent one from catching any germs.

FFP3 masks

Used in hospital settings, it has a filter mainly used in intensive care to protect yourself from any form of contamination.

Homemade/DIY masks

Ineffective, will allow droplets to seep through the fabric. The mask will not prevent germs being caught if an individual coughs or sneezes near you. One can also breath out germs through the fabric used from the homemade masks.

Fashion masks

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

A form of accessory used in streetwear. This can be used multiple times and rewashed. If not washed regularly, it can cause a spread of germs. Although It may look appealing to the eye, the most important aspect at present is safety.

The fashion sector will likely combine surgical and fashion masks in due time. Although being in a global pandemic, the fashion sector has not failed to deliver the means of safety precautions on-trend. Additionally, it can be understood that face masks are a fashion accessory.

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