Category Archives: Life & Style

Coronavirus: Free video games for NHS workers

Thousands of NHS staff are being given free access to video games as a way of saying thank you for their hard work during the pandemic.

Some of the biggest game companies like Konami, EA, Sega and Xbox are involved in the Games for Carers initiative.

The studios say the games can be used by NHS workers when they want to relax and get some down time or wish to provide relief for their families.

The Games for Carers initiative is supported by UK industry body Ukie, marketing firm Keymeiler and dozens of other video game publishers and developers.

The UK games industry has helped to share the government’s Stay Home, Save Lives messages in some of the most popular games like Fortnite and FIFA during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Digital and Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said:

“We have worked closely with games companies to help keep people safe and I am delighted the sector is continuing to support the NHS in such an innovative way.”

If NHS workers wish to get access to their free games, all they have to do is visit the Games for Carer website and enter their NHS email address – even though the site went down for a few hours because of the high level of interest.

The Games for Carers initiative was the idea of Scottish video game journalist Chris Scullion, who was inspired after being sent a free gaming code himself and then contacted Ukie in order to involve major game companies on a mass scale.

She also said she hopes this initiative goes some way to help NHS workers understand how respected and valued they are.

(Image source: courtesy of Canva)

Locked in for your protection, but just how safe are you?

Lockdown measures have been introduced over recent weeks to slow down the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19), these same measures are putting one group more at risk.

Men, women and children who live with abusers have no way of escape from their abusers during quarantine. Activists from Brazil, Germany, Italy and China are already seeing a rise in abuse. Read more

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.

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