Category Archives: Multimedia

The difficulties of testing for COVID-19 in the United States

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt globally and as the number of cases keeps rising, people are wondering how testing is being counted. 

The United States became the country with the most cases of coronavirus worldwide on March 26 with over 100,000 positive cases of the virus. 

The Centers for Disease Control, which is based in the states says that there are 95 public health laboratories spread across all 50 states that are verified to test for COVID-19. The CDC also states that certified laboratories no longer need to get their tests verified by the Food and Drug Administration before putting tests into action but have 15 days after designing the test to communicate to the FDA, according to a CDC diagnostics policy document

Typically during a health crisis the CDC is the first to develop diagnostic tests in the U.S. however due to problems manufacturing their test the CDC and FDA have allowed commercial manufactures and certified public health labs to make the tests more readily available to the public, according the U.S. FDA. 

Due to public health labs making their own tests there are no FDA guidelines on recording the tests, whether positive or negative of coronavirus, this has led to some inaccuracies in numbers and ordinary people to take charge. 

Data Source: Our world Data Coronavirus Testing

As of April 1 there have been 1,149,960 tests taken in the United States, according to the COVID Tracking Project. 

The project comes after officials plead for more tests and numbers of testing are being questioned. 

The COVID Tracking project was started by journalists to attempt to gather correct testing numbers throughout the country from state and local governments, verified news sources and the federal government. It is made up of journalists who contribute by attending official press conferences and ask local, state and federal leaders how many cases there are and 100 volunteers who gather data.  

In comparison, in the UK the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England reports there have been 152,979 people tested, positive and negative, for coronavirus.

In the UK “the results of these tests are submitted to PHE through the Second Generation Surveillance System (SGSS). Confirmed positive cases are matched to ONS geographical area codes using the home postcode of the person tested as supplied by the laboratory information systems,” according to a PHE COVID-19 dashboard document.

Photo by: Brian McGowan on Unsplash

In order to be tested in the United States, you must exhibit symptoms call your local doctor and then be referred to a testing center near you, register for a spot on the list to get tested, attend and wait in line, then wait for test results days later.

“If we had all the resources in the world and could wave a magic wand, we would be happy to test these people, but they’re not there, so I’m afraid we’re having to prioritize,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN.

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.

Forgotten heroes near “breaking point”

Care workers up and down the country are calling for people to be more understanding of their position, after prime minister Boris Johnson labelled them as key workers in his lockdown guidelines.

NHS staff, social care workers, childcare and teaching staff, as well as those working  in supermarkets and other similar positions are only a fraction of those whose careers are considered essential for society to continue running.

However, many have complained that measures that are being taken to protect the vulnerable are not being extended to the right people.

KEY WORKER

©Chloe Rose

Many supermarkets in the UK have implemented designated hours in the day to NHS staff, as well as those over 70 to shop alone for their own protection. But a lot of care workers believe no consideration has gone in to their situations, with many of them having the responsibility to shop for elderly or vulnerable clients, as well as a duty of care to practice strict social distancing measures for the sake of their clients.

One care worker complained how it was “atrocious” that supermarkets were letting NHS workers skip queues while “not letting carers for vulnerable people do the same”. She stated that she knew “at least one elderly man who might not get his shopping now because a carer with a one hour time limit was not let in to stores in time”. 

The same carer commented that while “designated hours are good, not everyone can be there at the times they’ve been put in place, they’re early in the morning which is when most carers are in the community helping those most vulnerable with showering, medication and other essential daily duties and by the time we get the opportunity to get to shops we’re turned away because we’re not NHS”.

 

Care workers across the nation are also complaining of services being “near breaking point” due to shortages of Personal Protective Equipment.

Unison, a trade union representing all in the public sector, have recently called on the prime minister to do more to end severe shortages of PPE before the situation in the care industry becomes dire.

A care worker in a Tyne and Wear convalescent care home complained that PPE arriving at her workplace was being distributed to the wrong people or used irresponsibly. Leaving those who have constant contact with the vulnerable with only gloves and limited numbers of aprons to protect them and their clients against the potentially deadly virus.

“We’re being treated like second rate citizens just because we don’t have an NHS badge hanging around our necks. We’re putting our own lives and our family’s lives at risk working in this sector but we’re still not considered equal to NHS workers.”

Not only are care workers being denied basic protection for the sake of themselves and those around them, many are seeing their workload increase as they are expected to take on the jobs of others in order to meet the high demand and fast turnover that COVID-19 is creating.

Short term care homes including convalescent and rehabilitation centres are seeing their turnover go from three to four weeks to just five days to keep up with hospital’s need to free up beds for patients suffering with novel coronavirus.

Sunderland care worker, Carol, also expressed concerns about the government’s lack of concern surrounding testing in the UK.

“People coming to us aren’t being tested before they leave hospital. They’re coming to us for convalescent care, but we don’t know what these people are bringing into our home. The cross infection risk is putting people in danger but again, because we’re not NHS it’s like we don’t exist.” 

With those working on the front line still not being considered for necessary testing, the risk of working with the vulnerable is far from over. But these unsung heroes of the care sector will carry on, knowing how vital their work is to the running of society.

For now, carers not working in the National Health Service can only hope their positions will begin to be held in the same regard as those working for the NHS, before they reach a point of no return.

CORONAVIRUS INFO

©Chloe Rose

 

Chloe Rose

 

 

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


Calls in a crisis – the difference between adults and children.

According to WHO.int, with every 40 seconds that go by a person takes their own life. This totals around 800,000 people around the world every year.

With the growing concern surrounding COVID-19’s outbreak, it’s expected that the number of calls to organisations, such as Childline and the Samaritans will increase.

This may not be the case.

Recent reports have suggested that Childline has seen an increase of calls and the Samaritans have seen a decrease. Why is this?

Childline is aimed at helping young people in their times of need. Accessible through the web, the site offers children and young people the opportunity to chat with counsellors via phone or chat-room messaging.

The NCPCC has released a report stating that there is a growing number of children contacting the organisation due to the impact of COVID-19.

According to the report, 913 counselling sessions took place, with children concerned about the Coronavirus outbreak.

The reasoning for this sudden increase is yet to be determined. It’s speculated that it may be linked to the increased time spent at home and the disruption to their everyday routines causing increased anxiety.

Yet the Samaritans appear to be receiving fewer calls than expected.

The Samaritans is one of the UK’s leading helplines for those struggling in a crisis. Their vision is that fewer people will die from suicide.

On average, they answer more than 5 million calls each year. That’s roughly one call every 6 seconds.

Speaking to a Samaritans listener, more calls were expected due to the Coronavirus outbreak, but this is yet to be seen.

‘Personally I would have expected an increase [in calls], but interestingly we’ve had either the same number or, more often, fewer calls since COVID-19. Our branch director also noted a huge drop in calls relating to suicide or suicidal feelings.’

A local Samaritans listener, Leatherhead branch

It’s suggested that this change in reaching out could be due to people having more time to write emails at home or that people are more focused on COVID-19 than their own mental health.

‘In terms of the content of calls there are a high percentage that are discussing serious worries about COVID-19. Especially for vulnerable people like the disabled, the older generation and also prisoners. All these groups tend to also be isolated.’

Their advice to anyone stuck at home requiring help is to reach out as soon as you need to.

Don’t suffer in silence – be positive.’

Youtube: Samaritans – Small Talk Saves Lives – Everyday small talk.

If you know anyone isolated alone or suffering from mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, reach out to them. Whether an adult or a child, everyone needs to talk.

There are many organisations and helplines availiable for anyone who needs to talk to someone. Both Childline and the Samaritans are free to contact.

Visit their websites for more details.

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: https://stockata.de/bild/0006060-tisch-boden-rahmen-restaurants.html
A lot of restaurant owner across Europe must now 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: https://stockata.de/bild/0002950-stuhl-tisch-sitzmoebel-restaurants.html
serving food to costumers is now forbidden

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:https://stockata.de/bild/0000350-venedig-italien-venezia-wasser.html
Tonino is worried about friends and family as the situation in Italy is very 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: https://stockata.de/bild/0110745-haus-dasgovernmenthouse-casarosada.html
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: https://stockata.de/bild/0000779-cheeseburger-hamburger-speck.html

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