Category Archives: Explainer

Domestic abuse, the other deadly killer

The prospect of isolation for several months is daunting, but abuse support workers say isolation with an abuser is like a “pressure cooker”.

As Covid-19 works its way through the UK and the rest of the world it would seem that the measures put in place by governments are the right thing to do to protect people’s health. For some health is the least of their concern. Experts have already warned that the isolation instructions set out by the government are likely to cause an increase in domestic abuse cases. Read more

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.

Why does toilet paper take so long to get to grocery stores?

Since the coronavirus ramped up and became a pandemic one essential hygiene product is flying off the shelves in grocery stores all over the world: toilet paper.  But why does it take so long to restock? 

Toilet paper can be made by recycled paper’s pulp or through tree pulp that is then dyed with chemicals to give it the white appearance.  The treated pulp is then sent to paper mills where it is converted into large sheets of paper and then cut into napkins, toilet paper, and paper towels in different sizes.  

Last year, the UK used around 1.25 million tonnes of hygiene paper of which over half were in the form of toilet paper, according to a statement by The Confederation of Paper Industries and The Paper Industry Technical Association.  

An unusually full stock of toilet paper sold 2 for 1 and limited to 4 single rolls per family. source: Natalia Jaramillo

Toilet paper mills, pre-pandemic, were already running 24 hours a day seven days a week and now with COVID-19 impacting worker’s schedules and increasing demand, the industry is having a tough time catching up. 

Kimberly Clarke, producer of popular toilet paper brands such as Andrex and Cottonelle said in a statement: 

“We have plans in place to address the increased demand for our products to the extent possible, including accelerating the production of essential products and reallocating inventory to help. Our teams continue to monitor demand and we will make adjustments to our plans accordingly.” 

Kimberly Clarke’s plans to ramp up production of essential products like toilet paper means slowing production of non essential products all meanwhile implementing worker safety protocols that may slow down production.  

“Some of the additional measures include regular cleaning of work areas, shift rotations, distancing reminders where people queue, and temperature scans at entry points. We’re also encouraging our employees to stay at home if they feel unwell,” read a Kimberly Clarke statement for the company’s COVID-19 response. 

In order to get toilet paper into grocery store shelves,  trucks have to be packed at paper mills driven to grocery stores and then unpacked and restocked onto the shelves. 

“I asked when the next shipment of toilet paper was coming and the cashier said to come early morning on Saturday,” said Viviana Riveros, a grocery store customer. 

When she arrived at 9 am, one hour after opening, the store was sold out of its supply of toilet paper.  

Grocery store shelves where there should be toilet paper are left empty due to COVID-1. Source: Natalia Jaramillo

Another popular toilet paper maker Essity, who makes Cushelle, already increased net sales in 2019 by 10.6% and is now further increasing due to the pandemic response to panic buy. 

“As a leading global hygiene and health company, we are currently also doing our utmost to continue to manufacture and deliver essential products such as hand paper towels, soap and sanitizers, toilet paper, handkerchiefs and diapers to consumers and customers around the world,” said Magnus Groth, CEO and President of Essity. 

The shortage of toilet paper comes after the UK government issues statements advising people not to panic buy. 

Cannabis across borders

The use of cannabis has always been a great concern across the globe. There has been a vast majority of countries against the recreational use of cannabis. However, some have legalised it with restrictions to monitor its use; others have legalised it for medicinal purposes.

United Kingdom

  • Medical Purposes: Legal
  • Recreational: Illegal

Although cannabis can be viewed as an issue to some, others view it as an advantage of its medical purpose. According to the NHS, the use of cannabis (also known as marijuana) can be used for medical issues such as chronic pain, anxiety, fibromyalgia and many more. Only General Practitioners who are on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council are granted access to prescribe this product. For more information concerning medicinal cannabis visit https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/cannabis-the-facts/

The legalisation of medical marijuana was set in 2018 by the UK government.

In the United Kingdom, cannabis is classified as a Class B drug, whereby if in possession of the substance the individual can be sentenced up to five years in prison. If caught dealing, the individual can receive a sentence up to 15 years or an initial fine. It can be viewed that the majority of possession of drugs found on an individual is from ‘stop and searches’ by the police. The police have the right to stop any individual under reasonable suspicion that they might take part in illegal activities.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is legal in the UK. The product should not hold any controlled compounds. There should be no trace of THC and CBN levels in any product wishing to be legalised by the UK. It is controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. For more information visit https://www.theextract.co.uk/is-cbd-legal-uk/.

Cannabis is the most commonly seized Class B drug, with 94% of all Class B seizures involving this substance in 2018/19.

Seizures of drugs England and Wales Financial Year Ending 2019 second edition – Home Office

According to the NHS, 10% of regular users of cannabis become more dependant on it. The more dependant an individual is on any form of the drug, the more chances are they could end up homeless due to these circumstances, this could also affect one’s mental health. Initially, the risk of using is higher when you start at a young age.

Canada legalised weed in 2018 – should Britain do it? | Newsbeat Documentaries

At present, there are many European countries looking to alter their laws on the use of marijuana.

Netherlands

Photographer: Paul Stafford for www.travelmag.com
  • Medical Purposes: Legal
  • Recreational: Decriminalised

Although being a popular hotspot for the use of cannabis, it is illegal. The use of recreational cannabis is tolerated in the Netherlands, only if bought in licensed shops; they can be found in most coffee shops. To purchase marijuana in the Netherlands, you must be 18 or over to do so. Additionally, an individual is only granted access up to five grams of the substance. The government have recognised that it is impossible to stop individuals from buying and using. Therefore with restrictions, the authorities can centre the attention on larger criminal activities such as someone who supplies and profits from marijuana. Ultimately, the use of marijuana for medical purposes is legal in the Netherlands.

France

  • Medical Purposes: Illegal
  • Recreational: Illegal

The laws in France are viewed as conservative when concerning cannabis. The French law distinguishes that if an individual supplies or is in the possession of cannabis they can be sentenced up to 20 years in prison with additional fines. France can be viewed as one of the stricter countries when it comes to marijuana. With the majority of their neighbour countries legalising medicinal marijuana, France however, is still against the use of both medical and recreational use.

For more information about France’s cannabis laws https://straininsider.com/legal-situation-cannabis-france/

Canada

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

The first country to legalise cannabis completely was Uruguay, followed by Canada in 2018. Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minster believed that legalising cannabis trade would help regulate its use and shift coinage out of the criminal domain.

United States

The use of cannabis is legal in 11 states. To purchase, an individual has to be over the age of 21. However, the use of marijuana can be used medically in 33 states.

California: Medicinal use in California became legal in 1996. However, the recreational use became legalised in January, 2018.

New York: In ‘The Big Apple’, the possession of marijuana was decriminalised for recreational purposes if the individual held up to two ounces as of 2019. At present, if in possession of the substance a fine could be given between $50-$200 according to The Cannigma. The use of medical marijuana was approved in 2014.

For more information concerning the legalisation of Cannabis across the states visit https://cannigma.com/us-regulation/cannabis-in-the-united-states/

Photo by Yash Lucid on Pexels.com

Although some countries are open to the use of marijuana. It can be seen that the substance can open new gateways for the governments across the globe to control and even minimise criminal activities if monitored.

10 tipps how to survive during the Corona crisis

Since its outbreak in Wuhan (China) in December 2019 the Corona virus or Corvid 19 has set the world in fear. Nearly every country is affected and has cases. The number is extremely rising.

According to Channel 4 news, 563 people have died in the UK from the 1st to the 2nd of April 2020. That’s why countries are under lock down and public life is set onto zero.

The most important thing is to contain the virus, so that the health care system does not collapse, and the care of all sick people in hospitals is guaranteed.

The question is how to behave and what rules and advices are given by the governments across Europe? Through a press release, the Robert-Koch institute, has given 10 rules for  people to follow:

1:STAY AT HOME:
This is the most important rule! People are advised not to leave their home if they do not need to buy food, go to work or to the doctor. Especially elderly people or people with health problems are asked not to leave their house at all. They can ask family or friends to do the shopping for them. If this is not possible, they can use delivery service

2:DO NOT HAVE ANY SOCIAL CONTACT APART FROM PEOPLE YOU ARE LIVING WITH
The next very important thing is to reduce your social contact. The governments across Europe advised people not to meet friends, work colleges or other people you are not living with. They also warned that grandparents shouldn’t have any personal contact to their grandchildren, as elderly people are mostly in danger.

3: HOMEOFFICE
If you have the possibility to work from home, you should do it. It will keep you safe.

4: AVOID LARGE CROWDS
In these times you should not go into parks or other public places. Most of the governments have already closed public places likes parks, restaurants or hotels.

5: DO NOT BUY TOO MANY GROCERIES
This is a very big  problem in Germany. People are buying too much food for themselves. The governments said that the supply of food is guaranteed at all times. Panic shopping is unnecessary and lacks solidarity towards your fellow men.

6: SNEEZ AND COUGH INTO THE CROOK OF ONES ARM AND ALWAYS WEAR A MASK
This is important not to infect anyone. No one can know if the others are not carrying the virus.

7: ONLY GO TO THE HOSPITAL IF IT IS A REAL EMERGENCY
The resources in the hospital are now used up to the point of exhaustion. Doctors and nurses are now working tirelessly. In order not to burden these people even more you should only go to hospital, if there is no other way.

8: KEEP DISTANCE
Keep at least two meter distance if you do not want to get infected or infect somebody.

9: WASH YOU HANDS AND DISINFECT YOUR HANDS REGULARLY
The government advices people to wash your hands at least 20 seconds and as often as you can. Furthermore, you should disinfect your hands if you touch something that somebody might have touched before you.

10: KEEP CALM
The last advice the government has given is to stay calm. The situation will only get worse, if everybody is freaking out. Take a breath and relax, go for a walk in the forest or watch a movie to think about something else. If everybody is taking the virus  seriously and listens to the advices, the situation will get normal as soon as possible.

Source: Robert-Koch Institue (Berlin, Germany): https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/nCoV.html

Channel 4 News: https://www.channel4.com/news/uk-coronavirus-hospital-deaths-rise-by-563-in-a-day-as-government-urged-to-increase-testing

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Everything you need to know about Covid-19

As the UK declares a lockdown in an attempt to combat the coronavirus pandemic, here is everything you need to know about the virus and how to stay safe in these unprecedented times.

What is a coronavirus? 

According to the World Health Organisation, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which have the ability to cause illness in both animals and humans. In humans it has been known to cause mild illnesses such as colds. However, coronaviruses have also been responsible for causing a number of dangerous respiratory conditions including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the most recently discovered Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

What makes COVID-19 different? 

The new strain of coronavirus is highly infectious and can be dangerous. Though it manifests itself in similar ways to MERS and SARS, the fact that this strain of the virus has never been seen before makes it a complicated one to treat. According to scientists in China, COVID-19 has developed into two separate strains, making developing a vaccine more complicated.

What are the symptoms?

Major symptoms of coronavirus disease include a fever, a dry cough and extreme fatigue. Other patients have reported feeling aches and pains, nasal congestion and a sore throat, however these symptoms are less common. Symptoms of coronavirus usually begin mild and develop gradually.

It is important to note, however, that it is entirely possible to become infected with this disease without showing symptoms or feeling unwell.

Image result for coronavirus symptoms

 

How can I prevent myself from catching or spreading it?

WHO now recommends that extensive measures are taken in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

These include:

  • Regularly and thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if hand washing facilities are not available.
  • Maintain at least 2-metres (6 feet) distance between yourself and other people. This is now known as social distancing.
  • Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
  • Making sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene.
  • Staying at home unless absolutely necessary. The UK government have now ordered citizens to stay indoors unless they are labelled as key workers who need to work, leaving the house to exercise, or to shop for essentials for yourself or someone you are caring for.

Image result for how to prevent coronavirus

How did it start?

Though it is not yet confirmed how the virus broke out, the animal source of the virus has been linked to bats. Evidence also points to a “wet market” in Wuhan, China being the source of the outbreak. It is thought that the poor hygiene standards and the process of live animals being kept and butchered on site contributed to the risk of viruses transmitting to other animals. The busy nature of these markets also made it easier for the virus to be transmitted to a human.

#StayHome campaign

 

The amount of time the pandemic will continue for, and how much worse it will get is currently unknown. Officials recommend keeping an eye on the World Health Organisation and Public Health England, as well as reliable news sources for regular updates on how to protect yourself and those around you.

The most important message right now is follow the government rules and stay at home unless absolutely necessary.

Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.

Chloe Rose

Students struggle with university moving online amid Coronavirus outbreak and here is how

As a result of the Coronavirus rapidly spreading and impacting the education system, thousands of institutions in the country have shut their doors, and schools have officially cancelled GCSE, AS and A level exams and awarded students with mock examination results and previous coursework grades instead.

However, this is not the case for most university students, as instead of having their exams and coursework cancelled, several universities have adapted to still deliver their content online so that students can finish the semester from home during the lockdown and receive their final grades.

Most universities within the UK are carrying out lectures and seminars via an online classroom within the university’s corresponding system software and assisting students’ queries via emails. Some universities are also offering students one-to-one scheduled Skype tutorials.

“I just want everything to be back to normal. I certainly didn’t sign up to pay nine grand a year to be taught online” – Miriam Croitoru, student at the University of Bournemouth

Several students from universities across the country give their views on how they feel about attending class from their own homes and how they remain efficient whilst going through quarantine.

Emmanuel Dario, Maths and Economics Foundation student at Brunel University London, Miriam Croitoru, Journalism second-year student at the University of Bournemouth, and Ella Frankcom, Computer Network Security first-year student at the University of Westminster express how working from home isn’t ideal.

They explain how distractions around them won’t allow them to get on with their work as they normally would when they were able to be within a student environment, and how not having direct face-to-face interaction with lecturers is also making it more difficult despite universities’ efforts to make classes online as viable as possible.

Hassan Ubaide, an undergraduate Medicine student at Kings College London says how although his university cancelling placements have enabled him to focus more on his exam revision, he also finds it harder to study from home.

“My university has cancelled all physical teaching and placements and has resorted to online teaching. I quite like that I don’t have to go placements, as I can focus more on exam revision. I use my old notes to study now and watch YouTube videos”

“Although, I find it harder to study at home as it’s easier to become complacent. I upturn my bed when I wake up to force myself to study and put it back to normal at night.”

office-work-1149087_1280

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

COVID-19 has also affected how many final year students will complete their degrees, as the rapid spread has caused the facilities of certain universities to be shut down, leaving many students in the dark and unable to access essential material to help with dissertations and final year projects.

Due to the pandemic leading to lockdown, some third-year students seem to be finding it very difficult to get their final projects done and being forced to find alternatives and working their way around completing their practical work, leaving some struggling to create a good portfolio.

“I’m kind of stuck in the mud. I can’t really do much, everything is up in the air” – Adam Kudur, student at the University of Westminster, London

Adam Kudur, a third-year Contemporary Media Practice student at the University of Westminster, expresses how the lockdown has deeply affected his final year project due to it consisting of a live show event, presenting visual and audio experiences which would have taken place at a club but which he had to cancel due to the circumstances of the pandemic.

“I’m kind of stuck in the mud. I can’t really do much, everything is up in the air as we also just got announced that there will be a lockdown in the UK, so stricter measures are being made and it looks like it’s just getting worse. It has affected everything and my projects and portfolio have suffered.”

“My final project was meant to be my golden ticket to the industry, which was meant to be me hosting my own event and putting on a really good production of visuals and music but I won’t even be able to make that happen properly.”

“For example, for my final project, I wanted to use the green screen room and even that was taken away. So now I’m going to have to buy a green screen with my own money, and even if I buy the equipment I need, I’m going to have to get people from different areas to come to wherever I can set up the green screen and try to film it which I don’t think will be possible anyway.”

“We are very understanding to the issues students face in accessing experts, contacts, and restrictions on doing any fieldwork or filming outside.” – Anastasia Denisova, professor and Journalism course leader at the University of Westminster

Despite the difficulty for many students to complete their work during the lockdown, some universities have informed that they will be lenient with their marking considering the circumstances, which should help some students feel more at ease.

Anastasia Denisova, professor and Journalism course leader at the University of Westminster expresses how it is important for content to still be delivered despite the pandemic so that students are able to complete the modules they have been working on for the previous weeks of the semester. She also tells WNOL how university staff is being understanding with current issues students are facing due to the pandemic.

“It is an unprecedented time for everyone, and people in all jobs and roles find it hard to concentrate and adapt to the new routine. It is important to follow the rhythm of the academic year so that students can complete the assessments that they have been learning hard for and apply the skills they have achieved in the previous 9 weeks before the lockdown and the ones they learn now, under new provisions.”

university online

Image from PublicDomainPictures.net

“Cancelling all coursework could have resulted in a psychological bummer – as people would have struggled with the interruption of the structure of the semester and not getting the sense of achievement – hence we decided to proceed with online provision and offer plenty of online support, including Skype tutorials and interactive classes.”

“We are very understanding to the issues students face in accessing experts, contacts, and restrictions on doing any fieldwork or filming outside – hence we have eased the requirements for original material and interviews, research methodology, we ask students to reflect in the supporting documents to their coursework on the difficulties they faced due to the pandemic, and we will be much more lenient in marking. Students can also apply for an extension to the deadline if they have been affected by self-isolation.”

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