Category Archives: News

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.

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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.

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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

Updates to Mental Health services and procedures amidst COVID-19 outbreak

Mental health services are being made available to those that are vulnerable or in isolation. It comes after the Government has set out to make changes to the Mental Health Act. 


The impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on mental health has been recognised as being significant. Anxiety, stress and depression are set to run high amongst the vulnerable and self-isolating. 

The government has set out to ensure that there will be enough psychiatrists to see all incoming patients throughout the outbreak. According to HSJ.co.uk this will involve changing the number of “section 12” approved doctors carrying out the assessments from two to one, freeing up more staff to avoid shortages.  

Other changes have also involved altering the continuation of treatment, whereby doctors will no longer need to seek SOAD approval to continue a patient’s treatment against their will. 

These changes are said to be temporary. More information on the changes to the act can be found on the Rethink.org page.

The latest development in available services to those in isolation is that an organisation has been set up to support people suffering from being on lockdown. 

The Help Hub aims to support those that are currently in isolation and need to talk to qualified therapists. They will offer the option to have a 20 minute chat with a therapist and help people stay calm throughout the outbreak period. 

However, they are yet to be up and running. According to their website, they are due to be active on the 23rd of March 2020. 

Alternatively, organisations such as Mind.org.uk have set up pages dedicated to mental health advice related to the outbreak and isolation periods. Helplines are also available during dedicated hours. 

In addition to this, the NHS have outlined their approach to treating patients with mental health problems, autism and learning disabilities. They have outlined that there are six key areas of focus for these patients; 

  1. Patient engagement – consideration for identification, communication and discharge of the vulnerable groups
  2. Inpatient and community services – managing capacity, help-lines, medication supplies and arranging to stop all non-essential clinics
  3. Workforce – preparing to work with fewer staff working fewer hours and keeping the workplace safe 
  4. Digital – digital approaches to supporting patients and staff (for example telephone appointments)
  5. Legal – working with the Ministry of Justice and the Mental Health Act and dealing with patients who do not comply with treatment
  6. Regulatory – managing regulatory responsibilities

COVID-19 webinars are being held every week by chief executives of mental health trusts and other mental health providers alongside the NHS. 

More information can be found on the NHS website and updates will be announced accordingly. 

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.”

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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.”

UK Coronavirus lockdown: what do you need to know?

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced strict restrictions for the efforts of tackling too frequently occurring Coronavirus cases. Boris Johnson announced the UK lockdown on March 23rd in order to stop virus from spreading.

Restrictions include:

  1. Only shopping for necessities are allowed, excluding any other shops, such as beauty supplies and electronic shops (encouraged to use delivery services where possible);
  2. One form of exercise per day is allowed, such as cycling or running alone or people you live with;
  3. You can only travel for work, but only if you cannot work from home;
  4. You can leave your home to take care of a vulnerable person or if you have to do so because of the medical care needs;
  5. No crowd gatherings, no more meeting friends or being around more than one friend at a time (including weddings, churches).

According to Boris Johnson, if people do not follow the rules police will have the power to address fines and disperse gatherings.

Watch the report:

 

Clothing to have the largest negative footprint

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has found that clothing has the 4th largest environmental impact after housing, transport and food.

With the bi-annual Paris Fashion Week being held on February 24th, 2020, the event reminds about a negative footprint of quick fashion. Studies suggest, that the fashion industry is producing extreme amounts of waste.

Generally, this year’s fashion was heavily focused on sustainability, hoping celebrities would reuse their previously worn dresses and tucks in social events such as BAFTAs and Oscars. None of these requirements were mandatory, yet it was expected that celebrities would follow the green theme. But not many did.

More environmentalists are emphasising the importance of reducing fashion events’ carbon footprint, because fashion industry is criticised for generating too much waste.

According to WRAP, around 1,100,000 tonnes of clothing are purchased every year in the UK. As their Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020 (SCAP) suggests, one of the ways to re-invent or simply extend life of clothes is purchasing items from charity shops.

Find yourself second-hand treasures in our favourite Central London’s charity shops using the map we provided.


How Coronavirus is affecting the homeless

With COVID-19 worsening, this puts in question how homeless people are meant to cope with the situation, as homeless charities face cuts and churches and drop-ins are forced to close their doors.


The Coronavirus pandemic has and continues to spread severely, as according to The Guardian, there are currently over 250,000 cases worldwide and 3,983 confirmed cases in the UK, with people being advised to self-isolate at home and avoid staying out on the streets.

But what happens to those who don’t have a home to self-isolate in?

The pandemic puts forward a new threat to those who don’t have direct access to food, homing and basic sanitation, and therefore places them at a greater risk of potentially contracting the virus.

“The Coronavirus has hit many homeless hard as obviously, they struggle to self-isolate, and even if the government give some homeless people office spaces or hotels to self-isolate, many will still be left on the streets” – Andrew Mcley, worker at Ealing Soup Kitchen

Those who live on the street don’t have the chance to wash their hands for 30 seconds several times throughout the day and they are unable to stockpile on food and hand sanitising gel, like the rest of us privileged ones are.

The Church of England made the decision of shutting down all churches as places of worship last Tuesday evening 17th of March, therefore also affecting the homeless as services are cancelled, and charities running soup kitchens within churches are denied access to the kitchens.

 

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Image from Ealing Soup Kitchen

 

Certain homeless charities including Ealing Soup Kitchen in West London are facing cuts and are currently only able to provide one service a week from four which they were able to provide before.

Andrew Mcleay, a current worker at Ealing Soup Kitchen comments: “the Coronavirus has hit many homeless hard as obviously, they struggle to self-isolate, and even if the government give some homeless people office spaces or hotels to self-isolate, many will still be left on the streets.”

“The devastation of this will lead to many more problems down the line, as many will feel even more isolated and alone as drop-ins and churches are closing around them and even night shelters are forced to close. So they really are on their own. It will mean that some who may not have otherwise may now turn to drugs and alcohol which will lead to an increase in services needing to cater for that.”

Ealing Soup Kitchen would serve around 400 homeless people weekly and with other services shutting down, they are looking into how they would be able to provide somehow else.

The charity’s workers are currently looking into how they will be able to serve the homeless in other ways by doing outreach on the days which they have lost, and find those on the streets to see how they can help them.

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Image from Ealing Soup Kitchen

Similarly, other charities including Brixton Soup Kitchen in South London are also adapting their services to still be able to help the homeless during the coronavirus crisis, making it able for people to pick up food and essentials whilst restricting physical contact.

In a video posted on March the 16th via Twitter, they report how they will be needing more essentials and encourage people to donate, as they are running out due stockpiling leaving supermarkets short of supply.

COVID-19 effect on university students

The recent outbreak of the Coronavirus has led universities across the UK to close. Face to face teaching will no longer be available as of this pandemic.

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

To resolve educational issues, the development of online classes have been made available. Students are asked to follow online classes as if they were in person.

There has been concerns raised due to this recent change, as students from across the globe who attend university in the UK on a sponsored Tier 4 Visa, are either on the verge of finding new housing due to campus evacuation or moving back to their homeland as of the virus. This will be difficult for students abroad due to the time difference.

There are approximately 485,645 international students studying in the UK as of mid-2019.

Higher Education Statistics Agency

It can be certain that the shift from face to face teaching and online has brought attention to not only international students, but also to students who do not have the facilities at home to take part in online lectures.

Students that rely on university facilities such as the computers and the library will find it hard to adapt to the present situation without these resources. It could affect their chances of getting a good grade.

As the end of the semester is approaching and coursework is at its peak, third-year students are on the path to graduate. At present, there is uncertainty of whether or not graduation will take place.

It can be seen that students have taken their thoughts to social media based on the recent pandemic.

Student Tweet on Coronavirus
Virtual Graduation Meme

It is unknown when the pandemic will end. The public are advised to remain inside and in due time the virus will clear.

Amber Meghani

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