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Researchers develop replaceable, more efficient filter for N95 masks

The novel disinfection process uses vaporised hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a chemical compound that’s a combination of hydrogen and water.

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Dubai, May 22 : Since the outbreak of Covid-19, there’s been a worldwide shortage of face masks — particularly, the N95 ones, now researchers have developed a membrane that can be attached to a regular N95 mask and replaced when needed.

The filter has a smaller pore size than normal N95 masks, potentially blocking more virus particles, the researcher from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, said. According to the study, published in the journal ACS Nano, N95 masks filter about 85 per cent of particles smaller than 300 nm.

SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) is in the size range of 65-125 nm, so some virus particles could slip through these coverings. Also, because of shortages, many health care workers have had to wear the same N95 mask repeatedly, even though they are intended for single use. To help overcome these problems, the research team wanted to develop a membrane that more efficiently filters particles the size of SARS-CoV-2 and could be replaced on an N95 mask after every use.

To make the membrane, the researchers first developed a silicon-based, porous template using lithography and chemical etching. They placed the template over a polyimide film and used a process called reactive ion etching to make pores in the membrane, with sizes ranging from 5-55 nm. Then, they peeled off the membrane, which could be attached to an N95 mask.

To ensure that the nanoporous membrane was breathable, the researchers measured the airflow rate through the pores. They found that for pores tinier than 60 nm (in other words, smaller than SARS-CoV-2), the pores needed to be placed a maximum of 330 nm from each other to achieve good breathability.

The hydrophobic membrane also cleans itself because droplets slide off it, preventing the pores from getting clogged with viruses and other particles, according to the study. Another study, published last month in Journal of American College of Surgeons, revealed that US surgeons created a new process to disinfect disposable N95 respirator masks that allow health care workers to reuse their own masks for up to 20 times.

The novel disinfection process uses vaporised hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a chemical compound that’s a combination of hydrogen and water.

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Disaster

Delay in reporting Covid deaths: AIIMS, RML, Lok Nayak served notice

While Delhi has reported only 73 deaths till May 10, the Covid toll on Sunday has reached 473 — after hospitals started reporting the pending deaths.

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New Delhi, May 31 : Weeks after warning all the hospitals here of strict action on delay in reporting coronavirus fatalities, the Delhi government has served a show cause notice to AIIMS, Lok Nayak, RML and Safdarjung Hospitals to explain the reasons for delay in reporting the deaths.

The Delhi Health Department on Sunday said memorandums have also been issued to Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital to explain the reasons for delay in reporting death cases.

“Show cause notices have been issued to AIIMS Hospital, Lok Nayak Hospital, RML Hospital, and Safdarjung Hospital to explain the reasons for delay in reporting death cases in violation of the directions issued by the Health Department of Delhi as well as by DDMA under the Disaster Management Act,” the Health Department said.

Also, it said, an advisory have been issued to Lok Nayak Hospital to “be careful in future and follow the orders and guidelines issued by the department in true letter and spirit” so that there is no anomaly in the deaths being reported by the government.

While Lok Nayak Hospital is a Delhi government hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Safdarjung Hospital are under the Central government.

On May 10, accepting that public and private hospitals in the city were not reporting the Covid-19 deaths in a timely and regular manner, the Delhi government, after much criticism from the opposition, warned all the hospitals of strict action on delay in reporting of coronavirus deaths and ask the healthcare facilities to submit the death report, even nil, by 5 p.m. daily.

Along with the order, Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev on May 10, also issued the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) as per which every Covid hospital and health facility will have to report all death cases of Covid-19 positive patients by email to the District Surveillance Unit and also to the State Surveillance unit of IDSP Cell of Delhi Government by 5 p.m. every day.

The order warned that non-compliance will be viewed seriously and strict action as per the relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 as well as other relevant laws will be taken against the defaulters without any further notice.

While Delhi has reported only 73 deaths till May 10, the Covid toll on Sunday has reached 473 — after hospitals started reporting the pending deaths. The Health report said that the cumulative death figures refer to fatalities where the primary cause of death was found to be the infection, as per the report of the Death Audit Committee on the basis of case sheets received from various hospitals.

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Disaster

US sends 2 million doses of unproven COVID-19 drug to Brazil: White House

The White House announced on Sunday that the U.S. has sent 2 million doses of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to Brazil, and that 1,000 ventilators will soon be delivered as well as the South American country becomes the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The White House says the U.S. has sent 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to Brazil, and that 1,000 ventilators will soon be delivered as well.

This comes even as some countries have banned the use of the drug for COVID-19 over safety concerns.

  • Brazil reported a record 33,274 new cases on Saturday as its death toll surpassed France’s, ranking fourth in the world behind the U.S., U.K. and Italy.
  • Trump last week suspended entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil within the past 14 days.

Between the lines: Hydroxychloroquine has become a point of heated political debate in President Trump’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, as he first touted the drug as a potential “game-changer” and said he was taking it himself as a preventative.

  • But a large study in The Lancet found an increased risk of heart problems and death among coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine, prompting France to ban use of the drug and the World Health Organization to temporarily suspend a trial.
  • Anthony Fauci told CNN last week that the scientific data “is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy” of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.

What they’re saying: The White House said in a statement that the drug will “be used as a prophylactic to help defend Brazil’s nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals agains the virus.”

  • “It will also be used as a therapeutic to treat Brazilians who become infected,” the statement adds.
  • “With [Trump] and President Jair Bolsonaro having spoken twice since March, the two countries are well-positioned to continue their work together to address the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to other matters of strategic importance.”
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Health

Harsh Vardhan bats for total ban on tobacco, its products

This year’s World No Tobacco Day campaign focuses on protecting children and young people from exploitation by the tobacco and related industry.

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New Delhi, May 31 : Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on the World Tobacco Day on Sunday said the battle against tobacco was a personal fight for him and he wanted total ban on it and its products.

“The battle against tobacco is a personal fight for me. As an ENT surgeon, I’ve been first-hand witness to how it destroys not just the user, but the entire family. I am a votary for a complete ban on tobacco and its products on the World No Tobacco Day to nip the evil in the bud,” he tweeted.

According to the World Health Organisation, every year the tobacco industry spends over $9 billion to advertise its products. Increasingly, it’s targeting youth with nicotine and tobacco products to replace the 8 million people that its products kill every year.

This year’s World No Tobacco Day campaign focuses on protecting children and young people from exploitation by the tobacco and related industry.

The WHO said even during the global pandemic, the tobacco and nicotine industry persisted by pushing products that limited people’s ability to fight coronavirus and recover from the disease.

The industry offered free branded masks and doorstep delivery during quarantine and lobbied for their products to be listed as ‘essential’. Over 40 million young people, aged 13-15 years, had started to use tobacco, it added.

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