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World No Tobacco Day: Ways to use this lockdown as a catalyst to quit smoking

The global observance of World No Tobacco Day on May 31 presents an opportunity to raise awareness around smoking risks, and to work with smokers to find effective strategies for quitting.

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World No Tobacco Day

New Delhi, May 31 : Tobacco kills more than 1 million people each year in India, according to the World Health Organisation. While no organ is immune to the destructive effects of cigarette smoke, it has one of the worst impacts on lungs.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of respiratory problems for vulnerable populations has increased significantly, leaving smokers more exposed to negative health outcomes. The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s recent Covid-19 State of Smoking Poll surveyed tobacco and nicotine users in countries that quickly imposed strong policies or guidance urging residents to remain at home. The poll evaluated the mental and physical toll of social distancing on smokers globally, many of whom have increased their tobacco intake as a way to cope with pandemic stress.

The survey found that 48 percent of combustible tobacco smokers in India believe that smoking increases the risk of either contracting COVID-19 or becoming seriously ill from it. It also revealed significant concerns about the safety of families, job security, and economic opportunity. These mental and physical stresses are particularly harmful for smokers, who often use tobacco to relieve anxiety.

On the other hand, it is possible that the global crisis will awaken a new commitment to healthy living among those who are motivated to change. 66 percent of Indian smokers surveyed reported that they had considered quitting for health concerns amid the COVID-19 crisis, and 63 percent responded they had actually made a quit attempt. Yet, there still exist many smokers who intend to quit but are uncertain about the best way to do so.

The global observance of World No Tobacco Day on May 31 presents an opportunity to raise awareness around smoking risks, and to work with smokers to find effective strategies for quitting.

Dr. Sree T. Sucharitha, MD Fellow in HIV Medicine and Professor in a private medical college in Chennai, and Medical Director of Association for Harm Reduction Education and Research (AHRER), outlines four practices smokers should adopt during COVID-19 to manage their stress and anxiety in a healthy way.

Fitness and Exercise

We all know that exercise is important in our daily lives, but under the current circumstances, this habit may require extra motivation, as activity is often restricted to the home. During the COVID-19 crisis, tobacco and nicotine users in India have proven more likely than those in other countries to increase their use of healthy coping mechanisms (physical exercise, 64 percent; breathing exercises, 58 percent; meditation, 58 percent; yoga, 55 percent), as per The Foundation’s poll. Practicing mindfulness exercises such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises with guided instructions from experts as in digital apps and videos will help in building core emotional resilience and also may strengthen immunity.

Healthy Diet

A healthy balanced diet, which gives the body the essential vitamins and dietary fibers for better metabolism, is crucial during the pandemic. Proper food habits must be maintained by following a diet plan that includes not only recommended consumption of calories, but also: fruits, vegetables, proteins and dairy products. A healthy diet will ensure that our tissues and cells get proper nutrition to function smoothly. Without proper nutrition, the body is more prone to infectious diseases due to poor immunity.

Take a break, get sleep, and rest

We want to control every aspect of our lives and stay updated on the latest developments, but in situations like these we must learn to accept some lack of control. People should take scheduled breaks and mentally disconnect from the overwhelming news and social media updates about the pandemic. Activities such as playing board games, solving puzzles, or playing with children and pet animals will help you to revitalize for the days ahead. Adequate rest and sleep for 6-8 hours will help minimize the effect of the pandemic on mental wellness.

Connect with people

Humans are indeed social animals. During trying times of uncertainty and fear, it is therefore very important to stay connected with others. Isolation and fear can negatively affect mental health, which can lead to severe anxiety or depression. As per the Foundation’s poll, close to 36 percent of Indian tobacco and nicotine users stated that social distancing has had an adverse effect on their mental health. While a majority of respondents normally turned to tobacco or nicotine products to manage stress (58 percent), 46 percent of respondents have decreased their use during social distancing. Mental health experts have suggested that reducing stress about the lockdowns, spending quality time with family, and indulging in creative activities can help you overcome feelings of depression and vulnerability during this crisis.

(Puja Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])

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Researchers design reusable silicone rubber face mask with N95 filter

“We also wanted to maximise the reusability of the system, and we wanted systems that could be sterilized in many different ways,” Traverso added.

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N-95 mask

New York, July 11 : In fight against novel coronavirus, the researchers have developed a reusable silicone rubber face mask with an N95 filter, which they believe could stop viral particles.

According to the study, published in the British Medical Journal Open, the new masks were designed to be easily sterilized and used many times.

The new mask is made of durable silicone rubber and can be manufactured using injection moulding, which is widely used in factories around the world. It requires much less N95 material than a traditional N95 mask.

“One of the key things we recognized early on was that in order to help meet the demand, we needed to really restrict ourselves to methods that could scale,” said study researcher Giovanni Traverso from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

“We also wanted to maximise the reusability of the system, and we wanted systems that could be sterilized in many different ways,” Traverso added.

The researchers decide on silicone rubber — the material that goes into silicone baking sheets, among other products — because it is so durable.

Liquid silicone rubber can be easily moulded into any shape using injection moulding, a highly automated process that generates products rapidly. The masks are based on the shape of the 3M 1860 style of N95 masks, the type normally used at Brigham and Women”s Hospital.

The researchers tested several different sterilization methods on the silicone masks, including running them through an autoclave (steam sterilizer), putting them in an oven, and soaking them in bleach and in isopropyl alcohol.

They found that after sterilization, the silicone material was undamaged.To test the comfort and fit of the masks, the researchers recruited about 20 health care workers from the emergency department and an oncology clinic at Brigham and Women”s Hospital.

All 20 participants passed the fit test, and they reported that they were able to successfully insert and remove the N95 filter. When asked their preference between the new mask, a typical N95 mask, and a standard surgical mask, most either said they had no preference or preferred the new silicone mask, the researchers said.

They also gave the new mask high ratings for fit and breathability.The researchers are now working on a second version of the mask, which they hope to make more comfortable and durable. They also plan to do additional lab tests measuring the masks” ability to filter viral particles.

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Remdesivir linked to reduced death risk in severe Covid-19 patients

The mortality rate for patients treated with remdesivir in the analysis was 7.6 per cent at Day 14 compared with 12.5 per cent among patients not taking remdesivir.

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remdesivir antiviral drug

New York, July 11 : New data revealed by Gilead Sciences has shown that its antiviral drug remdesivir reduces death risk of severe Covid-19 patients by as much as 62 per cent when compared with standard care alone.

This is an important finding that requires confirmation in prospective clinical trials, Gilead said on Friday about the results presented at the virtual COVID-19 conference as part of the 23rd International AIDS Conference.

The analysis included 312 patients treated in the Phase-3 SIMPLE-Severe study and a separate real-world retrospective cohort of 818 patients with similar baseline characteristics and disease severity who received standard of care treatment in the same time period as the SIMPLE-Severe study.

Patients were primarily located in North America (92 per cent, remdesivir cohort vs. 91 per cent, standard-of-care cohort), Europe (5 per cent vs. 7 per cent) and Asia (3 per cent vs. 2 per cent).

The analysis demonstrated that remdesivir treatment was associated with significantly improved clinical recovery and a 62 percent reduction in the risk of mortality compared to standard of care.

Findings from the comparative analysis showed that 74.4 per cent of remdesivir-treated patients recovered by Day 14 versus 59 per cent of patients receiving standard of care.

The mortality rate for patients treated with remdesivir in the analysis was 7.6 per cent at Day 14 compared with 12.5 per cent among patients not taking remdesivir.

“This comparative analysis provides valuable additional information regarding the benefit of remdesivir compared with standard of care alone,” Susan Olender of Columbia University Irving Medical Center said in a statement.

“While not as vigorous as a randomized controlled trial, this analysis importantly draws from a real-world setting and serves as an important adjunct to clinical trial data, adding to our collective understanding of this virus and reflecting the extraordinary pace of the ongoing pandemic.”

The results of this comparative analysis add to the previously presented National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in hospitalized patients with COVID-19, which showed that remdesivir shortened time to recovery by an average of four days as compared to placebo — 11 vs. 15 days.

In the NIAID study, patients taking remdesivir trended toward lower mortality compared with those in the placebo group, but this result did not reach statistical significance –7.1 percent vs. 11.9 per cent.

Due to the current public health emergency, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for remdesivir for the treatment of hospitalised patients with severe Covid-19.

“These data presented at the Virtual COVID-19 Conference shed additional light on the use of remdesivir in specific patient populations, including those that may be susceptible to higher rates of COVID-19 infection, as well as others that are particularly vulnerable, including children and pregnant and postpartum women,” said Merdad Parsey, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer, Gilead Sciences.

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PM Modi directs for real-time monitoring of COVID-19 situation

The review meeting was attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and other senior officials.

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PM Modi in All Party Meeting

New Delhi, July 11 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday directed for real- time monitoring of novel coronavirus pandemic at the national level, stressing on guidance to all affected states that have a high test-positivity rate.

The Prime Minister gave the direction during a COVID-19 review meeting he chaired to take stock of the coronavirus situation across the country and the preparedness of different states.

The meeting comes at a time when India recorded its highest single-day spike of 27,114 new coronavirus cases on Saturday and 519 deaths in the last 24 hours. A total of 8,20,916 corona patients have been reported so far in the country, as per the latest Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data. Of these, 5,15,385 patients have recovered while 2,83,407 active cases remain. In all, 22,123 deaths have been reported till now.

Appreciating the concerted efforts of the Centre, state and local authorities in containing the pandemic in Delhi, Modi directed that a similar approach be adopted in cooperation with other state governments in containing the pandemic in the National Capital Region (NCR) area.

The Prime Minister also reiterated the need to observe personal hygiene and social discipline in public places. He advised for widespread awareness on Covid-19 and asked authorities to lay continuous emphasis on preventing the spread of the infections.

“There is no room for any complacency in this regard,” the Prime Minister said.

The successful example of surveillance and home-based care through ”Dhanvantri Rath” in Ahmedabad was highlighted in the meeting and its emulation in other places stressed.

The review meeting was attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and other senior officials.

The Prime Minister specifically focussed on worst-hit states like Maharashtra, which tops the coronavirus infections” chart with 2,38,461 cases and 9,893 casualties so far. Tamil Nadu remained the second worst-hit with 1,30,261 cases, including 1,829 deaths. With 2,089 new coronavirus cases and 42 deaths in the last 24 hours, the national capital”s total reached 1,09,140 and 3,300 deaths.

States with more than 10,000 cases include Gujarat with 40,069 cases and 2,022 deaths, Uttar Pradesh (33,700), Rajasthan (23,174), Madhya Pradesh (16,657), West Bengal (27,109), Haryana (19,934), Karnataka (33,418), Andhra Pradesh (25,422), Telangana (32,224), Assam (14,600) and Bihar (14,575) cases.

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