Survival rate doubles for premature babies in U.K.
Doctors had previously been recommended to only attempt to save premature babies after 23 weeks; however, new data shows that babies born earlier can be saved, and the overall rate for premature survival has doubled as medical technology improves.
According to the British Association of Perinatal Medicine, while it’s still likely that those born before 22 weeks will pass away, experts believe that at least one-third of children born at 23 weeks may now be savable, and, thus, doctors should at least attempt to administer life-saving treatment.
There are now two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Canada and many Canadians are wondering if they should adopt the practice wearing a face mask for the purpose of prevention.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams said in a press conference this afternoon that the Ministry of Health has “never recommended” face masks. Williams acknowledged that while other cultures practice the use of face masks, it would not benefit Canadians to use them according to The Star.
He added that one is better off to avoid putting their hands near their face than the use of face masks. Williams also recommended taking standard fly protocols to protect yourself from the coronavirus.
Face masks quickly and easily become dirty from lack of washing stated Williams, making them even more habitable for germs inside the mask, rather than what could be on the other side.
The couple who were diagnosed with coronavirus were already wearing face masks on the plane returning from China, Williams revealed. As was the person who drove the couple to their private residence.
Currently, facemasks are flying off the shelves in Toronto regardless, although Williams recommends that the simplest way to avoid the spread of coronavirus is to wash your hands, avoid touching your face and limit travel.
Public health officials said that they are looking into the passengers that were seated within a “certain distance” of the two passengers now confirmed to be infected.
All other passengers are advised to continue about their “regular business” unless they begin to experience and kind of change in their respiratory symptoms.
While the coronavirus is currently not a public health emergency, as per the World Health Organization, it’s not impossible that a novel disease could get out of hand in a hurry. I’m writing this article because, amidst all the coverage of the Wuhan virus which has quarantined 35 million and counting, I watched Contagion, thus spooking me out tenfold.
Contagion, a 2011 movie starring Matt Damon about an unknown virus that starts in China thanks to bat droppings and creeps its infected hands across the globe, paints a horrifying picture of what can happen when scientists aren’t able to keep up with a disease. (An eerily similar situation to what’s going on now, though fairly easy to predict granted China’s history with diseases.)
And while we are still nowhere close to pandemic levels, it’s still important to know what to do in a situation where the virus has landed in your country and is potentially making its way through your neighbourhood.
Before delving in, though, I want to say: do not panic, this is a hypothetical article about a very specific scenario—one that humanity has gotten pretty good at curbing. With that said: here are 10 steps you should take to minimize your chances of contracting a novel virus if things were to get that bad.
*Note, I am NOT a medical professional. These suggestions are a collection of several health websites throughout the web.
1. Protective masks
In some densely populated Asian countries, it’s not uncommon to see citizens wearing white medical masks on their faces, and in the videos circulating online of Wuhan, you’ll be quick to see just about everyone wearing one. This is because protective masks, while not fool-proof, can decrease your chances of breathing in air-borne projectiles through coughs or sneezes—if applied properly.
Professor of molecular Jonathan Bell at the University of Nottingham has said: “In one well-controlled study in a hospital setting, the face mask was as good at preventing influenza infection as a purpose-made respirator.” So strap up!
2. Washing your hands/avoid touching your face
One of the best things anyone can do to stop the spread of diseases is thoroughly washing your hands with soap and warm water. In times of real strife, it’s advised by the CDC that you wash your hands.:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
While that may seem obsessive, take this as an example: “In developing countries, childhood mortality rates related to respiratory and diarrheal diseases can be reduced by introducing simple behavioural changes, such as handwashing with soap. This simple action can reduce the rate of mortality from these diseases by almost 50 percent.”
All of this is hand-in-hand with not touching your face. The average person touches their face 23 times an hour. Avoid scratching or rubbing your face or nose with your hands, unless recently washed.
3. Avoid public transportation
Public transportation is a notorious playground for bacteria and diseases to make their way.
The combination of hoards of people, all tightly packed in tubes and all touching the same handles and doors is not ideal when avoiding an illness. But, there are a few steps you can take to make the ride a bit easier on you:
- Don’t feel the need to be polite. Don’t sit next to anyone sick. If someone that you suspect is sick sits next to you, move. There’s no need to take a risk
- Take a “seat check” before sitting down. Obviously, avoid visibly dirty seats.
- Again, the golden rule: wash your hands immediately after getting off the bus. Especially if you touched any straps, poles, belts, or other surfaces.
- Hand sanitizer aplenty, if you don’t have any way to wash your hands.
4. Glove etiquette
Gloves, though they do need to be changed fairly frequently, are a highly effective way to avoid bodily fluids. Saliva, the main culprit, can be spread easily via coughs and sneezes into hands, and then on to public transport. This is why the sleeve sneeze, or the “vampire sneeze,” is another great method to avoid getting others ill.
Other, more obvious bodily fluids to avoid include blood, vomit, urine, and feces, which all pose a higher risk of cross-contamination.
Pro tip: Avoid wearing gloves while preparing food. While this may seem like a good idea, it may actually make the odds of cross-contamination more likely. This is why many professional kitchens will opt for frequent washing rather than gloves.
5. “Extra steps”
The little things go a long way, whether it’s precautions or bacteria. There are several little things that can make a big difference, including alcohol wipes for cell phone screens. Cell phones are an often overlooked way of spreading bacteria. Avoid voice calls on your cell phone unless you’ve got a way to disinfect your screen first.
Other things you can do if you’re particularly vigilant are avoiding the handling of cash, and not allowing others to handle your debit card.
These suggested steps are still a bit further ahead in the future than the state we are currently in with coronavirus, and let’s hope we don’t ever need them. The last few notable public health crises’, (Ebola, Zika, H1N1) did do significant damage in given regions, but were all eventually contained and are all no longer considered public health risks and are now at what is considered “normal” levels.
WestJet has announced that it will forge a new connection route between the United Kingdom and Atlantic Canada. In a recent press release the airline unveiled that they will be offering a new non-stop service from Halifax, N.S. to Manchester U.K. as early as June 5, 2020. WestJet will conduct more than 300 departures from Halifax to London and Glasgow this summer as well.
The Manchester Airport is the global gateway into the north of England and has easy access from the airport to the historic city centre. It’s a city that has a rich industrial heritage and an excellent culture for tourists to enjoy. With so many coming to explore the football, restaurants and pubs, the area vibrant with visitors. In addition to that WestJet will now be offering 16 more destinations to choose from out of Manchester on one of Europe’s largest regional carriers–Virgin Connect.
“WestJet is continuing to invest in our Atlantic gateway, connecting Nova Scotia to the world and the world to Nova Scotia in new ways,” said WestJet Chief Stategy Officer, Charles Duncan. “The U.K. is Nova Scotia’s largest in-bound tourism market and our newest investment connects the province to new sources of tourists.”
WestJet’s seasonal service from Halifax (YHZ) to Manchester Airport (MAN) will be operating four times per week on the airline’s Boeing 737-700 and the flight times are scheduled for optimal connectivity. WestJet has been serving Halifax since 2003 and the activity has grown substantially, up in growth by 300 percent since its inception. It now has 16 cities from this location with about 60 flights passing through the city daily.
“WestJet’s addition of another European connection strengthens the Atlantic Gateway and will help grow our economy. It will lead to more trade and investment opportunities, as well as help attract more students, immigrants, and visitors to Nova Scotia and the entire Atlantic region,” said Premier Stephen McNeil.
WestJet has also partnered with Discover Halifax as well as Halifax International Airport Authority on its Stopover Halifax Program. The idea behind this program is have arriving or connecting passengers experience more of the city by booking it as a stopover from seven hours to seven days at no extra cost.
Those in the aviation world seem to agree that it’s the right move.
“It’s great to start 2020 with the news that WestJet will be commencing direct services to Manchester Airport from Halifax,” said Julian Carr, Manchester Airport, Aviation Director. “We are delighted to have another North American route in our portfolio, giving our 29.5 million annual passengers more choice and connectivity to get across the Atlantic and beyond. Not only will this route provide the North of England direct access to a great city like Halifax, but the service will also open a host of other Canadian cities which we don’t currently serve. It’s another clear indication of the role we play in connecting the northern powerhouse to key international hubs.”
“We’re thrilled to add Manchester to a growing list of European cities connected by non-stop service at Halifax Stanfield,” said Joyce Carter, President & CEO, Halifax International Airport Authority. “WestJet continues to be a great partner who supports the development of our East Coast Hub, providing more choice to our passengers. We look forward to welcoming the first visitors on this new service later this year with our unique Maritime hospitality.”
“I applaud WestJet for opening new routes through Halifax to the United Kingdom,” said Kody Blois, Member of Parliament, Kings-Hants. “This new seasonal service will help draw additional tourists to the province and further drive economic growth in the region. Stanfield International Airport itself is a major employer in our local community that will directly benefit from this significant investment by the airline.
“This exciting new direct flight to Manchester will further open the Halifax skies to tourists, businesses and more than a few soccer fans,” said Mike Savage, Mayor of Halifax Regional Municipality. “Whatever their ultimate travel destination, we welcome visitors arriving from Manchester to take full advantage of their time in Halifax and Nova Scotia.”
“We are thrilled with the addition of the new route from Halifax to Manchester which will make it even easier for travellers to explore the North of England and beyond,” said Paul Gauger, Senior Vice President The Americas, VisitBritain, the national tourism agency for Britain. “We hope that the new flights, along with our message of welcome and great value, inspires even more visitors from Canada to book a trip to Britain right now.”
A new study from Western University and Queens University suggests that marijuana use while pregnant may very well affect the baby’s growth.
The study, published Friday, finds a direct link between marijuana and low birth weight in babies.
Scientists say that it’s the THC in marijuana that causes stunted fetal growth and lower birth weights of up to eight percent. Researchers used rat models as well as human placental cells, wherein they gave daily marijuana use that they found led to up to a 20 percent decrease in brain and liver growth.
“Over the last decade, cannabis use has progressively increased in pregnant women, in part due to the perception that its usage poses no risk in perinatal life,” the study reads.
The study is the first of its kind that “definitively support” claims that THC can have a negative impact on fetal growth.
“This study is important to support clinicians in communicating the very real risks associated with cannabis use during pregnancy,” co-author David Natale told CTV.
Scientists concede that not all is understood still, stating that there were certain mechanisms that still needed vast amounts of research. The study was able to determine that THC stunts the proper function of the placenta, which could affect oxygen flow, nutritional flow, and blood flow.