September 2020

How social distancing during a pandemic affects the elderly in rural South Africa


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Socializing is essential for brain health in the elderly in rural South Africa—has lockdown affected their cognitive function?

A Wits study found that older people with cognitive impairment reported smaller social networks and less frequent communication with others.

Cognition refers to processes of the brain that allows us to learn, remember and make decisions.

The findings are particularly relevant as 1 October marks the United Nations International Day of Older Persons.

“South Africa is emerging from arguably one of the strictest lockdown responses to the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. We know that COVID-19, the disease that

Alcohol consumption rises sharply during pandemic shutdown


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American adults have sharply increased their consumption of alcohol during the shutdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, with women increasing their heavy drinking episodes (four or more drinks within a couple of hours) by 41{58e281ace639831ddb6d8687333e7c2b02e87c7c548a0119c43312a5ff3c7894}, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

A found that the overall frequency of increased by 14{58e281ace639831ddb6d8687333e7c2b02e87c7c548a0119c43312a5ff3c7894} among adults over age 30, compared to the same time last year. The increase was 19{58e281ace639831ddb6d8687333e7c2b02e87c7c548a0119c43312a5ff3c7894} among all adults aged 30 to 59, 17{58e281ace639831ddb6d8687333e7c2b02e87c7c548a0119c43312a5ff3c7894} among women and 10{58e281ace639831ddb6d8687333e7c2b02e87c7c548a0119c43312a5ff3c7894} among for non-Hispanic White adults.

The results are published as a

Regular COVID-19 testing for groups most likely to spread the virus more efficient, cost-effective than random testing


Regular COVID-19 testing for groups most likely to spread the virus more efficient, cost-effective than random testing. Credit: Shutterstock

As COVID-19 infections begin to rise again, a novel testing strategy proposed by researchers at the University of Oxford at the start of the pandemic has become urgent once again.

The strategy aims to bring the virus’s reproduction number (R) down to below 1, by concentrating testing resources on particular groups in the population that are most likely to spread the infection to others, rather than testing the general population at random.

“Governments around the world are looking for a

Coronavirus could overwhelm France, top doctor warns


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France will face a months-long coronavirus epidemic that will overwhelm its health system if something does not change, one of the country’s top medical figures warned Sunday.

“The is arriving faster than we thought,” Patrick Bouet, head of the National Council of the Order of Doctors, told the weekly Journal du Dimanche.

Fresh restrictions to slow the spread of the disease in the country’s worst-hit areas, including the Mediterranean city of Marseille and the Paris region, have run into local resistance.

Bouet told the paper that warnings delivered this week by Health Minister

WHO warns 2 million virus deaths possible, Australia urges vaccine-sharing


Coronavirus. Credit: European Centers for Disease Control

Coronavirus deaths could more than double to two million without collective action against the pandemic, the World Health Organization has warned, as Australia’s prime minister urged any nation that develops a vaccine to share it with the world.

The number of cases worldwide has soared past 32 million, with deaths approaching one million, the devastated, and major cultural and disrupted.

But despite the pandemic showing no signs of slowing, Japan’s new Yoshihide Suga struck a defiant note Friday, saying his country was determined to hold the

COVID-19 spreads faster in American jails than on cruise ships


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The deadly new coronavirus is spreading faster in America’s jails and prisons than it did on the Princess Diamond cruise ship or at the pandemic’s outbreak in Wuhan, China, according to a new study co-authored by Stanford Engineering researchers.

The research, detailed on Sept. 9 in the journal Annals of Epidemiology, is based on day-by-day data from a large urban and highlights the health risk that correctional institutions pose during the current crisis—not just to inmates and staff but also to surrounding communities.

We spoke to two of the Stanford co-authors about the