Every Monday we’ll answer your questions on Covid-19 and health in a feature published online. You can submit a question here. This week, HuffPost UK reader Jo asked: As Covid-19 spreads through water droplets, how can swimming pools possibly be safe?Swimming pools are back open in parts of the UK – but some people are sceptical of whether it’s safe to use them. So, what’s the deal?During the peak of the virus, no cases were reported of Covid-19 spreading in swimming pools or through water. But that doesn’t mean it’s without risks. “The risk is not from the SARS-CoV-2 virus surviving and transmitting through the water per se,” says Dr Julian Tang, associate professor in respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester. “The water itself, with the standard bleach or other detergent-based disinfectants, will be effective in killing this virus – it is lipid-enveloped and fragile.”The risk really occurs above the water, he says, from swimmers chatting at the end of their lanes when they’re within typical conversational distances of 0.5m to 1m. This is because the main route the virus spreads is in droplets propelled into the air when a person speaks, coughs, sings, sneezes or laughs.Submit a coronavirus health question to HuffPost UK.Professor Vincenzo Romano Spica is an expert in public health from the University of Rome and one of the lead authors of a paper on swimming pool safety during Covid-19. He tells HuffPost UK he believes it’s safe to go swimming – and he would feel comfortable going swimming himself, in Italy, where he lives.Chlorinated pools are considered safest, as they’re maintained and regularly disinfected, which can help to deactivate the virus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests “swimming in a well-maintained, properly chlorinated pool is safe”.That said, there are some other key risk factors to think about first. Are cases in your area rising?A key thing to consider before reaching for your goggles is how many people in your local area (or the area where you plan to swim) have Covid-19.In places where cases are rising and lockdowns are being enforced, swimming pools would be more risky to visit than areas where there are a handful of cases. You can find out how many cases are in your local area.In Italy and other European countries where incidence is low, Prof Romano Spica believes it’s safe to swim. But in parts of the USA, India and other areas where outbreaks are emerging or present, it’s a no-go.Related...
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How busy is the pool?WHO recommends people avoid crowded swimming pools and keep at least one metre away from people who sneeze or cough. Among epidemiologists, two metres is still considered to be the optimum distance. Crowding and personal distancing are key factors, more than water, says Prof Romano Spica, so the emptier the pool is, the better. Under UK government guidance, leisure facilities should ensure an appropriate number of people are allowed in the swimming pool at any one time.How close are you to other swimmers?“It’s possible that exposure may occur in adjacent lanes if swimmers are too close together,” says Dr Tang. He offers the example of an infected swimmer coming to the surface and exhaling strongly before taking their next breath, just as another swimmer comes the other way and passes them, inhaling strongly before their next stroke. There would be potential to breathe in the virus.“But the frequency of this type of encounter would be rare,” he points out, “and if the lanes are wider and each swimmer stays within the middle of their lane, this reduces the transmission risk further as this is effectively a form of social distancing.”Related...
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What is the pool used for?Find out what the pool is used for before you decide to visit. If, for instance, the pool is used for exercise and sport, there’s likely to be greater physical distancing (as there’ll hopefully be lanes in place) and not as many people using it. It’s also less likely there’ll be bodily fluids knocking around than, say, a pool on holiday. But on the other hand, pools that form part of residential complexes or are aimed at allowing people of different ages to sunbathe, refresh, play and socialise, can often result in overcrowded conditions, which would pose more of a risk. There’s also more of a chance that people will be shouting and laughing – both of which can spread the virus to people nearby.Indoor vs outdoor pools – which is best?HuffPost UK reader Brian asked whether it’s safe to go swimming in indoor pools. In the UK it’s deemed safe to swim in indoor pools, which opened at the end of July. But outdoor pools are considered safer.“Outdoor pools have the advantage of sunlight and wind to destroy the virus and/or blow it away before it reaches the other person,” says Dr Tang. Dr Tang adds that swimming indoors (or outdoors) wouldn’t be high risk if the lanes are wider, with only one swimmer per lane; and if swimmers don’t talk to each other at the end of their lanes, or before entering or after leaving the pool. He concludes: “Being antisocial is being safe!”If you’re worried about transmission in an indoor setting, arrive in your swimming gear, so you don’t have to use changing rooms, and take your own equipment/aids. This is advised by Swim England. Use hand sanitiser before entering and when leaving the pool, too. To protect others, in the event that you might be asymptomatic, you could consider wearing a face cover when you’re not using the pool.If you feel nervous about returning, phone your leisure centre beforehand to see what practices they have in place to keep people safe. You could also ask what the least busy times are to visit, for peace of mind. Related...
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We’re here to guide you through the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up to the Life newsletter for daily tips, advice, how-tos and escapism.There are at least 10 risk factors that may have a significant impact on someone’s likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s and these could be targeted with preventative steps, new research suggests.Focusing on these factors, which include cognitive activity, high body mass index in late life, depression, diabetes and high blood pressure, could provide doctors with evidence-based guidelines for preventing Alzheimer’s, researchers say. Around 850,000 people in the UK are affected by dementia – around two thirds with Alzheimer’s disease – and the condition is a leading cause of death. Experts are predicting rising case numbers as the population ages, but recent research suggests the number of cases appears to be reducing, perhaps due to lifestyle changes, better education and risk reduction strategies to prevent or delay dementia.Related...
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For the latest study, an international team of researchers led by Professor Jin-Tai Yu at Fudan University in China, reviewed and analysed current evidence to produce evidence-based suggestions on Alzheimer’s disease prevention.The researchers gathered 395 studies for their analysis. From this, they proposed 21 suggestions, based on the evidence, that could be used in practice by clinicians to try to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.Ten of these suggestions were backed by strong evidence as being risk factors – and therefore effective targets to help prevent the disease, they said.These were: education, cognitive activity, high body mass index in later life, hyperhomocysteinaemia [a medical condition characterised by a a high level of homocysteine in the blood], depression, stress, diabetes, head trauma, hypertension in midlife and orthostatic hypotension, which is a form of low blood pressure that happens when you stand up from sitting. A further nine suggestions had slightly weaker evidence to support them. They included regular exercise, getting enough good quality sleep, maintaining a healthy weight and good heart health in later life, avoiding smoking, and including vitamin C in the diet.The authors pointed to some study limitations, such as the fact that studies cannot indicate a clear causal relationship. And, they said, the suggestions might be limited by geographic variability, definition of exposure and prevalence of risk factors at population level.The authors concluded, in the study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, that further observational research and trials are “urgently needed” to strengthen the evidence base for uncovering more promising approaches to preventing Alzheimer’s disease.Related...
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Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now.Boris Johnson is set to announce an extra £3bn for the NHS to protect against a second wave of coronavirus this winter.Downing Street said the funding is intended to afford extra hospital capacity, while allowing routine treatments and procedures to continue, and prevent the health service being over-whelmed.The prime minister will also use a press conference on Friday to commit to a new target of reaching the capacity for 500,000 coronavirus tests a day by November.The funding for the NHS in England will allow private hospital capacity to be used and for Nightingale hospitals to be maintained until the end of March.The announcement comes in the wake of a dire warning of the consequences of Covid-19 rebounding as a report commissioned by the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, warned there could be 120,000 hospital deaths in a “reasonable worst-case scenario”.Winter always places a great strain on the health service, but there are concerns a resurgence of the virus during the annual flu season could be crippling.A Downing Street spokesman said: “Thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of the British people, the virus is under control and we have eased restrictions in a cautious, phased way.“But the prime minister is clear that now is not the time for complacency, and we must make sure our NHS is battle ready for winter.“Tomorrow, he will set out a broad package of measures to protect against both a possible second wave, and to ease winter pressures and keep the public safe.”The spokesman said the immediate funding for England was new and not previously allocated, while expenditure will be set out for the devolved nations in due course.Johnson is also expected to publish an additional chapter to the government’s “road map” for recovery from the crisis.NHS Providers, which represents NHS organisations, welcomed the financial support to prepare with the “triple whammy of pressures” from winter, a possible second surge and trying to recover from the strain of the pandemic so far.But deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery called for “urgent clarity” over what the funding will cover, saying funding is already in place for the Nightingale hospitals and private beds.“Trusts need more than that. They have got to recover the lost ground of the last four or five months and put measures in place to manage the additional activity that always happens in winter,” she added.“Sadly what we do know won’t be included is social care.“Social care across the country is in a critical condition and the Government has still failed to commit to providing the sector with the funding it needs to be fully sustainable.”Earlier this week Johnson was warned in the report by the Academy of Medical Sciences that action must be taken now to mitigate the potential for a second peak, including scaling up the Test and Trace system.The research said capacity for 350,000 tests per day will be needed to test individuals as they show symptoms of either Covid-19 or flu.The latest government figures say capacity stood at nearly 338,000, but Johnson will commit to increase this to half a million by the end of October to bolster Test and Trace.Health secretary Matt Hancock has already announced plans for the “biggest flu vaccination programme in history”, with eligibility for free injections likely to be extended.Non-urgent operations were suspended to free up hospital beds as the UK was plunged into a lockdown during the first wave.But Downing Street says the new plans to be announced by the PM will allow them to go ahead where possible as ministers target efforts on local lockdowns.Hancock announced a partial easing of the prolonged lockdown measures in Leicester, but said Covid-19 rates in the city remained too high to allow pubs and restaurants to reopen.But Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby accused the government of penalising businesses and residents in a city that predominantly votes Labour.It is not yet clear what the PM’s update to the “road map” will be, but he is eager to get employees back to their workplaces if they are safe.The official government advice is still “work from home if you can”, but Johnson has said people should be talking to their bosses about “looking to come back to work in a safe way”.But Sir Patrick, his top scientific adviser, showed some resistance to the change on Thursday, saying working from home remained a “perfectly good option” and there was “absolutely no reason” to change the advice.Related...
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At mid-morning Wednesday in the U.S., Outlook stopped working. Dead in its tracks. Both the Click-to-Run version of Office (er, Microsoft) 365 and the installed (MSI) version of Outlook refused to start:
Today when I went to check my email, Outlook would not open; it would load the “Starting Outlook…” splash screen, which would close without opening the Outlook window itself, and the taskbar icon went away. Looking in Reliability History, it states that Outlook has crashed.To read this article in full, please click here
TLDR: Dashlane Password Manager is one of the web’s most hailed, feature-rich password security services — and right now, it’s half off. We all know reviews of apps and online services can get pretty catty sometimes. Always sticklers for nuance, tech writers can be mighty unkind when a new app or the latest version of an old favorite drops and doesn’t quite measure up to a reviewer’s expectations. In that venom-rich climate, it’s also particularly noteworthy when a service bucks that trend and strings together superlative-laden review after review. Because if tech writers really hate what they hate, they also… This story continues at The Next Web
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In just more than a week, Black Friday will arrive on the heels of Thanksgiving -- much like Santa in Harold Square -- with a big of the years' best deals on electronics, media and games.To clue you in on the coming sales, most retailers release their holiday ads early.Yes, it's a transparent ploy, but one we wholly endorse -- it gives us time to find the best deals and advise you early.Once again, the deals are top notch, with outlets like Walmart, Best Buy, Newegg, GameStop and Target cutting their prices.To make things easier for you, we've compiled the ads together, here.Some of the deals may not have taken effect yet, but it's helpful to be able to check them out now.