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COVID-19 pandemic policies overlooked long-term needs of children

COVID-19 pandemic policies overlooked long-term needs of children

RESEARCHERS from South Africa, the UK, and Brazil recently conducted a study on the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people, particularly those from disadvantaged households. Their research highlights that the pandemic has deepened existing inequalities, with children and young people’s voices and needs not being considered in policy decisions. The study conducted by researchers from the University of the Free State (UFS) and the University of Fort Hare in South Africa; the University College London, the University of Birmingham, and Nottingham Trent University in the UK; and the University of São Paulo in Brazil, found that pandemic policy…
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African aviation industry soars towards full post-pandemic recovery

African aviation industry soars towards full post-pandemic recovery

THE skies are clearing for the African aviation industry, following the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), which reported a narrowing of the airline revenue gap in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period last year. AFRAA is a 48-member African airline trade association aiming to promote, serve airlines, and champion Africa’s aviation industry. African airlines reported a surge in traffic in March, with levels reaching an impressive 94.8% of pre-pandemic levels. A statement by AFRAA said that “domestic market share was at 37%, intra-Africa at 31%, and intercontinental at 32%.”…
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FAQ on COVID-19 subvariant XBB.1.5: What is it? Where is it prevalent? How does it differ from Omicron? Does it cause serious illness? How can I protect myself? Why is it nicknamed ‘Kraken’?

FAQ on COVID-19 subvariant XBB.1.5: What is it? Where is it prevalent? How does it differ from Omicron? Does it cause serious illness? How can I protect myself? Why is it nicknamed ‘Kraken’?

Despite intensive public health efforts to grind the COVID-19 pandemic to a halt, the recent emergence of the highly transmissible, extensively drug-resistant and profoundly immune system-evading XBB.1.5 SARS-CoV-2 subvariant is putting the global community on edge. Author SAMEER ELSAYED, Professor of Medicine, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, and Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Western University What is XBB.1.5? In the naming convention for SARS-CoV-2 lineages, the prefix “X” denotes a pedigree that arose through genetic recombination between two or more subvariants. The XBB lineage emerged following the natural co-infection of a human host with two Omicron subvariants, namely BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75. It was…
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Mobile phones can enable learning during school disruptions. Here’s how

Mobile phones can enable learning during school disruptions. Here’s how

THE COVID-19 pandemic placed enormous pressure on education systems worldwide. At the peak of the crisis, school closures forced over 1.6 billion learners out of classrooms. This exacerbated a learning crisis that existed before the pandemic, with many children in school but learning very little. Widespread school closures are not unique to COVID-19. Teacher strikes, natural disasters, other disease outbreaks and extreme weather conditions all result in lengthy school closures. The cost of school closures has proved to be substantial, in particular for lower socioeconomic status households. When schools are closed, remote learning is rarely as effective as in-school instruction,…
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Women have always trailed men in research output: how COVID made the situation worse

Women have always trailed men in research output: how COVID made the situation worse

THE under-representation of women in research is well documented. Emerging evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this inequality and disrupted the research enterprise globally. But none of these studies, mainly from the global north, provide detailed explanations for the scale of this decline. Our research offers the first comprehensive study to shed light on the complex reasons for the decline in research during the pandemic-enforced lockdown. Authors CYRILL WALTERS, Research fellow, Stellenbosch University ARMAND BAM, Head of Social Impact and Senior Lecturer, Business School, Stellenbosch University PATRIZIO PIRAINO, Economist, University of Notre Dame We surveyed 2,029 women academics…
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South Africa is proposing plans to manage diseases like COVID. Why they’re flawed

South Africa is proposing plans to manage diseases like COVID. Why they’re flawed

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the South African government published “special regulations” to contain the spread of the disease. These actions were taken under special powers granted by the Disaster Management Act. In April 2022, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an end to the crisis management mode the country had been in for two years. Now processes are underway to embed some of the special regulations into the country’s general health regulations related to notifiable medical conditions. Authors IGNATIUS MICHAEL VILJOEN, PhD Candidate Cell and Gene Therapy Regulation. Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Pretoria…
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South Africa’s COVID relief measures mostly excluded refugees: a neglect of duty

South Africa’s COVID relief measures mostly excluded refugees: a neglect of duty

THE early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa saw the government impose a lockdown in a bid to save lives. It introduced several interventions to cushion the impact of the crisis caused by the shutdown of economic activities on citizens. Among the measures were food aid as well as unemployment and debt relief. Refugees and asylum seekers expected similar protection. Their expectations flowed from the fact that the South African government has a responsibility to protect them according to the Refugees Act 130 of 1998. Author CALLIXTE KAVURO, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Public Law, Stellenbosch University The act…
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How young Nigerians’ distrust of political leaders fuels COVID misinformation

How young Nigerians’ distrust of political leaders fuels COVID misinformation

EVER since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global public health emergency in January 2020, there’s been a need for studies that help explain what people understand by public health messages. Author OLUTOBI AKINGBADE, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (CANRAD), Nelson Mandela University Research into the nuances of communication is especially important when conspiracy theories and misleading rumours about the pandemic are in circulation. Misinformation can be dangerous. Early in the pandemic, it appeared that younger people (in their teens, 20s and 30s) had a low risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 or severe…
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How African countries coordinated the response to COVID-19: lessons for public health

How African countries coordinated the response to COVID-19: lessons for public health

THE COVID-19 pandemic spread much slower on the African continent than in the rest of the world, contrary to predictions. As of 20 July 2022, a total of 562,672,324 COVID-19 confirmed cases and 6,367,793 deaths had been recorded globally. Only 1.63% (9,176,657) of the global cases and 2.73% (173,888) of global deaths recorded were from the African continent – which has around 17% of the world’s population. Multiple reasons for the slower spread have been put forward. One was that the continent’s population is relatively young and younger people were at lower risk of severe illness in the event of…
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The COVID lab leak theory is dead. Here’s how we know the virus came from a Wuhan market

The COVID lab leak theory is dead. Here’s how we know the virus came from a Wuhan market

MY colleagues and I published the most detailed studies of the earliest events in the COVID-19 pandemic last month in the journal Science. Together, these papers paint a coherent evidence-based picture of what took place in the city of Wuhan during the latter part of 2019. The take-home message is the COVID pandemic probably did begin where the first cases were detected – at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. At the same time this lays to rest the idea that the virus escaped from a laboratory. Author EDWARD C HOLMES, ARC Australian Laureate Fellow and Professor, University of Sydney Huanan…
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