“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love”.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
“Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.”
“That best portion of a man’s life, his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.”
Today’s poetry is about kindness. Searching through social media and the internet every day, I have come across episodes of great kindness and compassion from individuals, organisations and communities. This pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in people and I want to dedicate todays poems to all those out there who have displayed wonderful acts of kindness and compassion (often unknown to their colleagues and friends).
In an article in Psychology Today, the author Karyn Hall describes kindness as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Affection, gentleness, warmth, concern, and care are words that are associated with kindness. While kindness has a connotation of meaning someone is naive or weak, that is not the case. Being kind often requires courage and strength” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pieces-mind/201712/the-importance-kindness)
Being kind to others can also have an impact on our own health and wellbeing.
Kindness can also be synonymous with good patient centred family medicine and as author suggested being kind often requires courage, strength and fortitude, especially in these difficult and frightening times.
I hope that you will enjoy these 6 poems that explore the essence of kindness.
William Wordsworth (1770 –1850) was an English Romantic poet who helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature.
He often wrote about the plight of the poor, as did other leading Romantic poets such as Percy Shelley. In ‘Alice Fell’, Wordsworth tells the story of a little orphan, ‘fatherless and motherless” He is dramatizing the idea that poverty is one of the main reasons for misery in the British Romanticism era. Those last few words tend to truly make an impact, because it is usually at the end of each verse that a reader thinks about what they just read.
Alice Fell or Poverty
THE post-boy drove with fierce career,
For threatening clouds the moon had drowned;
When, as we hurried on, my ear
Was smitten with a startling sound.
As if the wind blew many ways,
I heard the sound,-and more and more;
It seemed to follow with the chaise,
And still I heard it as before.
At length I to the boy called out;
He stopped his horses at the word,
But neither cry, nor voice, nor shout,
Nor aught else like it, could be heard.
The boy then smacked his whip, and fast
The horses scampered through the rain;
But, hearing soon upon the blast
The cry, I bade him halt again.
Forthwith alighting on the ground,
‘Whence comes,’ said I, ‘this piteous moan?’
And there a little Girl I found,
Sitting behind the chaise, alone.
‘My cloak!’ no other word she spake,
But loud and bitterly she wept,
As if her innocent heart would break;
And down from off her seat she leapt.
‘What ails you, child?’-she sobbed ‘Look here!’
I saw it in the wheel entangled,
A weather-beaten rag as e’er
From any garden scare-crow dangled.
There, twisted between nave and spoke,
It hung, nor could at once be freed;
But our joint pains unloosed the cloak,
A miserable rag indeed!
‘And whither are you going, child,
To-night alone these lonesome ways?’
‘To Durham,’ answered she, half wild-
‘Then come with me into the chaise.’
Insensible to all relief
Sat the poor girl, and forth did send
Sob after sob, as if her grief
Could never, never have an end.
‘My child, in Durham do you dwell?’
She checked herself in her distress,
And said, ‘My name is Alice Fell;
I’m fatherless and motherless.
‘And I to Durham, Sir, belong.’
Again, as if the thought would choke
Her very heart, her grief grew strong;
And all was for her tattered cloak!
The chaise drove on; our journey’s end
Was nigh; and, sitting by my side,
As if she had lost her only friend
She wept, nor would be pacified.
Up to the tavern-door we post;
Of Alice and her grief I told;
And I gave money to the host,
To buy a new cloak for the old.
‘And let it be of duffil grey,
As warm a cloak as man can sell!’
Proud creature was she the next day,
The little orphan, Alice Fell!
Listen to the poem
I can’t find much about Peter Burn (born 1831). He was born in Brampton, Cumberland and was influenced by the works of Sir Walter Scott who had less than a year to live on the day that Peter Burn was born. He was aware of the phenomenal success of Scott’s “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border” He wrote about the border with Scotland from the English side in his own border ballad book
Show kindness to others!
Treat all men as brothers,
Whatever their station, whatever betide;
All envy disdaining,
A failing discerning,
Seek not to uncover, but rather to hide.
Speak kindly to other,
And wealth shall be yours,
The magic of story still lives in kind words;
Let them be spoken,
And hearts will fly open—
Kind words are ever more mighty than swords.
Whenever I am looking for themed poems, the American Poet Emily Dickenson comes to mind. Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830 –1886) was an American poet who was born in
Amherst, Massachusetts, into a prominent family with strong ties to its community. As I have said before, she lived a solitary life, shunning most human contact. Her poems are short, often untitled and known by their first lines.
If I can stop one heart from breaking
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Watch the animated Video
Adelaide Anne Procter
Adelaide Anne Procter (1825-64) was an English poet and philanthropist. She worked prominently on behalf of unemployed women and the homeless and was actively involved with feminist groups and journals. Procter never married. She became unhealthy, possibly due to her charity work, and died of tuberculosis at the age of 38.
Procter’s literary career began when she was a teenager; her poems were primarily published in Charles Dickens‘s periodicals Household Words and All the Year Round and later published in book form. Her charity work and her conversion to Roman Catholicism appear to have strongly influenced her poetry, which deals most commonly with such subjects as homelessness, poverty, and fallen women.
Procter was the favourite poet of Queen Victoria. Her poetry went through numerous editions in the 19th century; Coventry Patmore called her the most popular poet of the day, after Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Her poems were set to music and made into hymns, and were published in the United States and Germany as well as in England. Nonetheless, by the early 20th century her reputation had diminished, and few modern critics have given her work attention. Those who have, however, argue that Procter’s work is significant, in part for what it reveals about how Victorian women expressed otherwise
Sowing and Reaping
Sow with a generous hand;
Pause not for toil and pain;
Weary not through the heat of summer,
Weary not through the cold spring rain;
But wait till the autumn comes
For the sheaves of golden grain.
Scatter the seed, and fear not,
A table will be spread;
What matter if you are too weary
To eat your hard-earned bread;
Sow, while the earth is broken,
For the hungry must be fed.
Sow;—while the seeds are lying
In the warm earth’s bosom deep,
And your warm tears fall upon it—
They will stir in their quiet sleep,
And the green blades rise the quicker,
Perchance, for the tears you weep.
Then sow;—for the hours are fleeting,
And the seed must fall to-day;
And care not what hand shall reap it,
Or if you shall have passed away
Before the waving cornfields
Shall gladden the sunny day.
Sow;—and look onward, upward,
Where the starry light appears,—
Where, in spite of the coward’s doubting,
Or your own heart’s trembling fears,
You shall reap in joy the harvest
You have sown to-day in tears.
Sylvia Plath (1932 -1963)
Sylvia Plath (1932 -1963) was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. She is best known for two of her published collections, The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel, as well as The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death. In 1982, she won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for The Collected Poems. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Plath studied at Smith College in Massachusetts and at Newnham College in Cambridge, England. She married fellow poet Ted Hughes in 1956, and they lived together in the United States and then in England. They had two children before separating in 1962.
Personifying kindness as a woman – indeed, a lady, Dame Kindness
This poem offers a bleak view of the world which is unsurprising as it was written just weeks before Plath’s suicide lends it extra poignancy. It portrays kindness as benign but ineffectual
Kindness glides about my house.
Dame Kindness, she is so nice!
The blue and red jewels of her rings smoke
In the windows, the mirrors
Are filling with smiles.
What is so real as the cry of a child?
A rabbit’s cry may be wilder
But it has no soul.
Sugar can cure everything, so Kindness says.
Sugar is a necessary fluid,
Its crystals a little poultice.
O kindness, kindness
Sweetly picking up pieces!
My Japanese silks, desperate butterflies,
May be pinned any minute, anesthetized.
And here you come, with a cup of tea
Wreathed in steam.
The blood jet is poetry,
There is no stopping it.
You hand me two children, two roses.
Kind Hearts is a simple poem written by the prolific English poet Anonymous
Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the blossoms,
Kind deeds are the fruits;
Love is the sweet sunshine
That warms into life,
For only in darkness
Grow hatred and strife.
- Lesotho: Family Medicine Speciality Training Programme Newsletter: FMSTP work during Covid-19
The Family Medicine Specialty Training Program (FMSTP) has been adjusting to the “new normal” of life with COVID-19. All of the registrars have been busy making sure their hospitals and clinics are prepared for the pandemic. Many registrars have taken leadership roles in such preparations, and in doing so put the Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC), public health, leadership, and management skills learned in the FMSTP to good use.
In order to avoid moving registrars away from their facilities during COVID-19, the FMSTP had its first full-time virtual contact session in May. The week-long session went very well considering that many of the registrars live in remote areas with limited internet access. Sessions included information about COVID-19 as well as Pediatric lectures from Family Medicine doctors in Grand Junction, CO, USA. The success of this online education demonstrates the FMSTP’s ability to be flexible and innovative in order to meet the needs of the registrars.
The FMSTP faculty have also been involved in writing the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) COVID-19 Clinical Guidelines and facilitating five MOH organised COVID-19 trainings for healthcare providers in Berea, Maseru, Mokhotlong, and Thaba Tseka Districts.
- Vietnam: VOA News: Rural-to-Urban Transition May Explain Viral Outbreaks: Vietnam Study
Vietnam has a possible lesson for the world as the global community copes with the COVID-19 emergency — monitor the places where odds of an outbreak are highest. Research indicates these are not the most urban or the most rural areas, but rather those that are in transition.
Scholars from the East-West Center in Hawaii based this assessment on a review of Vietnam’s response to an avian flu outbreak in 2003. In researching that outbreak, the scholars found that infection rates were highest in areas that were in the process of urbanization, and thus had a mix of conditions, such as different rates of toilet access and diverse bird populations near national highways.
Thus, governments may have higher odds of detecting a viral outbreak early and efficiently if they monitor such urbanizing areas, say James Spencer, Sumeet Saksena and Jefferson Fox, all senior Fellows at the Center, which is a nonprofit organization for research and education.
- Cambodia: VOA News: Cambodia Rural Clinics Adopt Travel-based COVID-19 Test Strategy
The Samraung Health Center in the Bati district of Takeo province is tucked behind an Acleda Bank branch and opposite the local school.
Sitting alone in one of the rooms, Yeu Chhengly is busy on his phone. He runs the health center where to be tested for COVID-19, a person with symptoms must also have a travel history suggesting the likelihood of exposure to the highly contagious and potentially deadly virus believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, late last year.
This approach is being applied to the nearly 90,000 Cambodian migrant workers who have returned from Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia since March to celebrate the three-day Cambodian New Year that began April 14 or to avoid COVID-19 travel restrictions.
All of these workers were placed in isolation at home, with the Ministry of Health reporting that only 410 returnees were tested for the virus, all returning negative. Unlike many other countries, Cambodia has enough test kits to last until September, according to officials who anticipate availability will increase as global production ramps up.
- India: ABC News: Asia Today: 4th-worst-hit India sees rural virus cases soar
India’s coronavirus caseload has risen to 425,282 as infections soar in rural areas to which migrant workers fleeing major cities have returned in recent weeks
India’s coronavirus caseload has risen to 425,282 as infections soar in rural areas to which migrant workers fleeing major cities have returned in recent weeks.
India’s health ministry on Monday reported 14,821 new cases and about 300 new deaths, bring the toll of fatalities up to more than 13,000. The coastal state of Goa reported its first COVID-19 death.
India is the fourth most-affected country globally after the United States, Brazil and Russia.
India’s government planning body Niti Aayog says infections have now emerged in 98 out of 112 of the country’s poorest districts.
The Indian government ran special trains to bring thousands of migrant workers back to their ancestral villages in recent weeks.
- International: Brookings: Developing countries can respond to COVID-19 in ways that are swift, at scale, and successful
The COVID-19 crisis presents the world with a huge challenge: Everyone and everything is affected, and the response has to be both quick and global. While it is first and foremost a health crisis, it is also an education crisis, an employment and economic crisis, a crisis of hunger and a poverty and, in some countries, a crisis of governance and political stability. According to World Bank estimates, the global impacts will be profound and long-lasting. For developing countries with much larger populations at risk, fewer resources, and less capacity, the pressure to develop innovative approaches, test them quickly, and deliver them at scale is especially great.
In mid-April 2020, we issued a call to participants of the Community of Practice on Scaling Up Development Outcomes (CoP) requesting contributions to a special newsletter dedicated to the challenges and implications for international development of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a cross-sectoral and diverse CoP with one objective: understanding the operational and policy requirements for effective scaling development impact in middle- and low-income countries. With over 600 participants from over 250 organizations, and with active working groups on agriculture and rural development, health, nutrition, education, youth employment, social enterprises, monitoring and evaluation, and scaling in fragile states, we thought it was especially well-positioned to help developing countries engineer an effective response to the health, economic, and social impacts of the coronavirus.
- Namibia: Fitch Solutions: Namibia Healthcare System Well Positioned To Tackle Covid-19
Namibia continues to recover quickly from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Young and rural population demographics may alleviate some impact.
The government is implementing fiscal measures to stimulate the economy.
- India: WSWS: India rapidly emerging as epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic in Asia
The total number of coronavirus cases in India is fast approaching half a million as infection rates continue to accelerate. New infections set yet another daily record yesterday, with 16,857 cases recorded, bringing the total to over 472,000.
The rapid, largely uncontrolled spread of the pandemic is the result of the criminal negligence of India’s Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As coronavirus cases exploded in recent weeks, Modi has overseen the phasing out of virtually all lockdown measures and assured big business that no second such shutdown will occur. Like its counterparts around the world, India’s ruling elite has embraced a policy of “herd immunity” that threatens to cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives.
Total cases in India have more than doubled within less than three weeks as a result. Close to 250,000 new infections have been recorded since June 5, when the total case count stood at 226,000. The latest 100,000 cases have been recorded in just the past eight days.
Even according to the government’s highly under-reported death count, 14,907 people have now lost their lives, nearly triple the number (5,608) on June 1. However, this is an insignificant number for Modi and his advisors. One of the government’s top scientific experts has blithely declared that the policy of reopening the economy could well cost 2 million lives. In spite of this horrific prospect, no serious criticism of the Modi government’s reckless course has been forthcoming from the opposition parties, which are implementing the homicidal back-to-work policy wherever they form the state government, or any faction within the ruling elite.
- Somalia: WHO: COVID-19, locusts, flooding: WHO and triple threat in Somalia
In Somalia, there are some days when the sky suddenly darkens as hundreds of millions of hungry desert locusts descend over the country’s crops.
This year’s locust outbreak is Somalia’s worst in 25 years, threatening the food supply, and prompting the government to declare a national emergency in February. The infestation was exacerbated by heavy floods that have displaced half a million people and created an ideal breeding ground for the locusts.
To that nightmare scenario, add a pandemic. A pandemic in a country already fighting many serious threats, such as terrorist groups who control large parts of rural areas, or the widespread corruption in the country.
Despite these challenges, WHO’s country representative is resolute.
“We can only end this pandemic if we can end it in settings like Somalia,” said Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik.
- International: The Telegraph (UK): The three charts that show how the Covid-19 pandemic is worse now than ever before
Europe may be getting back to normal but across the world, coronavirus is exploding
In the UK, there is a definite sense that we are over the worst of Covid-19.
The sun is shining, lockdown is being eased, and the number of deaths and new cases have dropped significantly from those dark days in spring when we had more than 6,000 new infections daily and more than 1,000 people were dying.
But this view is astonishingly short sighted and nationalistic.
The situation may well be slowly improving at home and even across most of Europe, although there are signs of resurgence in some European countries which have lifted restrictions. But far from retreating, the coronavirus outbreak is actually gathering pace across the globe.
And it wasn’t exactly slow to begin with. The graph below shows how there are now more than 100 times as many cases as there were when things began to spread seriously, at the end of February, just four months ago.
- UK: The Conversation: Coronavirus: why did England ignore an army of existing contact tracers?
The coronavirus contact tracing app for England will not be rolled out until winter, the minister responsible for overseeing it has said. Meanwhile, the NHS Test and Trace system, in which individual contact tracers follow up with people who have been in close proximity to positive cases of COVID-19, has been plagued by difficulties.
The New York Times has reported that despite the UK having had nearly 300,000 cases of the disease and more than 40,000 deaths, some contact tracers have not yet spoken to a single person.
- UK: HSJ: Podcast: HSJ podcast: Running the health service under covid
This week’s HSJ podcast reveals the dilemmas facing those running and working in the NHS as it tries to operate while keeping covid-19 outbreaks under control.
With pubs reopening, why are many NHS services still closed or restricted?
How are healthcare staff spreading covid — and why aren’t all of them being tested to prevent the persistent problem with outbreaks?
What does the virus mean for the need to redesign services?
S ED Podcast
- Unicef: Yemen crisis: What you need to know: Yemen crisis
Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world – and children are being robbed of their futures. What’s happening in Yemen?
Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with more than 24 million people – some 80 per cent of the population – in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 12 million children. Since the conflict escalated in March 2015, the country has become a living hell for the country’s children.
With COVID-19 now spreading rapidly, Yemen is facing an emergency within an emergency. Sanitation and clean water are in short supply. Only half of health facilities are functioning, and many that remain operational lack basic equipment like masks and gloves, let alone oxygen and other essential supplies to treat the coronavirus. Many health workers are receiving no salaries or incentives, and 10.2 million children don’t have access to basic healthcare.
- International: New York Times: A Simple Way to Save Lives as Covid-19 Hits Poorer Nations.
Aid agencies are scrambling to get oxygen equipment to low-income countries where the coronavirus is rapidly spreading.
As the coronavirus pandemic hits more impoverished countries with fragile health care systems, global health authorities are scrambling for supplies of a simple treatment that saves lives: oxygen.
Many patients severely ill with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, require help with breathing at some point. But now the epidemic is spreading rapidly in South Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa, regions of the world where many hospitals are poorly equipped and lack the ventilators, tanks and other equipment necessary to save patients whose lungs are failing.
- CDC: E-cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use–Associated Lung Injury Cases During the COVID-19 Response
In April 2020, during the early coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, eight patients hospitalized with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use–associated lung injury (EVALI) were reported to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Patients resided in five counties and were aged 14–50 years (median = 17 years); seven were aged <21 years. All hospitalizations occurred in April 2020, a median of 4 days (range = 4–13 days) after symptom onset. Four patients were admitted to an intensive care unit; two required mechanical ventilation. Nucleic acid testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was performed on all patients at the time of hospitalization; all tests yielded negative results. Seven patients were tested two or more times, and lower respiratory tract specimens were tested from the intubated and mechanically ventilated patients.
- CDC: CDC updates, expands list of people at risk of severe COVID-19 illness
Based on a detailed review of available evidence to date, CDC has updated and expanded the list of who is at increased risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19.
Older adults and people with underlying medical conditions remain at increased risk for severe illness, but now CDC has further defined age- and condition-related risks.
As more information becomes available, it is clear that a substantial number of Americans are at increased risk of severe illness – highlighting the importance of continuing to follow preventive measures.
“Understanding who is most at risk for severe illness helps people make the best decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield MD. “While we are all at risk for COVID-19, we need to be aware of who is susceptible to severe complications so that we take appropriate measures to protect their health and well-being.”
- CDC: COVID-19 Outbreak Among College Students After a Spring Break Trip to Mexico
What is already known about this topic?: COVID-19 can cause asymptomatic and mild illness, particularly among young, healthy populations.
What is added by this report?: Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during and after a college spring break trip (March 14–19) led to 64 cases, including 60 among 183 vacation travelers, one among 13 household contacts, and three among 35 community contacts. Prompt epidemiologic investigation, with effective contact tracing and cooperation between a university and a public health department, contributed to outbreak control.
What are the implications for public health practice?: A coordinated response with contact tracing and testing of all contacts, including those who are asymptomatic, is important in controlling future COVID-19 outbreaks that might occur as schools and universities consider reopening.
- CDC: Characteristics of Women of Reproductive Age with Laboratory-Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Infection by Pregnancy Status
What is already known about this topic?: Limited information is available about SARS-CoV-2 infection in U.S. pregnant women.
What is added by this report?: Hispanic and non-Hispanic black pregnant women appear to be disproportionately affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy. Among reproductive-age women with SARS-CoV-2 infection, pregnancy was associated with hospitalization and increased risk for intensive care unit admission, and receipt of mechanical ventilation, but not with death.
What are the implications for public health practice?: Pregnant women might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. To reduce severe COVID-19–associated illness, pregnant women should be aware of their potential risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Prevention of COVID-19 should be emphasized for pregnant women and potential barriers to adherence to these measures need to be addressed.
- Australia: The Guardian: Coronavirus Australia: Brendan Murphy expects country’s borders will stay closed until Covid-19 vaccine found – as it happened
Outgoing chief medical officer ‘confident’ a vaccine will be developed, while Tasmania sets date to reopen borders. This blog is now closed
- South Africa: Daily Maverick: Distance, Dose, Dispersion: An experts’ guide on Covid-19 risks in South Africa and how to manage them
Understand the three things that can make the most difference to easing the lockdown and reopening South Africa with the least risk, whether you are using a taxi, socialising, working, working out, or running a shop.
Our lives have been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic and by the lockdown, and further confused by shifting information. You might be wondering about the role of masks, whether to wipe down your groceries, and if the lifting of lockdown means we can all relax now. You might have concerns about how you can safely travel to work, what steps to take as you reopen your business, whether to attend a religious gathering, or what to tell your grandmother about how to stay safe.
It has become clear that some countries in Asia and Europe rapidly contained their epidemics through simple and relatively easy behaviour changes, rather than relying on changes in immunity or prolonged lockdown strategies. Our aim here is to share some basic essentials about how to minimise risk. Nothing is risk-free (for example, we take risks getting into cars, buses or taxis). But we can manage risks, which requires understanding how they intersect and amplify each other. It turns out that with this new coronavirus, open windows, masks and physical distancing are more important than obsessive hand sanitising and temperature taking.
- Africa: ODI 60 Years of Impact: Dealing with Covid-19 in rural Africa: lessons from previous crises
This note summarises insights from a study commissioned by DFID, which examines the lessons that can be drawn from previous crises to inform responses to Covid-19 in rural Africa.
Most of the evidence comes from a review of seven viral health crises: HIV/AIDS; H5N1 (avian influenza); Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS); H1N1 (swine flu); Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Covid-19 in China. Two economic shocks were also considered: the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2007/2008 food price spike.
It addresses two main questions:
What might the consequences be of disease, and responses to it, on agriculture, rural livelihoods, food systems and food security?
What lessons on dealing with those consequences can be drawn from previous crises?
- USA: Sky News: Coronavirus: Texas halts more reopenings as hospitals hit by ‘explosion’ in COVID-19 cases
The state has seen one of the biggest surges in new US infections as the governor says it is facing a “massive outbreak”.
Further phased reopenings of the economy in Texas have been halted as doctors reported an “explosion” in the number of coronavirus patients.
The state, which was among the first to start lifting the lockdown, has seen one of the biggest surges in new US infections, with more than 5,500 new cases on Wednesday.
It is facing a “massive outbreak”, according to governor Greg Abbott, who has urged most residents to stay at home for their safety.
- Africa: ODI 60 Years of Impact: Five ways Covid-19 could affect rural Africa – and what to do about it
Covid-19 is expected to lead to large economic losses in Africa – with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa expecting economies to shrink by 2.6% in 2020. Lockdowns to prevent disease transmission can take a heavy toll on urban economies especially, closing down most services including tourism and much informal activity. The size and duration of this economic loss is uncertain, depending on how the disease develops and the measures taken to control it. Even less clear is how rural areas will be affected.
Drawing on lessons from previous health and economic crises, this blog explores five potential impacts of Covid-19 on agriculture, food systems, food security and rural livelihoods in Africa – and how to counter them.
- Africa: ODI 60 Years of Impact: Webinar Recording: Africa beyond Covid-19
‘What if some African governments are doing a better job than our own of managing the coronavirus?’ (New Yorker, May 2020)
Covid-19 has gripped the world, shaken the multilateral system and caused widespread uncertainty. One thing remains clear, there is no going back and adaptations will need to be made to shift towards a new normal. The key to this will be developing new forms of cooperation between countries and communities around the globe.
Early signs from Africa are that in many countries the response to Covid-19 has been effective – perhaps because they were able learn from how the pandemic unfolded across the world from China to Italy and through Europe. But contrary to commonplace narratives about aiding Africa, recent events highlight opportunities for Europe and elsewhere to learn from Africa. Beyond the immediate response to the pandemic, countries across Africa will face considerable challenges in the recovery, with an urgent need to finance weakened economies and to adapt existing approaches to trade, labour markets and social protection.
- Nigeria: Devex: Opinion: COVID-19 is a game-changer for health financing in Nigeria
In April 2001, heads of governments for member states of the African Union gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, and pledged to devote at least 15% of their annual budgetary allocation to the health sector. This was further reinforced in 2003 with the Maputo declaration.
Devex has tracked and analyzed how much COVID-19 funding goes to a region facing the biggest health emergency since the Ebola outbreak.
Nearly 20 years down the line, while countries like Rwanda, Botswana, and Zambia have been able to meet this target, Nigeria has had its allocation to health care consistently below the continental average of 9.8% since the 2001 agreement; it has been less than 5% of budgetary allocation in the past five years.
- South Africa: Times Live: Nasal oxygen treatment instead of ventilators sees Covid-19 recoveries at hospital in Cape Town
The Western Cape has shifted to using high-flow nasal oxygen treatment on Covid-19 patients after the first six patients placed on ventilators died at Tygerberg hospital in Cape Town.
Head of the provincial department of health Dr Keith Cloete explained the shift in strategy during a virtual press briefing on Thursday.
Ventilators were used as one of the main treatments for critical care Covid-19 patients during the initial phases of the global pandemic, but the experience from Tygerberg hospital prompted a rethink.
Cloete said 114 high care patients at Tygerberg, representing about 70% of high care patients at the hospital, were placed on high-flow nasal oxygen after meeting certain criteria for the treatment. He said that 70% of these people recovered from the disease.
- South Africa: Dispatch Live: Ghost hospital: patients abandoned
One of the Eastern Cape’s most important rural hospitals has become a ghost facility after doctors and nurses walked out on Monday, leaving patients to fend for themselves or rely on managers for treatment.
The decision by most of the health workers at Tafalofefe Hospital in Centane to abandon their stations brought home the reality of an ongoing health crisis fuelled by a stand-off between the health department, and health workers, represented by unions.
It has come at a time when the province can least afford it, with the Eastern Cape second only to the Western Cape in terms of Covid-19 fatalities.
The beleaguered health department has come under fire from unions for not providing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), while a culture of fear is rife among medical personnel who refuse to put their own lives at risk.
- USA: Forbes: Face Masks May Be The Key Determinant Of The Covid-19 Curve, Study Suggests
As states reopen amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many are documenting still-rising levels of new cases. This is partly, or largely, due to bad pandemic-time behavior—that is, not wearing masks and not social-distancing. Even in New York, which has done so well in reducing its numbers, people are getting weary and a little sloppy with protections. A new study out in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that among all the strategies for reducing transmission, wearing face masks may be the central variable that determines the spread of the virus.
“Our analysis reveals that the difference with and without mandated face covering represents the determinant in shaping the trends of the pandemic,” the team, from Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, California Institute of Technology, and the University of California San Diego, write in their new paper.
- USA: The Atlantic: COVID-19 Can Last for Several Months
The disease’s “long-haulers” have endured relentless waves of debilitating symptoms—and disbelief from doctors and friends.
or vonny leclerc, day one was March 16.
Hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson instated stringent social-distancing measures to halt the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, LeClerc, a Glasgow-based journalist, arrived home feeling shivery and flushed. Over the next few days, she developed a cough, chest pain, aching joints, and a prickling sensation on her skin. After a week of bed rest, she started improving. But on day 12, every old symptom returned, amplified and with reinforcements: She spiked an intermittent fever, lost her sense of taste and smell, and struggled to breathe.
When I spoke with LeClerc on day 66, she was still experiencing waves of symptoms. “Before this, I was a fit, healthy 32-year-old,” she said. “Now I’ve been reduced to not being able to stand up in the shower without feeling fatigued. I’ve tried going to the supermarket and I’m in bed for days afterwards. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.” Despite her best efforts, LeClerc has not been able to get a test, but “every doctor I’ve spoken to says there’s no shadow of a doubt that this has been COVID,” she said. Today is day 80.
- CNN: Some of the biggest risk factors in catching Covid-19 are time and place, professor says
The most important factors that affect your risk of getting infected with the coronavirus are the amount of time spent with someone and whether that time is spent inside or out, CNN contributor Erin Bromage told Wolf Blitzer Thursday on The Situation Room.
Asked if a person should hold their breath when they’re walking by someone on the street who is not wearing a mask, Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, answered no.
“I understand people think that that’s a risk, but it’s exposure to the virus, enough of the virus over enough of the time. When you’re walking past somebody, holding your breath is really not going to reduce the risk for you very much at all. Nor does that person present a huge risk to you in the first place,” he said.
As for the risk of catching the virus from a contaminated surface, it’s low but it’s “definitely a possibility.”
- USA: The Conversation: Ready to see your doctor but scared to go? Here are some guidelines
What happens when a pandemic brings in-person visits with your doctor to a grinding halt? While the world grappled with managing COVID-19, millions found routine appointments – for vaccines, pap smears, mammograms, colonoscopies or other chronic disease management – deferred or canceled. Now, as U.S. coronavirus incidence appears to level off and states begin to reopen, many are wondering when they can safely return to their doctor’s office. This is especially important as it pertains to childhood vaccinations, as vaccination rates declined across the U.S. throughout this first surge of the pandemic.
It’s clear that the coronavirus is here to stay, at least for a while. Epidemiologists predict another surge this fall, with more over the next two years. But during that time, people will still need to see their doctors for preventive care. As physicians specializing in family medicine, we can offer some suggestions to make that safer.
- USA: Centre for Optimizing Rural Health: RURAL RESPONSES TO COVID-19
COVID-19 RURAL DIGEST
The emergence of COVID-19 has caused an almost unprecedented amount of change in the framework surrounding rural care. The CORH team is dedicated to providing regular updates on this evolving situation to healthcare leaders across the country.
- Nigeria: Aljazeera: Video: COVID-19 in Africa: Virus spreading from urban to rural areas
Rural areas do not have adequate access to healthcare or awareness of preventive measures.
The World Health Organization is warning of a sudden rapid rise in COVID-19 infections in parts of Africa, raising concerns about how developing nations will cope with the pandemic.
Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reports.
- UK: BBC: Bournemouth beach: ‘Major incident’ as thousands flock to coast
Sun-seekers have been urged to stay away from a beach as thousands flocked to the Dorset coast and a major incident was declared in Bournemouth.
Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council said Bournemouth Beach was “stretched to the absolute hilt” on the second day of a UK heatwave.
Dorset Police said there were reports of gridlocked roads, fights and overnight camping.
People were urged to “act responsibly” as temperatures hit the mid-20s.
- Africa: BMJ Global Health: The relatively young and rural population may limit the spread and severity of COVID-19 in Africa: a modelling study
A novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread to all regions of the world. There is great uncertainty regarding how countries’ characteristics will affect the spread of the epidemic; to date, there are few studies that attempt to predict the spread of the epidemic in African countries. In this paper, we investigate the role of demographic patterns, urbanisation and comorbidities on the possible trajectories of COVID-19 in Ghana, Kenya and Senegal.
- Chad: UN: Town criers, troubadors raise COVID-19 awareness in rural Chad
In Chad, a landlocked country in Central Africa, more than 70 per cent of the population is rural and with limited access to digital information channels. Many of these communities are ‘disconnected’ from radio and cellphone coverage, leaving them out of critical COVID-19 sensitization messages.
To overcome this challenge and strengthen health security at local levels, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Chad recently partnered with local traditional town troubadours to ensure that the most rural communities across the country are informed on COVID-19 transmission and preventive measures.
Over 80 troubadours were identified through IOM networks in eight regions, where IOM already has a presence. They were trained and equipped by IOM with key messages to share with communities in local languages. Town troubadours traditionally move with donkeys, horses or camels from community to community sharing information related to community news.
- Australia: University of Melbourne: HOW COVID-19 MADE ME MORE AUSTRALIAN
For a British immigrant in Australia, watching the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK from afar has brought the issue of national identity into sharp relief
Since immigrating to Australia sixteen years ago and becoming a citizen eight years later – actually becoming Australian in the existential sense escaped me. Only the UK, and London W10 in particular, afforded me that sense of oneness.
- The Global Fund: Global Fund COVID-19 Report: Deaths from HIV, TB and Malaria Could Almost Double in 12 Months Unless Urgent Action is Taken
A new report released by the Global Fund today estimates that countries affected by HIV, tuberculosis and malaria urgently need US$28.5 billion to protect the extraordinary progress achieved in the fight against the three diseases in the past two decades.
The report, Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 on Countries Affected by HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was released today to highlight the impact of COVID-19 and resources needed to protect progress against HIV, TB and malaria – diseases that still kill more than 2.4 million people a year. Since 2002, the Global Fund partnership has helped save more than 32 million lives and cut HIV, TB and malaria deaths by nearly half since the peak of the epidemics. The COVID-19 pandemic now threatens to reverse that progress.
Aside from the direct toll of COVID-19, which could be catastrophic in the most vulnerable countries, estimates suggest deaths from HIV, TB and malaria could as much as double if systems for health are overwhelmed, treatment and prevention programs are disrupted, and resources are diverted.
Thoughts as before are with you all as always, especially those of you working on the front line.
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