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WHO advises face masks to combat new COVID surge

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The World Health Organisation has recommended the use of facemasks by the public in specific situations.

The WHO issued the update given the current spread of COVID-19 globally.

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The agency notes that masks are recommended following recent exposure to COVID-19, when someone has or suspects they have COVID-19, when someone is at high risk of severe COVID-19, and for anyone in a crowded, enclosed, or poorly ventilated space.

This is as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed 42 new cases of the virus in the country in last two weeks.

Since the index case in February 2020, Nigeria has recorded 266,492 COVID-19 cases, including 3,155 deaths. But 259,858 patients were discharged within the period.

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As of 13th January, there have been 661,545,258 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 6,700,519 deaths, reported to WHO.

In a new release by the WHO, it said, “Previously, the WHO recommendations were based on the epidemiological situation.

“Similar to previous recommendations, WHO advises that there are other instances when a mask may be suggested, based on a risk assessment.
Factors to consider include the local epidemiological trends or rising hospitalization levels, levels of vaccination coverage and immunity in the community, and the setting people find themselves in”.

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The WHO also advised that a COVID-19 patient could be discharged from isolation early if they tested negative on an antigen-based rapid test.

“Without testing, for patients with symptoms, the new guidelines suggest 10 days of isolation from the date of symptom onset.

Previously, WHO advised that patients be discharged 10 days after symptom onset, plus at least three additional days since their symptoms had resolved.

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“For those who test positive for COVID-19 but do not have any signs or symptoms, WHO now suggests five days of isolation in the absence of testing, compared to 10 days previously.

“Isolation of people with COVID-19 is an important step in preventing others from being infected. This can be done at home or at a dedicated facility, such as a hospital or clinic”, the global agency noted.

The evidence considered by the organisation showed that people without symptoms were much less likely to transmit the virus than those with symptoms.

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“Although of very low certainty, evidence also showed that people with symptoms discharged at day five following symptom onset risked infecting three times more people than those discharged at day 10″.

The WHO also extended its strong recommendation for the use of nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (also known by its brand name ‘Paxlovid’).

It, however, said pregnant or breastfeeding women with non-severe COVID-19 should consult with their doctor to determine whether they should take the drug, due to ‘likely benefits’ and a lack of adverse events having been reported.

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“Nirmatrelvir-ritonavir was first recommended by WHO in April 2022. WHO strongly recommends its use in mild or moderate COVID-19 patients who are at high risk of hospitalisation. In December 2022, the first generic producer of the drug was prequalified by WHO.

“WHO also reviewed the evidence on two other medicines, sotrovimab, and casirivimab-imdevimab, and maintains strong recommendations against their use for treating COVID-19. These monoclonal antibody medicines lack or have diminished activity against the current circulating virus variants.

“There are currently six proven treatment options for patients with COVID-19, three that prevent hospitalisation in high-risk persons and three that save lives in those with severe or critical disease. Except for corticosteroids, access to other drugs remains unsatisfactory globally”, the UN body stated.

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But as the concerns rises across the world with least 23 countries imposing restrictions on travellers from China, the Nigerian government has insisted it will not adopt that strategy, at least for now.

The Coordinator and Technical Head of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Dr Muktar Muhammad however told The PUNCH in Abuja on Sunday that the government has raised the surveillance level in the country.

China’s decision to relax its strict COVID-19 rules to curb the virus and lack of transparency has been greeted with some anxiety in many countries.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that China had 24,565 new cases on 13th January with 10,855,369 confirmed cases and 33,698 deaths.

However, Muhammad said that countries imposing restrictions on China are doing so without a scientific basis as available data shows that cases are increasing worldwide.

He said: “For us, what we are doing now is to try to raise our surveillance level to be able to understand what kind of viruses are coming in, to continue to do our genomic sequencing to identify the variants that are coming into Nigeria so that we will have credible intelligence on what we need to do”.

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He said that the government has intensified surveillance at sentinel points to monitor the situation in the country.

Muhammad added: “We believe what is happening is not more than a seasonal increase in upper respiratory tract infections, including COVID-19, and we are monitoring the various variants circulating in the world”.

Nigeria’s fresh 42 cases of the virus were recorded in Lagos, Edo, Kano, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Plateau States as well as the Federal Capital Territory between 31st December last year and 13th January.

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That brought the nation’s confirmed COVID-19 infections to 266,492, according to the NCDC.

The centre said: “From 31st December 2022, to 6th January 2023, 13 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria.

“The 13 new cases are reported from two states – Lagos (12) and Edo (one)”.

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The NCDC also said that from 7th January to 13th January, 29 new confirmed cases were recorded in the country.

“The 29 new cases are reported from six states- Lagos (15), FCT (5), Kano (four), Nasarawa (three), Kaduna (one), and Plateau (one).

“A multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre activated at Level 2, continues to coordinate the national response activities”.

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The WHO has however said that it is analysing the COVID-19 situation data provided to it by China.

In a press statement, the global agency said that Chinese officials provided information to it on a range of topics, including outpatient clinics, hospitalisations, patients requiring emergency treatment and critical care, and hospital deaths related to COVID-19 infection.

“WHO is analysing this information, which covers early December 2022 to January 12, 2023, and allows for a better understanding of the epidemiological situation and the impact of this wave in China. WHO requested that this type of detailed information continue to be shared with us and the public”, the statement read.

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A virologist at the Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Dr Oladipo Kolawole said there should be a concern about flights coming from China and the government should put necessary measures in place at both the NCDC travel portal and points of entry to the country.

He said: “I think we require a negative COVID-19 test from the passengers coming from such region if not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if the government deem fits, they should not be banned for now like other countries that have done that.

Also, a medical laboratory scientist at the Department of Microbiology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, Obinna Chukwudi, urged the government to quarantine travellers from China to mitigate the spread of the virus.

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“We can’t always wait till things get bad before strengthening our health system to abate future pandemics or epidemics. The government must invest and finance the health institutions to better great ready”, he said.

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Health

REVEALED: S3x during menstruation increases risk of HIV, other STDs, says Gynaecologist

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A professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Solomon Avidime, has cautioned against having vaginal sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman, noting that it could expose partners to the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

According to the gynaecologist, the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases is high when partners have sexual intercourse when the woman is menstruating.

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Prof. Avidime who made tyis dosclosured stated that HIV infections can occur as a negative consequence of sexual intercourse during menses.

Besides the risk of contracting STIs, the professor said that vaginal sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman could also lead to an increase in the flow of menstrual blood because the veins of the uterus are congested and prone to rupture, and thus could be damaged easily.

Prof. Avidime stressed that sexual intercourse during the menstrual period also exposes partners to the risk of different kinds of sexually-transmitted infections.

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“The risk of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases is high during sexual intercourse when the woman is menstruating. It is high in both women and men.

“HIV infection can occur as a negative consequence of sexual intercourse during menses. The risk of contracting gonorrhea and hepatitis is also high.

“So, to prevent infection, it is better to avoid sexual intercourse during menstruation. It is not safe it”, he said.

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When asked if a woman could ovulate during her menstrual flow or get pregnant during such a period, Prof Avidime said it is remotely possible for a woman to get pregnant during her monthly period if she engages in sexual intercourse.

He said this is especially common among women that have shorter cycles like 21 days or less.

He, however, said that ovulation does not occur during menses.

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According to an online portal, American Pregnancy, menstruation or a period is the bleeding that occurs when the endometrium is shed 12 to 16 days after ovulation.

With this definition, a woman cannot ovulate while on her period.

The portal, however, said some women experience mid-cycle or ovulatory bleeding (bleeding that occurs around ovulation) and may mistake it for a period.

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“This can happen to women with very irregular cycles coming once every three months or two to three times in one month.

“Mid-cycle bleeding can occur in women with regular cycles as well. They may experience what appears to be a period, but, in reality, this is most likely ovulatory bleeding. Ovulation can occur when you experience mid-cycle or ovulatory bleeding.

“Keep in mind that while you cannot technically ovulate while on a period because sperm can live in the body for three to five days after sex, pregnancy could occur from intercourse that takes place during a period,” it noted.

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According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, most women experience a 28-day menstrual cycle.

“This cycle lasts from the first day of menstrual bleeding to the day before bleeding begins the following month.

“The length of the cycle varies between individuals, but is usually between 26 and 32 days long, with 28 days being the average.

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“The most fertile time of the menstrual cycle is between days eight and 19,” ACOG said.

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Ultra-processed foods may raise cancer risk in women, Study reveals

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By Francesca Iwambe

Eating ultra-processed food could increase the risk of cancers, especially ovarian cancer in women, a new study has revealed.

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The study conducted on over 197,000 people with more than half being women looked at the association between eating ultra-processed foods and 34 different types of cancer over 10 years.

The study which was published in the medical journal eClinicalMedicine, an open-access clinical journal, published by The Lancet, examined information on the eating habits of the 197,426 people who were part of the UK Biobank.

The study noted that the amount of ultra-processed foods consumed by people in the study ranged from a low of 9.1 per cent to a high of 41.4 per cent of their diet.

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Over the years, the eating patterns were compared with medical records that listed both diagnoses and deaths from cancer.

A statement made by Imperial College London on the findings of the research stated that “each 10 per cent increase in ultra-processed food consumption was associated with a 2 per cent increase in developing any cancer, and a 19 per cent increased risk for being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“Deaths from cancers also increased. For each additional 10 per cent increase in ultra-processed food consumption, the risk of dying from any cancer increased by 6 per cent, while the risk of dying from ovarian cancer rose by 30 per cent.”

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Of note also is the fact that “these associations persisted after adjustment for a range of socio-demographic, smoking status, physical activity, and key dietary factors,” the authors revealed.

According to Heath.harvard.edu, ultra-processed foods most likely have many added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat, and artificial colours or preservatives and are made mostly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, added sugars, and hydrogenated fats.

These overly processed foods may also contain additives like artificial colours and flavours or stabilizers.
Foods classified as ultra-processed or overly processed include foods like pre-packaged soups, sauces, frozen pizza and ready-to-eat meals, hot dogs, sausages, french fries, sodas, store-bought cookies, cakes, candies, doughnuts, and ice cream.

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Also, soft drinks, cold cuts, and salty snacks are ultra-processed foods.

Speaking on the study, the first author and National Institute for Health and Care Research fellow at the Imperial College London School of Public Health, Dr. Kiara Chang explained that ultra-processed foods are produced with industrially derived ingredients and often use food additives to adjust colour, flavour, consistency, texture, or extend shelf life.

She, however, added that the different human bodies would react differently to these ultra-processed ingredients and additives as they do to fresh and nutritious minimally processed foods.

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Common causes of mental illnesses many people don’t know about

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By Francesca Iwambe

Mental illness according to webmd, is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. While there are many well-known causes of mental illness, such as genetics and traumatic events, there are also many lesser-known causes that can contribute to the development of mental health issues. In this article, NaijaBlitzNews HEALTH explore some of the common causes of mental illness that many people may not be aware of.

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Medical conditions:

Certain medical conditions can increase the risk of developing mental illness. For example, people with chronic pain, heart disease, or diabetes may be more likely to develop depression or anxiety. Additionally, certain medications used to treat these conditions can also contribute to the development of mental health issues.

Substance abuse: The use of drugs and alcohol can also contribute to the development of mental illness. For example, people who abuse substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine may be at a higher risk for developing psychosis, while those who abuse alcohol may be more likely to develop depression or anxiety.

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Social isolation: People who are socially isolated may be at a higher risk for developing mental illness. This is because social connections and support can provide protection against mental health issues. People who are isolated may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, which can further increase their risk for mental illness.

Trauma: Traumatic events, such as physical or sexual abuse, can also contribute to the development of mental illness. For example, people who have experienced trauma may be more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can lead to symptoms such as flashbacks, anxiety, and depression.

Nutritional deficiencies: Nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to the development of mental illness. For example, people who do not get enough of certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12 and folate, may be at a higher risk for developing depression and anxiety. Additionally, people who have eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, may also be at a higher risk for developing mental health issues.

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Sleep disorders: Sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, can also contribute to the development of mental illness. For example, people who do not get enough sleep may be at a higher risk for developing depression and anxiety. Additionally, people who have sleep disorders may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, which can further increase their risk for mental illness.

Chronic stress: Chronic stress can also contribute to the development of mental illness. For example, people who are under constant stress may be at a higher risk for developing depression and anxiety. Additionally, people who have chronic stress may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, which can further increase their risk for mental illness.

It is important to note that mental illness is complex and can be caused by a combination of different factors. Additionally, not everyone who experiences these risk factors will develop a mental illness.

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However, understanding these common causes of mental illness can help people take steps to reduce their risk and seek help if they do develop mental health issues.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a mental illness, it is important to seek help. Treatment for mental illness can include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Additionally, it is important to seek help early, as early intervention can increase the chances of a successful outcome.

In conclusion, mental illness is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. While there are many well-known causes of mental illness, such as genetics and traumatic events, there are also many lesser-known causes that can contribute to the development of mental health issues.

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Understanding these common causes of mental illness can help people take steps to reduce their risk and seek help if they do develop mental health issues.
It is important to note that mental illness is a complex condition that can be caused by a combination of different factors.

Additionally, not everyone who experiences these risk factors will develop a mental illness. However, understanding these common causes of mental illness can help people take steps to reduce their risk and seek help if they do develop mental health issues.

One of the key ways to reduce the risk of mental illness is to maintain good physical and mental health. This includes getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress. Additionally, people can also reduce their risk of mental illness by avoiding substance abuse and engaging in positive social activities.

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Another important step in reducing the risk of mental illness is to seek help early if symptoms develop. This can include seeing a therapist or counselor, taking medication, or participating in a support group.

Early intervention can increase the chances of a successful outcome, so it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

In conclusion, mental illness is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. While there are many well-known causes of mental illness, such as genetics and traumatic events, there are also many lesser-known causes that can contribute to the development of mental health issues.

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Understanding these common causes of mental illness can help people take steps to reduce their risk and seek help if they do develop mental health issues. By maintaining good physical and mental health, avoiding substance abuse, and seeking help early, people can reduce their risk of mental illness and improve their overall well-being

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