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Covid infection level is a “growing concern” in UK – More people infected than 1st wave

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corona virus high level NHS UK

BBC has reported that:

NHS England said the number of people being treated for the virus in hospital is now 20,426, which is higher than the previous peak of about 19,000 in April.

Health officials in Wales and Scotland have also said they are at risk of becoming overwhelmed.

Monday’s figure for new cases is the highest daily number reported by the UK government, and the first time the daily total has surpassed 40,000.

It is thought the infection rate was much higher during the first peak in April, but testing capacity was too limited to detect the true number.

Some data over the Christmas period is incomplete, as a result of certain services being paused.

BBC health editor Hugh Pym said Monday’s figure included some infections where reporting was delayed, but that officials did not deny there had been a significant increase in infections.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: “This very high level of infection is of growing concern at a time when our hospitals are at their most vulnerable, with new admissions rising in many regions.”

“Despite unprecedented levels of infection, there is hope on the horizon,” she added.

Dr Doyle urged members of the public to “continue to play our part in stopping the spread of the virus” as the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is rolled out.

Hospitals in Wales, Scotland and the south of England have reported rising pressure on their services as the number of Covid patients increases.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, south-east London, said on Monday that an “internal incident” over its “high number of Covid-positive patients” had been ongoing since Sunday.

“All our patients have received the treatment they need, including intensive care treatment for Covid-19 and oxygen therapy as required.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation to ensure that this remains the case,” a spokesperson for Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust said.

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Japan appointed its “Minister of Solitude” to the rise in suicides for the first time in eleven years

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Japan appointed its “Minister of Solitude” to the rise in suicides for the first time in eleven years

Japan appointed a “Minister of Solitude” this month to help reduce social exclusion from its first surge in suicides in eleven years.

According to the Japan Times, Tetsushi Sakamoto, who is serving as minister to reverse Japan’s drop in birth rates, will oversee government policies to combat loneliness and isolation.

“Women are more isolated (than men) and suicide is increasing,” said Suga Sakamoto at a press conference on February 12, announcing the new role, according to the Japan Times. “I hope you identify the problem and advance the policy in a comprehensive manner.”

Loneliness is a recurring mental health problem in Japan that is known as “hikikomori” when it reaches extreme conditions that were heightened due to social isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This appears to have led to an increase in suicides for the first time in more than a decade.

For example, the Japanese National Police Agency reported that more people died from suicide than Covid-19 in October 2020, with women increasing by 70% each year.

“I look forward to activities to prevent social loneliness and to isolate and protect human relations,” Sakamoto said at a press conference on February 12.

Japan’s new loneliness minister said he plans to hold an emergency forum in late February to listen to the concerns of people affected by loneliness and isolation.

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The youngest American to go into space also survived cancer

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The youngest American to go into space also survived cancer

By the end of the year, Hayley Arceneaux will be the youngest American in space and one of the first tourists to enter orbit unaccompanied by professional astronauts.

It is a feat made all the more remarkable by her battle to overcome a childhood cancer that robbed the 29 year old of her dream of becoming an astronaut herself.

Due to the bone cancer she overcame, Arceneaux has steel rods in her left leg — which until recently were enough to shatter her hopes of going into space.

Enter Jared Isaacman, a young American billionaire with a passion for space exploration who chartered a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at his own expense and decided to take three people with him, including Arceneaux.

Arceneaux said she hopes to be an inspiration with “this precedent that it’s going to set and what it’s going to show these other kids going through cancer treatment.”

The first person chosen for this unprecedented mission, named Inspiration4 and set to take off at the end of 2021, was in fact Arceneaux.

The young woman was treated as a child at St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which specializes in childhood diseases, including cancer.

Isaacman hopes to raise $200 million for the hospital on his space mission.

“I got a phone call pretty much out of the blue in early January, and it was from St Jude… They basically said, ‘Do you want to go to space?'” Arceneaux told AFP.

“Immediately I said, ‘Yes, yes, absolutely!'” said Arceneaux, who now works for the same hospital that cared for her, as a medical assistant.

As a child, she visited the NASA space center in Houston, Texas. “Of course, I wanted to be an astronaut,” she said. “But then a few months later I was diagnosed with cancer, and it really changed my whole world.”

“Until now, astronauts have had to really be physically perfect, which is not a category that I fall into because of surgeries I’ve had on my leg. And that’s one thing I’m so excited about with this mission, it is opening space travel up to anyone,” Arceneaux said.

‘Dream big’ 

“Being the youngest American to go to space is such an honor but honestly, what I’m more excited about is being the first pediatric cancer survivor to go to space,” she said.

“I would just love to inspire my patients to dream big and to not limit themselves. And I really hope to show them while I’m in space that absolutely anything is possible.”

One of the two remaining seats on the mission will be drawn from those who enter a raffle and are encouraged to donate to St Jude’s.

The other will be picked by a panel of judges from entrepreneurs who use an e-commerce tool from Isaacman’s company, Shift4 Payments.

They are to be announced next month and begin their training with Isaacman and Arceneaux. “First, we’re going to do the centrifuge training, getting our body ready for the G forces that we’re going to feel,” she explained.

In the meantime, Arceneaux has had “so many questions, from what am I going to wear in space, what am I going to eat in space, can I put on makeup in space?”

“Silly little questions, but also how is this working, how is the rocket going up, how are we going to orbit the Earth?” she added.

SpaceX has said that during the multi-day mission, the astronauts will orbit Earth every 90 minutes.

The mission will go up in SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, the same model that successfully carried four astronauts into orbit and to the International Space Station in mid-November 2020.

After the mission, the spacecraft will reenter the atmosphere for a water landing off the Florida coast.

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