Check Out THESE Simple Tips to Help Avoid Skin Damage From Face Masks



Doctors, nurses and healthcare personnel fighting COVID-19 from the front lines have to spend many hours a day wearing face masks. Although it offers invaluable protection, health experts have stressed that sweating and the rubbing of the masks against the nose may lead to significant skin damage.

However, following some simple tips like keeping the skin clean, well-hydrated and moisturised can help one avoid skin damage from face masks, according to a recent study, published in the Journal of Wound Care.

Dermatologist D.M. Mahajan of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi also said that deeply moisturising the skin is important for people who need to wear masks for a long time.

If possible, take off the mask for a while after maintaining some social distancing and keep changing the mask every 8-9 hours, the doctor said.

“Doctors need to be very cautious as in this profession social distancing is not possible all the time. To avoid getting infected, they have to wear a mask which needs to have adequate tightness. It is very pertinent that there has to be an adequate pressure which can cause a fair amount of pressure on the nasal bridge, surrounding cheek and jawbone,” Mahajan told IANS.

Wearing masks for a long time can cause rashes, dryness, acne or pimple formation and dermatitis, the doctor said.

Manjul Agarwal, Senior Consultant, Dermatology, Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi said that surgical face masks and N95 respirator masks when used properly provide adequate protection against infectious diseases transmitted by respiratory droplets.

“Surgical facemasks are commonly made up of polypropylene which is a non woven fabric. Disposable N95 surgical respirators consist of four layers and the innermost layer coming in contact with the skin is also made up of polypropylene,” Agarwal said.

“Although polypropylene is considered to be the safest of all plastics, it can cause skin allergies in rare cases, especially if the mask is wet and worn for long hours.

“These masks also have a malleable aluminium nose strip placed for a tighter seal of the nose. This, in turn, can cause allergic contact dermatitis, frictional dermatitis and frictional melanosis over the nose,” she told IANS.

According to the doctor, the moisture which collects from exhalation inside the mask especially at body temperature can provide a perfect setting for the bacteria to thrive and may cause infections like folliculitis, especially in men with heavy beards.

Pre-existing dermatoses like acne and fungal infections may also be aggravated due to sweat collection.

“If any occlusive topicals like oil-based moisturisers and makeup are applied prior to the application of masks, they can lead to blockage of skin pores causing sebum accumulation and acne. The tight elastic bands stretching over the ears can cause pain and contact dermatitis in the retroauricular region,” Agarwal said.

“Frequent changing of the mask, mask free time in between if possible may be practised to prevent these dermatological adverse effects,” she noted.

For people with acne-prone skin, it may be worth avoiding some of the traditional acne treatments such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoids as they make the skin further dry or irritable, said Rahul Arora, Associate Consultant Dermatology, Max Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi.

This effect can be aggravated by the routine use of face masks.

This, however, does not mean that people with sensitive skin cannot wear face masks.

“If they feel that their skin is irritated it can help to use moisturisers that contain ceramides, squalene, niacinamide, or hyaluronic acid that may rehydrate the skin and also serve as a barrier for the skin to protect it,” he added.



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Plan Ready For Conducting Pending Exams, Evaluation Once Lockdown is Lifted: HRD Minister



New Delhi: As the exams in schools, colleges and universities were postponed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent nationwide lockdown, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on Sunday said that the plan ready for conducting the pending exams, evaluation once the lockdown is lifted.

Saying that the safety of students, teachers of utmost importance to the government, HRD Minister Pokhriyal said that the government is also prepared to ensure there is no academic loss to students if schools, colleges remain shut beyond April 14.

He also added that the government is regularly reviewing the plan of action being followed by universities and higher educational institutions during the 21-day nationawide lockdown.

“It is difficult to take a decision at the moment. We will review the situation on April 14 and depending upon the circumstances, a decision will be taken on whether schools and colleges can be reopened now or have to be closed for more time,” Pokhriyal was quoted as saying by PTI.

Highlighting that there are 34 crore students in the country which is more than America’s population, the HRD minister said that the students are the biggest treasure of the country.

The development comes as the 21-day nationwide lockdown ends on April 14 and there have been indications from the government that the lockdown may not be extended.

However, prior to the announcement of the lockdown, the classes in schools and colleges were already suspended.

“The classes are already being conducted online using various government platforms like Swayam. We are prepared to ensure there is no academic loss to students if need arises to keep schools, colleges closed after April 14,” he said.



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Blood-Related Therapy New Hope For COVID-19 Patients? US Investigates After Positive Results From China



Even as a group of scientists are racing against time to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 so that new infections can be prevented, experts are now pinning a lot of hope on effectiveness of blood-related therapies being investigated in some countries. At the centre of these blood-related therapies are the people who have recovered from the dreaded disease.

Worldwide, nearly 2,50,000 people have recovered from COVID-19, while about 65,000 of approximately 12 lakh infected people have succumbed to the disease.

The US is investigating the effectiveness of two blood related therapies called convalescent plasma and hyperimmune globulin.

These are antibody-rich blood products made from blood donated by people who have recovered from the infection caused by the virus.

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that is collected from patients who have recovered from an infection. Antibodies present in it are proteins that might help fight the infection.

Hyperimmune globulin is a biological product manufactured from convalescent plasma.

The US started these investigations after positive results emerged from China.

“Based on prior experience with respiratory viruses and on data that have emerged from China, these products have the potential to lessen the severity or shorten the length of illness caused by COVID-19,” the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement on April 3.

According to Neha Gupta, Infectious Diseases Consultant at Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurugram, based on the type of severity of COVID 19 infection, immunity develops.
Immunity develops early in asymptomatic or persons with mild symptoms, while it develops later in severe and critically-ill COVID 19 patients, she explained.

“Antibodies from the convalescent serum (of patients who have recovered from COVID 19) may offer an option for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 disease,” she told IANS, adding that some recent experiments showed lower mortality rate for plasma-treated patients compared to control patients.

But much still remains to be known about the effectiveness of these therapies.

“Humans make antibodies when they are infected with a virus and it generally provides immunity to reinfection. But SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is a new virus and we don’t know that there is going to be immunity for few months or long term,” Navin Kumar, Head of Clinical Virology & Infection Prevention, Manipal Hospitals, New Delhi, told IANS.

“The plasma from recovered patients (convalescent plasma) have been used for treating many viral infections but not much is known about how effective it is for treating COVID-19.

“There are few reports of successful treatment from other countries but no good research studies are there to support its routine use and what is the best time to use during the illness. At this moment it is considered as an experimental treatment,” Kumar said.

Japan-headquartered global bio-pharmaceutical company Takeda has already initiated development of a plasma-derived therapy to treat high-risk individuals with COVID-19.

“As a leader in plasma-derived therapies with more than 75 years of experience in the development of plasma-derived products, Takeda has the expertise to research, develop, and manufacture a potential anti-SARS-CoV-2 polyclonal H-IG (hyperimmune globulin), which Takeda is referring to as TAK-888,” the company said last month.

Takeda said it is currently in discussions with multiple national health and regulatory agencies and health care partners in the US, Asia, and Europe to expeditiously move the research into TAK-888 forward.

It goes without saying that without a vaccine at their disposal, the world is waiting with bated breath for the success of any therapy to effectively beat the virus behind the pandemic.



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Do Not Compel Students For Fee During Lockdown Period, Gautam Budh Nagar DM Directs Schools


New Delhi: Exercising powers under UP Disaster Management Act 2005, Gautam Budh Nagar District Magistrate Suhas LY has ordered educational institutes not to collect fee from students during coronavirus lockdown.

Issuing a notification the DM said that if parents fail to submit fees for their wards during the shutdown period, it won’t affect students’ enrollment in the online classes.

Besides, he has also warned district officials, missing from the fight against coronavirus, of dismissal from service if they failed to report for duty in 24 hours.

“The absentee officials are directed to submit their joining report to the Chief Medical Officer by the midnight of April 5,” an order issued by the DM read.

The IAS officer, who took reins of the district from BN Singh, asserted that the conduct of these officials was disappointing and smacked of gross negligence in performance of their duties.



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AI Based Smart Systems Play Major Role in Staying Connected During Coronavirus Lockdown



Daily life during a pandemic means social distancing and finding new ways to remotely connect with friends, family and co-workers via Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based ‘smart systems could play a major role in keeping our conversations on track, say researchers.

According to the study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, humans having difficult conversations said they trusted artificially intelligent systems – the ‘smart’ reply suggestions in texts – more than the people they were talking to.

“We find that when things go wrong, people take the responsibility that would otherwise have been designated to their human partner and designate some of that to the artificial intelligence system,” said study first author Jess Hohenstein from Cornell University in the US.

“This introduces a potential to take AI and use it as a mediator in our conversations, for example, the algorithm could notice things are going downhill by analyzing the language used, and then suggest conflict-resolution strategies,” Hohenstein added.

The study was an attempt to explore the myriad ways – both subtle and significant – that AI systems such as smart replies are altering how humans interact.

Choosing a suggested reply that’s not quite what you intended to say, but saves you some typing, might be fundamentally altering the course of your conversations – and your relationships, the researchers said.

“Communication is so fundamental to how we form perceptions of each other, how we form and maintain relationships, or how we’re able to accomplish anything working together,” said co-author Malte Jung.

“This study falls within the broader agenda of understanding how these new AI systems mess with our capacity to interact,” Jung said.

“We often think about how the design of systems affects how we interact with them, but fewer studies focus on the question of how the technologies we develop affect how people interact with each other,” Jung added.

In addition to shedding light on how people perceive and interact with computers, the study offers possibilities for improving human communication – with subtle guidance and reminders from AI.

The researchers said they sought to explore whether AI could function as a “moral crumple zone” – the technological equivalent of a car’s crumple zone, designed to deform in order to absorb the crash’s impact.

“There’s a physical mechanism in the front of the car that’s designed to absorb the force of the impact and take responsibility for minimizing the effects of the crash,” Hohenstein said.

“Here we see the AI system absorb some of the moral responsibility,” Hohenstein added.



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'Except foodgrains and essentials, nothing is moving'



At the height of the agitation against Tata Motors and after, the decibel level at Singur has always been high. The coronavirus scare, however, appears to have tempered it. The lockdown has hit Singur’s inhabitants hard in more ways than one, reports Ishita Ayan Dutt.



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Gig employees get a helping hand from old economy



Over the past week, several unusual partnerships among start-ups, traditional businesses and hospitals have been announced, and several more are likely to materialise soon. The trend could see increased importance of gig workers, who are taking considerable risk to deliver goods to people in the time of a pandemic.



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How India's power will be managed during lights-out



A 9-minute lights-out by most of households on Sunday evening can potentially collapse the grid due to sudden drop and then a quick surge after the event. But to manage the dramatic changes in electricity and its impact on the grid, the government has drawn an elaborate plan to manage it.



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More Younger People Are Dying Due to Coronavirus, WHO Expresses Concern



As opposed to the widely accepted notion that older people are more likely to be infected with the coronavirus, a new study by the World Health Organisation reveals that more younger people are now falling severely ill due to COVID-19. A report in Daily Mail quotes Dr Mike Ruyan, the executive director of WHO’s emergency programme saying both in Italy and South Korea, the patients infected with COVID-19 admitted to the ICUs were below 60 years of age. In Italy, he said, at least 10 per cent to 15 per cent people in the ICU over the past six weeks aged under 50.

The doctor also emphasised on people’s lack of awareness about the disease and a blind belief that it could only infect the elderly people. “It’s not that anything has changed. It’s that we collectively have been living in a world where we have tried to convince ourselves that this disease is mild and more severe in older people. But I think the evidence has been there all along,” he said.

Another official from WHO, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove mentioned they see ‘more and more younger individuals experiencing the severe disease dying in ICUs’ and the reasons are relatively unknown for most of them don’t even have any lung-related disorder.”What we were seeing in some countries, individuals who are in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are in ICUs and have died,” she said.

Maria, who’s also WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, added that the organisation needs a ‘better understanding’ of why young people are dying from the infection because not everything about the virus is still known.



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