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Six months on, health experts covet greater voice in pandemic response

first_imgTopics : The resignation of Indonesia’s top doctor from the COVID-19 task force has prompted questions as to whether the government is seriously involving health experts in its pandemic response.Urologist and professor at the University of Indonesia’s (UI) Faculty of Medicine, Akmal Taher, has tendered his resignation as the task force’s health division head, saying that he would continue contact tracing and testing — two measures he believed as essential in curbing COVID-19 — elsewhere.”It’s true that I have resigned […] For me, tracing and testing must be absolutely improved and I believe this must be done at community health centers,” he said in a discussion organized by the Center of Indonesia Strategic Development Initiatives (CISDI) on Saturday. During Saturday’s discussion, Akmal, despite acknowledging the government’s efforts to accelerate testing for a possible vaccine, said that he personally could not make any promises about vaccines being soon developed given that clinical trials were still underway.His remarks stand in stark contrast to the more optimistic outlook of some government officials who claimed a vaccine could be ready by December. A proven COVID-19 vaccine currently does not exist.Akmal said it was “quite too early” for the government to start talking about vaccine availability, even if it only intended to remind people not to lose hope.”The danger is that there are people who are misreading it,” he said, suggesting that it could result in complacency over adhering to health protocols.Read also: Efficacy and safety first: Experts urge government not to put vaccines on pedestalAkmal’s resignation came not long after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo instructed his Cabinet members and agency heads – including Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto and National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) head Doni Monardo – to focus on suppressing coronavirus transmission and death rates in the country’s nine hardest-hit provinces.Doni has been leading the national COVID-19 task force since March. Akmal was previously a part of the task force’s expert team.In July, when the government formed the COVID-19 handling and national economic recovery committee to streamline strategic policies on countering the pandemic, Doni retained his position as task force head while Akmal was promoted to lead the task force’s health division.The COVID-19 response task force has since been put under the committee, along with the economic recovery task force led by State-Owned Enterprises Deputy Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin.Read also: Govt criticized for forming COVID-19 response team late in the gameChairing the committee is Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto, with State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir as its executive chairperson. Among its six deputy chairs are Luhut and Terawan.Pointing to the military’s greater involvement in the country’s pandemic response, a coalition of dozens of civil society organizations has demanded that the government hand back response efforts to public health experts.Masdalina Pane of the Indonesian Epidemiologists Association (PAEI) said the task force had yet to properly implement existing guidelines and regulations on containing the disease, saying that it also had little experience in handling outbreaks.Read also: Indonesian Military deployed for coronavirus fightThe COVID-19 task force, according to a list released in April, has 72 experts in fields ranging from medicine, public health and medical device technology to laboratory diagnostics and law. Three experts are epidemiologists and four are biostatisticians.The expert team is led by Wiku Adisasmito, a professor at UI’s School of Public Health and infectious disease researcher who was part of the National Commission for Bird Flu Control and Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (Komnas FBPI).Wiku is also the COVID-19 task force’s spokesperson, after having replaced the Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Achmad Yurianto.However, three expert team members from different fields who requested anonymity said that invitations to team discussions were often last-minute, resulting in experts not being able to attend. They also said their advice on postponing the regional elections was ignored.Read also: COVID-19 now a real threat to year-end pollsOne of the experts said that “probably three out of 10″ suggestions were heard. Another expert said that the discussions were reactive as they were centered on issues that generated buzz among the public.”I feel that, now, [discussions] emphasize economic interests. Discussions remain poorly planned,” one expert said.Meanwhile, Luhut, upon being assigned by Jokowi to oversee COVID-19 control in the nine hardest-hit regions, told a press briefing on Sept. 18 that he was assisted by many “bright, young people” including epidemiologists.center_img “These are things I’ll do in any future place I work, because I think we haven’t done them.”Indonesia’s testing rate remains low, with 0.10 tests per 1,000 people over a rolling seven-day average, lower than India’s 0.71 and the Philippines’ 0.31, according to data from ourworldindata.org as of Sept. 23.Read also: Contact tracing the missing link in Indonesia’s battle with COVID-19Akmal did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the former director of Jakarta-based Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital indicated that he disagreed with the current pandemic response measures.last_img read more

State of Emergency Ends Today

first_img Sharing is caring! Share Share Today, June 30, marks the end of a three-month State of Emergency in Dominica.The initial period was from April 1st to 20th and was extended for a total of three months following a sitting of Parliament.The Act allowed for Government to impose restrictions to contain the coronavirus threat to public health.Individuals who were not considered essential workers were prohibited from being outdoors in public places from 6pm to 6am on weekdays, with a total lock down on weekends.The island is almost fully reopened now except for sporting facilities and events and commercial passenger travel.The Hon Prime Minister, Chair of the Cabinet Subcommittee on Covid19, Roosevelt Skerrit, said Sunday that the emergency powers jurisdiction would not be extended past June 30th.“The Emergency Powers [Act] comes to an end on Tuesday, 30th.  The Government is not intending to extend this. Therefore, in large measure we will go back to the normal or the new normal,” he said. The Hon Minister for Health and Wellness, Dr Irving McIntyre responded to the question of what the new normal will be after today.“We’re back to where we were before,” he said hastening to add that “before, we didn’t have Covid; now that we have Covid, we have to make sure that we can practice all these public health and social measures that we’ve had in place, which is what has brought our success.”He listed proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette,wearing masks and sanitisation.Hon McIntyre also stated that there was a decrease in influenza-like symptoms for which he credits the guidelines promoted to curb the new coronavirus.“As a matter of fact,” he said, “Up to March of this year, influenza-like symptoms were down to 4 cases per week. Prior to these measures we put for Covid we used to get 25 cases a week.“It just shows you how wearing a mask, washing of hands and proper respiratory etiquette can cut down these things. This is what we want to emphasize.” Tweetcenter_img 223 Views   no discussions LifestyleLocalNews State of Emergency Ends Today by: – June 30, 2020 Sharelast_img read more

Local runners compete in Walter Hunt Memorial 4th of July 5K

first_imgBREWER — Local runners were among the many who competed Thursday in the annual Walter Hunt Memorial Fourth of July 3K in Brewer.Ellsworth had two runners place in the race’s top 15 as Matt Shea (11th) and Rob Shea (15th) were among the early finishers in the 384-runner field. Matt crossed the finish line with a time of 10 minutes, 6 seconds, and Rob was close behind with a time of 10:21.Hancock County also had three finishers in the 20-30 range as Dedham’s Travis Blackmer (21st), Bucksport’s David Hileman (24th) and Ellsworth’s Jamie Anderson (30th) broke the 11-minute mark. Bucksport’s Christopher Jones placed 40th with a time of 11:26.On the women’s side, Dedham’s Sara Hunt was the top local finisher with a time of 11:38 and an overall place of 46th. Veronica Davila and Sara Shea of Ellsworth cracked the top 100 with places of 92nd and 93rd, respectively.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textBelow is a list of the top-10 local finishers from the race.11. Matt Shea, Ellsworth, 10 minutes, 6 seconds15. Rob Shea, Ellsworth, 10:2621. Travis Blackner, Dedham, 10:3824. David Hileman, Bucksport, 10:4530. Jamie Anderson, Ellsworth, 10:5640. Chris Jones, Bucksport, 11:2643. Nick Brown, Ellsworth, 11:3046. Sara Hunt, Dedham, 11:3892. Veronica Davila, Ellsworth, 13:2093. Sara Shea, Ellsworth, 13:21last_img read more

Steer Wearable Literally Shocks Drowsy Drivers

first_img Drowsy driving kills.Which is why Latvian design studio Creative Mode invented Steer, a wearable device aimed at keeping motorists awake and alert.The bracelet, worn on the upper forearm, analyzes heart rate and skin conductance. If either drops below a certain level, Steer shocks you back into consciousness.Dazed, lethargic drivers claimed more than 840 lives in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which estimated 83,000 drowsy driving-related crashes between 2005 and 2009.Most people have experienced bouts of “micro-sleep”—drooping eyes, head nodding, even unconsciousness that can last up to 30 seconds, during which you fail to respond to environmental sensors.via Creative ModeBut while it’s one thing to doze off at your desk or in a dark movie theater, until fully autonomous vehicles start chauffeuring folks around, there is no time for a catnap behind the wheel.Steer, however, helps curb micro-sleep.Strap on the accessory to verify resting heart rate and skin conductance, then wear it while driving to determine potentially harmful changes.If your pulse decreases by ten units, for example, Steer sends out a strong vibration and shines a yellow light. Drop another three units, and you’ll receive a “gentle” electric shock.via Creative ModeThe stimulation, according to Creative Mode, boosts neurotransmitters serotonin, noradrenaline, and cortisol, and decreases the “sleeping hormone” melatonin.“These changes will make you feel fresher and less drowsy and will return your heart rate to normal,” the firm’s Kickstarter campaign said.Promising a safer, more effective, and more reliable remedy than traditional quick fixes like energy drinks, coffee, loud music, or smoking, Steer—made from durable and hypoallergenic plastic—has “no negative effect on your health.”Pre-order the bracelet now for an early-bird price of €99 ($116); snag extra for friends or family with the twin pack (€198/$231), trio pack (€299/$349), or four-device family pack (€380/$444).Production is expected in September and October, ahead of a November rollout to backers.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Covert Dock for Nintendo Switch Fits in Your PocketRugged BlackBerry Clone With QWERTY Keyboard Hits Kickstarter Stay on targetlast_img read more