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Just a couple minutes of pandemic news can ruin your mood – dpa international

Queue outside a phone shop in Malaysia after the end of one of the country's pandemic lockdowns (Simon Roughneen)

Some countries have seemingly seen the worst of the coronavirus and have lifted many lockdown restrictions, and yet pandemic news can still “ruin a person’s mood” in just minutes, according to British and Canadian researchers. In a paper published in PLOS One, a medical journal, academics from the University of Essex and Simon Fraser University reported so-called “doomscrolling” through pandemic news shared on social media to be “one of the least enjoyable activities in a day.” That’s hardly a surprise, given that such stories have been a seemingly relentless drumbeat of daily case numbers and deaths, as well as updates about “government regulations and lifestyle restrictions.”

IMF cuts US and global GDP growth forecasts, citing “uncertainty” – dpa international

All quiet in a Kuala Lumpur shopping mall during one of Malaysia's pandemic lockdowns, which saw factories cut output due to restrictions on staff numbers, leading to supply shortages elsewhere in the world (Simon Roughneen)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday cut its global economic growth forecast for 2021 to 5.9 per cent, citing “uncertainty about how quickly the [coronavirus] pandemic can be overcome.” In its latest World Economic Outlook, the IMF pared 0.1 percentage points off its July projection, in part due to “advanced economies” being hit by supply-chain disruptions that were exacerbated by recent pandemic outbreaks and lockdowns in Asia’s manufacturing hubs. Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s director of research, said “global recovery continues but momentum has weakened.” The Fund said it expects the world’s biggest economy, the US, to grow by 6 per cent this year, one percentage point down on what it projected in July, with China, the second-biggest, in line for 8-per-cent expansion.

Huge jump in mental health disorders since start of Covid pandemic – dpa international

Sunny outdoors during the first pandemic lockdown in Malaysia, which has reported 1,313 deaths linked to Covid-19 (Simon Roughneen)

The first year of the coronavirus pandemic saw a “stark rise” in mental health disorders, with around 160 million additional cases worldwide, according to estimates by doctors and scientists in Australia and the US. The findings suggest an “additional 53 million cases of major depressive disorder and 76 million cases of anxiety disorders” in 2020, increases of more than a quarter that were “due to the pandemic,” according to the team, which was led by researchers from the University of Queensland and University of Washington. The biggest jumps were in countries with the highest incidences of the virus or the severest restrictions on social and economic activity.

Singapore scientists float ‘airborne surveillance’ kit for coronavirus – dpa international

Singapore-based scientists have come up with a device that detects coronavirus in the air of indoor spaces, raising the prospect of “airborne surveillance” of the virus to supplement testing of individuals. The air-sampling method means “early warning of infection risks” could be possible in hospital wards and nursing homes, and could boost virus-monitoring capabilities in public places where people gather indoors, such as restaurants and cinemas.

‘Bored’ pet parrots prone to pining for the jungle – dpa international

The Norwegian Blue may only have been a fictional parrot species made famous by a Monty Python comedy sketch about a dead caged bird “pining for the fjords,” but real live pet parrots do, it seems, get the blues in captivity. That’s according to new research published by the Britain’s Royal Society, which suggests the bigger the captive bird’s brain, the more likely it is to exhibit “forms of abnormal behaviour,” such as chewing the bars of its cage or plucking its own feathers. The extent to which more intelligent parrot species are “prone to disease” and “apparently shortened lifespans” appears equivalent to the “mismatch” between captivity and life in the wild.

Flatulence leads to stress and burping causes anxiety, survey says – dpa international

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Eight out ten people admit to breaking wind every day and the flatulence is “associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress,” going by a new survey.  Other face-reddening “gas-related symptoms,” such as stomach-rumbling and belching, were reported by more than half of the nearly 6,000 people surveyed in Britain, Mexico and the US. Almost half of those canvassed said they had bad breath, with around the same as the percentage saying they suffered from trapped wind. Only 11 per cent reported having no gas-related symptoms at all.

Tuberculosis neglected as health systems focus on coronavirus pandemic – dpa international

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The “profound” impact of the coronavirus pandemic and related cuts to health care left more than 4.3 million more people suffering from tuberculosis (TB) without treatment in 2020, according to the Stop TB Partnership. Neglecting TB cases means “all but certain death for probably half that number,” the Partnership, a United Nations-linked body, said on Tuesday. Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the partnership, warned that the roughly 50 per cent of survivors “will not only suffer the consequences of the disease but will also spread TB to many more, perpetuating the cycle of transmission.” The prioritization of coronavirus has in turn meant 1.2 million fewer TB diagnoses so far this year compared to 2019.

World Bank cuts East Asia GDP growth outlook, citing pandemic curbs – dpa international

Not many people around in this central Kuala Lumpur mall, more than three weeks after the end of Malaysia's lockdown (Simon Roughneen)

Much of East Asia and the Pacific faces far slower economic growth than was expected a few months ago, according to the World Bank, which on Tuesday slashed its outlook for most of the region’s 18 countries. Measured without China, the rest of the East Asia and Pacific’s “developing” economies are set to expand by 2.5 per cent this year, the bank warned, cutting a forecast of 4.4 per cent made in April before regional coronavirus case numbers and deaths soared. The less rosy outlook is due to pandemic restrictions “constraining economic activity,” according to the bank. It said the Delta variant and attempts to slow its spread were “disrupting production” and hindering prospects of a recovery.

Grim economic prospects for ‘least developed’ countries even after coronavirus fades – dpa international

The coronavirus pandemic has worsened a “grim” economic outlook for the world’s poorest countries, UN trade officials believe, with many likely to be “mired” in crises for years to come. An “emerging two-speed global recovery” from the pandemic and related restrictions, which last year caused most countries’ economies to shrink, could “reverse many hard-won development gains,” the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) warned on Monday.

Hundreds of millions of poorer people with diabetes left untreated – dpa international

Pandemic restrictions have left city landmarks, such as this mall in Kuala Lumpur seen during Malaysia's first lockdown last year, mostly empty (Simon Roughneen)

Around three-quarters of the world’s people with diabetes cannot get the treatment they need, according to the University of Birmingham in Britain, which warned of “huge drop-offs” in care worldwide. Around 80 per cent of the world’s approximately 420 million diabetes sufferers live in so-called low and middle-income countries, but “fewer than 6 per cent of these individuals can access the care they need to manage their diabetes and prevent long-term complications like heart attacks, strokes, kidney diseases or blindness,” the researchers estimated.