DAILY DOSE: The Lunar New Year Covid-19 spike is on; The physics of figure skating.


While telegraphing the implications of the Lunar New Year on the spread of Covid-19, public health officials warned that spikes would be likely and that healthcare infrastructure needed to be prepared for it. With celebrations done and dusted, the spikes are well under way. Per the Associated Press, “Many Asian countries are facing a spike in COVID-19 infections after the widely-celebrated Lunar New Year holidays, as health officials grapple with the highly-transmissible omicron variant and expectations that numbers will continue to rise in coming weeks. The Lunar New Year, which is China’s biggest holiday, was celebrated across Asia on Feb. 1 even as pandemic restrictions in many countries kept crowds and family outings to a minimum. Hong Kong’s authorities are confronting record cases that are straining its so-called “zero-COVID” policy. On Monday, the city reported a new high of 614 local infections.” Hong Kong requires all cases to be hospitalized. That policy may be changing soon. On Monday, public health officials announced that close contacts of infected persons can isolate themselves at home, a concession to changing infection rates on the ground. https://bit.ly/3gsKvyb


As cases spike in Hong Kong, people are making runs on supermarkets for supplies, causing shortages. Per Channel News Asia, “Hong Kong residents crowded supermarkets and neighbourhood fresh food markets on Monday (Feb 7) to stock up on vegetables, noodles and other necessities after a record number of COVID-19 infections in the city and transport disruptions at the border with mainland China… Hong Kong imports 90 per cent of its food supplies, with the mainland its most important source, especially for fresh food. Consumers have already seen a shortage of some foreign imported goods, including premium seafood, due to stringent flight restrictions.” https://bit.ly/3J7mF7w

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It’s long been suspected that the microbiome plays a key role in conditions that extend past the digestive system. One tantalizing possibility has been links between microbiome imbalances and mental health. Proof has been missing, however. Recent research has bolstered the hypothesis. Per Science, “A study involving thousands of people in Finland has identified a potential microbial culprit in some cases of depression. The finding, which emerged from a study of how genetics and diet affect the microbiome, ‘is really solid proof that this association could have major clinical importance,’ says Jack Gilbert, a microbial ecologist at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved with the work.” In terms of depression, Morganella and Kiebdiella appeared to play a causal role. The presence of Morganella was significantly increased in 181 people in the study who later developed depression. Both bacteria are known to cause infections in hospitalized patients. https://bit.ly/3sGitoT


Just in time for the Olympics, NPR has a scientific explanation of some figure skating acrobatics. Per NPR, “Triple axel, double lutz, toe loops, salchows — it’s time to fall in love again with the sport of figure skating. The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing are underway, and today on the show, Emily Kwong talks with biomechanic Deborah King about some of the physics behind figure skating. Plus, we go to an ice rink to see it all in action.” A good explanation without getting too technical. https://n.pr/34r0j21

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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