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Weekly Health Digest: Coronavirus, Healthcare Tech, Surgeon General’s Warning, Kids And Cooking Shows

A summary of important health news from the past week

Coronavirus explained: What you need to know

By Jen Christensen and Meera Senthilingam

The current Chinese coronavirus, similar to the SARS virus, has infected hundreds since its initial outbreak in December. While not much is known about the virus, it is known that it causes pneumonia and cannot be treated with antibiotic treatments. The fatality rates are lower than both MERS and SARS but symptoms seem to develop more slowly. As the outbreak progresses, it will become more clear as to how deadly this new coronavirus will be. Coronaviruses are usually common amongst animals but sometimes can be transmitted from animals to humans. Its symptoms are similar to that of a common cold but can lead to respiratory tract illnesses or pneumonia amongst individuals with weak immune systems such as the elderly. The current Wuhan coronavirus has only affected individuals of ages 40+ and while there is no treatment yet, it is recommended to be aware of the symptoms and report them to a physician, especially if you may have traveled around Wuhan or nearby regions. 

A Way to Reduce Hospital Infections Dramatically

By Fabio Belloni 

Hospitals have been testing a new technology called real-time location systems (RTLS), in order to try to ensure hospital hygiene amongst healthcare workers. A study published in BMJ Quality & Safety looked at additional ways RTLS can be implemented to ensure clean hands. A hospital tracked hand hygiene auditors around the facility and saw that when the dispensers were within view of auditors, the healthcare workers were twice as likely to use them. This technology has also been adopted to increase bed availability in crowded hospitals. While we see tracking technology being used in our everyday lives, it is important to explore how technological advances can reshape healthcare settings and improve patient outcomes. 

Surgeon General Says ‘Shocking’ Portion of People Aren’t Told to Stop Smoking

By Sheila Kaplan

The United States surgeon general says that too many smokers are not routinely advised by their doctors to quit, despite the dangers of cigarettes. Referring to data collected in a 2015 national health survey, Dr. Jerome Adams informed that 40 percent of smokers do not get advised to quit by healthcare professionals. This statistic largely affects vulnerable populations because they are not getting access to credible smoking cessation treatments. With more than 15 million people in the United States suffering from smoking-related illnesses and disorders, doctors and public health officials need to devote more attention to offering smoking cessation assistance to susceptible populations.

If you want your kid to eat healthier, let them watch certain cooking shows

By: Kristen Rogers and David G. Allan

A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that watching cooking shows–at least certain ones–could impact a child’s food choices. In the study, 125 children watched a ten-minute cooking clip that featured either healthy or unhealthy foods, and were then offered a variety of snack options. The children who watched the clip featuring healthy foods were more than twice as likely to pick a healthy snack option. Other research has previously shown that exposing children to healthy foods and letting them participate in the preparation process can positively impact a child’s developing relationship with food.

Hong Kong: nearly a third of adults report PTSD symptoms – study

By: Agence France-Presse

Hong Kong has been experiencing months of protests following an extradition bill which would have allowed Hong Kong suspects to be deported to mainland China for trial. Despite initial peaceful demonstrations, the protests have only evolved to become more violent and destructive. A recently published study by the Lancet medical journal reported that a third of Hong Kong adults reported symptoms of PTSD following months of police violence. With nearly 2 million adults suffering from symptoms of PTSD, further studies will be needed to investigate the long-term health impacts of Hong Kong’s declining population mental health.