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Coronavirus: Testing problems to be solved in weeks, says Hancock

The testing system is facing an “enormous challenge” after a “sharp rise” in those seeking a Covid-1..



The testing system is facing an “enormous challenge” after a “sharp rise” in those seeking a Covid-19 test, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

When asked about reports of people struggling to get tested, Mr Hancock said it would take a “matter of weeks” to resolve the issues.

He said No 10 would update its testing policy shortly to prioritise the most urgent cases.

Test slots have been limited due to bottlenecks in lab processing of swabs.

The rise in demand for tests had led to local shortages, with Labour saying no tests were available in virus “hotspots” over the weekend.

Hospital bosses have also warned that a lack of tests for NHS workers is putting services at risk.

People have told the BBC of their frustration at being turned away from a walk-in test centre in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

A woman attending the walk-in centre said staff told her that labs were struggling to turn tests around.

BBC Health editor Hugh Pym said: “There seem to be enough testing sites, but there are bottlenecks in the labs for processing the swabs taken. That’s why they’re limiting the amount of slots for the public, just when more people want to get tested.”

One Cabinet minister told BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg this was a “classic government problem” where demand for a public service outstrips supply.

The minister, she said, was confident that “underneath the noise”, the majority of people were getting the service they needed, when they needed it.

On Saturday, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told the BBC that the government was working to boost testing capacity through investment in new testing centres and so-called lighthouse labs.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is hopeful that a backlog in test results will be resolved shortly, after “constructive” talks with Mr Hancock.

The UK government announced 3,105 new lab-confirmed cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of positive tests to 374,228. Another 27 people have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, bringing the overall death toll to 41,664.

The number of patients in mechanical ventilation beds across the UK has passed 100 for the first time in nearly two months. There were 106 patients on ventilation in the UK on Monday – the first time the figure has been over 100 since 24 July.

UK-wide figures for today are yet to be published but there were 101 patients on ventilation in England alone on Tuesday.

Around 220,000 tests are processed each day, according to government figures released last week, with a testing capacity of more than 350,000 – which includes swab tests and antibody tests. The aim is to increase that to 500,000 a day by the end of October.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said there were “operational challenges” with testing which the government was “working hard” to fix.

He said throughout the pandemic they had prioritised testing according to need.

Mr Hancock said the “top priority is and always has been acute clinical care”, followed by social care, where the government is sending “over 100,000 tests a day” due to the virus risks in care homes.

Conservative chairman of the Health and Social Care Committee Jeremy Hunt was among the MPs to question Mr Hancock on testing, saying a number of his constituents had to travel for tests, while one key worker had to wait a week for her results.

“A week ago today, the secretary of state told the Health Select Committee that he expected to have this problem solved in two weeks,” Mr Hunt said.

“Is the secretary of state, given the efforts that his department is making, still confident that in a week’s time we will have this problem solved?”

“I think that we will be able to solve this problem in a matter of weeks,” Mr Hancock replied.

He said demand was “high” but “record capacity” was being delivered, with plans to ensure tests are prioritised for those that need them most.

Despite the health secretary’s promises, there will be no easy solution to the shortages of tests.

All the expectations are that cases will go up. People are circulating more as society reopens and we are entering the period when respiratory viruses thrive.

As cases go up so will demands on the testing system. Even with the promise of more testing capacity in the coming weeks, the chances of shortages continuing remains a distinct possibility.

A new lab is due to open later this month which will be able to carry out 50,000 tests a day. But this could easily be swallowed up.

What it means is that testing will have to be prioritised where it is needed most. That will be in care homes, hospitals and among key workers, as well as where there are local outbreaks. The government’s surveillance programme run by the Office for National Statistics will also be protected.

But this is not unique to the UK. Other countries are facing similar pressures. In fact, the UK is testing more people per head of population than Spain, France and Germany.

It promises to be a difficult winter across Europe.

‘Enormous challenge’

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Mr Hancock was “losing control of this virus”.

He said that after schools and offices reopened, extra demand on the system was “inevitable”. He questioned why Mr Hancock did not use the summer “to significantly expand” NHS lab capacity and “fix” contact tracing.

Responding, Mr Hancock said it was “inevitable” that demand would rise with a free service, adding the “challenge” was to ensure tests are prioritised for those who most need them.

Earlier, Home Secretary Priti Patel told BBC Breakfast the government was “surging capacity” where it was needed.

She said there is “much more work” to be done with Public Health England (PHE) and local public health bodies; and that No 10 would continue to work with PHE to “surge where there is demand” in hotspots.

Ms Patel also said England’s new rule of six meant families should not stop in the street to talk to friends.

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How does overeating affect the immune system?



Overeating is a common problem that affects millions of people worldwide. While it is widely understood that excessive eating leads to obesity and other health problems, many people are unaware of the impact that overeating has on the immune system. In this article, we will explore how overeating affects the immune system and what can be done to prevent or mitigate the damage.

The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against harmful substances and infections. It is responsible for identifying and eliminating harmful pathogens and other invaders that may cause harm to the body. When the body is functioning normally, the immune system works efficiently to keep us healthy. However, when the body is subjected to chronic stress, such as from overeating, it can become weakened, making it less effective at protecting the body against illness and disease.

One of the ways in which overeating affects the immune system is by increasing inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury or infection, but when it becomes chronic, it can have a negative impact on the immune system. Chronic inflammation is associated with a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

Another way in which overeating affects the immune system is by altering the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and play a crucial role in maintaining good health. When the body is exposed to a high-fat diet, the balance of gut bacteria can become disrupted, leading to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and the suppression of beneficial bacteria. This can result in decreased gut function and reduced immune function, making it more difficult for the body to protect itself against harmful pathogens.

In addition, overeating can also lead to obesity, which is a major risk factor for a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Obesity is associated with a range of physiological changes, including insulin resistance and the release of cytokines, which are signaling molecules that play a crucial role in the immune response. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of cytokines, it can lead to a state of chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

Finally, overeating can also affect the immune system by causing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when the body is exposed to an excessive amount of free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that can cause damage to cells and tissues. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to oxidative stress, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

In conclusion, overeating can have a profound impact on the immune system. By increasing inflammation, altering the gut microbiome, causing obesity, and inducing oxidative stress, overeating can weaken the body’s ability to protect itself against harmful pathogens and other invaders. To maintain a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, engage in regular exercise, and avoid overeating. By taking these simple steps, you can help protect your immune system and reduce your risk of illness and disease.

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Homelessness and mental illness are two intertwined issues that have a complex relationship. Homelessness can cause or worsen mental illness and, conversely, mental illness can contribute to homelessness. It is a vicious cycle that can be difficult to escape, and it is important to understand the ways in which these two issues are interconnected.

Homelessness can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health. Living on the streets can be a traumatic experience, with a constant fear of violence, theft, and disease. Homeless individuals often face stigma, discrimination, and a lack of privacy, which can lead to feelings of shame, hopelessness, and isolation. The stress and unpredictability of homelessness can trigger or exacerbate mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mental illness, on the other hand, can also contribute to homelessness. Mental illness can make it difficult for individuals to maintain employment, manage their finances, and maintain stable housing. Individuals with mental illness may struggle with accessing treatment and support, and the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness can also contribute to feelings of shame and isolation. These challenges can lead to a cycle of homelessness and mental illness, where each issue exacerbates the other.

There is a need for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness and mental illness. This includes providing safe and stable housing, access to mental health treatment and support, and addressing the underlying social determinants of health that contribute to homelessness, such as poverty, lack of education and job opportunities.

Housing First, a program that prioritizes providing permanent housing to homeless individuals before addressing any other issues, has been shown to be effective in reducing homelessness and improving mental health outcomes. This approach recognizes that stable housing is a critical foundation for addressing other issues, including mental health.

In conclusion, homelessness and mental illness are complex and interrelated issues that require a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address. Providing stable housing and access to mental health treatment and support is critical for breaking the cycle of homelessness and mental illness and improving outcomes for individuals experiencing these issues. It is important to continue to address the root causes of homelessness, including poverty and lack of access to education and employment opportunities, to reduce the prevalence of homelessness and improve outcomes for those experiencing it.

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Improving Reception For Children With Cancer – Basque Family Support Association



The association “Tous avec Agosti” wants 2023 to rhyme with new dynamics. For nine years now, the structure has been working to welcome families of hospitalized children in Bayonne. Since 2018, 47 families have been able to find some respite in an apartment in Anglet.

Apartment in Anglet

Since she has benefited from an apartment in Anglet, the association “Tous avec Agosti” has enabled nearly 50 families of patients hospitalized at the Center Hospitalier de la Côte Basque to stay close to their loved ones. This represents 600 overnight stays, 47 families from 23 departments and even from Belgium and Spain. At the beginning of 2023, the structure has just had its prefectural approval renewed and sees things big.

“We have been working in our area for years,” notes Frédéric de Arroyave, the association’s president, but “in 2023, we will show ourselves much more, on the markets for example, but also in acts. The apartment we have in Anglet is a haven of peace for families going through terrible times, but for some it is difficult to access”. The apartment is located on the alleys of the Jardins d’Arcadie, near Biarritz – Pays Basque airport. We want to get closer to the Bayonne hospital.

The association “Tous avec Agosti” was born in 2015. Agosti, 10 years old, is suffering from cancer and taken care of at Bordeaux hospital for 6 months. His father, Frédéric de Arroyave, living in Ahetze, has the possibility of integrating a parents’ house and can stay with his child. Such a structure did not exist in Bayonne, so he launched the project and the association which lives today thanks to donations from contributors and the dozen (very) active volunteers. Each year, approximately 4,000 children are hospitalized in Bayonne.

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