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** Call it national government, call it emergency government – but the need for change is urgent ** Rains lash Dhaka, trigger snarls ** Global Covid cases near 527 million ** No advice to be economical, honest people are already in hardship ** Flooding affects millions in Sylhet ** India, Bangladesh train services to resume shortly ** Global Covid cases near 526 million ** Gridlocks greet capital commuters ** Consumers buying rice from a Food Directorate's Truck posted at Abdul Gani road in the capital on Thursday amid soaring prices of essential commodities. NN photo ** Is Bangladesh heading toward a Sri Lanka-like crisis? ** Veteran journalist Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury no more ** Averting currency crisis without power sector reform ** Boatmen struggle to cross the Buriganga River as water hyacinths cover part of the river near Islampur in the capital. NN photo ** Nasir, two others indicted in Pori Moni case ** Covid-19: Bangladesh logs 22 new cases, no death ** HC cancels bail of expelled JL leader Samrat ** Truck-microbus collision leaves 2 dead in Natore ** PK Halder now wants to return to Bangladesh knowing he has powerful friends to help him ** Sylhet flood situation worsens, thousands marooned ** Extradition of PK Halder has to go thru’ legal process: Indian envoy ** Govt fixes toll rate for using Padma Bridge ** Bangladesh marks Hasina's homecoming ** Global Covid cases near 522 million ** Children take bath in the Buriganga River in Dhaka to ward off the scorching summer heat. This photo was taken from Buriganga embankment on Monday. NN photo ** Sweden takes formal decision to apply for NATO membership **

Hug people in a coronavirus-stricken world!

07 August 2020
Hug people in a coronavirus-stricken world!


Linda Geddes :
IF THE pandemic has left you craving a cuddle, you aren't alone. Some 60 per cent of people in the US reported feeling touch-deprived during the first month of lockdown, suggests a new study, even though only a fifth of those surveyed lived alone.
Tiffany Field at the University of Miami in Florida and her colleagues surveyed 260 adults and found that those reporting touch deprivation scored higher on scales measuring anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep issues and post-traumatic stress.
Touch deprivation was more common in people living alone, but also affected those living with family or friends. "Only 33 per cent of people said they were touching their partner a lot, and as many as 37 per cent said they weren't touching them at all," says Field (Medical Research Archives, in press).
A separate study of more than 1000 US adults found that those who frequently hugged, kissed or met up with friends and family in lockdown were 26 per cent less likely to report symptoms of depression and 28 per cent less likely to report loneliness, regardless of whether they were married or cohabiting. Regular video chats didn't show the same benefits (medRxiv, doi.org/d5hf).
"We saw stronger mental health benefits from types of contact that involved touch, which aligns well with the benefits we know come from close touching, like decreased heart rate, higher levels of oxytocin and lower levels of cortisol," says Molly Rosenberg at the Indiana School of Public Health in Bloomington, who led the work.
Given these benefits, is a quick hug out of the question? Rosenberg stresses the importance of limiting contact with non-household members to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and most governments continue to advise people to maintain a distance of at least 1 metre from others.
But proximity isn't the only factor. "Because most hugs are just a brief encounter - and the short time is really key here - I think there are ways to lower the risks to what is, to me, an acceptable level, especially given the benefits of hugging," says Linsey Marr at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Avoiding face-to-face contact is key. Marr recommends face coverings, pointing faces in opposite directions and not touching the other person's face or clothing with your face. "This is not a spontaneous act: you have to plan, and you should ask consent," she says.
"Most hugs are just a brief encounter, and there are ways to lower the risks"
"It would also be prudent to wash your hands before and after you hug, and maybe not exhale," says Margaret Hosie at the University of Glasgow, UK.
Experts emphasise hugging isn't risk free and shouldn't be routine. It should also be avoided by those in high risk groups or showing any symptoms of illness. Even so, "I believe we are at a stage of the pandemic in which we should all be able to make our own risk assessment, based on what is now known about the virus and its transmission patterns, and then act accordingly", says David Heymann at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

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