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COVID Symptoms To Watch Out For, Says NIH Study

Over the last year, health experts and researchers have established that COVID-19 can impact the neurological system. However, it is still unclear exactly how the infection wreaks havoc on the brain, resulting in curious symptoms including delirium, fatigue, headaches and loss of sense of smell and taste and even causing strokes. Now, a new study claims to be one step closer to establishing a relationship between the virus and the brain, finding that while it does in fact do damage to it, it is not the result of a direct viral attack. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus. COVID Causes an Inflammatory Response, Which Can Affect the Brain, Study ShowsThe study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that while those who died as a result of the virus sometimes had thinning and leaky brain blood vessels, there was no sign of infection in the tissues, suggesting the damage was not a result of a direct viral infection. “We found that the brains of patients who contract infection from SARS-CoV-2 may be susceptible to microvascular blood vessel damage. Our results suggest that this may be caused by the body’s inflammatory response to the virus,” Avindra Nath, senior author on the study said in a press release courtesy of the NIH. “We hope these results will help doctors understand the full spectrum of problems patients may suffer so that we can come up with better treatments.”Researchers analyzed brain tissue samples of 19 patients from five to 73 years old, all who died anywhere from hours to two months after contracting the virus. Many of them had more than one risk factor, including obesity, diabetes and other cardiovascular issues. They used a high-powered magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, up to ten times more sensitive than the average MRI scanner, observing multiple bright and dark spots, which indicate inflammation and bleeding, in both regions of the brain. “We were completely surprised. Originally, we expected to see damage that is caused by a lack of oxygen. Instead, we saw multifocal areas of damage that is usually associated with strokes and neuroinflammatory diseases,” said Dr. Nath.Upon further investigation, they found thinning blood vessels leaking protein into the brain, which triggered an immune reaction. Additionally, they noted that the dark spots had clotted and leaky blood vessels with no immune response. However, no evidence of the virus was found in tissue samples. “So far, our results suggest that the damage we saw may not have been not caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus directly infecting the brain,” Dr. Nath stated. “In the future, we plan to study how COVID-19 harms the brain’s blood vessels and whether that produces some of the short- and long-term symptoms we see in patients.”RELATED: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say DoctorsSymptoms to Watch Out For”Nationwide, a small number of people who recovered from COVID-19 are reporting neurological concerns such as headache, dizziness, lingering loss of smell or taste, muscle weakness, nerve damage, and trouble thinking or concentrating — sometimes called ‘COVID fog’ or ‘brain fog,'” reports Danbury Hospital. Delirium has been reported too. “There’s still much to learn about COVID-19 because it’s a new virus, including possible long-term neurological complications. What we do know is that it’s important to talk with your healthcare clinician if you have any health concerns after recovering from the virus.”RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We’d Be Back to “Normal”How to Survive This PandemicAs for yourself, follow the public health fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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Apple’s Quarterly Revenue Surpasses $100 Billion For First Time –



Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has reported blockbuster results and announced that its quarterly revenue topped $100 billion U.S. for the first time, fueled by strong holiday sales of the new iPhone 12.

Apple reported that its sales jumped 21% to $111.4 billion U.S. in the period ended December 26, the Cupertino, California-based technology company said on Thursday after markets closed. Analysts, on average, had expected revenue of $103.1 billion U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. Apple’s profit was $1.68 U.S. a share, also topping Wall Street estimates.

For the fourth quarter in a row, Apple didn’t provide a revenue forecast for the current period. The company previously cited uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic in choosing not to provide forward sales projections.

Expectations have been high for Apple since it unveiled its 5G enabled iPhone 12 and with suggestions of a new iPhone “super cycle.” Apple also recently introduced other new devices, including an updated Apple Watch, and demand increased for iPads, Mac computers and services from consumers working and studying from home during the pandemic.

As expected, Apple’s revenue was propelled by the iPhone 12, the first iPhone line to include four new models and 5G capabilities. Handset sales for the quarter came in at $65.6 billion U.S., easily beating Wall Street estimates of $60.3 billion U.S.

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Why you might want to start wearing better masks — even outdoors –



The spread of more contagious coronavirus variants in Canada amid already high levels of COVID-19 makes it a critical time to think about the masks we wear. 

Whether that means finding better quality masks, doubling up on masks, or wearing them in settings we wouldn’t normally think to, experts say it’s time we step up our game.

The variants first identified in South Africa and the U.K are spreading in Canada, in some cases with no known link to travel, and have already led to devastating outbreaks in long-term care homes. 

The variant discovered in the U.K., known as B117, is estimated to be at least 56 per cent more transmissible and potentially more deadly than the original coronavirus strain.

But even as COVID-19 case numbers show early signs of slowing down in Canada, experts say it’s becoming more important than ever to lower our risk of exposure as much as possible to prevent variants from taking hold here. 

“The floodwaters are receding right now, but it’s still very, very dangerous,” said Erin Bromage, a biology professor and immunologist at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth who studies infectious diseases.

“If [B117] does pop up as the dominant variant here, we are going to need to really up our game in regards to masks, in regards to … how many contacts we have in a day, because it definitely appears to have an upper hand.” 

‘Time to step it up’ with masks

Canada currently recommends the use of three-layer non-medical masks with a filter layer to prevent the spread of the virus, but has not updated its recommendations since November, before the emergence of new variants. 

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, said that while three-layer non-medical masks are a good “minimum standard,” Canadians should opt for masks that offer better protection whenever possible.

Those include surgical masks, which are a step below N95 or KN95 masks. They come in three different filtration levels determined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

WATCH: How does a three-layer mask protect you from COVID-19?

Doctors answer viewer questions about COVID-19 including why three-layer masks are now being recommended to protect against the virus. 5:22

“When I go to the grocery store now, I wear my very best mask,” said Linsey Marr, one of the top aerosol scientists in the world and an expert on the airborne transmission of viruses at Virginia Tech. “Before I was wearing an OK mask that was comfortable and easy.”

She said a cloth mask can “easily filter out half of particles, maybe more, but we’re at the point where we need better performance.” 

Bromage said he changed his approach to masks several months ago when COVID-19 cases started to spike in many parts of North America. That’s when he ditched common cloth masks for surgical masks, he said.

Bromage said Level 3 ASTM surgical masks, those that are used at dental clinics, for example, offer both a better level of protection and a better quality fit.

“The most important part is you’ve got to make sure your breath actually goes through the material,” he said.

“You really should see the mask expand and then collapse and expand and collapse with each breath that you take. That’s a good indication that what you’re breathing is actually going through the material.” 

Double-masking and other tips

Bromage said a tight-fitting mask is more important than ever due to the emergence of variants, which is why it’s becoming more common to see people wearing two masks at the same time.

“It’s not that double-masking provides extra protection if the mask was fitting well,” he said. “Double-masking helps the mask that is closest to your skin fit more snugly, meaning more air goes through that mask.”

If you’re already wearing a high-quality mask that fits well, with air going through the material rather than out the sides, Bromage said there’s really no extra benefit in throwing an extra mask on top.  

U.S. President Joe Biden seen wearing two masks in this file photo as he arrives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Oct. 13, 2020. Immunologist Erin Bromage says a tight-fitting mask is more important than ever due to the emergence of variants, which is why it’s becoming more common to see people ‘double-masking.’ (AFP via Getty Images)

He recommends looking at yourself in the mirror before you go out to make sure your mask isn’t too loose fitting, which could put you at heightened risk of exposure in situations such as in-store shopping. 

“I really want people to look at them and think, is all the air going through the material? And if it’s not, work out a way to do that,” he said. “And that may be putting a second mask on or finding a different mask that fits their face.” 

Outdoors not without risk

Coronavirus variants can also change the level of risk we face in situations that are typically more safe, such as being outdoors. 

Places such as San Francisco and New Brunswick have mandated outdoor mask use, and Toronto and Ottawa recently announced they now require face masks for outdoor activities such as skating.

“The risk is much lower outdoors than indoors, but with the new variants, we should be more careful outdoors as well as indoors,” said Marr.

“The times we need to be paying attention to it is if there are a lot of people around at a sporting event, or in a crowded park, or if you’re out walking or running and you’re passing by several people per minute, because all those little exposures can add up over time.”

Coronavirus variants can also change the level of risk we face in situations that are typically more safe, such as being outdoors. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Bromage said he gets concerned when he sees a group of people huddling together outdoors without moving around.

“The closer you are outdoors, the much more risky it is,” he said. 

While not common, there have been cases of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 in Canada.  

An outdoor 40-person barbecue at a park in Ottawa this summer led to 105 people being exposed and two testing positive, while a “heated conversation” in B.C. caused an infection. 

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told CBC News there have been several outdoor transmission events between spectators “clustering and talking with each other” during soccer games, and during wedding receptions where groups of people crowded together under tents.

“Again it comes down to being in close contact, without a mask, talking loudly or sharing food and drinks that makes it risky even outside,” Henry said.  

She said B.C. has not seen transmission from brief outdoor encounters, waiting in line outside or at outdoor picnics where people maintain a reasonable distance and wear masks when close for short periods of time.

Chagla said standing six-feet apart while wearing masks is a responsible way to interact with others outdoors.

“There are ways to do things outdoors safely, even in the context of the variant,” said Chagla. “You don’t want outside to be a free pass, but you also want to use it for what it is, to let people see each other and have contact with humanity, too.” 

Places such as San Francisco and New Brunswick have mandated outdoor mask use and Toronto and Ottawa recently announced they require face masks for outdoor activities such as skating. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Bromage said that while the risk of exposure outdoors is less than indoors, the risk of both is higher due to the emergence of coronavirus variants.

“It’s really time that people think about upping their game just in general,” he said.

“Because if we are going to get a new wave from this variant, and it’s already going to build off a very high level of infection that we already have, we need to do better to keep it out of our lives.”

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WhatsApp adds biometric authentication for logging in on desktop – The Verge



Linking your WhatsApp account to your computer’s web browser or desktop app is getting a little more secure. Soon, if you’ve got biometric authentication enabled on your phone, you’ll have to unlock the app before you can link your account.

The company says the new system is intended to ensure that should someone else gain access to your phone, they won’t be able to link your account to their web browser (which, in turn, would allow them to see any messages you send or receive).

The new system will be enabled by default on any iPhone devices running iOS 14 with either Touch ID or Face ID, and any Android devices that have biometric authentication enabled. That means users will have to use it to link their accounts unless they disable biometric authentication for their entire device. Users who don’t have a biometric authentication setup on their phone (or have it turned off) will be able to link their account as usual.

As with any other use of biometric security on modern smartphones, the new system does not mean that WhatsApp is accessing or collecting your facial scans or fingerprints. Rather, it’s just using the same biometric data APIs every other app does in order to access the on-device security system as an extra measure of authentication before it allows users to connect their accounts.

So in the same way that using a fingerprint reader to log in to your banking app doesn’t grant Chase or Bank of America your fingerprint scans, using the new biometric unlock system here to link your account to your computer isn’t giving WhatsApp (or Facebook) your personal information either.

WhatsApp says that the new update should be rolling out for compatible devices in the coming weeks.

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