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China punishes dozens of Xi’an officials as city grapples with COVID-19 lockdown

Dozens of officials have been punished over a virus outbreak in the locked-down city of Xi’an, China’s disciplinary body said Friday — the latest state reprimands under Beijing’s strict zero-Covid approach.

China, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019, is on high alert for new infections as it prepares to hold the Winter Olympics in February in the capital Beijing.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

The world’s most populous nation has reduced cases to a minimum thanks to a zero-Covid strategy of tight border restrictions, lengthy quarantines and targeted lockdowns.

But cases have been bubbling up in recent weeks — with Xi’an, home to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, telling all 13 million residents to stay home from Thursday, shuttering businesses and launching several rounds of mass testing.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Friday that 26 Communist Party officials had been punished for “insufficient rigor in preventing and controlling the outbreak”.

Xi’an reported another 49 cases on Friday, bringing the total outbreak to more than 250 in recent weeks.

Chinese officials who are deemed to have failed at controlling the virus in their region are regularly sacked or reprimanded.

The statement said inspections had revealed there had been a lax approach to testing and an uncoordinated response that hindered contact tracing in Xi’an.

Authorities would clamp down on “bureaucratic issues in disease control work such as shirking responsibility, not taking action, passing the buck and dealing with things in a negative way”, a Party discipline official said.

A party secretary in Inner Mongolia was sacked after his area was hit by a cluster of cases in October, while the head of Zhengzhou city’s health commission was sacked in August after cases this summer.

Cases from Xi’an have so far spread to five other cities including Beijing, according to state media — fuelling fears about how quickly the virus can spread geographically across the vast country.

Under lockdown rules, since Thursday all households in Xi’an have only been permitted to send one member outside every two days to purchase necessities.

Residents who want to leave the city must first apply for approval, while major venues including the museum housing the Terracotta Army — the mausoleum of China’s first emperor — have been shut until further notice.

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China orders 13 mln Xi’an residents to stay home over COVID-19 outbreak: Officials

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Healthpoint launches new procedure to help treat sleep apnea after success in 35-year-old patient

  • The new procedure provides same-day results and can help physicians identify and resolve underlying conditions that can cause high blood pressure or cardiac issues
  • It also helps diagnose patients with respiratory issues undetected by traditional screening options

Abu Dhabi, UAE; 06 February 2023: Healthpoint, a Mubadala Health partner, has introduced a new diagnostic procedure in the UAE that helps treat people with obstructive sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder that impairs breathing and results in poor sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when airflow is blocked during sleep. This causes the patient to stop breathing for a short period of time, which deprives the body and brain of oxygen. This interrupts sleep, causing loud snoring and choking noises, and results in the patient feeling tired, even after sleeping a full six to eight hours. Untreated, it often becomes the silent cause behind other common comorbidities such as hypertension, cardiac diseases, diabetes, and metabolic disorders, as well as strokes or heart attacks.

The patient who had been living in the UAE for five years, suffered from OSA. After trying many different traditional treatment options, including a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, he turned to Healthpoint’s multidisciplinary team, made up of specialists in sleep, anesthesiology, orthodontics and ear, nose and throat (ENT) issues.

Dr. Favas Thaivalappil recommended the newly introduced DISE-PSG procedure to the patient, and the team was able to use the comprehensive 3D evaluation procedure to diagnose and classify his complicated respiratory issue on the same day.

The DISE-PSG procedure involved an evaluation of the patient’s upper airway performed at various sleep stages. This, coupled with a synchronizing polysomnogram, also known as a sleep study, allows physicians to observe the stage of sleep a patient is in as well identify episodes of air flow obstruction, which was not previously possible.

The patient said, “After feeling a bit helpless from not seeing results from the various treatment options, it was a huge relief that after a few short and painless hours, Healthpoint’s multidisciplinary team were able to pinpoint exactly what the issue was and the different treatments options available to me, all in the same day. I literally walked away with a customized and alternative treatment option. From this approach, I am now able to consider different options that we know will work, from oral appliances to a specific type of surgery to treat my OSA. After years of struggling with this condition, I am looking forward to that first night of rested sleep soon.”

Dr. Favas Thaivalappil, Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine Consultant and Head of Sleep Center, Healthpoint said: “We often see a lot of patients affected by sleep-related breathing disorders complaining about a lack of sleep, many of which have underlying conditions that can cause high blood pressure or cardiac issues. We can usually determine the root cause of the issue and treat the conditions effectively. However, in patients who are unable to comply with traditional sleep therapy options, a personalized approach is essential to identify their underlying cause and to plan the treatment accordingly,”

“For this patient, this procedure helped us identify the site of the obstruction in more detail, allowing us to offer customized alternative treatment options of sleep apnea including reconsideration of an oral appliance or surgery. The DISE-PSG procedure is a very useful investigation method for selected patients who have had a bad night’s sleep for far too long. Through Healthpoint, we are now able to bring this new procedure to the region to help detect and diagnose complicated respiratory illnesses and provide modern treatment options to them, and probably of the benefit to their wider family too,” continued Dr. Favas.

Healthpoint specializes in sleep-related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome (RLS), excessive day time sleepiness, disorders related to the circadian rhythm and parasomnia. With a dedicated team of multidisciplinary experts, including sleep physicians, surgeons, dentists, psychologists and qualified sleep therapists, Healthpoint’s Sleep Medicine Center is designed to diagnose and help to treat patients suffering from sleep and respiratory illnesses using precision-based technology.

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WHO launches bid to tackle inequalities behind global breast cancer threat

A UN-led global initiative to tackle breast cancer could save 2.5 million lives by 2040, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, just ahead of World Cancer Day.

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Fake medicines kill almost 500,000 sub-Saharan Africans a year: UNODC report

Trafficked medical products kill almost half a million sub-Saharan Africans every year, and action is needed to stem the flow, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) states in its new threat assessment report.

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