Wastewater research isn’t for the squeamish, but it can get to the bottom of questions about such things as the effectiveness of COVID-19 air travel restrictions. Tests of toilet tank water from flights entering the United Kingdom helped Welsh scientists determine that steps meant to keep the virus from traveling among countries appear to have failed. “Despite all the intervention measures that the U.K. had in place to try to stop people with the illness getting on flights to the U.K., almost every single plane we tested contained the virus, and most of the terminal sewers, too,” said researcher Davey Jones, a professor in the School of Natural Sciences at Bangor University in Wales. “That might have been because people developed symptoms after testing negative; or were evading the system, or for some other reason,” Jones said in a university news release. “But it showed that there was essentially a failure of border control in terms of COVID surveillance.” For their study, the researchers tested the toilet tank water taken from long- and short-haul flights entering Britain at three airports — Heathrow, Edinburgh and Bristol — between March 8 and March 31, 2022. They also collected samples from sewers connected to arrival halls in the airport terminals and from a nearby wastewater treatment plant. During those three weeks, almost all planes had SARS-CoV-2 in their…  read on >  read on >

Travel can be fun, but taxing. As the pandemic ebbs and people venture back out into the world, an expert from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston offers tips for ensuring a healthier, more peaceful vacation or work trip. “Though frequent travel can boost your mood and positively impact your mental health, keep in mind that it’s a two-way street,” said Dr. Mike Ren, assistant professor of family and community medicine at Baylor. “While traveling, it is important to keep up your physical and mental well-being to maximize the beneficial effects of travel.” Common symptoms of travel fatigue include trouble sleeping, feeling disengaged, having higher stress or anxiety levels, and overindulging in food or alcohol. Someone might need to take a break from traveling to reset, if symptoms are severe. Ren suggests talking to a doctor about whether a pause is needed or if symptoms don’t resolve. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure you are up to date on all your vaccinations, particularly for international travel, and if you are on prescription medications, make sure you have an adequate supply for travel and a few days upon return,” Ren said in a Baylor news release. “Make sure to maintain a good level of hygiene by washing your hands often and take advantage of telehealth visits while traveling if symptoms…  read on >  read on >

THURSDAY, Dec. 29, 2022 (HealthDay News) – All travelers flying from China to the United States will soon be required to produce a negative COVID test or show proof of recovery if they’ve had a recent COVID infection, U.S. health officials announced Wednesday. The new rule, set to go into effect on Jan. 5, was created in response to a surge in COVID cases in China and the “lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being reported from” that country, the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said in an agency news release. “What we want to avoid is having a variant enter into the U.S. and spread like we saw with Delta or Omicron,” Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told the Associated Press. The new requirement applies to people aged 2 and older flying from China and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. It also applies to those who’ve been in China within the past 10 days and are flying to the United States through Incheon International Airport in South Korea, Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport, both in Canada. Those three airports account for the majority of plane passenger traffic from China and its surrounding regions, the CDC noted. Passengers will need to supply a…  read on >  read on >

China plans to roll back some of its strict COVID-19 controls, including allowing more of its people to travel abroad. During the pandemic, the country has limited passports, allowing them only for family emergencies or some work travel, but the government announced Tuesday that it will begin taking applications for tourism passports on Jan. 8, the Associated Press reported. The National Immigration Administration of China will also take applications to extend, renew or reissue visas, the AP reported, noting that the agency hasn’t said when it might take applications for new visas. As the news hit, travel companies said they experienced a surge in website searches for visa information and international ticket bookings to places, including to the United States. Other popular sites were Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Britain and Australia. This could also lead to additional spread of the coronavirus as China is currently experiencing a COVID-19 surge, the AP reported. Reports from cities have suggested that the ongoing COVID wave in China has infected tens and possibly hundreds of millions of people, the AP reported, and could lead to between 1 million and 2 million deaths in that country through late 2023. Some countries, including Japan and India, have started requiring travelers from China to undergo COVID tests for the virus. South Korea tests travelers if they have elevated temperatures, the AP reported,…  read on >  read on >

Combining drugs with driving is a potentially deadly but all too common combination in the United States, according to a new report. University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers found that almost 9% of adults reported driving under the influence of alcohol. Marijuana use among drivers was more than 4%, while many adults also use both pot and other drugs in combination with alcohol. The most commonly reported drugs used while driving were marijuana and opioids, the study found. “We need to focus our efforts on drugged driving, in addition to drunk driving, because drugged driving causes such a high level of fatalities,” said study lead author Andrew Yockey. He’s a doctoral student in UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services. With lawful marijuana use rising in the United States, there are concerns about road safety, the researchers said in a university news release. Keith King, director of the UC Center for Prevention Science, said, “There is serious concern as to how legalization will affect driving behaviors among adults.” King called for more research to evaluate the impact of legalization. The team also emphasized education at an early age and identifying culturally relevant prevention strategies. For the study, the researchers used sample data from the 2016 to 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The investigators found that men were significantly more likely than…  read on >  read on >

Combining drugs with driving is a potentially deadly but all too common combination in the United States, according to a new report. University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers found that almost 9% of adults reported driving under the influence of alcohol. Marijuana use among drivers was more than 4%, while many adults also use both pot and other drugs in combination with alcohol. The most commonly reported drugs used while driving were marijuana and opioids, the study found. “We need to focus our efforts on drugged driving, in addition to drunk driving, because drugged driving causes such a high level of fatalities,” said study lead author Andrew Yockey. He’s a doctoral student in UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services. With lawful marijuana use rising in the United States, there are concerns about road safety, the researchers said in a university news release. Keith King, director of the UC Center for Prevention Science, said, “There is serious concern as to how legalization will affect driving behaviors among adults.” King called for more research to evaluate the impact of legalization. The team also emphasized education at an early age and identifying culturally relevant prevention strategies. For the study, the researchers used sample data from the 2016 to 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The investigators found that men were significantly more likely than…  read on >  read on >