Study confirms mitigation is necessary in schools

A study has confirmed that wide-ranging mitigation measures are necessary to prevent COVID-19 transmission in schools. The research, led by scientists from Swiss government agencies and CERN (the European Council for Nuclear Research), was published online on 20 August.

It found: “The most effective single intervention was natural ventilation through the full opening of six windows all day during the winter (14-fold decrease in cumulative dose), followed by the universal use of surgical face masks (8-fold decrease). In the spring/summer, natural ventilation was only effective (≥ 2-fold decrease) when windows were fully open all day.”

A combination of multiple mitigating measures led to a greatly increased reduction in risk. “Combined interventions (ie. natural ventilation, masks, and HEPA filtration) were the most effective (≥ 30-fold decrease). Combined interventions remained highly effective in the presence of a super-spreader,” the paper found.

The authors concluded: “Natural ventilation, face masks, and HEPA filtration are effective interventions to reduce SARS-CoV-2 aerosol transmission. These measures should be combined and complemented by additional interventions (eg. physical distancing, hygiene, testing, contact tracing, and vaccination) to maximise benefit.”
Read more: Jennifer Villers et al. SARS-CoV-2 aerosol transmission in schools: the effectiveness of different interventions, [Abstract and Full article (pdf)] medRxiv 2021.08.17.21262169; published online 29 August 2021. doi: Source: Risks 1011

Healthy lifestyle interventions for workers during COVID-19

COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of workers. The reinstatement of lockdowns and associated restrictions contribute to increased sedentary behaviours, decreased physical activity and often poor dietary choices, such as snacking and higher consumption of alcohol.

A research trial conducted by Spanish researchers among university employees aimed to turn this trend around by conducting three supervised interventions over 18 weeks:

  • Education on healthy habits
  • Mediterranean diet for nutrition
  • Telematic (supervised in real-time) aerobic and strength exercises.

Participants were surveyed six months after completing the interventions and the results showed employees adhered to a healthier lifestyle. Sitting time was reduced by 2.5 hours per day, physical activity levels increased, and health-related quality of life improved by more than four points, which is of clinical significance.

These positive results suggest employers could consider healthy lifestyle programs and services for workers during COVID-19 and beyond, especially those workers that continue working from home as part of ongoing flexible working arrangements.
Read more: Guillermo García Pérez de Sevilla, et al: Adherence to a Lifestyle Exercise and Nutrition Intervention in University Employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Randomized Controlled Trial [Full article] Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jul; 18(14): 7510. Published online 2021 Jul 14. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18147510

Is working in later life good for your health?

Work, rather than unemployment, is recognised as being good for health, but there may be an age when the negatives  outweigh the benefits. As countries around the world increase their typical retirement age, the potential effect on population health and health inequalities needs to be examined.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield carried out a systematic review of literature published since 2011 from developed countries on the health effects of employment in those over 64 years of age.

The seventeen relevant studies they identified found evidence of beneficial or neutral effects from extended working on overall health status and physical health for many employees, and mixed effects on mental health. The benefits reported however, were most likely to be for males, those working part-time or reducing to part-time, and employees in jobs which are not low quality or low reward.

They concluded that extending working life (particularly part time) may have benefits or a neutral effect for some, but adverse effects for others in high demand or low reward jobs. However, there is the real potential for health inequalities between those who can choose to reduce their working hours, and those who need to continue working full time for financial reasons to be widened. Further, they found a lack of evidence for effects on quality of life, and or on interventions to enable older workers to extend their healthy working life.
Read more: Susan Baxter, et al. Is working in later life good for your health? A systematic review of health outcomes resulting from extended working lives [Full articleBMC Public Health 21, 1356 (2021).


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