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Doctors warn of spike in short-sightedness caused by staring at screens to relieve boredom 

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doctors warn of spike in short sightedness caused by staring at screens to relieve boredom

Coronavirus lockdowns could have damaged the eyesight of thousands of people, scientists have warned.

Another study has discovered spending hours looking at screens can lead to short-sightedness, which causes distant objects to appear blurred.

And eye specialists in Singapore, Germany and Japan, behind the research, fear the Covid-19 pandemic may cause rates of the condition to spiral.

The doctors analysed data of 120,643 children and found ‘increased digital screen time and limited outdoor activities’ were linked to causing myopia.   

And they wrote both factors ‘could potentially be aggravated during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak period’.

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31593956 0 image a 8 1596631803927

Looking at screens more during lockdown could cause a spike in short-sightedness, according to a new study (stock picture)

Countries across the world adopted strict measures to strangle the virus, including blanket lockdowns that effectively banned socialising outdoors.

Such policies have led to children taking classes online, friends talking over Zoom instead of in real-life and people binge-watching TV. 

The experts said ‘behavioural changes that arise from the growing dependence on digital devices may persist even after the pandemic’.

They wrote: ‘There is a possibility that a prolonged battle against the Covid-19 virus may lead to an increase in the incidence of myopia.’

The team warned the drastic measures may shape ‘long term behavioural changes conducive for the onset and progression of myopia’.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has already said all GP appointments should be done over by phone or video unless there ‘is a compelling clinical reason not to’.   

The study’s warning — based on reviews of older studies on myopia — was published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHORT AND LONG-SIGHTEDNESS? 

Both short-sightedness and long-sightedness are common conditions which diminish a person’s eyesight. 

Short-sighted people (myopic) have difficulty seeing objects at a distance.

They favour objects that are closer to them.  

Their vision is clear when looking at things up close, but further away objects become out of focus or blurred.

Short-sightedness (myopia) occurs when the distance from the front to the back of the cornea’s curve is too steep. 

This forces the light to focus in front of the retina, making objects in the distance appear blurred. 

Long-sightedness (hyperopic) is the opposite of this and allows people to see  objects clearly at a distance but find it hard to focus on things close to them.

This makes day-to-day activities such as working, reading or watching TV difficult and can result in eye strain. This then produces fatigue and headaches. 

Long-sightedness (hyperopic) occurs when the distance from the front to the back of the cornea’s curve is too steep.  

 

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Short-sightedness happens when eyeballs grow slightly too long so that light can’t focus on the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye properly. 

Light rays end up focusing just in front of the retina and make objects in the distance seem blurry.   

It often runs in families and has been linked to focusing on nearby objects, such as books and computers, for long periods during childhood.  

The NHS says: ‘Ensuring your child regularly spends time playing outside may help to reduce their risk of becoming short-sighted.’

Experts warned children faced the greatest risk, given the controversial decisions to shut schools and make them rely on digital devices to learn.   

Roughly 3.8billion people across the world currently have myopia. But it is estimated that 5billion people worldwide will suffer by 2050. 

Governments around the world have already tried to curb spiralling rates in the past by encouraging children to spend more time outside.

In Taiwan, the government once encouraged schools to get students outside for two hours a day in a bid to cut spiralling rates of myopia. 

But it is much harder to spend time outside during lockdown — first imposed in the UK on March 23 to tackle the Covid-19 crisis.

Health chiefs across the country told Brits to ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’.  

Blanket advice wasn’t put into place in the US and different states imposed different measures. 

But the Center for Disease Control still urges the public to ‘understand the potential risks of going out’.    

UNESCO says 1.4billion students across the world have been affected by lockdown measures and have been forced to adopt digital and e-learning. 

The review was led by experts at the Singapore Eye Research Institute, Germany’s Heidelberg University and the Tokyo Medical and Dental University. 

One of the studies reviewed by experts — of 5,000 youngsters in the Netherlands —found a strong link between increased computer use and myopia. 

Another study of 418 children in Ireland revealed that smartphone usage was also associated with myopia. 

And one review of various studies that included 25,025 children aged six to 18 found spending less time reading may reduce the risk of myopia.

But according to the results, increased screen time wasn’t actually directly linked to myopia.   

However, children gave self-reported measurements of screen time which could be biased and not accurate.  

The World Health Organization recommends less than one hour of sedentary screen time for children aged between one and five every day. 

The authors of the study, led by Dr Chee Wai Wong from the Singapore National Eye Centre, advise children spend two or three hours outside every day. 

The team wrote: ‘The health benefits of outdoor activities and an active lifestyle should not be stifled by Covid-19.’ 

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Canadian woman, 53, suspected of mailing ricin to President Trump

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canadian woman 53 suspected of mailing ricin to president trump

The woman accused of mailing envelope containing ricin to President Trump and to to law enforcement in Texas has been identified as a 53-year-old a French-born resident of Quebec who previously served time in a Texas jail.

Court records first obtained by CBC named the suspect as Pascale Ferrier, who was arrested on Sunday by the US Customs and Border Protection on the US-Canada border near Buffalo, New York. She was caught carrying a gun. 

She is expected to make her initial appearance in federal court in Buffalo later today.  

Named: Pascale Ferrier, 53, a French-born resident of Quebec, has been identified as the woman suspected of mailing ricin letters to President Trump at the White House

Named: Pascale Ferrier, 53, a French-born resident of Quebec, has been identified as the woman suspected of mailing ricin letters to President Trump at the White House

Named: Pascale Ferrier, 53, a French-born resident of Quebec, has been identified as the woman suspected of mailing ricin letters to President Trump at the White House

Authorities believe Ferrier sent a total of six letters; one to Trump and the others to people in Texas. 

Ferrier, a native of France, became a Canadian citizen in November 2015 after living in the country for seven years. According to sources speaking to CTV News, she works as a computer programmer. 

Ferrier had been living in the US last year and was arrested in Mission, Texas, in March 2019 on a charge of tampering with a government record for using a fake driver’s license.

Ferrier pleaded not guilty and spent 20 days in jail pending trial before prosecutors dropped the charge because it was her first offense.

Ferrier, a native of France living in Canada, had spent 20 days in a Texas jail last year after being charged with using a fake driver's license

Ferrier, a native of France living in Canada, had spent 20 days in a Texas jail last year after being charged with using a fake driver's license

Ferrier, a native of France living in Canada, had spent 20 days in a Texas jail last year after being charged with using a fake driver’s license 

Just weeks after regaining her freedom, Ferrier was deported back to Canada for overstaying her six-month visa and committing a crime on US soil, the New York Times reported. She was said to have moved to Laval, Quebec. 

The first poison-tainted letter allegedly sent by Ferrier was intercepted earlier this week at the final offsite processing facility where mail is screened before it reaches the White House. A preliminary investigation confirmed the presence of ricin from Canada.

The letter addressed to the White House appeared to have originated in Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have said. 

And envelopes containing ricin were also mailed to law enforcement agencies in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, according to another law enforcement official.  

An envelope containing ricin was mailed and addressed to President Trump (pictured) earlier this week from an address in Canada

An envelope containing ricin was mailed and addressed to President Trump (pictured) earlier this week from an address in Canada

An envelope containing ricin was mailed and addressed to President Trump (pictured) earlier this week from an address in Canada

The official did not say which agencies were sent the envelopes but said they are believed to have been mailed by the same person who sent one to the White House.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

One of the envelopes was sent to the police in Mission, Texas, said Investigator Art Flores, a spokesman for the border community’s police department. He said no one was hurt.

Although Flores did not specify which agency, Sheriff Eddie Guerra of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office revealed he had been a recipient.

Sheriff Eddie Guerra  (pictured) of the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office announced that he had received a envelope of ricin

Sheriff Eddie Guerra  (pictured) of the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office announced that he had received a envelope of ricin

Sheriff Eddie Guerra  (pictured) of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office announced that he had received a envelope of ricin 

Guerra revealed that he and three of his detention employees received the toxic mail

Guerra revealed that he and three of his detention employees received the toxic mail

Guerra revealed that he and three of his detention employees received the toxic mail

It was not immediately clear when the envelopes reached Hidalgo County, which contains Mission and the city of McAllen. 

In a tweet, Guerra said they he and three staffers had received the dangerous envelopes in the mail.

‘I can confirm that envelopes, containing the deadly toxin ricin, was mailed to me and three of my detention staff.’ he wrote.

‘At this time due to a active federal investigation I cannot make any further comments but a media release will be sent out tomorrow. No injuries were sustained.’

Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrive at the home of the woman suspected of mailing Trump a letter that contained ricin

Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrive at the home of the woman suspected of mailing Trump a letter that contained ricin

Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrive at the home of the woman suspected of mailing Trump a letter that contained ricin 

The woman has not been named but she is also suspected of sending similar letters to law enforcement officials in Texas

The woman has not been named but she is also suspected of sending similar letters to law enforcement officials in Texas

The woman has not been named but she is also suspected of sending similar letters to law enforcement officials in Texas

The woman remains in custody in the US. She is thought to have been arrested by the FBI

The woman remains in custody in the US. She is thought to have been arrested by the FBI

The woman remains in custody in the US. She is thought to have been arrested by the FBI 

Canadian police on Monday swooped on an apartment complex in Montreal in connection with a ricin-laced letter that was sent to Trump.   

While there, police roped off a modern beige and brown apartment building and evacuated its inhabitants.

On Saturday, the RCMP confirmed that the letter had apparently been sent from Canada and said that the FBI had requested assistance. 

A Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman at the scene of the raid on Monday afternoon

A Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman at the scene of the raid on Monday afternoon

A Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman at the scene of the raid on Monday afternoon 

It's unclear how the woman became connected to the ricin plot. She was arrested on Sunday trying to enter the US

It's unclear how the woman became connected to the ricin plot. She was arrested on Sunday trying to enter the US

It’s unclear how the woman became connected to the ricin plot. She was arrested on Sunday trying to enter the US

The RCMP said the search is being led by chemical and explosives teams. They do not think there is a threat to the public

The RCMP said the search is being led by chemical and explosives teams. They do not think there is a threat to the public

The RCMP said the search is being led by chemical and explosives teams. They do not think there is a threat to the public

Teams entering a van on Monday during the search. Police in Canada say the woman sent six letters in total

Teams entering a van on Monday during the search. Police in Canada say the woman sent six letters in total

Teams entering a van on Monday during the search. Police in Canada say the woman sent six letters in total

Ricin is found naturally in castor beans but it takes a deliberate act to convert it into a biological weapon.

Ricin can cause death within 36 to 72 hours from exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead. No known antidote exists.  

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Barclays will send ‘hundreds’ of UK staff back to WFH after Boris Johnson’s latest Covid measures

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barclays will send hundreds of uk staff back to wfh after boris johnsons latest covid measures

Barclays bank told hundreds of office staff who had returned after lockdown to restart working from home tonight – following vague new advice from the Prime Minister branded ‘unclear and inconsistent’ by business leaders.

The huge company had originally brought 1,000 employees back after the strict pandemic shut-down over the summer.

It came as other business bosses savaged Boris Johnson over the woolly comments in Parliament – warning they could come at the expense of the pandemic-ravaged economy.

Mr Johnson set out a raft of new restrictions in the face of rising Covid-19 infections, including a hint to avoid workplaces if possible.

But the new advice came just 21 days after he told his Cabinet ‘People are going back to the office in huge numbers across our country and quite right too’.

And it gave businesses less than 24 hours to work out whether they were coronavirus-secure enough to stay open, as well as wonder whether anyone would still turn up on Wednesday after the Prime Minister’s advice.

The restrictions also signalled a hammer blow to smaller businesses who relied on footfall from office workers to survive.

Mr Johnson’s wobble came as the economy was starting to show signs of recovery after Britain’s high streets had become ghost towns during lockdown.

The new measures also prompted an avalanche of calls between workers and bosses about whether they would still be in offices. 

Employment law expert Alicia Collinson told MailOnline: ‘I think there will be a lot of conversations like that tonight and tomorrow.’ 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been condemned for mixed messages and advice

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been condemned for mixed messages and advice

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been condemned for mixed messages and advice

The British Chambers of Commerce said before the announcement that ‘Unclear and inconsistent guidance on day-to-day working life will sap business and consumer confidence at a delicate moment for the economy’.

After the PM gave his speech to the commons BCC Director General Adam Marshall added: ‘Businesses understand that further restrictions are necessary to tackle the rising number of Coronavirus cases, but these measures will impact business and consumer confidence at a delicate time for the economy.

‘Businesses, their employees and customers need to see a clear road map for the existing restrictions and those that may be introduced in the future.

‘This must include transparent trigger points, and clarity about the support available to protect jobs and livelihoods.

‘The government should waste no time in setting out a comprehensive support package for firms forced to close or reduce capacity through no fault of their own.’

The measures announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson come amid mounting fears of mass unemployment when the furlough scheme for workers ends next month.

In London there had been many office blocks completely deserted during the pandemic

In London there had been many office blocks completely deserted during the pandemic

In London there had been many office blocks completely deserted during the pandemic

Business hubs, including Canary Wharf pictured, were like ghost towns with no workers

Business hubs, including Canary Wharf pictured, were like ghost towns with no workers

Business hubs, including Canary Wharf pictured, were like ghost towns with no workers

Businesses were also warned by Mr Johnson that they face fines of £10,000 and could be closed if they breach new Covid-19 regulations.

Ray Berg, managing partner of law firm Osborne Clarke, told the Financial Times it had planned to get a quarter of staff back in but was not sure whether it still would continue.

He added: ‘In the City, I felt we were approaching something like critical mass which was enabling restaurants and shops to open.

‘Confidence was returning and revenue has been up quite sharply compared to the spring/summer.

‘This feels like a kick in the teeth in some ways but we will follow what the government advises.’

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, said: “A second national lockdown would be devastating for our economy, so it’s right to prioritise bringing infections under control.

The U-turn came as many officer staff had started returning to work after strict lockdown

The U-turn came as many officer staff had started returning to work after strict lockdown

The U-turn came as many officer staff had started returning to work after strict lockdown

Should I stay or should I go? What is the law on working from home?

Office workers and bosses could be locked in talks about working from home – amid fears some staff could refuse to go in or stay home.

Alicia Collinson, solicitor at Leeds employment specialists Thrive Law, said that changes employer responsibilities. 

She told MailOnline: ‘What we saw last time was specifically the Government saying work at home when you can, here the Government are saying work from home where possible. The word possible adds some discretion for the employer.

‘We advise employees to speak to employers. Where we talk about what’s possible, the employee could disagree, but if an employer can justify why it’s impossible and asks their employees to still go in, to not do so could be failure to follow reasonable management instructions.

‘At the moment it’s not like last time when people weren’t able to leave their homes. The approach at the moment emphasises that the economy needs to keep going and with furlough stopping, it’s about people keeping their jobs.

‘If someone said they weren’t going in because Boris Johnson said it was better to work from home, the employer would have to explain why this wasn’t possible. If they can prove it’s not possible, the employee should still go in.

‘I think there will be a lot of conversations like this tonight and tomorrow. The use of the word ‘possible’ means that the employer seems to have more decision making power than before.’  

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“But there can be no avoiding the crushing blow new measures bring for thousands of firms, particularly in city centres and for our hospitality sector employing over four million people.

“It is vital that all announcements of restrictions go hand in hand with clarity on the business support that protects jobs.”

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said small firms and the self-employed will be “dismayed” at another six months of restrictions.

He said: “Many businesses – particularly those at the heart of our night-time economy and events industries – are now seriously fearing for their futures.

“Having lost the summer, a lot of them would’ve been pinning their hopes to increased trade in the run-up to Christmas. Their plans are now in disarray.”

He added: “Some of those who’ve taken on emergency finance will be finding that the initial injection of funds will not be enough to keep them afloat for another two quarters.”

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said the new rules could be a “fatal blow” to many pubs, cafes and their suppliers and made a plea for targeted support for the sector once furlough ends.

Dorset Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said the country was at a critical point in the fight against coronavirus.

He added: ‘Some hospitality businesses will undoubtedly be disappointed and the guidance on homeworking is a major change just when employees were returning to the office.

‘We must not hide away from the fact that a return to homeworking will not be easy for some employers and employees. 

‘Some roles are suited to homeworking while others are not. There is productivity to consider, and it may be problematic from a HR management perspective as well as for those people who do not have ideal homeworking conditions.

‘Many businesses have already carried out a huge amount of work to make their offices Covid-safe and now face implementing fresh working practices.

‘There will be an economic impact from the new measures but the Government is in a high-stakes balancing act and a full national lockdown is the very last thing anyone wants.’

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One MILLION pupils skip classes due to Covid fears as 4% of schools are closed

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one million pupils skip classes due to covid fears as 4 of schools are closed

Up to one million schoolchildren are reportedly skipping class as the nation is gripped by the fear of a second coronavirus spike.  

Official attendance records have shown that of the 8.82 million schoolchildren in the UK, around one in eight pupils have not returned to school, despite 96 per cent of schools reopening since the pandemic. 

The figures from the Department for Education (DfE) also show many state schools have had to close their doors in the past few weeks.

According to their research, the number of schools closed due to suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases rose to 4% last week, up from 1% the week before. 

The sobering statistics come amid a tightening of coronavirus restrictions, with a raft of new restrictions imposed on the nation from tomorrow. 

Schools are considered not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils on roll for the whole school day (pictured: pupils from Year 11 at Hazelwood Integrated College in Belfast are pictured during a lesson)

Schools are considered not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils on roll for the whole school day (pictured: pupils from Year 11 at Hazelwood Integrated College in Belfast are pictured during a lesson)

Schools are considered not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils on roll for the whole school day (pictured: pupils from Year 11 at Hazelwood Integrated College in Belfast are pictured during a lesson)

Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only 21 per cent occurred in schools and college

Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only 21 per cent occurred in schools and college

Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only 21 per cent occurred in schools and college

In a speech in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson laid out new curbs to restrict the spread of the virus. 

These included encouraging all those who can to work from home, unless they work in industries such as construction and retail. 

Requirement to wear face coverings will be extended to include retail workers and customers in indoor hospitality settings, and pubs, restaurants and bars will be required to adhere to a strict 10pm curfew.  

Pupils are still expected to attend school, however education leaders have warned that children’s education has been disrupted as teachers and pupils have struggled to access tests to rule out Covid-19 since schools reopened this month.

Schools are considered to be not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils for the whole school day and have asked a group of students to self-isolate.

Approximately 87% of students were in school on September 17, which is down from 88% on September 10, according to the Government figures.  

Anne Longfield, the Children's Commissioner for England, called on the Government to improve its testing regime to avoid "throwing away" the progress made by reopening schools

Anne Longfield, the Children's Commissioner for England, called on the Government to improve its testing regime to avoid "throwing away" the progress made by reopening schools

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, called on the Government to improve its testing regime to avoid ‘throwing away’ the progress made by reopening schools

One in eight state school students did not go back when classrooms reopened after this month the coronavirus lockdown, according to official figures (pictured: pupils on the first day back to school at Charles Dickens Primary School in Borough, South London)

One in eight state school students did not go back when classrooms reopened after this month the coronavirus lockdown, according to official figures (pictured: pupils on the first day back to school at Charles Dickens Primary School in Borough, South London)

One in eight state school students did not go back when classrooms reopened after this month the coronavirus lockdown, according to official figures (pictured: pupils on the first day back to school at Charles Dickens Primary School in Borough, South London)

Approximately 88 per cent of state school pupils were back in class last Thursday, meaning that 12 per cent of children were marked absence (pictured: pupils from Year 11 at Hazelwood Integrated College are pictured during their first day back to the school in Belfast)

Approximately 88 per cent of state school pupils were back in class last Thursday, meaning that 12 per cent of children were marked absence (pictured: pupils from Year 11 at Hazelwood Integrated College are pictured during their first day back to the school in Belfast)

Approximately 88 per cent of state school pupils were back in class last Thursday, meaning that 12 per cent of children were marked absence (pictured: pupils from Year 11 at Hazelwood Integrated College are pictured during their first day back to the school in Belfast)

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has called on the Government to improve its testing regime in order to avoid ‘throwing away’ the progress made by reopening schools.

For thousands of students their return to school at the start of September was curtailed because of coronavirus outbreaks in the classroom amid a fiasco over testing.

Headteachers warned that schools would’grind to a halt’ if teachers and pupils can’t get tested quickly to avoid whole-school closure.

Government guidance states that school attendance is mandatory from the beginning of the autumn term, while pupils or members of their households with coronavirus symptoms should not attend school.

If someone who has attended school is tested positive for Covid-19, pupils they have been in close contact with will be asked to self-isolate.

The DfE statistics suggest 99.9% of state schools were open – either fully or partially – on September 17, but the small proportion that were shut (0.1%) were due to Covid-19 related reasons.

Pupil attendance was higher – around 88% – in fully open state schools on Thursday, but it was still down from 90% on September 10.

On average, around 95% of pupils attended state schools in England in the 2018-19 academic year.

Schools in England have been hit with Covid-19 cases since it became compulsory for pupils to return to class this month.

Some have closed their doors days after reopening, while others have told year groups to self-isolate for two weeks following confirmed cases.

On Tuesday, Bath and North East Somerset Council announced that East Harptree Church of England Primary School will close for 14 days following two confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the school.

The response rate to the weekly survey of schools on pupil attendance was 76% – but the DfE adjusted the data to account for those that did not respond.

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