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New Variant: 7 things to know Omicron

It is time that we took a serious look at the implications of what it means and that the pandemic is not over yet; there is a need to follow protocols diligently.

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Omicron
Source: @ IndiaSpend

With India’s first two cases of the Omicron detected in Karnataka, it is time that we took a serious look at the implications of what it means and that the pandemic is not over yet; there is a need to follow protocols diligently.

Evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected easily with Omicron) as compared to other variants of concern. However, there is limited information available. This is what we know so far

Spread

The virus’ rapid rise in South Africa is what worries experts. It implies that the variant can spark explosive increases in COVID-19 cases elsewhere. Though South Africa raised the alarm, there are now reports that the virus was detected 11 days before in the Netherlands. Does that mean that the virus originated in this country instead of SA?

Symptoms

Covid symptoms linked to the new omicron variant have been described as extremely mild by the South African doctor who first raised the alarm over the new strain. Dr Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, told the BBC last week that she started to see patients around November 18, 2021 presenting with ‘unusual symptoms’ that differed slightly from those associated with the Delta variant. The Delta is the most virulent strain of the virus to date and globally dominant.

Patients don’t have a sore throat, but more of a scratchy throat. No cough or loss of taste or smell — symptoms that have been associated with previous strains of the coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, this is what we know about Omicron.

Transmissibility

It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta. The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.

Severity

It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta.  Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of a specific infection with Omicron.

There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants.  Initially reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have a more mild disease—but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks.

All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key.

Effectiveness of vaccines

The WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this variant on our existing countermeasures, including vaccines. Vaccines remain critical to reducing severe disease and death, including against the dominant circulating variant, Delta. Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death.

Effectiveness of current tests

The RT-PCR tests being used globally continues to detect infection, including infection with Omicron. This has been seen with other variants as well. Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests like rapid antigen detection tests.

Effectiveness of current treatments

The Corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers will still be effective for managing patients with severe COVID-19. Other treatments will be assessed to see if they are still as effective given the changes to parts of the virus in the Omicron variant.

What countries should do

There are several actions WHO recommends countries to undertake. Enhancing surveillance and sequencing of cases; sharing genome sequences on publicly available databases like GISAID; reporting initial cases or clusters to WHO; performing field investigations and laboratory assessments to better understand if Omicron has different transmission or disease characteristics.

Countries should continue to implement effective public health measures to reduce COVID-19 circulation overall. Use a risk analysis and science-based approach. Increase public health and medical capacities to manage an increase in cases.  Important that inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines are urgently addressed. Health workers and older persons receive their first and second doses, alongside equitable access to treatment and diagnostics.

What people should do

Keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others. Wear a well-fitting mask. Open windows to improve ventilation. Avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces. Keep hands clean. Cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue. Get vaccinated at the earliest.

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Lifestyle

Here are the miraculous 7 HR trends that will surprise you

The COVID-19 pandemic and the hybrid work model that came because of it has brought in significant disruption in the way the HR function operates. Here are a few trends to watch out for

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HR Trends
Source: @Pixentia

For the year 2022, the HR function will need to reimagine and reinvent itself. This will help to keep pace with the changing time and needs of people. Some of the critical tasks in front of the HR function will be to:

  1. Evolve from being the enforcer of HR Policies to representing people to frame a new set of policies
  2. Building organizational culture in a Physivirtual world
  3. Creating a new paradigm on communication when you don’t see or meet your employees regularly
  4. Address the enhanced anxiety level of employees and help them on their overall well-being

Trends expected

HR practices would be realigned to be in sync with the hybrid work model

A hybrid model of working with some employees working from offices and some from home or away from the office is a reality. It is expected to remain the same. Even when the pandemic recedes, many companies are expected to continue with a hybrid model of working.

The HR function needs to align and rediscover itself to the same. It needs to bring in policies, procedures and practices that support this. Let’s take some examples. Policies on the eligibility of transport allowance for employees may need change.

The process of recruitment would change with fewer in-person interviews. Learning and development programmes may need to be more digital. Companies may be able to offer more attractive work policies for returning mothers with options of work from home.

The benefit and reward management system would need critical refinement

This system would need to look beyond traditional monetary benefits. It will need to bring in aspects that promote mental health and the overall well-being of employees and their families. Organizations that look at the holistic benefit of employees would continue to thrive and grow.

Digital HR will be the need of the hour

The HR function will have to come alive on a robust digital platform. More so, for a mobile app. To ensure easy access to all employees as in-person meetings and discussions will be rarer. Companies will look at investing in a digital platform.

This is to bring the whole HR function, including organization culture, ethos and values into a digital platform. This will help employees to feel and understand the organization they are working in.

HR will need to support the Mental health and well-being of the team

The HR function will move beyond supporting the needs of employees at the office. It will look at the overall well-being of the team. There will be a special focus on mental health. There will need to be strengthened with psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors working with the team.

HR will look beyond supporting the employees and look at the well-being of their family

There will be a need to make a distinction between home and workplace. Since this is becoming hazy and work timings becoming flexible. The HR function will not only have to focus on the mental health and well-being of their employees but even extend it to their families. Initiatives like awareness sessions, counselling sessions, meditation sessions for family members will have to be brought in the future.

There will be a tremendous focus on virtual team bonding

The hybrid working environment has become a reality. The traditional concept of a team working together at the same location or in office premises will change. The HR function will need to reinvent itself. It will have to be able to help teams bond, collaborate and build camaraderie despite distances.

This would be a critical area. It will define the success of companies and organizations which are able to drive, motivate and build a cohesive team. Even though located in separate places it will thrive and win in the marketplace.

The Learning and Development function would need to bring in digital interventions for upskilling

The present pandemic and the hybrid work model and digital drive have ensured that people would need newer skills to succeed. Most of the new skills and upskilling initiatives will need to be delivered virtually and hence the learning and development function will need to change. Bringing in online learning programmes with the use of new-age digital interventions like gamification, simulations and VR will bring an enhanced learning experience.

To sum up quickly, the new year promises to be a special year for the HR function. With a clear need and scope of reimagining and reinventing itself. The focus will be a lot more on digital and the overall health and well-being of employees and their immediate families.

The hybrid work environment will also offer them scope for bringing in numerous benefits. This will include the chance to offer more attractive work options for returning mothers, which they should consider. Organizations that will thrive in these challenging times are the ones where the HR function will be up to the task and meet these challenges.

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Lifestyle

Three popular courses to pursue in Canada

Studying abroad is a dream of every student since it opens a plethora of opportunities. Off late, Canada has become a preferred destination for Indians for certain courses… Read on

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Popular Cases
Source: @ Leverage Edu

Studying abroad is an exciting prospect. It opens so many doors for the aspirants and offers them an opportunity to explore different cultures by giving them international exposure. Besides the advantage of getting an international professional degree, enhancing language skills, building an impactful professional network and expanding different global perspectives are some other benefits.

Studying overseas definitely plays a critical role in a well-rounded education. So, have you been planning to pursue your higher education abroad? If yes, then Canada should be your first choice.

The reasons

First, the country is popular among Indian students. In 2019, Indian students accounted for more than a third of all study permits issued. In 2020, the number rose to almost half, according to the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada). Second, the country offers varied courses that could be on a student’s consideration list.

Courses to pursue

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: STEM, in any vertical, plays a crucial part in the world’s economy. Canadian colleges offer several programmes across various STEM disciplines. Programmes like Mathematics or computer science are quite popular. As per the IRCC, for IT and computing studies in particular, Indian students accounted for 67.4 per cent of all new Canadian study permits issued in 2019 and 2020.

An engineering degree from Canada is a high employability factor. These subjects are taught with hands-on practices by the best faculties in the world. Universities in Canada are among the best globally. They are accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Canadian institutions provide low-cost yet high-quality education. They offer a ton of public and private scholarships for international students. Some of the courses that students can pursue are software or computer engineering, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering.

Business and Finance: When it comes to becoming a successful business leader and entrepreneur, it demands proper skills, innovation and a strong execution strategy. Enrolling in the right business school ensures long-term career success. It will help to develop an individuals’ entrepreneurial skills. It enables them to test their launch ideas. Business management and finance courses are very popular.

The Masters of Business Administration is among the most sought-after programme. The line of management consulting, finance, and banking never goes out of style. There’s also a lot of interest in this field from Indian students based in India. Between the years 2017 and 2019, the number of Canadian study permits issued to Indian students for business, marketing, and management programs grew by 256 per cent according to the IRCC.

Health and Medicine: The present pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world. The need and demand for healthcare workers in every country is rising quickly. Job vacancies in the Canadian healthcare and social assistance industry hit nearly 1.1 lakh in June 2021. Attracting newcomers into these fields will be critical for Canada’s long-term growth. There will also be a dire need for digitally-skilled healthcare workers given health tech jobs are expected to hit nearly 1. 2 lakh by 2022 according to Statistics Canada.

Due to Canada’s high standard of medical education curriculum, many international students prefer Canada as one of their study destinations. Verticals like preventive drugs, human psychology, and managing illness are in higher demand. These help to increase public safety during pandemics and disasters. Employees in these industries have a chance to be forerunners of research and bring valuable services to their communities.

Remember that employers are progressively searching for professionals who possess culturally-diverse abilities and cutting-edge skills. Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience. It has been proven to positively impact your career trajectory. If you’re just starting to plan out the next four years of your post-secondary education, it’s worth it to consult an expert in the international education industry.

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Lifestyle

Five healthy beverages for rest of the year

The New Year always starts with all of us wanting to be a better version of ourselves. Here’s a quick reminder to stay on course with a few healthy beverages.

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Healthy Beverages
Source: ShopBack

We are well into the second week of 2022. Many of us would have already slipped and forgotten all about the resolutions made on December 31, 2021, at midnight. Here’s a quick reminder to stay on course with a few healthy beverages.

The New Year always starts with all of us wanting to be a better version of ourselves. We all want to look good and young. The resolution is the first step we take towards. Be it about being fit and following a healthy eating habit or just boosting immunity.

With the third wave of COVID-19 once again wreaking havoc, it is time for a warm cup of drink. It can refresh us and soothe our souls. We can indulge in a tasty cup of a treat. All this without breaking our resolution and staying healthy.

Adding a cup of tea will do the trick. We can enjoy every moment without the guilt trip. Tea is the oldest and most craved drink. It gives our mood an upswing. No matter how we make it, black, green, infused, or just the plain good old masala tea. Each cup will always tingle our taste buds and fill us with joy. The drink that originated in Asia is now ruling the world.

And it is not just about the taste. Tea has several health benefits. It is a rich source of flavonoids and bioactive compounds. These can lessen stress and relieve inflammation. Here are the five healthy beverages to kickstart the new year.

Lemongrass Masala Chai

It is a blend of warm spices with fresh lemongrass. It is perfect for a cold winter evening. You can enjoy its light, lemony, sweet, and refreshing flavours. All this in one cup of tea. The Tulsi lemongrass tea is preferred for its refreshing taste and aroma.

Just add warm water and sugar/honey to taste. This soothing herb tea relaxes and refreshes your body. The delicate and refreshing infusion of flavours can also be tried with ice.

Teas

This redefines the way you experience your everyday tea. You cannot resist trying out these traditional teas in different ranges. These are: Himalayan green tea, Turmeric spiced herbal tea tisane, Mint Melody green tea and Tangy Tamarind Iced Tea to name a few.

This tea is made from the freshest and the best quality ingredients with climate and plastic neutrality. It also offers a latte with spiced flavours. This helps you to sail through the day. To relish a creamy sweet cup of natural goodness, take your preferred tea and add milk or low-fat dairy milk.

Iced Tea/Matcha

These teas are known for their unique blends. A few varieties of teas range from ice teas, matcha, caffeine-free herbal teas and tea bundles. What’s even better? You can customize your own tea according to your flavours!

The company lets you create your own tea blend choosing a tea blend and up to six ingredients! It also offers tea with concerns for weight loss, sleeps care, hormonal balance, throat care, detox and digestion, skincare immunity-boosting and hair care. What more can you want in the New Year?

Green Tea

We all acknowledge the plethora of benefits that green tea offers. It is more than just a hydrating beverage. It is low in calories; it contains less caffeine than black tea and coffee. Did you know that green tea has the highest concentration of antioxidants? This tea promotes health and well-being and is sure to make you feel great.

Herbal Leaf Teas

Made from dried fruits, flowers, spices or herbs, herbal teas come in a wide range of flavours. It also offers several health properties. Depending on the herbal blend, there are three varieties of herbal teas — rose, chamomile and hibiscus. These have nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. As the world is moving towards a healthy regime, this is the go-to drink on a cold winter night.

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