Even mild COVID-19 can reduce brain size: Study

Even mild COVID-19 can reduce brain size: Study
MRI imaging was used to study the brains of people who had recovered from COVID-19. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 07 March 2022

Even mild COVID-19 can reduce brain size: Study

Even mild COVID-19 can reduce brain size: Study
  • Patients in UK recorded 0.2-2% loss in brain size
  • Largest reduction in areas responsible for taste, smell

LONDON: Even mild forms of COVID-19 can cause a reduction in brain size, according to scientists in the UK.

They scanned the brains of over 400 people who had previously had COVID-19, most of them mild cases.

They found that the overall brain size in infected participants had shrunk between 0.2 and 2 percent, and patients experienced losses in grey matter in the olfactory areas, linked to smell, and regions linked to memory.

The apparent effect of this was that those who had recently recovered from COVID-19 found it a bit harder to perform complex mental tasks.

The study was published on Monday in the science journal Nature. Lead author of the study Professor Gwenaelle Douaud, from Oxford University’s Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging said: “We were looking at essentially mild infection, so to see that we could really see some differences in their brain and how much their brain had changed compared with those who had not been infected was quite a surprise.”

The study used biological information from a separate project, the UK Biobank, which has followed the health of 500,000 people for about 15 years and has a database of scans recorded before the pandemic — providing a unique opportunity to study the long-term health impacts of the virus.

Scientists also do not know whether there is any variation in the effect that COVID-19 variants have on the brain — the research was carried out when the original virus and alpha variant were most common.

Researchers also do not know yet whether these changes are permanent, but Douaud said: “We need to bear in mind that the brain is really plastic — by that we mean it can heal itself — so there is a really good chance that, over time, the harmful effects of infection will ease.”


Two arrested after fatal stabbing outside mosque in central England

Two arrested after fatal stabbing outside mosque in central England
Updated 56 min 20 sec ago

Two arrested after fatal stabbing outside mosque in central England

Two arrested after fatal stabbing outside mosque in central England
  • Armed police detained a 56-year-old man near the scene

LONDON: Two men were arrested on suspicion of murder after a stabbing outside a mosque in the English city of Coventry on Sunday.

Armed police detained a 56-year-old man near the scene, and a 27-year-old second suspect was arrested early on Monday.

West Midlands Police responded to reports of a large group of men fighting, some armed with knives outside the Jamiah Masjid and Institute in the city, where they found two people injured.

One of the wounded, a 52-year-old man, died from his injuries a few hours later.

“We’ve made some really good early progress in this investigation, but there is still a lot of work to be done in identifying all of those involved in what happened last night,” Detective Superintendent Shaun Edwards told the media.

“Officers are speaking with residents and community leaders to offer reassurance, and patrols in the area will be stepped up.”

A police statement said the force was treating the murder as an “isolated incident,” and have ruled out the killing being linked to wider sectarian unrest which has rocked English cities across the Midlands in recent weeks.

Following violence and arrests in Leicester and Smethwick last month, faith leaders in the UK warned that clashes between groups of Hindus and Muslims could spread across the country.


Chechnya’s Kadyrov says sending teenage sons to Ukraine front

Chechnya’s Kadyrov says sending teenage sons to Ukraine front
Updated 03 October 2022

Chechnya’s Kadyrov says sending teenage sons to Ukraine front

Chechnya’s Kadyrov says sending teenage sons to Ukraine front
  • Ramzan Kadyrov, a former warlord who leads the Muslim-majority Chechnya republic, has been one of the most vocal supporters of Putin’s Ukraine offensive
  • Kadyrov’s post on Telegram concering his sons came as the Kremlin dismissed his call to use low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine after a series of military defeats

MOSCOW: Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said Monday he was sending three of his teenage sons — aged 14, 15 and 16 — to the Ukraine front.
“It’s time to prove themselves in a real fight, I can only welcome this desire,” Kadyrov wrote on Telegram, posting a video of the young boys firing missiles in a shooting range.
“Soon they will go to the front line and will be on the most difficult sections of the contact line.”
He said Akhmat (16), Eli (15) and Adam (14) have been trained for combat “almost from their youngest years” and insisted he was “not joking.”
The video showed the boys in camouflage clothing and dark glasses, on tanks, guns strapped to their waists, shooting rocket launchers and machine guns.
At times the teenagers smile while shooting or made a thumbs-up gesture.
Kadyrov, a former warlord who leads the Muslim-majority Chechnya republic, has been one of the most vocal supporters of Putin’s Ukraine offensive.
The post came as the Kremlin on Monday dismissed his call to use low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine after a series of military defeats.
“This is a very emotional moment,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a daily briefing with journalists, referring to his statements.
“In our country, the use of nuclear weapons happens only on the basis of what is stated in the relevant doctrine,” Peskov said.
Peskov nevertheless hailed the “heroic contributions” of the Chechen leader to the military operation in Ukraine.
Kadyrov called on the nuclear option after Moscow withdrew from the town of Lyman, which took weeks to gain control of earlier this year.
“In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and use of low-yield nuclear weapons,” Kadyrov said on his Telegram channel.
He also criticized Colonel-General Alexander Lapin, who is in charge of Russia’s forces fighting in the region, calling him “mediocre.”


Egyptian scholars win prestigious award for energy research

Egyptian scholars win prestigious award for energy research
Updated 03 October 2022

Egyptian scholars win prestigious award for energy research

Egyptian scholars win prestigious award for energy research
  • Pair recognized in Young Talents from Africa category
  • Awards presented by Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Rome

ROME: Two young Egyptian scholars have been honored with a prestigious Eni Award for their work related to research and technological innovation in the energy sector.

Yousif Adam, of The American University in Cairo, and Ibrahim Mohamed Ibrahim Moustafa Ibrahim, of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, were presented with their prizes by Italian President Sergio Mattarella at a ceremony at Quirinal Palace in Rome.

They were both recognized in the Young Talents from Africa category.

Established in 2007 by the Italian energy company from which they take their name, the Eni Awards are considered an international benchmark for research in energy and the environment.

The aim of the prizes is to promote better use of energy sources and to stimulate the work of new generations of researchers.

Adam’s work was related to sustainable wastewater management in Africa, while Ibrahim proposed a thesis on improving the accuracy of solar energy prediction.


King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death

King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death
Updated 03 October 2022

King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death

King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death
  • Large crowds turned out on the streets of Dunfermline in Fife, north of Edinburgh, hoping to get a glimpse of the new monarch
  • Charles wore a kilt for the visit and greeted Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other leaders

LONDON: King Charles III and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, visited Scotland Monday in their first joint public engagement since the royal mourning period to remember Queen Elizabeth II ended.
Large crowds turned out on the streets of Dunfermline in Fife, north of Edinburgh, hoping to get a glimpse of the new monarch. Charles, who wore a kilt for the visit, spent some time shaking hands with well-wishers after he greeted Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other leaders.
The royal couple were visiting to formally give city status to Dunfermline, the birthplace of another King Charles: Charles I, who reigned in the 17th century before his execution, was the last British monarch born in Scotland.
Dunfermline was among towns that won city status as part of Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne.
Later Monday, Charles and Camilla will host a reception for around 300 guests at Edinburgh to celebrate the British South Asian community. The royals will meet British Indians, Pakistanis, and many others and pay tribute to the contributions they made to the UK
Charles became sovereign immediately upon the death of his mother Elizabeth in Balmoral Castle, Scotland, on Sept. 8. Britain held 10 days of national mourning, while the royal family extended the mourning period for a week after the queen’s funeral on Sept. 19.


Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt

Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt
Updated 03 October 2022

Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt

Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt
  • Abdullahi Yare was one of seven leaders named by the United States on its most-wanted list in 2012

MOGADISHU: The Somali government announced on Monday a top Al-Shabab militant, who had a $3.0-million US bounty on his head, had been killed in a joint air strike in southern Somalia.
The drone strike on October 1, launched by the Somali army and international security partners, killed Abdullahi Yare near the coastal town of Haramka, the ministry of information said in a statement dated Sunday but posted online on Monday.
“This leader... was the head preacher of the group and one of the most notorious members of the Shabab group,” it said.
“He was former head of the Shoura council and the group’s director for finances,” the ministry said, referring to a powerful consultation body within Al-Shabab.
A co-founder of the Al-Qaeda-linked group, Yare was believed to be next in line to take over the leadership of the movement from its ailing chief Ahmed Diriye, according to the ministry.
“His elimination is like a thorn removed from Somalia as a nation,” the ministry said.
Yare was one of seven leaders named by the United States on its most-wanted list in 2012. Washington offered three million dollars for his capture.
The announcement of the strike comes weeks after Somalia’s recently elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud vowed to stage all-out war on the jihadists, following a string of deadly attacks. They include a 30-hour hotel siege in the capital, Mogadishu, that killed 21 people.
Mohamud last month urged citizens to stay away from areas controlled by Al-Shabab as he vowed to ratchet up offensives against the militants.
US forces have in the past partnered with African Union soldiers and Somali troops in counterterrorism operations, and have conducted frequent raids and drone strikes on Al-Shabab training camps throughout Somalia.
Last month, the US military said it had killed 27 jihadist fighters in an air strike near Bulobarde, the main town on the road linking Mogadishu to Beledweyne, a key city on the border with Ethiopia.
It said the air strike was carried out “at the request” of the Somali government.
Al-Shabab, which espouses a strict version of sharia or Islamic law, has waged a bloody insurrection against the Mogadishu government for 15 years and remains a potent force despite an African Union operation against the group.
Its fighters were ousted from the capital in 2011 but continue to stage attacks on military, government and civilian targets.
The group last week claimed responsibility for a bomb blast that killed a top Somali police officer near the Al-Shabab-controlled village of Bursa, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Mogadishu.