(TMU) — The head of the United Nations has issued a passionate appeal for a global ceasefire to take effect across the world that would give authorities and medical professionals alike the ability to focus exclusively on defeating the coronavirus pandemic.
In the appeal issued on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded that the global truce be adopted for the sake of defeating the threat of CoViD-19 to all of humankind and especially the vulnerable—women and children, the disabled, marginalized, displaced and refugees.
In his address, which was delivered to reporters via live video feed in consideration of social distancing guidelines, Guterres said:
“The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.
That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”
The comments come as Syria reported its very first confirmed case of CoViD-19, signaling an ugly turn for a country already ripped apart after a decade of war, while other cases continue to emerge in military flashpoints like Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The U.N. chief stressed that the coronavirus doesn’t discriminate on a basis of “nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith.” Instead, “it attacks all, relentlessly.” However, the most vulnerable—those in war zones—would likely face “devastating losses” from the disease due to being caught between a war and a devastating pandemic.
Additionally, those health systems in countries devastated by war have already been either destroyed or reached the verge of total collapse, ensuring that those health workers brave enough to venture into the field are often placed directly in the line of fire or into the crosshairs of warring parties.
Addressing warfighters across the globe, Guterres said:
“Pull back from hostilities. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes.
This is crucial… To help create corridors for life-saving aid. To open precious windows for diplomacy. To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.”
To warring parties: Pull back from hostilities. Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes.
This is crucial to help create corridors for life-saving aid, open windows for diplomacy & bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to #COVID19 – @antonioguterres
— UN Spokesperson (@UN_Spokesperson) March 23, 2020
Continuing, he stressed:
“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.
… If the fighting goes on, we might have an absolutely devastating spreading of the epidemic.”
The U.N. secretary-general has been calling for a global response to the pandemic which he has said places the lives of “millions at risk.” The United Nations will soon unveil a detailed humanitarian relief plan that would be worldwide in scope.
During a question-and-answer session with reporters at the “virtual” press conference, Guterres expressed that he felt “strongly determined” to make the most of the U.N.’s mandate despite the organization’s existing duties in the humanitarian, peacekeeping, diplomatic, cultural, and other fields.
“It’s a moment in which the U.N. must be able to address the peoples of the world and appeal for a massive mobilization and for a massive pressure on governments to make sure that we are able to respond to this crisis, not to mitigate it but to suppress it, to suppress the disease and to address the dramatic economic and social impacts of the disease.
And we can only do it if we do it together, if we do in a coordinated way, if we do it with intense solidarity and cooperation, and that is the raison d’etre of the United Nations itself.”
Awesome New Infrared Goggles Could Help Blind People ‘See’ Surroundings
People who are blind or deal with low vision face a unique number of challenges in their daily lives, ranging from accessing published material to holding a job or living on one’s own.
However, emerging infrared technology under research could help the blind and visually impaired navigate the world around them using a pair of innovative goggles.
In new research recently published and yet to be peer-reviewed, Manuel Zahn and Armaghan Ahmad Khan at Germany’s Technical University of Munich explored how their 3D camera and haptic feedback armband can assist people with low vision.
“Even in the present era, visually impaired people face a constant challenge of navigation,” the pair wrote. “The most common tool available to them is the cane. Although the cane allows good detection of objects in the user’s immediate vicinity, it lacks the ability to detect obstacles further away.”
The two students’ design deploys two infrared cameras placed in a 3D-printed goggles prototype to get a stereoscopic view that is transformed by a small computer into a map of the user’s surroundings. The infrared gear also works in the dark. The armband then uses 25 actuators arranged in a grid that vibrates when users come close to objects while also assisting them in their orientation. As users walk near obstacles, the vibration intensity of the actuators increases.
In tests, subjects enjoyed roughly 98 percent accuracy while getting through obstacle pathways, with all five participants completing the course in their first run. After two additional runs, the volunteers were able to navigate the obstacles more rapidly.
Zahn and Khan frequently cited Microsoft’s Kinect motion detection system for the Xbox in their study, but the pair are confident that their own setup will be far smaller, cheaper and less conspicuous than the gaming device.
The new headset could offer an interesting opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to clear the myriad obstacles they face when performing regular tasks or navigating the world around them.
In World First, Man Receives Heart Transplanted From Gene-Hacked Pig
In a groundbreaking world first, a 57-year-old man in the U.S. has become the first person in the world to receive a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig.
The revolutionary procedure’s apparent success offers hope to hundreds of thousands of people who are struggling with failing vital organs amid scarce supplies of human organs.
The patient, David Bennett of Maryland, is in good shape days after the experimental seven-hour operation took place in Baltimore on Friday, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The surgical procedure is the result of years of fervent efforts by researchers to develop pigs whose organs would be compatible with the human body, and was made possible by recent advances in gene editing and cloning technology. The heart transplant was preceded months ago by a successful kidney transplant in New York which also used an organ harvested from a genetically engineered pig.
“This is a watershed event,” said David Klassen, chief medical officer at the United Network for Organ Sharing, reports New York Times. “Doors are starting to open that will lead, I believe, to major changes in how we treat organ failure.”
The University of Maryland doctors received a special dispensation from regulators to carry out the procedure due to the fact that Bennett’s death was certain in the absence of a transplant.
Surgeon Bartley Griffith, who took part in the transplant, expressed pride in taking part in bringing the world “one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis,” reports BBC. Roughly 17 people die every day in the U.S. while awaiting transplants, which are in extremely short supply.
“People die all the time on the waiting list, waiting for organs. If we could use genetically engineered pig organs they’d never have to wait, they could basically get an organ as they needed it,” said Christine Lau, Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“Plus, we wouldn’t have to fly all over the country at night-time to recover organs to put them into recipients.”
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