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Emirates airlines process refunds to the customers

This letter refers to the report about the Emirates airline refunding cash to travellers (“Emirates returns over Dh5 billion to customers in coronavirus-related travel refunds”, Gulf News, September 07). It is a big gesture towards their passengers who booked tickets to travel during the pandemic period. This step will certainly add to customer confidence, and without much thinking, people will choose the airline again for their future travels. As the refund process requires lots of internal involvement and resources, managing it to the satisfaction of its loyal customers is a tiring task. The airline's effort is highly commendable, and a truly committed approach to its customers.

From Mr Ramachandran Nair


World Suicide Prevention Day 10th September

Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages (“Why is death becoming an escape route for many nowadays? ”, Gulf News, September 07). It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds. Every life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or colleague. For each suicide, approximately 135 people suffer intense grief, or are otherwise affected. This amounts to 108 million people per year who are profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviour. Many factors cause suicidal feelings, and these include mental health problems, bullying or discrimination, domestic, sexual or physical abuse, grief, the end of a relationship, financial distress, being in prison, feeling inadequate or experiencing failure, and other forms of trauma. In recognising and acknowledging World Suicide Prevention Day, we should remember that preventing suicide is often possible, and everyone is a key player in its prevention. You can make a difference by raising awareness about the issue, educating yourself and others about the causes of suicide, and the warning signs for suicide. Show compassion and care for those who are in distress in your community, question the stigma associated with suicide, suicidal behaviour and mental health problems, and share your own experiences.

From Mr Handsen Chikowore

London, United Kingdom

Role of Fomites in COVID 19 transmission

As many countries reopen the economy, perhaps we need to explore additional opportunities for controlling the transmission of COVID-19 in the community. It is evident that the coronavirus is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets from person to person; hence, physical distancing and wearing face coverings offers the best protection.

However, another known route of transmission is via contaminated fomites (inanimate surfaces or objects) that require surface decontamination procedures, i.e. regular cleaning and disinfecting. COVID-19 can survive on a variety of surfaces and may be transmitted via fomites commonly high-touch surfaces like tables, countertops, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, toilets levers, taps, etc.

Samples collected within a Medical Center in Wuhan, China amid the COVID-19 outbreak showed the most contaminated objects were self-service printers (20 per cent), desktops/keyboards (16.8 per cent), and doorknobs (16 per cent). A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus can live up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on hard surfaces like plastic and stainless steel. Another study showed that on the copper alloy, the virus viability was completely eliminated within 10 minutes. It could be implied that by simply changing the texture of the surfaces we use, or coating them with substances that kill bacteria and viruses more quickly, it may be possible to contain the virus spread from them. It has been proven for many years that copper door handles are very effective against bacterial hospital germs.

Copper is known for killing microbes and limiting the spread of E. coli, salmonella, and influenza. The ions in copper alloys are both antiviral and antibacterial. Copper is even more effective than silver, which requires moisture to activate its antimicrobial properties. Hot spots like doorknobs, handrails, public toilet handle, lift buttons and shopping trolleys especially in areas of high human traffic like hospitals, schools, airports, shops, offices and public transports, should perhaps be coated in copper to limit the spread of the coronavirus potentially. Other effective supplements to standard hygiene practices that can reduce transmission from contaminated fomites include exposure to natural sunlight, development of hands-free designs in schools, offices and shopping malls for those surfaces most often touched like doors, faucets, flushers, soap and towel dispensers, and entrances to restrooms. While we discover and research more, handwashing remains a simple, cheap and effective way to cut down on fomite mediated transmission.

From Dr Aaisha Khan

Dublin, Ireland

Will people continue living the American dream?

I grew up in India, in a Bangalore south community wherein during the 1990s, every kid aspired to study, migrate and settle in the land opportunities, and accomplish far-fetched dreams. Every household on my street had kids preparing for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) exams. And, I remember, our gatherings were mostly spent sharing the news of United States visa interview preparation and dates. Many of my friends and neighbours did make it to the USA, improved their standard of living and life as expected. The freedom to do what is right appealed to me as well personally than any other principle.

Today America is challenged by the extreme notions; and while I was watching President Donald Trump outlining his vision for second term 2020, I couldn't help but think what it takes to restore the values, and the trust everyone around the world had about the country. I do sincerely support the America First doctrine, and the push for bringing jobs and manufacturing back to the United States. It's fundamental to any country's progress and betterment of each individual. President Trump had promised tax cuts for working Americans. I'm not sure whether this was implemented but aids change and prosperity. Being self-sufficient doesn't mean being without any help, but it means to enable some decent job opportunities for the countrymen and utilize the country's resources to optimum levels. President Trump also aided a deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalise relations, which was commendable. However, building the wall, curbing the immigration, terminating the affordable care act that expanded healthcare coverage to millions, withdrawing from Paris Climate agreement, stopping aid to World Health Organisation during the crisis, vocal defense of the United States constitution's Second Amendment, and many more details may be detrimental for President Trump to continue to be in office.

Will President Trump reestablish, and make America great again? Answer to this is a bit unpredictable at the moment. I don't recall talking about any other President's tweets or policies as much as we do about him. Whether Democrats wins the white house or Republicans, the image of thriving progressive, open-minded United States has changed multifold. Every day we wake up to reading from mishandling of COVID-19 to unrest caused due to surging socio-cultural divisions within the country over race and history. Considering all this, I highly doubt that our kids share the same passion and drive to study in the United States as much as we did back in the '90s and put in efforts to live the American Dream.

From Ms Chaya Mathew


India: Flyover collapse in Gurugram is a wake-up call for urban planners

The collapse of a flyover in Gurugram, in India, should serve as a wake-up call for government authorities. This accident is due to the lack of rigid safety supervision by authorities. It is not only the fault of the construction agency but also the project management consultant and structure engineers. India has always embarked on massive infrastructure projects. It is seen that such accidents are frequently happening. And, these accidents seem to be forgotten after a few days.

The government should order a thorough technical safety audit of all flyovers and bridges in the country by credible and independent technical experts, and check the design and materials used. Old structures should also be audited for safety, as these flyovers have a high number of vehicles and pedestrians crossing during peak hours, which can be very risky.

From Mr Ramesh G Jethwani


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