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Governments Worldwide Consider Ditching Daylight Saving Time

It’s nearly that time of the year again: the end of daylight saving, when Americans push their clocks back and rejoice at the gained hour of sleep—or mourn the lost hour of sunlight in the afternoon.

This system’s twice-a-year transitions have become increasingly unpopular. Scientists have been calling attention to the damaging effects of the time changes—which include a general reduction in mental and physical well-being, as well as a potential increased risk of serious complications, such as strokes and heart attacks, soon after the shifts. There is also evidence of increases in traffic fatalities and harmful medical errors shortly following when clocks are moved forward in the spring.

In many countries, this might be the one of the last instances in which people make the adjustment. Governments around the world have been in discussions about scrapping the seasonal clock changes and sticking to one time—either permanent standard time or permanent daylight saving. In the U.S., many states are considering, or have already passed, legislation to adopt one of the two. Hawaii and most of Arizona decided to adopt just standard time  more than 50 years ago. Last year the European Parliament voted to abolish the time shifts, but the member states of the European Union have yet to agree on how to implement the decision.

Beth Malow, a professor of neurology and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University, spoke with Scientific American about the health effects of this timekeeping practice and what should replace it.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

The end of daylight saving time is fast approaching. Generally speaking, how disruptive are the transitions to and from daylight saving to physical and mental well-being?

There’s a lot of variability in what people experience. Some people have shared with me that, for example, they might have a child with autism, and for two or three months after the transition, they feel like things are just not right with their child’s sleep. People also tell me they just feel out of sync for a while. Other people may deal with the change more easily. It’s similar to when we travel [from the U.S.] to Europe. Some people are affected by jet lag more than others.

The one thing I will say is that people think, “Well, it’s only an hour, so it’s not a big deal. It’s kind of like traveling from Nashville, [Tenn.], to New York [City]—going from Central to Eastern time.” But [daylight saving] really isn’t that. It’s a misalignment of your biological rhythms, or circadian rhythms, for eight months out of the year.

You wrote a commentary in JAMA Neurology last year that discusses some medical complications—such as cardiovascular problems and stroke—associated with the transitions. Can you talk a bit about how daylight saving changes can increase the risk for these kinds of events?

We don’t know the actual mechanism because these are epidemiological studies, where there are large numbers of people, and [researchers] observe the stroke rate or heart attack rate increase

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health

Police Given Access to Details of People Told to Self-Isolate by UK Government’s System | World News

(Reuters) – British police forces have been granted access to details of people who have been told to self-isolate under the government’s ‘test and trace’ system, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said late on Saturday.

A spokesman for the department said it agreed with the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) that officers could have access on a case-by-case basis to information on whether a specific individual has been notified to self-isolate.

“The memorandum of understanding ensures that information is shared with appropriate safeguards and in accordance with the law. No testing or health data is shared in this process,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement.

The development was reported earlier by Sky News, which also cited an NPCC statement saying police will continue encouraging voluntary compliance but will enforce regulations and issue fixed penalty notices (FPN) when needed.

“Where people fail to self-isolate and refuse to comply, officers can issue FPNs and direct people to return to self-isolation. Officers will engage with individuals to establish their circumstances, using their discretion wherever it is reasonable to do so,” the NPCC statement said.

The test and trace system, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised would be world beating, has seen setbacks including a glitch identified earlier this month that delayed the upload of nearly 16,000 cases into computer systems, including for contact tracers.

In recent weeks, the COVID-19 infection rate has risen sharply in Britain with an accelerating second wave, prompting Johnson and other regional leaders to introduce tighter restrictions and local lockdowns.

Britain has one of the highest death rates from the virus in Europe and previously suffered the worst economic contraction of any leading nation from the outbreak.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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health

Police given access to details of people told to self-isolate by UK government’s system

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – British police forces have been granted access to details of people who have been told to self-isolate under the government’s ‘test and trace’ system, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said late on Saturday.

A spokesman for the department said it agreed with the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) that officers could have access on a case-by-case basis to information on whether a specific individual has been notified to self-isolate.

“The memorandum of understanding ensures that information is shared with appropriate safeguards and in accordance with the law. No testing or health data is shared in this process,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement.

The development was reported earlier by Sky News, which also cited an NPCC statement saying police will continue encouraging voluntary compliance but will enforce regulations and issue fixed penalty notices (FPN) when needed.

“Where people fail to self-isolate and refuse to comply, officers can issue FPNs and direct people to return to self-isolation. Officers will engage with individuals to establish their circumstances, using their discretion wherever it is reasonable to do so,” the NPCC statement said.

The test and trace system, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised would be world beating, has seen setbacks including a glitch identified earlier this month that delayed the upload of nearly 16,000 cases into computer systems, including for contact tracers.

In recent weeks, the COVID-19 infection rate has risen sharply in Britain with an accelerating second wave, prompting Johnson and other regional leaders to introduce tighter restrictions and local lockdowns.

Britain has one of the highest death rates from the virus in Europe and previously suffered the worst economic contraction of any leading nation from the outbreak.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Source Article

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