New Character Sweets of Family Mart Japan For Spring

Shirokuma (しろくま) and Pingin (ぺんぎん) Wagashi

A limited quantity of the sweets will be sold for a limited time period for 369 yen (plus tax).

Chinese-style Stewed Pork Belly with Hard-boiled Eggs


300 g pork belly
5-6 eggs
2 ginger slices
1 stalk spring onion, cut into sections


1 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1-1/2 cups water
red chillies to taste


  1. Rinse pork belly. Put into a pot together with the eggs. Pour in water to cover all the ingredients. Cook until the pork belly is done. Drain and soak them in cold water for a while.
  2. Cut pork belly into pieces. Remove shell of eggs and set aside.
  3. Heat about 1/2 tbsp of oil in a wok. Stir-fry ginger and spring onion until fragrant. Add pork belly and sprinkle wine. Stir-fry well. Transfer to a pot.
  4. Add seasoning ingredients, hard-boiled eggs and red chillies. Simmer until the pork and eggs pick up the taste and the sauce thickens. Serve hot.

Source: Simple Treats

How to Have a Social Life While Practicing Social Distancing

Lisa Milbrand wrote . . . . . . . . .

Now that literally everything is cancelled—your book club, your concert tickets, your spring break—you might be experiencing a little bit of cabin fever. But even if you’re stuck indoors social distancing, there are still plenty of ways to get creative and stay in touch with the people you love—without putting anyone at risk of spreading (or developing) coronavirus. And Real Simple’s resident manners expert, Catherine Newman, says that putting the effort in is absolutely essential. “I think that if we’re healthy we should (if we can) try to communicate as much good cheer and generosity and optimism as we can,” she advises.

Look for safe ways to connect “in person.”

Playdates and parties are definitely out, but there might be some ways to still connect with friends safely. With the weather getting warmer, you might be able to be out in your backyard and chat with your neighbor in their backyard—as long as you maintain a safe distance. (If you do that while you’re both enjoying appetizers, it’s practically a party.) Or follow the lead of the people of Italy, and plan a neighborhood-wide serenade from the windows and post it on apps like NextDoor or the group chat to get everyone in on the fun. Newman recommends waving (from afar) to anyone you pass on the street when you’re out walking. “We are making a big effort to walk up and down the street waving and yelling hello to the people we see in their driveways or on their front steps,” Newman says. “We are delivering meals, which folks can microwave to be safe, and we have been in active touch with our neighbors who live alone, figuring out what they need and how we can help. It is very reassuring, just the most basic human connections of greetings and checking in.”

Find a good video chat platform.

The beauty of all the great tech at our disposal is that we can still “visit” with each other during quarantine—and you have plenty of options to choose from. (Just make sure you’re following all the unwritten rules of social media when you do it!)

For Apple fans, FaceTime works great (and holds up to 32 people, if you really want to get a crowd going). But if you have an Android/Apple divide in the group, look for cross-platform options. Zoom holds 100 people, if you want to really throw a rager, and it’s free for meetings up to 40 minutes long. (If someone wants to spring for a plan, you can have a 24-hour-long party for $14.99/month.) Google has Duo, its version for groups of eight, or Hangouts, which allows 25 on a video call, or 150 participants via text chat. Facebook Messenger video chats allow you to see up to six people—but include more than 50 altogether. Houseparty lets you have up to eight people in a party. And Skype calls can handle 50 people.

Of course, a good conversation can be nearly impossible to have with a group of 50, so stick with smallish groups (no more than eight) to allow the conversation to flow.

Size up your screen.

Phones are nice and portable, if you’re planning to be active during a video call and need your tech to follow you. Some video chat devices, such as the Facebook Portal and the Google Nest Hub Max, have cameras that shift to follow you as you move around.

Larger screens (laptops, desktops, TVs, or tablets) enable you to see what’s going on better—especially important if you have five or six different people you’re connecting with online.

Bring a little joy.

Look for ways to connect that spread happiness. Newman’s mother has been sending pictures of blooming trees (a sign of hope)—and a friend has been posting 20-second snippets of fun songs to encourage better hand-washing. And who doesn’t love a daily dose of dog, cat, or baby adorableness—so go ahead and video or snap a shot of their exploits, if you’re lucky enough to have one at home.

Mix it up.

Obviously, it’s important to check in on your neighbors (and you might need to crowdsource a cup of sugar or help getting your kids set up for online learning), but this quarantine break could be the perfect time to reconnect with far-flung people you rarely see outside of social media. So gather a group of your college roommates, your cousins, your former bridesmaids, and reconnect. Maybe they can offer you a tour of the new(ish) house you haven’t been able to visit, or you can simply spend the time reminiscing and planning an in-person get-together for once the coronavirus crisis has past.

Make it fun.

Set a theme for your virtual get-together. On Flashback Friday, have everyone break out the oldest ensemble in their closet, or set up a Talent Show Tuesday, where everyone shares their passions with the group—whether your yoga-loving colleague runs you through her favorite flow, your BFF shares her secrets for making macarons, or your niece walks you through the latest in TikTok choreography or plays the violin solo she’s been working on. Some apps, like Houseparty, enable you to play games online together—or you can break out a trivia game and host your own Trivia Night.

Give your senior loved ones a little extra love.

Coronavirus is especially dangerous to people over 60, which makes your elderly folks less likely to get out and about and probably more in need of some socializing. Amazon’s Echo Show is particularly easy to set up, and lets them simply ask Alexa to place a video call. If you are able and not sick, offering to run errands to pick up medications and food while they’re isolating is a good idea. You can just leave everything on the porch for them, and consider using gloves and wiping off the packages with disinfectant wipes to minimize the odds of passing on the virus.

Don’t forget your friends who are in quarantine solo.

You may have a full house, but you likely have friends and family members who may be riding this out on their own. Check in with them daily via text or video messaging to make sure they’re feeling well, and see if they want a little virtual company.

Enhance your quality time.

Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean your book club can’t still chat about the latest read (maybe one of our favorites from 2020 fits the bill)—or pick a great movie or TV show (you can find older flicks on IMDB TV for free if someone from your group doesn’t have Netflix, Disney+, Prime, or Hulu access) and discuss its merits. Tip: If you connect via the Netflix Party Google Chrome Extension, you can synchronize the start of a Netflix movie or show of choice, so you can all rewatch your favorite movie together (just break out the popcorn!). If your friends love to cook, choose a recipe you’re all going to try (like some of these recipes that use pantry staples), and you can chat while you eat. You may not be able to hug your pal—and your risotto may not quite measure up to what your friend produced—but it’ll be the best way to still stay close in these challenging times.

Source: Real Simple

A Third of COVID-19 Cases May be Asymptomatic, Classified Chinese Data Suggests

Josephine Ma, Linda Lew and Lee Jeong-ho wrote . . . . . . . . .

The number of “silent carriers” – people who are infected by the new coronavirus but show delayed or no symptoms – could be as high as one-third of those who test positive, according to classified Chinese government data seen by the South China Morning Post.

That could further complicate the strategies being used by countries to contain the virus, which has infected more than 280,000 people and killed nearly 13,000 globally.

More than 43,000 people in China had tested positive for Covid-19 by the end of February but had no immediate symptoms, a condition typically known as asymptomatic, according to the data. They were placed in quarantine and monitored but were not included in the official tally of confirmed cases, which stood at about 80,000 at the time.

Scientists have been unable to agree on what role asymptomatic transmission plays in spreading the disease. A patient usually develops symptoms in five days, though the incubation period can be as long as three weeks in some rare cases.

One obstacle is that countries tally their confirmed cases differently.

The World Health Organisation classifies all people who test positive as confirmed cases regardless of whether they experience any symptoms. South Korea also does this. But the Chinese government changed its classification guidelines on February 7, counting only those patients with symptoms as confirmed cases. The United States, Britain and Italy simply do not test people without symptoms, apart from medical workers who have prolonged exposure to the virus.

The approach taken by China and South Korea of testing anyone who has had close contact with a patient – regardless of whether the person has symptoms – may explain why the two Asian countries seem to have checked the spread of the virus. Hong Kong is extending testing to airport arrivals in the city, even if travellers have no symptoms. Meanwhile in most European countries and the US, where only those with symptoms are tested, the number of infections continues to rapidly rise.

A growing number of studies are now questioning the WHO’s earlier statement that asymptomatic transmission was “extremely rare”. A report by the WHO’s international mission after a trip to China estimated that asymptomatic infections accounted for 1 to 3 per cent of cases, according to a European Union paper.

“The number of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases worldwide continues to grow, and the gap between reports from China and statistical estimates of incidence based on cases diagnosed outside China indicates that a substantial number of cases are underdiagnosed,” a group of Japanese experts led by Hiroshi Nishiura, an epidemiologist at Hokkaido University, wrote in a letter to the International Journal of Infectious Diseases in February.

Based on their research, Nishiura put the proportion of asymptomatic Japanese patients evacuated from Wuhan, ground zero of the outbreak in China, at 30.8 per cent – similar to the classified Chinese government data.

But official figures from South Korea – which had carried out nearly 300,000 tests on all close contacts of its confirmed cases as of Wednesday – are the most comparable to China’s. More than 20 per cent of the asymptomatic cases reported to the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention remained without symptoms until they were discharged from hospital.

“Korea currently has a significantly higher rate of asymptomatic cases than other countries, perhaps due to our extensive testing,” Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea’s CDC, told a press briefing on March 16.

Another useful point of reference is the data collected from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined for weeks in Yokohama, Japan. All of its passengers and crew were tested, with 712 people testing positive – 334 of whom were asymptomatic, according to official Japanese figures.

An EU report has put the proportion of asymptomatic cases in Italy at 44 per cent, but in most parts of the country people without symptoms are not tested.

In Hong Kong, 16 of the 138 confirmed cases as of March 14 were asymptomatic or presymptomatic, according to Ho Pak-leung, a professor with the microbiology department of the University of Hong Kong.

All of these numbers point to a significantly higher ratio of asymptomatic cases than indicated by data publicly released by China so far. There were 889 asymptomatic patients among the 44,672 confirmed cases as of February 11, epidemiologists from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in a paper published online in JAMA Network Open on February 24.

The WHO has said the role of asymptomatic transmissions in the spread of the disease was not clear, but carriers without symptoms were unlikely to be a key factor overall.

However, some scientists are asking whether asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmissions have been underestimated.

A joint study by experts in China, the US, Britain and Hong Kong estimated that undocumented cases of the pneumonia, mostly with mild or even no symptoms, were the source of infection for 79 per cent of documented ones before Wuhan was locked down on January 23.

“These undocumented infections often experience mild, limited, or no symptoms and hence go unrecognised, and, depending on their contagiousness and numbers, can expose a far greater portion of the population to the virus than would otherwise occur,” the specialists from Columbia University, the University of Hong Kong, Imperial College London, Tsinghua University, and the University of California, Davis wrote in the report.

A separate study by scientists from the University of Texas at Austin estimated that people who had not yet developed symptoms transmitted around 10 per cent of the 450 cases they studied in 93 Chinese cities. Their findings are awaiting publication in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Ho from the University of Hong Kong said some asymptomatic patients had a viral load similar to those with symptoms.

“Of course it is hard to say if they may be less infectious if they don’t cough. But there are also droplets when you speak,” he said, referring to how the respiratory virus is transmitted.

Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiology and biostatistics professor at the University of Hong Kong, said there was “clear evidence that infected persons could transmit infection before symptoms appear”.

“There are many reports of transmission around one to two days before symptom onset,” he said.

A better understanding of asymptomatic cases could lead to adjustments in public health policy, experts said.

“The asymptomatic ratio … could be higher among children than in older adults,” Nishiura wrote in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. “That would considerably change our scope of the outbreak, and even the optimal interventions can change.”

Source : SCMP

Loss of Sense of Smell as Marker of COVID-19 Infection

There is new evidence for the loss of smell as a symptom of COVID-19 infection. We are circulating the following intelligence to Public Health England with regards to anosmia. As a result, this information highlights the importance for healthcare personnel to employ full PPE and in turn help stem the rates of infection.

Post-viral anosmia is one of the leading causes of loss of sense of smell in adults, accounting for up to 40% cases of anosmia. Viruses that give rise to the common cold are well known to cause post-infectious loss, and over 200 different viruses are known to cause upper respiratory tract infections. Previously described coronaviruses are thought to account for 10-15% cases. It is therefore perhaps no surprise that the novel COVID-19 virus would also cause anosmia in infected patients.

There is already good evidence from South Korea, China and Italy that significant numbers of patients with proven COVID-19 infection have developed anosmia/hyposmia. In Germany it is reported that more than 2 in 3 confirmed cases have anosmia. In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases.

In addition, there have been a rapidly growing number of reports of a significant increase in the number of patients presenting with anosmia in the absence of other symptoms – this has been widely shared on medical discussion boards by surgeons from all regions managing a high incidence of cases. Iran has reported a sudden increase in cases of isolated anosmia, and many colleagues from the US, France and Northern Italy have the same experience. I have personally seen four patients this week, all under 40, and otherwise asymptomatic except for the recent onset of anosmia – I usually see roughly no more than one a month. I think these patients may be some of the hitherto hidden carriers that have facilitated the rapid spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, these patients do not meet current criteria for testing or selfisolation.

While there is a chance the apparent increase in incidence could merely reflect the attention COVID-19 has attracted in the media, and that such cases may be caused by typical rhinovirus and coronavirus strains, it could potentially be used as a screening tool to help identify otherwise asymptomatic patients, who could then be better instructed on self-isolation.

Given the potential for COVID-19 to present with anosmia, and the reports that corticosteroid use may increase the severity of infection, we would advise against use of oral steroids in the treatment of new onset anosmia during the pandemic, particularly if it is unrelated to head trauma or nasal pathology (such as nasal polyps).

There is potential that if any adult with anosmia but no other symptoms was asked to selfisolate for seven days, in addition to the current symptom criteria used to trigger quarantine, we might be able to reduce the number of otherwise asymptomatic individuals who continue to act as vectors, not realising the need to self-isolate. It will also be an important trigger for healthcare personnel to employ full PPE and help to counter the higher rates of infection found amongst ENT surgeons compared to other healthcare workers.

Source : ENTUK

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