Wednesday, 16 August 2017

New Zika cluster at Serangoon North Ave 1, Serangoon Ville

A new Zika cluster was confirmed at Block 143 Serangoon North Avenue 1 and Serangoon Ville, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said.

The cluster comprises two locally transmitted cases of the virus, both involving residents of the area.

This is the third cluster to have been identified at Serangoon North Avenue 1 in less than a month. The first cluster, at blocks 125, 126 and 127, has since been closed.

The second cluster, at blocks 109, 115, 116 and 117, remains open. As of Monday, there have been five cases of Zika in the cluster, two of which were in the last two weeks.


Forum: Bald show of support could reduce the stares

Image source: Trinity Theological College
The adage about having to walk in someone else's shoes to empathise with him is true (Shaving head for Hair For Hope has little meaning, by Mr Hoe Li En; Aug 5).

In Singapore, it is normal to see a bald man, but not a bald woman or child. People do stare.

I am a brain tumour survivor and have undergone two operations. I am blase about being bald, but others may not be and may choose to hide at home. Hiding is not a good way to live. One needs to live as normal a life as possible, more so when one is sick.

With more people shaving their heads each year, hopefully the staring will stop.

The celebratory mood of Hair For Hope was also criticised as being offensive to the children who are sick.

But there is nothing wrong with celebrating people coming together to help others. Being sick does not mean living in doom and gloom.

I support Hair For Hope, and have taken part in this year's event.

The Children's Cancer Foundation does excellent work, but it needs money to fund its programmes. Hair For Hope is its biggest annual fund-raiser, and for that reason alone, it deserves support.

Jacqueline Woo Mei Lin (Ms)


Elderly, disabled commuters get helping hand at Outram MRT

Elderly, frail and disabled commuters can now seek help more easily, thanks to two trials launched at Outram Park MRT Station yesterday.

1st Trial

Under the first trial, two meeting points - designated “Heart Zones” - have been set up at the East-West (EWL) and North-East Line (NEL) exits.

Commuters wanting help getting to Singapore General Hospital (SGH) can head to red mesh benches there and wait for hospital staff or willing members of the public - who will be encouraged to look out for people needing assistance. The scheme operates during morning rush hour - 7.30am to 9.30am - on weekdays.

2nd Trial

Under the second trial — dubbed “Heartwheels” — four wheelchairs have been provided to help people getting between the EWL and NEL exits.

Two have been placed next to the lifts at each end of the 210m pedestrian linkway. They are free for public use throughout the day.

Both trials will last until Sept 15 and, if successful, they could be launched at other MRT stations such as Novena, which is near Tan Tock Seng Hospital.


Exceptional people: Singapore scientist wins Asean award for research on rice

Singapore might not be a rice-producing country, but that has not stopped it from contributing to research in the field.

Last week, Dr Yin Zhongchao, 50, was named the Outstanding Rice Scientist of Singapore at the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) Rice Science and Technology Ambassadors Award.

Much of his research is underscored by the need to boost productivity in paddy fields, and to keep bacteria from destroying harvests. Bacteria could kill up to 80 per cent of a harvest and affect the quality of the remaining crops.


Taiji for balance and coordination

Taiji lessons at Singapore Botanic Gardens
Taiji has its roots in Taoism and is widely practised in Singapore as a means of keeping in good health.


One of the known benefits of taiji is better coordination and balance, said Dr Benedict Tan, chairman of Exercise is Medicine Singapore. This is a global health movement to make exercise part of healthcare.

"Taiji includes slow, controlled and coordinated movements that involve multiple joints and muscles," said Dr Tan, a sports medicine specialist. "Regular taiji exercises can improve coordination and balance and, to a lesser extent, strength and flexibility."

In other words, taiji is ideal for those over 65, who are encouraged to take part in activities that improve flexibility, balance and agility.

This is because falls at that age can have serious consequences, such as hip fractures which leave a person unable to walk.


Mindfulness is a big component of taiji, said Mr William Seow, president of the Chen Shi Tai- jiquan Association (Singapore).

Mindfulness refers to learning to "be present" and focusing one's senses on the moment, rather than being distracted by the buzz of one's thoughts.

"By relaxing the mental state, you focus on your body movements and forget the other things." This is also called moving meditation.

This eventually becomes a habit and can spill over into everyday life, helping people to maintain better posture and a calmer state of mind.

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The war on sugar has food giants turning to stevia’s low-cal oomph

Image for illustration only - processed stevia

Over the past decade, a little-known herb that’s 200 times sweeter than sugar has become a US$4 billion (S$5.45 billion) global industry, showing up in everything from Coca Cola sodas to Heinz ketchup. Not a bad start for a product that many people still think has a bitter aftertaste.

Image for illustration only - natural dried stevia leaves can be purchased from Chinese Medical hall

Stevia, often marketed as a natural sweetener because it is derived from plant extracts, has almost no calories and a glycemic index of zero, which means it can be consumed by diabetics.

Demand accelerated from 2011, when the European Union approved stevia use in food. It is now found in salad dressings, chewing gum and even face wipes for babies. The plants — which thrive in sunny, warm conditions, are now grown in more places, including Paraguay, Kenya, China, the US, Vietnam, India, Argentina and Colombia.

Benefits of stevia for diabetics
  • Stevia is safe for diabetics. Research on diabetic rats found stevia reduced fasting blood sugar levels and balanced insulin resistance.
  • Helps with glucose regulation.