Prince William, Duchess Kate Plan to Bring Kids to More Royal Engagements

Looking ahead! Prince William and Duchess Kate have big plans for their eldest two kids’ future royal duties.

Duchess Kate and Prince William’s Best Quotes About Parenthood

“William and Kate have loved watching Prince George and Princess Charlotte grow and develop over the last year,” a source exclusively reveals in the new issue of Us Weekly. “They have both grown up so much and are little people now rather than kids.”

The insider adds that the duke and duchess, both 38, “hope to be able to take the kids with them on royal engagements” next year, as long as they don’t “interfere” with their Thomas’s Battersea schooling.

Royally Cute! See Prince George’s Photo Album

For now, the couple, who are also the parents of son Prince Louis, 2, are enjoying the holiday season with their three children.

“It’s their favorite time of year,” a source exclusively told Us of the little ones last month. “In fact, they’ve already written their list for Santa and are nagging William and Kate to put up the Christmas tree.”

The insider went on to call George “well-behaved,” adding, “All the kids are, but Charlotte and Louis both have a cheeky streak. Louis is more like Charlotte in personality than George!”

While the future king is “obsessed with helicopters, planes and marine biology” and wants to get into diving, “Charlotte loves gymnastics but has recently taken up kids’ yoga.” In fact, she has been teaching her younger brother g and tree pose.

The family of five shared their holiday card earlier this month, and Louis stole the show giggling on his dad’s lap. “The Duke and Duchess are delighted to share a new image of their family, which features on their Christmas card this year,” their Instagram account read.

Royal Family’s Merriest Holiday Cards Through the Years

The new family photo came one week after William and Kate’s kids made their red carpet debut at The Palladium’s special performance of The National Lottery’s Pantoland, held to honor frontline workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information on William and Kate’s life at home with three kids, watch the video above and check out the latest issue of Us Weekly, on newsstands now.

With reporting by Travis Cronin

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Invasive mosquito species could bring more malaria to Africa’s urban areas

A species of mosquito that can carry malaria—known as Anopheles stephensi – has invaded eastern Africa and is quickly moving across the region. Moina Spooner, from The Conversation Africa, asked Jeremy Herren and Clifford Mutero to provide insights into why this invasion is happening and what can be done to protect people from it.

How did Anopheles stephensi come to Africa?

This mosquito species, Anopheles stephensi, is widespread in South-East Asia and parts of the Arabian Peninsula. It is common in India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. In the last couple of years there have been increasing reports of it in Africa. It was initially reported in Djibouti in 2013.

Recent reports indicate that it is spreading rapidly through the Horn of Africa. It was reported in Ethiopia in 2016 and in Sudan in 2017 and is likely being spread along major transportation routes. As a result, the World Health Organization has issued an alert for intensified surveillance to track the spread. We expect that it’ll eventually be found in other major African cities.

Surveillance data is needed to confirm further spread but, based on the timeline of its travel to Ethiopia and Sudan, we speculate that three years is how long it would have taken to reach Kenya and Tanzania. They are now within that risky time-frame.

Kenya and Tanzania may be at a particularly high risk due to their close proximity to the Horn of Africa. They also have large coastal cities whose weather conditions (warmer and more humid) are similar to the mosquitoes’ native range. Other cities further away, including some in West Africa, are also deemed to have a suitable environment for Anopheles stephensi.

Generally the spread of mosquitoes to new areas is facilitated by by people through ground, air and ocean transport systems. Increased international travel and human migration leads to vectors and pathogens emerging or re-emerging in regions where they’d diminished or been eradicated.

In what ways is this mosquito different from the ones that exist on the continent?

There are over 100 species of Anopheles mosquitoes in Africa, but only six species are considered “primary” vectors of malaria.

Anopheles stephensi is very effective at transmitting malaria. What’s worrying is that it also thrives in urban areas, unlike the various African Anopheles species.

Anopheles mosquitoes require water to complete their life cycle: a female mosquito lays its eggs on the surface of a water source, where they hatch and finally develop into adult mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes suck blood from people and other hosts to enable them to lay eggs. It is the blood-feeding that enables mosquitoes to transmit parasites—such as malaria—from one person to another.

Typically, the main African Anopheles vector species are found in rural landscapes—which is why the majority of Africa’s malaria cases are also in rural areas. They breed in various water habitats such as puddles, footprints and hoof prints along the edges of ponds, and irrigated farmland. These habitats do also occur in some urban areas, but they’re often polluted and less suitable for these mosquitoes. Reports do now indicate, though, that some African Anopheles are becoming more adapted to these conditions.

By contrast, while they can also survive in rural areas, Anopheles stephensi thrive in urban areas—such as plastic and cement containers that hold water. This means that this species poses a threat both in cities and in rural areas.

What new challenges does it present?

The main issue is that if the invasion becomes widely established, malaria could become more prevalent in African cities and this would put many more people at risk of infection. Consequently, malaria control efforts will be spread even thinner on the continent as malaria expands into cities.

There are already many challenges—such as a lack of resources. Currently, about half of the US$6.5 billion needed to meet the 2030 malaria targets is available. There were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria in 2017 and 92% of these occurred in the WHO African region. The funding shortfall is likely to grow if the Anopheles stephensi increases malaria cases in Africa.

Another major challenge is that both Anopheles stephensi and African malaria vectors are developing resistance to some of the insecticides used against them. These insecticides are deployed on bed-nets or used for indoor spraying.

Finally, the Anopheles stephensi presents a new challenge because it’s harder to access mosquito breeding and resting sites in urban areas and deploy control measures. In particular, it is more challenging to identify and map breeding sites in urban areas, which makes it more difficult to control larvae. In addition, indoor residual spraying is less straightforward due to the high density of dwellings and challenges accessing them all.

Has a mosquito invasion like this happened in the past? If so, what happened then?

The spread of Anopheles stephensi is reminiscent of a similar invasion by Anopheles gambiae, a mosquito species commonly found in Africa, which spread to Brazil in the 1930s and 1940s and caused devastating malaria outbreaks. For example, over a period of just eight months there were 150,000 cases of malaria and 14,000 deaths. This was recognized as one of the most serious threats to health in the Americas and an aggressive eradication campaign was initiated.

The Brazilian government reacted with an integrated control program. Insecticide spraying targeted larvae and adult insects. Cars or trucks leaving endemic areas were sprayed and there was a massive effort to improve drainage and remove the stagnant water that provided breeding sites. This concerted effort is an important example in successful vector control and resulted in the species being eradicated in South America by the 1940s.

Is there anything that can be done to stop the spread?

Action is needed immediately if there is to be a chance of curtailing the spread of Anopheles stephensi. The longer we leave it the harder it will be to contain, and unfortunately there seems to have already been significant spread with reports from across the Horn of Africa. Though mosquitoes can travel long distances and are dispersed on high altitude winds, the pattern of Anopheles stephensi spread suggests the importance of human transportation routes.

Vector surveillance is key. We need to know where Anopheles stephensi has spread and then quickly and strategically focus resources on restricting spread and locally eliminating Anopheles stephensi before it establishes a foothold. Surveillance should be carried out by National Vector and Malaria Control Programs with support from research institutions.

Overall, a combination of environmental management to eliminate larval habitats and eco-friendly biopesticides to control adult and larval stages of the mosquito is considered the most effective strategy for control of Anopheles stephensi.

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Winter may bring a lot more coronavirus cases, new research finds

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, scientists speculated that warm summer air would dampen its spread.

Then as the virus spread rapidly around the world, racking up more than 27 million cases in the spring and summer, the seasonal impact largely fell out of the public conversation.

But researchers at Johns Hopkins University are coming out with new research that suggests rising temperatures do moderate the spread of the virus—and a big new wave of cases could be coming with the cooler fall air.

“We have made significant inroads in this pandemic, and we can say a lot of that is because of social interventions,” said Dr. Adam Kaplin, assistant Hopkins professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the lead researcher.

The warm weather served as a tail wind for those efforts, he said.

“In the fall and colder months we are going to hit a head wind in the other direction and that will make control much more difficult,” Kaplin said.

The findings were so striking that Kaplin took the unusual step of discussing the work while the research still was under review for publication in a scientific journal.

Maryland and other states, as well as other countries, have been easing restrictions with a drop in cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. But Kaplin said cases could spike with more virus-friendly cool air even with the same restrictions.

The findings of seasonal variation are not new. The flu, the common cold and other coronaviruses typically moderate during warmer months. This could be due to the direct effects of heat on viruses and because fewer people congregate indoors.

Other recent studies or models on the pandemic coronavirus, from the University of Maryland to Harvard and Princeton universities, have found at least some impact from temperature changes or projected that there would be effects even if they weren’t obvious yet.

A paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by the Maryland researchers found, for example, the virus acted in a way “consistent with the behavior of a seasonal respiratory virus,” spreading along with temperature and humidity levels. The College Park researchers said it would be possible to develop a weather model to predict places most likely at higher risk for spread.

Rachel Baker from the Princeton Environmental Institute downplayed how much the weather was a factor, instead pointing to the importance of other measures such as wearing masks and physical distancing.

“I think it is possible that upcoming wintertime conditions could increase transmission, particularly in locations with more severe winters,” she said. “However, if we have effective control measures in place, we should be able to limit large secondary outbreaks.”

Baker said studies suggest the effects would be more clear over time. For now, a lot of the studies face challenges, such as differences in how cases are reported around the world.

Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, was even less sure there would be a visible impact from temperature changes.

“This virus has demonstrated no seasonal pattern as such so far,” he said during an Aug. 10 news conference.

But other studies have raised concerns that a cold winter will lead to more cases if steps aren’t taken now to tamp down cases and keep them low.

That includes Dr. David Rubin at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s PolicyLab, which has incorporated weather into models it regularly produces. (The model suggests a slight uptick in Baltimore in the fall due to various factors including students returning to college campuses.)

The PolicyLab’s own weather study found a narrow range of springlike temperatures were the safest, 60-65 degrees. The researchers hypothesize that colder weather may facilitate more virus transmission but warmer weather may encourage more social gatherings conducive to spread.

The study, published in July in JAMA Network Open, also found distancing measures were the most effective means of controlling the virus no matter the temperature.

“There is a reason the meatpacking industry was hit so hard by this pandemic,” Rubin said. “They do live in congregate housing, but they also work in freezers. … We need to start now and get a good control of the virus so we don’t go into winter already in a surge.”

Kaplin at Hopkins agreed that measures taken now will matter.

A psychiatrist, Kaplin doesn’t normally do weather-related research, but wanted to sound early alarms to get the public’s attention while there is still time.

The issue became clear to him while in Brazil for his wedding in February, a summer month. He noticed a lower rate of viral transmission compared with the infection rate in the United States during a winter month.

Kaplin enlisted statistician colleagues and used data collected by other Hopkins researchers for their public coronavirus dashboard as well as available government weather data. The researchers got information from 50 countries that had reporting early in their outbreaks, before controls such as mask-wearing and physical distancing. The researchers accounted for population and land area in their calculations and looked for a pattern.

They found from January to April, places such as Singapore with average temperatures in the 80s had much lower rates of viral spread than places such as Turkey with average temperatures in the 20s.

Kaplin didn’t want to weigh in on specific actions to get ahead of another big wave of cases. But he said policymakers likely would have to consider tougher restrictions when the temperature drops just to maintain the same level of spread.

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