Long covid infection linked with risk of 'face blindness', warns new study

News Network
March 21, 2023


New Delhi, Mar 21: Prolonged symptoms of Covid-19 may be associated with difficulty recognising faces, a little-known condition called face blindness, and navigational problems, according to a study.

Previous studies have shown that Covid-19 can cause a range of neurological problems, including the loss of smell and taste, and impairments in attention, memory, speech, and language, known as "brain fog".

The latest research, published in the journal Cortex, is the first to report prosopagnosia, or face blindness, following symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The condition that can make people fail to recognise familiar faces, has been estimated to affect between 2 and 2.5 per cent of people in the world.

The researchers assessed the case of Annie, a 28-year-old customer service representative and part-time portrait artist in the US, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 in March 2020 and suffered a symptom relapse two months later.

"When I first met Annie, she told me that she was unable to recognise the faces of her family," said Marie-Luise Kieseler, a graduate student at Dartmouth College in the US, adding Annie now relies on voices to recognise people.

Annie also experienced navigational deficits after having Covid-19. She has had difficulty remembering where particular sections in her grocery store are and relies on Google maps and its pin function to remember where she parks her car.

“The combination of prosopagnosia and navigational deficits that Annie had is something that caught our attention because the two deficits often go hand in hand after somebody either has had brain damage or developmental deficits,” said study senior author Brad Duchaine, a professor at Dartmouth.

"That co-occurrence is probably due to the two abilities depending on neighbouring brain regions in the temporal lobe," Duchaine said in a statement.

Dr. Vinit Suri, Senior Consultant, Neurology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi noted that the exact mechanisms by which long Covid may cause face blindness are not yet fully understood, but there are several possible explanations.

"Firstly, long Covid can cause a range of neurological symptoms which may affect the brain regions responsible for face recognition, causing difficulty in processing visual information and recognising familiar faces," Suri told PTI.

"Secondly, Covid-19 can cause inflammation and damage to the blood vessels, which can lead to reduced blood flow to the brain. This can cause brain damage and cognitive impairments, including face blindness," he added.

The research team conducted a series of tests with Annie to evaluate her problems with face recognition and determine whether she also has difficulties with other perceptual or cognitive abilities.

In one test, Annie was sequentially presented with 60 images of celebrity faces and was asked to name them. Annie correctly identified 29 per cent of the 48 celebrities whom she was familiar with as compared to most people, who can correctly identify 84 per cent of familiar celebrities.

The second test was a doppelganger test. Annie was shown a celebrity's name and then presented with images of two faces: the face of a celebrity and that of someone similar, and was then asked to identify which face was the famous person.

She identified the celebrity in 69 per cent of the 58 trials, as compared to 87 per cent in the control group.

"Our results from the test with unfamiliar faces show that it wasn't just that Annie couldn’t recall the name or biographical information of a famous person that she was familiar with, but she really has trouble learning new identities," said Kieseler.

The research team also obtained self-reported data from 54 individuals who had long Covid with symptoms for 12 weeks or more, and 32 persons who had reported that they had fully recovered from Covid-19.

Most respondents with long Covid reported that their cognitive and perceptual abilities had decreased since they had Covid.

"It was not just a small concentration of really impaired cases but a broad majority of people in the long Covid group reported noticeable difficulties doing things that they were able to do before contracting Covid-19 without any problems," Kieseler said.

"Our study highlights the sorts of perceptual problems with face recognition and navigation that can be caused by Covid-19 -- it is something that people should be aware of, especially physicians and other health care professionals,” Duchaine added.

Dr. Atul Prasad, Principal Director & HOD Neurology, BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi said this is the first report of long Covid causing prosopagnosia.

"The more we study the virus, the more we realise how much damage it can cause during acute infection and now after infection has settled," Prasad told PTI.

Suri noted that that not all people with long Covid will develop face blindness, and the severity and duration of symptoms can vary widely.

"Further research is needed to better understand the relationship between long Covid and face blindness and to develop effective treatments and interventions for those affected," he added. 


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News Network
November 29,2023


The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has freed 12 captives in exchange for 30 Palestinians released by the Israeli regime, as part of the fifth phase of a swap deal between the two sides.

The exchange went underway on Tuesday, the fifth day of the agreement that has been clinched between the two sides through Qatar and Egypt's mediation.

The agreement has also brought about a lull in a genocidal Israeli war against the Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 15,500 people across the coastal sliver.

The Israeli regime began the war on October 7 following an operation by Gaza's resistance groups that killed 1,200 Israeli settlers and forces and led to the captivity of hundreds of others.

The captives released by Hamas on the fifth day comprised 10 Israelis and two Thai nationals.

So far, under the deal, Hamas has released a total of 81 captives while Israel has freed 150 Palestinian detainees.

Friday marked the first day of the agreement, which had been initially brokered for four days. The regime and Hamas agreed to extend it for two more days on Monday.

Speaking on Tuesday, Khalil al-Hayya, a member of the Hamas' Political Bureau, said he hoped the deal would be extended for a longer period of time.

Israel, however, has vowed to resume the war with "full force," claiming that it seeks to end Hamas' rule over Gaza.

Hamas has vowed that the Palestinian territory would be only ruled by its own people once the war was over. 


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News Network
November 27,2023


Tumakuru, Nov 27: In a tragic incident a family of five, including three children, died by suicide, which was allegedly triggered by debt and harassment by neighbours in the Sadashivanagar area of Tumakuru city in Karnataka on Sunday. 

The deceased family elder Garib Saab (36) left a poignant death note addressed to his grandmother, detailing the family's struggles and the reasons behind their extreme step.

According to police, the deceased family hailed from Lakkanahalli in Shira taluk of Tumakuru district. The deceased have been identified as Garib Saab (32) his wife Sumayya (30), their daughter Hazira, and sons Mohammed Suban and Mohammed Muneer.

Earlier, Garib wrote a chilling note to his great-grandmother about his plan to die by suicide. He wrote about his debt and also mentioned that his neighbours were harassing his family. He demanded that the Home Minister should punish them according to the law. "We are losing our lives to the harassment of the neighbours," he wrote in the note.

Garib Saab has written the names of family members and wrote that everything is on the mobile phone, police said.

Tumakur SP Ashok KV said, "We got information that five people committed suicide in the same house. After a few minutes, we reached the place. Two bodies were found hanging. The bodies of three children were found on the bed. The deceased persons were from Lakkanahalli of Shira taluk. Garib Saab wrote a death note before he died. He also sent a video message to his relatives. We will check what information it contains. We will take action based on the video and the complaint."

Saab stayed at Tumakuru to educate his children. The deceased have blamed mental harassment by Kalandar, who stays below their house in a video purportedly recorded by them.

“We were harassed by neighbours led by Kalandar. Those responsible for this suicide should get their due. Don’t conduct post-mortem on our bodies,” the video said. 


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News Network
November 24,2023


Almost two months after it announced the shutting down of its operations, the Afghanistan embassy in New Delhi announced its permanent closure and asked the Indian government to allow the flag of the erstwhile Afghan republic to be hoisted on the premises.

“The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in New Delhi regrets to announce the permanent closure of its diplomatic mission in New Delhi, effective from 23 November 2023, owing to persistent challenges from the Indian government,” a statement released by Afghanistan’s ambassador to India, Farid Mamundzay, said.

“The decision follows the embassy’s earlier cessation of operations on September 30, a move made in the hope that the Indian government stance will favourably change to let the mission operate normally,” it said, adding, “Unfortunately, despite an eight-week wait, the objectives of visa extension for diplomats and a shift in the Indian government’s conduct were not realised.”

The statement added that given the “constant pressure from both the Taliban & the Indian government to relinquish control, the embassy faced a difficult choice”.

“India has been a steadfast strategic partner of the erstwhile Afghan Republic since 2001, & we acknowledge the limitations & concerns that govern the realm of realpolitik and the balancing act required at a difficult time in a geo-politically sensitive region,” it said.

“Therefore, we firmly believe that the decision to close the mission in India at this stage and to transfer the custodial authority of the mission to the host country is in the best interest of Afghanistan,” the statement released by Mamundzay said.

Currently, there are no diplomats from the Afghan Republic in India. Those who served in the national capital have safely reached third countries, the official statement said, adding that the only individuals present in India are diplomats affiliated with the Taliban, visibly attending their regular online meetings.

“The diplomats of the Afghan Republic have handed over the mission solely to the Indian government. It now rests upon the Indian government to decide the fate of the mission, whether to maintain its closure or consider alternatives, including the possibility of handing it over to Taliban diplomats. The responsibility of diplomats appointed by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has officially come to an end. The unfortunate end of the Republic mission marks the conclusion of the Afghan Republic in India,” it added.

The statement went on to implore the Indian government to consider certain requests “in this challenging time for Afghanistan, where millions suffer because of poverty and socio-economic and political exclusion”.

The first request was that the Indian government should take into custody the Afghan diplomatic mission properties, bank accounts and vehicles, and an amount of USD 500,000 in the embassy’s bank account. Secondly, the government should continue to hoist Afghanistan’s tricolour flag on the embassy premises. And thirdly, it should “ensure the safekeeping of the embassy’s property and assets with the understanding that they will be entrusted to a legitimate accountable government duly elected or chosen by the Afghan people in the future,” the statement said.

The embassy said it was “cognisant” that some may attempt to characterise this move as an internal conflict, allegedly involving diplomats who switched allegiance to the Taliban, adding “that this decision is a result of broader changes in policy and interests”.

“To the Afghan citizens in India, the Embassy extends its sincere gratitude for their understanding and support throughout our mission’s tenure,” it added.

Despite “limitations in resources and power”, the Afghan embassy said it has worked “tirelessly for their betterment and in the absence of a legitimate government in Kabul”.

Over the past two years and three months, the Afghan community in India has witnessed a significant decline, with Afghan refugees, students, and traders leaving the country, the embassy noted in its statement, adding that the number has nearly halved since August 2021, with very limited new visas being issued during this period.

“We assure the Afghan community that the mission operated with transparency, accountability, and a commitment to fair treatment based on the goodwill and interests of Afghanistan considering historic ties and bilateral relations with India,” it added.

“Unfortunately, efforts have been made to tarnish our image and hinder diplomatic efforts in order to justify the presence and work of Taliban-appointed and affiliated diplomats. In the face of these challenges, our committed team worked diligently in the most difficult circumstances, prioritizing the interests of the 40 million Afghans in every possible sphere from securing humanitarian aid and online education scholarships to facilitating ease in trade and advocating for the formation of a broad-based government,” the Afghan embassy stated further in its statement.

It added that the Afghan embassy “exerted diplomatic pressure in its power on those who defy the will of the Afghan people by failing to form an inclusive government and denying millions of girls the right to attend school”.

“We have considered the historic events and current circumstances carefully in arriving at this conclusion. We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to the people of India for their support and assistance to Afghanistan over the past 22 years. We reiterate our commitment to serving the people of Afghanistan and will continue to explore avenues to support our nation in these challenging times,” the statement concluded.

Notably, the embassy had announced the closure of its operations on October 1, citing “lack of resources” and “failure to meet Afghanistan’s interests” by the Taliban regime.

The embassy also made an “unequivocal statement” stating that certain consulates that work on the instructions and funding from Kabul are not in consonance with the objectives of a legitimate or elected government but rather serve the interests of an “illegitimate regime”.


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