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Is it safe to travel for the holidays in 2020 during the pandemic?

The end of the year is sneaking up, and people are weighing travel plans to join friends and family for the holidays — all against the backdrop of a deadly pandemic.



a group of people walking down the street: There's a lot more to consider when planning holiday travel in 2020.


© Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images
There’s a lot more to consider when planning holiday travel in 2020.

Gathering with others — probably the most universal holiday tradition — has never required so much meticulous forethought.

Should you travel for the holidays in 2020? What precautions will make it safer? Who will be there and how careful have they been?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that travel increases the chances of contracting and spreading Covid-19. Staying home is the best way to protect against getting and spreading the virus, yet many people are likely to travel before the year is over.



a sign on the side of a snow covered car in a parking lot: Driving is not without risks, but your interactions with others can be more easily controlled than with air travel.


© Jason Connolly/AFP/Getty Images
Driving is not without risks, but your interactions with others can be more easily controlled than with air travel.

CNN spoke with medical experts on how to reduce the risks around holiday travel and when you really should skip it altogether.

Should you travel for the holidays this year?

“Probably not, if you are anxious or vulnerable,” says Dr. Richard Dawood, a travel medicine specialist and director at Fleet Street Clinic in London.

But traveling is fine if you’re willing to be cautious, follow the rules and adapt easily to changes of plan, he said.

“I think the threshold for travel at this time should still be higher than before the pandemic,” says Dr. Henry Wu, director of Emory TravelWell Center and associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.



a statue of a man and a woman standing in front of a building: Staying in a hotel may give guests more control of their environment than staying with friends or relatives.


© Benno Schwinghammer/picture alliance/Getty Images
Staying in a hotel may give guests more control of their environment than staying with friends or relatives.

“If you do choose to travel, try to keep gatherings small and take precautions,” such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene, Wu said.

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Who should skip it?

People who are especially vulnerable to severe Covid-19 illness are safest staying home.

“Are you older, are you frail, do you have chronic underlying illnesses?” are the questions to ask, says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

People who are considering meeting up with vulnerable relatives or friends should really weigh the implications of introducing illness to them, Wu said.

“There are well-documented Covid-19 clusters associated with family gatherings, including ones that resulted in deaths,” he said.

Are some locations safer than others?

Gatherings are likely safer in areas around the world where infections remain low, although the standard precautions still apply.



a group of people sitting at a table: Joining hands around a crowded holiday table is best skipped this year.


© Shutterstock
Joining hands around a crowded holiday table is best skipped this year.

For example, it may be possible to have a “relatively normal” Thanksgiving gathering in parts of the United States where infections are very low, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“But in other areas of

Zoom is releasing a new tool to let paid users charge for admission to online events like conferences or fitness classes

 



Eric S. Yuan standing in front of a sign: Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Communications takes part in a bell ringing ceremony at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York Reuters


© Provided by Business Insider
Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Communications takes part in a bell ringing ceremony at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York Reuters

  • Zoom is introducing OnZoom, a new way to host events — free and paid — using the popular videoconferencing tool.
  • Zoom has come to be used to host all kinds of events amid the pandemic, from board meetings and conferences to fitness classes and concerts. The new OnZoom platform includes the ability to charge for tickets, as well as a directory of public event listings.
  • Zoom is also launching a new kind of app integration, called a Zapp, that can bring information from productivity tools like Dropbox, Slack, or Asana directly into a video chat.
  • Facebook launched its own features for paid videoconferencing events over the summer.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As the pandemic drags on, Zoom is releasing a new way to host online events — importantly, now including paid events — as well as new types of apps that integrate outside business and productivity tools like Slack, Dropbox, and Asana directly into Zoom meetings, the company announced Wednesday.

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Zoom has become a household name amid shelter in place and social distancing mandates, with users turning to the videoconferencing app to host events from board meetings and conferences to yoga classes and concerts. It’s led Zoom’s business to skyrocket, but also forced the company to rethink its ambitions beyond its original enterprise approach.

The online event platform, called OnZoom, adds features to Zoom that make it easier to host online events — notably, by allowing event organizers to sell tickets for paid events on Zoom, thanks to an integration with PayPal. There will also be an event marketplace, where people can find and sign up for public events, free and paid.

At launch, the events platform is only available to US users, but will be available more globally next year. There’s no additional fee for paid users to try out OnZoom through the end of 2020, but Zoom says that it plans to revisit the possibility of taking a cut of ticket sales next year.

Notably, Facebook announced something similar earlier this year, allowing businesses, creators, educators and media publishers to host paid events on Facebook Live or its Messenger Rooms app. Facebook has said it won’t collect fees from tickets sales until at least August 2021.

The catch is that you will have to be a paid Zoom user to set up events with OnZoom, with a capacity ranging from 100 attendees, up to 1,000 for enterprise users. For anything larger, users can livestream the event with a Zoom Webinar license.

OnZoom is actually getting its first public test right out in the open: Zoom is using it to host its annual Zoomtopia user conference this week. The company bills it as being well-suited for other companies to host their own conferences, for fitness instructors to hold paid lessons, for nonprofits to set up fundraising

How do pandemics end? History suggests diseases fade but are almost never truly gone

<span class="caption">The COVID-19 new normal might be here for quite some time.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/reflecting-on-her-day-royalty-free-image/1263884394" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:SolStock/E+ via Getty Images">SolStock/E+ via Getty Images</a></span>
The COVID-19 new normal might be here for quite some time. SolStock/E+ via Getty Images

When will the pandemic end? All these months in, with over 37 million COVID-19 cases and more than 1 million deaths globally, you may be wondering, with increasing exasperation, how long this will continue.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, epidemiologists and public health specialists have been using mathematical models to forecast the future in an effort to curb the coronvirus’s spread. But infectious disease modeling is tricky. Epidemiologists warn that “[m]odels are not crystal balls,” and even sophisticated versions, like those that combine forecasts or use machine learning, can’t necessarily reveal when the pandemic will end or how many people will die.

As a historian who studies disease and public health, I suggest that instead of looking forward for clues, you can look back to see what brought past outbreaks to a close – or didn’t.

people in line outside a COVID-19 testing site
people in line outside a COVID-19 testing site

Where we are now in the course of the pandemic

In the early days of the pandemic, many people hoped the coronavirus would simply fade away. Some argued that it would disappear on its own with the summer heat. Others claimed that herd immunity would kick in once enough people had been infected. But none of that has happened.

A combination of public health efforts to contain and mitigate the pandemic – from rigorous testing and contact tracing to social distancing and wearing masks – have been proven to help. Given that the virus has spread almost everywhere in the world, though, such measures alone can’t bring the pandemic to an end. All eyes are now turned to vaccine development, which is being pursued at unprecedented speed.

Yet experts tell us that even with a successful vaccine and effective treatment, COVID-19 may never go away. Even if the pandemic is curbed in one part of the world, it will likely continue in other places, causing infections elsewhere. And even if it is no longer an immediate pandemic-level threat, the coronavirus will likely become endemic – meaning slow, sustained transmission will persist. The coronavirus will continue to cause smaller outbreaks, much like seasonal flu.

The history of pandemics is full of such frustrating examples.

Once they emerge, diseases rarely leave

Whether bacterial, viral or parasitic, virtually every disease pathogen that has affected people over the last several thousand years is still with us, because it is nearly impossible to fully eradicate them.

The only disease that has been eradicated through vaccination is smallpox. Mass vaccination campaigns led by the World Health Organization in the 1960s and 1970s were successful, and in 1980, smallpox was declared the first – and still, the only – human disease to be fully eradicated.

Children holding smallpox vaccination certificates
Children holding smallpox vaccination certificates

So success stories like smallpox are exceptional. It is rather the rule that diseases come to stay.

Take, for example, pathogens like malaria. Transmitted via parasite, it’s almost as old as humanity and still exacts

U.K.’s Film and TV Charity Launches Two-Year Program For Better Mental Health in Film and TV

The U.K.’s Film and TV Charity has launched the Whole Picture Program, a two-year initiative designed to to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the 200,000 people who work behind the scenes in film, TV and cinema.

The Film and TV Charity has now secured £3 million ($3.87 million) in funding from Amazon Prime Video, Banijay U.K., BBC, BBC Studios, Channel 4, IMG, ITV, Sky, Sky Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Company, ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia to deliver the program that is supported by the BFI and backed by U.K. mental health charity Mind. The charity estimates that mental health problems, including staff turnover, cost the sector at least £300 million ($387 million) in losses each year.

The program will deliver a toolkit for mentally healthy productions; enhanced professional and peer support for freelancers; people skills and training guides; industry actions to improve behavior; and anti-bullying services and resources.

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the Film and TV Charity said: “It has been a devastating year for many people in our industry, and it’s clear we cannot afford to return to ‘business as usual’. Our 2019 research showed a mental health crisis in the industry, which has only been exacerbated by the terrible effects of the pandemic.”

More than 9,000 people took part in the research last year, sharing their experiences and stories confidentially, which identified a mental health crisis within the industry. The findings revealed issues including self-harm and bullying. Since then, the pandemic has meant increased isolation and anxiety for many, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in the industry have identified the effect systemic racism and discrimination has on mental health.

“The case for improving the mental health of the industry has never been stronger or more urgent,” added Pumfrey. “This program of work is designed to turn the tide on poor mental health by enhancing the available support, changing behavior and improving ways of working; but this will need to be an industry-wide effort to create sustainable change.”

The project has been on hold for six months whilst the charity has dedicated all of its resources to responding to COVID-19, raising £6.4 million ($8.2 million), and supporting thousands of workers with grants and financial and mental wellbeing services.

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, said: “Unfortunately, self-employed people, freelancers and those in the film and TV industry are among those hit hardest by coronavirus. That’s why we’re pleased to be supporting the Whole Picture Program, which will provide much-needed resource and support to the many experiencing poor mental health in the sector.”

Industry leaders are part of the program’s mental health taskforce and they will work collaboratively to adopt and champion the work both within their own organizations and widely across the sector.

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Facebook to crack down on ads that discourage vaccines

Facebook announced a new policy that prohibits advertisements on the platform that discourage people from getting vaccines, as part of a new effort to encourage people to get flu shots amid the COVID-19 pandemic.



a sign on the screen: The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019.


© Johanna Geron/Reuters, File
The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019.

“We don’t want these ads on our platform,” Kang-Xing Jin, the company’s head of health and Rob Leathern, the director of product management, said in a blog post Tuesday.

The post added that while they already don’t allow ads featuring vaccine hoaxes, “Now, if an ad explicitly discourages someone from getting a vaccine, we’ll reject it.”

MORE: More people engage with verifiably false news outlets on Facebook now than in 2016

Moreover, the social media giant announced the launch of a new campaign to provide information about flu vaccines to users, and pledged to work with “global health partners on campaigns to increase immunization rates,” Jin and Leathern said.



a close up of a sign: The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019.


© Johanna Geron/Reuters, File
The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019.

This effort comes as health authorities urge people to prioritize getting a flu shot this year to both prevent twin infections of the flu and coronavirus and to minimize the potential strain on resources amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook’s policy, however, stops short of banning posts or other types of content on the platform that discourages vaccines. It also does not ban political ads that “advocate for or against legislation or government policies around vaccines — including a COVID-19 vaccine,” Jin and Leathern wrote.

“We’ll continue to require anyone running these ads to get authorized and include a ‘Paid for by’ label so people can see who is behind them,” the blog post stated.

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As virus surges anew, Milan hospitals under pressure again

MILAN (AP) — Coronavirus infections are surging anew in the northern Italian region where the pandemic first took hold in Europe, putting pressure again on hospitals and health care workers.

At Milan’s San Paolo hospital, a ward dedicated to coronavirus patients and outfitted with breathing machines reopened this weekend, a sign that the city and the surrounding area is entering a new emergency phase of the pandemic.

For the medical personnel who fought the virus in Italy’s hardest-hit region of Lombardy in the spring, the long-predicted resurgence came too soon.


“On a psychological level, I have to say I still have not recovered,’’ said nurse Cristina Settembrese, referring to last March and April when Lombardy accounted for nearly half of the dead and one-third of the nation’s coronavirus cases.

“In the last five days, I am seeing many people who are hospitalized who need breathing support,” Settembrese said. “I am reliving the nightmare, with the difference that the virus is less lethal.”

Months after Italy eased one of the globe’s toughest lockdowns, the country is now recording well over 5,000 new infections a day — eerily close to the highs of the spring — as the weather cools and a remarkably relaxed summer of travel and socializing fades into memory. Lombardy is again leading the nation in case numbers, an echo of the trauma of March and April when ambulance sirens pierced the silence of stilled cities.

So far, Italy’s death toll remains significantly below the spring heights, hovering recently around 50 per day nationwide, a handful in Lombardy. That compares with over 900 dead nationwide one day in March.

In response to the new surge, Premier Giuseppe Conte’s government twice tightened nationwide restrictions inside a week. Starting Thursday, Italians cannot play casual pickup sports, bars and restaurants face a midnight curfew, and private celebrations in public venues are banned. Masks are mandatory outdoors as of last week.

But there is also growing concern among doctors that Italy squandered the gains it made during its 10-week lockdown and didn’t move quick enough to reimpose restrictions. Concerns persist that the rising stress on hospitals will force scheduled surgeries and screenings to be postponed — creating a parallel health emergency, as happened in the spring.

Italy is not the only European country seeing a resurgence — and, in fact, is faring better than its neighbors this time around. Italy’s cases per 100,000 residents have doubled in the last two weeks to nearly 87 — a rate well below countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Britain that are seeing between around 300 to around 500 per 100,000. Those countries have also started to impose new restrictions.

This time, Milan is bearing the brunt. With Lombardy recording more than 1,000 cases a day, the regional capital and its surroundings account for as many as half of that total. Bergamo — which was hardest hit last time and has been seared into collective memory by images of army trucks transporting the dead to

3 million tested for coronavirus in Chinese city

BEIJING — Authorities in the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao say they have completed coronavirus tests on more than 3 million people following the country’s first reported local outbreak of the virus in nearly two months.

The city’s health department said Tuesday that no new positive cases had been found among the more than 1.1 million test results returned thus far. The city said it had a total of 12 cases, six with symptoms and six without, since the new outbreak was first spotted over the weekend at a hospital.

The National Health Commission, however, said Tuesday that at least six new cases of the virus were found in Qingdao in the past 24 hours.


The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

The National Health Commission numbers released Tuesday reported a total of 30 new virus cases in the previous 24 hours nationwide. It broke down those numbers into 13 cases in which people had symptoms and 17 cases in which they had no symptoms. The total number of locally transmitted cases, both with and without symptoms, was 11, while the rest were listed as imported.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Takeaways: Coronavirus at center of Supreme Cour t hearings

— Defiant Trump defends virus record in 1st post-COVID rally

— As pandemic presses on, waves of grief follow its path

— Black churches mobilizing voters despite virus challenges

— ‘So frustrating’: Doctors and nurses battle virus skeptics

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— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 102 new cases of the coronavirus, its first daily increase over 100 in six days. The steady rise is a cause of concern as officials have lowered social distancing restrictions this week after concluding that the viral spread was slowing after a spike in mid-August.

The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency brought the national caseload to 24,805, including 434 deaths.

Fifty-eight of the new cases was reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where transmissions have been linked to hospitals, sports facilities, a funeral home and an army unit.

Thirty-three of the new cases have been linked to international arrivals, including passengers from Russia, Nepal, Japan and the United States.

South Korea relaxed its social distancing guidelines beginning Monday, which allowed high-risk businesses like nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and for professional sports leagues to proceed with plans to bring back fans in the stands.

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AUSTIN, Texas — An ongoing wave of COVID-19 cases in the El Paso area prompted Gov. Greg Abbott to announce Monday that a surge team of medical professionals would be dispatched to the area.

The 75 doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists being dispatched will be accompanied by a supply of extra personal protective equipment to support efforts by El Paso hospitals to meet the surge of coronavirus infections. The team will be in addition to

Public health warns of COVID-19 exposure at Trenton dentist’s office

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is warning residents of the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 at a Trenton dentist’s office after a second person linked to the business has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the health unit, two cases of the disease were linked to You Make Me Smile Dental Centre on Division Street last week. Despite these cases, the public health unit says there is low risk of exposure at the dentist’s office.

Read more:
Kingston, Belleville public health offer support to local back to school plans

As the second case has been identified, public health is asking anyone who visited the dental centre between Sept. 28 and Oct. 6 to self-monitor and to get tested if symptoms develop. If you do have symptoms and get tested, you must self-isolate for 14 days from the last visit to the dental centre, regardless of the results, the health unit said. You do not have to self-isolate unless you are showing symptoms.

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Public health said it will follow up with those considered to be at a higher risk of exposure.

“While HPEPH does not typically disclose the location of COVID-19 cases in order to protect individuals’ privacy, this information is disclosed when needed in order to meet public health objectives such as reducing the risk of further transmission,” the public health unit said in a press release Wednesday.

Read more:
No COVID-19 outbreak at Queen’s University, KFL&A medical officer of health says

The office closed voluntarily on Oct. 7 and will remain closed until Oct. 21.

There are currently six active cases of COVID-19 in the Hastings and Prince Edward regions, with 61 total cases since the pandemic began, of which 50 people have recovered and five have died.




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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10 Resistance Band Leg Exercises For At-Home Lower-Body Workouts

trainer kehinde anjorin performing quadruped resistance band leg exercise

Kathryn Wirsing

Don’t get me wrong; I love using weights to build stronger, more defined legs—but it IS absolutely possible to see results without them. Whether you’re working out at home from a teeny-tiny bedroom or just need a break from the dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells (oh my!), do yourself a favor and give resistance band leg workouts a chance.

But how can you possible reap major benefits with just resistance bands—especially if you’re used to hitting the weights? Two simple tactics make a world of difference.

The first: unilateral (a.k.a. single-leg) exercises, which require your working leg to fire double-time. And the second: tempo work, in which you slow down your pace to increase the amount of time your muscles spend under tension (or actively engaged), ultimately increasing the stress you put on them and boosting the results you see.

Trust me, DIY a workout with the resistance band leg exercises here and you’ll never underestimate this super-simple piece of equipment ever again. Your entire lower body, from your glutes to your quads to your hamstrings, will be torched for days.

Time: 15 minutes

Equipment: long resistance band, box (or another sturdy, elevated surface, like a stair)

Good for: legs, lower-body

Instructions: Choose four exercises below. Perform 15 reps of each, then continue onto the next, resting only as needed. After you’ve finished all of your movements, rest for at least one minute. Then, repeat three times more for a total of four rounds.

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1

Banded Curtsy Lunge

Muscles worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings

How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, a long resistance band beneath arch of right foot, and one end of the band in either hand at chest-height, elbows bent and close to body. Take a big step back with left leg, crossing it behind right side. Bend knees and lower hips until right thigh is nearly parallel to the floor. Keep torso upright and hips and shoulders as square as possible. Return to start. That’s one rep. Perform 15 on each side, then continue on to your next move, resting as needed. After you’ve finished all of your exercises (remember, you’re doing four total), rest for one minute, then repeat the entire workout three times more for a total of four rounds.

Pro tip: Press right knee outward throughout movement to engage side-butt (a.k.a. glute medius) muscle.

2

Banded Front Squat

Muscles worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings

How to: Stand on the middle of the resistance band with feet hip-width apart, holding one end of the band in either hand. Bend arms to bring hands up next to ears, and lift elbows up until triceps are parallel to the floor and narrow. This is your starting position. Keeping arms still, engage core and bend at knees to sink hips back and down until thighs are parallel to floor. Press through feet to extend legs and return to standing. That’s one rep. Perform 15, then continue on to your next

Man yanks out two teeth with rusty pliers after he couldn’t book dentist appointment

A desperate man resorted to yanking two of his own teeth out after being unable to book a dentist appointment.

Chris Savage performed the self-dentistry in his bedroom because he could not register with a dentist or book an emergency appointment, saying it was the ‘most horrible thing I’ve ever done.’

The 42 year old said he had been in ‘agony’ for days, saying that just touching the tooth with his rusty pair of pliers set off waves of ‘agonising pain.’

The labourer admitted he had to get ‘very drunk’ by downing eight cans of Stella Artois to mask the pain before he pulled out the first tooth. He then waited another 24 hours to pull the second out – this time sober.

Chris said he was in ‘agony’ for days

Mr Savage, from Southsea in Portsmouth, said: “I ended up having to get very drunk the first time.

“Nobody wants to take part of their own face away with a set of pliers and no real painkillers.

“I put the pliers on my tooth and the second I did that it hurt.

“So I took them away, waited five minutes, built up again and then thought I’ve just got to do it.

Chris used a rusty set of pliers to take the teeth out

“It was a proper yank, a grip and pull – there’s no mucking about once you get to the point it’s started coming out.”

Mr Savage added that though there wasn’t much blood there was ‘enough to be scary’, and that it was ‘worth the risk of infection’.

The father of three didn’t register with an NHS dentist when he moved to Portsmouth from Alton, Hants, three years ago.

The teeth Chris pulled out himself

He lost his two front teeth in a bicycle crash last year, and when he began to experience pain recently he called around 20 dental practices, none of whom were taking on new patients.

He then phoned 111, who directed him to a practice that had volunteered to do triage appointments during the pandemic to help the NHS, but was referred back to 111 when he contacted them.

“It was like a massive game of pass the parcel”, he said.

Mr Savage signed up to receive Universal Credit during lockdown, leaving him with £50 a week for food and bills, meaning he was reluctant to spend the £100 per tooth it would have cost him to have them removed privately.

Chris lost his two front teeth in a bicycle crash last year

He said: “I could’ve waited a week – borrowed money, and had it done in hygienic conditions but there was no way I could’ve waited.

“Hygiene wasn’t going through my head, it was just ‘get this out’ – but the relief was worth it.

“The squelch noise as you pull