Air pollution

As the Formula One racing circus visits Singapore for its latest race, air pollution and the haze created has been brought into sharper focus than for a long time. There are reports of the haze closing schools in Malaysia and fears for the visibility and wellbeing of the F1 teams and their drivers in Singapore. Suddenly, something that is a constant for those who live in the region becomes big news.

But what is Haze?

The definition is that it is an atmospheric phenomenon where suspension of extremely small dry particles in the air obscure the clarity of the sky.

Its components can be gases such as ozone, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. Particulate matter also in the air includes benzene sulphate, organic carbon, microbial components and pollen.

These particles can penetrate respiratory and circulatory systems and can cause damage to the health of an individual exposed to it for any length of time, or on a regular basis,

Haze and your health.

Air pollution can affect your health in all sorts of different ways from eye irritation and redness, headaches and dizziness, runny nose, sneezing as well as nasal congestion.

But it’s not just the head that is affected. By breathing in particulate matter, this can cause problems in the throat with irritation, dryness and soreness causing coughing.

Extreme cases can create chest discomfort and respiratory tract infection. Asthma attacks are often prevalent and even something as natural as drinking water can be an issue if the drinking water is contaminated by dense haze. This can lead to stomach upset and vomiting. The skin can also be irritated by constant exposure to Haze.

So what precautions can be taken to prevent all these outcomes?

Top of the list is wearing appropriate dust masks when going outdoors. Those of us who don’t live in such badly affected areas will have seen the sort of protection worn by people appearing on news items about air-pollution.

The advice is always to consult a doctor if there is any difficulty in breathing, coughing, chest pain and any of the symptoms detailed above.

Spend less time outdoors.

Sadly, at a time when we are encouraging our children to spend less time on their iPads and more time outdoors, the advice in areas of high air pollution is to reduce outdoor activities such as jogging and cycling amongst others.

Drink plenty of water as long as it does not fall into the contaminated category.

Wash your hands and face on a regular basis and especially after outdoor activities and finally, please make sure that if you are prescribed medicines by your doctor that you take them on a regular basis especially if you have an underlying respiratory or cardiovascular dilute disease.

We will be revisiting the subject of air pollution in future blogs but in the meantime stay safe.

Mayfair, we care.

Mobile phones are smart now – but are we?

We are rarely very far from our smartphones these days, they are as much a part a necessity everywhere we go as the clothes that we wear! As a result some very bad habits have developed. Some are thoughtless, others downright rude, several are bad for business or relationships and the most serious can be life threatening. In short, the majority of us are not so smart when it comes to mobile phone use. See which categories you fit into:

In the car

If you are the driver it is illegal in many countries to use a mobile phone whilst the car is moving. Checking social media – your emails or texts, as well as texting or talking on the phone unless you have hands-free technology endangers not only your life but the lives of others. It’s irresponsible but so many drivers flout the law.

In staff meetings with colleagues

A recent Intel survey of HR managers said that mobile phones ringing during a meeting were top of the ‘mobile irritation’ league table! Very close was the annoyance caused by having the phone on vibrate – good mobile etiquette recommends silent or off completely.

At sales pitches

Many people will put their mobiles on the table during sales pitches – this is not a great idea! This sends out the wrong signal about how serious you are about being there and first impressions count. Good mobile etiquette is for the phone to be out of sight and on silent and it’s also better for business.

On public transport

Loud and lengthy phone calls on the bus or train are known to be a massive irritant to fellow passengers. Is it really necessary to raise your voice so that everyone can hear about the importance of the deal that is just going through, or what you fancy for dinner that night? Good mobile etiquette would be a quiet brief conversation saying you will ring back when you are somewhere more private.

In restaurants with your partner

How many people have been out for the evening and looked around at tables with couples barely communicating as they gaze at their shiny smartphones and text their friends or catch up on Facebook. If you want to spend quality social time with someone perhaps it would be a better idea to leave that phone at home or in a pocket?

On Holiday

One recent American survey has recorded that we check our phones 80 (yes eighty!) times a day even on holiday! Give yourself, and your travelling companions, friends, family etc a break and leave your phone in the suitcase for use only in emergencies! You don't need it on the beach, by the pool or you?!

I am probably only scratching at the surface of irritating mobile phone habits here – what are the ones that annoy you – let’s get them all out there!!

Mayfair we care.



WHO priorities 2019

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a number of issues that will demand its attention during the course of this year. Many will not come as a surprise to readers but others might.


Air-pollution and climate change.

9/10 people breath in polluted air every day and air-pollution Is considered by WHO as the greatest environmental risk to health. Encouraging world leaders to take the climate change issue seriously when self-interest is also an issue continues to be a challenge.


Non-communicable diseases.

These are responsible for over 70% of all deaths worldwide and include illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Over 85% of these premature deaths are in the low to middle income countries and the rise of these diseases has been driven by five major risk factors. These are tobacco, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol, diet and pollution. All of which have been highlighted on this blog and we will continue to do so.


Global flu pandemic.

Every year the world faces a flu pandemic. We don’t know when or where it will hit but we know that it will hit hard somewhere in the world. Flu vaccines are constantly being developed to protect people from seasonal flu because there are many different strains, and combinations of flu strains and research is an ongoing need.


Fragile and vulnerable settings.

Many of the poorest countries in the world will suffer drought, famine, conflict, and population displacement. They have weak health services which leave them without access to basic care. WHO continue to be active in these areas.


Antimicrobial resistance.

The overuse of antibiotics in both people and animals – especially those used for food production, is creating drug resistance within the population. Taken to its extreme, the inability to prevent infections could seriously compromise surgery as well as procedures such as chemotherapy.


Ebola and other threats.

Ebola continues to be a threat and 2018 saw two separate outbreaks. WHO has designated 2019 as a “year of action on preparing this for health emergencies“.


Weak primary healthcare.

Primary healthcare is usually the first point of contact people have with the health care system and ideally should provide comprehensive affordable community-based care throughout life.


Many countries do not have such adequate primary healthcare facilities and WHO will work with partners to strengthen primary healthcare in such countries during 2019.


Vaccine hesitancy.

Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease and it currently prevents between 2m and 3m deaths a year. However, measles has seen a 30% increase in cases globally due to vaccine hesitancy which, if such attitudes develop, could see the return of diseases that were long thought to be under control.


These 8 issues will keep a very busy and important organisation occupied in 2019 directing and coordinating health work where it is most needed on an international stage.

Mayfair, we care.


A Royal Focus Back on the Zika Virus

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle, are in Sydney as they start their 16-day tour. The widely anticipated tour of Tonga and Fiji from October 23 to 26 has brought the spotlight back on the Zika virus.

The pregnant Meghan Markle had been advised to reschedule the tour itinerary to exclude Fiji and Tonga due to the risk of Zika Infection. 

The Duchess, who is expecting her first child, announced that the tour would go on as planned despite the presence of the dangerous virus. Sources say that the couple took the medical advice and all Zika virus infection concerns into consideration before deciding to proceed with the Southern hemisphere trip.

However, it's worth noting that the Duchess has been told to keep away from the jungles and rainforest of Tonga and Fiji. This is just part of the precautions that the couple is taking in light of the circumstances.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization released a world map defining the areas with risk of Zika infection. The Pacific islands of Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands are listed as moderate’ risk.

What is the Zika Virus?

Out of the spotlight recently, the Zika virus is an emerging virus in the Flavivirus family that includes dengue, yellow fever, West Nile and Japanese encephalitis viruses.

The virus was first discovered in Uganda back in 1947. The 1st confirmed infection was realized between 1962-63. The first known outbreak occurred in 2007 in the Western Pacific.

Six years later, another one happened in French Polynesia followed by other minor outbreaks in other Pacific Islands. Zika virus was introduced into Brazil somewhere between 2013 and 2015, causing a large epidemic that peaked in November 2015.   

Zika virus spreads to people mainly through when an infected Aedes mosquito species bites you. The mosquitos that spread the virus can strike at any time during the day.

This virus can be spread during intercourse with an infected person as well as from an expectant mother to her unborn during the pregnancy or even around the time of birth.  Many individuals infected with the virus will not exhibit any symptoms or will only have mild symptoms.

The most prevalent symptoms are fever, joint pain, headache, rash, red eyes, and muscular pain. The symptoms can last for several days to a week. It is rare for a person to get sick enough to require hospitalisation, and death from Zika is very rare.

The main risk of the virus is with regards to pregnant women. This is the primary reason why Meghan and Harry’s South Pacific caused so much concern.  Zika infection during pregnancy can cause congenital disabilities such as microcephaly. Microcephaly is a birth defect whereby the baby’s head is smaller than normal when compared to babies of same sex and age.

There have also been increasing reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome in areas affected by the virus. This is a very uncommon sickness of the nervous system.

The Takeaway 

Overall, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent its spread is through protection from mosquito bites. Given that Meghan and Harry have decided to proceed with the tour as scheduled, it is safe to assume that will be taking the necessary precautions to minimize any risk of Zika Infection. As such, all those concerned about the well-being of their Royal Highnesses should rest easy, and equally, all those planning a trip to ‘risk’ areas should carry out full research in advance and take medical advice.

Mayfair, we care.

Vaping - force for good, or some hidden evils?


British lawmakers are pushing to moderate the strict vaping laws to encourage people to quit smoking.

Vaping, or using e-cigarettes, is estimated to be about 95% less toxic than smoking conventional cigarettes, and according to the British parliament, the science behind vaping shows great health benefits if regular smokers can be encouraged to switch.    

But this is happening in the backdrop of a fierce debate as to whether e-cigarettes present any long-term health risks. There have been several studies that suggest that e-cigarettes deliver some toxic chemicals on their own, though the toxicity levels are much lower than in cigarette smoke.      

For the most part, e-cigarette enthusiasts believe that the ban on smoking in public places should only apply to conventional cigarettes. And some people are acting on that belief - it's not unusual to see people lighting up their e-cigarette devices at train stations, restaurants, and other public places.      

And why not?

The argument that e-cigarettes are harmless is based on the fact that there is no combustion, and therefore no smoke. If there's no smoke, it means there's no second-hand smoke. Without the second-hand smoke, the non-smoking public who are in the vicinity can't be affected; right?    

For the longest time regular smokers have been relegated to standing outside in the cold or blistering heat to get their fix; but now as e-cigarettes continue to permeate conventional society, many more smokers will consider making the switch.     

But is there really no risk?    

There are a lot of conflicting studies about vaping and its long-term effects but real data is limited because the entire e-cig business is relatively new and a lot of studies are still ongoing. With that said, there are still genuine concerns about vaping and how increasing nicotine concentration in the air might generate compounds that have been linked to lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.      

One study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health found that vaping pouted air quality and released harmful compounds like formaldehyde, nitrosamines, and lead. Further studies in Singapore have led them to ban vaping so there are obviously issues.       

But even with this kind of data, there's still a general argument that vaping is much safer than smoking actual cigarettes, and most health experts seem to agree. Much of what causes health damage in cigarettes occurs through combustion and since vaping eliminates smoke, then most of those carcinogens are avoided.    

At a time when smoking kills more people than any other preventable cause of death, it makes sense why lawmakers in Britain are in favour of amending legislation to make it easier for smokers to use e-cigarettes. Even though the long-term effects are still being investigated, most people agree that eliminating conventional cigarettes is better for everyone.    

Legislators have called for incentives to promote vaping; in the form of reduced taxation and a possible review of the approval system to prescribe them as valid quit-smoking products.

So, as the UK government finds ways to reduce smoking related deaths, for the moment non-smokers seem not to be the priority in this discussion. Also, we simply don't know enough about how vaping affects the non-smokers (who are the majority).  

For smokers who soon may be allowed to vape at public places, restaurants, and train stations, the effect on non-smokers is a lot like finding feet on seats. It’s just not pleasant for other people.      

Mayfair, we care


Sources:  2012-050859.abstract


The Threat of Disease X


For the people who study disease outbreaks, there's always a fear that a new infection or outbreak that nobody knows about will catch us unaware.

There are literally thousands of unknown viruses circulating around the globe, and dozens of incurable diseases for the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) to worry about. As if this weren't enough, we have labs around the world that experiment on biological agents to make them more deadly – all it takes is for one of these pathogens to find a human host and we have a real situation in our hands.   

The World Health Organisation recently put out a blueprint highlighting their research on priority diseases, and as you might expect there were a lot of known threats like Ebola; but they also added what they see as a new global threat: Disease X.       

What is disease X?    

It is the unknown.

All the other diseases on the list are known conditions like the haemorrhagic fever Ebola, or other recent cases like SARS or Zika, but the WHO has reason to be worried.

Bacteria and viruses often mutate and become deadlier and more infectious, and there's always a risk that new diseases could jump from their host to humans.

If a new pathogen appears and causes a pandemic, it’s likely that we won't know how to react to it.      Like we've seen with other pathogens such as the Zika virus, we're not prepared to handle a global pandemic, and if such a disease struck today the effects would be catastrophic.

What can we expect from disease X?  

According to the WHO, disease X could turn out to be a mutation of a disease we don't yet consider serious. It's not unusual for a non-threatening disease to mutate.

As we saw with coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, even the most innocuous virus can evolve into a serious pandemic that kills thousands. Just like the Zika virus, these were considered relatively safe until they mutated and killed people.     

A Mutated Flu    

Virologists and other experts warn of a looming global pandemic that could possibly come from a mutated version of a known pathogen.

One of the most genuine threats we face is that of a mutated flu, and as we count a hundred years since the 1918 influenza pandemic, some people believe the next pandemic is overdue.

According to George Poste, a member of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel that focuses on Biodefense, and a fellow of the Harvard Medical School, a pandemic is inevitable in our generation.      

Our factory farm system might turn out to be the perfect breeding ground for renegade bacteria and viruses. We have so many birds and pigs being reared in the same space, and its possible that a bird flu can acquire genes that allow it to infect mammals like pigs - and humans.

The viruses that come out of that could one day infect humans on a pandemic scale.   To keep these kinds of threats manageable, we probably need a number of disease-monitoring organizations that focus on emerging threats and bioterrorism.

Remember, a new outbreak is going to happen at some point; it’s how we respond to it that matters. For now, disease X is still a talking point, but the World Health Organisation is warning us to stay alert and informed, just in case a pandemic hits.

Mayfair, we care

The delights of travel in the Asian Pacific area

Asian Pacific explorations are growing in popularity as travel in the Asian Pacific region makes the area more and more accessible.

The region has become the world's fastest developing area for travel and at the moment, the Asian Pacific region is home to several fast-developing economies. This has resulted in huge boosts to innovation in infrastructures, telecommunications, and consumer prosperity

Best Aspects of Travel in the Asian Pacific Region 

Hong Kong

Is Hong Kong part of China or not; an island or not? It is actually made up of multiple islands and became part of China in 1997 after over a hundred years of its subjugation by Britain. 


Hong Kong, as distinguished from its Chinese counterparts like Shanghai and Beijing, is a popular tourist destination, with it's vivacious, multidimensional culture and magnificent cityscape.


This British-Chinese fusion dumbfounds its tourists especially with its outstanding impenetrable skyscrapers and luxurious sceneries. Even with its sandy shores to mountainous regions, there is more than enough fresh air for travelers.


As a world-class city, Hong Kong boasts of several metropolitan distractions, such as kitchen hot spots and galleries.


According to The US News & World Report travel rankings, Hong Kong is the number one of the best place to visit in Asia. However, one has to be wary of the period of visiting.


The best months to visit Hong Kong are between October and December. This is the Autumn and the temperatures are at their best for tourists unused to heat and humidity. New Year and January is also a popular time for tourism in Hong Kong but be aware that of increased hotel rates and large numbers of visitors at this time. 


The picturesque beauty of the Maldives is a fantastic place to feast your eyes.

The Maldives has picture-perfect luxury cottages overlooking beautiful blue waters, alabaster white soil beaches and outstanding dusks plummeting into the vanishing point.


The island country of the Maldives is popularly known as the home of honeymooners who seek exclusivity and privacy.


However, as a result of it this isolation it is an expensive place to visit and tourists need to be aware of this.


The best time to visit the Maldives is from November to April.


This is Japan's super city and it is always bustling with movement, lights and loud emblems that demand your attention.


The tech-savvy inhabitants may zoom past the cenotaphs and metropolitan parks every day but the museums and ancient monuments are world-class and exceptional. There are numerous photo opportunities at eye-popping locations, local sushi to be enjoyed and a shopping experience that has to be seen to be believed.

It has been ranked as the best place to visit in Japan and Asia according to The US News & World Travel report, and the best time to visit Tokyo includes March & April and between September and November.


This is because of the beautiful scenery and cooler temperatures which suits tourists best.


The rapid increase in awareness of social media and electronic devices has enabled us to learn more about nations such as India, South Korea, and China and according to statistics, bookings in the Asian Pacific region increased by 15 percent to a cost of about $302.7 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach $357 billion in 2018. (

This is truly a region that is not to be missed.

Mayfair, we care.


Top 7 Tips For Traveling in Europe

Europe is the most visited continent, attracting over 58% of global tourists according to

This is not surprising considering the fact its’ diversity of destinations in terms of history, culture, and beauty.

Europe boasts more historical, geological and architectural attractions than any other place on earth. With 51 independent states and over 60 indigenous languages, Europe is definitely a destination for the bucket list.

However, when you are planning to visit Europe, you need to get everything right. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your European travel.

Check Your Visa Requirements

One of the most frustrating things is to get denied a visa when you have already made travel arrangements. If you are planning to visit any country in Europe, do some research to determine whether you qualify for a visa. Tourist visas are relatively easy to acquire and may be able to visit various European countries using a single visa depending on your destination.

Most countries offer visas on arrival at the airport. This gives you the freedom to visit several countries during your European travel.

Use the Train

Once you are in Europe, traveling by train is much more convenient than air. You can book your ticket at the station and immediately get on the train. The good news is that Europe boasts of the most advanced train network that connects almost all countries. You can sometimes travel from one country to another in a matter of minutes.

Smell the roses – don’t rush!

One of the biggest mistakes most tourist make is trying to view everything in a short time. If you want to enjoy the beauty of Europe, you need to take your time at your destination.

European cities have so much to offer considering their far-reaching history. When you chose to stay somewhere, take at least three days to explore the city and its environs. 

And don’t just restrict yourself to the big cities with all the well known places, try to immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting villages  and small towns. You will be amazed at the discoveries out there.

Cash can still be King

While it is obvious that credit cards are the most convenient way of carrying your money, do not be surprised when you enter a cash-only restaurant or shop.

There are many shopping destinations that do not accept credit cards even today. Make sure you have some of the local currency with so that you can be able to pay in cash if need be.

Note. Euros are the currency in many mainland Europe countries but not everywhere so do that advance planning to make sure that you are not caught out!

Consider Less Popular Destinations

A lot of attention is drawn to Western Europe and people can forget about the adorable beauty of Eastern Europe.

While UK, Germany, Spain, France Italy and many othern Western countries may seem more attractive, there are a lot of things to be experienced in the Eastern Countries. Furthermore, visiting East Europe can be cheaper.

In 2017, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Serbia, and Hungary were considered the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.

Avoid Restaurants In Tourist Areas

Tourist hotels tend to be more expensive everywhere in the world. If you want to save a little on your vacation, try visiting restaurants that are off the beaten track some distance from tourist attractions.

Make Early Reservations

Considering the fact that there are plenty of tourists visiting Europe, you need to make your reservations in advance. Book everything starting with your accommodation, tours, and even meals in advance. This will help minimize the chances of missing out.

It will also hamper spontaneity so perhaps build in a day or two when no restaurants are booked and try to find the gem of a place that you will talk about for the whole of your trip.

Bottom Line

Europe is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. It is rich in culture, history and natural attractions. However, you need to plan your European travel carefully to make the most of your adventure.

Mayfair, we care.

Are you thinking of working overseas


Moving Overseas for Business – things to consider  

It is estimated that 250,000 Brits work abroad taking advantage of the benefits to career progression that this has always provided. Working abroad can be both daunting and exciting and when the day of the posting arrives you are bound to have some mixed emotions. Moving overseas is a massive change to your way of living and your decision will have needed careful thought.

Planning is key and if you and your employer have taken account of all the issues that you may face then you will leave confident that you are fully prepared. Some aspects to consider are: 


How will the move affect you and your family

Is your partner fully supportive?

Will your family be going with you or will you be on your own?

How frequently will you be able to return home to see your family?


Is the higher salary and improved status going to be worth the time away from your family in the long run? 

Research your tax position – how long will you be away? Will you be paying tax abroad? How much?

What are the effects to your pension?


What is the healthcare situation in your destination?

Is there a state system?

Do you have healthcare insurance?


No matter how confident you are in your own ability to adapt to a change as drastic as moving overseas, it is important you do not underestimate how stressful a move to another country can be. This is especially true for young and teen-aged children who will also be leaving friends and family behind. 

If the company you work for has your living arrangements and transportation taken care of in advance, that's great. However, what if they do not?  

Do you know the area following visits and can arrange a rental property?

Does the new role include a car? 


You may also need to obtain a driver permit specifically for the country in which you are moving. 


  • If you are going completely alone, do you speak the local language? 
  • How you will spend your time when you aren't working?
  • Where will you find like minded people with whom you can connect? 

Moving to a different country at any age, especially if you've never been there before, can be both just a little bit terrifying and totally exhilarating.

Take the time to think your decision through before you set anything in stone. Perhaps talk to a few people who have moved overseas at some point in time. Pick their brains a little about what it was like and what exactly you should have in place before you go.  

A thorough checklist will go a long way and give you piece of mind.

Finally, don't forget to set some time aside to explore and enjoy the new country you've just arrived in.

Depending on the position you have moved overseas for, the adventure of your new territory may just be the best part of the experience after all. 

Mayfair, we care.