"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 5th Aug 2020

Isolation Tips
Covid-19 survivors should be exempt from having to self-isolate, government scientific advisers say
Sage studied evidence which found it's likely survivors can't be infected again. But admitted it is unclear how long this coronavirus 'immunity' would last for Experts dismissed idea of immunity passports, an idea once floated by ministers
Lockdown leaves 85 per cent of parents stressed and seeking family life changes, poll finds
More than eight in 10 parents are feeling stressed about family life and want to make changes after the lockdown, a new poll reveals. Eighty-five per cent of the 2,000 parents questioned said they felt more anxious during the pandemic, with 87 per cent concerned about their children’s emotional heath. The research was commissioned by parenting coach Zoe Blaskey, founder of the Motherkind podcast. She has launched a “family reset plan” after coaching families through lockdown
Lockdown study reports surge in health anxieties
New research into people's coping strategies faced with Covid-19 highlights the mental health toll for those shielding. Coronavirus and the imposition of lockdown this year 'significantly raised' mental health challenges, particularly so for the most vulnerable groups, including those shielding, according to the first study to look at people's coping styles in face of the pandemic. The new research has been published in the journal American Psychologist. It draws on survey responses from over 800 people recruited online and via social media who answered questions over a ten-day period when the UK was in full lockdown (from 17 - 26 April 2020).
One scientist's six-point recovery plan to tackle COVID-19 anxiety
Fernando T. Maestre was diagnosed with anxiety during Spain’s coronavirus lockdown. A change in approach to work, life and parenting helped to restore his health.
Amidst quieter streets and ongoing uncertainty, Paris and its post-lockdown tourists forge a new normal
A friend phoned me from Paris after a particularly dystopian morning in April. She had walked almost two miles east to venture into Bois de Vincennes and, as she approached the sprawling park, a drone buzzed overhead. “Go home,” was its strange disembodied order. My friend, an interpreter by profession, ran all the way there. The coronavirus crisis has stolen much of normal life this year. France curbed its social ways with a stern lockdown to try to tame the killer virus. In a matter of months and in time to salvage some summer holidays, the country found a better way than many others to rise above the dread. In the early days, personal travel was restricted to less than a mile and then only for essential needs—which is how my friend got in trouble. Travel limits eased as infections noticeably fell and when most citizens seemed to comprehend COVID-19 as a resilient foe.
Hygiene Helpers
Council in town with England's highest coronavirus rate set up their OWN contact tracing teams
Reopening schools could result in another crisis that could yield a second wave 2-2.3 times the size of the first. But it could be avoided if testing reaches 75% of cases and NHS contact tracing system reaches 68% of public. However, scientists say current system is 'not good enough' and a fraction of symptomatic cases are tested The authors said without improvements in testing it will be 'absolutely essential' to introduce other measures
Radical shift in COVID-19 testing needed to reopen schools and businesses, researchers say
“America faces an impending disaster,” says Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. Testing, he says, needs to focus on “massively increasing availability of fast, inexpensive screening tests to identify asymptomatic Americans who carry the virus. Today, we are conducting too few of these types of tests.” Rebecca Smith, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), agrees. To stop outbreaks from overwhelming communities, she says, “we need fast, frequent testing,” which could mean faster versions of existing RNA tests or new kinds of tests aimed at detecting viral proteins. But researchers say the federal government will need to provide major financial backing for the push.
Brits were less likely than French or Italians to follow lockdown guidelines
Only 71% of Brits, Americans and other English speakers around the globe followed guidelines set by their governments during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to a new study from Durham University Business School. This was drastically lower than French and Italians – where 89% of respondents followed guidelines. The research was conducted at the end of April 2020, the height of the global pandemic, when many countries were at the strictest stage of their lockdowns. Sascha Kraus, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Durham University Business School, Andrés Davila, Professor at ESCE Paris, and an international team of academics research the topic to understand people’s views towards Covid-19 voluntary compliance behaviours, and who was most likely to follow these. The researchers also found that only 70% of native English speakers were happy to take preventative steps such as wearing a mask indoors, social distancing, avoiding crowds, staying at home and washing their hands frequently.
We're thinking about Covid-19 the wrong way. It's not a 'wave' – it's a wildfire
We have no previous experience with a worldwide coronavirus pandemic, so when Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, began spreading, public health experts leaned on our experiences with influenza pandemics to inform their predictions. These pandemics are often described in terms of “waves” and “troughs”. We have now seen enough to replace the ocean analogy with a better one: wildfire.
Covid-19 decision-making 'shrouded in secrecy' – top scientist
Sir Paul Nurse, the director of the Francis Crick Institute, said the Government should “treat the public as adults” in its communications over Covid-19. He told the BBC’s Today programme: “I think we need greater openness in the decision-making. “It sometimes seems somewhat shrouded in secrecy. “And not only that, but better communication of what’s happening. “Treat the public as adults.”
UK coronavirus cases experience highest daily increase since June
The number of new coronavirus cases in the UK has risen by 938 across 24 hours – the highest daily increase in confirmed infections since late June, the government has confirmed. The latest figures from the department of health and social care (DHSC) brought the total number of cases since the beginning of the UK’s outbreak to 305,623. The daily increase in cases is the highest confirmed figure since 26 June, part of a gradual upward trend in infections since the bulk of lockdown measures were eased in early July.
Testing key to prevent Covid-19 lockdowns across region, say councils
After new lockdown rules were brought into play in large parts of northern England, council leaders and public health bosses have said widespread testing is now more important than ever to reduce the prospect of similar action in the region. Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils are urging people who have Covid-19 symptoms or who have come into contact with anyone who has tested positive to get tested. The seven local authorities also reiterated the importance of businesses contacting Public Health England as a case is identified – either confirmed or suspected – in a staff or customer.
Teachers returned to a Georgia school district last week. 260 employees have already gone home to quarantine.
On Wednesday, teachers in Georgia’s largest school district returned to elementary, middle and high school campuses to start in-person planning for the fall semester. By the next day, 260 district employees had been barred from entering their schools, either because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had been directly exposed to someone who had. Sloan Roach, spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools, which serves more than 180,000 students, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that most of the cases were tied to community spread, rather than being spread at the schools. Some of the employees who reported exposure to the virus had not come to work yet, Roach added.
Singapore’s quick response to coronavirus saved thousands of lives. There’s no excuse for the UK’s failure
In February I travelled to Singapore to visit an old university friend. So it was chance that I found myself in the safest part of the world, where they knew what to do and acted with great speed to aggressively suppress the lethal virus
China Says It Can Boost Hong Kong Virus Testing by 20 Times
China aims to boost Hong Kong’s coronavirus testing capacity to 20 times its current ability, said the leader of a support team sent from Guangdong province to aid the city in its worst outbreak ever. The Chinese testing team of about 60 people will work with the Hong Kong government and three mainland Chinese testing companies to process 100,000 to 200,000 samples every day, said Yu Dewen in a state media video interview released on Monday. “Our main mission is to help the Hong Kong government conduct testing on a large scale for the population,” said Yu, who is an official with Guangdong’s health commission. Yu also led the Guangdong delegation earlier sent to help Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus first emerged
Community Activities
NHS clinicians given access to online training for treating Covid-19 patients
NHS doctors and nurses in England are being given access to training in treating Covid-19 patients from some of UK-based technology companies. A consortium called Resilient XR has provided the health service with interactive videos that allow healthcare staff to rotate the content 360 degrees and view it from any angle. The group is a collaboration between industry, academia and government. It is made up of Microsoft, volumetric production studio Dimension, digital technology innovation centre Digital Catapult, content distribution platform VISR VR, mixed-reality development agencies Fracture Reality and Make Real, the University of Leeds’ Centre for Immersive Technologies, and University College London. Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and Health Education England (HEE) are advising and contributing to Resilient XR to ensure the content is accurate, informative and up to date.
Coronavirus: Ethnic minorities 'over-exposed' to Covid-19
People from ethnic minority backgrounds in Britain "face greater barriers" when trying to protect themselves from coronavirus, according to a report. The Runnymede Trust, a race equality think-tank, said Bangladeshi and black African people were most vulnerable. Jobs, households and using public transport are all said to be risk factors. The government said it is working to help ethnic minorities, who have been disproportionately harmed by Covid-19. There is growing evidence that people from those communities are at greater risk from the virus. The Runnymede Trust also warned important public safety messages aimed at reducing transmission were currently not reaching all black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.
Returning Covid-19 patients to care homes slammed
A campaigner for the elderly in Northern Ireland has said decisions which led to covid-positive patients being sent from hospital back to care homes must not be repeated. The Belfast Telegraph reported on Saturday how seven patients with Covid-19 were returned to care facilities at the height of the pandemic. It has now emerged that hundreds of others were not tested at all. A Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting service found that the Northern Trust discharged six people with coronavirus into nursing homes between March 1 and April 15, before the change in government guidance.
Working Remotely
The most useful tips for working from home during COVID-19
As the remote work experiment drags on, here are five critical things you should be doing every day to maximize productivity.
Uber employees can work remotely through June 2021
Uber is extending its work-from-home order through June 2021, CNBC confirmed Tuesday. The ride-sharing company now joins Google in extending its remote-work timeline through June.
Nial Borthistle: Employers will have to offer staff better options in their workplace
Remote working works, but companies also need to be able to create a culture for employees to buy in to and the importance of the office environment in that process cannot be overlooked
Virtual Classrooms
COVID-19 boosts digitization of higher education in Bangladesh
At the start of this year, most universities in Bangladesh lacked basic learning management systems and digital infrastructure. So, when institutions were required to close because of COVID-19, educators could no longer teach. The country’s University Grants Commission (UGC) rose to the challenge and introduced policies requiring all universities to go digital, to make teaching and learning activities accessible online—including admissions. Within four months, digitization was mainstreamed. An average of around 3,800 classes are held online daily with more than 220,000 students in attendance. Thus far, a total of around 203,200 classes have been conducted to more than 9.2 million attendees by 10,200 faculty members.
Staying secure online as children return for virtual learning amid COVID-19 pandemic
As a parent, are you really prepared to protect your child from online scammers and hackers? More students will be online than ever before this Fall with virtual learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. That could set your student up to fall victim to online hackers. In the cyber world anything is possible, and the hackers know it. Students at Gulf Shores City Schools and at Baldwin County schools are all issued computers or iPads to take home. This Fall, close to 10% of the students at Gulf Shores City Schools have chosen online learning instead of going to the classroom.
How Teachers Can Build Communities In Online Classrooms
Answer by Frank Spors, Associate Professor at Western University of Health Sciences: Establishing a sense of community or belonging in the classroom is important to developing trust among students and with their instructors, which goes a long way to fostering student engagement and learning success. In a face-to-face in-class environment, several factors affect the sense of community and impact student morale and learning.....
Mobile area teachers becoming online tutors to help struggling virtual students
Tracy Borner-Washington knows her way around any classroom. She spent 20 years teaching in both public and private schools in Mobile. “When COVID-19 hit back in March, it just became clearer to me that my purpose was to offer services on another type of platform,” she said. Borner-Washington started an online tutoring company called Innovate Preparatory Academy and Educational Consulting Center. She hired several current and retired teachers to tutor struggling students virtually after hearing parents’ concerns about virtual classroom challenges. “They are concerned about some barriers to learning with the kids learning from online,” Borner-Washington said.
Public Policies
Fauci says states seeing surge in COVID-19 cases should reconsider some lockdown measures
The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Monday said states with high coronavirus case counts should reconsider imposing lockdown restrictions, emphasizing the need to get cases to a low baseline before the fall flu season. In some states with moderate case counts, experts are seeing “that same insidious increase in percent positive that we had seen and pointed out ... in states like Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota and others”, Fauci said during an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Fauci said last week that he was seeing signs the surge of COVID-19 cases could be peaking in the South and West while other areas were on the cusp of new outbreaks. Those states should consider pausing or rolling back reopening efforts, though they don’t necessarily need to revert to full lockdown, he said.
Global report: Covid risks 'generational catastrophe' warns UN; Latin America exceeds 5m cases
The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, said the world was at a “defining moment” with the world’s children and young people. He said the decisions governments took during the pandemic over education would have lasting impacts on hundreds of millions and on the development prospects of countries for decades to come. Guterres said that as of mid-July schools were closed in 160 countries, affecting more than 1 billion students, while at least 40 million children had missed out on pre-school. This came on top of more than 250 million children already being out of school before the pandemic and only a quarter of secondary school students in developing countries leaving with basic skills. “We face a generational catastrophe that would undermine decades of progress and exacerbate intrenched inequalities,” he said, warning of “deeply concerning” knock-on effects on child nutrition, child marriage and gender equality. The warnings came as Guterres launched a new campaign titled “Save our future” calling for action on reopening schools once local transmission is under control, and prioritising financing for education.
Australian state to impose hefty fines to compel COVID-19 isolation
Australia’s second-most populous state Victoria said on Tuesday that anyone breaking COVID-19 isolation orders will face hefty fines, as high as A$20,000 (10,899 pounds), and that more military personnel will be deployed to fight the spread of the virus. Australia, once heralded as a global leader in containing COVID-19, is desperately trying to slow the spread of the virus in Victoria to prevent a national second wave of infections. Victoria earlier this week imposed a night curfew, tightened restrictions on people’s daily movements and ordered large parts of the local economy to close to slow the spread of coronavirus. But nearly a third of those who contracted COVID-19 were not home isolating when checked on by officials, requiring tough new penalties, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.
Bolivia Decision to Cancel School Because of Covid-19 Upsets Parents
With no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, school districts from Europe to New Jersey have been teaching virtually, the idea being that educating children must not stop, no matter how imperfect the instruction. Then there is remote and largely rural Bolivia.There the government has just announced a far more extreme approach. It flat out canceled the school year, which comes to a close at the end of November, saying the internet connections just weren’t good enough for virtual classrooms. If parents are worried that their children will be held back, Interim President Jeanine Áñez says not to worry because the government plans to pass everyone to the next grade level anyway.
90 minute COVID-19 tests: Government orders 5.8 million DnaNudge kits | Imperial News
The government has placed a £161 million order for 5.8 million high-speed DnaNudge COVID-19 test kits to be used in NHS hospitals from September. This major order will see DnaNudge’s lab-free, rapid and reliable PCR test, which delivers results in under 90 minutes and can work in about an hour, rolled out nationally in urgent patient care and elective surgery settings, with further deployments in out-of-hospital settings.
Vietnam says it has no plans for widespread lockdown
Vietnam has no plans for a widespread lockdown and will only put areas considered epicentres under strict quarantine, the government’s spokesperson said on Monday. “We will only implement social distancing in areas considered virus epicentres, and will not pursue a widespread lockdown,” Mai Tien Dung, the government’s spokesman, told a monthly press conference on Monday. Dung said selective lockdown measures would allow the government to achieve the dual goals of containing the virus and boosting the economy at the same time. “If there’s an infection in a hamlet, we will lock down that hamlet only, not the whole district or the whole province,” he said.
Second COVID wave highly likely to hit France this year, scientists say
A second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is highly likely to hit France in the autumn or winter, the government's top scientific body warned on Tuesday as authorities seek to contain an increase in new cases over the past two weeks.
Lack of special border measures before UK coronavirus lockdown was 'serious mistake'
The government’s failure to impose special border measures such as mandatory self-isolation in the run-up to the UK coronavirus lockdown was “a serious mistake” that significantly increased the pace and scale of the epidemic, MPs have concluded in a damning report. Between January and mid-March, non-mandatory guidance to self-isolate for 14 days was issued to travellers from designated high-risk countries, including China, Iran and Italy, but not Spain. Yet on 13 March this guidance was withdrawn. Evidence suggests thousands of new infections were brought in from continental Europe in the 10 days between the withdrawal of guidance and the introduction of lockdown on 23 March, the home affairs select committee says in the report. “It is highly likely that this contributed to the rapid increase in the spread of the virus in mid-March and to the overall scale of the outbreak in the UK,” the MPs say.
'An endless game of COVID-19 whack-a-mole': a New Zealand expert on why Melbourne's stage 4 lockdown should cover all of Victoria
The restrictions in place for metropolitan Melbourne now are in some ways stricter than those that were in force during New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown. A curfew is in place and most people have to wear masks when they leave their home – neither of which happened in New Zealand. But the state of Victoria has lost valuable time to bring the outbreak under control. Stage 3 restrictions that came into force on July 8 for everyone living in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire provided too many opportunities for the virus to spread. As a result, there are now around 7,000 active cases, and still several hundred new cases each day. For more than 2,000 cases, contact tracers don’t yet know where people were exposed to the virus.
'It's not going to be easy': experts on what Australia must do to curb Covid's spread
As of 2 August Australia had been experiencing average rates (smoothed over five days given how fluctuating daily counts are) of 500 to 600 per day in Victoria – although we may have just passed the peak with numbers perhaps beginning to fall in the last few days. But we still have a long way to go. Moreover, there are anywhere between 50 to 100 “mystery” cases a day – those cases that pop up and you can’t work out where they got it from. They are concerning, as it means transmission has gone “underground” in asymptomatic cases, and it reflects out-of-control community infection. Meanwhile, New South Wales and Queensland, teetering on the precipice of community transmission, are flaring up.
Coronavirus: Doctors warn Germany already in 'second wave' of pandemic
Germany is already experiencing its second wave of coronavirus infections, according to the head of the Marburger Bund, the doctors trade union. "We are already in a second, flat wave," Marburger Bund chairwoman Susanne Johna told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday. Johna added the second surge in infections is not comparable in intensity to the first coronavirus wave, which hit Germany in March this year. However, she warned that the there is a danger Germany will “gamble away the successes we have achieved so far” as people get tired of the rules and want to get back to normal life. “We all long for normality. But we are in a state that is not normal, ” Johna told the newspaper. “As long as there are no drugs to treat COVID-19, the spread of the virus must be curbed. "
New Zealand moved to its own Stage 4 with less than 100 daily cases. Should Victoria have acted sooner?
The adoption of tough Stage 4 coronavirus restrictions in Melbourne has prompted questions about whether the Victorian government should have acted earlier. Melbourne was put under a Stage 4 lockdown on Sunday after recording 671 new infections. The rest of Victoria is set to re-enter Stage 3 restrictions at 11:59 on Wednesday. Some, such as physician and broadcaster Dr Norman Swan, have compared Melbourne's situation with New Zealand, which went into its own version of a Stage 4 lockdown before daily cases reached 100.
Return to full lockdown remains on the table in Israel - Health Ministry
Returning to a full lockdown remains an ‘option’, Israel’s most senior public health official warned on Tuesday as the country grapples with how to respond with its second wave of coronavirus cases. Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy said in an interview with Army Radio that: “A partial or complete lockdown are still options. “Lockdown is a tool that can reduce morbidity; on the other hand, the price we’ll pay for a complete lockdown is clear to all of us,” he added. Mr Levy also noted that Israeli decision-makers were considering ordering localised lockdowns of cities with high infection rates, similar to steps taken in the UK and Spain.
Maintaining Services
Office Markets Under Pressure as Coronavirus Squeezes Cities
Companies rethink rented space as remote work takes hold; fears of urban malaise begin to swirl
Victorian nurses ask for urgent PPE as more than 730 health workers sick with Covid-19
Nurses have written to Daniel Andrews asking to “urgently know what’s being done to protect and care for Victorian nurses” as more than 730 health workers in the state remain sick with active infections of Covid-19. The letter to the premier, seen by Guardian Australia, states “the situation is still inadequate months after the outbreak started”. Nurses have written to Daniel Andrews asking to “urgently know what’s being done to protect and care for Victorian nurses” as more than 730 health workers in the state remain sick with active infections of Covid-19. The letter to the premier, seen by Guardian Australia, states “the situation is still inadequate months after the outbreak started”. It was written by a member of the College of Mental Health Nurses, Claire Hudson-McAuley, who detailed stories shared by nurses, including a nurse working in a surgeon’s rooms who said only surgeons were provided with protective N95 masks.
COVID-19 reshapes back-to-school spending
Parents are buying less dressy clothing and more basics for their kids, while stepping up purchases of masks and other protective equipment as well as electronics. They're also holding back on spending amid uncertainty over what the school year will look like. The back-to-school season typically kicks off in mid-July and peaks in mid-August. This year, experts predict the peak will hit in late August and spill into most of September. “We are definitely seeing a delay," said Jill Renslow, senior vice president of the Bloomington, Minnesota-based Mall of America, which reopened in mid-June with social-distancing protocols. “People just don’t know what they need."
Healthcare Innovations
Convalescent Plasma Reduced Death Rate Among Covid-19 Patients, Study Data Signals
Hospitalized patients who got earlier transfusions of blood plasma rich in antibodies to the coronavirus show a lower mortality rate
1.5 Million Italians Had Coronavirus, Lockdown was Critical in Stemming Infection: Antibody Test
The results of nationwide antibody tests conducted on nearly 65,000 Italians indicate that some 1.5 million individuals or 2.5% of the population have had the coronavirus, health officials said on Monday. That figure is six times the number of confirmed cases in Italy's official virus tally. The results - viewed with the country's overall death toll of close to 35,000 -align with the 2.3% estimated mortality rate of the virus. Dr Franco Locatelli, a key scientific government adviser, said the tests were designed to understand the virus' circulation nationwide and not whether Italians with antibodies were safe from the virus.
Coronavirus: WHO urges caution over Russian vaccine claims
Russia is planning to go ahead with mass vaccinations in October - something the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised concerns about, APA reports citing BBC. About 140 vaccines across the world are in early development, and around two dozen are now being tested on people in clinical trials, including the Russian vaccine. There are generally three main phases of human testing before a vaccine can be approved for general use. The final stage, phase 3, involves trials among a much larger group of volunteers. Six potential vaccines have reached this third stage. One, developed by the University of Oxford, appears safe and triggers an immune response in humans. Early results from two trials in the US, run by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and biotech company Moderna, also appear to produce a good immune response in volunteers. However, they are all still under testing and none have received approval. According to a document release by the WHO last week, the Russian jab, which has been developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute, remains far behind and is still in phase 1.