"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 26th Aug 2020

Isolation Tips
BMC fights COVID-19 pandemic: Psycho-social counselling making an impact
The COVID-19 positive cases remaining at home isolation are no longer anxious, stressed and fearful about the disease, thanks to the initiatives and counselling by the clinical psychologists and psychiatric social worker at the 1929 Call Centre. Majority of the people, contacting the call centre and are in home isolation are now happy with their present arrangement and they feel that this could be a better alternative for asymptomatic and mild symptomatic positive cases. The counsellors are also helping the shifting cases to hospitals.
Hygiene Helpers
Face masks in schools: Boris Johnson performs U-turn on advice
Boris Johnson has abandoned advice that pupils should not wear face masks in English secondary schools. The prime minister performed his latest U-turn in the face of growing pressure from headteachers, teaching unions and medical experts. Face coverings will be mandatory for children in all schools that lie in areas subject to stricter coronavirus restrictions.
Column: Megacities after coronavirus
Densely populated and highly connected megacities such as London and New York have been the most dynamic centres of the modern economy but for the same reasons have proved especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. Density and connectedness have supported a wealth of innovation and high productivity, but crowded housing, workspaces and transport systems have created ideal conditions for the transmission of pulmonary disease. Regional, national and international connectedness ensured megacities were the first to receive the virus, and then transmitted it onward to secondary and tertiary cities and eventually rural areas. High density ensured that once the virus had entered a megacity it would spread quickly and cause high death rates, forcing urban lockdowns to bring transmission back under control.
Remote working during Covid-19 pandemic inspiring many people to flee pricey capital for new life in countryside
Remote working has inspired many people to flee the pricey capital and find a new life in the countryside. High rents and house prices in Dublin may act as an inspiration for some, but others just
COVID-19 and schools reopening: Now is the time to embrace outdoor education
Whether and how schools will reopen in September given COVID-19 has been discussed in news and social media throughout the summer. Smaller class sizes, alternating attendance patterns, face-to-face or online instruction and equipment such as mandatory masks have been debated by both politicians and the public. But there is another, more obvious answer that allows for social distancing and addresses the risks of transmitting COVID-19 indoors. Moving classes outside deserves serious consideration not only for better ventilation, but also to introduce more public education devoted to learning on, from and with the land.
New Thinking on Covid Lockdowns: They’re Overly Blunt and Costly
...Still, because of the close connection between the pandemic and economic activity, many epidemiologists and economists say the economy can’t recover while the virus is out of control. “The virus is going to determine when we can safely reopen,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in April. The Federal Reserve said in late July that “the path of the economy will depend significantly on the course of the virus.”
Tips on how to keep kids safe when they return to school
it's been over six months since the coronavirus lockdown closed schools to the majority of children. The new school year sees them set to reopen but with new precautions put in place. Treated.com Clinical Lead, Dr Daniel Atkinson, offers tips on how parents can best prepare their children for returning to school.
Young Italians blamed for rise in coronavirus cases
Cases of the coronavirus have surged in Italy, topping 1,000 on both days of the weekend and raising fears that the country may be facing a devastating second wave. The new clusters are scattered around the country and are being blamed on young holidaymakers who ignore government guidelines as they drink and socialise. Yesterday there were 953 new cases and four deaths. Several German states said that they were preparing to restrict gatherings to try to control a rise in infections there. Italy was the first European country to be engulfed by the pandemic and one of the first to emerge after a strict 70-day national lockdown.
Community Activities
Community support hubs helping thousands of people in Barrow
Volunteer-run community hubs across Barrow have supported some of the area’s most vulnerable people and families during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and lockdown. As part of ‘Barrow the Place’ initiative, Spring Mount, Ormsgill, Walney, Barrow Island and Hindpool/Central community hubs, have provided daily food parcels, dental and toiletries packs and children’s packs to help people through the crisis. By the end of May to the middle of June, Spring Mount community hub alone had supported 3,286 people across Barrow. The hub has also provided mental health drop-in support for young people, which was funded by Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group. The ‘Barrow the Place’ initiative has been funded by a £130,000 grant from Cumbria Community Foundation which has supported volunteers, public sector, third sector organisations, multi-agency groups and partners including the Barrow Community Resilience Forum to work together through May to July to help those people and families in crisis.
Working Remotely
Coronavirus: Can I work from home overseas?
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more of us have been getting used to working from home. With social distancing measures still in force, some companies have suggested workers may not be back in the office until 2021. So if you're getting bored of the same four walls, are you allowed to pack up your home office and work remotely from another country?
Most US federal staff don't feel safe from COVID at work, survey finds – Government & civil service news
More than 70% of US federal employees working on-site say their agencies are not doing enough to keep them safe from COVID-19, a survey conducted by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has found. The results also show that nearly 80% of federal employees who have been working remotely during the pandemic say they would feel unsafe if asked to return to the workplace. AFGE surveyed nearly 2,200 union members between 5-12 August, of whom 56% reported that they are currently working remotely due to the pandemic, with the rest attending their workplaces
The office, as you know it, is dead
Bustling skyscrapers and office parks packed with workers could be a relic of the pre-pandemic world. The health crisis has forced millions of Americans to abandon their offices in favor of working from home, for better or worse. Now there are signs this may not be a short-term phenomenon, but more of a permanent shift in favor of remote work even after a Covid-19 vaccine is in place. More than two-thirds (68%) of large company CEOs plan to downsize their office space, according to a survey released Tuesday by KPMG.
The new residency schemes inviting workers abroad
Amid Covid-19, new programmes are popping up that invite workers to settle abroad and work remotely. Could we all soon become ‘digital nomads’?
UK chief executives think shift towards remote working will endure
Over three quarter of UK chief executives believe the shift towards remote working will endure, the results of a survey show as companies continue to look at when to bring staff back to offices. PwC surveyed 699 bosses online in 67 countries/regions (including 96 bosses in the UK) in June and July. The company was looking at how business leaders have responded to the pandemic. The results showed 86% of UK bosses see a long term shift towards remote working enduring, and 68% believe the shift towards lower-density workplaces, with fewer people working together in person, will endure.
Virtual Classrooms
5 ways university education is being reimagined in response to COVID-19
With the new academic year beginning shortly, students, faculty and staff returning to higher education or arriving for the first time face uncertainty. There is anxiety about a fall term like no other. Those of us responsible for ensuring the futures of post-secondary students have endured months of existential fears about student and employee health and safety, the efficacy of online teaching and virtual learning and what it all means for enrolment and revenue. Enough already. Our responses to the pandemic are helping us reimagine the future of higher education.
Teacher comes out of coronavirus-forced retirement to help remote learners understand calculus
A Michigan teacher might not have thought he’d be heading back to a classroom so shortly after early retirement but the events of 2020 changed the plans Frederick Reusch originally had. The 72-year-old teacher had planned to stay in a traditional classroom until he was not physically able to do so, WZZM reported.
Public Policies
Ottawa giving $82.5M for Indigenous mental health support during COVID-19
The federal government is pledging $82.5 million to improve access and address growing demand for mental health services in Indigenous communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus: Government considering ‘rota system’ for secondary schools hit by local lockdowns
Boris Johnson’s government is considering a plan to advise secondary schools to operate a “rota system” to reduce the number of pupils in classes if a local spike in Covid-19 infections leads to renewed lockdown restrictions, The Independent understands. One option under discussion would be for some secondary year groups to attend school on certain weeks, before switching with other year groups. Primary schools would be expected to remain fully open in the event of a local lockdown, since transmission rates are lower in younger children. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) union, said he was “frustrated” it has taken so long to begin discussing the possibilities with the Department of Education (DfE) given the “imminent” reopening of schools.
South Korea Closes Schools, Imposes Mask Mandate Amid ‘Severe Emergency’
South Korea, a country hailed throughout the pandemic for its response to Covid-19, imposed new social distancing measures Monday and warned a stricter lockdown could be coming, as a new outbreak tied to a far-right church has spurred what President Moon Jae-in called Monday a “severe emergency.” “We are facing a new crisis. It's a much more severe emergency than the Shincheonji situation in the early days of the Covid-19 crisis,” Moon said Monday, referring to a previous church-linked outbreak that infected more than 5,000 people. “Seoul and the metropolitan area have become the centers of spread, and nowhere else in the country is safe.”
Spain ready to send in troops to trace resurging coronavirus
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday that troops would be made available to help regions overcome a resurgence of the coronavirus, following Spain’s worst week for infections since the epidemic’s peak in late March. He also said regional administrations could make decisions themselves on how to handle the fight against the epidemic rather than have the central government take charge. The government would support requests by regional leaders to declare localized states of emergency, Sanchez said. “The pandemic data curve is worrying and has to be contained. We have to be calm and vigilant,” Sanchez said after the first cabinet meeting following the summer recess.
Spanish PM Rejects New Lockdown Amid Surge in Virus Cases
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez rejected a new national lockdown, putting pressure instead on regional authorities to come up with a response to the nation’s resurgent coronavirus outbreak. In his first public comments in three weeks, Sanchez said Tuesday that the central government will provide whatever support required by the regions -- which oversee health policy -- and that they will be authorized to declare a local state of emergency if necessary.
Gaza in lockdown to try to contain its first COVID-19 outbreak
Gaza was in lockdown on Tuesday after the first cases of COVID-19 in the general population of the Palestinian enclave, whose restricted borders until now had helped spare it from an outbreak. Health authorities in the Hamas-controlled territory are concerned over the potentially disastrous combination of poverty, densely populated refugee camps and limited hospital facilities in dealing with an outbreak. A government spokesman said the four cases were uncovered after a woman travelled to the West Bank, where she tested positive. Four members of her family then tested positive in Gaza, the first cases outside quarantined border facilities. Interior Ministry spokesman Eyad al-Bozom said the family had been in contact with many other people in the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, and that the camp was now isolated from the rest of the 360 sq. km. territory.
Maintaining Services
‘Mental health pandemic’ looming without immediate boost to community services struggling under Covid-19 demands, charity warns
The Government has been urged to immediately inject additional funding into community services to prevent a “mental health pandemic”, as the extent of coronavirus pressures on people’s lives are revealed. People’s overall mental health in the UK has worsened during the Covid-19 lockdown, with many presenting with new signs of illness or psychological strain in the past five months. Now, as the country looks ahead to a possible second wave of the virus, a recession, and a likely jobs crisis, experts have warned that already stretched mental health services could be quickly overwhelmed.
Covid-19 proves globalisation is not dead
Covid-19 will not kill globalisation. Rather, it will accelerate underlying trends, compressing into 2020 a transformation in flows across national borders that would have taken years to emerge. As individuals and companies move online, national borders become less relevant. Virtual meetings are substituting for travel and physical meetings, with their greater efficiency leading to higher levels of engagement. This increased digital connectivity facilitates the rapid flow of ideas, the most influential dimension of globalisation. The scientific race to stop Covid-19 and find a vaccine has encouraged unprecedented collaboration. Greater global awareness is evident in the intense interest in the march of Covid-19 and spread of the Black Lives Matter protests to five continents. Not all flows are good, and the spread of bad and fake ideas is also accelerating, from meddling by foreign powers to anti-vax fears that undermine the fight against the pandemic.
Tourism Industry Faces $1 Trillion Loss, 100 Million Jobs At Risk From Covid-19, UN Reports
A new policy brief from the United Nations outlining Covid-19’s impact on the tourism industry projects the pandemic will cost the tourism industry approximately $1 trillion in losses and threaten more than 100 million jobs worldwide, underlining how the ongoing global crisis has devastated one of the world’s largest industries.
Coronavirus US: Parents decide whether to send kids to school
As the school year begins, the pressure to get students back in classrooms is growing in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Last week the White House announced teachers are now considered 'critical infrastructure workers,' while CDC director compared teachers to physicians. But as of Monday, only two of the nation's top 15 largest school districts – New York and Hawaii - plan to reopen classrooms even part-time. Elsewhere, schools that reopened in-person switched back to online classes. Four percent of rural districts and 21 percent of suburban areas have announced fully remote plans compared to 55 percent of urban districts Father-of-two Tyghe Trimble, 38, has decided to keep three-year-old Emerson and eight-year-old Jodie at home
School nurses should be leading the COVID-19 response, but many schools don't have one
In schools trying to hold in-person classes this fall, students and staff will be looking to one person for guidance with the coronavirus pandemic: the school nurse. Many schools won’t have one. In those that do, the nurse’s responsibilities are quickly expanding. Daily screenings for COVID-19 symptoms, assessing illnesses and isolating sick kids are adding to their already heavy work loads as they attend to hundreds of students and staff. I am a professor of pediatric nursing, and I formerly worked as a pediatric nurse practitioner in a school-based clinic. I recognize the tremendous stress school nurses are facing right now as they navigate getting students back to school safely in the midst of a pandemic.
Healthcare Innovations
The Countries That Don’t Want to Wait for Superpowers’ Vaccines
After Covid-19’s emergence in Buenos Aires led to a strict lockdown in March, Juliana Cassataro and her fellow vaccine researchers grew concerned. The U.S., Europe and China had already revved up their quests to obtain shots; how far back in line would Argentina have to wait for supplies? “We did not want to stay in our homes,” said Cassataro, a scientist at the National University of San Martin in the nation’s capital. “We wanted to use our knowledge to help in this pandemic. ”Determined to give Latin America its own protection from the fast-spreading virus, Cassataro’s team -- 10 women and two men -- quickly got to work. A government grant of $100,000 in May paid for initial studies, and human trials could start in about six months.
Coronavirus: Metabolic syndrome sufferers' death risk 300% higher
Researchers looked at hospitalized coronavirus patients with metabolic syndrome compared to those without it. The syndrome occurs when someone has three out of the five conditions: high blood sugar, hypertension, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and obesity. Coronavirus patients with metabolic syndrome were 3.4 times more likely to die. They were also five times more likely to be admitted to the ICU or be placed on a ventilator
Healthy pregnant women are not more vulnerable to Covid-19 and do not fall more seriously ill
There were fears pregnant women were more vulnerable to catching Covid-19. Researchers looked at a total of 1.7million women from the UK, US and Sweden There were no differences between pregnant and non-pregnant women. They had similar rates of symptoms and hospitalisations
New drool-based tests are replacing the dreaded coronavirus nasal swab
First, a technician pushes a pencil-length swab to the very back of your nasal passages. Then you pay $100 or more, and wait days for an answer. But faster, cheaper, more pleasant ways to test for the novel coronavirus are coming online. This month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for two tests that sample saliva instead of nasal fluid, and more innovations are likely after FDA relaxed rules to allow new tests to be adopted more quickly. One candidate was announced last week: an experimental test, potentially faster and cheaper, that analyzes saliva in a new way.
Doctors to trial treatment for Covid-19 patients with diabetes
Diabetes patients face a more-than-double risk of death if they catch Covid-19 High levels of sugar in the blood can make immune system unreliable. Drug used to reduce blood sugar could protect patients from severe illness. Trial will begin on UK patients in hospitals with 'mild to moderate' coronavirus
In FDA's green light for treating COVID-19 with plasma, critics see thin evidence—and politics
At a highly unusual Sunday night press conference, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed what he described as “a very historic breakthrough” in the fight against COVID-19 that “would save countless lives”: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma to treat people with severe COVID-19. The authorization could allow more hospitalized patients to receive the antibody-rich plasma, which is donated by people who have recovered from the disease. But in the wake of Trump’s announcement, which came a day before the start of the Republican National Convention, researchers struggled to sort the politics from the medical and scientific import of the EUA.
Six of the most promising treatments for Covid-19 so far
Many different drugs and therapies are being trialled and used on patients with Covid-19. There are some positive results, which may be beginning to bring the hospital death toll down, but there is still a long way to go towards something that will cure all comers. These are some of the most promising.
AstraZeneca starts Covid-19 antibody drug trial in UK
Trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine may have gathered enough data to show whether it works and is safe by the end of the year – but it will then need to go through the regulatory process, scientists say. Prof Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said it is “just possible” that there may be enough clinical trial data on Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine to put before the regulators this year. Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, has said a vaccine may not be ready until next winter. Pollard suggested they were hoping to go faster. “I think that Chris Whitty is quite rightly being cautious, that it could take as long as that to first of all demonstrate a vaccine works and is safe and then to go through the processes of regulators looking at that very carefully to make sure everything’s been done correctly,” Pollard told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Universities join forces to develop materials for the fight against COVID-19
Researchers around the world are racing to find treatments to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused more than 16 million human infections globally. COVID-19 is caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. A person becomes infected when the virus makes its way through the mouth or nose into the lungs and from there into the cells that line the inside of our lungs. Exactly how the virus gets past the protective barriers in our lungs is unknown, but scientists have recently discovered that SARS-CoV-2 binds to a type of carbohydrate-based polymer called glycosaminoglycan (GAG). The widely used anticoagulant heparin belongs to this class of natural polymers, and hospitalized patients with COVID-19 who were administered heparin to treat blood clotting disorders also experienced a lower risk of dying from COVID-19.
China's Sinovac enters supply deal with Indonesia for COVID-19 vaccine doses
Sinovac Biotech Ltd said on Tuesday it would help Indonesia’s state-owned drugmaker Bio Farma produce in the country at least 40 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine before March 2021.The U.S.-listed Chinese drugmaker has signed two agreements with Bio Farma for supply, local production and technology licensing of its vaccine candidate CoronaVac and the Indonesian company is conducting the late-stage study of the candidate. Sinovac will continue to supply the bulk vaccine until the end of 2021 after March, it said in a statement. There are no approved vaccine for COVID-19, with drugmakers and research organizations racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine that is seen as crucial to combat the pandemic.
Coronavirus: Safety watchdog to probe hospital spread of Covid-19
The spread of coronavirus to patients within hospitals is being investigated by a safety watchdog to try and help the NHS protect patients and prepare for winter. The independent Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch has launched a national enquiry after identifying multiple instances of patients contracting Covid-19 within hospitals. Its work comes as new research by King’s College London has found at least an eighth of Covid-19 hospital patients were infected while already in hospital. The study looked at 1,564 Covid-19 patients admitted to 10 hospitals in the UK and in Italy during April.
India is key for global access to a COVID-19 vaccine – here's why
The great COVID-19 vaccine race is on. Pharmaceutical companies around the world are going head to head, while governments scramble to get priority access to the most promising candidates. But a richest-takes-all approach in the fight against the deadliest pandemic in living memory is bound to be counter productive, especially for the recovery of low and middle income countries. If governments cannot come together to agree a global strategy, then the global south may need to pin its hopes on the manufacturing might of India.
Airborne transmission of covid-19
It is wrong to assume that droplets land only on exposed mucosal surfaces such as the eyes and mouth.4 Particles up to 50 µm can be captured by inspiratory airflows and are deposited along the much more extensive surface area of the respiratory tract; particles below 10 µm can penetrate as far as alveoli. The site of deposition may determine the viral dose required and severity of respiratory infection, as observed in influenza. The term “aerosol generating procedures” became popular after the 2003 SARS epidemic, when small retrospective studies found an association between transmission to healthcare workers and use of procedures such as endotracheal intubation and non-invasive ventilation.9 This weak (grade D) evidence has been misused to infer a causal link between procedural aerosols and infection despite the fact that aerosols were not measured during these studies.9 Furthermore, nurses were more commonly infected than doctors performing procedures, suggesting that proximity and time exposed to patients with respiratory distress are stronger determinants of risk than the procedures themselves.3 Acutely ill patients do present additional risk to health workers from coughing, laboured breathing, airway collapse, sputum production, and high viral load.3