"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 2nd Sep 2020

Isolation Tips
Remote Working Yields Mixed Results on Mental Health, Well-Being
Communicating with co-workers remotely can also be stressful, according to the survey. When asked about their greatest sources of pressure and frustration…42% said co-workers expected them to be “always on” or available 31% cited having to check multiple communication channels for work Some employees may need to be more proactive about setting boundaries, particularly if remote working continues after the pandemic, as some experts predict. In fact, the Adaptavist survey found that a majority of respondents (60%) said they didn’t turn off their notifications at the end of the workday, allowing colleagues to reach them at any time.
How to talk to your boss about not wanting to go back to the office
Laura’s predicament is particularly baffling but she’s not the only one dragging her heels back to the office. A survey from Morgan Stanley’s research unit AlphaWise, conducted in mid-July, found that only 34 per cent of UK ‘white-collar’ workers had returned to work, and for city workers that’s only one in six. As the BBC also reports, 50 of the biggest UK employers have no plans to ask all staff to the office full-time in the near future. Workplace anxiety may be the driving factor in this. A ManpowerGroup survey, published last week but carried out in June, found that staff in the US and UK were both less confident about returning to work and more fearful of a second Covid-19 wave compared to Germany, France, Italy, Mexico, Singapore and Spain.
Hygiene Helpers
‘Second coronavirus lockdown is accepting we learned nothing from first wave,’ warns expert
The health secretary Matt Hancock has recently warned Brits that the government may need to put extensive lockdown measures back in place if there is a second wave of Covid-19. However, when appearing on This Morning today, Prof Carl Henegan explained how this move would be the government’s way of accepting they learned nothing from the past six months. When chatting to Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, the expert shared his views on the pandemic and how he feels another lockdown is not inevitable.
More testing alone will not get us out of this pandemic
What’s more, after decades of discrimination and mistreatment, communities of colour are rational in hesitating to get tested, provide personal information to contact tracers or download a tracing app. Many have experienced unfair surveillance by law enforcement. Racism can even be baked into medical technologies. Pushing these towards disadvantaged communities could be ineffective, or even backfire. Finally, the test–trace–isolate approach makes some sense for those with a relatively spacious home and the ability to work remotely. But for those in crowded apartments who cannot get paid time off or work from home, ‘isolation’ is almost impossible.
Scotland to get dedicated Covid-19 tracing app
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a new "proximity tracing app" to combat the spread of Covid-19. Ms Sturgeon described Protect Scotland as a "significant enhancement" to the existing test and protect system. And she vowed that important assurances about privacy and confidentiality would be given when it launches later this month. She added: "I encourage everyone to download and use the app as soon as it becomes available." The announcement comes as the number of confirmed cases increased by 154, including 66 in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
Europe’s fractured contact tracing linked to post-holiday Covid-19 surge
In early August, seven groups of young people returned home from Croatia, Greece and Malta to the Italian province of Padua, one of Europe’s early battlegrounds against Covid-19, and tested positive for the virus. The new clusters, involving at least 25 positive cases, led to 159 other people also being placed in isolation for having had potential contact with the virus, according to public health documents reviewed by the Financial Times. But the positive cases were only detected by track-and-trace protocols after they had developed symptoms — a lag of weeks in many cases. Faster tracing across borders or testing before travel would have limited the spread, experts say.
France Tightens Mask Protocols After Surge in Virus Infections
From Tuesday, masks will be mandatory for companies with groups working in enclosed spaces, Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne said Sunday on BFM TV. While opera singers are among those who can be granted exemptions, mask-wearing is becoming entrenched in daily life. Cities from Paris to Marseille are making masks compulsory, even outside, while students over 11 years old will have to cover their faces when returning to school next month. President Emmanuel Macron is trying to avoid another nationwide lockdown, but cautioned he couldn’t entirely rule it out. That comes as the government plans to unveil another recovery package next Thursday, after the economy shrank by 14% during the second quarter.
Coronavirus: South Korea returns to lockdown and pleads with citizens to adhere to social distancing guidelines
South Korea has implemented a second nationwide lockdown to fend off a new wave of coronavirus and pleaded with its citizens to again adhere to social distancing rules. “Government officials and administrative orders alone cannot stop the daily activities of citizens,” said Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement on Sunday. “We urge the public to practice complete social distancing over the next week.”
New Zealanders wear face masks as Auckland lockdown lifted
Schools and businesses reopened in Auckland on Monday after the lifting of a lockdown in New Zealand’s largest city to contain the resurgence of the coronavirus, but face masks were made mandatory on public transport across the country. The Pacific nation of 5 million people had appeared to have succeeded in halting community transmission of COVID-19, but a fresh outbreak in Auckland prompted the government to place the city back in lockdown earlier this month. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scaled back the restrictions in Auckland on Sunday, but made masks compulsory on public transport.
Face mask sales soar as Swedes eye potential guideline change
Sweden is seeing a spike in demand for face masks, several drug stores said, ahead of a possible U-turn by the authorities, who have so far doubted their effectiveness in fighting the spread of the new coronavirus. Unlike most other European countries, Sweden has kept many businesses, restaurants and most schools open, while not recommending the use of face masks, which remain a rare sight unlike in neighbouring Denmark, Norway and Finland. But after the public health agency (FHM) said two weeks ago that it may issue new recommendations, Swedes appear to be stockpiling. Face mask sales at online pharmacist Apotea have increased to around 400,000 units a week in the past two to three weeks from 150,000 in previous weeks, CEO Par Svardson said.
Community Activities
Venice Reclaims Spotlight as 1st COVID-Era Film Fest Opens
Venice is reclaiming its place as a top cultural destination with the opening of the Venice Film Festival — the first major in-person cinema showcase of the coronavirus era after Cannes canceled and other international festivals opted to go mostly online this year. But don’t be fooled. The 77th edition of the world’s oldest film festival will look nothing like its predecessors. The public will be barred from the red carpet, Hollywood stars and films will be largely absent and face masks will be required indoors and out as the festival opens Wednesday.
Meet Germany’s Bizarre Anti-Lockdown Protesters
A strange mix of conspiracy theorists, far-right extremists and ordinary citizens have taken to the streets. Why?...
Working Remotely
Remote Work For Employees Extended In Poland - Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Poland
Employers in Poland are now able to require employees to work remotely until three months after the state of 'epidemiological threat' relating to coronavirus, or the epidemic itself, is declared over. Employers will be able to require employees to work remotely for the duration of the Covid-19 epidemiological threat or the epidemic, and also for three months after they are declared over. Up to now, instructing employees to work remotely was only allowed until 4 September 2020. The Journal of Laws, introducing this change was published on 20 August 2020. The possibility of this extended period of remote work was provided for in the act of 24 July 2020 on amending the act on posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services and certain other acts (Journal of Laws of 2002, item 1423). The provisions extending the term of validity of remote work will enter into force on 5 September. Other provisions on remote work have not been changed.
How people who can’t work from home face a ‘double burden’ from COVID-19
Americans who lacked the ability to work from home during the first four months of the pandemic both sustained steeper job losses and showed more symptoms of respiratory illness than their remote-working counterparts, according to a new working paper — with some of the worst effects falling on non-remote workers from the poorest families. As COVID-19’s spread across the U.S. prompted stay-at-home orders and business closures, the share of non-remote workers who lost their employment by early April was three times higher (24%) than the share of remote workers who lost their jobs (8%), estimated the study, conducted by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California and distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
COVID-10 pandemic: Survey of remote workers shows opinions on returning to the office vary
Workers’ opinions about returning to the office amid the COVID-19 pandemic vary greatly based on each individual’s situation, but most want their employer to take certain actions to ensure their safety when they do, results of a recent survey show. Clutch, a business-to-business ratings and review company, surveyed 400 U.S workers to learn about their experiences working remotely and their thoughts on returning to the office. More than 3 out of 5 respondents (61%) said they haven’t returned to the office or a “shared co-working space.” Other findings: 19% of the respondents want to return to the office as soon as possible. 15% want to return in October or later. 13% would like to wait until next year. 15% don’t want to go back to the office at all.
A number of start-ups plan mix of home and office working in September, Seedrs poll finds
A number of start-ups in the capital continue to work remotely, but from this month more will embrace alternating between the office and home desks, according to a new poll. Equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs queried London businesses currently raising with it, or that have, about back to the office plans. Many companies across Britain have had employees doing their jobs from home since the Covid-19 lockdown started in March.
Capita expected to shut a third of its offices as remote working proves a success
Capita is expected to shut more than one in three of its UK offices as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic accelerates its plans to cut costs and have more staff working from home. The FTSE 250-listed group will close almost 100 of its 250 office leases, according to reports at the weekend. The group, a major government contractor, is making the move just as Downing Street launches a media campaign to get more people to return to their workplaces, supporting city centre businesses. But Capita, which is working on 100 government pandemic response projects, as well as long-term contracts such as managing London’s congestion charge and electronic tagging for prisoners, swung to a loss in the first half of the year and warned of a slow return to growth.
Virtual Classrooms
COVID-19 pandemic brings sea change to law schools as classes shift online
A new school year can often bring apprehension and anxiety for students, as thoughts go through their head of what their next eight months will look like as they walk among the trees and ivy-covered walls of campus. But this year law students are being faced with a new reality — coping with a massive shift to online learning as universities from coast-to-coast continue to adjust to the new realities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian law schools have largely embraced a hybrid of online and in-person courses, with some making their course offerings completely virtual, using platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. McGill University law school dean Robert Leckey said his faculty has prioritized the incoming first-year class “for the limited in-person activities we are able to do.”
Columbia Public School parents cope with decision to go all virtual learning
Some parents were upset Tuesday over the Columbia Public School Board’s decision to have most students start the year online instead of attending class in person. Board members said they approved their all-virtual learning plan because there were too many coronavirus cases throughout the school district. Columbia Public Schools administrators sent a letter to parents saying they were grateful for patience, flexibility and understanding as students stay out of school buildings during September. District leaders were not giving advice to working parents because they said each family situation was different.
Colorado College shifting to remote learning after more dorms placed under COVID-19 quarantine
Colorado College is switching to remote learning and asking on-campus students to leave after a dozen positive COVID-19 cases led the school to quarantine all three of its dorms for two weeks, the school’s leaders announced Tuesday. The private Colorado Springs college, which enrolls about 2,200 students, is the first higher-education institution in the state to switch to remote operations after reopening its campus to in-person learning in the midst of the pandemic. But the college is largely placing the blame for its about-face on El Paso County Public Health, which school officials said is behind the stringent quarantine guidelines that left 155 freshmen stuck inside their dorm rooms for two weeks last month after a single positive COVID-19 case was confirmed on campus
21% of Parents Had to Reduce Work Hours Because of Remote School, Survey Finds
As many parents experienced in the spring, remote learning asks a lot from them, too. Not only do many children need assistance with school work and scheduling but, at the very least, they require basic supervision, which means an adult must be at home to help. To that point, 21% of parents said that they had to change or reduce work hours due to changes in school or child care as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to a new report from Country Financial. Not only do many children need assistance with school work and scheduling but, at the very least, they require basic supervision, which means an adult must be at home to help. To that point, 21% of parents said that they had to change or reduce work hours due to changes in school or child care as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to a new report from Country Financial.
JMU announces it will move classes online
James Madison University in Harrisonburg announced it is moving classes online. On Tuesday, the school made the decision to switch instruction virtually. According to a press release from the university, JMU will transition to primarily online learning, with some hybrid instruction for accreditation and licensure requirements, graduate research and specialized upper-class courses requiring equipment and space, through the month of September. Classes will take place as scheduled for the remainder of the week unless students are otherwise notified by their instructors. In-person classes will transition to online no later than Monday, Sept. 7. The release also says that residents will be asked to return home by Sept. 7 unless they seek an exemption to stay.
USDA extends free meals into the fall for kids learning virtually or in classrooms
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is extending its pandemic-related program for free meals for children into the fall. Under Congressional funding appropriated to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the USDA will allow summer meal program operators to provide free meals through as late as December 31. The extension should help ensure that kids are getting nutritious meals whether they are in the classroom or learning through virtual classes, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement released Tuesday.
Government preparing to give formal education status to remote and virtual classes
Meanwhile, the federal government in Kathmandu is taking one decision after another regarding virtual learning apparently unbeknownst to the fact that millions of students like Sandeep and Suraj, who are based in rural parts of the country, cannot attend remote classrooms. There are around 7 million students in the school system from pre-primary to grade 12 levels, studying in 36,000 public and public schools across the country. After assessing that the resumption of schools and colleges was not possible immediately, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology had introduced a set of guidelines for virtual classes, set to come into force from June 16. The guidelines envision engaging students in the learning process online or through television and radio.
Public Policies
Cuba imposes Havana lockdown as coronavirus spreads
Aggressive anti-virus measures including closing down air travel, have virtually eliminated COVID-19 in Cuba with the exception of Havana, where cases have surged from a handful a day to dozens daily over the last month. Starting on Tuesday, Havana was placed under a 7pm to 5am curfew. Most stores are barred from selling to shoppers from outside the immediate neighbourhood in order to discourage people from moving around the city. Some Havana residents complained that the measures were complicating the already difficult task of buying food in a city stricken by constant shortages and long lines for a limited supply of basic goods.
BVI Introduces Two-week Curfew to Help Stem Spread of COVID
British Virgin Islands Governor Augustus Jaspert on Tuesday said that the British Virgin Islands (BVI) does not intend to introduce a full 24-hour lockdown of the British Overseas Territory (BOT) as it seeks to further curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) that has infected 38 people here. In a statement, Jaspert said that a two-week curfew would instead come into effect as of Wednesday. He said while the 24-hour lockdown is an option, it comes with significant cost, economically, socially, and mentally. “Therefore, we want to avoid this if at all possible, so not to put additional hardship on individuals who are already facing a very challenging time,” he said.
WHO warns hospitals to brace for surge in coronavirus patients this autumn
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned European hospitals they should be braced for a surge in Covid-19 patient numbers this autumn. Hans Kluge, WHO Europe regional director, said a potential increase in Covid-19 cases will be down to a host of factors, including flu season and children returning to school. He urged governments across the continent to use local lockdowns to target small outbreaks of the virus as winter approaches.
EU seeks to improve cross-border co-ordination as Covid-19 spikes
EU member states are exploring how to better co-ordinate the identification of Covid-19 hotspots and the management of cross-border travel as the continent grapples with a surge in infections. European governments are on high alert after a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases in some areas in recent weeks, and are keen to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenes early in the pandemic, when multiple capitals pursued their own approach to border closures within the Schengen travel area. A briefing paper for an EU ambassadors’ meeting in Brussels on Wednesday identifies five possible areas for improved cross-border co-ordination, including the development of common quarantine rules, the use of agreed data sources and better mapping practices.
Lockdown in Co Kildare lifted following weeks of restrictions
The lockdown in Co Kildare has been lifted with immediate effect, the Government has confirmed. The Government introduced public health measures in the county on August 7 following outbreaks of Covid-19 cases. In a statement, the Government said that public health measures in the county will be aligned with those introduced nationally on August 18.
India eases virus restrictions as cases near 3.7 million
Experts say India, the world’s third most affected country, is fast becoming the new coronavirus epicenter and its case total is likely to soon pass Brazil and ultimately the United States. Most of India’s cases are in western Maharashtra state and the four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, but new surges are being recorded in the country’s vast hinterlands, overwhelming the poorly equipped healthcare system. In poorer states, the federal government has deployed special teams to monitor the situation. “This was to be expected,” said Dr. Gagandeep Kang, an infectious diseases expert at the Christian Medical College at Vellore in southern India. “It was inevitable that the numbers would climb.”
Coronavirus: India sees nearly two million cases in August
India has reported nearly two million Covid-19 cases in August, the highest monthly tally in the world since the pandemic began. August was also the worst month for fatalities with 28,000 virus deaths. With 3.6 million confirmed cases, India has the third-highest caseload in the world, after the US and Brazil. The government continues to lift restrictions to try to boost an economy that lost millions of jobs because of a strict lockdown which began in March. In August, India saw an average of 64,000 cases per day - an 84% hike from average daily cases in July, according to official data. This number is the highest in the world - for example, the US, which has the most number of cases, saw 47,000 daily cases on average last month.
Coronavirus: South Korea returns to lockdown and pleads with citizens to adhere to social distancing guidelines
South Korea has implemented a second nationwide lockdown to fend off a new wave of coronavirus and pleaded with its citizens to again adhere to social distancing rules. “Government officials and administrative orders alone cannot stop the daily activities of citizens,” said Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement on Sunday. “We urge the public to practice complete social distancing over the next week.”
Auckland Exits Lockdown as New Zealand Again Eyes Elimination
New Zealand’s largest city has exited lockdown after the government said a Covid-19 outbreak there has been brought under control and it remains on track to again eliminate the virus from the community.
Ukraine PM predicts new increase in coronavirus cases
The number of new coronavirus cases in Ukraine will continue to rise in September and could reach 3,000 a day by the end of this month, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Tuesday. Ukraine reported 2,088 cases on Tuesday and 2,141 on Monday. Last week the daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to a record 2,481. The increase comes after Ukraine last week imposed a temporary ban on most foreigners from entering the country until Sept. 28 and extended lockdown measures until the end of October to contain a recent spike in cases. The country has reported a total of 123,303 infections and 2,605 deaths from the virus.
As lockdown begins, Hungary reopens borders to some eastern neighbours
Hungary has decided to exempt tourists visiting from three neighbouring states from a lockdown of its borders that took effect on Tuesday, provided they test negative for COVID-19 beforehand, prompting a rebuke from the European Commission. The EU executive said Hungary’s move to admit visitors from the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia but not from other EU member states amounted to discrimination and was illegal. Hungary said last week it would close its borders to foreigners from Tuesday to curb a rise in coronavirus cases. Returning Hungarian citizens can leave a 14-day quarantine only if they provide two negative COVID tests.
Colombia expands reopening as coronavirus cases stabilize
Airports, bus terminals, restaurants and gyms reopened in most of Colombia on Tuesday as the South American nation attempts to reignite its economy following months of restrictions for the coronavirus pandemic. The step expanded previous moves that allowed shops, construction sites, shopping malls and factories to resume operations in June in most of the country’s cities. Hospital occupancy rates and deaths from the new coronavirus have stabilized across much of Colombia over the past 10 days, prompting the national government to lift more of the emergency measures that had been in place for five months, including a ban on most people from traveling within the country.
Bhutan to gradually lift coronavirus lockdown
Bhutan, the remote Himalayan kingdom famous for measuring gross national happiness, on Tuesday took the first steps to lift its coronavirus lockdown, saying there was limited community transmission. The country of 750,000 people between India and China -- one of the few nations in the world that have yet to register a virus death -- has so far recorded 225 infections. "Experiences in many countries reveal a surge in Covid-19 cases, mostly detected in the second week of post-lockdown," Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, a doctor who continues to practise on weekends, said in a television address late Monday.
Algeria approves more measures to ease coronavirus lockdown
Algerian authorities said on Monday they will carry out further measures to ease a coronavirus lockdown from Sept. 1, including lifting a ban on some cultural activities such as reopening museums and libraries. Nurseries would also be reopened with 50% of their capacity but prohibit the use of air conditioners and access to children by family members. The new steps will also end a paid leave for pregnant women and those with children under 14 years. Algeria has already eased restrictions linked to the novel coronavirus, including reopening some businesses, mosques, leisure venues and beaches. It has so far reported 44,494 infections and 1,510 deaths.
Maintaining Services
COVID-19 often goes undiagnosed in hospital workers; virus may impair heart functions
A high proportion of COVID-19 infections among U.S. healthcare personnel appear to go undetected, according to a report on Monday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between April and June, among more than 3,000 frontline workers in 12 states, roughly 1 in 20 had antibody evidence of a previous COVID-19 infection, but 69% of those infections had never been diagnosed. Among those with antibodies to the novel coronavirus, about one-third did not recall having symptoms in the preceding months, nearly half did not suspect that they had been infected, and some two-thirds had never had a positive COVID-19 test. Infections among frontline healthcare personnel may be going undetected, the study authors say, because some infections may be only minimally symptomatic or asymptomatic and also because personnel with symptoms may not always have access to testing. COVID-19 antibodies were less common among workers who reported using a face covering for all patient encounters and more common among those who reported a shortage of personal protective equipment. The researchers call for more frequent testing of healthcare personnel and universal use of face coverings in hospitals.
Blended learning: how one college adapted to coronavirus and what happens next
As coronavirus hit the UK, universities and colleges were faced with no choice but to close their institutions, move all resources online and adopt a remote working model for all students and teachers. While institutions such as Bournemouth and Poole College (BPC), had little time to prepare for the crisis, a 2019 report by Jisc suggests that the sector was in good shape to make the transition to online, with around half of students – including 48% in further education and 57% in higher education – stating they could easily access resources via their virtual learning environment (VLE). One of the challenges we found at BPC was making sure that all of our students were in a position to work from home and easily access online learning resources. It was important to ensure that our students had the right connectivity and broadband in place, as well as laptops and devices, to be able to access their learning materials. We therefore made the decision to loan computers and even provide broadband and SIM card hubs to enable online access. This meant that we were able to support students that were based in rural areas without access to the internet, which is a growing problem across the sector.
UAE reports over 500 new COVID-19 cases for second consecutive day
The United Arab Emirates recorded over 500 new COVID-19 infections for the second successive day on Tuesday after a rise in cases in the Middle East financial hub. The government’s communications office said on Twitter there had been 574 new infections but no deaths in the previous 24 hours, following 541 new infections and two deaths reported a day earlier. Schools in the UAE reopened this week, though some will continue with only remote learning after suspected cases among employees, state news agency WAM reported, citing the education ministry. The report did not identify the schools. Daily infections are at their highest since 683 cases were recorded on July 5. There have been periodic spikes in cases since daily infections peaked in May.
Midwives and paramedics to deliver flu and Covid vaccines, proposes DHSC
An ‘expanded workforce’ including midwives will be delivering flu vaccines and a potential Covid-19 vaccine, under proposals unveiled by the Government on Friday. The three-week consultation also focuses on a proposal of mass vaccinations against Covid-19 using a yet-to-be-licensed vaccine, if one becomes available this year. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is hoping new legislation – which would impact midwives, paramedics and others – could come into effect by October, ahead of the winter flu vaccines season.
How will local lockdowns affect schools in England?
Q: According to the government’s guidance issued on Friday evening for schools in England, how will future lockdowns affect them? A: The new guidance lists four levels of lockdown “tiers”, which are most likely to be local ones such as those in Leicester. The categories range from tier one, the lowest, in which all schools would remain open, to tier four, in which remote learning would be in place for all pupils other than the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils. But unlike the national lockdown from March, alternative provision and special needs schools would remain fully open.
Coronavirus Russia: Teachers’ union warns staff could be forced to take unproven Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine
A Russian teachers’ union has warned its members could find themselves coerced into taking the country’s new coronavirus vaccine, which has been shipped to clinics and approved for use before phase three trials have been completed. Russia is the first country to licence a Covid-19 vaccine, calling it “Sputnik V” in homage to the famous Soviet satellite, but Western experts have warned against its use until all internationally approved testing and regulatory steps have been taken, a call dismissed by Moscow. The vaccine will be mandatory for members of Russia’s armed forces, according to Vladimir Putin’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu, but offered to teachers and doctors on an entirely voluntary basis. However, Uchitel, a small independent teachers’ union, has launched a petition to ensure no mandatory measure is imposed on its members ahead of the reopening of schools on 1 September.
Japan’s karaoke bars adapt to the Covid era
Back in early April, during that brief phase when lockdown felt more like an unexplored alien planet than the inescapable traffic jam it soon became, I called Japan’s biggest karaoke operators to see what they made of it all. Principally, I wanted to know what sort of tech they planned to throw at a problem that, on an early reading, seemed destined to put them all out of business. There was, I now realise, something visceral about those calls. It was not that, within a couple of weeks, the karaoke pangs of friends and contacts were overpowering. And it wasn’t that the plight of Japan’s tens of thousands of karaoke establishments particularly stood out in a crisis that forced favourite bars and restaurants to close and caused the whole Japanese economy to shrink a record 7.8 per cent in that very quarter.
Melbourne anti-lockdown protest organiser calls coronavirus a ‘scam’
A Victorian man who was arrested after planning a Melbourne anti-lockdown rally has said he hopes “tens of thousands” will attend a new protest this Saturday. According to A Current Affair, Windsor resident Solihin Millin was charged with inciting others to breach the chief health officer’s directions last week. The 76-year-old has remained defiant despite his arrest, telling the program the September 5 demonstrations, set to take place across Australia’s capital cities and dubbed “Freedom Day” by supporters, will continue – although if he attends, it will be a breach of his bail conditions. Mr Millin, whose social media profiles are littered with coronavirus conspiracy theory material, labelled the coronavirus pandemic a “scam” and said the planned protest posed no threat to the public.
Back to school: how European classrooms are coping with COVID
Schools across Europe are reopening as summer break ends and governments insist that students return to the classroom after months of online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Reuters looks a little closer at what countries are doing...
Meet Germany’s Bizarre Anti-Lockdown Protesters
A strange mix of conspiracy theorists, far-right extremists and ordinary citizens have taken to the streets. Why?...
Healthcare Innovations
AstraZeneca expands Covid-19 vaccine deal as final trials begin
AstraZeneca has expanded an agreement with Oxford Biomedica to scale up production of its potential Covid-19 vaccine, as the race continues to find an effective prevention for the deadly virus. Under the supply agreement, the Oxford-based cell and gene therapy firm said it would produce tens of millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s potential vaccine, AZD1222, for 18 months, which could be extended by a further 18 months into 2023. It will be made at the firm’s three manufacturing suites at its new centre, Oxbox, in Oxford. Two of the suites will be ready to use in the next two months, earlier than expected. AstraZeneca will pay Oxford Biomedica £50m under the deal.
Derbyshire technology firm develops new scanning system to detect Covid-19 symptoms
A global leader in temperature measurement technology based in Derbyshire has developed a new screening system which can detect a key Covid-19 symptom. Ametek Land, based at Dronfield, near Chesterfield, has used its expertise to develop the Viralert 3, which it says can accurately detect elevated temperatures, a symptom of coronavirus. The technology can be installed in buildings and, according to the firm, it has already attracted interest across a variety of sectors, including healthcare, commercial, education, transportation, manufacturing, and sports. The system provides a solution for scanning visitors at entry points – and is already in use at Sheffield’s Hallamshire Tennis, Squash and Racquetball Club and a medical practice in Dronfield.