"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 7th Sep 2020

Isolation Tips
India didn't prioritize mental health before Covid-19. Now it's paying the price
"My heartbeats are heavy. It becomes difficult to catch my breath. My hands shake and get sweaty," said Aritri Paul of the terrifying panic attacks that strike more frequently since India went into coronavirus lockdown in March. India's government started easing the most severe restrictions on daily life in June, but the effects of the lockdown on residents' mental health are still emerging, as the country battles one of the most severe Covid-19 outbreaks in the world. India now has over 4.2 million cases of the virus, giving it the second-highest tally of recorded cases globally, only behind the Unites States.
During pandemic, growth of U.S. adults with mental health issues jumps to 53 percent
A growing number of U.S. adults are struggling with mental health issues linked to worry and stress over the novel coronavirus, increasing from 32 percent in March to 53 percent in July, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, for example, reached 40 percent this summer, up from 11 percent a year ago. In addition, a similar assessment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, by late June, 13 percent of adults had started or increased alcohol consumption or drug use to help cope with pandemic-related woes, and 11 percent had seriously considered suicide in the past month — a number that reached 25 percent among those ages 18 to 24. Social isolation, loneliness, job loss and economic worries as well as fear of contracting the virus are among factors cited as contributing to people’s mental health problems.
Hygiene Helpers
Senegal's quiet COVID success: Test results in 24 hours, temperature checks at every store, no fights over masks
It's Senegal, a west African country with a fragile health care system, a scarcity of hospital beds and about seven doctors for every 100,000 people. And yet Senegal, with a population of 16 million, has tackled COVID-19 aggressively and, so far, effectively. More than six months into the pandemic, the country has about 14,000 cases and 284 deaths. "You see Senegal moving out on all fronts: following science, acting quickly, working the communication side of the equation, and then thinking about innovation," said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan foreign policy think tank. Senegal deserves "to be in the pantheon of countries that have ... responded well to this crisis, even given its low resource base," Devermont said.
Tiny village offers window into India's surging COVID-19 caseload
The quaint, sugarcane growing village of Rajewadi in India's west did not have a single case of confirmed coronavirus until mid-August. Now one in every four people there is positive for the virus, with police blaming a local religious event for the spread.
The US coronavirus death toll is projected to reach 410,000 in the next 4 months if mask use wanes
More than 410,000 people in the US could die from the coronavirus by January 1, more than doubling the current death toll, a new model often cited by top health officials predicted Friday. That would mean 224,000 more lives lost in the US over the next four months.
Coronavirus: Even limited use of contact-tracing apps has effects, says study
Contact-tracing apps reduce transmissions and deaths even at very low levels of adoption, according to a new study from the University of Oxford and Google. The study provides reassurance regarding the value of coronavirus contact-tracing apps, which some had suggested would need to be used by 60% of the population to be effective. But the research emphasises that digital notifications to people who may have been exposed to the virus still work best when complemented by manual contact tracing, when researchers take histories from patients to find out who they had been in close contact with.
Australia should attempt to drive coronavirus cases to ZERO, former health boss says
Australia should drive new COVID-19 cases to zero, public policy think tank says The Grattan Institute report said 'short-term pain' will pay off on the other side Zero cases means Australia can avoid reimposed lockdowns and more deaths
Community Activities
No, there will be no COVID-19 vaccine before Election Day — and it’ll take two years to vaccinate the US: doctor
According to Dr. Jonathan Reiner, George Washington University professor of Medicine, don’t hold your breath on Trump’s claims. “First of all, no vaccine will be distributed before Election Day,” he said frankly. “Even if we identify a vaccine, which looks both safe and effective, the distribution plan will be really complex. First of all, these vaccines require subzero storage. So, you need a supply chain that can do that. We’ll have to pick who gets the vaccine first. Health care workers, the elderly, nursing homes, people at risk. There is an elaborate plan that will go into this. So, it’s will take a while to get the vaccine into people, and vaccination will take probably two years to vaccinate the country.”
In the Amazon, the coronavirus fuels an illegal gold rush — and an environmental crisis
Alessandro Souza is a gold hunter. He chases it deep into protected Indigenous lands in the Amazon rainforest, traveling days by foot and canoe, and doesn't emerge until his pockets are full. Sometimes he's gone two months. Sometimes six. The only certainty is that he'll be back, because hunting gold is his business, and business is booming. “Today’s market quote,” Souza messaged his WhatsApp group, Goldminers Without Borders, one recent day: Gold was going for nearly $1,800 an ounce. Souza posted an arrow pointing skyward.
Thousands of Columbia Students Return, and So Far the Positive Covid Rate is Low
Columbia University officially starts classes on Tuesday and thousands of students are already back in the city. About 1,000 are on campus, and about 13,000 are living off campus, with 4,400 living in Columbia-owned housing and the rest in other apartments, according to President Lee Bollinger. There are 15,400 students in remote-only classes. About a quarter of classes will be in-person or hybrid, with the rest online-only. Undergraduate classes will be entirely online. Columbia plans to test people who will be on campus. So far, they have run 13,000 tests and have a positivity rate of just 0.05%, Bollinger wrote. “Under New York State rules governing colleges and universities, Columbia would immediately revert to universal virtual classroom instruction for at least two weeks if we experience an outbreak of 100 or more positive cases over a 14-day period,” he wrote. Students are expected to adhere to New York’s rules, includig wearing masks and enrolling in the college’s contact tracing progam.
US university workers fight a return to campus as COVID-19 cases grow
A wave of activism is sweeping US campuses that have reopened after their summer break amid the COVID-19 crisis. Across the country, university workers — including faculty members and staff who teach in classrooms and laboratories, and housekeeping staff who clean dormitories — are pushing back against requirements that they show up on campus alongside undergraduates, thereby, they say, risking their own health. One group has filed a lawsuit against the University of North Carolina (UNC) system, which includes 16 institutions across the state, claiming that the system has not provided a safe workplace for its staff. Others have staged protests — including ‘die-ins’, in which demonstrators have simulated coronavirus deaths — to demand remote classes and more COVID-19 testing. In one case, university faculty members passed a ‘no confidence’ vote to indicate that their chancellor had neglected their concerns and botched the institution’s reopening.
India will supply coronavirus vaccines to the world — will its people benefit?
As scientists edge closer to creating a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, Indian pharmaceutical companies are front and centre in the race to supply the world with an effective product. But researchers worry that, even with India’s experience as a vaccine manufacturer, its companies will struggle to produce enough doses sufficiently fast to bring its own huge outbreak under control. On top of that, it will be an immense logistical challenge to distribute the doses to people in rural and remote regions. Indian drug companies are major manufacturers of vaccines distributed worldwide, particularly those for low-income countries, supplying more than 60% of vaccines supplied to the developing world. Because of this, they are likely to gain early access to any COVID-19 vaccine that works, says Sahil Deo, co-founder of India’s CPC Analytics in Pune, which is studying vaccine distribution in the country.
Working Remotely
As COVID-19 drives a remote work boom, how are Aussies upskilling?
As COVID-19 has shaken up the Australian workforce, more professionals are upskilling online, with healthy work-from-home habits and personal branding, digital and pitching skills proving to be in high demand. That’s according to LinkedIn’s Most Popular Courses list, based on the numbers of virtual attendees to the platform’s LinkedIn Learning courses between July 2019 and July 2020. Many of the courses on the list reflected the new COVID-19 work environment, which has seen thousands of people move into home offices. A course on the foundations of remote work is up there, for example, as is one sharing lessons in time management. And it’s not surprising people are learning the skills they need to work more effectively from home. The move to remote work may well be something that outlasts the pandemic crisis.
While covid-19 continues to force remote work, Europe looks to enforce a right to disconnect
“I’m trying to have a similar rhythm to what I have in the office,” said Ochoa, 39, an administrator at an art business in Madrid. The “right to disconnect” predated the pandemic in much of Europe. The concept, first legislated in France in 2017, limits how much employees can be made to answer phone calls and emails outside working hours. But the massive shift to remote work this year — and the recognition that office life may never resume as it was — has Spain, Greece, Ireland and other European countries discussing how they can preserve worker protections when people are working from home.
Beyond work from home: Why 'digital nomads' think they're the future of remote life
With more companies telling employees that work-from-home policies will extend through the end of 2020, and in some cases, until summer 2021, or even forever, the digital nomad lifestyle is appealing. Many younger workers at more progressive employers were already working remote from locations across the world before Covid-19, using Airbnbs as well as more specialized work-life lodging options, such as Outsite. Some think the telecommuting work-tourism model of life is poised for broader adoption.
Three-quarters of Britain's workforce say remote working is a positive
The events of recent months have positively impacted workplace culture across Britain with 73% describing it as positive in the current climate and 38% saying it has actively improved since they transitioned to remote working.
Virtual Classrooms
Saudi e-learning portal ushers in 'new normal' with virtual classrooms
Classes in Saudi Arabia will be held online for at least the first seven weeks of the new academic school year as part of a drive to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, with an estimated 6 million students and half a million teachers across the Kingdom signing in to the new Madrasati platform to join virtual classes every morning.
Beating Covid Blues: Online classes and new stars of social media
Post Covid-19 outbreak, there is hardly a sector, especially education, which has remained immune to change. The pandemic’s spread saw online classes replacing the traditional method of schooling. Albeit being a stopgap arrangement, the virtual class provides a firmament to several teachers to showcase their talents. Sai Swetha, of ‘Thanku cat’ fame, is a classic example of this. “There was this general impression that a teacher’s job is pretty simple. But the online class has made people realise what it takes and the toil involved,” Sai Swetha said.According to her, teachers are multi-talented since they have to dovetail skills like storytelling, singing, drawing and dancing to teach children.
What I’ve Learned From Teaching Online
“Let’s read,” I told the students in my writing class, trying to invoke the authority of my own high-school literature teacher. I was hoping they would unzip their backpacks, pull out the books and start reading. I had become a visiting teacher at a university in Karachi, Pakistan, a couple of years before the pandemic, and I was struggling. It felt nice to be called a professor, but I was reluctant to call my students, “my students.”
How schools are using technology and new techniques for virtual learning
For many schools, the sudden switch to completely virtual learning has been a challenging adjustment. Some education professionals say online classrooms fall short in facilitating engagement when compared to in-person class environments. Virtual learning can also be isolating for students — especially those with special needs or mental health issues. Physical-distancing measures have also become a hindrance to extracurricular activities, especially artistic endeavours such as music. This is why Sandi Chasson, a teacher at St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, developed ePrograms: a new online learning platform designed to support youth through online group master classes. Hosted by seasoned professionals in each subject, the classes cover everything from clarinet playing to cartooning.
Public Policies
World Health Organisation says it does not expect immunisation against COVID-19 until mid-2021
India has become the third country to pass four million coronavirus infections, setting a new record daily surge in cases on Saturday as the pandemic showed no sign of peaking. The new cases took India to 4,023,179 infections, third behind the United States which has more than 6.3 million and just trailing Brazil on 4.1 million. The growing caseload comes after the World Health Organisation said it did not expect widespread immunisation against COVID-19 until mid-2021. The WHO also ruled out endorsing a vaccine that has not been proven safe and effective, over concerns around the rush to develop a jab for the virus.
China and India vie for clout in Bangladesh with COVID vaccines
China and India are competing to deliver coronavirus vaccines to Bangladesh in a diplomatic offensive carefully choreographed to expand their influence in the densely populated South Asian nation. Last month, Bangladesh cleared the way for privately owned Chinese company Sinovac Biotech to conduct a stage three clinical trial of its CoronaVac vaccine. Dhaka-based clinical research institute icddr,b will conduct the trial and said Wednesday that a conditional deal is in place for the vaccine to be produced locally. "If the CoronaVac vaccine is successful, it has been agreed with Sinovac that a local competent vaccine manufacturer in Bangladesh will be selected and enabled through a license from Sinovac to manufacture the vaccine in Bangladesh," they told the Nikkei Asian Review in a written response to questions.
Coronavirus India highlights: Centre to deploy medical teams in DR Congo, South Sudan to help combat Covid-19
With over 80,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths for yet another day, the Covid-19 tally in India on Friday rose to 3,936,747 with 68.472 fatalities, latest data by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare showed.
India to Make Covid-19 Vaccine Available to Friendly Neighbors
Indian pharmaceutical companies will be among the largest producers of a coronavirus vaccine once it is available and will ensure supplies to friendly nations in the neighborhood, said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla. India’s relations with Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have never been better “contrary to impressions,” Shringla said Friday at a foreign policy seminar in New Delhi. The South Asian nation, which is engaged in a border confrontation with China since early May, continues to remain open to dialog with Beijing, he said.
Brazil uses less than a third of available coronavirus tests, newspaper says
Seven months after Brazil declared a state of emergency because of the new coronavirus pandemic, the country's Health Ministry has distributed less than a third of the 22.9 million available RT-PCR test kits, O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported on Friday.
COVID-19: Singapore to prioritise vaccination of higher-risk groups, those more likely exposed to virus
Once COVID-19 vaccines become available, Singapore's approach will be to protect those at higher risk or people who may be more likely to be exposed to infection, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Friday (Sep 4). He was responding to a question from Member of Parliament Murali Pillai on what the Government's strategy is for vaccinating Singaporeans and residents. MP Ang Wei Neng had also asked what the country's COVID-19 vaccine plans are. In his written reply, Mr Gan said: "Our vaccination approach aims to protect individuals who are more vulnerable or at higher risk from the disease, as well as those who may be more likely exposed to infection, while progressively expanding the coverage of vaccination to our population." Mr Gan noted that the vaccination strategy and schedule would depend on several factors, including the suitability of different vaccines for different groups, as well as the quantity of vaccines available.
The bleak Covid winter? America still not on course to beat back the virus
The US is closed for many outside its borders, and many within are too scared to fly as Covid continues its deadly sweep across the country. The rate of infection has eased in Florida and elsewhere and Pesquera, president of the marketing group Discover the Palm Beaches, is hopeful business is improving. But it comes in a year of catastrophic collapse for Florida’s tourism. “Nobody has seen anything like this in a couple of generations,” said Pesquera. As the US enters its first coronavirus winter, economists and epidemiologists see a pivotal moment – a hinge whose swing will determine the direction of the economy and the course of the disease into 2021 and for years – potentially generations – to come
Lack of staff, funds and tools: health officials worry the US isn’t ready for Covid vaccines
“We haven’t gotten a lot of information about how this is going to roll out,” said Umair Shah, executive director of Texas’ Harris county public health department, which includes Houston. In a four-page memo this summer, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told health departments across the country to draft vaccination plans by 1 October “to coincide with the earliest possible release of Covid-19 vaccine”.
U.S. CDC reports 186,173 deaths from coronavirus
The CDC on Friday said the number of deaths die to the cornoavirus has risen by 1,081 to 186, 173 and there were 6,132, 074 reported cases, an increase of 44,671 cases from the previous count.
Maintaining Services
COVID-19 outbreak is worsening malnutrition in India
There are warnings the world is on the brink of a "hunger pandemic". Charity Oxfam says up to 12,000 people could starve to death each day because of coronavirus-related restrictions. In India, malnutrition is already a threat to life - and the United Nations says the pandemic is making that worse.
Covid‐19 pandemic and the surge of panic attacks among NHS nursing staff: An ethnographical perspective
Furthermore, nurses are not used to witnessing such a high number of deaths with recent figures apparently indicating that 51% of people with Covid‐19 died in intensive care, compared to 28% of people with non‐Covid pneumonia (ICNARC, 2020). Palliative care training is often very limited for many nurses and other health workers, so they are often confronted with a common experience they are underprepared for and may feel uncomfortable with. Even for those nurses who have worked in palliative care, Covid‐19 has changed the way nurses are expected to manage end‐of‐life in hospitals in many ways (e.g., no visitors). Jointly, these experiences are adding to the discomfort experienced by some nurses at this time. For others, it is working in a speciality they know little about (e.g., paediatric nurses working in adult wards; ward nurses working in intensive care). Therefore, for those experiencing a heightened anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the future is less certain. Anecdotal reports are already emerging of estimates in the region of 25%–50% of individuals experiencing depression for months or years to come following this pandemic.
Indonesia reports higher COVID-19 death rate among children than United States
The percentage of child deaths per total COVID-19 deaths is also high in Indonesia. Children accounted for 1.9 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in which victims’ age were provided. Given the high share of children among COVID-19 fatalities in the country, concerns have been raised over the government’s plan to allow more schools in low-risk areas to reopen
US university workers fight a return to campus as COVID-19 cases grow
A wave of activism is sweeping US campuses that have reopened after their summer break amid the COVID-19 crisis. Across the country, university workers — including faculty members and staff who teach in classrooms and laboratories, and housekeeping staff who clean dormitories — are pushing back against requirements that they show up on campus alongside undergraduates, thereby, they say, risking their own health. One group has filed a lawsuit against the University of North Carolina (UNC) system, which includes 16 institutions across the state, claiming that the system has not provided a safe workplace for its staff. Others have staged protests — including ‘die-ins’, in which demonstrators have simulated coronavirus deaths — to demand remote classes and more COVID-19 testing. In one case, university faculty members passed a ‘no confidence’ vote to indicate that their chancellor had neglected their concerns and botched the institution’s reopening.
This elite college is building a COVID ‘bubble’—where students are tested 3 times per week, and can’t leave campus
One is a multi-billion dollar colossus with worldwide broadcasts. The other is a small New England college known for its bucolic campus and demanding coursework. On the face of it, the NBA and Amherst College have little in common. Except this: Both organizations have resumed in-person activities amidst COVID by forming a so-called "bubble." For the NBA, this has meant isolating players, support staff and broadcasters in a series of luxury hotels in Orlando. The plan has widely been viewed as a success—well into the playoffs no cases have been reported.
Will Labor Day weekend in US mean another coronavirus spike?
As people across the United States head into the Labor Day long weekend on Friday, public health officials are warning not to make the same mistakes they did on previous holidays. The fear is that backyard parties, crowded bars and other gatherings could lead to a surge in coronavirus cases across the country, which has reported almost 6.2 million cases of the virus and about 187,000 related deaths since the pandemic began. "I look upon the Labor Day weekend really as a critical point," said Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert.
France closes 22 schools days after reopening due to Covid-19 outbreaks
The French government has shut 22 schools in metropolitan France and the overseas territory of Réunion due to fresh cases of Covid-19. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer insisted that back-to-school had gone smoothly for the vast majority, but parent associations are concerned that too much is being left up to families to manage. "The health protocol is working," assured Blanquer, speaking to Europe 1 radio on Friday morning, marking the end of the first week since the new school year began. "There are 22 establishments which have had to close due to cases or suspected cases of Covid-19," he said, "Twelve of those were in mainland France and 10 in the overseas territory of Reunion Island."
Long waits for covid tests cause tension in France
France is now testing over 1 million people per week for Covid-19, but around the country there are reports of long waits and rising tensions between medical staff and patients.
Healthcare Innovations
Russian Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Yields Promising Early Results
Two early-phase Russian coronavirus vaccine trials have produced promising results, with participants experiencing no serious adverse effects and evidence of an antibody response. Controversy greeted the announcement last month that Russia had approved the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine – before it had completed final “phase 3” clinical trials.
Explained: What a study from China tells us about airborne transmission in public transport
A new study published in the journal JAMA Network suggests airborne transmission in a bus in China led to one infected individual spreading of COVID-19 to 23 other fellow passengers. Analysing community transmission in China’s Zhejiang province, the study reports that 128 individuals took two buses on January 19, 2020 — 60 in bus 1 and 68 in bus 2 — on a 100 minute round trip to attend a 150-minute worship event. The source patient was a passenger on bus 2 and both the buses had central air conditioners functioning in indoor recirculation mode. Among these 128 individuals, 15 were men, 113 were women with a mean age of 58.6 years. On bus 2, 24 individuals turned out to be positive after the event, while none of the individuals in bus 1 were affected. Seven others who turned positive after the outdoor event had all come close to the index patient.
COVID-19 - Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA) authorizes Dompé's REPAVID-19, a Phase 2 Clinical Trial for Treatment of Severe Patients
Reparixin inhibits the action of interleukin 8 (IL-8), one of the inflammatory signaling proteins that is thought to be associated with the lung injury seen in patients with SARS-CoV2 infection. Consequently, this action is aimed to be useful in the treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia patients. The treatment is based on Reparixin oral tablets 1200 mg TID till 21 days, in case of confirmed improvement after 7 days. REPAVID-19 will enroll 48 for Phase 2, 111 for Phase 3 with severe COVID-19 pneumonia randomized 2:1 in the Phase 2, and the results will inform the study design for the Phase 3. The study involves a minimum of 10 Brazilian centers. Following successful completion of Phase 2, Dompé has prepared a rapid transition into a Phase 3 program, to begin once data from Phase 2 are positively evaluated, and to be extended to multiple US centers.
Children's inflammatory illness associated with coronavirus emerges in Australia. Here's what we know about it
A rare inflammatory condition found in children and associated with COVID-19 has emerged in Australia, with one case confirmed so far. The illness, known as Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS-TS), was first recorded in areas with large coronavirus outbreaks overseas earlier this year. The condition is mentioned alongside Kawasaki disease, which is also rare and potentially severe, because it has similar symptoms. Experts stress the illness is very rare but the emergence of the condition earlier this year, and the deaths of children overseas, has prompted concerns.
Sanofi France chief: future COVID-19 vaccine seen below 10 euros
A coronavirus vaccine that Sanofi is developing with GlaxoSmithKline is likely to be priced at less than 10 euros per shot if it is approved for use, Sanofi's chief in France said on Saturday. "the price is not totally set...We are assessing production costs for the coming months...We will be below 10 euros," Olivier Bogillot told France Inter radio
Glaxo and Sanofi start human trials in the US of coronavirus vaccine
A coronavirus vaccine being developed by a partnership involving one of Britain’s biggest drug companies has begun human trials. Glaxosmithkline and Sanofi, of France, are enrolling 440 healthy adults in the trial at 11 locations in the United States to test the safety, immune response and tolerability of the treatment. The results are expected as soon as early December, which would be the cue for a larger, late-stage trial before the end of the year. If the trials are successful, the companies plan to seek regulatory approval for the vaccine in the first half of next year.