"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 10th Sep 2020

Isolation Tips
For women and children around the world, a double plague: Coronavirus and domestic violence
“The quarantine changed everything,” she said. Shut inside their one-room house in rural El Salvador, he began drinking heavily. Soon, she says, he was regularly violating the coronavirus curfew and seeing other women openly. He would return home at odd hours, wake her and demand meals. Drunk, he would taunt Zoila, 24 years old and pregnant, calling her worthless and threatening violence. Then one morning, she says, he grabbed her by the throat, slammed her against the wall and attempted to rape her. When she resisted, she said, the punching began, stopping only when fluid began trailing down her leg. Zoila screamed, fearing a miscarriage.
The UK's Drinking Problem Got Worse Under Lockdown. Here Are The Facts
When Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey, was reading through the most common reasons UK respondents gave for drinking more in lockdown, one stood out to him: “I’m rewarding myself for getting through Covid.” The annual survey, conducted this year during April and May to take a snapshot of lockdown, revealed what we probably already know: that more than half of people have been drinking more – but also that excessive drinking left many of us feeling worse, exacerbating underlying mental and physical health issues.
Survey shows many young people are drinking less alcohol in lockdown
Our Global Drug Survey released today, which includes replies from more than 55,000 participants, shows a mixed response. We found some people are increasing their use of alcohol and cannabis, mainly due to boredom, which previous research has found. But other people have reduced their drinking and drug use now festivals, nightclubs or parties are no longer an option—a trend that has so far gained less attention.
Singapore’s poorest stay in lockdown while others move freely
With restaurants and malls bustling, pre-pandemic life is slowly returning for people in Singapore—except for the more than 300,000 migrant workers who make up much of the city’s low-wage workforce. Since April, these workers have been confined to their residences with limited exceptions for work. After an extensive testing and quarantine campaign, the government cleared the dormitories where most of these workers live of COVID-19 in August, letting residents leave for several “essential errands,” like court appearances and doctor’s appointments. The government said last month it was working toward relaxing more rules for workers. Those plans are now under threat, with new virus clusters emerging in the dorms, where workers from China, India, Indonesia and elsewhere share bunks and tight living spaces.
Hygiene Helpers
France to open 20 new Covid-19 testing centres in Paris region
French health officials are to open 20 new Covid-19 testing centres in the Paris region after demand for tests soared at la rentrée, last week’s grand return to work and classes following the long school holidays. The authorities said testing capacity in and around the French capital had risen more than fourfold from 45,000 to 200,000 a week and 1 million people were being tested nationally every week – about 140,000 a day – but there were still queues and delays. The new diagnostic centres will be open to all those wishing to be tested, but certain hours will be reserved for patients considered a priority and those with Covid-19 symptoms or at risk of contamination. The health minister, Olivier Véran, has blamed the delays on a surge in demand from people returning from holidays and said the government was hoping to improve access to tests in the next few weeks.
Covid-19: Government plans to spend £100bn on expanding testing to 10 million a day
The UK government has drawn up plans to carry out up to 10 million covid-19 tests a day by early next year as part of a huge £100bn (€110bn; $130bn) expansion of its national testing programme, documents seen by The BMJ show. The internal correspondence reveals that the government is prepared to almost match what it spends on the NHS in England each year (£130bn) to fund mass testing of the population “to support economic activity and a return to normal life” under its ambitious Operation Moonshot programme. A briefing memo sent to the first minister and cabinet secretaries in Scotland, seen by The BMJ, says that the UK-wide Moonshot programme is expected to “cost over £100bn to deliver.” If achieved, the programme would allow testing of the entire UK population each week. A separate PowerPoint presentation prepared for the government by the global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, also seen by The BMJ, says the plans had the potential to grow the UK’s testing capacity from the current 350 000 a day to up to 10 million tests a day by early 2021. Critics have already rounded on the plans as “devoid of any contribution from scientists, clinicians, and public health and testing and screening experts,” and “disregarding the enormous problems with the existing testing and tracing programmes.”
Coronavirus: Too many people getting COVID-19 tests are 'not eligible', says health secretary
People with no coronavirus symptoms getting tests are to blame for the system reaching its limit, the health secretary has suggested. Matt Hancock told Sky News the reason many people have reported being unable to book a test is because the proportion of those asking for them who have no symptoms has risen to 25%. "We have seen an increase in demand including from people who are not eligible for tests, people who don't have symptoms," he said on the Kay Burley programme. "You are eligible for a test if you have symptoms of coronavirus or if you have a very specific reason otherwise. We have seen an increase, and about 25% of people who are coming forward don't have symptoms and aren't eligible."
Coronavirus Australia: Expert says we 'can't bank on a vaccine'
A health expert has revealed a coronavirus vaccine is far from a given despite worldwide investment. In an explosive interview with the Herald Sun, Brian McNamee, the chair of CSL – the firm tasked with producing vaccines in Australia – said the treatment could face a lengthy delay, if one arrives at all. “If they had asked us we would have told them that drug development is a very complex thing,” Dr McNamee said. “We can’t bank on a vaccine. I think the treatments are improving but we have to learn to live with COVID. We have to manage it.” However, Dr McNamee said the company was “cautiously optimistic”, but warned of “risks”. “…that’s why at CSL we’ve got two vaccines we could manufacture because the likelihood of both working is not high,” he told the publication.
Community Activities
Mum's app to decode junk food labels 'fuels Covid healthy eating kick'
Parents have helped fuel healthier eating after ditching ready meals for cooking with their children as lockdown dragged on, data from a London entrepreneur’s app suggests. Marie Farmer, who pitched her Mini Mealtimes invention to a virtual audience of backers at London Tech Week, aims to “decode” food labelling and nutrition for busy parents. She was inspired by her own experiences supermarket shopping with her five-year-old son, saying “disingenuous” Big Food brands often dress up labelling with cute characters to appeal to youngsters while disguising high salt and sugar levels.
Pope wears face mask, warns against political exploitation of coronavirus
The pope called people who turn their backs on the suffering coronavirus had caused "devotees of Pontius Pilate who simply wash their hands of it." Pope Francis, seen wearing a mask for the first time in public, said on Wednesday no one should seek political gain from the coronavirus and that vaccine developers should not see it as a chance to make a profit. At his second weekly general audience with public participation after six months of virtual audiences, the pope was seen wearing a white mask as he entered and left his car and using sanitizer occasionally squirted onto his hands by an aide.
Teddy bears in face masks help Oxfordshire’s vulnerable children understand COVID-19
Annelies said: “COVID-19 has impacted on how we provide social care and increased the ‘out of sight’ risks to children. We’re working together, with children and families, to support the #Stopthespread campaign. “At the height of lockdown, we couldn’t visit most children in their homes. They were isolated, behind closed doors, home-schooling. If they were struggling at home or being abused or exploited, it was more difficult to detect.
Working Remotely
Lawyers consider 'virtual' firms in response to coronavirus
A growing number of lawyers are pivoting to “virtual” firms as they consider life outside of the traditional office environment due to the pandemic. There has been a seven per cent rise in the number of lawyers at virtual firms in the UK since the outbreak of coronavirus according to business advisory firm Hazlewoods.
New study shows that remote work could be good for mental health
A survey by job search engine FlexJobs found that nearly half of Americans working remotely are happy with their current work-life balance — and they want to continue working from home following the coronavirus pandemic. Studies from IBM and Owl Labs also show that American workers like working from home, which could be a driving force behind so many companies pledging to work from home indefinitely. Other studies, however, including one from Microsoft, found that remote work leads to longer hours and a blurrier line between work and life, showing there are still trade-offs with the mass shift to remote working.
Irish people invited to work remotely from Barbados
Irish people are asked to come and work remotely from the Caribbean island of Barbados. The new scheme from the government there would allow tourists to work from Barbados remotely for 12 months. The Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, said the initiative is being offered to people who would like to work from warmer climes rather than facing a winter of contending with COVID-19 at home. Barbados has reported seven deaths and 178 cases since the beginning of the outbreak of COVID-19. Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show, President Mottley said that the global pandemic has made short-term tourism unattractive to travellers, so she is inviting people to stay and work from the island.
Rich Americans flee to Caribbean as they swap COVID, election and US citizenship for remote working
Business has been booming in recent months for citizenship advisers, government agencies and real estate developers in several Caribbean islands. COVID-19, remote working and election fears are causing a US exodus. Applications for citizenship on Caribbean islands such as St Kitts and Nevis are surging as the rich invest in second and third homes. Others are taking advantage of the 12-month 'Welcome Stamp' initiative launched by Barbados in July, where remote workers can enjoy a long-term stay. More than 1,100 have so far applied for the scheme. Meanwhile people with dual nationality are ditching their US citizenship. A total of 5,816 Americans gave up citizenship in the first half of 2020 - double the number of people in the whole of 2019
New Study: Work From Home Forever? COVID-19 Challenges the Traditional Office and Hints at a Future of Remote Work
Stay-at-home mandates closed offices and stopped commutes for many, but new data from Clutch, the leading B2B ratings and reviews firm, reveals that 55% of employees would feel safe returning to their office. In contrast, only 32% of workers would feel unsafe going back to work. While this data suggests that employees are ready to return to business as usual, they are still split on their preferred timeline for returning to the office. The pandemic highlighted benefits of remote work that aren't accessible in traditional office roles, pushing some to prefer working from home.
Virtual Classrooms
Ottawa Catholic School Board vows students won't fall behind despite hiccups with online learning
In day two of the Ottawa Catholic School Board's virtual learning school, some students still aren't able to log on. The board is asking parents for their patience as it works out technical problems with the virtual program. Seven-year-old Bray Martin still hasn't been assigned a teacher, his mom says.The board citing glitches as one of the reasons for its online delay. "For parents with young children, the log-ins, the passwords, the e-mails that may bounce back," says Andrea Green, virtual school principal. Other issues include administration; new teachers; and connecting students from different home schools into the same virtual class.
Global Classroom initiative connects faculty and students with partners abroad
One new initiative, the Global Classroom, has overcome the challenges and uncertainty of the pandemic to launch this fall at IU Bloomington. This program takes a class already being taught by an IU faculty member and pairs it with a complementary parallel course taught at a foreign partner university. The two faculty members collaborate to design a project that students from both universities work on together virtually over the semester.
Columbia students overcome technical glitches in virtual classrooms
Columbia Public School students and their families continued Wednesday to struggle through their first week of virtual learning at home. School district leaders banned students from attending class in school buildings because of a high number of COVID-19 cases in Boone County. School administrators said most students were adjusting to technical glitches as they completed day two of their school year. Columbia Public School students spent their first days of school getting technical assistance with their devices while attending classes. High school students used laptops while students in kindergarten through eighth grade used iPads.
Chesterfield, Hanover families share different virtual learning experiences
One day after server capacity issues caused widespread connection problems for Chesterfield County students trying to log on for their first day of virtual learning, multiple parents and school officials said day two went more smoothly. Kimberley Johnson, who has two students in Chesterfield schools, said she heard some families still experienced issues logging on, but day two was a “breeze” for her family compared to day one. “Yesterday was quite a bit different... we didn’t get online until probably second or third period for some things. Everyone just did their best,” Johnson said. The beginning of every school year comes with a hiccups, Johnson said, and with more than 60,000 students and 8,000 employees, many Chesterfield families thought issues with virtual classroom were inevitable, she said.
Thousands of students going to virtual classrooms
A total of 11,400 students in the Greater Essex County District School Board and 5,200 in the Windsor Essex Catholic District School board are registered for virtual classes. Teachers are reaching out to students this week to walk them through the school day and ensure they can log in to class.
University of Wisconsin moves to all-online classes amid growing COVID-19 case count
It's the most significant step by the university to curb a virus caseload that has surpassed 1,000 infections in mere days.
Public Policies
Iowa refuses to close bars and require masks as Covid-19 cases surge in cities
Amid warnings that the failure to enforce masks and social distancing was likely to cost hundreds of additional lives in the coming months, the White House taskforce said in a report on 31 August that bars “must be closed” in 61 of Iowa’s 99 counties and seating in restaurants should be limited. It also recommended restrictions on the size of gatherings in the worst hit counties along with the closure of gyms. “Community transmission continues to be high in rural and urban counties across Iowa, with increasing transmission in the major university towns,” the report warned. “Mask mandates across the state must be in place to decrease transmission.”
All the new lockdown rules coming into effect across England from Monday - and who is exempt
Gatherings will be slashed from 30 people to 6 as UK battles a soaring coronavirus rate, the government has announced. In an announcement at around 10.30pm last night, the government announced a series of new restrictions for Brits to abide by. The rules change from Monday in England, with Birmingham facing a crisis of its own, as its rate of Covid-19 cases rises to around 70 per 100,000. Birmingham is beyond only two other parts of the country - and the rate in Solihull is causing, alarm, too, with around 50 cases per 100k.
Spain to negotiate travel corridors to its islands with Britain, Germany
Spain, whose tourism industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, is insisting on the creation of safe travel corridors even as the list of global restrictions affecting the country continues to grow. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya announced that Spain will negotiate with Britain, Germany and Scandinavian countries to open up travel corridors to the Spanish islands (the Balearics and the Canaries) exempting visitors from the need to self-isolate upon their return. Although summer travel has ended in much of Spain, the Canary Islands, located off the western coast of Africa, are now entering their own high season.
Covid Cases In Spain Increase By 8964 In The Last 24 Hours
Daily Covid figures published by the Ministry of Health have increased by 8,964 cases in the last 24 hours, of which 3,168 have been diagnosed in the last 24 hours, compared to 2,440 on Monday. In total, 554,513 people have been diagnosed with Covid-1 in Spain since the pandemic began.
Coronavirus UK: Meetings of more than six BANNED from Monday
The PM is announcing a change in the law after the number of daily Covid cases rose to almost 3,000. The ban will only apply to social gatherings, with those coming together for work or education still allowed. Gatherings of more than six people also allowed where household or support bubbles larger than half a dozen Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick Vallance and the Government all agreed that urgent action was needed. Failure to comply could result in a £100 fine, which will then double on each repeat offence up to £3,200
Why ‘herd immunity’ is a distraction
Sweden’s many successes in curbing coronavirus have been overshadowed by its one spectacular failure: namely protecting the elderly. Goodman’s assessment of Sweden’s approach as “an unorthodox, open-air experiment” is not alone; the headline of a Washington Post article by Professor Gina Gustavsson in May termed it an experiment in “blind patriotism.” According to a more recent report in The Washington Post by Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey, one of Donald Trump’s chief health advisers, Scott Atlas, “is urging the White House to embrace a controversial ‘herd immunity’ strategy to combat the pandemic, which would entail allowing the coronavirus to spread through most of the population to quickly build resistance to the virus.” The article goes on to suggest that Dr Atlas is advocating an embrace of the so-called “Swedish model.”
Czech coronavirus cases top 1,000 in a day for first time
Czech authorities ordered people to wear face masks inside buildings from Thursday as the daily count of new coronavirus cases topped 1,000 for the first time.
Positive Covid tests in no-lockdown Sweden hit lowest rate since pandemic began
Sweden carried out a record number of new coronavirus tests last week with only 1.2% coming back positive, the health agency said on Tuesday, the lowest rate since the pandemic began at a time when countries across Europe are seeing surges in infections.
Over 22,000 people in Spain’s Palma de Mallorca put on partial lockdown as COVID-19 infections rise – new rules here
The government of the Balearic Islands has today enforced a partial return to lockdown in several districts of Palma de Mallorca. The move, actioned by the Ministry of Health, serves to reduce the number of coronavirus infections in areas where it is the most prevalent. It is also supported by epidemiological research which has shown that there is high community transmission in the region.
Sweden's low positive test rate 'vindicates coronavirus strategy'
Sweden registered its lowest rate of positive coronavirus tests yet even as its testing regime has been expanded to record levels, in what some experts regard as a vindication of its comparatively unintrusive Covid-19 strategy. Over the past week the country carried out more than 120,000 tests, of which only 1.3 per cent identified the disease. At the height of the pandemic the proportion was 19 per cent. ohan Carlson, an epidemiologist and the director of the Swedish public health agency, said that Swedes seemed to be benefiting from widespread immunity because of the decision not to impose a full lockdown during the first wave. “Our strategy was consistent and sustainable,” Professor Carlson said.
Trump knew coronavirus was 'deadly', downplayed it: Woodward book
US President Donald Trump knew the coronavirus was "deadly" and worse than the flu even as he intentionally misled the US public in February and March about the risks, according to a forthcoming book by American journalist Bob Woodward.
Maintaining Services
The Kent and South London schools with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases
The first week back in education has proven difficult for a handful of schools who have had to send children back home. Coronavirus caused a disruptive year for the education sector, with children learning from home in virtual classrooms and with the support of parents. Thousands of teenagers taking GCSEs and A Levels have also had their exams cancelled, with their predicted grades being used to shape their future.
Judge criticises UK government’s ‘inadequate’ efforts to aid Covid-19 backlog
A crown court judge has refused to extend the custody time limit for keeping a man in prison awaiting trial and accused the government of under-funding the criminal justice system during the pandemic. Amid a growing backlog of cases, Judge Raynor at Woolwich crown court on Tuesday issued a highly critical 24-page ruling on the case of a 19-year-old who has been held for almost a year. He contrasted the Ministry of Justice’s “inadequate” efforts with the success of emergency courts in Spain and South Korea. It is the second time in the past month that the same judge has warned that he cannot repeatedly order defendants to remain behind bars if the justice system is failing to bring them to trial.
Coronavirus cases spike among school-age children in Florida, while state orders some counties to keep data hidden
One month into the forced reopening of Florida's schools, dozens of classrooms — along with some entire schools — have been temporarily shuttered because of coronavirus outbreaks, and infections among school-age children have jumped 34 percent. But parents in many parts of the state don't know if outbreaks of the virus are related to their own schools because the state ordered some counties to keep health data secret. Volunteers across Florida have set up their own school-related coronavirus dashboards, and one school district is using Facebook after the county health department was told to stop releasing information about cases tied to local schools.
North of England has had highest proportion of Covid-19 deaths since national lockdown eased
A greater proportion of people have died from coronavirus in the North of England after the national lockdown began to be eased than in other parts of England and Wales. Analysis of official figures by ITV News shows nearly a quarter of deaths in the North involving Covid-19 have been registered after 15 May, compared to less than 10% in London.
Rural Communities Needlessly Risk Covid-19 From Prisons
In May, two West Virginia prisons, FCI Gilmer (in central WV) and FCI Hazelton were designated to be quarantine sites for the entire Bureau of Prisons (BOP) system. A number of prisoners were to be transferred from overcrowded DC jails before being sent yet again to another facility after 14 days of quarantine. Part of the objection to the initial transfer was that the BOP screening of prisoners for Covid-19 included a temperature check and questions, but no actual testing for Covid-19. Gilmer received 124 inmates and promptly had an outbreak affecting at least 83 prisoners and additional staff.
Turkey scales back school reopening amid rise in COVID-19 cases
Turkey announced on Tuesday it was scaling back plans to reopen schools later this month, with only the youngest pupils beginning classes at first, for up to two days a week. Fatalities from the coronavirus have jumped to their highest since mid-May when lockdowns were in place. The government has said it does not plan to reitroduce a full lockdown but has urged Turls to follow social distancing and hygiene measures to curb the cirus. Masks have been mandatory.
One in three central London venues haven't reopened since lockdown
One in three central London hospitality venues yet to reopen from lockdown won’t do so until footfall drastically improves, it was estimated today as pub giants called for more government support. Trade association UKHospitality, which represents hotel, pub, restaurant and club owners, made the reopening forecast at a time when numerous people are yet to return to offices and travel restrictions keep tourists away. Some firms have also struggled with making certain smaller sites financially viable due to social distancing rules.
COVID-19: Angola to reopen schools in October
Angolan authorities have decided to reopen schools in the country next month after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to media reports. “Classes will resume in phases and on alternating days. Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 will resume on October 5,” nation.africa news website quoted Education Minister Luísa Grilo as saying. Classes for the grades 7 and 8 will resume on Oct. 19, she added. The class sessions are expected to be divided into two and will go for two-and-half hours for primary schools and three-and-half hours for secondary schools, according to the website. Meanwhile, Adao de Almeida, the head of the presidential palace, announced that the government will continue observing certain COVID-19 guidelines until Oct. 9 when schools will resume, according to the website.
Healthcare Innovations
AstraZeneca May Resume COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Next Week:
British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc could resume trials for its experimental coronavirus vaccine next week, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people associated with the trials. The London-listed firm had to pause global trials of its potential vaccine for COVID-19 after an unexplained illness in a participant, which sent its shares lower as the move was seen as dimming prospects for an early rollout.
Regeneron expects to report biomarker data for COVID-19 therapy by September end
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said on Wednesday it expects to report biomarker data for its COVID-19 antibody cocktail by the end of this month. The drugmaker last month struck a partnership with Roche to make and supply the Covid-19 antibody cocktail, which is being tested on several hundreds of patients after it prevented and treated the respiratory disease in animals.
Study finds no increased COVID-19 risk for train staff in Germany
Staff in long-distance trains of Deutsche Bahn were not subject to an increased risk of infection with COVID-19, according to an ongoing study of around 1,000 employees published by the German state-owned rail operator on Wednesday. Only one Deutsche Bahn employee tested positive for COVID-19, according to first results of the study by Deutsche Bahn and the Charite Research Organization (CRO). The aim of the study is to gain scientifically sound findings on the occurrence of infections on trains. It was important that train staff were "not exposed to an increased risk of falling ill with COVID-19," said Martin Seiler, member of the management board for human resources and legal affairs at Deutsche Bahn.
Drugmaker Pauses Covid-19 Vaccine Trial for Safety Review
Britain is expected to limit most social gatherings to six people after a spike in cases. A political uproar quashed plans for targeted lockdowns in Israel. People caught maskless in Indonesia were told to lie in a coffin as punishment.
Why COVID-19 is more deadly in people with obesity—even if they're young
Science's COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Heising-Simons Foundation. This spring, after days of flulike symptoms and fever, a man arrived at the emergency room at the University of Vermont Medical Center. He was young—in his late 30s—and adored his wife and small children. And he had been healthy, logging endless hours running his own small business, except for one thing: He had severe obesity. Now, he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was increasingly short of breath. He was admitted directly to the intensive care unit (ICU) and was on a ventilator within hours. Two weeks later, he died.
Could face masks build IMMUNITY to Covid-19? Scientists theorise
Masks, particularly surgical and cloth ones worn by most, are not perfect. They allow small viral particles to slip through filters into people's airways. This may be helping train people's bodies to be able to fight Covid infection
Brazil trials of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine show promising results, governor says
The governor of Brazil's Sao Paulo state said on wednesday that Phase 3 clinical trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech have shown promising results and it may be available to Brazilians as early as December. Governor Joao Doria added that Phase 2 trials of the potential vaccine had shown an immune response of 98% in the elderly.
UK science adviser: other vaccine trials also likely to be paused
Other COVID-19 vaccine trials are likely to be paused at some point the British government's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, said, describing a pause in the trial of an AstraZeneca vaccine as "not good" but a sensible step.