"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 8th Oct 2020

Isolation Tips
Shocking Impact Of Lockdown On Vulnerable Children And Families Revealed
Shocking data released today reveal the dramatic impact the Covid-19 lockdowns had on vulnerable children and families in New Zealand. For the first time, statistics from the Family Court in Auckland, and the Police and Oranga Tamariki nationwide, have been brought together to give a true picture of what happened while the country was in lockdown. The information has been compiled by K3 Legal Director and specialist family law practitioner Toni Brown, who has more than 20 years’ experience working with children and families, and well-known QC Kate Davenport, the former president of the NZ Bar Association.
newsGP - Australia's COVID-19 response may have saved more than 16000 lives
The University of Sydney-led research, published by the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), is based on modelling that used the UK’s COVID-19 response as a template. Led by Dr Fiona Stanaway, a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Sydney, researchers used data on all-cause mortality from England and Wales over the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak from March to May to directly estimate the number of excess deaths that may have occurred if the outbreak in Australia had been of a similar extent. ‘This resulted in an estimated additional 16,313 deaths in Australia: 9295 men and 7018 women,’ Dr Stanaway and her colleagues wrote.
How virus lockdowns have triggered a surge in domestic violence across Australia
Coronavirus lockdown triggered a surge in domestic violence across Australia. About 13.2 per cent of women living with partners experienced a form of abuse. Poverty and financial stress often limit women from fleeing violent situations. Experts have warned reduced welfare payments may force women to stay.
Working Remote Leads To Mental Health Challenges: Here’s How To Cope
Working from home has a lot of benefits. Who doesn’t love dressing in sweatpants every day, avoiding the commute and enjoying quality time with their dog? But working from home also has plenty of drawbacks—and some of those are related to a significant negative impact on mental health. In April, a large study found 75% of people were experiencing social isolation and this was correlated with working from home. The more people worked from home, the more they felt socially isolated. Now, another just-released study is highlighting the same challenges, but with even greater reports of mental health challenges.
Handling Mental Health While Working Remotely
After months of millions of people working from home for the first time, it has become clear that there are both pros and cons to this work arrangement. The benefits have always been highlighted, such as no commutes, dressing casually and being able to complete home-related tasks in between meetings. However, a new study of 12,000 people across 11 countries conducted by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence revealed the downsides of remote working. The research found that 78% of respondents saw a negative impact to their mental health this year. Additionally, 41% said they are feeling challenged due to blurred lines between home and work lives.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19: Group of UK and US experts argues for “focused protection” instead of lockdowns
Thousands of medical practitioners and public health scientists have signed a declaration arguing for an alternative public health approach to dealing with covid-19. The Great Barrington Declaration,1 published on Monday 5 October, was drawn up by three epidemiologists and public health experts from Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford universities, who describe their approach as “focused protection” of the people most at risk. As of Wednesday 7 October almost 6300 medical practitioners and public health scientists from the US, the UK, and other nations had signed the declaration. The authors—Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard, Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford, and Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine and economics at Stanford—said that because older people were 1000 times more likely to die of covid-19 than younger people, an “age stratified” approach could allow resources to be focused on older and high risk patients, while allowing younger and healthier people to attend school and keep businesses open.
Boris Johnson flatly rejects letting Covid-19 sweep through UK while protecting vulnerable
Boris Johnson today flatly rejected the idea of letting Covid-19 sweep through Britain while protecting the vulnerable. Downing Street made clear that such a policy, advocated by a group of academics, scientists and medics, could lead to young people infecting older generations who are at greater risk of being killed by coronavirus. No10 said the idea, being promoted under the banner of the Great Barrington Declaration, was based on an “unproven assumption” that it was possible to stop the virus being passed between generations to more vulnerable people.
Coronavirus: Why public transport could be safer than we thought
The risk of coronavirus spreading on public transport has remained substantially low through the pandemic, several international studies have shown. Safety measures imposed on public transport around the world since COVID-19 hit have made them "the safest places on earth", Dr Julian Tang, a professor of respiratory sciences at Leicester University, told Sky News. He said if people took the same precautions in other high-risk areas such as crowded streets and pubs, the number of cases would reduce there.
Italy expected to make mask-wearing compulsory OUTDOORS
Italy is considering making the use of masks outdoors mandatory nationwide to fight the coronavirus. Infections in Italy - the first European country to be hit by the virus - have risen steadily over the past two months. The regions of Lazio, around Rome, and Campania, around Naples, have already made mask wearing mandatory outside. And authorities are 'working on a proposal' to make it a compulsary rule nation-wide, Health Minister Roberto Speranza told the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday.
Covid-19 community spread of ‘significant concern’ for nursing homes
The rise in coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes is of “significant concern” and correlates with rising infection rates in the community, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) has warned. NHI Chief Executive Tadgh Daly said there is growing concern among nursing home operators over the recent rise in new Covid-19 outbreaks following weeks where the number was tapering off. At the end of August, there were 38 active outbreaks in nursing homes but this number fell to 26 by the end of September. By October 3, the number of active outbreaks in nursing homes had increased to 31, as highlighted by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) when it recommended moving to Level 5 restrictions.
Genetic tracing could show how coronavirus spread through White House
There’s a way for the White House to prove exactly how the outbreak traveled among its ranks: through gene-based contact tracing. But it doesn’t appear interested in doing so — even as the circle of President Trump's associates infected with the virus expands by the hour.The Trump administration could, if it chose, search samples taken from dozens of White House staff members and visitors for tiny genetic variants. Because the virus undergoes slight changes as it moves from person to person, it’s possible to map where it has moved by looking for similarities in mutations. White House spokesman Judd Deere said tracing has been done for people who had contact with Trump. But it’s the kind recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which involves merely tracking people who were nearby those known to be infected.
Community Activities
What pandemic? Crowds swarm the Great Wall of China as travel surges during holiday week
The scene at the Great Wall of China this past week would have been unthinkable just months ago. Photos of the tourist attraction in Beijing last weekend show massive crowds crammed along the winding wall, pressed together in close quarters and squeezing past each other through narrow doorways. Most are wearing face masks -- but a number of people, including young children, pulled their masks down to their chin, and a few seem to have foregone masks entirely. It's Golden Week -- an eight-day national holiday, one of China's busiest annual travel periods, and a major test for the country as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
Working Remotely
More than half of Brazilians would change jobs if they could work remotely
Brazilians see remote working as a desirable feature of employment, but the ability to work from is not translating into greater access to job opportunities, according to research. A study carried out with over 20,000 participants globally by software firm Salesforce has found that 53% of Brazilian workers would change jobs if it means they could work from home. However, 87% are not seeing any change regarding job opportunities despite the increased uptake of remote working: the majority of respondents (71%) have said they see that format of work as restricted to only a parcel of the population. Unemployment in Brazil is currently affecting over 13 million people, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.
Working remotely can feel remote
Working remotely during the pandemic has led many large employers to embrace this mode of employment with enthusiasm. It turns out that productivity has improved, for the most part, rather than diminished. Most young, well-educated folks with a modicum of self-discipline, have what it takes to successfully work remotely. But one needs to have a space that is dedicated to nothing but work. The couch in front of the TV would be a bad choice. And it is also best if you have a set time to start working. Get your coffee, and take that short commute into your home office. I’ve also been told that it is important to first get dressed. There’s something that just doesn’t feel right about working in your jammies or underwear. We’ve all seen those commercials where the guy in the shirt and tie drops his laptop and everyone sees that he’s in his boxers.
Burnt out parent working remotely? Elaine Varelas offers her advice
While many people are adapting to remote life during the pandemic, for some, the load only seems to be heavier. Working parents with children staying home are facing a greater workload now than ever. Elaine Varelas encourages balancing time and workload in order to prevent burning out.
How do workers really feel about remote working? This survey had some surprising results
Managers believe they’re doing well at supporting staff through changes to work wrought by the pandemic - new global survey. But employees disagree, telling researchers they are tired and overworked. Workers say they lack the training and support needed. More than a fifth of global workers have either been furloughed or lost their jobs.
Developer says remote working is slowing planning deals
For Urban & Civic, this is particularly acute at Catesby Estates, the strategic land promotion business that it acquired in 2015. “Land sales in Catesby have been delayed, not through a lack of house-builder demand but on account of slowed Section 106 agreements resulting from the additional complexities of planning and legal officers working remotely,” Urban & Civic said. However, it added that there were encouraging signs. “The first post lockdown sale was completed last week, with a second conditional contract outstanding. Catesby currently has a further four consented sites awaiting local authority finalisations.”
Remote work is here to stay. Tech workers are starting to worry about their careers
Working from home has been so effective at keeping businesses operational during the coronavirus crisis that many firms are planning to stick with it even after the pandemic has passed. And while some tech workers will welcome the flexibility and lack of commute, others are starting to worry about how to develop their careers if they are always working from home. COVID-19 has had a greater impact on flexible working in tech than it has in almost any other sector, according to a study by the recruitment company Hays.
The Pitfalls Of Work-From-Home, According To Satya Nadella
Microsoft Corp. has been a major beneficiary of the work-from-home boom spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic. But Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella is realizing the pitfalls of being away from the office for so long. Online meetings can make employees tired and make it difficult to transition from a work mindset to private life, the executive said at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council on Tuesday. "When you are working from home, it sometimes feels like you are sleeping at work," he added. Video meetings can be particularly enervating, the CEO noted, citing brain studies on the subject. "Thirty minutes into your first video meeting in the morning, because of the concentration one needs to have in video, you are fatigued."
Germany drafts law to protect work-life balance for remote staff
As the pandemic stretches on unevenly around the globe, the German government wants to codify labor conditions for remote employees. It’s moving forward with a set of laws that would protect a person’s ability to work from home when possible, turning what was once a fringe benefit into a personal right. The legislation would also limit the number of hours that people are expected to toil from their kitchen tables, home studies, and bedrooms, long after quitting time, the Financial Times reports.
Half of firms would consider hiring someone who worked fully remotely, poll finds
More than half of businesses that experienced remote working during lockdown would consider hiring an employee who worked fully or mostly from home, a survey has found. The poll of 280 business leaders, conducted by Management Today (MT) and Hays, found 55 per cent would now be more likely to consider hiring an employee who was not within commuting distance to the office and so would work completely or predominantly remotely. This compared to the 45 per cent who said they would not now be more likely to make such a hire. The poll – conducted as part of the report Will hybrid working ever work? – found most employers were not currently advertising jobs as predominantly remote roles, however. Just a third (33 per cent) of respondents said they were advertising jobs as either partly or fully based at home, compared to 67 per cent who were not.
NI people invited to swap Belfast for Barbados to work remotely from the Caribbean island
How would you fancy working remotely, but not from your spare room in Draperstown or Maghera, but - Barbados? The Caribbean island, where the temperature is usually around 30oC, is hoping to attract people with a year-long working visa. Ads on instagram boast the island's “tropical landscape and work-life balance". Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley says “our new visa allows you to relocate and work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations.” What do you reckon? Vinny spoke to Minister for Tourism in Barbados, Senator Lisa Cummins.
Virtual Classrooms
Coronavirus: Three universities move to online teaching amid rising cases
Three of the UK's biggest universities have moved to online teaching due to coronavirus outbreaks. More than 1,000 students have tested positive for COVID-19 at the University of Manchester (UM) since the autumn term started last month. The university has now joined with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and the University of Sheffield in announcing a move to online learning to protect the health of students and staff. It comes amid renewed calls for all universities to halt face-to-face teaching and for the government to "stop pretending" campuses are able to control the spread of the virus.
York Catholic District School Board to combine in-person and online students into one class due to staffing problems
York Catholic District School Board says it is changing its teaching model for elementary students, combining in-person students with those in virtual learning into one class starting next week due to staffing problems. In a letter to parents on Wednesday, Interim Director of Education Mary Battista said the new hybrid model will see online students join face-to-face learners in their classroom through a live stream. “Given the various operational and staffing challenges faced in the current remote learning model, and the need to find a solution that is sustainable for the remainder of the school year, a decision has been made in the best interest of all elementary students,” Battista said. The director said the new model has benefits, which includes keeping remote students in their home with their friends, maintaining physical distancing in the classroom, and offering a seamless transition from in-class to remote learning or vice-versa.
From elementary to high school: inside one Berkley family's virtual learning
Going back to school looks very different this year. For many students here and across the country, a lot of students aren't going anywhere, so what does virtual school from home look and feel like? We go inside one home in Oakland County to see what one family's "virtual classroom" looks like - crowded and stressful.
In remote-learning era, Newark teacher evaluations go virtual
This fall, Newark principals will peer into classrooms through computer screens to watch teachers give online lessons. The virtual visits reflect the need to update classroom observations for the remote-learning era. Now, the district will judge teachers in part on the quality of their live video lessons and the online assignments they post. The online observations, which are new this school year, carry significant weight. Observations are the primary factor in teachers’ annual ratings, which help determine whether new teachers earn tenure and veterans keep their jobs. Because of the high stakes, the Newark Teachers Union negotiated with the district to revamp how administrators score teachers during observations to account for the constraints of online instruction.
TDSB warns parents of 'significant' classroom changes as virtual learning increases by 4,500 students
The Toronto District School Board Is advising parents that some changes could be coming to their children’s elementary school classrooms as the board reassigns hundreds of teachers to virtual teaching and reorganizes classes accordingly.
Public Policies
Argentina has world's highest COVID-19 positive rate
Argentina has the world’s highest rate of positive COVID-19 tests, according to Oxford-linked tracker Our World In Data, with nearly six out of 10 yielding an infection, a reflection of low testing levels and loose enforcement of lockdown rules. Argentina hit 809,728 confirmed cases on Monday, with an seven-day rolling average of around 12,500 new daily infections. The country, which started strongly against the virus, passed 20,000 fatalities last week. Medical professionals said low-levels of testing and lax restrictions had propelled the high positive rate, that climbed from around 40% in August to just shy of 60% in the last week, a Reuters calculation using health ministry data shows.
Coronavirus digest: Germany sees new spike in daily cases
Germany set a new post-peak record for new daily coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 2,828 new cases. The number of people requiring treatment in intensive care and on ventilators also increased. In late March and early April, Germany was counting more than 6,000 new cases per day before they decreased. However, numbers began to slowly rise again since July. Lockdown rules have been gradually lifted since May, but the capital of Berlinannounced a partial curfew on Tuesday.
Swiss report more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in a day
The number of new coronavirus infections rose by 1,077 in a day, data here from Switzerland's public health agency showed on Wednesday, the first daily increase of more than 1,000 since early April. The agency reported a total of 57,709 confirmed cases, up from 56,632 on Tuesday. The death toll rose by two to 1,789.
Poland reports new record of daily coronavirus-related deaths
Poland said it would enforce restrictions more strictly as it reported a daily record of 58 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, as well as sharp increases in the number of ventilators and hospital beds being used by COVID-19 patients. The country reported 2,236 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, close to Saturday’s record of 2,367. Poland, which has a population of 38 million, has reported 104,316 cases overall and 2,717 deaths, much lower than many other European countries. “Only those with a medical certificate from a doctor can choose not to wear a mask where it is mandatory ... any person who doesn’t wear a mask (and doesn’t have a certificate) will face the harshest of punishments,” Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told a news conference.
'We've squashed the virus': New Zealand celebrates as it officially eliminates COVID-19 for the SECOND time and Auckland lowers restrictions from midnight
Auckland has gone ten days without any new cases recorded in the community. NZ declared they were COVID-free in April before a second wave in August. Auckland will ease restrictions to alert level 1 as of midnight on Wednesday
PM Muhyiddin says Covid-19 cases will rise in Malaysia but no lockdown for now
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that he expects a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country in the short term as a record 691 new cases were reported on Tuesday (Oct 6). It was the second consecutive day of a record high number, after 432 cases were confirmed on Monday. Four new deaths were reported on Tuesday, including that of a one-year-old, the country’s first child fatality.
Soaring coronavirus rate leaves Britain on lockdown alert
Surging coronavirus infection rates have put Britain on the brink of tougher lockdown measures, overshadowing Boris Johnson’s attempt yesterday to focus on life after the pandemic. The government’s scientific advisers called for “urgent and drastic action” after cases doubled in 11 days to 14,542 and deaths doubled to 76 in the same period.
UK Government’s Scientific Advisors Warn of Looming National Lockdown
SAGE experts say tighter lockdown ‘inevitable’ as coronavirus rates continue to soar in the UK. The government’s scientific advisors have warned that much tighter national lockdown rules are looming. Boris Johnson now faces an agonising choice over whether to bring in new restrictions for swathes of northern England, or even the whole country. The government’s advisors raised the alarm after the UK’s infection rate almost doubled in a week. There are now 125.7 cases per 100,000 people across the UK with 14,542 positive results confirmed yesterday – up more than 2,000 on the day before.
Czech COVID-19 cases rising at fastest rate in Europe
New coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic reached a daily record of 4,457 on Tuesday, the health ministry said, as separate data showed the country now has the highest number of cases per 100,000 in Europe, surpassing Spain. Data published by the health ministry on Wednesday showed the rise in new cases during the previous 24 hours had exceeded the previous one-day record of 3,794, to bring the total number of cases in the country since March to 90,022.
Maintaining Services
Abbott says fast COVID-19 test correctly identifies positive cases 95% of the time
Abbott Laboratories on Wednesday released early data from a study on the accuracy of its ID NOW COVID-19 test, which is used in the White House, that could help alleviate concerns the diagnostic frequently fails to detect the virus. Interim data from Abbott’s 1,003-participant study shows that its test, which can deliver results in under 15 minutes, correctly identified positive COVID-19 cases 95% of the time when used within seven days of symptom onset.
Most Patients’ Covid-19 Care Looks Nothing Like Trump’s
As a buoyant President Trump emerged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center this week, appeared on a balcony at the White House, and proclaimed on Twitter that the public should have no fear of the coronavirus, many Americans saw few parallels between Mr. Trump’s experience with the virus and their own. Some Covid-19 survivors, even those who support Mr. Trump, found what they consider his lack of compassion off-putting.
COVID-19 spread in hospitals to be mapped to 'break the chain'
A new study will map the spread of coronavirus in hospitals in a bid to break the chain of transmission. The clinical trial, led by scientists at University College London (UCL), will evaluate the use of real-time viral genomic data to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within hospitals. The findings could help the NHS reduce further transmission by determining if an individual caught the virus from someone else within the same hospital, researchers say. “Spread of COVID-19 infections in hospitals is now recognised to be a major problem for both healthcare workers and patients, and breaking the chain of these transmissions is critical,” said Professor Judith Breuer, director of UCL/UCLH/GOSH biomedical research centres funded pathogen genomics unit, and trial lead.
'COVID-19 free' hospital areas could save lives after surgery – global study
Setting up ‘COVID-19 free’ hospital areas for surgical patients could save lives during the second wave of the pandemic – reducing the risk of death from lung infections associated with coronavirus, a new global study reveals.
Scotland circuit break: What might it be like?
New lockdown restrictions will be announced on Wednesday, the first minister has said. It is possible this could be in the form of a "circuit-breaker" lockdown for a relatively short period. Nicola Sturgeon says it won't be the same as the lockdown introduced in March - so what might it look like?
Belgium closes cafes and bars for a month in Brussels as the country moves towards second lockdown
Brussels cafes and bars will be closed and drinking alcohol in public banned. The latest round of measures will be in place until November 8, then re-assessed. Belgium recorded an average of 2,500 new COVID-19 cases per day in past week This represents a 57 per cent increase on the previous seven day period. Paris enforced similar measures yesterday, Madrid entered lockdown on Friday
The Uneven Decline of Health Services Across States During the Lockdown
The national lockdown in April-May 2020 had devastating effects on people’s employment and earnings. About half of urban workers, for instance, did not earn any income during that period, according to a recent survey by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. For good measure, many public services were also reduced or discontinued. This includes routine health services.
Australia's Victoria state reaches lower infection milestone
Australia’s city of Melbourne, capital of the coronavirus hotspot state of Victoria, on Wednesday reported the lowest two-week average of new cases after a second contagion wave that led to one of the world’s toughest lockdowns. For the first time since the second coronavirus outbreak caused more than 800 deaths in the state - more than 90% of the country’s 897 virus-related deaths - the two-week average has fallen below 10. The metric is key as officials in the second-most-populous state are reluctant to ease mobility restrictions until the rolling average in the two-week window falls below five. “The strategy is working,” premier Daniel Andrews told reporters at his daily briefing. “Its success is pinned ultimately to whether symptomatic people come forward and get tested.”
How Much Would Trump’s Coronavirus Treatment Cost Most Americans?
President Trump spent three days in the hospital. He arrived and left by helicopter. And he received multiple coronavirus tests, oxygen, steroids and an experimental antibody treatment. For someone who isn’t president, that would cost more than $100,000 in the American health system. Patients could face significant surprise bills and medical debt even after health insurance paid its share.
‘Guinea pig for white people’: Black Americans react to being asked to take part in coronavirus vaccine trial
Recruiting black volunteers for vaccine trials during a period of severe mistrust of the federal government and heightened awareness of racial injustice is a formidable task. So far, only about 3 per cent of the people who have signed up nationally are black. Yet never has their inclusion in a medical study been more urgent. The economic and health effects of the coronavirus are falling disproportionately hard on communities of colour. It is essential, public health experts say, that research reflect diverse participation not only as a matter of social justice and sound practice but, when the vaccine becomes available, to help persuade black, Latino and Native American people to actually get it.
Healthcare Innovations
Lilly seeks emergency use of its antibody drug for COVID-19
A drug company says it has asked the U.S. government to allow emergency use of an experimental antibody therapy based on early results from a study that suggested the drug reduced symptoms, the amount of virus hospitalizations and ER visits for patients with mild or moderate COVID-19. Eli Lilly and Company announced the partial results Wednesday in a news release; they have not yet been published or reviewed by independent scientists. Its drug is similar to one that President Donald Trump received on Friday from Regeneron
Having a vitamin D deficiency could make you more likely to catch Covid-19, another study claims
Further proof that vitamin D could protect people from coronavirus emerged today after another study found adults deficient in the nutrient are more at risk of catching the disease. Seventy-two per cent of NHS workers who were lacking in the 'sunshine vitamin' also tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies — a sign of previous infection. This compared to just 51 per cent for those who had a sufficient amount. The difference was even greater among those of a Black, Asian or ethnic minority, who may be more likely to have a deficiency because people with darker skin find it harder to obtain it from the sun.
Covid-19 could cause male infertility by harming testicular cells that produce sperm, study claims
Sperm production dropped to half its normal levels in male patients, study said More than one-in-ten sperm were also shown to be infected with the virus Covid-19 is able to infect the testes as they have ACE2 receptors like the lungs But to do this it must travel in the bloodstream which scientists say is unlikely
China’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine appears safe, study shows
A Chinese experimental coronavirus vaccine being developed by the Institute of Medical Biology under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences was shown to be safe in an early stage clinical trial, researchers said. In a Phase 1 trial of 191 healthy participants aged between 18 and 59, vaccination with the group's experimental shot showed no severe adverse reactions, its researchers said in a paper posted on medRxiv preprint server ahead of peer review.