"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 3rd Nov 2020

Isolation Tips
France fears fresh wave of domestic violence amid second Covid-19 lockdown
During its first Covid-19 lockdown in the spring, France saw a steep rise in domestic abuse cases. As the country’s 67 million have now entered a second lockdown, women’s rights groups fear that the isolation will spark a new wave of domestic violence, and have put a number of safety measures in place to try to help victims.
Hygiene Helpers
Which? face mask tests reveal huge differences in filtration
Our first independent lab test of reusable face coverings has revealed that some cloth masks are highly effective at blocking particles, but that basic single-layer masks may not be up to the job. We tested 15 reusable fabric face coverings of different designs – including pleated, moulded, stretchy and multi-layer options – to find out how well they filter bacterial particles. We also assessed how breathable and comfortable they were to wear, and if they survive multiple washes and wears without degrading.
Liverpool to pioneer UK's first attempt at mass Covid testing
Up to half a million people in Liverpool are set to be tested for Covid-19 under the UK government’s first attempt to embark on city-wide mass testing and track down every case of the virus. The Guardian also understands that the self-isolation period for those who test positive for coronavirus, and their contacts, could be cut from the current 14-day period to seven days as early as this week. It comes after ministers, who announced a new England-wide lockdown from Thursday amid soaring cases, face pressure to improve the beleaguered £12bn test-and-test trace system to control outbreaks and limit the lockdown to four weeks. Under the Liverpool mass testing programme, which begins on Friday and will cover everyone living and working in the city, a variety of test types and the logistical help of the army will be deployed in a pilot to see whether mass population screening is feasible across other regions of England, as proposed in Operation Moonshot.
NHS Covid-19 App error left thousands unaware they need to isolate
A reported error with the NHS Covid-19 App has left potentially thousands of people unaware they may have been exposed to coronavirus. The contact-tracing app was set at the wrong sensitivity level, meaning many users were not sent self-isolation alerts after they came into contact with infected people. The error meant users whose “risk score” should have triggered an alert were not notified, The Sunday Times first reported. The app, launched a month ago on 24 September, has been downloaded more than 19 million times. It was updated last week to improve accuracy and notifications which was “expected to increase the number of people asked to self-isolate by the app”. Since its launch “shockingly low” numbers of people had been sent warnings about potential exposure to the virus, a government official told The Sunday Times.
Superdrug: COVID-19 antibody test kit relaunched as MHRA compliant
Superdrug has re-launched its at-home COVID-19 antibody testing service – which was withdrawn earlier this year – saying it is “confident” it complies with MHRA guidance. Patients can order the home sampling test kit via the Superdrug online doctor service at a cost of £69, the multiple said last week. The kit – which includes instructions on how to take a finger-prick blood sample at home – is posted to patients, with the capillary blood sample then sent to Superdrug’s United Kingdom Accreditation Service-accredited partner laboratory for analysis.
Community Activities
Kids Are Participating in COVID-19 Vaccine Trials. Here's What Their Parents Think
Katelyn Evans, 16, has never met Randy Kerr—and there’s no reason she should have. It was 66 years ago that Kerr, then 6, became briefly famous, receiving the first injection of Jonas Salk’s experimental polio vaccine during the massive field trial of hundreds of thousands of children in the spring of 1954. History notes that the vaccine worked, and the children who stepped forward to receive either the actual shot or a placebo were heroically dubbed the Polio Pioneers.
Students told not to rush home for lockdown
Universities say students in England should not move home for the lockdown - even if courses are switched to being taught online. They do not want a rush of students leaving universities as the new restrictions come into force this week. But the National Union of Students says students should have a choice to go home safely ahead of the lockdown. The government's guidance says universities should consider putting teaching online where possible. Universities UK says students should stay in their current accommodation and a mix of face-to-face and online teaching will continue through the lockdown.
Fresh lockdowns fuel angry protests as Covid-19 cases climb across Europe
Anger and exasperation over new coronavirus curbs grew Sunday as European nations wound back the clocks to the spring with fresh lockdowns and restrictions aimed at halting galloping infections and deaths. Protesters in several Spanish cities clashed with security forces for a second night running Saturday, police said, while England prepared for fresh stay-at-home orders, following in the steps of Austria, France and Ireland. European governments are desperate to stem the worrying spike in infections on the continent which has registered more than 279,000 deaths since the new coronavirus first emerged in China at the end of 2019.
‘Tragedy in the making’: Charities warn rough sleepers will have no protection during second lockdown
Charities are warning of a “tragedy in the making” due to the lack of measures in place to protect rough sleepers during the second lockdown. Ministers are being urged to re-introduce a scheme that housed homeless people during the first months of the pandemic, amid warnings that without urgent action, people will be forced to either sleep in the cold or take refuge in night shelters where social distancing is impossible. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the government has moved nearly 30,000 homeless people into emergency, self-contained accommodation, including hotels, under what has been termed the “Everyone In” scheme.
In Italy, Like Everywhere the Virus Goes, It’s the Discontent That’s Contagious
When the coronavirus first hit Italy, overwhelming the country’s hospitals and prompting the West’s first lockdown, Italians inspired the world with their resilience and civic responsibility, staying home and singing on their balconies. Their reward for months of quarantine was a flattened curve, a gulp of normalcy and the satisfaction of usually patronizing allies pointing to Italy as a model. Italy is now a long way away from those balcony days and its summer fling with freedom. Instead, as a second wave of the virus engulfs Europe and triggers new nationwide lockdowns, Italy has become emblematic of a despair, exhaustion and fear that is spreading throughout the Continent.
Amid COVID-19, Portugal’s ethnic minorities feel heavily policed
According to Pina, the PSP police officers said they had been sent by the DGS (Portugal’s National Health Office, responsible for deciding COVID-19 public health measures) because she was selling beer, which is currently only permitted in Portugal after 8pm if accompanied by food. Another reason often given for mandatory closures is that cafes allow people to gather in large groups. But here, as in many neighbourhoods in the suburbs of Lisbon, residents feel they are not being treated equally to people in the rest of the city. “If you go down the road to the white neighbourhoods you’ll see the cafes are full of people drinking, sitting in groups, playing cards for example,” says José Sinho Baessa da Pina, a community organiser from Casal da Boba. “They treat us completely differently up here. It’s like they’re not here to protect us – they’re here to provoke us.”
UK's Nigel Farage set to relaunch Brexit Party as anti-lockdown party
Nigel Farage, the British politician who helped force a Brexit referendum and successfully campaigned to leave the European Union, will fight Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 lockdown by recasting his small Brexit Party as Reform UK. Cast by his supporters as the godfather of Brexit, Farage said Johnson had terrified the United Kingdom into submission over COVID-19 and squandered vast amounts of taxpayers’ money while holding out hopes of a “miraculous” vaccine. “What we’ve seen in this pandemic I think is a total failure of leadership at almost every level,” Brexit Party leader Farage told Talk Radio from Pennsylvania. “What about the millions of people out there running their own businesses? This second lockdown is the death knell economically for many of those people,” Farage said.
Working Remotely
Anguilla To Remote Workers: If You Can Work From Anywhere, Why Not Our Island?
Work from an island? Why not! That’s the pitch that Anguilla, and some other tourism-reliant tropical destinations, have for remote workers who can now qualify for extended stays to experience a work-life-vacation balance,
Is It Time For A Reset For Remote Work? Reimagining The Virtual Workplace 2.0 For Manufacturers
Many manufacturing companies are beginning to envision what the workplace will look like in the near future. While some manufacturing work cannot be done remotely because it is impossible or impractical, many companies were able to shift certain types of work to the virtual workplace in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to limit the number of employees within their manufacturing facilities.
Just the two of us: how creative duos are surviving remote working
How have creative duos been coping, when they've been amputated from their other half by the pandemic? Can the work ever be as good when you're not in the same room? The Drum talks to creative duos from VMLY&R, TBWAChiatDay, Mischief @ No Fixed Address and Leo Burnett, to find out how they've been keeping their creative juices flowing during this time.
Five ways to create or maintain an innovative culture while working remotely
Following the release of Aalbun’s first Expert Discussion — Promoting Innovation while Working Remotely, the team has extracted five key points that can help you or your company create and maintain an innovative culture.
UK: working remotely may hinder people's creativity
Chief economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, has declared that working remotely could suppress creativity and lower productivity if it continues on the long run. He, himself has not been to the office within the previous six months except for two times. He expressed that the sudden change to working from home because of Covid-19 pandemic had made people happier, but is nowhere near the face-to-face interactions that stimulate creativity and productivity for most workers.
How to keep remote working employees engaged and motivated over the holiday season
The end of the year is fast approaching. And, for most businesses, it’s a time to come together as a workforce, celebrate the past year, and let your hair down as we enter the holiday season.
Virtual Classrooms
There are many ways to educate our children, as the pandemic has shown
Maryland State Schools Superintendent Karen B. Salmon’s recent remarks that schools need to reopen “right now” continue to push a narrative that is not helpful to the work we are trying to do in schools [“State superintendent says students should be in classrooms ‘right now’,” Metro, Oct. 29]. Though there is no doubt that adjusting to online learning is more than a struggle, it is no foregone conclusion that it is a waste of time.
Why we can't judge schools on online learning
During the partial closure of schools back in April, Labour peer Lord Adonis announced that he had been in touch with Amanda Spielman, the Ofsted chief inspector, to voice his concerns that “many schools are not providing adequate online learning and support during the crisis”.
Public Policies
Cuomo halts indoor dining at 25% capacity citing a spike in COVID-19 cases
Indoor dining with 50% capacity was supposed to resume in NYC November 1. The deadline came and went with no information from the government. On Monday, Cuomo said he the situation was 'fluid' and he was looking at 'data.' He said there had been an increase in cases which was leading him to delay it. The infection rate in Manhattan is 2.5 percent - almost half of what it is in Queens, Brooklyn and parts of Staten Island. It is also lower than in the Hamptons and Westchester, where indoor dining is allowed at 50 percent. Nationally, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases but deaths remain steady
Britain extends payment freeze to coronavirus-hit borrowers
Britain’s financial watchdog said on Monday it would extend payment holidays on credit cards, car finance, personal loans and pawned goods before tougher coronavirus restrictions come into effect this week. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also extended until January the availability of deferrals for mortgage payments after Britain announced a one-month lockdown across England would start on Thursday to contain a second wave of the pandemic. Consumers who have not yet had a credit payment deferral under guidance issued in July can request one that lasts for up to six months, the FCA said in a statement. Borrowers who have already had one deferral would be able to apply for a second, the FCA said. “Borrowers should only take up this support if they need it,” the statement added.
The world could learn a lot from how Africa is handling Covid-19
To date, the continent has recorded 1.7 million infections. The number, as is the case across the world, is likely much higher. One study conducted by researchers at the University of Cape Town collected 2,700 samples during the city’s pandemic peak in late July and early August. A startling 40 per cent of the people tested had Covid-19 antibodies.
Scottish Government 'cannot rule out' Scotland lockdown amid calls for furlough clarity
John Swinney said he was not surprised by Boris Johnson’s move to put England into lockdown from Thursday and said he could not categorically rule out the Scottish government abandoning their new levels system introduced today at 6am. The new measures will see different parts of Scotland subject to a differing severity of restrictions depending on the prevalence of Covid-19. Much of the central belt will be in Level Three, with other areas in Level Two and parts of the Highlands and islands in Level One.
Scotland will have access to furlough scheme for any future lockdown
Scotland will have access to the furlough scheme if Holyrood brings in another lockdown, Boris Johnson has confirmed.
Trump Suggests He May Fire Fauci ‘After the Election’
President Donald Trump suggested to a Florida crowd he may fire Dr. Anthony Fauci after the election, escalating his feud with the nation's leading expert on infectious diseases and providing a window into a potential post-November 3 administration purge. Speaking after midnight following a full day of campaigning, the President was complaining about news media coverage of Covid-19 when the crowd broke out into a "Fire Fauci" chant.
Rishi Sunak refuses to rule out extended lockdown in England
Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out the new coronavirus lockdown lasting longer than its intended four weeks, as one of the scientists advising the government said delays in imposing tougher restrictions were likely to have cost thousands of lives. Asked whether he could guarantee the lockdown across England, which begins on Thursday, would be lifted as planned on 2 December, the UK chancellor was less definitive. “Our expectation and firm hope, on the basis of everything we know today, is the measures we have put in place for the time they will be in place for, will be sufficient to do the job we need, and we will seek to exit these restrictions back into a tiered approach at the end of the four-week period,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Lockdown: PM warns of Covid-19 deaths 'twice as bad' as spring
Covid-19 deaths could be twice as high over the winter as they were in the first wave of the pandemic, PM Boris Johnson has told MPs. In a Commons statement he said there was "no alternative", as he seeks to win support for a planned four-week lockdown in England from Thursday. But Mr Johnson explained he was "right to try every possible option" before ordering people to stay at home. Labour has said it will back the lockdown but criticised the delay. Mr Johnson announced at a Downing Street news conference on Saturday that strict measures will include closing pubs, restaurants, gyms, non-essential shops and places of worship.
Germany imposes four week partial lockdown
Watch "Germany imposes four week partial lockdown; Chancellor Merkel says restrictions necessary to avoid an acute German national health emergency
Merkel says if lockdown works, Germany will have bearable December
Germany will have a bearable December if new lockdown measures introduced on Monday works, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday, adding that much of the success of the measures depends on the participation and understanding of citizens. Merkel told a news conference that if people respected the restrictions over the next four weeks “to curb the spread of the virus, then we will be able to have the conditions for a tolerable December.”
Italy faces new coronavirus curbs, but no national lockdown - PM
The Italian government is going to tighten restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus, but is holding back from re-introducing a blanket, nationwide lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Monday. Addressing parliament, Conte said more stringent measures, including curbing travel been the worst-hit regions and introducing a nighttime curfew, were now needed given the recent resurgence of the virus. He said the country would be divided into three areas depending on the risk level. He warned that intensive care units would be overwhelmed in 15 of Italy’s 20 regions by next month unless action was taken, and said certain places faced tougher restrictions than others.
Frustrations and infections rise in Naples as second Covid lockdown looms
The four women huddling around their neighbour in an alleyway off Via dei Tribunali, in central Naples, took turns to call an ambulance. “It’s an absolute disaster!” yelled one of them, called Antonietta. “Nobody is responding, we’ve been trying for hours.” The woman sitting on a chair in the middle of them, with her head bent forward, had a heart problem. Not even taxi drivers were answering the phone. One woman suggested calling the police. “Now do you understand why we’re so angry?” said Antonietta. “Things are so desperate here – Covid is not the only thing that is killing us.” Emotions are running high as coronavirus rapidly spreads through the southern Italian city and the prospect of another lockdown looms. Giuseppe Conte’s government is working towards new restrictions, expected to be decided on Monday, that could result in shutdowns in areas where the virus is escalating.
Spain’s Andalucia considering a return to lockdown amid surge of COVID-19 cases
Andalucia is considering a return to home confinement if hospital pressure does not drop. Junta president, Juanma Moreno has said he doesn’t rule out lockdown as a last option if the current measures fail
Asturias asks for permission to impose full lockdown for two weeks
The escalation in the number of new cases and increase in pressure on hospital services due to Covid-19 has resulted in some of Spain's 17 Autonomous Regions proposing a tightening of the restrictions currently being applied if the epidemiological evolution in their regions does not improve soon.
Covid in Scotland: First minister faces 'dilemma' over lockdown decision
Scotland's first minister says she faces a "dilemma" over whether a national lockdown should be introduced in the coming days. Nicola Sturgeon said she was seeking "absolute clarity" from the Treasury as to whether financial support was only available while England is locked down. A new five-level system of measures came into force in Scotland on Monday. Ms Sturgeon said a decision on whether to go further within days may depend on how long furlough funding is available.
China's Xinjiang Region On Lockdown Amid Report Of New Cluster Of Coronavirus Cases
China has reported a cluster of coronavirus cases in the western region of Xinjiang. The region is taking a well-worn approach to contain the cluster: mass, pooled testing and a lockdown.
Maintaining Services
British business warns of ‘devastating’ lockdown hit
UK companies have warned of hundreds of millions of pounds in lost business over the coming weeks as they scramble to assess the cost of the new lockdown in England. Associated British Foods said its Primark high-street fashion chain would lose £375m in sales after the government ordered all non-essential shops in England to close for at least four weeks from November 5, alongside similar measures elsewhere in Europe. Retailers warned over the weekend that the forced closure would be a “nightmare before Christmas”. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said the lockdown “will cause untold damage to the high street in the run-up to Christmas, cost countless jobs and permanently set back the recovery of the wider economy”.
UK aviation needs government support for new lockdown pain: airport boss
Britain’s airports and airlines need urgent support to survive the “very bleak future” posed by a new lockdown in England, warned the boss of one of the country’s biggest airport groups. Very low levels of travel in recent months have put airlines and airports under renewed financial strain after they were effectively shut during Britain’s first lockdown, and they now face another month without income during its second. “An urgent package of support must materialise,” said Manchester Airport Group’s (MAG) chief executive Charlie Cornish in a statement on Monday. He said the new lockdown for England, due to start on Thursday and which bans international leisure travel, will make parts of the aviation sector unsustainable.
'Lenient' start to France's lockdown as police dish out 5,000 fines
French police will be stepping up lockdown inspections from Monday after a “lenient” start to the nationwide reconfinement that saw nearly 5,000 people fined for breaking the rules. Interior Ministor Gérald Darmanin told BFMTV more than 100,000 checks have been carried out since strict new measures came into effect on Friday – with police now under orders to carry out “reinforced controls”. "The first days of real confinement, if I dare say so, are starting today", Darmanin said, adding the flexibility over the weekend – the end of school holidays – was to allow people to return from vacation. Non-essential businesses including restaurants, bars and shops have been closed until at least 1 December as France tackles a difficult second wave of coronavirus infections.
Australia records zero Covid-19 cases for first time in five months
Australia has recorded its first day of no local cases of Covid-19 in almost five months. Zero cases were reported in the 24 hours between 20:00 on Friday and 20:00 on Saturday - the first time this has happened since 9 June. The state of Victoria - epicentre of Australia's second wave - recorded zero cases for the second day in a row after a 112-day lockdown. Health officials say more restrictions may be eased in the coming days. "Thank you to all of our amazing health & public health workers & above all else the Australian people," Health Minister Greg Hunt said on his Twitter account.
Covid: 'We are hanging by a thread' - hospital doctor
If you want to know why England is going into lockdown, Liverpool's intensive care units may help give you the answer. They are struggling to cope. "We are hanging by a thread," says Dr Oliver Zuzan, divisional medical director at the Royal Liverpool Hospital. He is speaking to me in a six-bed intensive care unit, reserved for non-Covid patients. At least here there's no requirement for the staff to spend their shifts in full PPE, with tight-fitting masks that dig into their faces. Here it's just an apron, gloves and surgical mask. The intensive care unit has had to be split into Covid and non-Covid areas. In the side rooms, patients wait for a diagnosis that will determine whether they are cared for in a red zone (Covid) or green zone (non-Covid). "People are right to say that these are pressures that occur every winter, but this time it's just a lot worse. This is winter plus, plus, plus," says Dr Zuzan.
'Summer's first line of defence': new rules, fines for cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs
The NSW government is finalising plans to mandate QR check-in codes in all hospitality venues ahead of summer, including on-the-spot fines for businesses that fail to use the technology. QR codes will be the state's first line of defence over summer, with the government working to enforce electronic customer sign-in systems in all cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs.
UK regulator, insurers, set for November court battle over COVID-19 case
The UK Supreme Court will hear an appeal on Nov. 16 of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) test case over which insurance companies should offer payouts to small businesses battered by the coronavirus pandemic, it said on Monday. The hearing is expected to last four days, the court said in a statement. Small businesses – from cafes and wedding planners to events businesses – have said they faced ruin after attempts to claim compensation for business losses during the pandemic, which prompted a three-month national lockdown in March followed by other restrictive measures, were rejected by insurers. The FCA, six insurers and an action group are appealing a lower court judgment that sought to clarify whether 21 policy wordings, affecting potentially 700 types of policies, 60 insurers, 370,000 policyholders and billions in claims, cover disruption and government-ordered closures to curb the virus.
Europe Aims to Emerge Smarter From Latest Lockdowns
One by one, governments across Europe are reintroducing strict new measures to tame a resurgent pandemic after concluding that light-touch strategies aimed at containing Covid-19 have failed to keep infections in check. Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Austria and Belgium are all now back under pandemic-containment regimes similar to those imposed in the spring, with bars and restaurants shut and people’s freedom to socialize with others curtailed. Schools by and large remain open, though, and governments have expressed hope the new restrictions will be lifted within weeks. Some public-health experts say the reimposition of lockdowns shows the middle-way policies deployed over the summer, such as restrictions targeted at specific places or demographic groups, haven’t succeeded in curbing the spread of the virus. New coronavirus cases in the European Union and the U.K. are running in excess of 175,000 a day on average, according to the latest official tallies, while in the U.S. daily cases are around 80,000. Without tougher action, these governments say hospitals in many places will be overwhelmed in weeks.
Healthcare Innovations
Regeneron's COVID-19 antibody cocktail therapy hits safety problem -
Regeneron’s coronavirus antibody cocktail therapy against COVID-19, famously used to treat president Donald Trump, has hit a safety issue after independent safety experts recommended it should not be given to high-risk patients in a late-stage clinical trial. It’s the latest blow for antibody therapies against COVID-19 after Eli Lilly last week announced it won’t resume a trial in hospitalised patients, after National Institutes of Health researchers concluded it wouldn’t help. Regeneron said an Independent Data Monitoring Committee (IDMC) from the REGN-COV2 trial said that based on an unspecified safety signal and an “unfavourable risk benefit profile” the committee recommends a modification to the trial protocol. The IDMC recommends further enrolment of patients requiring high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation be placed on hold pending collection and analysis of further data from those already on the trial.
T-cell Covid immunity 'present in adults six months after first infection'
Cellular (T-cell) immunity against the virus that causes Covid-19 is likely to be present within most adults six months after primary infection, with levels considerably higher in patients with symptoms, a study suggests. The data offers another piece of the puzzle that could be key to understanding whether previous Sars-CoV-2 infections – the virus behind Covid-19 – can prevent reinfection, and if so, for how long. The study, led by the UK coronavirus immunology consortium, evaluated 100 non-hospitalised healthcare workers in March and April after antibody responses were detected in them. It is yet to be peer-reviewed. It is the first study to offer data on T-cell levels six months after infection in people with mild or asymptomatic disease that is likely to represent the majority of infections, the authors say.
Coronavirus D614G mutation found in 99.9% of cases at US hospital
Researchers looked at the coronavirus strain of more than 5,000 Houston cases Found that 99.9 per cent of the strains discovered were the D614G variant. This appeared in Europe in February and rapidly became dominant globally. Other studies have found this strain is more infectious than the original variant
T-cell study adds to debate over duration of COVID-19 immunity
A small but key UK study has found that “cellular immunity” to the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 virus is present after six months in people who had mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 - suggesting they might have some level of protection for at least that time. Scientists presenting the findings, from 100 non-hospitalised COVID-19 patients in Britain, said they were “reassuring” but did not mean people cannot in rare cases be infected twice with the disease. “While our findings cause us to be cautiously optimistic about the strength and length of immunity generated after SARS-CoV-2 infection, this is just one piece of the puzzle,” said Paul Moss, a professor of haematology at Britain’s Birmingham University who co-led the study.