"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 4th Nov 2020

Isolation Tips
New Zealanders coming home for Christmas warned isolation hotels may be full
New Zealand’s isolation hotels are approaching capacity as the military warns there may not be room to house Kiwis planning to return home for Christmas. Some 65,000 people have passed through New Zealand’s isolation accommodation since the borders closed in mid-March. Despite the facilities generally being four- and five-star establishments, there have been numerous escape attempts from them, and they have been denounced by a conservative US television host as “Covid camps”.
Coronavirus: More than 7,000 people given wrong dates for self-isolation by Test and Trace
More than 7,000 people have been given the wrong dates for self-isolation by Test and Trace, Sky News can reveal, raising further questions about the competence of the troubled service. An error in the software used by Test and Trace meant that the contact-tracing service gave contacts of people who had tested positive for coronavirus the wrong dates for the start and end of their quarantine.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19: Liverpool to pilot city-wide coronavirus testing
People in Liverpool will be offered regular Covid-19 tests under the first trial of whole city testing in England. Everyone living or working in the city will be offered tests, whether or not they have symptoms, with follow-up tests every two weeks or so. Some will get new tests giving results within an hour which, if successful, could be rolled out to "millions" by Christmas, the government says. Liverpool has one of the highest rates of coronavirus deaths in England. The latest figures show the city recorded 352 cases per 100,000 in the week up to 30 October. The average area in England had 153. On Monday, the UK recorded 18,950 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 136 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
U.S. to Use Covid Testing, Isolation Over Lockdowns: Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Senior Scholar Dr. Amesh Adalja discusses how the 2020 election could impact the U.S. approach to the coronavirus and the importance of having the Centers for Disease lead the public health response to Covid-19. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance." The Bloomberg School of Public Health is supported by Michael R. Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News
Contact Tracers Eye Cluster-Busting to Tackle Covid’s New Surge
As a resurgent coronavirus sweeps across Europe and the U.S., some health experts are calling for a “cluster-busting” approach to contact tracing like the one Japan and other countries in Asia have used with success. Rather than simply tracking down the contacts of an infected person and isolating them, proponents advocate finding out where the individual caught Covid-19 in the first place. That extra step, known as backward tracing, exploits a weak spot of the virus — the tendency for infections to occur in clusters, often at super-spreading events. KJ Seung, a doctor who helps oversee contact-tracing for Massachusetts, said he adapted his approach this summer after watching a seminar with Japanese scientists. Since his team started backward tracing, they’ve uncovered clusters at weddings, funerals, bars and other places where people congregated, generating fresh insights into the spread of the disease.
Could we push coronavirus cases in Australia back down to zero — and stay there?
It's taken almost five months, millions of people going into lockdown, and a significant amount of sacrifice. But on Sunday, for the first time since June, Australia achieved a day with no locally acquired cases of COVID-19. It's an impressive and — as Victorians will tell you — hard-won achievement. But it was also short-lived: Yesterday New South Wales recorded one new COVID-19 case, and multiple alerts were issued for Western Sydney. Still, with new case numbers at their lowest in months, is it possible for Australia to get back down to zero — and stay there? And even put coronavirus elimination within our sights?
Covid-19: The country's response to community cases hasn't relaxed, the system is just 'more sophisticated'
The official response to new Covid-19 community cases might appear more relaxed than previous outbreaks. But the lack of intensity is simply a reflection of the strides made to improve the public health system, one expert says. Two new community cases – both workers stationed at the Sudima Hotel isolation facility in Christchurch – have not prompted localised lockdowns, as happened in Auckland after the August cluster emerged. “This is another example of the system working well to protect our border,” Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said at Tuesday’s Covid-19 update.
Lockdown will be a letdown if we do not overhaul the test and trace system – it is time for a local approach
The Test and Trace system has repeatedly failed to deliver and a further lockdown will be a letdown unless that changes. Figures for the week ending 14 October show only 15 per cent of people getting results within 24 hours, down by half from the previous week; only 59.6 per cent close contacts of Covid-positive people identified; and of them, only 57.6 per cent reached. This contrasts with 94.8 per cent contacts reached of cases handled by local authority public health teams.
Community Activities
The truckers who keep India's coronavirus patients breathing
Subhas Kumar Yadav has fought fear, deadlines and hunger to truck liquid oxygen from a factory in India’s Himalayan foothills to hospitals in the northern plains during the coronavirus epidemic. The worst time, he said, was in the weeks after the federal government imposed a sweeping lockdown to contain the disease in late March, when roads were deserted, police made arbitrary checks and roadside restaurants, repair shops and motels were shuttered. But the oxygen he was carrying was saving the lives of thousands of those infected. “We were on duty,” said the 33-year-old driver with Linde India Ltd, an affiliate of the world’s largest supplier of industrial gases, Linde Plc. “It’s not like we could just give up and go home.”
Students defy guidance and race home before lockdown in England
Students are defying government guidance that they should stay at university throughout lockdown to make a last-minute dash home before the new restrictions kick in across England on Thursday. The universities minister, Michelle Donelan, has written to students urging them to stay put. After a challenging first term, during which thousands of students have already had to lock down and self-isolate as a result of Covid outbreaks, many have decided to leave campus. With continuing uncertainty about what might happen over Christmas and the majority of learning now online, they plan to continue their studies at home during lockdown without fear of being trapped at university over the holiday.
Melbourne to honour 'community heroes' who stood up during lockdown
The long months of lockdown caused fear, anxiety and isolation across Melbourne, but they also sparked an outpouring of community kindness. Take Alex Dekker, for example. When the pandemic struck, Mr Dekker was a 20-year-old global studies student at Monash University, intent on pursuing a career in academia. His sister Pietra, a first-year doctor working on coronavirus wards, was so busy at work she was getting by on muesli bars. So Mr Dekker made her a few lasagnas. Then he announced on his Facebook page that he would make lasagnas for other healthcare workers and their families.
Halloween parade in Wuhan draws huge crowd as city continues to recover from Covid-19 lockdown
Halloween revellers in the central Chinese city of Wuhan flocked to the Happy Valley amusement park to watch a parade on October 29, 2020. The celebrations took place months after the city that was the initial epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to recover from a strict lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus that causes the disease.
Working Remotely
4 ways for employers to ethically monitor their employees in the remote-work era
Monitoring your employees while they work from home can be unethical — and even illegal — if done improperly. Unethical monitoring practices include collecting personal data without their knowledge or outside of working hours and not having a logical reason for observing their work. Employers should craft a plan, detail what, how, and when their personal data will be collected and used, and gather consent from employees.
Major banks tell London staff to return home ahead of England lockdown
Major banks in London have started directing all but essential workers to revert to home working, following the government’s plans for a month-long lockdown in England from Thursday. The switch will be a further blow to the City of London and Canary Wharf financial districts, whose skyscrapers have sat largely empty for most of the year with footfall at local businesses a fraction of normal levels. Several investment banks had been encouraging more staff to work in their offices in recent months since the first lockdown in March, but the latest measures by the government have forced them into a reversal of policy.
Why management styles have to adapt for remote working
Widespread working from home is creating an imperative for teams to review and adopt different management styles. Paida Dube examines how not adapting might risk legal complaints. Effective remote working requires employers to adjust more than just working processes. How teams are led and managed when staff are working from home is highly influential in nurturing workforce performance and positive morale. Getting this wrong risks employee discord and workplace disputes. Most organisations will have in place a general flexible working policy, developed largely for piecemeal adoption. However, as the pandemic persists, and as many workers become increasingly expectant of such flexibility, working from home, especially in relation to office jobs, now demands longer term consideration from employers.
Working From Home: It's Not Everyone's Cup Of Tea
At the start of 2020, I couldn’t have imagined that working from home would prove to be productive, and that it would positively impact efficiencies in employees in certain industries. But here we are. Personally though, I am still sitting on the fence on this topic. Several reasons have contributed to my opinion on this matter, which I will delve into this piece. Firstly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. Whether we look at it from a personal front or a professional perspective, it took some to adjust to working from home, even for those who took it as fish to water. The fact remains that working remotely is here to stay a little while longer, whether we like it or not. Back in March, there was no choice but to settle into this new routine. After all, the outside world was a strange and unsafe place. With no external stimulation available, there was no other choice but to give your best to work.
Maintaining Passion: How To Inspire Teams While Remote
Depending on the part of the world you live in, you’re currently working out of an office with reduced staff, or you’re still working remotely, with no plans to return to the office on the horizon yet. Either way, your work environment is likely very different than the environment you were accustomed to in January. It’s even more likely that you haven’t been in a room with all your colleagues in a very long time. Like it or not, we’re now all part of a distributed workforce. Even looking at the post-pandemic landscape, we may never return to our normal offices. For those who go back to the office full time, some of their colleagues may not. Many workers are embracing the convenience of remote work and will opt for more flexible schedules. That means properly managing the realities of remote work will be an integral part of the future success of most businesses.
Virtual Classrooms
Keeping students with dyslexia engaged in virtual learning
A look at interactive tools, sound production, assistive technology and more as related to distance learning and dyslexia. Many components of dyslexia intervention can be replicated virtually without much difficulty, says Katy Vassar, communication and evaluations coordinator at the Dyslexia Center of Austin. Think about the multisensory aspect and using as many senses as possible to engage in learning concepts. Interactivity is also important. “We know when talking about all learners that just sitting there having a person listen is not as effective as having them engaged in learning,” she says. “They really need that interaction.”
How to Adapt Educational Leadership in the Age of Virtual Learning
The art of leading looks vastly different for school administrators today. They are now tasked with adapting their leadership practices to an environment where digital tools and remote collaboration and communication are the norm. While this is no easy feat, it does provide a great opportunity for school leaders to create a stronger school community and embrace innovative learning and teaching methods. But how can they get started with transitioning their leadership to the digital age? The nine suggestions below are a great starting point. These best practices fall into three main buckets: supporting the work, upgrading the culture and practicing self-care. To get more insight into how school and district leaders can integrate these changes into their daily work, I spoke with the leadership team from Clayton County Public Schools (CCPS), a school district in the Atlanta metro area that’s been driving authentic growth in their leadership practices.
Global digital divide jeopardises remote learning during pandemic
Dr Ronda Zelezny-Green, Global Head of Training and eLearning at the Internet Society, looks at the global digital divide and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on remote learning. Sitting in the driveway of a fast-food restaurant just to catch their free Wi-Fi signal. Sharing a cell phone between three siblings to access online courses and the screen is too small to do homework on. Waiting for mobile WIFI mounted on school buses that will not be available until at least five days after online school starts. Making tough choices between food, electricity, or staying connected. These experiences are happening every single day… in the United States.
Online classes: Bane or boon?
One of the major sectors affected by the COV- ID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown has been institutionalised education. Schools have been shut to prevent the spread of the virus, and this has given way to online classrooms, a very new concept even in the developed countries. Of course, distance learning, with online tutorials, is already in vogue in major varsities around the world. Now, to cater to the needs of all stages of education, from pre-primary to university level, online education has emerged as an alternative to ordinary face-to-face classes.
Survey finds majority of Nashville teachers in classrooms prefer virtual learning
FOX 17 News is pressing the metro school district for answers after a survey found the majority of teachers back in the classroom feel everyone should return to virtual learning. The Metro Nashville Education Association got responses from 620 teachers, support staff, and administrators. They say only 13 of those responders thought everyone should be back in the classroom. The Metro Nashville Teachers Association has been vocal about the need to learn virtually for months now.
The power of active learning during remote instruction
A new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that students performed substantially worse, on average, on standardized course assessments at the end of the COVID-19 spring semester than in previous academic terms. There was no evidence that this was driven by specific demographic groups, meaning that everyone was at an apparent disadvantage as a result of the rapid switch to remote instruction. Professors’ use of active learning methods mitigated some of this negative effect, however. The findings leave the study’s authors “optimistic” about future student learning outcomes, even as “we remain in a period of substantial online instruction.”
Public Policies
Costa Rica re-opens borders with no Covid-19 tests or quarantine for tourists
Costa Rica has re-opened its borders to foreign visitors, and no longer requires international arrivals to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test. Arrivals will also no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in the country. The country officially welcomed back international travellers from the 1st November 2020, from any country around the world - provided they are arriving by air'. Although travellers won't need to take a Covid-19 test before they head to Costa Rica, there are still some entry requirements in place for those hoping to visit. For a start, tourists will need to buy travel insurance which covers the likes of accommodation costs and medical expenses related to Covid-19
Argentina's Fernandez says 'horizon' in sight as COVID-19 cases appear to slow
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez said on Tuesday the “horizon” was starting to come into sight as the country battles against the coronavirus pandemic, with some signs the peak in cases may be over after rising since the outbreak began. The South American country imposed a strict lockdown in March, which initially slowed the spread of COVID-19 infections, but as restrictions were eased cases climbed rapidly above 1 million with one of highest testing positive rates in the world. However, a rolling seven-day average of new cases has dipped significantly since hitting a high on Oct. 21, raising hopes the peak may finally be over for the country, which has 1.18 million confirmed cases and 31,623 deaths.
Birx warns US entering ‘deadly phase’ of Covid, contradicting Trump’s message
White House scientific adviser Dr Deborah Birx warned the United States is entering a new “deadly phase” of the coronavirus pandemic, and urged an “aggressive” approach to containing its spread. Birx gave the warning in a written memo delivered to top administration officials Monday. It is a direct contradiction of one of Donald Trump’s central, and false, closing campaign messages – that the US is “rounding the corner” on the pandemic. “We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic,” Birx wrote in the memo, first reported by the Washington Post. She continued: “Cases are rapidly rising in nearly 30% of all USA counties, the highest number of county hotspots we have seen with this pandemic. Half of the United States is in the red or orange zone for cases despite flat or declining testing.”
Covid: Group of four rule for Wales' pubs after lockdown
Groups of four people from different households will be allowed to meet indoors at pubs, cafes and restaurants after Wales' firebreak lockdown ends. The sale of alcohol after 22:00 GMT will still be banned when new regulations come in on 9 November. Pubs and restaurants will reopen at the end of the lockdown, but the terms for their operation had been unclear. Larger groups of people who all live in the same house will be allowed to eat and drink out together. First Minister Mark Drakeford asked people visit such places in the smallest groups possible.
England lockdown will end on 2 December, Boris Johnson insists
Boris Johnson has told the cabinet that England’s lockdown restrictions will come to an end on 2 December, saying that was a hard deadline to develop a new solution to contain the spread of the virus. In a tacit admission that the current NHS test and trace system had not been enough to contain the virus, Johnson heralded a mass testing operation beginning in Liverpool, the start of an ambitious programme “Operation Moonshot” which would involve the entire population tested on a regular basis. The prime minister also appeared to affirm the government expected the four-week national lockdown in England would be enough to get the virus’s reproduction R number below one – raising questions as to whether the lockdown would be extended should that not occur.
Protest exemption set to be removed from England lockdown rules
Protections for protesters are set to be removed from the coronavirus rules under the second national lockdown, it has emerged, provoking anger from human rights groups and campaigners. An exemption that permits demonstrations to take place with additional conditions designed to mitigate the spread of the virus is expected to be omitted from fresh regulations being drawn up for the lockdown that will commence from this Thursday. There have been a series of a high-profile protests since the pandemic erupted in the UK including rallies for racial equality led by the Black Lives Matter movement, racist counter-demonstrations and marches against lockdown measures directed by conspiracy theorists and extremists.
Coronavirus: Is Germany's €10 billion enough for second lockdown?
Germany entered a second partial lockdown on November 2 to try to stem the soaring cases of coronavirus ripping through the country. Dubbed lockdown-lite, the measures aren't as severe as the virtual shutdown of the economy that took place in March and April. The impact on many businesses is still set to be wide reaching, particularly in the entertainment and leisure sector, as well as for self-employed workers. Many companies were tipped perilously close to bankruptcy by the pandemic's first wave. Announcing the partial shutdown on Wednesday the previous week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised an additional €10 billion ($11.6 billion) in support for affected businesses. Firms with up to 50 workers, and the self-employed, can have up to 75% of their previous year's November turnover reimbursed by the government.
Italy prepares new coronavirus curbs as deaths surge
Italy on Tuesday reported 353 COVID-related deaths, the highest daily figure since May 6 and up from 233 on Monday, the health ministry said, as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte prepares new curbs to tame the surge in infections and deaths. Some 28,244 new coronavirus infections were recorded over the past 24 hours, up from 22,253 on Monday. A total of 39,412 people have now died in Italy because of the disease, while 759,829 cases have been registered to date. Tougher measures will include a nationwide nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and the closure of museums and exhibitions, a draft decree seen by Reuters shows.
Spanish experts and authorities remain divided on home lockdown
The Asturias region believes the measure will ease the pressure on hospitals, but epidemiologists and the Health Ministry argue it is better to wait and assess the impact of the current coronavirus restrictions
Scientists hail Israel's 'successful' second lockdown
Israel is emerging from a second lockdown that has surprised scientists with its effectiveness in reducing infection rates. As FRANCE 24 correspondent Irris Makler reports, the country re-entered confinement in September when its infection rate was the highest in the world. The rate has since decreased from 9000 per day, to less than 900. Even so, one-third of Israelis still believe a third lockdown is inevitable.
Covid-19: The country's response to community cases hasn't relaxed, the system is just 'more sophisticated'
The official response to new Covid-19 community cases might appear more relaxed than previous outbreaks. But the lack of intensity is simply a reflection of the strides made to improve the public health system, one expert says. Two new community cases – both workers stationed at the Sudima Hotel isolation facility in Christchurch – have not prompted localised lockdowns, as happened in Auckland after the August cluster emerged. “This is another example of the system working well to protect our border,” Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said at Tuesday’s Covid-19 update.
How much second lockdown will cost UK economy
Thousands of businesses are braced for a "truly devastating" blow from Boris Johnson's second lockdown amid fears that the economy will collapse 12 per cent this month. Britain is teetering on the brink of a dreaded double-dip recession following the Prime Minister's ban on household mixing and non-essential travel coupled with mass pub and restaurant closures, experts at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (Niesr) warned. It is thought that the new measures to contain the spread of Covid will cost taxpayers billions of pounds, destroy swathes of companies and put millions of jobs at risk.
UK's Johnson defends lockdown to avoid 'medical and moral disaster'
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday defended a second COVID lockdown in England from critics who said it was unnecessary and others who said it was too late, arguing now was the time to prevent a “medical and moral disaster”. After rejecting calls last month for a new national lockdown, Johnson U-turned on Saturday, announcing new restrictions across England would begin at 0001 GMT on Thursday and last until Dec. 2. Britain, which has the highest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe, is grappling with more than 20,000 new cases a day. Scientists have warned a worst-case scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded this winter.
France considers new Paris curfew as lockdown rules are flouted
France could reimpose a night curfew on Paris and possibly the surrounding region amid government frustration that too many people are ignoring lockdown rules as COVID-19 infections soar. France dramatically slowed the spread of the coronavirus in the spring with one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns. But 10 months into the epidemic and with winter drawing in, many are reluctant to endure another period of confinement. “It’s unbearable for those who respect the rules to see other French people flouting them,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told BFM TV. “We need to take all the steps needed to fight the epidemic.” A final decision on a curfew had not been taken, the office of Prime Minister Jean Castex said. It will be discussed at a meeting between President Emmanuel Macron and senior cabinet ministers on Wednesday, a government source said.
Swedish PM warns pandemic respite over as deaths start rising
COVID-19 cases are increasing fast in Sweden, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Tuesday as he announced stricter recommendations for another three regions amid signs the resurgence was beginning to lift deaths from the disease.
UK in talks with Palantir over COVID-19 test-and-trace program: FT
The British government is in talks with U.S. data analytics company Palantir Technologies Inc in an attempt to strengthen its test-and-trace program for COVID-19, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday. Officials have been in talks with the tech company about using its Foundry software to manage sensitive contact tracing data, the FT reported on citing people familiar with the matter.
Europe is locking down a second time. But what is its long-term plan?
Shortly before 11 p.m. yesterday, a waitress passed out paper cups to the customers crowded around the tables outside Luzia, a bar in the lively Kreuzberg district here. “I’m sorry, but you all have to leave,” she said. “God, in 2 minutes it’s going to be lockdown,” a woman at one table said, as guests poured the remainder of their cocktails into the cups. The fun was over: For the second time this year, Luzia had to close on the German government’s orders. All restaurants, bars, gyms, and theaters in Europe’s largest economy will remain shut until at least the end of the month in a new bid to halt the spread of COVID-19. Hotels are no longer allowed to host tourists. Residents have been asked to meet people from only one other household. Florent, the manager at Luzia, took some hope from the fact that Germany was locking down while cases were still lower than in neighboring countries. “Hopefully we’ll reopen in a month,” he said.
Maintaining Services
Yorkshire town's bleak Covid outlook as hospital faces staffing crisis
Barnsley is in the midst of a coronavirus crisis with the town's health boss warning the situation is "extremely serious". As the UK heads into a second national lockdown Julia Burrows, director of public health for the borough, says she is concerned at the number of people in intensive care with the virus.
Ending England’s lockdown in December is realistic, says medical chief
It is realistic that England’s forthcoming national lockdown can end on Dec. 2, chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Tuesday, as it is designed reduce COVID-19 transmission rates enough to move into less stringent measures. Whitty said that any decision on whether to extend the lockdown, due to come into force on Thursday, would be for government, but he had faith that the public would adhere to the new restrictions.
Coronavirus: Panic buyers strip shelves as England prepares for lockdown
In scenes reminiscent of the first lockdown in March, some supermarket shelves have begun emptying once more, ahead of the second lockdown in England. Social media users have shared pictures of empty shelves where usually there would be toilet roll, bread, vegetables and meat, despite stores insisting there are no stock shortages. All non-essential shops will close from Thursday, as England enters another strict coronavirus lockdown. But food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open. The lockdown is due to end on 2 December, with the government hoping to then reintroduce a localised tiered system of restrictions.
Europe's shopkeepers on the warpath over lockdowns
Many European shopkeepers reluctantly accepted the need to close during the coronavirus lockdowns in the spring, but the second round of shutdowns in the autumn is proving a more difficult pill to swallow for bookstore owners, florists and hairdressers from Italy to Ireland — and harder for governments to enforce. France’s small traders, backed in some cases by their local mayors, have complained about the injustice of the measures imposed by Emmanuel Macron’s government from last Friday, arguing the restrictions on shops favoured big chain stores and online retailers such as Amazon. They were further enraged by Amazon’s launch of a premature “Black Friday” sale, supposed to be on November 27, which prompted remonstrations from the French finance ministry and a promise from Amazon to stop publicising the presale.
Italian doctors urge tougher restrictions fearing 'tsunami' on hospitals
Italian doctors have urged the government to impose more aggressive measures to contain escalating infections over fears of a coronavirus “tsunami” on hospitals. Giuseppe Conte’s government is working towards a “light lockdown” to avoid paralysing the country, Sandra Zampa, a health ministry undersecretary said before a meeting with regional presidents to thrash out an agreement that could see shutdowns only in badly affected and at-risk regions.
Primark calls for extended trading hours after UK lockdown
Primark has called for store trading hours to be extended in December to help retailers offset the impact of the latest round of lockdowns in the UK, its most important market. George Weston, chief executive of Primark parent company Associated British Foods, said extending Sunday opening hours in particular “would help us, help consumers, help the high street”. “In some locations we could even open 24 hours. We know the demand is going to be there,” he said on Tuesday, based on the experience when Primark reopened after the first lockdowns.
French government details products that can be sold during second lockdown
France’s government on Tuesday updated its conditions for businesses to continue selling products deemed to be essential during the new confinement declared to fight the second wave of Covid-19. Large retailers have until Wednesday to close off sections selling goods not on the list.
English retailers fret over Christmas as lockdown 2.0 looms
This year, the annual illumination of the Christmas lights on London’s famous Oxford Street was very much a bittersweet moment. The lights, which were turned on this week, are celebrating the people who helped during the coronavirus pandemic. They should have symbolized the start of a keenly awaited retail season following a year marked by lockdown restrictions. But with a second lockdown in England set to come into place on Thursday, shops selling nonessential items such as books and sneakers have been ordered to close, at least until Dec. 2. During the first lockdown they closed for nearly three months until mid-June.
China changes school curriculum to reflect Beijing's positive Covid narrative
Chinese government-endorsed content about the pandemic and the “fighting spirit” of the country’s response will be added to school curriculum, the country’s ministry of education has said, in a move to enshrine the country’s narrative of success against the virus. The content will be added to elementary and middle school classes in biology, health and physical education, history, and literature, and will “help students understand the basic fact that the Party and the state always put the life and safety of its people first”, the ministry said on Wednesday. “Students will learn about key figures and deeds which emerged during the epidemic prevention and control efforts. They will learn to foster public awareness and dedication, to enrich knowledge about the advantages of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics,” the ministry said.
More than 400 people arrested at anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne
A policewoman was taken to hospital after she was injured when officers shut down a large anti-lockdown rally and arrested more than 400 protesters in Melbourne’s CBD. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Victorian parliament on Tuesday to oppose the state government’s strict Covid-19 lockdowns in Melbourne that were eased last week, holding up signs that read “Tell the Truth”, “Not Happy Dan”, “Masks Don’t Work” and “Corona Hoax 1984”. A Victoria police spokeswoman told Guardian Australia the force “was disappointed to arrest a large number of protestors who again showed disregard for the safety of the broader community and the directions of the chief health officer”.
Ireland's latest coronavirus curbs put 85,000 temporarily out of work
Around 85,000 more people have claimed temporary COVID-19 jobless benefits since Ireland moved to the highest level of restrictions to fight the virus two weeks ago, data showed on Tuesday. Limiting restaurants to takeaway service and the closure of non-essential retail pushed claims up to almost 330,000, from 244,153 before the six-week measures were introduced on Oct. 22, but far below a peak of 600,000 during a stricter lockdown in May. Recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) have been on the rise since hitting a post-lockdown low of 205,000 at the start of October. They are expected to have helped push Ireland’s unemployment rate up to around 20% in October, from 14.7% in September. October unemployment data is due on Wednesday.
Third of staff 'fear catching Covid at work'
More than a third of workers are concerned about catching coronavirus on the job, according to a study by the Resolution Foundation think tank. The poorest paid are particularly worried, the research found, but also the least likely to speak up about it. Younger workers are also less likely to raise a complaint, the Resolution Foundation said. The widespread concerns come despite government advice on making workplaces Covid-secure, researchers said. Lindsay Judge, research director at the Resolution Foundation, said: "More than one-in-three workers are worried about catching coronavirus on the job, despite the extensive steps employers have taken to make workplaces Covid-secure.
Healthcare Innovations
Covid-19: How do you make a vaccine? – podcast
With any future Covid-19 vaccine requiring its manufacturing process to be signed off as part of its regulatory approval for use on the general population, Madeleine Finlay talks to Dr Stephen Morris from the Future Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub about how vaccines are made at the volume and speed required for a mass vaccination programme
COVID-19 'nanoparticle' vaccine could trigger strong immune response
Scientists say they have developed an experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate that is far more potent than others currently being investigated. In trials conducted in mice, the team from the University of Washington School of Medicine said its vaccine triggered a 10-times stronger immune response to the infection than seen in COVID-19 survivors. What's more, it also provoked a strong memory cell response, in which the body remembers the invading virus to produce antibodies more quickly if infected. The team says its vaccine does not require freezer storage like those being made by other companies, which makes it easier to produce and ship across the globe.
Scientists warn of new coronavirus variant spreading across Europe
A coronavirus variant that originated in Spanish farm workers has spread rapidly through much of Europe since the summer, and now accounts for the majority of new Covid-19 cases in several countries — and more than 80 per cent in the UK. An international team of scientists that has been tracking the virus through its genetic mutations has described the extraordinary spread of the variant, called 20A.EU1, in a research paper to be published on Thursday. Their work suggests that people returning from holiday in Spain played a key role in transmitting the virus across Europe, raising questions about whether the second wave that is sweeping the continent could have been reduced by improved screening at airports and other transport hubs