"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 10th Dec 2020

Isolation Tips
Covid: Self-isolation and quarantine period to shorten in Wales
All people who need to self-isolate or quarantine will only need to do so for 10 days from Thursday, the Welsh Government has announced. The current period for those without the virus is 14 days, which has been changed after medical endorsement. It will now apply to people who have tested positive for the virus or are at risk of having it, including those returning from non-exempt countries. It means Wales will have a shorter isolation period than England.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19 vaccine: Allergy warning over new jab
People with a history of significant allergic reactions should not have the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid jab, regulators say. It came after two NHS workers had allergic reactions on Tuesday. The advice applies to those who have had reactions to medicines, food or vaccines, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said. The two people had a reaction shortly after having the new jab, had treatment and are both fine now. They are understood to have had an anaphylactoid reaction, which tends to involve a skin rash, breathlessness and sometimes a drop in blood pressure. This is not the same as anaphylaxis which can be fatal. Both NHS workers have a history of serious allergies and carry adrenaline pens around with them.
Community Activities
German intelligence places coronavirus protesters under observation - media
German intelligence agents have placed under observation a group of protesters against coronavirus restrictions, citing the influence of radicals including far-right Nazi admirers. The domestic intelligence service in the southwestern Baden-Wuerttemberg region put the “Querdenken 711” group on a watch-list due to its increasing radicalisation, the state’s interior ministry said on Wednesday. “Querdenken 711” was founded early in the pandemic by IT entrepreneur Michael Ballweg in the affluent city of Stuttgart and helped begin a nationwide movement.
Working Remotely
Brits hoping to work from home for ever are buying properties miles away from office
Brits are prepared to buy a new property miles away from their place of employment - because many plan to continue working from home permanently, a study has revealed. A fifth of workers hope they never have to set foot in the office again, even after lockdown restrictions are lifted, and the world returns to normal. As a result, a poll of 2,000 UK homeowners found that two-thirds would now look to move to a house that was better designed for home working.
10 gift ideas for the person who's getting sick of working from home, from a remote work expert
If ever there was a year to celebrate your work-from-home survival skills, 2020 is it. You deserve a reward for juggling personal responsibilities along with your role as a home-based business owner or remote employee, all during a pandemic. So pat yourself on the back, then share this gift guide with your family, friends and colleagues — especially the ones who dread working from home.
This Hawaii program will pay your airfare to live and work remotely from the islands
Hawaii will welcome 50 newcomers from out of state in the coming months thanks to a new temporary residency program called Movers & Shakas. Formed by a group of local nonprofits, alumni associations and business leaders in partnership with the state government, the initiative aims to attract working professionals from around the U.S. to move to and work remotely from Hawaii, contribute to the local economy and get involved in community-building efforts severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19: Here's what Canada’s top CEOs think about remote work
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, millions of Canadians switched from working in a central office location to working from home. Days turned into weeks, and weeks have turned into months. Now it’s almost 2021, and millions of employees in Canada still work from home full time with no end in sight. Many Canadians wish to continue working remotely once the pandemic ends, which raises the question: Is remote work here to stay? For millions of employees, the answer will depend on what their senior management decides.
Challenges and risks for employees working remotely in operating tax compliance
Due to the effect of COVID-19, businesses and their employees are struggling to manage their work operations and taxes. The need to adopt new-age digital technologies is a major learning from lockdown for businesses. And the need to boost technology investment has become a dire need particularly in various areas of businesses, including the supply chain and finance. Employees are now expected to work without coming to the workplace from their homes and can operate operations from home efficiently and efficiently. The very principle on which corporations were managed, employee salaries and benefits were organized and tax laws were written over the years, are therefore questioned.
Staff fear working remotely will damage career prospects
The Covid-19 pandemic has created workplace imbalances for many people, according to a survey by Matrix Recruitment. The study found that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of those surveyed report inequality arising from the pandemic, while one in three say they are concerned that working from home long term will affect their career opportunities. Of those concerned about their careers, 61 per cent say they are worried their employer will not be aware of all the work they do while 38 per cent say they are anxious that they will not have the right supports to progress their career
Virtual Classrooms
Protecting privacy while learning from home
Millions of students across the U.S. are navigating the challenge of being "at school," while "at home." And even though learning may be happening from the privacy of the home, the Assistant Director Media Relations at the Lee County School District, Rob Spicker, says parents can't blur the lines when kids are "in class." "The rules as if they were in school apply," he said. And for parents, that means you can't record audio or video of your child's class, even if you're home.
How virtual connected classrooms can transform learning in rural India
The rural Indian population was not as fortunate as the urban population in terms of access to a quality education environment and information and communication technology infrastructure as in cities. But today, with the advent of virtual classrooms, education in rural India has metamorphosed into learning that is prompt, online, self-driven, and on the go.
Public Policies
Amnesty: rich countries have bought too many COVID-19 vaccines
Rich countries have secured enough coronavirus vaccines to protect their populations nearly three times over by the end of 2021, Amnesty International and other groups said on Wednesday, possibly depriving billions of people in poorer areas. Amnesty and other organisations including Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now and Oxfam, urged governments and the pharmaceutical industry to take action to ensure intellectual property of vaccines is shared widely. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also called on governments repeatedly this year to make a vaccine protecting against COVID-19 a “public good”.
Iran says US sanctions hinder access to COVID-19 vaccines
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that U.S. sanctions are making it difficult for Iran to purchase medicine and health supplies from abroad, including COVID-19 vaccines needed to contain the worst outbreak in the Middle East. Last week, Iran said it is working on its own vaccine, with testing on human patients expected to begin next month. It plans to buy 20 million vaccine doses from abroad, for a population of more than 80 million people.
U.S. House approves stopgap funding bill as haggling continues over coronavirus aid
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a one-week extension of federal government funding, giving lawmakers more time to haggle over a broader spending package with coronavirus relief. The move gives Congress seven more days to enact a broader, $1.4 trillion “omnibus” spending measure, to which congressional leaders hope to attach the long-awaited COVID-19 relief package.
Brazil registers highest COVID-19 daily death toll in almost a month
Brazil reported 51,088 additional confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 842 fatalities from COVID-19, its Health Ministry said on Tuesday, marking the highest death toll since Nov. 14. The South American country has now registered 6,674,999 cases since the pandemic began, while its official death toll has risen to 178,159, according to ministry data. Brazil has the world’s third highest case count, after the United States and India, and second highest death toll. Easing quarantines in Brazilian cities have led to crowded bars and restaurants, giving some the impression that life has returned to normal. With the approaching holiday season, experts worry that COVID-19 will spread even faster.
Canada Authorizes Covid-19 Vaccine From Pfizer and BioNTech
Canada became the third country to authorize use of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, racing ahead of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Europe’s main regulator to approve shots for its most vulnerable citizens. Canada will now begin its immunization rollout as early as next week—a daunting challenge for a sparsely populated country with the world’s second-largest territory. The country is on schedule to begin inoculations next week, with a portfolio of vaccine candidates that it argues is among the most diverse among large economies.
Germany coronavirus: Merkel backs tougher restrictions as Covid deaths hit record
German Chancellor Angela Merkel advocated tougher restrictions on public life and pleaded with her compatriots to cut down on socializing as the country reported its highest single-day death toll of the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday. Germany is gradually moving toward a tighter lockdown, at least for a limited period after Christmas, as new virus cases remain stubbornly high — and are even beginning to creep higher — despite a partial shutdown that started on Nov. 2.
France warns it could delay end of Covid lockdown if epidemic spread does not slow
France’s government said Wednesday it would not necessarily end the country’s second coronavirus confinement as planned on 15 December if epidemic indictors did not reach targets. The comments came ahead of a meeting of the health defence council that decides on restrictions. France had planned to lift travel and movement restrictions and reopen cinemas, theatres and museums on 15 December in the second of a three-part easing of lockdown if it met certain conditions were met. But with health officials warning the country was far off from a target of 5,000 new infections per day, President Emmanuel Macron was to meet with the senior ministers and officials comprising a special health defence council to discuss whether to change those plans.
Ukraine will introduce tight lockdown restrictions in January
Ukraine will introduce tight lockdown restrictions in January, hoping to stop the rapid spread of coronavirus infection, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Wednesday. The measures , which include the closure of schools, cafes, restaurants, gyms and entertainment centres and a ban on mass gatherings, will be in force from January 8-24, Shmygal told the tlevised government meeting.
South Korea questions Pyongyang's claims to be virus-free
The sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lambasted South Korea’s foreign minister for casting doubt over Pyongyang’s claim that the country has no coronavirus cases. North Korea closed its borders in January to avoid a spread of the virus and has insisted that it has had no cases. Experts have suggested that this is unlikely since the virus first emerged in China and North Korea relies on its neighbour for trade. Kang Kyung-wha, South Korea’s foreign minister, said that it was “hard to believe” that the North had had no cases.
China's government-made coronavirus vaccine 'is 86% effective' and has been approved for use by the UAE after clinical trials - but scientists behind it have yet to publicly ...
Vaccine from state-owned company Sinophar is one of four made by China UAE officials today claim the phase three trials show it is 86% effective No data on the vaccine has yet been publicly released despite its approval Vaccine is a weakened form of virus and UAE has been running trials since July Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum received an unnamed jab and reports claim so too has North Korea leader Kim Jong Un
Morocco to use Chinese vaccine to kick off mass vaccinations
Morocco is gearing up for an ambitious COVID-19 vaccination program, aiming to vaccinate 80% of its adults in an operation starting this month that’s relying initially on a Chinese vaccine that has not yet completed advanced trials to prove it is safe and effective. King Mohammed VI instructed the government to make the vaccine free, according to a Royal Palace statement. The first injections could come within days, a Health Ministry official told The Associated Press.
Swedish govt to ask parliament for tougher powers to fight pandemic
Sweden’s government on Wednesday proposed new temporary legislation to expand its powers to fight the coronavirus pandemic, giving it greater leeway to implement and enforce lockdown measures such as closing shopping malls and gyms. The legislation, which will be submitted for review to relevant stakeholders before a vote in parliament, would come into force on March 15 next year and be valid for just over a year, the coalition said in a statement. Since summer and early autumn’s lull in the pandemic, a second wave of the virus has swept the Nordic country with infections hitting daily records, while hospitalisations and deaths have also shot up over the past two months.
Hackers steal Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine data in Europe, companies say
U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said on Wednesday that documents related to development of their COVID-19 vaccine had been "unlawfully accessed" in a cyberattack on Europe's medicines regulator. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which assesses medicines and vaccines for the European Union, said hours earlier it had been targeted in a cyberattack. It gave no further details. Pfizer and BioNTech said they did not believe any personal data of trial participants had been compromised and EMA "has assured us that the cyber attack will have no impact on the timeline for its review."
Mexico to launch COVID-19 vaccinations this month
Mexico plans to begin vaccinating its people against COVID-19 at the end of the third week of December, starting with health workers, the government announced. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the vaccines will be “universal and free” — and also voluntary — and he hopes the full population will be vaccinated by the end of 2021. Officials said that starting in February, those over 60 will receive vaccinations, followed by those over 50 in April and over 40 in May. They urged people with risk factors to get vaccinated first.
Mexico says could order 22 mln more vaccine doses from J&J
Mexico could order an additional 22 million doses of coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson's Janssen unit under a memorandum of understanding signed this week, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said. Janssen has begun its coronavirus clinical trials in Mexico, and Lopez-Gatell said the memorandum his government signed on Monday gave it the option of ordering additional doses. "So there we could end up getting up to 22 million more vaccines from Janssen," Lopez-Gatell, the government's coronavirus czar, told a regular evening news conference
New powers allow Hong Kong government to lock down Covid-19 hotspots
Chief Executive Carrie Lam adopts powerful new tool to combat an escalating fourth wave of the virus and urges residents to stay home as much as possible Authorities tighten social-distancing restrictions, with restaurants to end dine-in service at 6pm and gyms to close, as 100 new cases confirmed
Maintaining Services
California's hospitals are close to 'breaking point' as COVID-19 surges
Governor Gavin Newsom is now bringing in hundreds of hospital staff from outside the state and preparing to re-start emergency hospitals that were created but barely used when the coronavirus surged last spring to cope with the new surge. The seven-day rolling average for new cases in the county's most populous state has doubled over the past two weeks to 23,000 a day. During the summer surge, average infections in California peaked at 10,000 per day.
Covid cases: Hospital admissions rise in most of England’s NHS regions despite lockdown, figures show
Admissions to hospital of patients with Covid-19 are rising in four out of seven NHS regions of England despite the month-long lockdown in November, official figures have shown. The increases are in London, east of England, south east and the Midlands, suggesting a third wave of the epidemic could be threatening the NHS just before the Christmas relaxation period.
Covid cases revealed for each London borough as millions urged to help keep capital out of Tier 3
Every single Londoner was today urged to join the battle to keep the city out of Tier 3 as official figures showed Covid-19 cases rising in more than two thirds of boroughs. MPs and Mayor Sadiq Khan called on millions of people across the capital to stick to social distancing, self-isolation, mask wearing and good hygiene rules and guidance to reverse the latest coronavirus surge. The number of confirmed cases is increasing across east London, apart from Redbridge which saw a very small decrease in the week to December 3, compared to the previous seven days.
More afraid of hunger: COVID-19 rules causing many in Philippines to starve
Daniel Auminto lost his job and then his home when the coronavirus pandemic sent the Philippines into lockdown. Now he and his family live on the street, relying on food handouts to survive. Charities are struggling to meet the ever-growing demand for food as millions of families go hungry across the country. COVID-19 restrictions have crippled the economy and thrown many out of work. “I’ve never seen hunger at this level before,” said Jomar Fleras, executive director of Rise Against Hunger in the Philippines, which works with more than 40 partners to feed the poor.
David Staples: Alberta's new measures can wipe out COVID but how far should we go?
The Alberta government is imposing the kind of severe lockdown measures that have worked to stop COVID-19 spread in places like Canada’s Maritime provinces, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan, jurisdictions which in the past two weeks have had zero COVID-19 deaths. Compare that to Alberta and B.C., each with 35 deaths per million in the past two weeks, Quebec with 51 per million and Manitoba with 124 deaths per million, with all of those death rates trending up quickly.
UK firms avoid hiring permanent staff in November lockdown
British employers recruited fewer permanent staff during an England-wide lockdown last month, and relied instead on temporary workers to plug the gap, a monthly survey of recruiters showed on Wednesday. The number of permanent staff recruited fell for a second month in a row in November and dropped by its most since July, when Britain had just emerged from its first coronavirus lockdown, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said.
Sri Lanka to cremate Muslim COVID-19 victims despite objections
Families have refused to claim the bodies in protest over the government’s policy of cremation, which is forbidden under Islamic law.
White House task force: Vaccine may not reduce virus spread until late spring
The White House coronavirus task force this week warned governors that coronavirus vaccinations will not drive down the spread of COVID-19 until late spring, calling for states to emphasize the need for other mitigation measures. "The current vaccine implementation will not substantially reduce viral spread, hospitalizations, or fatalities until the 100 million Americans with comorbidities can be fully immunized, which will take until the late spring," the task force wrote in its weekly report to states, issued Tuesday and obtained by The Hill. "Behavioral change and aggressive mitigation policies are the only widespread prevention tools that we have to address this winter surge," the report adds.
Pfizer's first shipment of its coronavirus vaccine will include 2.9 million doses upon FDA approval
Pfizer Inc's first shipment of its vaccine to the US will include 2.9 million doses and another shipment 21 days later with the same amount. The jabs will be going to 636 locations, mostly large health-care systems with enough storage capacity. Gen Gustave Perna said he has set aside a reserve of 500,000 doses from the total supply of 6.4 million available to the US. At an Operation Warp Speed briefing on Wednesday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said he'd be willing to get vaccinated publicly The team said they have not considered who would receive the very first vaccine or where. The FDA will meet Thursday and Friday - and are expected to approve the vaccine by the end of the week
Healthcare Innovations
India says it may approve vaccine in weeks, outlines plan
India’s Health Ministry has announced that some COVID-19 vaccines are likely to receive licenses in the next few weeks and outlined an initial plan to immunize 300 million people. Health officials said Tuesday that three vaccine companies have applied for early approval for emergency use in India: Serum Institute of India, which has been licensed to manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine, Pfizer Inc., and Indian manufacturer Bharat Biotech. “Some of them may get licensed in the next few weeks,” federal Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
Chinese Covid-19 vaccine has 86% efficacy, UAE says
The United Arab Emirates said a Chinese coronavirus vaccine tested in the federation of sheikhdoms has 86% efficacy, in a statement that provided few details but marked the first public release of information on the performance of the shot. The announcement brought yet another contender into the worldwide race for a vaccine to end the pandemic, a scientific effort in which China and Russia are competing with western firms to develop an effective inoculation.
UK healthcare workers seven times more likely to develop severe coronavirus during first lockdown, study finds
Those working on the front lines against coronavirus during the UK’s first lockdown were up to seven times more likely to become severely infected, new research suggests. A University of Glasgow-led study of more than 120,000 employees aged 49 to 64 indicated that those in healthcare roles were seven times more likely to be hospitalised or killed with the virus. And those with jobs in the social care and transport sectors were found to be twice as likely to suffer such outcomes, which the researchers said emphasises the need to ensure that key workers are adequately protected against infection.
Pharma Pfizer’s COVID vaccine data raise some flags, analysts say, but not enough to scuttle an FDA nod
When the FDA released a 53-page briefing document on Pfizer’s COVID-19 mRNA vaccine candidate yesterday, most readers zeroed in on the shot’s high efficacy in a wide range of demographic groups. Wall Street analysts dug a bit deeper. Their conclusion? A few red flags in the FDA documents will likely generate some discussion at Thursday's advisory panel meeting, but not enough alarm to scuttle an emergency authorization.
Johnson & Johnson to cut size of US vaccine trial
Johnson & Johnson is to reduce the size of its US vaccine trial to 40,000 participants because of the prevalence of coronavirus among the general population. “Given the high incidence of Covid-19 among the general population, we expect that approximately 40,000 participants will generate the data needed to determine the safety and efficacy of our investigational Covid-19 vaccine candidate,” J&J said in an emailed statement to the Financial Times on Wednesday.