"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 9th Apr 2021

Isolation Tips
Are remote workers bottling up their stress?
Research suggests remote workers are more likely to bottle up their stress than their office-based peers, with disastrous consequences. A recent survey of more than 1,000 employees found remote employees are more likely than in-person employees to not speak with anyone regarding their workplace stress. To determine how stressed employees are at the moment, researchers used the Perceived Stress Scale (PPS). The scale showed that almost three-quarters of those polled are experiencing moderate or high levels of overall stress. Around one in three respondents said they are very or extremely stressed by work specifically. In addition, people were more likely to say they won’t talk to anyone about their work-related stress when working remotely.
After COVID-19, post-traumatic growth could bring creativity, joy back into your life, but perhaps not until 2024
To achieve post-traumatic growth, sufferers of trauma must first recognize and accept the ways in which core beliefs have been shattered by an event, said psychologist Richard Tedeschi, who along with colleague Lawrence Calhoun defined and began to research the phenomenon back in the mid-1990s. Accepting that an emotional earthquake has occurred, he said, allows humans to grow in five specific domains: appreciation of life, relationships with others, new possibilities in life, personal strength and spiritual change.
Lockdown loneliness rates in Leicester are one of the worst in England
Lockdown loneliness rates were about twice the national average in Leicester during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new study. 14.3 per cent of people in the city felt lonely between October 2020 and February of this year - almost twice England's average of 7.3 per cent, reveals data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The problem is worse in areas with high concentrations of younger people and higher rates of unemployment. Loneliness rates were almost always lower in the countryside compared with urban areas.
'Heartbreaking': How Nurses In Brazil Are Helping Covid Patients Handle Their Loneliness Amid Isolation
Nurses in a Brazilian Covid isolation ward have come up with an innovative idea to help isolated patients deal with their loneliness. The nurses have created a sense of artificial touch by using two disposable gloves filled with hot water. They tie them together around patients’ hands. A photo of the same has gone viral after it was shared by Sadiq Sameer Bhat of the Gulf News. Along with the image, he wrote, "'The hand of God' - nurses trying to comfort isolated patients in a Brazilian Covid isolation ward. Two disposable gloves tied, full of hot water, simulating impossible human contact. Salute to the front liners and a stark reminder of the grim situation our world is in!" Many Twitter users have shared the tweet and described the image as being ‘heartbreaking’
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19 or Allergies?
Covid shows up in a variety of ways, but dry cough, fever, fatigue and loss of sense of smell are four very common symptoms. Unlike flu, which typically comes on fast, Covid symptoms may emerge over several days, often starting with fatigue or a minor cough. Other common Covid symptoms include headache, chest tightness, feeling out of breath with activity, chills, aches, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
COVID-19: Changes to NHS Test and Trace app mean everyone will now have to check in
Changes to the way we check in to venues on the NHS Test and Trace app have been made ahead of the reopening of hospitality from Monday. The updates to the app have come into effect to coincide with the availability of rapid lateral flow tests for everyone in England from Friday. The new regulations now state that everyone in a group must check in when they arrive at a pub or restaurant, either by scanning an NHS QR code poster on the app or by providing your contact details.
UK infections drop about 60% amid vaccinations, lockdown
The U.K.’s COVID-19 vaccination program is beginning to break the link between infection and serious illness or death, according to the latest results from an ongoing study of the pandemic in England. Researchers at Imperial College London found that COVID-19 infections dropped about 60% in March as national lockdown measures slowed the spread of the virus. People 65 and older were the least likely to be infected as they benefited most from the vaccination program, which initially focused on older people. The study also found that the relationship between infections and deaths is diverging, “suggesting that infections may have resulted in fewer hospitalizations and deaths since the start of widespread vaccination.”
New COVID variants have changed the game, and vaccines will not be enough. We need global 'maximum suppression'
...Since then, new “variants of concern” have emerged and spread worldwide, putting current pandemic control efforts, including vaccination, at risk of being derailed. Put simply, the game has changed, and a successful global rollout of current vaccines by itself is no longer a guarantee of victory. No one is truly safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe. We are in a race against time to get global transmission rates low enough to prevent the emergence and spread of new variants. The danger is that variants will arise that can overcome the immunity conferred by vaccinations or prior infection.
Community Activities
Exclusive: CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky Unveils Initiative to Address Racism in Health
The reason for that skewed impact doesn’t have so much to do with biology or genetics as it does a myriad of other factors, such as where people live, how clean the air they breathe is, what they eat, whether they work and if they do, what jobs they hold, and whether they rely on public transportation to get around. Dr. Rochelle Wolensky, the new director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), knows this dynamic well. As division director for infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, her research and clinical work focused on HIV, and she has served on Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker’s COVID-19 advisory board, helping to shape pandemic policy in that state. “I came from a place of taking care of patients with HIV and infectious diseases and those who work in public health have known forever that the diseases afflicting the poor, and afflicting those with access to health care, and afflicting racial and ethnic minorities are different than the diseases afflicting white Americans, or more privileged Americans,” says Walensky. “I came to the job with that reality every single day.”
In the Covid-19 vaccine push, no one is speaking Gen Z’s language
Useful Covid-19 information isn’t reaching the Instagram generation. There’s almost no messaging specifically tailored to them from federal or state public health officials. There’s hardly anything official on Tik Tok. And even the limited efforts to reach them where they are — like Instagram’s links to its “Covid-19 information center”— aren’t working. Just ask Kymon Palau, a 21-year-old from Albuquerque, N.M., who has over 18,000 followers on the site.
Achieving human rights to water and sanitation amid COVID-19
Amid a pandemic, huge sections of the global population are still being left behind in their access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Before the pandemic hit, 40 percent of the world’s population already lacked access to basic hand-washing facilities at home, and children at almost half of the world’s schools did not have water and soap. While many governments have increased the provision of public hand-washing stations during the pandemic, the economic fallout of COVID-19 has only exacerbated what was already an urgent need in homes, schools, and healthcare facilities all over the world. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to the first increase in global poverty in more than 20 years, and by 2021, an additional 150 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty.
How humility can save us from Covid-19
The hospital and health system had to constantly improvise, rethink, and change course. I believe that what saved us — and saved lives — was having the humility to continually reassess and admit when we needed to shift. From June through December, our teams simulated Arizona’s pandemic triage protocol, the process for determining in the fairest way possible who gets a scarce resource like a ventilator. We pushed on the medical staff and role-played panicked families and stressed health care workers. We pushed on nurses and administrators during these simulations to find equipment across the Banner system. And even after running the simulation numerous times, we still found it needed to be revised. For now, it’s as good as we can make it. If we ever have to use it, we will stay humble and look to improve it even more
Working Remotely
Can the self-employed teach us lessons about organising remote work?
As employers begin to prepare for staff to return to offices, what lessons should they and we as workers take from the past year? Stephen Carroll speaks to labour economist Milena Nikolova, an associate professor at the University of Groningen. She tells us that self-employed people could provide some useful ideas about how to organise remote work after the Covid-19 pandemic.
How can remote workers best manage work-home conflict? Remote work expert offers best practices based on more than 20 years of research
What are the secrets to maintaining a productive home office? Run a white-noise machine to mask household clatter, make sure your noisy neighbors know your work schedule, and resist the temptation to check work-related technology after logging off at the end of the workday. These are some of the tips that Timothy D. Golden, a professor in the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has gleaned through more than two decades of research.
Virtual Classrooms
Balancing in-person and virtual learning during the pandemic takes toll on teachers
Roughly 80 percent of K-12 teachers and staff in the U.S. are now at least partially vaccinated. But educators in many districts are still expected to teach students both in-person and online, and stress remains high for some.
COVID-19 pandemic's effects on Pennsylvania's education system have yet to be measured
More than a year into the pandemic, how students are faring, and how much they’re learning, has drawn intense attention. Billions in federal aid are coming to schools to address “learning loss” — an academic concept that has seeped into the national consciousness as educators, families, and students measure the impact of the unprecedented disruption. There is little dispute that children’s schooling has suffered. The data are still spotty, but what’s there shows students nationally are performing worse on assessments than peers in years past — particularly in math, though, for younger children, also in reading. The drops are not uniform: Black and Hispanic students and those from lower-income families are falling further behind.
Public Policies
Grim view of global future offered in intelligence report
U.S. intelligence officials are painting a dark picture of the world’s future, writing in a report released Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic has deepened economic inequality, strained government resources and fanned nationalist sentiments. Those assessments are included in a Global Trends report by the government’s National Intelligence Council. The reports, produced every four years, are designed to help policymakers and citizens anticipate the economic, environmental, technological and demographic forces likely to shape the world through the next 20 years. This year’s report focuses heavily on the impact of the pandemic, calling it the “most significant, singular global disruption since World War II, with health, economic, political, and security implications that will ripple for years to come.”
German health minister says EU will not order Russia's Sputnik V vaccine
Germany’s health minister says the European Union will not order Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine and his country will hold bilateral talks with Russia on whether an order makes sense. Jens Spahn told WDR public radio that the EU’s executive Commission said it will not place orders for Sputnik V on member countries’ behalf, as it did with other manufacturers. Mr Spahn said on Thursday he told his fellow EU health ministers that Germany “will talk bilaterally to Russia, first of all about when what quantities could come”. He said “to really make a difference in our current situation, the deliveries would have to come in the next two to four or five months already”.
Britain will achieve Covid ‘herd immunity’ on Monday, according to a UCL model
The UK is expected to pass the threshold for herd immunity by Monday, according to experts at University College London. Dynamic modelling suggests that the number of people who are protected against Covid-19, either because they are naturally immune or have received a vaccine, will hit 73.4 per cent on April 12. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics last week - based on antibody testing - show that around 54 per cent had antibodies by March 14. Since then, a further 7.1 million people have received a first jab, while nearly 100,000 more people have tested positive for Covid-19.
Argentina curtails leisure, public transport use after hitting new COVID-19 record
Argentina tightened movement restrictions on Wednesday including curtailing the leisure industry and blocking nonessential workers from using public transport after the country hit a record number of COVID-19 infections as it struggles with a second wave of the virus. President Alberto Fernandez announced a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m., the closure of bars and restaurants at 11 p.m. and the suspension of operations for casinos, bingo halls and nightclubs in areas of the country with the highest infection rates. Sports in enclosed spaces with the participation of more than 10 people were also banned and in the Buenos Aires area, where cases have increased 53% in seven days, all but essential workers along with teachers and those with special authorisation are prohibited from using public transport.
COVID: Qatar tightens restrictions as cases continue to rise
Qatar has announced tighter COVID-19-related restrictions amidst a rising number of cases in the last few weeks. The measures, announced in a cabinet statement on Wednesday, will come into effect on Friday as the country battles a surge in new COVID-19 infections. On Wednesday, the country reported 940 new cases, taking the total number of positive cases to more than 186,000 since the start of the pandemic. The circulation of coronavirus variants first identified in the UK and South Africa has contributed to the spread of COVID-19, according to Abdullatif Al Khal, the deputy chief medical officer of Hamad Medical Corporation. In addition to keeping gyms, swimming pools, water parks and spas shut, the new guidelines have now ordered the closure of museums, cinemas, libraries and nurseries.
Governments give varying advice on AstraZeneca vaccine
In Spain, residents now have to be over 60 to get an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. In Belgium, over 55. In the United Kingdom, authorities recommend the shot not be given to adults under 30 where possible, and Australia’s government announced similar limits Thursday to AstraZeneca shots for those under 50. A patchwork of advice was emerging from governments across Europe and farther afield, a day after the European Union’s drug regulator said there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare clotting disorder while reiterating the vaccine is safe and effective.
Canada’s Ontario issues stay-at-home order as COVID surges
Canada’s most populous province is imposing a stay-at-home order, nearly one week after medical and public health experts recommended such a measure as COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations are surging. Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday defended his government’s decision-making process, saying he is “listening to health and science” but could not predict such a steep rise in coronarivus variants and intensive care admissions.
Bolsonaro again refuses lockdown as Brazil COVID crisis drags on
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has reiterated that he has no plans to order a national lockdown, a day after the nation saw its highest number of coronavirus deaths in 24 hours. Brazil’s Health Ministry registered 3,829 deaths on Wednesday, slightly lower than 4,195 fatalities from the previous day, a grim national record. “We’re not going to accept this politics of stay home and shut everything down,” said Bolsonaro during a speech in the city of Chapeco, resisting mounting pressure on his government to account for its handling of the surging pandemic. “There will be no national lockdown,” he said. Bolsonaro, a COVID-19 sceptic who has downplayed the threat of the virus, has remained defiant in the face of public health experts who have increasingly voiced the need to implement strict coronavirus curbs to address the crisis.
Maintaining Services
U.S. to ship 85% fewer J&J vaccine doses to states next week
The U.S. government will allocate nearly 85% fewer Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses to states next week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), due to uneven production related in part to problems at a Baltimore manufacturing plant. Allocations will fall to 785,500 doses from 4.95 million doses this week. The data does not include a federal retail pharmacy program. An official from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), who did not wish to be named, told Reuters that J&J released about 1.5 million doses to the U.S. government this week, compared with about 11 million doses last week. The allocation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is handled by the federal government.
COVID-19: More than 700,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine 'flown from UK to Australia' - report
More than 700,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been flown from the UK to Australia, it has been reported. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a batch of 300,000 UK-manufactured doses of the COVID jab landed at Sydney Airport on 28 February. And another large batch is said to have arrived on an Emirates passenger plane in March. The newspaper said the revelation dispelled previously widespread assumptions that Australia's vaccine shipments were coming from the EU.
African Union drops plans to buy Covid-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India
The African Union (AU) has today dropped plans to secure Covid-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India. Instead the AU is exploring purchasing jabs from US firm Johnson & Johnson, said the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Moderna coronavirus vaccine could be offered in Northern Ireland within 14 days
A third coronavirus vaccine could be available to people across Northern Ireland in the coming weeks. The US-developed, two-shot jab from Moderna, is said to be 94.1% effective against coronavirus based on evidence from clinical trials. Currently, NI vaccinators are administering the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs to those eligible for a vaccine. A Department of Health spokesperson told us: "Northern Ireland is primarily using AstraZeneca in the vaccination programme however Pfizer continues to be used for first and second doses at some centres. All vaccines are effective in the fight against Covid-19 and the public are urged to get their vaccine when they are eligible to do so."
Bhutan vaccinates 60% of population against COVID in record time
Bhutan on Wednesday said it had given about 60 percent of its entire population a first jab against COVID-19 since the Himalayan kingdom started an ambitious vaccination drive nine days ago. The tiny nation wedged between India and China told AFP news agency that 470,000 people out of 770,000 in total had been administered the first shot of a two-dose regime of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine donated by India.
New York to offer COVID aid to immigrants excluded earlier
In the largest program of its kind, New York lawmakers have created a $2.1 billion fund to aid workers who lost jobs or income during the coronavirus pandemic but were excluded from other government relief programs because of their immigration status. The fund, which passed this week as part of the state budget, will give payments of up to $15,600 to workers who were living in the country illegally and weren’t eligible for federal stimulus checks, unemployment aid, or other benefits. As many as 300,000 workers might benefit, according to some estimates. Other states have offered aid to unauthorized workers, but nothing on this scale. California’s relief fund offers cash payments of up to $500.
Healthcare Innovations
Britain reassures on AstraZeneca after advising under-30s take other vaccines
British officials and ministers sought to shore up confidence in AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, saying advice that most people under 30 should be offered alternative shots was not unusual and would not impact the pace of rollout. A pharmacist whose brother died from a brain blood clot linked to the AstraZeneca shot was among those calling for people to keep getting it, saying the doses would save lives. Officials said the suggestion that under-30s should be offered an alternative did not reflect any serious safety concerns, just a “vanishingly” rare possible side effect.
Health workers report 'long COVID' after just mild illness
Fifteen percent of healthcare workers at a Swedish hospital who recovered from mild COVID-19 at least 8 months before report at least one moderate to severe symptom disrupting their work, home, or social life, according to a research letter published yesterday in JAMA. A team led by scientists at Danderyd Hospital, part of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, conducted the study from April 2020 to January 2021. The research involved obtaining blood samples and administering questionnaires to healthcare workers participating in the ongoing COVID-19 Biomarker and Immunity (COMMUNITY) study.