"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 27th Apr 2021

Isolation Tips
Covid-19: Preparing to leave lockdown with social anxiety
Life may appear to be returning to a new "normal" as the Covid-19 lockdown eases. While many relish the idea of going back to their more usual routines, some with pre-existing anxiety may find the changes challenging. Naomi Quinn, 45, is anxious about a reduction in restrictions. "My fear is, as soon as things go back to normal people won't wear their masks, sanitise their hands and they might disregard the rules," she explained. Naomi, who lives with her daughter, Megan, in Swatragh, a small village in County Londonderry, has been dealing with anxiety for years. She said: "When you're in the middle of a panic attack, it's so real. In that moment, I believe I'm having a heart attack or a stroke.
I Successfully Made It Through Two Weeks Of COVID-19 Isolation. Here’s How You Can Too
Kashish Malik writes about her experience of isolation and has tips on how to get through it: "Some of us, like me, who are innately positive human beings pull through by making routines while there are many more who stay isolated with their thoughts which more often than not are unhappy ones. In the middle of this crisis, and being a patient myself if there is one thing I have learned then it is that all COVID-19 struggles are different. So instead of comparing our situation with one another, we should learn from each other. By sharing our stories, we may end up giving valuable information which someone somewhere can use to cope with their own situation."
Hygiene Helpers
Here are 9 ways we can make it easier for Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccine
Between vaccine supply issues, confusion about the role of GPs, and changed advice for AstraZeneca, the Australian COVID-19 vaccine rollout is well behind schedule. How can we make it easier for the majority of Australians who want to be vaccinated? Especially given all Australians over 50 years of age are eligible to be vaccinated from May 3 next week. There are tangible things we can do now to help people understand the benefits and possible risks of COVID-19 vaccination, and get the vaccine quickly as soon as they’re eligible.
Boris Johnson defends mass Covid-19 testing programme
Boris Johnson has defended the use of lateral flow tests for the general population, saying they “offer great prospects for the country”. The Prime Minister was questioned about the tests following reports that the UK’s healthcare regulator has raised concerns with the Government that the mass testing programme is “a stretch” of the authorised use of rapid tests. Alongside the rollout of vaccines, the Government says regular testing is an essential part of the easing of restrictions, will help identify variants and will stop individual cases from becoming outbreaks. But the Guardian reported that while the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had approved lateral flow to find coronavirus cases, it was unhappy they may be used as a “green light” for people to have more freedom.
Danish bar offers COVID-19 tests on tap
A bar in Copenhagen has started offering customers a COVID-19 test and a beer while they wait for the result to help get business moving again after months of restrictions. Punters hand over about $25 to get tested in a booth at Warpigs Brewpub. After about half an hour, if they get the all-clear, they are allowed inside. It works under Denmark's "corona-passport" system where people can either use a mobile app or a government-approved form to show if they have been vaccinated, previously infected or have had a negative test in the past 72 hours. Under the scheme that started on Wednesday, staff at museums, bars, cafes and restaurants check customers' status before they let them in.
Column: Vaccine the key to getting 135,000 into Indy 500
It’s pretty spacious inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a sprawling national landmark of 300 acres that can fit Vatican City, Yankee Stadium, the White House, Liberty Island, the Taj Majal, the Roman Colosseum, Churchill Downs and the Rose Bowl inside. All at the same time. The plan calls to put 135,000 fans in there next month for the Indianapolis 500. During a pandemic. A number that screams too many! Too reckless! But the speedway is not your average place. She’s a behemoth along Georgetown Road and 16th Street, the largest sporting venue in the world. On a typical race day, there can be 400,000 people on the grounds for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Roger Penske will have to settle for 135,000 this May 30, the 105th running of the race, and that’s still a whole lot better than last year when he held the first ever Indy 500 without any spectators. State and local health officials said 40% attendance and Penske and the folks at IMS smiled and said thank you.
US sees drop in COVID-19 cases, deaths as J&J vaccine resumes
Case counts and deaths from COVID-19 are dropping throughout the United States, including in Michigan, where state officials are seeing an average of 4,859 new COVID-19 cases a day, down 29% from the 7-day average of 6,732 a week ago, according to mlive. The 7-day positivity rate in the state is 12.3%. Though still high, the numbers show the surge of virus activity that took hold of the Upper Midwest and Northeast in recent weeks is likely on the decline, as more and more of the most vulnerable Americans are fully vaccinated. But younger adults, those under 50 who may not yet be vaccinated or do not think they need protection from the virus, are still driving cases in Michigan, according to the New York Times. Michigan hospitals are now admitting about twice as many coronavirus patients in their 30s and 40s as they were during the fall peak.
Community Activities
Hyde Park: Police attacks at anti-lockdown protest condemned
An anti-lockdown protest in which eight police officers were injured will be raised with senior bosses with "utmost urgency", a policing leader has said. Demonstrators hurled bottles at police as they attempted to disperse crowds in Hyde Park on Saturday evening.
Over £5.5 million in Covid-19 funding distributed by Community Foundation Wales
Community Foundation Wales has awarded over £5.5 million in funding to groups across Wales to help them to support their local communities through the Coronavirus pandemic. The scale of this emergency support for the third sector in Wales is revealed in Community Foundation Wales’ Coping with Covid-19 report published today. As an independent Welsh charity, Community Foundation Wales is well placed to help communities to respond to a local emergency or crisis. Whilst they have done that in the past in the case of local incidents, this is the first time that they have had to galvanise rapid Wales-wide support to bring vital funding to people all over Wales.
Italy opens again amid hopes for real economic relaunch
Lunch-time diners filled tables on Milan’s landmark Piazza Duomo even on a cloudy, windswept Monday, proof of the pent-up demand for eating out as Italy begins its second, and many hope last, reopening of the COVID-19 pandemic. After six months of rotating on-again, off-again closures, restaurants, bars, museums and cinemas opened to the public in most of the country under a gradual reopening plan that is seen as too cautious for some, too hasty for others. The nation’s weary virologists and health care workers fear that even the tentative reopening laid out by Premier Mario Draghi’s government will invite a free-or-all, signs of which were seen over the weekend with parks and squares filling up in cities from Rome to Turin, Milan to Naples. “It is illusory to think that you give a sign of opening, and you don’t see people around. Perfection doesn’t exist,” Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala said Monday. “You also have to be a little tolerant, and also a little careful.”
Amid Brazil’s COVID chaos, socialist Marica forges different path
Located just 60km from Rio de Janeiro, Marica has modelled itself into a very different city, paying residents a universal basic income, using its own digital currency and procuring its own vaccines. More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazil seems set on beating its own tragic records on a daily basis. By April, 4,000 Brazilians were dying every 24 hours — an average of one every 20 seconds — and many while waiting for beds in overcrowded intensive care units. Hundreds of hospitals were running out of intubation kits in what the country’s leading health institution, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), called the worst “sanitary collapse” in Brazilian history.
Working Remotely
Feeling invisible? 4 ways you can be seen as a remote worker
Women have been hit especially hard by layoffs and job losses throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. On top of that, many moms have quit their jobs to keep up with the demands of taking care of their homes and their kids, creating economic insecurity for themselves and their families. It’s easy to see why women who remain in the workforce might feel tempted to keep a low profile until Covid-19 is under control … or the kids are back in school full-time … or they’re back at the office after a long stint of working from home. It all feels so tenuous, so why rock the boat? However, this may be the ideal time to tout your contributions to your workplace—and make yourself more visible and valuable. With tight budgets and streamlined staffs, employers need every worker they have left and are ready to listen to new ideas for boosting their bottom-line results. They’re also finally realizing that the flexible schedules and remote work options women have advocated for years actually benefit both employer and employee alike.
Remote Work Study Shows The Possibility Of A New Corporate Two-Class System
As workers are allowed back in the office, management may feel that the people who choose to go back to the headquarters are more dedicated to their jobs. The flip side of the coin is that some managers may feel remote workers don’t possess the same passion as in-office staff. You can imagine how easy it will be for leadership to focus on employees who are physically around, and for the others, it's out of sight, out of mind. Bosses may even start feeling that it's a big inconvenience for them to have to manage a large group of people who are out of the office, live in different time zones or have hybrid schedules. You can easily envision a dual-class system arising amongst workers. There will be those in the room being first-class and those at home being second-class corporate citizens.
How To Ask Your Boss To Work From Home Permanently
If you want to continue working remotely but aren't sure how to approach the conversation with your boss, implement the below suggestions. The goal is to engage in a productive dialogue with your boss that supports your goal of a more permanent work-from-home arrangement while also expressing its immense benefits to your employer.
Virtual Classrooms
Parents may continue with online learning indefinitley
The school year is coming to an end and it’s now time for parents to start making decisions for next year. Families across the US have been forced to adapt to the ways of online learning due to the pandemic, but some parents and students have found they prefer virtual learning. Even if you like virtual, a lot of school districts might not offer it. The majority of parents that WAFF spoke to that would continue with virtual are those with students in middle school and younger. “They never would have chosen virtual, unless the pandemic had happened. But Since they did, they have found it is a pretty good fit for their students,’ says Melissa Larson, Head of School at Alabama Virtual Academy.
Why our distance learning programme has been described as 'faultless'
Noel Neeson, headmaster at The Blue Coat School, Birmingham, discusses the benefits of creating their own distance learning programme. "When the crisis came, and fluent communication between community elements became more vital than ever, urgent consideration was given to the children ‘on the outside’. Pastoral care provision had to be heightened; safeguarding concerns to be managed and met. With fortnightly phone calls, form tutors supported all children and their families, staff recording the outcomes and reporting daily to the leadership team. Meanwhile, risk assessments enabled us to track children’s welfare and suggest any necessary intervention, including asking children to return to school. If all this suggests that ‘life around lockdowns’ has been merely crisis management, there have been some notably happy consequences of a plague which has thrown so many young lives into disorder. There is evidence, for example, that our children have been spending more time engrossed in their books; guided reading, four times a week, certainly went down well with the vast majority."
Public Policies
COVID: South Africa to resume vaccine rollout with J&J jab
South Africa has announced it will resume its vaccination rollout with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a temporary suspension for a possible link between the jab and blood clots. The one-shot vaccine will be administered again starting from Wednesday. It had been put on hold after six people in the United States developed blood clots after inoculation prompting the US government to briefly suspend its use. “It has since been established there is a one in a million chance of getting the clot after the vaccine and that it appears that women between the ages of 18 and 48 years old are particularly at risk,” read a statement from South Africa’s health ministry
Coronavirus: EU sues AstraZeneca over vaccine delivery delays
The European Commission - the EU's executive branch - said it was suing the company for not respecting its vaccine supply contract, and for not having a "reliable" plan to ensure timely deliveries. AstraZeneca said the move was "without merit".
Portugal reports no COVID-related deaths in past day, first time since August 2020
Portugal on Monday reported no coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours for the first time in nearly nine months as the country emerges from a two-month lockdown, the health authority said. The country has reported a total of 16,965 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic and 834,638 infection cases, 196 more than reported the day before. The last time Portugal reported no coronavirus-related deaths was on August 3.
UK says COVID cases down 4.6% in past week
Britain reported 1,712 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, government data showed, meaning there were 17,063 new cases between April 19 and 25, a fall of 4.6% compared with the previous seven days. A further 11 people were reported as having died within 28 days of a positive test for COVID-19, taking the seven-day decrease to 12.6%. A total of 33.67 million people had received a first dose of a vaccine against coronavirus and 12.59 million people had received a second dose.
Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal extends lockdown by a week
Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday the city state would continue to be under a lockdown till May 3, as coronavirus cases rise steeply. India's number of cases surged by 349,691 in the past 24 hours, the fourth straight day of record peaks, and hospitals in Delhi and across the country are turning away patients after running out of medical oxygen and beds
Bengaluru, facing India's second-highest COVID-19 surge, to enter lockdown
The city of Bengaluru, home to the technology operations of hundreds of global companies, is to enter a two-week lockdown as India battles a sharp surge in COVID-19 infections, officials said on Monday. Karnataka state, of which Bengaluru is capital, will also lock down from Tuesday evening for 14 days, the state chief minister, B.S. Yediyurappa, told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Groceries and other essential services will operate for four hours in the mornings, he said. The region is the latest to impose restrictions after similar lockdowns or curfews in many parts of India, which is in the middleof a massive second wave of infections that has swamped its health system
Germany faces lockdown until June as curbs fail to push down cases
Germany’s coronavirus infection rate rose at the weekend despite stricter restrictions as Finance Minister Olaf Scholz cautioned he did not expect moves to ease curbs before the end of May. Germany is struggling to contain a third wave of infections, with efforts complicated by the more contagious B117 variant, which first emerged in the UK, and a relatively slow start to its national vaccination campaign. "We need a timetable how to get back to normal life, but it must be a plan that won't have to be revoked after just a few days," Scholz told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
India's COVID-19 crisis prompts global response
Several countries over the weekend resoundingly answered India's pleas for help with its massive COVID-19 surge—the worst of the pandemic—including the United States, which announced it will supply a raw material India urgently needs to make its Covishield vaccine. In a related development, with India's production of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine for the COVAX program sidelined to allow the country to take care of its own needs, the United States today announced that it will donate 60 million doses to the global vaccination effort. India today reported a world record for daily cases for the fifth day in a row, with 352,991 new illnesses reported, along with 2,812 deaths, according to CNN.
Turkey announces full lockdown in bid to halt COVID surge
Turks will be required to stay mostly at home under a nationwide “full lockdown” starting on Thursday and lasting until May 17 to curb a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced. Turkey logged 37,312 new COVID-19 infections and 353 deaths in the previous 24 hours on Monday, health ministry data showed, sharply down from mid-April but still the world’s fourth highest number of cases.
Thailand starts stricter COVID-19 shutdown, but experts say not enough
Thailand’s government slapped restrictions on travel from India on Monday over concerns of imported coronavirus cases and closed more venues in Bangkok, even as it came under fire for not doing enough to contain a spike in infections. The government has ordered parks, gyms, cinemas and day-care centres in its capital, the epicentre of the latest wave of infections, to shut from April 26 until May 9. It has also introduced a fine of up to 20,000 baht ($635) for not wearing masks in public, with even the prime minister falling foul of mask-wearing rules
Maintaining Services
Sanofi to aid Moderna on final steps in manufacturing coronavirus vaccine
French drugmaker Sanofi will help Moderna fill and finish vials of its coronavirus vaccine, announcing Monday an agreement with the Massachusetts biotech to manufacture up to 200 million doses of the shot at a plant in New Jersey. Fill and finish describes the final steps of the production process, in which the vaccine product is siphoned into individual vials, capped and labeled for distribution. The deal with Sanofi should help Moderna expand capacity through the later stages of manufacturing, but the larger drugmaker won't help with earlier steps of making raw materials or vaccine product. Moderna has contracted with the U.S. government to supply 300 million doses by the end of July, 117 million of which had been delivered through April 12. The company operates a separate supply chain for manufacturing abroad and expects to make between 700 million and 1 billion doses globally this year.
Covid-19: Vaccine rollout in England extends to 44-year-olds
About half a million more people in England are being invited to book their Covid-19 jab from Monday, as the vaccine rollout opens to 44-year-olds. Two-thirds of the previous age group - 45 to 49-year-olds - have received their first dose. The NHS said it would set out when 40 to 43-year-olds would be able to book appointments "in the coming days", and as supply allows. It comes as a TV advert is launched to encourage under-50s to get vaccinated. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the "great news" at being able to open up jabs to 44-year-olds came after "a huge few days for vaccinations".
Covid-19 in India: Patients struggle at home as hospitals choke
As hospitals in Delhi and many other cities run out of beds, people have been forced to find ways to get treatment for sick patients at home. Many have turned to the black market, where prices of essential medicines, oxygen cylinders and concentrators have skyrocketed and questionable drugs are now proliferating. On Monday, India recorded a new global high for daily coronavirus cases for a fifth straight day at 352, 991. Anshu Priya could not get a hospital bed in Delhi or its suburb of Noida for her father-in-law and as his condition continued to deteriorate. She spent most of Sunday looking for an oxygen cylinder but her search was futile. So she finally turned to the black market. She paid a hefty amount - 50,000 rupees ($670; £480) - to procure a cylinder that normally costs 6,000 rupees. With her mother-in-law also struggling to breathe, Anshu knew she may not be able to find or afford another cylinder on the black market.
French restaurants to reopen in staggered manner - Macron
French restaurants will reopen in a staggered fashion and on a regional basis, depending on the extent to which the COVID-19 epidemic is brought under control, President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday.
French primary pupils return to school despite high COVID numbers
France sent primary and nursery pupils back to school on Monday, the first phase of reopening after a three-week COVID-19 lockdown, even as daily new infections remained stubbornly high. President Emmanuel Macron said a return to school would help fight social inequality, allowing parents who struggle to pay for childcare to get back to work, but trade unions warned that new infections would lead to a "torrent" of classroom closures.
Canada sending military, Red Cross to help COVID-hit Ontario
Canada’s federal government has said it will send military and Red Cross medical teams to the province of Ontario, which earlier on Monday asked for help to respond to a surge in coronavirus hospitalisations. Canadian Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair said on Twitter that Ottawa had approved Ontario’s request and the military would be providing “medical + civilian human health resources within medical care facilities” in the province, as well as logistical and administrative support.
Virus surge in crowded Gaza threatens to overwhelm hospitals
More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, some of the worst fears are coming true in the crowded Gaza Strip: A sudden surge in infections and deaths is threatening to overwhelm hospitals weakened by years of conflict and border closures. Gaza’s main treatment center for COVID-19 patients warns that oxygen supplies are dwindling fast. In another hospital, coronavirus patients are packed three to a room. For months, Gaza’s Hamas rulers seemed to have a handle on containing the pandemic. But their decision to lift most movement restrictions in February — coupled with the spread of a more aggressive virus variant and lack of vaccines — has led to a fierce second surge. At the same time, many of Gaza’s more than 2 million people ignore safety precautions, especially during the current fasting month of Ramadan. In the daytime, markets teem with shoppers buying goods for iftar, the meal breaking the fast after sundown. Few wear masks properly, if at all. “Corona is not a game,” said Yasmin Ali, 32, whose 64-year-old mother died of the virus last week. “It will take the lives of many people if they don’t protect themselves in the first place.”
Healthcare Innovations
Is a Cheap 'Universal' Coronavirus Vaccine on the Way?
An experimental COVID-19 vaccine could potentially provide universal protection against future COVID variants as well as other coronaviruses — maybe even the ones responsible for the common cold. And it's dirt cheap — less than $1 a dose, researchers say. The vaccine targets a part of the COVID virus' spike protein that appears to be highly resistant to mutation and is common across nearly all coronaviruses, said senior researcher Dr. Steven Zeichner. He is a professor of pediatric infectious disease with the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville. In animal studies, the COVID vaccine protected pigs against two separate diseases caused by two types of coronavirus, COVID-19 and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), according to results published online recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Study of COVID-19 in Ireland shows links between underlying conditions and poorer outcomes
A national study of 20,000 patients conducted by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has identified the underlying conditions that are associated with more severe outcomes from COVID-19 in an Irish setting.
Real-world studies find COVID vaccines cut infection, hospitalization
Three new real-world UK studies highlight the effectiveness of one or two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines in preventing both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections and related hospitalizations, with one study showing an effectiveness above 90% for only one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.