"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 23rd Jun 2021

Isolation Tips
'Stolen moments': Families anguish over separation from dying COVID patients
In-depth interviews with 19 adult family members of patients lost to COVID-19 during the first pandemic wave in France uncover difficulties forging a bond with intensive care unit (ICU) staff, being separated from their loved ones at the time of greatest need, and grief over "stolen moments." Led by researchers at Saint Louis University Hospital in Paris, the study involved semi-structured, in-depth phone interviews conducted with family members of COVID-19 patients who died in one of 12 ICUs in seven regions of France in April and May 2020. The interviews took place 3 or 4 months after the patients' deaths, and the results were published yesterday in JAMA Network Open.
Quarter of a million children in England missed school last week due to Covid
A quarter of a million children in England missed school last week because of Covid infections, self-isolation or school closures, making it the most disrupted week since schools fully reopened in March and prompting calls for pupils to be vaccinated. The upsurge has been most marked in northern centres such as Oldham, where Covid-related absences in schools are more than double the national rate. Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said that self-isolation rules for children needed to be reformed to avoid further disruption to their education. The national figures from the Department for Education (DfE) showed that one child in every 30 at state school was out of the classroom on 17 June, including 9,000 pupils with confirmed Covid-19 cases, 16,000 with suspected cases and more than 7,000 whose schools had shut entirely because of Covid outbreaks.
Hygiene Helpers
In Pakistan, Saying ‘No’ to Covid-19 Vaccine Carries Consequences
Many countries offer incentives to entice people to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Pakistan is taking a more punitive approach. Authorities in this country of 220 million threaten those refusing to accept the shot with punishments from cutting off their cellphone connections to withholding their salaries. The penalties contrast with the prizes being dangled elsewhere in the world. A town in the Philippines is offering people who agree to be vaccinated the chance to win a cow. Some U.S. states are holding lotteries with cash prizes, while Hong Kong is giving away a multimillion-dollar apartment.
Mandatory mask rules extended in Sydney as COVID-19 cluster grows
Australia’s most populous state on Tuesday reported its biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in nearly a week and extended the wearing of masks inside buildings, while New Zealand paused quarantine-free travel with the state.
Indian court calls for probe of Renault-Nissan plant's social distancing
An Indian court on Tuesday asked the Tamil Nadu state government to inspect a Renault-Nissan plant on July 3 to check whether social distancing norms are being followed. The Renault-Nissan workers union petitioned the Madras High court last month seeking to halt operations, saying that social distancing norms were being flouted and company-provided health benefits were outweighed by the risk to their lives.
Philippines president Duterte: ‘You choose, Covid vaccine or I will have you jailed’
President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to jail people who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Philippines battles one of Asia’s worst outbreaks, with a cumulative total of more than 1.3 million cases and 23,000 deaths. “You choose, vaccine or I will have you jailed,” Duterte said in a televised address on Monday following reports of low turnouts at several vaccination sites in the capital Manila. Duterte’s remarks contradict those of his health officials, who have said that while people are being urged to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, it was voluntary.
Italy to lift mandatory masks outdoors as pandemic slows
People in Italy will no longer have to wear masks outdoors from June 28, the government has said, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations decline in one of Europe’s worst-hit countries by the pandemic. Mandatory masks were imposed in October last year, when the country was entering a second wave of infections and authorities were struggling to curb a surging national caseload. Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government has been steadily lifting restrictions since April, allowing restaurants, bars, cinemas and gyms to reopen and permitting freedom of movement around the country. The wearing of masks was one of the last rules to remain in place.
Israel Recommends Vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds Amid Indian COVID Strain Fears
Israel's Health Ministry recommended on Sunday that the country vaccinate 12 to 15-year-olds, following the outbreaks of the Delta variant of coronavirus in the country. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened a meeting with key ministries on Sunday in light of a resurgent rate of infection in Israel, and decided to bar people from travelling to high-risk countries and to enforce quarantine on arrival.
Community Activities
Do we have to learn to live with Covid-19?
A new wave of Covid-19 cases is threatening to disrupt another summer in the UK as the government extends restrictions for England into July amid concern about the rate of spread of the Delta variant. The Guardian’s health editor, Sarah Boseley, tells Anushka Asthana that this time around we are in a very different position with most adults now having had two vaccine jabs. However, there is still a prospect of a sharp rise in Covid cases and with it more hospital admissions and deaths. Boris Johnson has said cases of the Delta variant are rising at about 30% a week.
A QUARTER of American adults under 40 do not plan to get a COVID-19 shot due lack of trust in vaccines and fears of potential side effects
A new CDC report finds that 24.9% of Americans under 40 do not plan on getting vaccinated. Over 56% report they do not trust the vaccine, while 56% also report they fear side effects of vaccine. Other reasons included thinking they do not need a COVID-19 shot or that the virus is not a big threat to them. President Joe Biden has set a target of hitting 70% of the population vaccinated by July 4, which is unlikely
How Bolton brought down Covid infection rates
Community engagement and cooperation between public bodies has played a key role in lowering Bolton’s Covid-19 infection rates, health chiefs have revealed. Health officials took on a targeted approach by identifying areas where there were a particularly high number of cases and worked closely with communities there. Barriers to accessing the vaccine such as financial or transport issues were identified and overcome by the introduction of the Vaccine Bus, which brought the jab to the people. As the health teams, the army and volunteers worked hard to bring vaccines and testing to the community, the community itself played a part in enabling the effort to succeed.
Euro 2020: WHO concerned about easing COVID restrictions
The World Health Organization has said it was concerned about the easing of COVID-19 restrictions by nations hosting Euro 2020 matches, noting that some were already seeing rising cases. “WHO is concerned about easing of restrictions in some of the host countries,” Robb Butler, an executive director at WHO’s Regional Office for Europe, said in an emailed statement to the AFP news agency.
Working Remotely
Canadian employees want workplace flexibility to continue post-pandemic, says survey
An Ernst & Young survey has found that Canadian employees have embraced workplace flexibility and want it to continue post-pandemic. The 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey found that 93 per cent of respondents said they would likely remain with their organization for the next year or more if they have control over where and when they work. But 54 per cent would be willing to quit if flexibility on schedule and work location is not maintained.
City chiefs reject remote working laws | Business
Legislative changes allowing people to work from home would be “inappropriate”, City figures warned yesterday. Speaking at City & Financial’s City Week event, business leaders said that policymakers should avoid interfering and instead should allow businesses to determine working patterns. The government is consulting on plans to give workers a right to work from home as part of a drive to promote flexible working. The proposals would change the law to make it difficult for employers to insist that workers attend the office unless it is essential. “This is going to evolve, clearly, and that’s why legislation would be inappropriate,” Bruce Carnegie-Brown, chairman of the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, said.
Decision time: remote, office or hybrid working?
Businesses are preparing their return-to-the-office policies in preparation for the potential lifting of Covid restrictions on July 19 in what lawyers are describing as a period of “unprecedented” challenge for employer/employee relations. Small and medium-sized companies employ 12 million people, with the majority of those office-based, and they are grappling with how to set out policies that are in the best interests of their businesses as well as their employees. “For most businesses every employee will be affected in one way or another,” said Keely Rushmore, employment law partner at Keystone Law. The government is also preparing to launch a consultation on its manifesto pledge to make remote working a right in law, with the onus on employers to make the business case for why they need to work in an office or elsewhere
For some LGBTQ employees, remote work is a 'game changer' for inclusion
Ali Fazal is the vice president of marketing at Grin. Fazal says the future of remote work could be a “game changer” for workplace inclusion for LGBTQ individuals like himself, who won’t have to choose between the place where they’ve built a supportive community and an employer located in a different city. Now three months into working for Grin, Fazal is glad the company embraced remote work and can see the inclusive benefits it can offer. As experts forecast the future of remote work, many say the accommodation can be a strategy for improved diversity, inclusion and belonging. Indeed, a physical workplace that replicates the power dynamics of society in general can be harmful for marginalized individuals, including LGBTQ people
Virtual Classrooms
Father Asks School If Son Can Repeat Grade Due to Virtual Learning Inconsistencies
A father in North Carolina is asking his son's school if he can repeat the sixth grade due to virtual learning inconsistencies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Brad Dills said his son Tommy, 12, did virtual learning for the entire school year at Camden County Intermediate School and "struggled" with it despite setting him up with a spot to work online, according to WAVY. Tommy barely passed and Dills is concerned about his son's preparedness for the seventh grade. "Virtual learning alone is not a reason to retain a student," Camden County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Ferrell told Newsweek. "We were in school in-person in some way starting in October and every student had the opportunity for in-person instruction/learning."
What edtech can learn from Fortnite
The past year has been transformational for the edtech industry. Initially, traditional educational institutions were forced to take their classes online, but many are now choosing to make virtual learning a permanent offering once we fully emerge from the pandemic. One third of Russell Group universities say they intend to continue with blended learning, while the University of Buckingham’s Education MA, for example, at is now fully online. And it’s not only institutions turning to online learning, individuals are too. Polling commissioned by online social learning provider Learning with Experts showed that over half of Brits have started or intend to start an online course during the pandemic.
Virtual pupils make for more confident teachers
Teacher training students who practised teaching virtual pupils developed greater confidence in their teaching ability, according to a study from Linköping University. In the long term, simulation can make the students better prepared for their workforce debut. Teacher training programmes often have difficulty offering their students sufficient teaching practice for their future profession. Many teaching graduates feel unprepared when they start working, and some decide to change career path, despite good employment prospects caused by a teacher shortage. A group of researchers at Linköping University investigated whether teaching virtual pupils could make teacher training students better prepared for teaching in a real classroom
Public Policies
WHO setting up hub to make COVID-19 vaccines in South Africa
The WHO is setting up a hub in South Africa to give companies from poor and middle-income countries the know-how and licenses to produce COVID-19 vaccines, in what President Cyril Ramaphosa called an historic step to spread lifesaving technology. The "tech transfer hub" could make it possible for African companies to begin manufacturing mRNA vaccines - the advanced technology now used in shots from Pfizer and Moderna - in as little as 9-12 months, the World Health Organization said.
EU takes up option to buy 150 million more Moderna COVID-19 shots
The European Union has decided to take up an option under a supply contract with drugmaker Moderna that allows the bloc to order 150 million additional COVID-19 vaccines produced by the U.S. biotech firm, the EU Commission said on Tuesday. The announcement comes a week after CureVac, a German biotech firm, said its COVID-19 vaccine was only 47% effective in a late-stage trial, missing the study's main goal and casting doubt on the potential delivery of hundreds of millions of doses to the EU
Turkey's Erdogan says easing COVID-19 restrictions further as of July
Turkey will further relax restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 from next month, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday after the number of daily coronavirus cases in the country fell to around 5,000. Lockdowns that had been imposed on Sundays and curfews from 1900 GMT on weekdays would be lifted from July 1, Erdogan said after a government cabinet meeting. "Public transportation restrictions will also be lifted and public institutions will return to normal working hours," Erdogan said.
Moscow imposes new virus restrictions as cases remain high
The mayor of Moscow announced new pandemic restrictions on Tuesday, saying the situation in the capital where the delta variant of the virus is spreading remains “very difficult.” The country’s state coronavirus task force reported 6,555 new COVID-19 cases in Moscow on Tuesday and a total 16,715 new infections across Russia, both tallies twice as high as a month ago. “The decisions that we’re making are difficult, unpopular, but necessary for saving people’s lives,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in an online statement, adding that more than 14,000 people severely ill with COVID-19 remain in the city’s hospitals. He has attributed the infection spike to the delta variant that first appeared in India. Sobyanin banned all entertainment and sports events at which more than 500 people are present starting Tuesday.
White House’s global COVID jab distribution plan hits a snag
The Biden administration on Monday revealed allocation plans for 55 million coronavirus vaccination doses, amid what officials say are logistical challenges that have delayed a commitment to share 80 million with other countries by the end of June. In a fact sheet released Monday, the White House said the majority of the 55 million shots will be shared through the COVAX global sharing mechanism. Some 14 million doses will go to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, while 16 million will go to countries in Asia, including India. About 10 million doses will go to Africa, with countries selected in coordination with the African Union. The remaining doses, some 25 percent, will be shared directly with countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and in Europe.
Health minister invites Chinese vaccine maker to invest in Turkey
Sinovac, the Chinese developer of the first COVID-19 vaccine used in Turkey, was urged by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to invest in the country for mass production of vaccines. Koca, who held a videoconference call with Sinovac executives, said he believed a good cooperation model can be developed between the company and his country. According to media outlets, Sinovac has reportedly started production in Turkey. Sinovac's CoronaVac, an inactive vaccine, was Turkey’s first choice for vaccination against the coronavirus. It was the first jab applied in the country to health care workers during the campaign that later included a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Maintaining Services
Wembley to have crowd of 60000 for Euro semis and final - UK govt
Crowd capacity at Wembley Stadium will be increased to more than 60,000 fans for the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020, the British government said on Tuesday. The new levels mean the stadium will be at 75% capacity for the final three games, which conclude with the final on July 11. All ticket holders will need to have either a negative COVID-19 test or proof of full vaccination - two doses received 14 days before the fixture. The announcement came after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called on Monday for the final to be moved from England due to rising COVID-19 cases in the country
Eating Disorders Surged Among Adolescents in Pandemic
Experts across the country who treat eating disorders in adolescents and young adults say they are seeing unprecedented demand for treatment that arose during the pandemic. Inpatient units have doubled or tripled capacity, wait lists for residential programs and outpatient services are months long, and the patients coming in are sicker than ever. Experts say they have seen the biggest increase during the past year in anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder where people deprive themselves of food. Other disorders being seen include bulimia nervosa, where people binge on food and then try to get rid of it with laxatives or vomiting, and binge-eating disorder, where people consume excessive amounts of food in a short period.
Almost 900 Secret Service employees were infected with COVID
Roughly 900 U.S. Secret Service employees tested positive for the coronavirus, according to government records obtained by a government watchdog group. Secret Service records show that 881 people on the agency payroll were diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 1, 2020 and March 9, 2021, according to documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. More than 11% of Secret Service employees were infected. Secret Service spokesperson Justine Whelan said COVID testing of employees was pro-active with more than 25,000 tests being administered.
Israel Sees Highest COVID Daily Infections in Two Months as Delta Variant Spreads
The highest daily coronavirus infection rate in two months was registered in Israel on Monday, with 125 people testing positive after local outbreaks of the delta variant had been reported across the country. The director-general of the Health Ministry, Chezy Levy, told Israeli television that about 70 per cent of the new infections were with the Delta variant. He also noted that half of those infected were children, and that a third of those infected had been vaccinated.
Healthcare Innovations
COVID-19: Period changes after coronavirus vaccine 'could be coincidental', gynaecologists say
Changes to women's periods after the coronavirus vaccine are likely to be "coincidental", gynaecologists have said. It comes after data suggested more than 4,000 women reported changes in their menstrual cycle after getting a COVID jab. But experts from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) say that most women experience changes in their cycles - so the fact this is happening after the vaccine could be "by chance".
Cuba says Abdala vaccine 92.28% effective against coronavirus
Cuba said on Monday its three-shot Abdala vaccine against the coronavirus had proved 92.28% effective in last-stage clinical trials. The announcement came just days after the government said another homegrown vaccine, Soberana 2, had proved 62% effective with just two of its three doses. Hit by the pandemic, our scientists at the Finlay Institute and Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology have risen above all the obstacles and given us two very effective vaccines,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel tweeted. The announcement came from state-run biopharmaceutical corporation BioCubaFarma, which oversees Finlay, the maker of Soberana 2, and the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, the producer of Abdala.
G7 Summit Of World Leaders May Have Been Covid-19 Superspreader Event
The G7 summit held in Cornwall, England between 11–13 June has sparked off a significant rise in Covid-19 cases in the area, according to new case count data released by the U.K. government. The news was originally reported by inews on the weekend and shows that cases in the area which hosted the summit have risen by almost 2,500% since the event, causing significant alarm for local businesses and residents of the tourism-heavy area. Despite reasonably high vaccination rates, the U.K. is experiencing a significant surge in cases fueled by the Delta SARS-CoV2 variant originally discovered in India. Despite this, the U.K. is not currently experiencing a substantial rise in deaths, likely due to this surge being mostly driven by children and younger adults who have not yet been vaccinated, whereas the large majority of older adults and clinically vulnerable people have been fully vaccinated.
Persistent pulmonary disease after acute covid-19
Lingering pathology contributes to a wider picture of poor health after hospital discharge It has been over a year since the first patients were discharged from UK hospitals following treatment for covid-19. Hospital admission was largely dictated by the requirement for supplementary oxygen and additional respiratory support.1 Acute imaging commonly showed multifocal airspace opacification, and venous thromboembolism was recorded in around a quarter of adults admitted to critical care.2 This led to concern about the long term respiratory consequences of covid-19, particularly interstitial lung disease and pulmonary vascular disease.3 Fifteen months later, our understanding of the complications after hospital treatment for covid-19 is improving. A UK study of 47 780 discharged patients reported all cause mortality of 12% and readmissions in one third after 140 days of follow-up.4 Interestingly, although respiratory disease was diagnosed in 29.6% after discharge, rates of extrapulmonary complications, including diabetes, adverse cardiovascular events, and liver and kidney dysfunction were also increased compared with those in population matched controls, indicating that the effect of covid-19 extends far beyond the lungs.
Oxford University explores anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment
The University of Oxford said on Wednesday it was testing anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a possible treatment for COVID-19, as part of a British government-backed study that aims to aid recoveries in non-hospital settings. Ivermectin resulted in a reduction of virus replication in laboratory studies, the university said, adding that a small pilot showed giving the drug early could reduce viral load and the duration of symptoms in some patients with mild COVID-19