"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 2nd Jul 2021

Isolation Tips
Italy to enforce 5-day quarantine for England soccer fans
Italy intensified its warnings to England soccer fans on Thursday to stay away from the European Championship quarterfinal match against Ukraine on Saturday, saying they shouldn’t count on getting into the Stadio Olimpico unless they can prove they have observed five days of quarantine since arriving from Britain. In addition, the state police imposed a mandatory block on the sale and transfer of any tickets starting Thursday and the cancellation of coupons sold to British residents starting last Monday.
Covid-19 lockdown left NI young people in limbo, says research
Lockdown left many children and young people "feeling like they were in limbo", according to research carried out for Stormont's Education Committee. Many said that not seeing friends and family, not being in school and not playing sport had been the most difficult aspects of lockdown. A lot said they "loved" being back at school. Hundreds of children and young people's views were received as part of the "My life and learning in lockdown" project.
Hygiene Helpers
Delta variant exploits low vaccine rates, easing of rules
The latest alarming coronavirus variant is exploiting low global vaccination rates and a rush to ease pandemic restrictions, adding new urgency to the drive to get more shots in arms and slow its supercharged spread. The vaccines most used in Western countries still appear to offer strong protection against the highly contagious delta variant, first identified in India and now spreading in more than 90 other countries. But the World Health Organization warned this week that the trifecta of easier-to-spread strains, insufficiently immunized populations and a drop in mask use and other public health measures before the virus is better contained will “delay the end of the pandemic.”
Ministers plan to end social distancing in England on 19 July
Ministers are planning to remove all mandatory mask and social distancing restrictions in England on 19 July, but national guidance may still encourage caution in high-risk areas such as public transport. A number of key scientific advisers including England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and the government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, are said to be behind ministers’ plans to lift restrictions, though they have cautioned that the NHS may come under pressure in the winter. However, hospital bosses fear the reopening date will lead to a new spike in admissions due to Covid. NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts in England, warned it could lead to the cancellation of surgery and other care.
Tokyo mom creates COVID-19 vaccination database amid information vacuum
Balancing a new software programming job and caring for a toddler in Tokyo, LaShawn Toyoda saw increasing confusion in her social media feeds among non-Japanese speakers about how they could get a COVID-19 vaccine. "There was no news available in any language other than Japanese about when they would be able to get vaccinated, how they could get vaccinated or where," said Toyoda, who moved from Maryland in the United States to Tokyo a decade ago. Toyoda launched her database Find a Doc, a health database that helps non-Japanese speaking people find clinics with COVID-19 vaccine doses to spare after cancellations from prioritised elderly patients.
Surgeon General issues warning on Delta variant: 'If you are not vaccinated, you are in trouble'
Dr Vivek Murthy said Indian Delta variant poses greatest risk to unvaccinated people. He told CNN: 'This is a serious threat and we're seeing it spread among unvaccinated people.' Murthy urged people to get vaccinated, or mask-up if they haven't had their shot. Surgeon General said shots offer good protection from Delta variant - but also warned a future strain of COVID could end up defeating them. Delta variant now estimated to comprise 20 per cent of new infections in the United States. Early data from the United Kingdom suggests it is more transmissible, but that vaccines have made it far less dangerous. This comes as a DailyMail.com analysis found thousands of unvaccinated Americans could die if half of all those who haven't gotten shots caught the variant
Community Activities
Rebuilding in COVID's awful wake: One small step at a time
As a study of how people are trying, as best they can, to get through it all, The Associated Press honed in on Sartor and her family in Montmartre and on a couple in Brazil. Why them? Because their pandemic has been, on the whole, unremarkable — if one can say that of a world-changing cataclysm. It didn’t kill them or people they love. But it turned their lives upside down, and still is: They are us all.
Teenagers are figuring out how to fake positive Covid tests using lemon juice and hacks from TikTok
British teenagers are using TikTok to learn and share tips for faking positive Covid-19 tests as hundreds of thousands of pupils in “bubbles” are already being forced to miss school. Clips of young people applying various liquids to lateral flow tests have racked up millions of views on the popular video app, with many users offering suggestions. Videos uploaded under the search term #fakecovidtest have been viewed more than 6.5 million times, with the dedicated account @.fakecovidtests gaining more than 20,000 followers. Education leaders have warned that the practice is “massively unhelpful” as schools already battle to keep education going amid outbreaks.
Covid-19: Taskforce appeals for the return of live music
Live music can resume from 5 July, as ministers press ahead with some further relaxations of Covid-19 rules. Music performed indoors will be restricted to an ambient sound level only, with screens placed in front of musicians, the executive has confirmed. No volume restrictions will apply to live music at outdoor events. From 17:00 BST on Friday, the cap on outdoor gatherings will be removed, and from Monday, more households will be able to gather in a private garden. The Northern Ireland Executive said it had decided to push ahead with relaxations despite the increase in coronavirus cases linked to the Delta variant.
Germany could ease travel curbs as Delta variant takes over
Germany expects the Delta variant of COVID-19 to account for up to 80% of infections this month, meaning it could ease travel restrictions from countries like Portugal and Britain where it already dominates, the German health minister said on Thursday. Jens Spahn told a news conference that Germany could reduce the current 14-day quarantine requirement that it imposes on travellers from countries with high levels of the Delta variant once it is sure that vaccinated people are protected.
Fairness not the ultimate virtue in a pandemic
Plans to limit indoor dining to those who can prove their fully-vaccinated status have caused quite a ruckus. Having given up so much to protect the health of the older and more vulnerable, the youngest are last in line to get their old lives back. “It’s unfair,” Tánaiste Leo Varadkar concluded. And maybe he is right. But so what? The general appeal to fairness has proven itself to be an indefatigable instinct throughout the pandemic, whether it be about vaccines or restrictions or rule-breaking. But it isn’t always a sound one.
Working Remotely
A Single-Mother, Self-Taught Software Developer Living With Mental Illness Raises Concerns Over Apple’s Limited Remote-Work Policy
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, recently told his global workforce of 137,000 employees that they’d have to return to the office beginning early September. It's expected that employees will spend about three days a week at the office and the other two at home or remotely. In an open letter to Cook, some employees of Apple voiced their concerns about returning to an in-person office setting stating, “We feel like the current policy is not sufficient in addressing many of our needs.” The letter pointed out that workers delivered “the same quality of products and services that Apple is known for, all while working almost completely remotely.” Despite protests from workers, Apple is remaining resolute in its position. Remote-work positions will be limited and decisions made “on a case-by-case basis with any new remote positions requiring executive approval.”
4 people share how being able to work remotely forever has changed their lives: 'I don't have to choose between work and family'
As remote work became widespread as a result of the pandemic, many people have found their lives changed for ever. Here, four of them explain how the new way of work has improved their life
Remote working has a huge sexual harassment problem
According to the Rights of Women report there has been a surge in online sexual harassment as a result of the pandemic, with harassers taking advantage of the reliance on platforms such as Zoom to continue intimidatory behaviours they had already honed in physical workspaces. Almost half (45 per cent) of those reporting workplace harassment said it had happened remotely, with close to a quarter (23 per cent) saying it had escalated since they had started working from home. Nor does the harassment simply take the form of indecent comments and unwanted advances, a further report from London-headquartered law firm Slater and Gordon found that women are being discriminated against by employers, who think nothing of asking female staff to “look sexy” on video calls in order to lure clients.
Virtual Classrooms
How to Support Student Mental Health in a Remote Learning Environment
Student mental health has evolved as a critical issue in the remote learning process. In a traditional classroom environment, teachers have the ability to observe students directly and interact face to face. This visual contact allows teachers to perceive the early warning signs of their students’ mental health issues. In the online setting, direct sensory contact is significantly reduced. Thus, the dangers to student mental health, as well as the remedies, must be well assessed and consistently worked on. Online teachers need to develop strategies to identify crucial individual or group psychological issues in their classes. Furthermore, a set of institutional policies addressing mental health and student performance should be applied to guarantee a consistent and steady remote learning environment.
‘I don’t think you are ready’: Boys of color fell furthest behind at school amid COVID
In Chicago and across the country, there is growing evidence that this year has hit Black and Latino boys – young men such as Derrick, Nathaniel and Leonel – harder than other students. Amid rising gun violence, a national reckoning over race, bitter school reopening battles and a deadly virus that took the heaviest toll on Black and Latino communities, the year has tested not only these teens but also the school systems that have historically failed many of them. It has severed precarious ties to school, derailed college plans and pried gaping academic disparities even wider. But in this moment of upheaval, educators and advocates also see a chance to rethink how schools serve boys of color. With billions in federal stimulus funds on the way, the crisis is fueling a patchwork of efforts to bring diversity to the teaching cadre, support college-bound teens and more, though a bolder, wholesale overhaul is yet to emerge.
Damage to children’s education — and their health — could last a lifetime
After more than a year of isolation, widespread financial insecurity and the loss of an unprecedented amount of classroom time, experts say many of the youngest Americans have fallen behind socially, academically and emotionally in ways that could harm their physical and mental health for years or even decades. "This could affect a whole generation for the rest of their lives," said Dr. Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician and director of the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University. "All kids will be affected. Some will get through this and be fine. They will learn from it and grow. But lots of kids are going to be in big trouble."
Public Policies
WHO decision challenges West to recognize Chinese vaccines
The World Health Organization said Thursday that any COVID-19 vaccines it has authorized for emergency use should be recognized by countries as they open up their borders to inoculated travelers. The move could challenge Western countries to broaden their acceptance of two apparently less effective Chinese vaccines, which the U.N. health agency has licensed but most European and North American countries have not. In addition to vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna Inc., AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, the WHO has also given the green light to the two Chinese jabs, made by Sinovac and Sinopharm.
World Bank says will boost COVID-19 vaccine funding to $20 bln
The World Bank on Wednesday pledged to boost available funding for COVID-19 vaccine purchases and deployment to $20 billion from a previous target of $12 billion, citing a sharp increase in overall financing demand from developing countries. World Bank President David Malpass said the global development bank had already provided more than $4 billion to 51 developing countries for the purchase and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, and would add billions for 25 more countries soon. "Much more will follow in coming weeks," Malpass told reporters, noting that a total of 41 requests had been received from African countries, where less than half the population has been vaccinated
Covid-19: Indonesia announces lockdown in Java and Bali as cases surge
Indonesia has announced a lockdown on its main island Java, as well as the tourism destination of Bali. The announcement by President Joko Widodo comes as the country battles multiple outbreaks and an alarming spike in Covid cases. Indonesia recently recorded two million Covid cases, attributed to increased holiday travel and the Delta variant. The lockdown will last two weeks and aims to reduce the number of cases to below 10,000 a day. The country is currently recording more than 20,000 new cases each day.
Malaysia to impose tighter coronavirus restrictions in capital
Malaysia on Thursday announced tighter restrictions on movement and businesses in the capital Kuala Lumpur and neighbouring Selangor state as new coronavirus cases show no sign of abating. Security Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Kuala Lumpur and several districts in Selangor will see stricter measures imposed from Saturday for a period of two weeks. Only essential busineses, including factories producing food and daily necessities are allowed to operate, he said in a statement.
Emergency curbs in Indonesia’s Java and Bali amid COVID surge
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has announced “emergency restrictions” on the archipelago’s most populous island of Java and the tourist island of Bali as a second wave of COVID-19 infections drives rates of hospitalisation and deaths to record highs. In a televised address on Thursday, Widodo said the measures will begin on Saturday and last until July 20.
Some European nations approve India’s Covishield vaccine: Report
Germany and Spain are among nine countries in Europe to have told India they will accept travellers inoculated with Covishield, the Indian-made version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Indian foreign ministry sources said. Friction emerged between India and Europe in recent days over the exclusion of Covishield as an accepted vaccine by the European Union vaccine passport programme.
Africa's COVID-19 envoy blasts EU, COVAX over vaccine crisis
The African Union special envoy tasked with leading efforts to procure COVID-19 vaccines for the continent is blasting Europe as Africa struggles amid a crushing third surge of infections, saying Thursday that “not one dose, not one vial, has left a European factory for Africa.” Strive Masiyiwa also took aim at the global effort meant to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, accusing COVAX of withholding crucial information including that key donors hadn’t met funding pledges. He didn’t name which donors. “The situation could be very different had we known back in December that ‘Listen, this help is not coming, do for yourselves,’” Masiyiwa told reporters, adding that “many countries were just sitting back saying, ‘the vaccines are coming.’ ... We as Africans are disappointed.”
Biden behind on global vaccine sharing, cites local hurdles
President Joe Biden came up well short on his goal of delivering 80 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to the rest of the world by the end of June as a host of logistical and regulatory hurdles slowed the pace of U.S. vaccine diplomacy. Although the Biden administration has announced that about 50 countries and entities will receive a share of the excess COVID-19 vaccine doses, the U.S. has shipped fewer than 24 million doses to 10 recipient countries, according to an Associated Press tally. The White House says more will be sent in the coming days and stresses that Biden has done everything in his power to meet the commitment.
Africa’s COVID threat hits ‘new level’ as Delta variant spreads
Warnings are mounting about a fast-growing new wave of COVID-19 infections across the continent amid insufficient vaccines. At a press briefing on Thursday, the World Health Organization’s Africa director Dr Matshidiso Moeti warned that “the speed and scale of Africa’s third wave is like nothing we’ve seen before.” “COVID-19 cases are doubling every three weeks, compared to every four weeks at the start of the second wave. Almost 202,000 cases were reported in the past week and the continent is on the verge of exceeding its worst week ever in this pandemic,” she added. Moeti said that, among the 14 African countries now in resurgence, 12 have detected coronavirus variants of concern, including nine with the highly contagious Delta variant.
Maintaining Services
Bolivian hospital connects COVID-19 patients and loved ones with virtual visits
Ruth Lagos has come to the Cotahuma Municipal Hospital in the highland Bolivian city of La Paz for a "virtual" visit with her mother and father who are being treated for COVID-19. Not allowed to see them in person, and like many Bolivians not having enough internet bandwidth at home, Lagos is taking advantage of an innovative new idea: a video call booth at the hospital's entrance, which connects patients inside with their loved ones.
S.African medics threaten court action as staff shortages hit COVID response
The South African Medical Association threatened on Thursday to take the government to court because scores of new junior doctors cannot find placements despite staff shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. SAMA said it was "scandalous" that, during a third wave of infections, 228 medical interns who graduated in March and April were waiting for the government to place them at public hospitals to complete their training.
Moscow begins booster vaccine campaign as Russia's COVID-19 cases surge
Health clinics in Moscow will begin offering booster vaccine shots against COVID-19 on Thursday, the city's mayor said, as Russian officials scramble to contain a surge in cases blamed on the highly infectious Delta variant. The health ministry issued new regulations for the national inoculation program on Wednesday, recommending clinics begin administering booster doses to people vaccinated six months ago or more, making Russia one of the first countries globally to begin re-vaccination. The health ministry said campaign was an emergency measure as coronavirus cases in Russia rise sharply and vaccination rates remain low.
NHS GPs giving second Covid jabs just three weeks apart
Hundreds of GPs are administering second Covid jabs just three weeks after the first in defiance of NHS advice, triggering a rebuke from the UK’s vaccines authority. The rollout of second doses up to nine weeks earlier than official guidance has prompted concern over a postcode lottery in access to protection against coronavirus. GP vaccinators, high street pharmacies and some mass vaccination centres and pop-up jab clinics in different parts of England have taken the decision to offer second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab after three weeks and of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after four weeks. Doctors say their unofficial and “pragmatic” policy of shorter gaps between doses is boosting the immunisation drive ahead of what has been dubbed “Freedom Day” on 19 July and ensures vaccines are not wasted, especially amid the spread of the Delta variant.
Euro soccer tournament under fire for helping spread COVID-19
The Euro 2020 soccer tournament was on Thursday blamed for a surge in coronavirus cases as fans have flocked to stadiums, bars and spectator zones across Europe to watch the action while the pandemic still raged. Germany's interior minister called European soccer's governing body UEFA "utterly irresponsible" for allowing big crowds at the tournament. The World Health Organization (WHO) said the mixing of crowds in Euro 2020 host cities, travel and easing of social restrictions had driven up the number of new cases rose by 10%.
California virus cases rising as delta variant spreads
California broadly reopened its economy barely two weeks ago and since then an especially contagious coronavirus variant has spread among the unvaccinated, a development that has health officials on edge and already has prompted Los Angeles County to strongly recommend everyone resume wearing masks inside. The nation’s most populous state is averaging close to 1,000 additional cases reported daily, an increase of about 17% in the last 14 days. Officials expected an increase when capacity limits were lifted for businesses and most mask restrictions and social distancing requirements were eliminated for vaccinated people. But public health officials raised concern this week with the more transmissible delta variant spreading among the unvaccinated, who comprise the vast majority of new infections. LA County, where a quarter of the state’s nearly 40 million people live, recommended Monday that vaccinated residents resume wearing face coverings indoors after detecting that about half of all cases were the delta variant.
Israel scrambles to curb jump in COVID infections
Authorities are racing to vaccinate children and are considering tighter travel restrictions at the country’s main airport. The Health Ministry on Thursday reported 307 new cases on Wednesday, the highest in nearly three months and a rise from 293 newly-diagnosed cases a day earlier. The health ministry reportedly expects those numbers to jump in coming days, raising concerns that Israel is plunging back toward a crisis. In recent months, Israel has reopened businesses, schools and event venues, lifting nearly all restrictions after it inoculated some 85% of the adult population. It’s now seen as an early-warning system of sorts for other nations. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday announced a drive to inoculate thousands of children by mid-month.
Healthcare Innovations
Covid Scotland: Third booster coronavirus jag in September will be 'beneficial', says Jason Leitch
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Professor Jason Leitch said trials of using the two vaccines together have suggested it is safe and effective. The UK-wide Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on Wednesday set out interim guidance for a Covid vaccine booster programme. Speaking about third doses, Professor Leitch said they would be “beneficial” in prolonging protection of patients, particularly those in the more vulnerable age and health groups.
Research shows COVID-19-mRNA vaccine efficiency against coronavirus variants
A new Finnish study shows that 180 health care workers who had received two doses of the Pfizer and Biontech vaccine have very good antibody responses against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The immune response was as strong against the alpha variant (formerly the UK variant) but was somewhat decreased against the beta variant (formerly the South Africa variant). Finnish researchers from the University of Turku and University of Helsinki together with Turku University Hospital, Helsinki University Hospital, and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare studied the immune response induced by the coronavirus vaccinations, which started in Finland in December. The researchers analysed vaccine responses in 180 health care workers, each of whom received two doses of the Pfizer and Biontech mRNA vaccine.
Covid: Booster vaccine programme likely to start in September
Wales' coronavirus booster jab programme is likely to begin in September under Welsh government plans. It comes after UK officials gave the green light to give the most vulnerable a third dose of a Covid vaccine. Interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says boosters will help maintain protection against Covid and variants. Wales' health minister said the advice "very much aligns with our thinking and our planning assumptions to date".
Pets catch Covid-19 but don’t infect owners, Dutch study suggests
Domestic cats and dogs often catch Covid-19 when their owners are infected, a Dutch study has found. Researchers at Utrecht University tested 310 pets from 196 households where a human infection had been detected.
COVID-19: Official list of symptoms should be expanded as it could be leading to missed cases - experts
The official list of coronavirus symptoms should be expanded as the current one could be leading to missed cases, experts have said. A high temperature, new or continuous cough, and a loss or change in smell or taste are the only three "main symptoms" of COVID-19, according to the NHS. But a group of experts says that the UK should follow the World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries in updating that list as several others are now regularly reported - particularly with the emergence of the Delta (Indian) variant.
COVID-19 cases on the rise again in Finland — infections reported particularly among Euro 2020 football fans returning from Russia
At least 4,500 Finnish fans travelled to St Petersburg, Russia, to watch Euro 2020 matches. By 30 June, a total of 386 football fans returning from Russia had tested positive for COVID-19, causing 50 further infections. Most of the cases were reported in the Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa (a total of 264 cases and 17 further infections) and in the Hospital Districts of Pirkanmaa (38 cases and 8 further infections) and Southwest Finland (31 cases and 5 further infections).