"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 13th Jul 2021

Isolation Tips
Dutch PM apologises for easing of COVID-19 curbs as cases soar
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte conceded on Monday that coronavirus restrictions had been lifted too soon in the Netherlands and he apologised as infections surged to their highest levels of the year.
Sydney braces for extended lockdown amid COVID-19 outbreak
The prospect of an extended lockdown in Sydney loomed on Monday as Australian health officials reported yet another record daily rise in COVID-19 cases for the year, fuelled by the highly infectious Delta variant. New South Wales state reported 112 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, almost all in Sydney, despite the country’s biggest city entering its third week of lockdown. Case numbers have been at record levels for at least three days. There was, however, a glimmer of light as the number of newly-infected people who were out in the community while infectious dropped to 34 from 45 on Sunday.
Hygiene Helpers
France will not allow health workers to work if not vaccinated from COVID-19
France will not allow health workers to go to work and will not pay them if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 15, the health minister said on Monday. Speaking on LCI television, Health Minister Olivier Veran said it was vital to impose obligatory measures given how contagious the Delta variant of the virus is.
Greek PM Makes Vaccine Mandatory for Healthcare Workers
The coronavirus vaccine will now be mandatory for all Greek healthcare workers, according to an announcement on Monday by Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The statement was part of a series of new measures regarding Covid-19 and the country’s continuing plan for vaccinations on Monday. Although he admitted that Greece would likely be hit hard by the fast-spreading Delta variant, Mitsotakis affirmed that he would not place the country under strict lockdown measures again.
COVID-19: Making changes to NHS app's settings reinforces its importance
In Britain, the government is in a difficult position. There are suggestions that its NHS COVID app is broken, that it is pinging too many people and telling them to self-isolate. But it's not - the app is doing exactly what it was designed to do. As one senior scientist who advises the government told me: "The problem is not that it's pinging too many people. The problem is that there are too many people becoming infected." But throughout the week we have been told by various government ministers the app needs changing "to make it less sensitive".
Dirty air makes COVID worse, beta variant deadlier than original
Air pollution makes severe COVID worse. Dirty air contributes to COVID-19 severity, according to a study from one of America's most polluted cities. Researchers who studied 2,038 adults hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Detroit area found those who needed intensive care and machines to help them breathe were more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher levels of air pollution and lead paint
WHO says countries should not order COVID-19 boosters while others still need vaccines
Rich countries should not be ordering booster shots for their vaccinated populations while other countries have yet to receive COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization said on Monday. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said deaths were again rising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delta variant was becoming dominant, and many countries had yet to receive enough vaccine doses to protect their health workers. "The Delta variant is ripping around the world at a scorching pace, driving a new spike in COVID-19 cases and death," Tedros told a briefing, noting that the highly contagious variant, first detected in India, had now been found in more than 104 countries.
Macron announces vaccination passes and warns the country's fourth wave has ALREADY begun
President Macron introduced new coronavirus measures on Monday night. Covid-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for those working with the vulnerable Care workers have until September 15 to get vaccinated after then 'checks will be made and sanctions applied' Macron said in a televised address on Monday Vaccine passports will also be required from August 1 for anyone wanting to go out to eat or drink at a bar, café or restaurant, or travel on planes. Passengers on long-distance bus or train rides will also require a pass. Just three days ago, France reopened its nightclubs as restrictions began to ease. It comes as the delta variant has started driving infection rates up across Europe. Macron is set to announce a new law requiring health workers to get vaccinated
Community Activities
Europe is racing to vaccinate residents. But in some countries, undocumented immigrants have been left out.
As Europe races to vaccinate its residents against covid-19 and outpace the highly infectious delta variant, efforts to inoculate the continent face a major gap: undocumented immigrants. An estimated 4.8 million unauthorized immigrants lived in 32 European countries as of 2017, according to the Pew Research Center. Studies show they are more vulnerable to the coronavirus than European populations at large. But many countries have excluded them from vaccination drives in policy or in practice — and deep distrust among some immigrant populations toward authorities has caused complications for more inclusive campaigns.
Cuban Protests Demand Freedom, Food, Covid-19 Vaccines
Thousands of Cubans took to the streets in a wave of demonstrations in Havana and at least 14 other cities throughout the Communist island, demanding an end to the 62-year dictatorship and protesting the lack of food and Covid-19 vaccines. “We are not afraid! We are not afraid!” people shouted as they marched through the streets on Sunday, videos posted on social media showed. “Freedom! Freedom!” The protests are unprecedented in a country with tight police control and surveillance on dissidents, analysts say. In a televised address on Sunday, President Miguel Díaz-Canel blamed the protests on the U.S., which he said seeks to economically strangle Cuba and bring about a social explosion
Fears of four-hour airport queues when Covid-19 restrictions lift
Passengers could be forced to sit in aircraft on runways to prevent lengthy queues building up in airport terminals when foreign travel resumes en masse next week. The contingency plan in place at Heathrow and other airports is one of several “operational triggers” that will kick in if queues at border control exceed four hours. Officials have warned that Britain’s border infrastructure is not ready to cope with the influx of travellers following the decision to lift quarantine requirements for amber countries.
Covid-19 at the Euros: WHO official says lack of restrictions at Wembley for Euro 2020 final ‘devastating’
A leading World Health Organisation (WHO) epidemiologist has said it was “devastating” to see unmasked crowds crammed together at the Euro 2020 final. Maria Van Kerkhove expressed concerns during Sunday night’s match between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium that it would spur transmission of Covid-19. “Am I supposed to be enjoying watching transmission happening in front of my eyes?” tweeted the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, as more than 60,000 fans packed the stadium.
Kuwait shuts down children's activities to combat coronavirus - Cabinet
The Kuwaiti Cabinet decided on Monday to close down all activities for children, including summer clubs, from July 25 until further notice, as a precautionary measure to combat the spread of coronavirus. After a briefing by the health minister, the Cabinet also ordered the ministry of defence and the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) to put their hospitals at the service of the country's healthcare system, according to a Cabinet statement.
Working Remotely
Germany’s Banks Start Ditching Office Space as Remote Work Soars
Banks in Germany are rapidly cutting back on office space as a rising number of staff work from home, putting them at the vanguard of a global shift that could permanently change the way bankers work. Deutsche Bank AG is vacating several floors in a building housing about 1,000 employees, HSBC Germany is ditching six separate offices in Dusseldorf for one new one with less than half the space, and BNP Paribas’s unit in Frankfurt is cutting the amount of desk space to cover just 60% of staff. Regional lenders DZ Bank AG and BayernLB say they’re assessing similar plans. The pace with which the banks in Germany are transforming their real estate footprints is setting them apart even from European peers which have issued generous work-from-home policies for the post-pandemic world.
‘Dystopian nightmare’: The unlikely opponents of working from home
The flexible work revolution triggered by COVID-19 is set to endure in Australia long after the danger of the pandemic has passed. A survey of 50 of the nation’s biggest companies conducted by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald this week found that major employers are overwhelmingly planning to adopt hybrid work models permanently, and only seven respondents will require workers to be in the office a set number of days each week. But while the head of the Productivity Commission and other experts say increased levels of working from home are unlikely to hurt the overall economy, not everyone is enthusiastic about the phenomenon. Younger workers beginning their careers fear they are missing out on valuable lessons.
The Uneven Odds for Promotions With Hybrid Work
For more than a year, remote employees at many firms were in good company: Everyone was at home. Now, some colleagues are returning to the office five days a week. Others are testing out a hybrid schedule, or opting not to go back at all. If you’re the one leaning into flexibility, how do you make sure you’re not unintentionally leaning out of your career? And what happens if certain subsets of the workforce, like mothers, are less likely to return to the office? “During the pandemic it was, ‘You’re forced to work from home,’ ” says Brian Kropp, who leads human-resources research at Gartner. “Now you’re choosing to work from home. You’re choosing not to be here.” Many of us have been dutifully plugging away from home, trading time in transit for longer work hours, office coffee breaks for boosted productivity. But the boss might not see it that way. Managers consistently label in-office workers higher performers and give them bigger raises and promotions, Mr. Kropp says, even though data shows there’s really no difference between the two groups.
At-risk prof sues school over return-to-work edict
A program director and associate professor at South University in Virginia has filed a complaint alleging the school unlawfully refused to allow her to continue working from home despite serious heart and lung conditions that place her at a high risk of death from COVID-19. Elizabeth Kostal, represented by Wigdor, told the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a complaint filed over the weekend that beginning in April she was forced to report to campus despite classes and meetings still being held remotely, and was surrounded by nursing faculty and students who were in daily contact with COVID-19 patients.
Virtual Classrooms
Pupils have been going in to space and seeing a human heart thanks to virtual reality
A junior school has helped its students travel in to space and even see a beating human heart thanks to the wonders of virtual reality (VR). With school trips out of the equation thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Race Leys Junior School in Bedworth has been creative in its solution to keeping children engaged. Race Leys introduced VR headsets at the beginning of the school year and since then over 20 hours of VR lessons have taken place. Children can explore 360-degree photos, videos and even live experiences with pupils currently learning about the human heart.
One lesson from virtual learning - kids need their physical textbooks
Everything students use to learn, digital and hard copy, fall under the broad category of instructional materials. And the people in charge of those budgets in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties tell CBS12 News, students are not ready to succeed without physical textbooks. "Sometimes it’s difficult to align what’s on screen and what’s on paper," says Dr. Helen Wild, the Chief Academic Officer of St. Lucie Public Schools. "Our students are really in a place right now where they need to learn both." School districts across the state have spent millions on materials for the new English Language Arts curriculum that starts next month. And a lot of that money went to textbooks students can write in and keep.
Public Policies
'Be cautious': Johnson goes ahead with lifting England's COVID curbs
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people on Monday to show caution when nearly all remaining COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in England next week, saying an increase in cases underlined that the pandemic was by no means over. England will from July 19 be the first nation in Britain to lift the legal requirement to wear masks and for people to socially distance. The government says Britain's vaccination drive - one of the world's fastest - has largely broken the link between infections and serious illness or death. But what was once billed as "freedom day" is now being treated with wariness by ministers after a new surge in cases and fears that there could be as many as 100,000 new infections a day over the summer.
Brazil's federal police open probe into Bolsonaro over vaccine deal - source
At the request of the Supreme Court, Brazil's federal police has formally opened a probe into President Jair Bolsonaro related to alleged irregularities in the purchase of an Indian vaccine and could now question him, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Monday. The president has been caught up in allegations of irregularities surrounding the 1.6 billion reais ($316 million) contract signed in February for 20 million doses with a Brazilian intermediary for the vaccine’s maker, Bharat Biotech.
Moderna to supply 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Argentina
Moderna Inc said on Monday it had signed a supply agreement with the government of Argentina for 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine or its updated variant booster vaccine candidate. The company said delivery was expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022. Last week, the Latin American country said it was looking to sign a supply deal with the U.S. vaccine maker, in an attempt to speed up the inoculation of its population and sidestep a possible third wave of the coronavirus.
Latin America urgently needs vaccines from west, top official warns
​Wealthy nations have three times the coronavirus vaccine stocks they need for their own populations and should donate the surplus now to Latin America, the region worst hit by the pandemic and where the death toll is “catastrophic”, a top official has said. In an interview with the Financial Times, Rebeca Grynspan, who heads the Ibero-American General Secretariat that groups Spain, Portugal and Latin America, said other countries should follow the example of Spain. The country’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez has pledged to donate surplus vaccines to Latin America via the WHO-led Covax facility once half of the ​Spanish ​population has been vaccinated. As of July 8, some 57.5 per cent had received a first dose, according to Madrid. “It’s very important to follow the ​Spanish example because that would start to give us the vaccines from the second half of this year,” Grynspan said. If Spain’s example was not followed, “the suffering will be prolonged and it will keep costing many lives”.
China's Sinovac, Sinopharm ink COVAX supply deal for up to 550M coronavirus vaccine doses
COVAX, the global COVID-19 vaccine sharing program, has fallen behind in its pursuit to provide poorer nations with billions of doses by year’s end. But now, the program is getting a much-needed boost from Chinese vaccine developers Sinovac and Sinopharm. In a boon to poorer countries with lagging vaccine rollouts, Gavi, the vaccine alliance, inked supply agreements with the two drugmakers worth up to 550 million doses. Since the shots have already scored the WHO’s emergency use backing, they’ll be able to ship out immediately, Gavi said.
Germany seeks to know more than just COVID-19 case numbers
With coronavirus cases edging up again, German officials said Monday that a broader focus is needed to fully understand the impact the pandemic is having on the country's health care system. For much of the past year the incidence rate — how many COVID-19 cases are confirmed per 100,000 people each week — has been key to the government's decisions over what restrictive measures to impose.
Saudi Arabia to send one million doses of vaccine to Tunisia
Saudi Arabia will send a medical aid package to Tunisia that includes one million doses of vaccine to help the North Africa country control the rapid spread of the COVID pandemic. Saudi Arabia joins other Arab countries in helping Tunisia, which is facing the collapse of its health care system, including Egypt, Algeria, UAE, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar. The Saudi Press Agency said on Monday the aid also includes 190 respirators and other equipment.
World hunger, malnutrition soared last year mostly due to COVID-19 - U.N. agencies
World hunger and malnutrition levels worsened dramatically last year, with most of the increase likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a multi-agency United Nations (U.N.) report published on Monday. After remaining virtually unchanged for five years, the number of undernourished people rose to around 768 million last year - equivalent to 10% of the world's population and an increase of around 118 million versus 2019, the report said.
Sweden to ease pandemic curbs despite worries over mounting Delta cases
Sweden's government said on Monday it will move ahead with a planned easing of pandemic restrictions this week but warned that new variants of the virus demanded vigilance as it urged people to adhere to social distancing recommendations. Sweden has relied mainly on voluntary measures to stem the spread of infections, though curbs on opening hours for restaurants and limits on crowds at venues such as shopping malls have also been implemented.
Maintaining Services
Coronavirus in Australia: AstraZeneca vaccine offered to over-40s in New South Wales
Sydney contradicted previous official health advice today by saying they would offer the AstraZeneca vaccine to younger people as new daily cases of the highly infectious Delta variant soared to more than 100. While the national government continues to recommend that the locally-produced AstraZeneca vaccine be restricted to people aged over 60 because of blood clotting fears, health chiefs in New South Wales said its mass vaccination centres would offer it to anybody over 40. It is a departure from national health guidelines which have recommended heavy restrictions on the use of AstraZeneca, despite severe shortages of alternative vaccines such as Pfizer.
Canada to reach 55M vaccine doses by week's end, catching up to U.S. on second doses
Canada is expecting vaccine shipments to keep rolling in this week as the country inches closer to matching the percentage of people in the United States fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The federal government expects another 1.4 million doses of the shot from Pfizer-BioNTech to arrive in the next seven days. It also plans to distribute the 1.5 million doses from Moderna that came in last Friday.
Desperate Myanmar residents queue for oxygen as COVID-19 cases surge
There is enough oxygen - army chief. Myanmar sees record deaths, cases Suu Kyi worried about outbreak. Myanmar's military authorities pledged on Monday to ramp up oxygen supplies to help treat COVID-19 patients, as residents described their struggle to secure supplies to save loved-ones from a record-setting wave of infections.
Spain's coronavirus infections keep rising, regions impose restrictions
Spain's two-week COVID-19 contagion rate kept rising on Monday, reaching 368 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, officials said, more than tripling in two weeks as infections have soared especially among young people. Health emergency chief Fernando Simon said the pace of increase had reduced in recent days as officials believe the latest wave is nearing its peak. He praised new restrictions announced in the hard-hit Mediterranean regions of Catalonia and Valencia.
Healthcare Innovations
Israel offers Covid vaccine booster shots to at-risk adults
Israel is offering a booster shot of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to adults with weak immune systems, but says it is still weighing up whether they should be given to the general public. The rapid spread of the Delta variant has fuelled a rise in the number of new infections from single digits a month ago to around 450 a day, and the country has moved to fast-track its next Pfizer shipment. The health minister, Nitzan Horowitz, said on Sunday that adults with impaired immune systems who had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine could get an immediate booster shot, with a decision pending on wider distribution.
COVID-19: Hospital admissions could peak at 1,000 to 2,000 a day in England during third wave, scientists believe
Between 1,000 and 2,000 COVID-19 patients a day could be admitted to hospital in England at the peak of the third wave and there may be 100 to 200 daily deaths, government scientists believe. The number of daily infections in this latest wave is not expected to peak before mid-August, according to papers newly released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). Experts are urging the public to "go slow" once most restrictions lift on 19 July, in order to curb infections and cut the number of people who will die from COVID-19.
Flu jab may reduce severe effects of Covid, suggests study
People who are vaccinated against influenza may be partly protected against some of the severe effects of coronavirus, and be less likely to need emergency care, according to a major study. The analysis of nearly 75,000 Covid patients found significant reductions in stroke, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and sepsis, and fewer admissions to emergency departments and intensive care units, among those who had been given the flu jab.
In first, Thailand to mix Sinovac, AstraZeneca vaccine doses
Thailand used Sinovac vaccine for frontliners. AstraZeneca vaccine available since June. Delta variant on increase in Thailand. New curbs imposed around capital.
WHO warns against mixing and matching COVID vaccines
The World Health Organization's chief scientist on Monday advised against people mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines from different manufacturers, calling it a "dangerous trend" since there was little data available about the health impact. "It's a little bit of a dangerous trend here. We are in a data-free, evidence-free zone as far as mix and match," Soumya Swaminathan told an online briefing. "It will be a chaotic situation in countries if citizens start deciding when and who will be taking a second, a third and a fourth dose."
FDA To Warn About Post-COVID Vax Guillain-Barré Syndrome
The FDA will issue a warning that Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine may trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in a small number of people, an agency spokesperson told MedPage Today on Monday. Of the 12.5 million Americans who received this vaccine, about 100 people reported having GBS in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Of these reports, 95 of them were serious and required hospitalization, and there was one reported death, an FDA official said.