"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 15th Jul 2021

Isolation Tips
What working from home means for women
Women may be more likely to want to work from home than men. They’ve also had a harder time doing so, reporting higher rates of stress, depression, and sheer hours worked — especially if they have kids. This paradox is a result of women trying to do the best thing for their careers while also navigating an unfair role in society and at home. In other words, women need more flexible work arrangements, because women have more to do. While the ability to work from home has been a godsend for working parents who were able to keep their children and jobs safe during the pandemic, it’s also exacerbated deeply ingrained gender inequality.
Hygiene Helpers
French police quell protest against COVID health passport rules
Dozens of French police used tear gas to disperse a protest against President Emmanuel Macron's plan to require a COVID-19 vaccine certificate or negative PCR test to gain entry to bars, restaurants and cinemas from next month.
Mandatory face masks to remain in string of English cities as mayors stage mass revolt
Face masks will remain mandatory in certain transport settings in a string of English cities after mayors staged a revolt. The mayors of Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North of Tyne and West of England all blasted Boris Johnson's decision to axe compulsory face coverings from Monday.In a damning joint press conference, they announced face masks will remain compulsory in the parts of the transport network that they have control over, despite the Prime Minister's 'Freedom Day' on July 19. That means the coverings will be a "condition of carriage" on the London Underground and buses; all Metrolink trams in Greater Manchester; and the Tyne and Wear Metro. They will also be mandatory in bus stations and terminals in South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire
COVID-19: Parliament staff 'incredulous and angry' at MPs not having to wear masks from Monday
Trade unions representing workers in parliament have expressed "incredulity, anger and concern" at a decision not to make MPs continue to wear face masks from next week. Following confirmation that England will move to step four of the government's roadmap for lifting COVID restrictions from 19 July, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, this week set out how rules will be relaxed in parliament.
Victoria reintroduces masks in outdoor and indoor settings amid new COVID-19 outbreak
Masks will be mandatory indoors for Victorians aged 12 and above from Thursday as the state deals with another COVID outbreak, which includes 11 new confirmed cases. The new rules, announced by the Victorian Department of Health, state that masks must be worn in all workplaces and secondary schools. They must also be worn outdoors when you cannot remain socially distanced from those who are not from your household.
COVID-19: Wales to ease coronavirus restrictions from Saturday - but face masks still needed indoors and on public transport
Coronavirus restrictions in Wales will be further relaxed from Saturday but face masks will still have to be worn on public transport and in most indoor public places, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said. The nation will move fully from alert level two to alert level one on 17 July - bringing it more broadly in line with England and Scotland.
Australia extends Sydney lockdown as COVID-19 outbreak nears 900 infections
Australian authorities extended a lockdown in Sydney on Wednesday by at least 14 days after three weeks of initial restrictions failed to stamp out the biggest outbreak of COVID-19 this year in the country's largest city. New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said restrictions would remain in place until at least July 30 after reporting 97 new locally transmitted cases, a slight increase from a day earlier. "It always hurts to say this, but we need to extend the lockdown at least a further two weeks," Berejiklian said in Sydney on Wednesday.
German retailers support face masks, fear new lockdown
German retailers still support the wearing of face masks in stores as they worry about another wave of the coronavirus pandemic possibly leading to new restrictions, an industry association said on Wednesday.
Community Activities
Olympics COVID cluster at Olympic hotel as Tokyo cases surge
New COVID-19 cases at Brazil delegation's hotel. Russia women's rugby team isolating after masseur infected. Host city records most daily cases in nearly six months. Global public interest in Games at low level - poll
In Athens, thousands rally against COVID-19 vaccinations
More than 5,000 anti-vaccine protesters, some them waving Greek flags and wooden crosses, rallied in Athens on Wednesday to oppose Greece's coronavirus vaccinations programme. Shouting "take your vaccines and get out of here!" and calling on Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to resign, the protesters gathered outside parliament under heavy police presence.
South Africa violence: Troop numbers on streets double to 5,000 amid looting - and more could be deployed
The number of soldiers deployed on the streets of South Africa has doubled to 5,000 as the army and police struggle to quell days of looting and violence. President Cyril Ramaphosa is considering boosting troop numbers even more, as at least 72 people have been killed in the worst unrest in the country for years. And some citizens are arming themselves to protect their property and businesses from the rampage, which has hit two of South Africa's nine provinces - KwaZulu-Natal, where Durban is located, and Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg.
Politics is causing needless deaths in the fight against Covid-19
In what is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated, almost every adult American can make a choice not to die a needless death from Covid-19. But the task of persuading holdouts, skeptics and the merely disinterested to get their shots is being complicated by the further politicization of the pandemic -- a trend that will cost lives and exacerbate an already stark tragedy that has deepened the nation's ideological estrangement.
Almost half of this capital city's population may have contracted Covid-19, survey finds
Nearly half of Jakarta's residents may have contracted Covid-19, according to a health survey -- more than 12 times the number of cases officially recorded in the Indonesian capital at the time when the research was carried out. The survey, published July 10, tested for coronavirus antibodies in the blood of about 5,000 people across the city from March 15-31. The results showed 44.5% of those tested had antibodies, indicating they had been infected with Covid-19. The report was a collaboration between the Jakarta Provincial Health Office, the University of Indonesia's Faculty of Public Health, the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology and staff from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) based in Indonesia.
Working Remotely
Capitalizing on remote work, U.S. cities draw in tech workers
About 30% of remote workers plan on moving, according to two recent surveys: an April poll of 1,000 tech workers by nonprofit One America Works and a June survey of 1,006 national remote workers for MakeMyMove, focused on intentions for the next 18 months. Facebook and Twitter are among the major tech companies allowing employees to work from home if their jobs can be done remotely. According to a Twitter spokesperson, embracing remote work is in part an effort to attract more diverse talent. Smaller cities typically aim to support dozens or hundreds of remote-worker moves annually. That does not threaten Silicon Valley's dominance of tech, but it could allow California companies to become more diverse, and it might make them try harder to keep workers.
Remote work is expanding rapidly beyond typical white-collar worker industries
The number of remote job roles being advertised has risen, making remote work a possibility for more workers. But not all of these are in industries traditionally associated with remote work, with workers in transportation, retail and construction increasingly being offered a remote option. LinkedIn's UK Workforce report analyzed job postings on the site between June 2020 and June 2021. A job was classed as remote if it was explicitly labelled as such, or contained key phrases like "work from home." It generally found that the number of remote roles has risen across the board.
Londoners planning ‘nomadic working’ summer from UK holiday destinations, new report finds
Nearly half of the London white-collar workforce could be planning a so-called "nomadic working" trip this summer, a new survey has found. Of more than 2,000 city-based British workers polled by YouGov, 19% said they are considering making the most of their employer having a remote working policy in place this summer by toiling from rural or coastal holiday accommodation instead of at their home desk. Some of these respondents also said they are thinking about working remotely from family members' homes in more idyllic settings.
Virtual Classrooms
U.N. urges schools to quantify learning losses, implement remedial programs
Only one-third of countries -- mostly high-income ones -- are taking necessary steps to measure learning losses in schools, the United Nations reported Tuesday. During UNESCO's Global Education Meeting, Director-General Audrey Azoulay and UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore issued a statement explaining that 19 countries still have their classrooms closed. The closure affects more than 156 million students, which could result in children missing out on education that can't be recovered. School closures also affected parents and caregivers, they said. The U.N. urged countries to implement remedial programs and get children back into classrooms as soon as possible.
How idea sharing increases online-learner engagement
Sharing ideas in an online learning environment has a distinct advantage over sharing personal details in driving learner engagement in massive open online courses, more commonly known as MOOCs, says new research co-written by a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign expert who studies the intersection of marketing and digital environments. Online learning engagement can be increased by nearly one-third by simply prompting students to share course ideas in a discussion forum rather than having them share information about their identity or personal motivations for enrolling, said Unnati Narang, a professor of business administration at the Gies College of Business.
The Times view on the attainment gap caused by the Covid-19 pandemic: Catch Up
Boris Johnson promised at the start of the pandemic that everything possible would be done to help children who missed schooling catch up later. It sounds a hollow promise today. Fewer than one in five schools in England is planning to run summer catch-up sessions. The money set aside for recovery, £1.4 billion, is way below the sum proposed by policy experts and prompted the resignation of Sir Kevan Collins as head of the government programme. The pandemic has also had a disproportionate impact on poorer and disadvantaged children. Not only are many more pupils now missing school in the north and north-east than in the richer south because of high infection rates, but they will need much more help if they are ever to narrow the growing attainment gap.
Public Policies
EU regulator weighing mixing COVID-19 vaccines, booster doses
Says 'not in position' to advise on use of different doses. Says countries may adapt strategies based on available evidence. Finds no 'clear' link between Moderna shot, new blood condition. EC says it follows science, but needs to be prepared
Spain's top court rules pandemic lockdown unconstitutional
Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that a strict stay-at-home lockdown order the Spanish government issued under a state of emergency during the first wave of COVID-19 last year was unconstitutional. While upholding most terms of the state of emergency, the court said provisions ordering the population off the streets except for shorts shopping trips, unavoidable work commutes and other essential business violated Spain’s Constitution. The court issued a brief statement that described the ruling as a split decision. State broadcaster TVE said six magistrates were in favor and five against. The full decision is expected to be released in the coming days.
Coup, COVID fuelling 'perfect storm' in Myanmar, UN expert warns
Surging COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant spreads, a collapsed health system, and “deep mistrust” of the military junta, are a “perfect storm” of factors that could lead to further major loss of life in Myanmar, the UN independent expert on the human rights situation in the country warned on Wednesday. In a statement, Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said “emergency” assistance for Myanmar was desperately needed to save lives. “The highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being and that right is being denied to most within Myanmar. The international community must act.”
Vietnam says Pfizer to provide additional 20 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses
Vietnam on Wednesday said U.S. vaccine maker Pfizer would provide an additional 20 million doses of its COVID-19 mRNA shot, as the country tries to shore up supplies at a time of record number of new infections. The additional Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines would be used for 12-18 year olds, its health ministry said in a statement. It comes a day after Vietnam said it would offer the vaccine as a second dose option for people inoculated with one shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine
Covid-19 Vaccines Are Becoming Mandatory in Parts of China
Several local governments in China are planning to bar residents who haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 from accessing public venues, stirring controversy as the country makes a push for herd immunity. In recent days, a dozen counties and cities in the eastern provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangxi set late-August deadlines for people 18 years or older to complete a two-shot vaccine regimen, according to similarly worded online statements. Many of them also set dates in late July by which unvaccinated people would be barred from entering schools, libraries, prisons, nursing homes and inpatient facilities at hospitals without a valid medical exemption. Some of the localities attributed their new policies to “national, provincial and municipal arrangements,” without explaining whether they received a decree from the central government.
Thailand plans to mix Sinovac and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines. Critics say that's risky
A virologist and adviser to Thailand's government endorsed a plan to mix doses of the coronavirus vaccines of AstraZeneca and Sinovac, amid some public unease about use of the largely untested strategy. There has been no research released specifically about mixing the two types, but a growing number of countries are looking at mix-and-match approaches to better protect from highly transmissible variants -- with Vietnam the latest. At a health ministry news conference, Yong Poovorawan, a virology expert at Chulalongkorn University, said 1,200 people in Thailand had already received the Sinovac-AstraZeneca combination -- in different orders -- mainly due to allergic reactions to their first doses, requiring them to change vaccine
Vietnam to mix doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines - govt
Vietnam will offer the coronavirus mRNA vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech as a second dose option for people first inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, its government said on Tuesday.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sues Florida over prohibition on vaccine requirements.
The fight over requiring vaccinations for travel is heating up. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sued Florida’s surgeon general on Tuesday, accusing the state of preventing it from “safely and soundly” resuming trips by barring it from requiring customers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The filing represents the latest twist in a monthslong fight over the resumption of cruises from Florida, a hub for the industry. Under Gov. Ron DeSantis, the state has fought vaccine requirements by cruises and other businesses, claiming that such policies are discriminatory. Supporters of vaccine requirements have argued that requiring vaccines is necessary to protect public health.
Maintaining Services
China to start giving COVID-19 shots to teenagers this month
Several areas in China will start vaccinating teenagers this month against COVID-19, state media and local authorities said, as the country steps up its inoculation campaign.
Covid: Low uptake of jab causing 'crisis' at NHS trust
A health boss says his hospitals are in "the teeth of a growing local crisis" over low uptake of the Covid jab. Richard Beeken, chief executive at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, said it had 60 coronavirus inpatients, eight of whom were "critically unwell". In a letter to staff, he said it was vital people had the vaccination to boost their protection. But following 600 calls to under-40s to encourage jabs, he said, fewer than 10 agreed to appointments. Mr Beeken wrote that intensive care units were full and urgent cancer surgery was "under threat" due to Covid pressures faced by the trust.
Netherlands sees Covid cases rise 500% in a week
There was a 500 per cent increase in new coronavirus cases in the Netherlands in the week to Tuesday and the reproduction rate or R number now stands at 2.17 and rising – its highest since the pandemic began. Days after acting prime minister Mark Rutte apologised for relaxing restrictions too quickly, the head of the Centre for Infectious Disease Control, Dr Aura Timen, briefed MPs that the current wave was directly linked to the most recent easing on June 26th.
Nearly 3000 confined to cabins after COVID-19 case on Singapore cruise
Infection confirmed in a passenger on 'cruise to nowhere.' Nearly 3,000 passengers, crew on Genting Cruise Lines ship. Ashore, Singapore marks highest new COVID tally in months
US COVID-19 cases rising again, doubling over three weeks
The COVID-19 curve in the U.S. is rising again after months of decline, with the number of new cases per day doubling over the past three weeks, driven by the fast-spreading delta variant, lagging vaccination rates and Fourth of July gatherings. Confirmed infections climbed to an average of about 23,600 a day on Monday, up from 11,300 on June 23, according to Johns Hopkins University data. And all but two states — Maine and South Dakota — reported that case numbers have gone up over the past two weeks. “It is certainly no coincidence that we are looking at exactly the time that we would expect cases to be occurring after the July Fourth weekend,” said Dr. Bill Powderly, co-director of the infectious-disease division at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Healthcare Innovations
Scientists could create a single vaccine that fights multiple coronaviruses within 5 years, potentially preventing the next pandemic, an expert says
Twenty groups of scientists are trying to create a single vaccine that fights multiple coronaviruses. Coronavirus is the virus family that SARS-CoV-2 - which caused the COVID-19 pandemic - belongs to. An expert said scientists could make the vaccine within five years, preventing future pandemics.
WHO warns of ‘chaos’ if individuals mix Covid vaccines
The World Health Organization’s chief scientist has advised individuals against mixing and matching Covid-19 vaccines from different manufacturers, saying such decisions should be left to public health authorities. “It’s a little bit of a dangerous trend here,” Soumya Swaminathan told an online briefing on Monday after a question about booster shots. “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.” Swaminathan had called mixing a “data-free zone” but later clarified her remarks in an overnight tweet.