"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 16th Jul 2021

Isolation Tips
Covid-19: Quarantine rules for double-jabbed 'should be eased faster'
People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in the UK will no longer have to self-isolate when they arrive into Northern Ireland from an amber country from Monday, 19 July. The NI Executive previously set 26 July as the date for easing travel rules. The latest relaxation of coronavirus travel restrictions was announced by Stormont's Department of Health. But it also announced that the Balearic Islands and British Virgin Islands are to be added to the amber list.
Australia's Melbourne to begin COVID-19 lockdown Friday night -ABC
The Australian state of Victoria was ordered into a five-day lockdown on Thursday following a spike in COVID-19 infections, joining Sydney as the country's two main population hubs battle an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Delta strain prompts Spain’s Catalonia to restore curfew
Barcelona and the surrounding northeast corner of Spain are curtailing public activity again to stem an outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus that is running wild among unvaccinated younger people and placing hospitals under growing pressure. Regional authorities in Catalonia were waiting for a judge to sign off on restoring a nightly curfew in towns with populations over 5,000 which surpass the rate of 400 infections per 100,000 inhabitants over 14 days. The curfew is intended to discourage social gatherings where the virus spreads.
Hygiene Helpers
Vaccine passports: Pubs and restaurants urged to roll out NHS Covid Pass with lockdown easing on 19 July
Vaccine passports could soon be required for entry to pubs, bars and restaurants, as the Government amps up caution ahead of Monday’s date for scrapping lockdown restrictions amid a huge surge in Covid cases. Ministers yesterday published their much-anticipated advice for businesses on how to reopen as England moves to step four of the roadmap out of lockdown on 19 July. It said hospitality firms will be encouraged to consider making customers show proof of vaccination to enter their premises.
China threatens to ban unvaccinated adults from schools, hospitals
Millions of Chinese people face bans from public spaces including schools, hospitals and shopping malls unless they get a Covid-19 vaccine, under new edicts covering nearly two dozen cities and counties. The coronavirus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, but since then the country has largely brought it under control – and Beijing is determined to keep it that way. The tough new rules, which follow the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant across Asia, will be imposed on numerous second-tier cities in a possible marker of what is to come for the whole country
‘Karaoke cluster’: Singapore reports surge of new COVID cases
Singapore, which has managed to keep COVID-19 in check in much of the community for months, has reported the biggest jump in domestically transmitted cases in 10 months after an outbreak traced to a karaoke lounge (KTV), which was supposed to have been operating as a food and beverage outlet. The nation reported 56 cases on Wednesday with 42 linked to the karaoke cluster, the health ministry said.
Community Activities
Child diseases on rise as COVID-19 slows routine vaccinations -U.N.
22.7 mln children missed routine vaccines in 2020 -U.N. Measles can be a killer disease of unvaccinated children. 'Large, disruptive' measles outbreaks in Afghanistan, Africa. WHO fears 'perfect storm' as nations lift pandemic curbs
India’s digital divide is hampering its mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign
Millions of Indians do not have access to the internet or a smartphone, yet vaccine registration can only be done online through a government portal Other challenges include vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, people lacking identification documents, and the status of refugees such as Rohingya
The US Surgeon General Is Asking You To Help Fight COVID-19 Misinformation : Shots - Health News
With about a third of adults in the U.S. still completely unvaccinated, and cases of COVID-19 on the rise, the U.S. surgeon general is calling for a war against "health misinformation." On Thursday, Dr. Vivek Murthy released the first surgeon general's advisory of his time serving in the Biden administration, describing the "urgent threat" posed by the rise of false information around COVID-19 — one that continues to put "lives at risk" and prolong the pandemic. Murthy says Americans must do their part to fight misinformation.
'Freedom day' or 'Anxiety day'? England to end COVID-19 curbs
July 19 sees removal of legal COVID restrictions. Clubs to reopen but fear another shutdown. Concern remains about deaths, long COVID and vulnerable. Modellers cite uncertainty about public's behaviour
We’re not virus police, French cafes say of new COVID pass
French restaurant owners and workers are as worried as anyone about the coronavirus — but they’re also concerned that new mandatory COVID passes will turn them into virus police instead of purveyors of culinary pleasures. Starting next month, all diners in France must show a pass proving they’re fully vaccinated, or recently tested negative or recovered from the virus. For restaurants – seen as the lifeblood of France -- the new rule presents yet another headache after a punishing pandemic.
US steps up fight against COVID-19 misinformation
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Thursday called for a national effort to fight misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines, urging tech companies, health care workers, journalists and everyday Americans to do more to address a problem “that cost us lives”. In a 22-page advisory, his first as President Joe Biden’s surgeon general, Murthy wrote that bogus claims have led people to reject vaccines and public health advice on masks and social distancing, undermining efforts to end the coronavirus pandemic and putting lives at risk.
French police fire tear gas as anti-vaccine protest turns violent
Police in Paris fired tear gas and made arrests as they tried to disperse demonstrators, many of them sceptical of vaccines, the so-called “anti-vaxxers“, who marched throughout France over new coronavirus restrictions. Some of the protests began as early as Wednesday morning in Paris as the annual military parade for the traditional Bastille Day parade, watched by President Emmanuel Macron, was taking place along the Champs-Elysees.
Working Remotely
Brex CEO on taking his company virtual-first and the right ways to think about remote work
While some employees are eager to return to the office, and many others simply want a choice between in-person and remote work, companies continue to grapple over which return-to-work strategy works best for them. Some companies are moving to permanent virtual models, and enjoying lowered office costs and increased access to talented employees, but most are planning some form of hybrid work, according to a recent CNBC survey. Brex, a financial services platform, recently announced its switch to a virtual-first model while getting rid of its physical headquarters.
In Tech's Talent Wars, Remote Work Is the Hottest Office Perk
The next tech talent wars may be less about the free stuff, and more about the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. Those famously expensive Silicon Valley campuses that double as adult playgrounds, with their nap pods and herb gardens and bike-shares, are competing with a newfound love for the home office. Just ask the Google employees irked when a senior engineer was granted the privilege of setting up shop in New Zealand. His lower-level colleagues are waiting anxiously to hear whether their pandemic living situations are approved, or whether they have to race back to Mountain View, California. Why don’t the tech elite want to go back to their sprawling, full-service campuses? The answer isn’t just about Covid-19-era habits—it’s about a workforce that is aging, and that is now very rich.
Workers worried about return to office next week, study suggests
Employers are being urged to remain open to more flexible working arrangements after a study suggested many are worried about returning to offices. More than half of the 1,100 people surveyed by jobs site CV-Library said they felt anxious about returning to work when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in England on Monday. Three out of four said they preferred the flexibility of working from home, while around two in five said they were more productive or did not want to deal with office politics.
Microaggressions, work stress more manageable for women of color working remotely
Count many women of color among the workers not eager to return to the office post-pandemic. From microaggressions to pressure to adjust their style of speech or appearance, a negative workplace experience is more common among women of color than white women, Laura Morgan Roberts, professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, told The New York Times. Women of color are often subject to comments on their hair, or mistaken for a colleague of the same race. Over the past 16 months, remote work has eliminated many of those office interactions. And while working in a comfortable setting with a support network nearby, women of color have been better able to cope with work stressors, experts said.
Virtual Classrooms
ILEARN data reveals deep learning loss during pandemic, recovery could take years: 'The pandemic really took a toll on us'
In Chicago, spring state assessment data released Wednesday showed a stunning decline in performance, underscored by unprecedented low pass rates in Lake County’s urban districts and charter schools. Secretary of Education Katie Jenner told the State Board of Education the data confirmed what everyone already knew — months of remote learning or returning to schools in COVID-19 pandemic conditions accounted for a staggering academic setback. “This data cannot be an indictment on anyone, on anything, on any school,” Jenner told the State Board of Education Wednesday. “The reality is, all of us had a global pandemic.”
COVID, distance learning caused major educational harm
The pandemic and the related need for children to do a significant amount of their timetable via distance learning has had a major impact on Italian pupils' education, a report said on Thursday. The report said the damage was especially severe in Italy's high schools, with close to half of the nation's youngsters leaving school this year without the necessary skills. The 2021 report on the 'Invalsi' tests, which are not used to grade pupils but to to evaluate how schools and the system itself is performing, said 44% of high-school leavers did not have an adequate level in Italian and 51% were not up to scratch in mathematics
Student watchdog concerned about mental health help
The head of the Office for Students (OfS) is concerned that more than half of UK university and college students feel their mental wellbeing has not been supported enough this year. OfS head Nicola Dandridge said more must be done to look after students. This year's annual National Student Survey, run by the OfS, found only 42% felt enough was done to help them. But England's Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said universities had access to up to £256m to help.
Public Policies
Risk of COVID spread is 'zero', IOC chief says, amid rising cases
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said on Thursday there was "zero" risk of Games participants infecting Japanese residents with COVID-19, as cases hit a six-month high in the host city. Bach said Olympics athletes and delegations had undergone more than 8,000 coronavirus tests, resulting in three positive results. "Risk for the other residents of Olympic village and risk for the Japanese people is zero," he added.
Alabama military base is first in the U.S. to require vaccination proof amid rising covid-19 rates
An Alabama military base is taking increased actions to combat the ongoing prevalence of coronavirus infections, authorizing leaders to ask for proof of vaccination of service members not wearing a mask while on duty. It is the first military base in the continental United States to allow leaders to check the vaccination status of those in uniform. The new guidance at Fort Rucker comes as the new delta variant of the virus continues to drive infection rates and now accounts for a majority of cases in the United States. The base is among facilities, including Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, Fort Sill in Oklahoma and Fort Jackson in South Carolina, where less than half of the surrounding populations have been vaccinated.
CDC advisers to consider coronavirus booster shots for immunocompromised patients
A federal advisory panel is expected next week to consider whether health-care workers should be allowed to give additional coronavirus shots to patients with fragile immune systems, even as top U.S. health officials have said an additional dose of vaccine is not widely needed. The prospect of booster shots emerged last week as the maker of a two-dose coronavirus vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech, announced it would seek regulatory approval for a third inoculation amid rising global concern about the highly transmissible delta variant.
Analysis | Under Trump, Republicans touted the coronavirus vaccines. Now, under Biden, they're questioning them.
Days after initial data from two coronavirus vaccines showed broad effectiveness at preventing illness, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) went on Fox Business Network to laud them. “I’ve been a big proponent of releasing it early,” Paul said Nov. 19. “I think that we’ve had enough safety and effectiveness data.” About two weeks later, Paul told Fox: “All I would say to government officials is let’s get the vaccine out as soon as we can.” Since then, Paul has become one of several congressional Republicans employing conjecture and misinformation to question the efficacy of the vaccines and the Biden administration’s efforts to vaccinate more Americans. You can watch examples of these juxtapositions in the video above.
WHO's Tedros to set out follow-up study into COVID-19 origins - director Ryan
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus will share proposals for a phase 2 study into the origins of the coronavirus with member states on Friday, its emergency director Mike Ryan said. "We look forward to working with our Chinese counterparts on that process and the director-general will outline measures to member states" on Friday, Ryan told a news conference in Geneva on Thursday. Earlier, Tedros told reporters that investigations into the origins of COVID-19 in China were being hampered by the lack of raw data on the first days of its spread there
Vietnam approves Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine as daily cases hit record
Vietnam on Thursday approved Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday for emergency use, as the country tries to boost supplies at a time of record numbers of new infections. The approval of the vaccine, the sixth brand to be endorsed in the Southeast Asian country, is part of Vietnam's efforts to expedite its inoculations programme amid its worst outbreak so far. Vietnam reported a record 3,416 new cases on Thursday, its biggest daily increase and above Wednesday's record high of 2,934. Most of those are in Ho Chi Minh City, the epicentre, which has been under stricter movement curbs since last week.
COVID-19 deaths in Africa surge 43% week-on-week, WHO says
Africa recorded a 43% jump in COVID-19 deaths last week as infections and hospital admissions have risen and countries face shortages of oxygen and intensive-care beds, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. The continent's case fatality rate - the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases - stands at 2.6% against the global average of 2.2%, WHO Africa said in its weekly briefing. "Africa's third wave continues its destructive pathway, pushing past yet another grim milestone as the continent's case count tops six million," Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, told the briefing.
Fosun-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine completes China regulator review - media
Chinese regulators have completed an expert review of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine developed by Germany's BioNTech and Fosun Pharma and the shot is in the administration review stage, Caixin reported, citing the Chinese company. China hasn't approved any COVID-19 vaccine developed overseas but greenlighted several domestic brands, administering 1.4 billion doses so far, or two-fifths of the global total of 3.47 billion doses
Grappling with 'worst-case scenario', Indonesia faces more COVID-19 pain
Indonesia prepared if daily cases top 60,000 - minister. Government assessing duration of mobility curbs. Union says over 10% of manufacturing workers infected Indonesia approves Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
New Zealand's Ardern to host emergency APEC virus summit
New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern will host an emergency meeting of APEC leaders. Friday aimed at bolstering vaccine rollouts to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus variants now fuelling the pandemic. The virtual meeting, called with less than five days' notice, would also examine the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group's response to its biggest economic crisis since World War II, the prime minister said.
Maintaining Services
Graphs show surge in cases among men in their twenties... and spike coincides with Euro 2020
Professor Chris Whitty warned England could be plunged into another lockdown amid a surge in cases. Public Health England data showed 10,267 more young men than women caught the virus last week. King's College London scientists estimated 33,118 people were catching the virus every day last week. For comparison, they said 33,723 people were getting infected every day during the previous spell
Covid-19 cases are surging in 46 states. In one hot spot, hospitalized patients are younger than ever, doctor says
"In recent weeks, we've been seeing a much younger population," he said. "We're seeing a lot of people in their 30s, 40s, early 50s. We're seeing some teenagers and some pediatric patients as well." In St. Louis County, officials said the rate of new cases jumped by 63% over the past two weeks. "A tidal wave is coming towards our unvaccinated populations," County Executive Sam Page said. "This variant is spreading quickly, and this variant has the ability to devastate those in its wake. And that is why it is so critical to get vaccinated now."
Trafford health bosses worried as Covid-19 infection rate higher than it’s ever been
Trafford’s health bosses have voiced their concerns about restrictions fully lifting across the UK on Monday after the borough’s infection rate soared to higher than it’s ever been before. The borough’s infection rate has more than doubled in just a two week period and those in charge are calling for caution; for people to continue wearing face masks in public places and maintaining social distancing.
Australian government scales back supply projections for AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine
The government has quietly scaled down projections of how many AstraZeneca doses will be available in Australia in the coming weeks, while downplaying a huge gap between the amount being locally produced and original Covid-19 vaccine supply targets. Last month, under significant pressure over the vaccine rollout, the federal government released a planning document estimating how many doses would be distributed over the rest of 2021. The document, titled Covid Vaccination Allocations Horizons, estimated the commonwealth would distribute between 2.2m and 2.6m AstraZeneca doses a week to the states, general practitioners and the aged care and disability sector in July and August.
Official: Nearly 70% of medical workers in Moscow vaccinated
The majority of medical workers, teachers and social workers in Moscow have been vaccinated against the coronavirus a month after authorities in the Russian capital mandated the shots for many of those employed in health care, education, retail, public transport and hospitality and services sector. Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said Wednesday that nearly 70% of medical workers, 66% of those working in Moscow education facilities and 76% of social workers have been vaccinated. Her statement came a day before the Thursday deadline authorities set for eligible companies and institutions a month ago to ensure that 60% of their staff receive at least one vaccine shot.
Vaccine deliveries rising as delta virus variant slams Asia
As many Asian countries battle their worst surge of COVID-19 infections, the slow flow of vaccine doses from around the world is finally picking up speed, giving hope that inoculation rates can increase and help blunt the effect of the rapidly spreading delta variant. With many vaccine pledges still unfulfilled and rates of infection spiking across multiple countries, however, experts say more needs to be done to help nations struggling with the overflow of patients and shortages of oxygen and other critical supplies.
Athlete, Olympic workers test positive for COVID as opening nears
A foreign athlete and five Olympic workers in Japan have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Tokyo 2020 organisers. The cases, announced on Thursday, marked the latest infections to emerge among people involved with the Summer Games, which are due to begin next week, and have raised new concerns about the spread of coronavirus at the global sporting event.
Healthcare Innovations
New study into COVID-19 vaccine uptake, efficacy in vulnerable populations
British Columbia is in the midst of two public health emergencies. While the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues across the province and country, fatal drug poisonings have been on the rise. Researchers with UBC and the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU)—in partnership with the BC Centre for Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health—want to know how these dual health emergencies are being experienced. They have launched a new study to investigate the uptake, effectiveness, and safety of COVID-19 vaccines among members of vulnerable urban populations, including people who use unregulated drugs.
Long COVID-19 unlikely among fully vaccinated, physicians say
If a person is fully vaccinated and develops a breakthrough COVID-19 infection, early trends indicate it's unlikely they'll experience long-haul symptoms, NBC News reported July 15. While it's possible and more research is needed, some physicians working at post-COVID-19 clinics say they haven't seen demand from patients who've been fully vaccinated. At Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic's post-COVID-19 program, it's been "quite rare," Greg Vanichkachorn, MD, an occupational therapist who works with long-hauler patients, told NBC. Although anecdotal reports, physicians leading such clinics at Tulane University in New Orleans and Washington University in St. Louis haven't seen patients come in after a breakthrough infection either. Additionally, early research hasn't indicated there's a significant risk.
Why a Covid-19 vaccine isn't available for kids yet
Americans 12 and older can get a Covid-19 vaccine, but younger children are still waiting. With many schools across the United States now just weeks from reopening for the fall semester, pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna are still doing clinical trials to see how coronavirus vaccines work in children under 12 -- if they're safe and what the right dose should be. Meanwhile, all but four states are seeing an increasing trend in cases, with doctors describing patients who are younger and sicker than what they saw in the winter.
Study finds physicians are widely effective messengers of Covid-19 information
A new large-scale randomized evaluation has found that messages delivered by physicians increased knowledge about Covid-19 and use of preventative health measures, like mask-wearing and social distancing, regardless of recipients’ race or political beliefs. This research shows that information campaigns delivered by trusted experts can be effective in changing people’s health-related beliefs and behaviors.
Long COVID patients report more than 200 symptoms with fatigue and brain fog most common, UCL study shows
Patients with long COVID have reported more than 200 symptoms affecting 10 organ systems, according to a new study. Researchers surveyed 3,762 people from 56 countries who joined the Body Politic online COVID-19 support group and reported coronavirus-like symptoms between December 2019 and May 2020. In total they reported 203 different symptoms, with 66 identified for the whole seven-month period.
COVID-19 remdesivir study finds long hospital stay, but context matters
Remdesivir, the only antiviral fully approved for COVID-19 treatment by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was associated with a longer hospital stay yet no improvement in survival rates, according to a real-world observational study of military veterans today in JAMA Network Open. The researchers suggest that the prescribed regimen (5 or 10 days) may have led to longer hospitalizations as patients finished the treatment course, and a related commentary agrees.
Hand and contact surface hygiene is still essential to keep Covid-19 at bay
While Covid-19 is primarily an airborne pathogen (Hygiene theatre: how excessive cleaning gives us a false sense of security, 12 July), transmission via hands in combination with surfaces recently and frequently touched by other people remains a secondary but real danger, as the World Health Organization, the NHS and the Centers for Disease Control acknowledge. The need for an integrated approach (social distancing, ventilation, face coverings, hands and hand-contact surfaces) for controlling Covid-19 was reiterated in a 6 July government review. While “hygiene theatre”, particularly spraying of surfaces in public spaces, is largely irrelevant, bracketing this alongside – and thus dismissing – contact surface hygiene is a serious error.