"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 20th Jul 2021

Isolation Tips
Hanoi tightens restrictions as COVID clusters spread in Vietnam
Vietnam's capital Hanoi urged its citizens to stay at home from Monday and ordered a halt to all non-essential services due to new clusters of COVID-19 infections in recent days, the authorities said on Sunday. The city, which had already halted indoor restaurant service and closed salons as well as gyms, also stopped rail and bus passenger services to and from provinces in the south which have seen the biggest increases.
Singapore advises unvaccinated people to stay home as cases rise
Singapore's health ministry on Sunday "strongly" advised unvaccinated individuals, especially the elderly, to stay home as much as possible over the next few weeks, citing heightened concerns about the risk of community spread of COVID-19. The country reported 88 new locally-transmitted coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest daily toll since August last year, driven by growing clusters of infections linked to karaoke bars and a fishery port.
Australia prolongs COVID-19 lockdown in Victoria amid Delta outbreak
Australian authorities said Victoria state would extend a COVID-19 lockdown beyond Tuesday to slow the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, despite a slight drop in new infections in the state and nationwide.
Hygiene Helpers
U.S. CDC raises COVID warning for travelers to United Kingdom
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday issued a more severe warning against travel to the United Kingdom, elevating the nation to "Level Four: COVID-19 Very High," the CDC's highest level.
Saudi citizens must have two COVID-19 vaccine doses for travel abroad - SPA
Saudi citizens will need two COVID-19 vaccine doses before they can travel outside the kingdom from Aug. 9, state news agency SPA reported on Monday, citing the ministry of interior. The decision was made based on new waves of infection globally, new mutations, and the "low efficacy of one vaccination dose against these mutations," the statement said.
Thousands disable Covid-19 contact tracing app as Scotland ducks 'pingdemic'
Almost 14,000 people have disabled their contact tracing app as Scotland avoids a “pingdemic” despite having the highest Covid-19 rate in the UK. The number of people no longer allowing themselves to be automatically notified if they have been in close contact with someone who has caught the virus is likely to be much higher because the Scottish government’s figures only include those who deregister the app, not those who simply delete it. Those who deregistered included NHS staff.
Face Mask Requirements Returning As Covid-19 Coronavirus Cases Rise
Well, this is what happens when the genie has left the bottle, and it’s not wearing a face mask. In the words of Christina Aguilera, oh, woah, woah. Covid-19 cases have been on the rise throughout the U.S. This is just two months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed their face mask guidelines in May so that fully vaccinated people would no longer have to wear face masks indoors, as I described then for Forbes. Since it’s difficult to tell whether people are fully vaccinated because they may do a thing called lying, many state and local authorities soon abandoned face mask requirements all together.
France broadens use of COVID-19 health pass, slashes fines
The French government adjusted its new plan to fight COVID-19 on Monday, slashing planned fines and postponing them to an unspecified date, spokesman Gabriel Attal said. The measures, which include requiring a health pass in a wide array of venues from the start of August and making vaccination mandatory for health workers, will still account for some of the toughest in Europe.
'Pingdemic': English businesses buckle under COVID-19 isolation demands
COVID-19 cases surging in Britain. Official tracing app telling workers to self-isolate Crisis has overshadowed PM Johnson's 'freedom day'
Community Activities
Migration and Covid deaths depriving poorest nations of health workers
The loss of frontline health workers dying of Covid around the globe, is being compounded in the hospitals of developing nations by trained medical staff leaving to help in the pandemic effort abroad, according to experts. With new Covid waves in Africa, and with Latin America and Asia facing unrelenting health emergencies, the number of health worker deaths from Covid-19 in May was at least 115,000, according to the World Health Organization. Its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, acknowledged data is “scant” and the true figure is likely to be far higher.
Why the UK's new Covid-19 strategy is uniquely dangerous
I know of no episode in history where a government has willingly aided and abetted the spread of a dangerous infectious disease among its own population. History is being made. The government of the United Kingdom seems to actually want people to catch Covid-19 in the summer, rather than in the autumn and winter. Ministers reason that the understaffed and underfunded NHS will be in major trouble over the winter. To “go now” with the removal of all legal restrictions, thus producing an even higher level of infections, appears to be regarded as the right thing to do as it will reduce the inevitable problems later this year. This extraordinary policy has been revealed to the population in small dollops via Downing Street press conferences where the Prime Minister is flanked by civil servants. There is no obvious strategy and there is no published plan. In the view of much of the rest of the world, and most of the medical organisations in the UK, there is no possibility that this will be anything other than yet another failure that will cost lives and livelihoods.
COVID-19: 'It's not freedom day for everyone' - vulnerable people's fears over ending of coronavirus restrictions in England
People who are at high risk of catching the coronavirus have called the ending of restrictions in England "really frightening" and urged the government to give "more thought" to the vulnerable community. Restrictions such as limits on gatherings and social distancing, as well as face coverings, will no longer be legal requirements, although masks in certain spaces - including supermarkets and on public transport - is still being encouraged. There are around 3.8 million clinically vulnerable people in England with many saying they will do what they can to keep themselves and others safe - while charities have criticised the government for the blanket easing of coronavirus restrictions.
Indonesian soup kitchen brings food to COVID-19 patients stuck at home
As coronavirus surges in the Indonesian capital, volunteers like Badie Uzzaman are pitching in to help, delivering food to people who have tested positive but are forced to quarantine at home as hospitals run short of beds. The 26-year-old driver of a three-wheeler, Badie drops off the packages in front of patients' homes, calling out that their food has arrived and making small talk from a distance.
'I want to dance': London clubbers cheer end of COVID restrictions
London clubbers on Monday flocked to one of the first rule-free live music events since the pandemic began last year, dancing through the night and rejoicing in human interaction as England lifted most COVID restrictions at midnight. Britain, which has one of the world's highest death tolls from COVID, is facing a new wave of cases, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson is lifting most restrictions in England in what some have dubbed "Freedom Day". Epidemiologists are generally skeptical that lifting restrictions is the right thing to do, but many young British people have had enough of more than 1 1/2 years of lockdowns, and said they crave a party.
Working Remotely
Why returning to office will be 10 times harder than the transition to working from home
When the pandemic hit last year and companies and schools of all types scrambled to get people set up to work and learn from home, almost nobody thought about moving everyone back to the office. After all, the initial presumption was that this would be a short-term situation, and there was so much effort expended in making the transition outwards, that nobody gave a second thought to the process of coming back in. Nearly a year and a half later, the reality of returning to workplaces and schools is staring millions of people and hundreds of thousands of organizations straight in the face – and it’s looking to be a significantly harder problem than anyone originally thought.
Back to the office: UK staff divided, from resisting ever going back, to hybrid setups and remote work burnout
Being told to work from home seemed like a dream for many office workers last year. No commute! Longer in bed! No need to dress up! And if you listen to some, it might seem like nobody ever wants to return, at least not full time. But are those loud voices drowning out people who are looking forward to being back in the office more often, now restrictions are easing? From concerns about isolation burnout to cravings for hanging out with colleagues again, there are many reasons why some employees are simply ‘over’ the WFH thing – or at least want to see if “hybrid working” can work for them. i has spoken with five office workers about their differing hopes and expectations.
Siemens embraces remote working in search for tech talent
Siemens, Europe’s largest industrial group, is turning to Asia and the US for top tech employees, underlining how remote working schemes pioneered during the pandemic are reshaping recruitment. “We have to go and find talent where they are,” newly installed chief executive Roland Busch told the Financial Times, adding that the €110bn company was now able to develop software for physical products from anywhere. “I know that for Asia, many, many of these guys don’t want to come to Europe,” he added. “They say: ‘I’m sitting in a huge growth market, why would I go to Europe’.”
Virtual Classrooms
Tennessee approves 29 new virtual schools
The Tennessee Department of Education has approved 29 new virtual schools for upcoming 2021-22 school year. According to a release, this addition brings the total number of virtual schools in Tennessee to 57. “While research shows that students benefit most from in-person classroom instruction, districts are ensuring families who prefer a virtual education setting for their students have those options and can continue to make the best choices for their children,” said Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn in a statement.
Boosted by the federal stimulus, these virtual learning companies are fighting to keep their new place in US education
If parents weren't familiar with Canvas or Schoology before the pandemic, they likely are now. The two biggest remote learning providers -- or, more officially, "learning management systems" -- became household names as schools scrambled to help students learn online at home, but they're now fighting to keep their foothold as most districts plan to fully reopen for in-person learning in the fall. School districts nationwide licensed the platforms so that their students could log in to virtual classes, communicate with their teachers and submit schoolwork from home. Usage surged immediately.
Public Policies
Cabinet ignored expert advice in reopening nightclubs: report
The Dutch government ignored advice from experts in the Outbreak Management Team and Fieldlab when it authorized the reopening of nightclubs on June 26, NRC reported based on parliamentary documents and conversations with people involved. The number of coronavirus cases in the Netherlands spiked in the two weeks after clubs reopened and events were made possible. This resulted in the cabinet tightening some restrictions again, and apologizing for relaxing measures too soon.
A Pacific nation's Covid-19 crisis has become a political power play between China and Australia
China and Australia have found another battleground for their deepening diplomatic standoff: the Pacific Islands' pandemic response. Canberra has hit back at Beijing's claims it is derailing the rollout of Chinese vaccines in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the most-populous Pacific nation. "We support Papua New Guinea making sovereign decisions," Australia's minister for the Pacific, Zed Seselja, said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.
Taiwan approves Medigen's COVID-19 vaccine candidate
Taiwan's government on Monday approved the emergency use and production of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp's. COVID-19 vaccine candidate, a major step in the island's plans to develop its own vaccines to protect against the coronavirus.
19 July: England Covid restrictions ease as PM urges caution
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged caution as most legal restrictions on social contact are lifted in England. There are now no limits on how many people can meet or attend events; nightclubs reopened at midnight; and table service will not be necessary in pubs and restaurants. Face coverings will be recommended in some spaces, but not required by law. Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said government experts had recommended that only some under-18s be vaccinated.
Judge upholds COVID-19 vaccine mandate in victory for Indiana University
Indiana University students must comply with the school's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the fall semester after a federal judge refused on Monday to block the school's inoculation requirement, one of the first rulings of its kind during the pandemic. U.S. District Court Judge Damon Leichty in South Bend, Indiana, rejected the argument by eight students that the school violated their bodily autonomy and constitutional right to due process. "This university policy isn’t forced vaccination," wrote the judge. "The students have options -- taking the vaccine, applying for a religious exemption, applying for a medical exemption, applying for a medical deferral, taking a semester off, or attending another university."
Maintaining Services
More than 80% of the crew aboard a South Korean destroyer have tested positive for Covid-19
South Korea's military has recorded in biggest cluster of Covid-19 infections to date, with more than 80% of personnel aboard a navy destroyer on anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden testing positive. While the 247 cases are not directly linked to new domestic infections, with the destroyer Munmu the Great having left South Korea to start its mission in February, the surge comes as the country battles its worst-ever outbreak of Covid-19 cases at home, with another 1,252 new infections reported for Sunday.
UK runs out of Covid-19 lateral flow tests
Britons across the country were left unable to order Covid-19 lateral flow tests today after a 'temporary glitch' on the Government's website. Members of the public attempting to order free supplies of the at-home kits through the government portal were today told that 'no more tests can be ordered' and they should instead 'come back tomorrow'. The Department of Health and Social Care has now insisted that people can still order a lateral flow test and that the 'temporary technical glitch' with their site has now been rectified.
Cuba, gripped by unrest, battles highest COVID caseload in the Americas
Cuba, which kept coronavirus infections low last year, now has the highest rate of contagion per capita in Latin America. That has strained its healthcare sector and helped stoke rare protests that have roiled the Communist-run island. The Caribbean nation of 11 million people reported nearly 4,000 confirmed cases per million residents over the last week, nine times more than the world average and more than any other country in the Americas for its size.
Many ICU staff have experienced mental health disorders in COVID-19 pandemic
In a study of 515 healthcare staff working in intensive care units (ICUs) in seven countries, the researchers found that 48 percent of participants had mental health problems - depression, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The team also found a 40 per cent increase in these conditions for those who spent more than six hours in personal protective equipment (PPE), compared to those who didn’t. The study, led by researchers at Imperial College London, is published in the British Journal of Nursing and is the first to evaluate ICU workers’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with the UK Government’s report on burnout in NHS staff published in June 2021, the researchers suggest that the high level of mental health disorders found among the ICU staff surveyed should inform local and national wellbeing policies.
Fox Rails Against Vaccine Passports, Uses Vaccine Passports
Tucker Carlson and other Fox hosts have railed, on-air, against the idea of so-called “vaccine passports” but never told their audience that Fox uses one of Its own
Spain's COVID infections rise, but Brits still flock to its beaches
Spain reported a new jump in its COVID-19 infection rate on Monday, with 61,628 cases registered since Friday, just as fully vaccinated British holidaymakers flocked to its beaches, giving hope to the hard-hit tourism sector. Since July 8, when Britain announced the lifting of a 10-day quarantine for returning vaccinated tourists from July 19, flight bookings to Spain have increased four-fold even though they remain far below 2019 levels, an airlines industry group said.
Healthcare Innovations
Covid vaccine may be less effective on older people, say Israeli experts
The Covid vaccine may be losing its efficacy in older people, researchers in Israel have warned, as the Delta variant drives a growing fourth wave in the country. The monitoring team at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem reported that about 90 per cent of new confirmed cases in the over-fifties group were people who had been fully vaccinated. “It seems there’s a reduced efficiency of the vaccine, at least for part of the population,” the team said.
Vulnerable UK children to be offered Covid jabs first, minister says
Children in the UK will get a Covid vaccine only if they are over 12 and extremely vulnerable, or live with someone at risk, as scientists raised concerns about inflammation around the heart linked to the Pfizer jab. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said he accepted the advice of scientific advisers that only children over 12 with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities should be allowed to get the Pfizer vaccine. Children over 12 who live in the same house as people who are immunosuppressed will also be eligible for jabs. The opinion of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) expands the eligibility for children, after a previous decision that vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds could get vaccinated.
American Academy of Pediatrics says ALL children above age 2 should wear masks in school even if they've been vaccinated
American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidance that students above age 2 and staff in schools should wear masks regardless of vaccination status. The organization says it because most kids are not yet eligible for vaccines and masking reduces transmission of the virus. Dr Anthony Fauci said the new guidelines are 'a reasonable thing to do' due to vaccines not being approved for children under age 12. In the recommendations, the AAP said masks should be coupled with regular testing, promoting hand hygiene and contact tracing Children make up 14% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. but just 0.1% of all deaths