"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 21st Jul 2021

Isolation Tips
Iran orders week-long shutdown in Tehran amid fifth COVID wave
Iran imposed a one-week lockdown in the capital and a nearby province on Tuesday as daily COVID-19 caseloads hit a record high amid a fifth wave of the pandemic, state television reported. The lockdown affects Tehran and Alborz provinces, with only essential businesses allowed to stay open. Most offices, theatres and sports facilities must shut down in an effort to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, the TV said.
More than half of Australia's population under COVID-19 lockdowns
South Australia joins Victoria and Sydney in lockdown. New cases ease slightly in New South Wales, Victoria. 21 NSW cases spent time in community while infectious.
Hygiene Helpers
Anger over coronavirus vaccine passports plans in nightclubs
Plans to make Covid-19 vaccine passports mandatory at nightclubs in England have been criticised by those working in the industry in the North West. Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday 19 July that jab certificates will be required from the end of September to attend nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather. Only those who can prove they have been double-jabbed will be allowed into venues, even proof of a negative test would not be acceptable.
Covid-19: Crucial for pinged people to self-isolate - No 10
Downing Street has insisted it is "crucial" to self-isolate when sent an alert by the Covid app - and businesses should help employees to do so. It comes after business minister Paul Scully said he would encourage people who are "pinged" to self-isolate but they can make an "informed decision". The app has always been voluntary to download and any alerts are advisory. Labour accused the government of "making it up as they go along" and creating confusion. In recent days, there has been widespread criticism that the app has been sending out so many alerts that hundreds of thousands of people are self-isolating and missing work, causing widespread disruption.
Health expert warns Olympic bubble has burst as Covid-19 cases linked to the Games rise to 71
A public health expert warned the Olympic Covid-19 bubble had been broken as nine new cases were announced, including a volunteer for the first time. It took the total number of Covid cases linked to the Games in the build-up to 71. And Kenji Shibuya, the former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, told Reuters: “It’s obvious that the bubble system is kind of broken. “My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people.”
Pharmacies call for more Pfizer doses as young people 'clamouring' for vaccine
In Ireland, pharmacies are calling for the Government to provide them with more Pfizer vaccines to keep up with demand. It comes as pharmacists today administer their 100,000th vaccine, with 86% of these going to the 18-34s. Darragh O'Loughlin from the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) says the majority of jabs administered there have been single-shot doses. Over 800 pharmacies around the country are administering Janssen vaccines while the HSE provided Pfizer vaccine to just 350 pharmacies.
Community Activities
80% of new COVID-19 cases in Spain among non-vaccinated people, health minister says
The vast majority of new COVID-19 cases in Spain in the past five weeks were detected among non-vaccinated people, Health Minister Carolina Darias said on Monday, as new infections rose by 27,286. Just 5.5% of new cases within the period were detected among people who had been fully vaccinated, Darias said, adding 11.4% were partially vaccinated and 83.1% were unvaccinated.
Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths are increasing, and the vast majority were not vaccinated
The surge in Covid-19 cases fueled by the Delta variant and vaccine hesitancy has now led to increasing rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows: The average number of new Covid-19 cases each day the past week was 32,278. That's a 66% jump from the average daily rate the previous week, and 145% higher than the rate from two weeks ago. An average of 258 Americans died from Covid-19 each day this past week -- up 13% from the rate of daily deaths the previous week.
Olympic athletes, baseball players, soccer stars: Why we're still seeing Covid-19 cases among top athletes
The close proximity that athletes spend time in could be a breeding ground for infectious diseases, he said. It should be noted that vaccine programs vary in nations around the world, and not as much is known about some vaccines given in some countries, he added. And some teenage athletes might come from countries that don't vaccinate people that age, he said. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, reporting from Tokyo, said the Olympics bring a unique challenge. More than 11,000 athletes representing 206 national Olympic committees have come to an island nation that has seen a surge in cases.
COVID Vaccines And Infertility? How Misinformation Spreads, In 5 Steps
Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines can appear almost anywhere: from an uncle's Facebook post to a well-trusted news commentator. But where does it come from, and why do some myths spread further than others? With the help of the internet research firm Graphika, NPR analyzed the rise of one persistent set of lies about COVID-19 vaccines: that they can affect female fertility. Despite a mountain of scientific evidence showing the vaccines are safe and effective, the false information persists.
"Don't get sick": Indonesia's poor miss out on COVID care
In the teeming, impoverished North Jakarta neighbourhood of Muara Baru, people have made a grim joke out of the acronym for the Indonesian government's lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic: PPKM. "Pelan Pelan Kita Mati," Herdayati, a 48-year-old mother of six and sole breadwinner for a family living in a narrow, claustrophobic alley, said, explaining the gallows humour.
Nearly a third of hospital workers in New York City are still unvaccinated against COVID-19
Nearly one-third of employees at New York City hospitals have still not gotten COVID-19 vaccines, city data show. Figures from the state Health Department reveal only 70 percent have completed their vaccine series since the shots were rolled out in December 2020. Of the five boroughs, Manhattan has the highest percentage of vaccinated workers with 76 percent having received their shots. Queens has fared second best with more than two-thirds of health care workers, or 67 percent, being vaccinated. However, almost 40 percent of hospital staff in the remaining three boroughs have either refused the COVID-19 vaccine or not gotten it yet.
Young people are not immune from the government’s reckless policies
One of the reasons why Britain’s vaccination programme has been so successful is that the bulk of the population has been convinced that it is safe. Throughout the accelerated research and the rollout, safety has been the paramount consideration under which everyone concerned, including ministers and public health. But....
Working Remotely
Too Many Zoom Meetings? ‘Core Hours’ Keep Some Remote Workers Productive and Sane
As a new era of remote and in-office work begins, some companies are trying to bring definition to daily schedules—by making some hours off-limits for meetings. The tactic, called “core hours,” sets times—say, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.—when bosses require employees to be online and available for Zoom meetings, project collaboration and other exchanges. Any other time is a meeting-free zone. By having certain hours, or days, when everyone is “on,” the idea goes, employees have more freedom and flexibility to do solo work the rest of the time. The approach was adopted by some bosses during the pandemic as a way to keep remote collaboration from bleeding into all hours of the day. Now, as businesses reopen offices or implement longer-term work-from-home strategies, some companies say they are making core hours standard practice.
The unspoken reasons employees don't want remote work to end
It’s no secret that employee-employer tensions about heading back to the workplace are growing. As more employers push to get employees back in-house, the workers themselves are taking a harder stand. An April 2021 survey by FlexJobs found that 60% of women and 52% of men would quit if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely at least part of the time. Sixty-nine percent of men and 80% of women said that remote work options are among their top considerations when looking for a new job. The “official” reasons that they don’t want to head back to the workplace are well-documented. They’re more productive. It’s easier to blend work and life when your commute is a walk down the hallway. But, for some, the reasons are more personal and difficult to share. Who will walk the dog they adopted during the pandemic? They gained weight and need to buy new work clothes. The thought of being trapped in a cubicle all day makes them want to cry.
Virtual Classrooms
How to stop remote working from harming apprenticeships
Restrictions are easing and society is starting to open up again, but many workers and their employers want to keep working remotely. So what does this mean for apprentices and how can employers continue to deliver purposeful and effective training?
Public Policies
Zimbabwe orders COVID-19 vaccination for all civil servants
Zimbabwe's government on Tuesday ordered that all its workers should receive a COVID-19 vaccine and only 10% of civil servants report for duty, with the rest working from home in a bid to curb the spread of the pandemic. The head of the public commission, Jonathan Wutawunashe, said in a circular to government departments that all civil servants - about 250,000 - were considered frontline workers who should get COVID-19 shots.
Vietnam agrees to tech transfers on Russian, U.S. COVID-19 vaccines
Vietnam said on Tuesday it has reached agreements on technology transfers for Russian and U.S. coronavirus vaccines. The Southeast Asian nation is keen to boost its vaccine capacity. The World Health Organization said in May it was reviewing a proposal by an unidentified manufacturer in Vietnam to become an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine technology hub.
Israel to launch digital tracking for people in COVID quarantine
Under new measure, people in isolation must reply to a text message sent by police who will then use it to track their immediate location; PM calls for criminal charges for confirmed coronavirus patients who violate their isolation, streamlining enforcement process on the ground
Maintaining Services
Vaccinating children in Australia would help protect against Covid but high-risk groups first, experts say
Public health experts say vaccinating children against Covid-19 will be important for protecting Australians against the Delta variant, but that high-risk populations must take priority. On Monday, the New South Wales government indicated the state would consider vaccinating young people as part of its efforts to control the current Delta outbreak. “I think there will be a key role for vaccinating children,” the NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said at the daily press conference. “It is pleasing to see in some countries overseas that we have vaccines that are licensed for use in children.”
Researchers: Virus surge a 'raging forest fire' in Arkansas
Public health researchers on Tuesday called the rapid rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Arkansas a “raging forest fire,” and the state’s top health official warned that he expects significant outbreaks in schools. The model by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health projected a daily average of 1,039 new cases over the next week. The model also predicted an average increase of 169 new cases per day in children under the age of 17. Arkansas leads the country in new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers. The state also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with only 35% of the population fully vaccinated.
Two Fox News hosts urge viewers to get vaccinated despite anti-jab rhetoric from colleagues
While Fox News has come under fire for some of its on-air personalities undermining the US effort to get Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus, two of its anchors recently urged viewers to go and take the shot. Monday on Fox's morning show "Fox & Friends," host Steve Doocy discussed the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which is almost entirely concentrated among unvaccinated Americans. The direct encouragement for viewers to take the shot stands in stark contrast to the views expressed by the network's popular pundits, specifically Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.
Canada to open border to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens on Aug. 9
Canada on Monday said it will begin to ease pandemic restrictions at the U.S.-Canada border next month, allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents living in the United States who are fully vaccinated with Canadian-authorized vaccines to enter for nonessential travel without quarantining. The decision, which takes effect Aug. 9, follows months of criticism from U.S. lawmakers across the political spectrum, business groups and some travelers over what they said was an overly cautious approach to lifting curbs that have split families, battered the tourism sector and upended life in close-knit border communities.
A million children in England out of school last week because of Covid-19
More than one million children in England were out of school last week for reasons relating to Covid-19, official figures show. About one in seven (14.3 per cent) state school pupils did not attend on July 15 — the highest number since classes returned in March. This includes approximately 934,000 children self-isolating due to a possible contact with an infected person, 47,000 pupils with a confirmed case of Covid-19, and 34,000 with a suspected case. A further 35,000 pupils were off as a result of school closures due to the coronavirus, according to Department for Education (DfE) statistics.
Covid-19 restrictions on family hospital visits persist, despite concern
Even as most businesses in the U.S. have been removing Covid mask mandates and social distancing policies, one major exception continues to be hospitals, which have been more cautious in lifting restrictions. At the start of the pandemic, in the face of a new virus and the many unknowns that came with it, hospitals rushed to implement rules to keep patients as well as hospital staff safe, including barring visitors from entering altogether. Now, with the nature of the pandemic changing in the U.S. and increasing vaccination rates among the general population, patients and many physicians say the more restrictive ongoing limits, like only allowing one visitor, are no longer justified and may actually be harming patients’ mental health and leading to worse outcomes.
Circumventing Covid-19 with better ventilation and air quality
Gathering outdoors has provided people a safer alternative to meeting inside during the Covid-19 pandemic. But for those who spend their days in crowded indoor spaces — workers in office buildings and industrial facilities, students in schools, and the like — how can their indoor environments be made more similar to the outdoors? With better air quality and ventilation. Yet federal regulations are insufficient for improving indoor ventilation and few states are moving to improve it. We examined the Covid-19 US State Policy database and found that only Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington have explicit occupational safety and health standards to promote better air and/or ventilation quality.
Kazakhstan considers producing second Russian vaccine locally
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered his cabinet on Monday to look into the possibility of importing and locally producing the Russian-developed Sputnik Light vaccine, his office said. The Central Asian nation already produces the Sputnik V vaccine, developed earlier, at a local plant in addition to importing it from Russia.
‘The hospitals are very near to not coping’: UK health workers speak out
n Monday, for the first time since the early days of the vaccination programme in the UK, new Covid cases outnumbered the number of daily doses administered. As England lifts most restrictions, six healthcare workers from paramedics to paediatricians speak about what the reality is like amid rising coronavirus infections.
NHS summer crisis deepens as Covid surge leads to cancelled operations and ambulance ‘black alert’
Hospitals and ambulance services are in a deepening crisis caused by the surge in infections as the removal of Covid-19 rules coincides with added pressure from the heatwave and the return of thousands of workers to offices.More than half of staff at one NHS trust are absent because of Covid-19 isolation rules, forcing operations to be cancelled, while the number of Covid patients in England has leapt by one-third in the past week. The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, told a Downing Street press conference that he expected the NHS to see 1,000 patients a day being admitted to hospital soon.
NHS reliant on exploitative Malaysian factories for PPE, expert says
The NHS is wholly reliant on the Malaysian glove-manufacturing industry, where the exploitation and degradation of migrant workers is “endemic”, a leading expert has warned.
Healthcare Innovations
J.&J. Vaccine May Be Less Effective Against Delta, Study Suggests
The coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson is much less effective against the Delta and Lambda variants than against the original virus, according to a new study posted online on Tuesday. Although troubling, the findings result from experiments conducted with blood samples in a laboratory, and may not reflect the vaccine’s performance in the real world. But the conclusions add to evidence that the 13 million people inoculated with the J.&J. vaccine may need to receive a second dose — ideally of one of the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, the authors said. The conclusions are at odds with those from smaller studies published by Johnson & Johnson earlier this month suggesting that a single dose of the vaccine is effective against the variant even eight months after inoculation.
Covid-19 vaccines are safe for children but regulators say benefits may not outweigh the tiny risks of harm
In the UK, the Pfizer vaccine is already approved for use on anyone aged 12 or over, having been signed off by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). That decision was based on analysis of safety data and the experience of other countries which have already started administering vaccines to the under-18s. It shows that the experts believe it is not inherently unsafe to give the jab to teenagers. But the decision by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which determines the strategy used to give jabs in the UK, not to roll out the vaccine to most children this summer is based not just on the safety of the vaccine but on the cost-benefit ratio for any given individual.
Global quest underway to speed COVID-19 vaccine trials
Scientists are working on a benchmark for COVID-19 vaccine efficacy that would allow drugmakers to conduct smaller, speedier human trials to get them to market and address a huge global vaccine shortage. Researchers are trying to determine just what level of COVID-19 antibodies a vaccine must produce to provide protection against the illness. Regulators already use such benchmarks - known as correlates of protection - to evaluate flu vaccines without requiring large, lengthy clinical trials.
Lockdowns not more harmful to health than COVID-19: researchers
Lockdowns are not more harmful to health than COVID-19, according to a commentary published Tuesday. In a commentary published in the journal BMJ Global Health, researchers evaluated evidence to examine whether government interventions such as lockdowns led to negative health consequence. "The fact that there are no locations anywhere in the world where a lockdown without large numbers of COVID-19 cases was associated with large numbers of excess deaths shows quite convincingly that the interventions themselves cannot be worse than large COVID-19 outbreaks, at least in the short term," the researchers wrote.