"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 3rd Aug 2021

Isolation Tips
Indonesia extends COVID-19 restrictions for outside Java
Indonesia extended restrictions outside Java island by another week in efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, local media reported on Sunday citing an interior ministry senior official. The highest level of restrictions was extended until Aug. 9 for regions outside Java categorised as "Level 4" areas, or areas that have a high level of infections and hospital's bed occupancy rate, Safrizal Z.A., a senior official at the Home Affairs Ministry, told local media. Workers employed by non-essential businesses will continue to work from home and shopping malls will remain closed.
Australia tightens COVID curbs as Brisbane extends lockdown, army patrols Sydney
Australia's Queensland state on Monday extended a COVID-19 lockdown in Brisbane, while soldiers began patrolling Sydney to enforce stay-at-home rules as Australia struggles to stop the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus spreading. Queensland said it had detected 13 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours - the biggest one-day rise the state has recorded in a year. The lockdown of Brisbane, Australia's third-biggest city, was due to end on Tuesday but will now stay in place until late on Sunday. "It's starting to become clear that the initial lockdown will be insufficient for the outbreak," Queensland state Deputy Premier Steven Miles told reporters in Brisbane.
Thailand and Vietnam extend COVID measures
Still in the grips of COVID-19 surges mainly fueled by the Delta (B1617.2) variant, Thailand and Vietnam extended lockdowns and other measures for the worst-hit parts of the countries. In other global developments, an outbreak in Australia's Queensland state flared again, and the greater Sydney area continues to report high daily case totals.
Millions under strict lockdown in China after Covid outbreak
Millions of people have been confined to their homes in China as the country tries to contain its largest coronavirus outbreak in months with mass testing and travel curbs. China reported 55 new locally transmitted coronavirus cases on Monday as an outbreak of the fast-spreading Delta variant reached more than 20 cities and more than a dozen provinces. Local governments in major cities including Beijing have now tested millions of residents, while cordoning off residential compounds and placing close contacts under quarantine.
Hygiene Helpers
Unvaccinated Brits could be sent home antibody tests after government signs £124m contract for testing kits
It suggests the Government could soon start offering antibody tests to young people who are yet to receive both jabs, and for those that refuse to take a coronavirus vaccine.
In Europe and US, calls for vaccine mandates stoke backlash
A privileged minority of nations are able to provide coronavirus vaccinations to the bulk of their populations. These are chiefly in the West, where governments in the United States, Canada and Europe managed to obtain vast supplies of doses even as countries in the developing world struggle to vaccinate their medical workers. The jabs were made free and widely available to the public, though the speed of their rollout varied on both sides of the Atlantic. But amid the surge of the highly transmissible delta variant — and the refusal of significant numbers of people to get vaccinated — governments are finding that more needs to be done.
Text reminders could boost vaccine uptake by 26%, study finds
Text message reminders could increase Covid-19 vaccine uptake by as much as 26%, according to research published in Nature on Monday. Researchers at UCLA and Carnegie Mellon University in the US conducting two randomised controlled trials involving 100,000 patients found simple texts successfully boosted vaccine appointments by as much as 84% and actual vaccinations by as much as 26%. Including “ownership language” in the form of phrases such as “the vaccine has just been made available to you” and “claim your dose today” further increased appointment and vaccination rates at UCLA Health by 1.51 and 1.09 percentage points respectively.
McDonald's makes masks mandatory for all customers, staff
McDonald's Corp confirmed that all its customers and staff will need to start wearing masks again inside its U.S. restaurants in areas with high or substantial transmission, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. The resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the United States due to the Delta variant and the new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that requires fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks have led companies to change their plans on vaccinations and masking
Community Activities
Have a chat to help others through loneliness
Looking back over the past 18 months, the Joni Mitchell lyric ‘you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone’ comes to mind. It’s only now, having been isolated, that we can appreciate how much small moments of contact with family and friends can mean. Bristol Myers Squibb’s Janice Creasy discusses how the company is helping reduce feelings of loneliness amongst its teams.
Serbia benefits from COVID-19 'quarantine tourism' as Indians visit
Serbia is benefiting from COVID-19 'quarantine tourism' as thousands of Indians make a two-week stopover on the way to other countries. India has registered more coronavirus cases than any other country except the United States. Its citizens are barred from entering many countries during the pandemic unless they spend two weeks in another country en route.
Sky News Australia suspended from YouTube for a week over Covid-19 misinformation
YouTube has temporarily barred Sky News Australia from uploading new content over misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Google (GOOGL)-owned platform, the broadcaster was issued a "strike" last Thursday, which prevents it from posting videos or live-streams for a week. Three strikes over a period of 90 days would result in a permanent removal of the channel. A YouTube spokesperson did not disclose which videos by Sky News Australia had violated its policies, but said in a statement issued on Monday that "we don't allow content that denies the existence of Covid-19 or that encourages people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus."
Covid-19 Contained Among Olympic Athletes Despite Tokyo Surge
Tokyo is experiencing a record surge in Covid-19 cases during the Olympic Games as the more infectious delta variant rips through Japan, though contagion among those linked to the event appears to be relatively contained so far. To date, organizers have announced 276 positive cases among people connected to the Olympics, including 24 athletes out of the more than 11,000 who are expected to participate. Of over 400,000 tests conducted so far on athletes and stakeholders, the positivity rate has been only 0.02%, organizers said on Monday.
Covid-19: First people arriving into UK after rules relaxed for fully jabbed
The first passengers have been arriving in the UK after rules changed to allow people fully vaccinated in the US and EU to avoid quarantine. The change, which came in at 04:00 BST, affects those arriving from countries on the UK's amber list - except France. The UK government said the change would help to reunite family and friends whose loved ones live abroad. Airline bosses have welcomed the move but are calling for more countries to be added to the UK's green travel list.
CDC rebuffs Biden bid to reinstate COVID-19 eviction moratorium
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has turned down President Joe Biden's request for a new scaled-down pandemic-related moratorium on residential evictions, citing a lack of legal authority to take the action, the White House said on Monday. The previous moratorium, which protected millions of Americans behind on their rent from being tossed out of houses and apartments, expired at midnight on Saturday, with Congress failing to renew it as Biden had asked. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier on Monday pressed Biden to have his administration renew the ban without congressional action.
To Fight Vaccine Lies, Authorities Recruit an ‘Influencer Army’
Ellie Zeiler, 17, a TikTok creator with over 10 million followers, received an email in June from Village Marketing, an influencer marketing agency. It said it was reaching out on behalf of another party: the White House. Would Ms. Zeiler, a high school senior who usually posts short fashion and lifestyle videos, be willing, the agency wondered, to participate in a White House-backed campaign encouraging her audience to get vaccinated against the coronavirus?
Working Remotely
As Delta Variant Rages, More Workers Are on Edge About Return to the Office
With scores of U.S. companies planning to return to offices in full force in a few weeks, workers are trying to make sense of changing face-mask guidelines and rising virus cases, along with new research about how easily the virus strain can be transmitted. The calculations and recalculations of risk are leaving many stressed, upset or simply in limbo. New and at times confusing guidance from health officials and employers on wearing masks indoors, and questions about whether vaccines will be required or not, have workers grappling with what to expect at work, or even whether to come in.
Why remote work is a big problem for the economy
Americans are trickling back to their pre-pandemic workplaces, but most offices are still largely empty. And that's affecting local economies in a major way. Love it or hate it, commuting is good for the economy. You pay train conductors' salaries with your subway fare. The dry cleaner by the office and the coffee shop around the corner all count on workers who have been largely absent for nearly a year and a half. In 2020, the number of people working from home nearly doubled, to 42% of America's workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And although many workers may prefer that setup, staying home is likely to delay the recovery of the vital office-adjacent economy.
Succeeding In The New Work-From-Anywhere World
Studies from around the world consistently show that companies see productivity gains after allowing employees to choose their work locations. Remote work offers many other benefits, too: “Commute times disappear, operational costs get slashed, you can tap talent in other cities and other countries,” Tsedal Neeley, the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, points out. Despite these upsides, however, shifting to working remotely is not without its challenges, especially when it comes to communication and coordination among managers and employees. “People can easily get into an out-of-sight, out-of-mind, out-of-sync, and out-of-touch mode,” Neeley says. Another challenge, especially during the pandemic: The lines between work and non-work times can get blurred, so managers should be concerned less about productivity dropping and more about employees working too hard.
Virtual Classrooms
'Outstanding' Manchester teacher named 'best in UK' for innovative approach to remote learning
A Greater Manchester teacher has been named Teacher of the Year at the Aspiration Awards by Educational charity NCFE. Gary Rayworth is the curriculum leader for Technology and Computing at the Manchester school. He was given the award following his innovative approach leading online lessons during lockdown - in his own department and across the school as a whole.
West Norfolk classrooms connect around the world
A major new programme is linking schools in West Norfolk with counterparts around the world in an international initiative to raise global awareness. The schools are broadening their horizons with an international project to connect classrooms. A successful funding application by the 11-strong West Norfolk Academies Trust means that each primary school is linked to another in India and each secondary school has a different school in Nepal it is working with. Grant funding from the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme has enabled the schools to start working with their partners in laying the foundations for joint projects to learn about another country and its people.
Public Policies
Vulnerable 12- to 15-year-olds eligible for Pfizer vaccine from next week
Vulnerable 12- to 15-year-olds will be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine from next week and residents in Queensland’s COVID-19 hotspot are being urged to get any available vaccine as outbreaks worsen around the country. Fast coronavirus testing could also become more widely available as trials of the rapid antigen tests continue in aged care facilities around NSW.
UAE rolls out Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 3-17
The United Arab Emirates will start providing China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 3-17, the UAE government said on Twitter on Monday. It cited the health ministry as saying the decision comes after clinical trials and extensive evaluations, without providing any details. Authorities said in June the trial would monitor the immune response of 900 children.
Cambodia to mix vaccines as booster shots to fight COVID
Cambodia will begin offering a booster shot against Covid-19, switching between the AstraZeneca and Chinese COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus in the Southeast Asian country. Prime Minister Hun Sen, launching the vaccination campaign for 12-17 years old, said on Sunday that the third dose will be offered to between 500,000 to one million frontline workers as a priority.
U.S. CDC extends COVID-19 policy allowing border expulsions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday extended a Trump-era policy allowing for the expulsion of migrants across U.S. borders, citing COVID-19 risks. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed the order that replaces an October 2020 order. The CDC said the policy would be reviewed every 60 days to ensure it is still necessary. The policy allows U.S. officials to send migrants back to Mexico without the chance to seek asylum or other protections in the United States.
Maintaining Services
Covid-19: Low take-up of vaccine in Manx homeless, says charity
There has been a low take-up of the Covid-19 vaccine among the Isle of Man's homeless, a charity has said. Graih, which runs a drop-in and night shelter for anyone sleeping rough, said many homeless people had been reluctant to get the jab since the start of the vaccination rollout in January.
More than 816,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses were administered Saturday in the US as pace of vaccination rises
The rate of Covid-19 vaccinations in the United States continues to rise, a positive sign amid skyrocketing cases and hospitalizations after weeks of lagging inoculations. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday that 816,203 additional doses were administered, the fifth straight day the agency recorded more than 700,000 shots in arms. That brings the total number of doses administered to 346,456,669, according to the CDC numbers released Sunday.
COVID-19: Tests at England's major railway stations and on trains reveal no traces of coronavirus
Tests at four major railway stations in England and on intercity train services revealed no traces of COVID-19, National Rail has said. Swabs were taken on areas most commonly touched by passengers, including escalator handles, ticket machines and benches, along with hour-long air samples to detect the virus. London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly station underwent two rounds of testing in January and June, with tests repeated on trains running between stations.
Massive quarter mile queues at Heathrow Airport 'as 25% of staff in Covid isolation'
Huge queues have built up at Heathrow Airport amid a suspected Covid outbreak among staff, it has been reported. Frustrated passengers have been stuck waiting for hours at the London airport today. Some reported tension within the queues, with people jostling and pushing just to get into the terminal. The lack of social distancing has led to concerns among some that the virus could spread as crowded people wait to get on their flights. Problems with the e-gates and sickness among Border Force staff are behind the delays, The Times reports.
U.S. South braces for record numbers of hospitalized COVID patients
COVID hospitalizations in Louisiana and Florida have surged to their highest points of the pandemic, leading overwhelmed doctors on Monday to plead with the unvaccinated to get inoculated against the Delta variant. More than 10,000 patients were hospitalized in Florida on Sunday, surpassing that state's record. The surging Delta variant led Louisiana's governor to reinstate a statewide indoor mask mandate, with that state expected to break its record on COVID hospitalizations within 24 hours. Hospitalizations in Arkansas are also soaring and could eventually break records
NHS urged to redistribute near-expiry vaccines as take-up slows in young
The NHS is facing pressure to redistribute tens of thousands of vaccine doses nearing expiry as demand from younger adults drops. An internal email seen by the Guardian warned of 170,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine at risk of expiry within the next fortnight, as doctors across England have raised alarm at the unpredictability of vaccine take-up among young people meaning more doses will go to waste. The government is to unveil a raft of new initiatives to increase vaccine uptake among young people, including discounts on car-hailing companies such as Uber and Bolt, as well as the delivery service Deliveroo.
GOP lawmaker who once spurned masks urges people to take covid-19 seriously after eight-month illness
A Tennessee legislator who went from unmasked gatherings with fellow legislators to being placed on ventilator days later has emerged with a message for constituents after a harrowing eight-month experience with long-haul covid-19: Take the coronavirus seriously. “It is a disease that wants to kill us,” state Rep. David Byrd (R) said in a statement Friday. Byrd, 63, described an ordeal that included 55 days on a ventilator in which covid-19 ravaged his memory, his muscles and his organs — it led to him having a liver transplant in June; his condition was so grave that his family at least once began planning for his funeral.
Unvaccinated Covid-19 patients are filling up hospitals, putting the care of others at risk, doctors say
Hospitals are surging with unvaccinated patients infected with the Delta variant -- which could affect car accident victims and other non-Covid-19 patients who need hospital care, doctors say. "None of these patients thought they would get the virus, but the Delta variant has proven to be so highly contagious that even the young and the healthy, including pregnant patients, are now starting to fill up our hospitals," said Dr. Neil Finkler, chief clinical officer for AdventHealth Central Florida.
Healthcare Innovations
Arcturus to start clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccine in Vietnam
Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc (ARCT.O) said on Monday its Vietnamese partner received regulatory approval to start a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the Southeast Asian country.
About 99.999% of fully vaccinated Americans have not had a deadly Covid-19 breakthrough case, CDC data shows
More than 99.99% of people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have not had a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization or death, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data highlights what leading health experts across the country have highlighted for months: Covid-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and death from Covid-19 and are the country's best shot at slowing the pandemic down and avoiding further suffering.
AAP urges post-COVID-19 follow-up to monitor for residual symptoms
New AAP interim guidance on post-COVID-19 conditions in children and adolescents recommends all patients who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection have at least one follow-up conversation or visit with their pediatrician to discuss residual symptoms, explore new symptoms and guide their return to activities. More than 4 million U.S. children have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Although acute illness may be less severe in children and adolescents than adults, severity does not predict subsequent or ongoing symptoms. According to the guidance, “COVID-19 can lead to many secondary conditions, which can range from subacute to severe. Long-term effects from SARS-CoV-2 infection may be significant, regardless of the initial disease severity.”
Study: Severe COVID, higher viral loads, immune response linked to obesity
Among US Military Health System (MHS) beneficiaries diagnosed as having COVID-19, obesity was independently and strongly associated with hospitalization, need for oxygen therapy, higher viral load, and an altered immune response, according to a prospective study late last week in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. A team led by researchers from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, used logistic regression models to compare the viral loads and immune responses in obese and non-obese patients at seven military treatment sites, stratified by hospitalization. Patients were included if they had confirmed or suspected COVID-19 or had a recent high-risk exposure to the virus.
With expanded FDA nod, Regeneron's COVID-19 antibody drug can help the immunocompromised
With its rapid mutations, the evolutionary process of the coronavirus makes it a moving target. And so it is with treatments for the disease, which can quickly become in vogue or obsolete. Case in point for the former: Regeneron’s antibody cocktail REGEN-COV. Over the last few months, nearly every development in the COVID-19 antibody market has broken in favor of the treatment, a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab. On Friday, the FDA granted emergency use authorization to REGEN-COV as a preventative measure for those who have been exposed to COVID-19 and who are at high risk to progress to a severe case because they are not fully vaccinated or are not expected to mount an adequate antibody response to vaccination.