"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 10th Aug 2021

Isolation Tips
Covid-19: Quarantine-free travel from France resumes as UK rules change
Fully vaccinated people can now visit France without quarantining on their return to the UK, after travel rule changes came into force at 04:00 BST. Brittany Ferries said it had received a "surge" of bookings following the rule changes announced on Thursday. But travel agents said the relaxation of quarantine for one of the UK's most popular destinations came "too late to save the summer". Meanwhile, travellers in Mexico had to rush back to avoid hotel quarantine. Under the latest changes to the UK's traffic light system for travel, the rules have been relaxed for a dozen countries
Australia expands COVID lockdown over concern virus has spread from Sydney
Australia expanded a COVID-19 lockdown to a rural town and the coastal region of Byron Bay on Monday, as fears grew that the virus has spread from Sydney to the northern tip of the country's most populous state.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid 19 coronavirus: Vaccine passports on their way for Kiwis
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that the Government will be issuing Covid-19 vaccine passports to allow Kiwis to travel around the world. "Yes," she replied when asked by TVNZ Breakfast as to whether New Zealanders will have a Covid vaccine passport. "Other countries say you can't even go to events unless you're vaccinated. "That's not what we're doing. We want high rates of vaccination but that's not the way we want to try and encourage it.
Ministers urged to cap ‘rip-off’ costs of PCR tests for travel
The Government has been urged to cap the price of Covid tests for travel following analysis which showed many companies were charging more than £200 for a PCR test. Analysis of the list of providers which meet minimum testing standards on the Government website, by the Liberal Democrats, shows just 11 per cent of the providers offered tests for under £50, with the cheapest offering prices ranging from £20. Some 24 per cent of the providers were charging more than £200.
FOMO in the U.K., sausages in Germany, Dracula's castle in Romania: Countries dangle coronavirus vaccine incentives
Desperate to get young adults vaccinated against the coronavirus and reinvigorate a slowing inoculation campaign, British authorities are trying a new strategy: FOMO. “Don’t miss out,” warns the government’s latest message, promoted with help from DJs and nightclubs. In other words, get your jab or risk getting left behind while your friends flock to bars and music shows. The London nightclub Heaven is also being transformed into a pop-up clinic on Sunday, offering about 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
NSW considers mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all health workers after fatal Liverpool Hospital outbreak
The NSW Health Minister is looking at ways to require all health workers to be vaccinated, the ABC understands. It comes on the back of the Liverpool Hospital cluster, which has seen at least two partially vaccinated nursing staff contract the virus. Five patients at Liverpool Hospital have now died as a result of the outbreak. ealth staff, including students and those who deliver meals to wards, are already required to be vaccinated for a variety of diseases, including hepatitis B and chickenpox. But both the Nurses and Midwives Union (NSWNMU) and the Health Service Union (HSU), said a vaccination mandate for COVID-19 was not appropriate and could even lead to staff leaving the industry.
Norwegian Cruise Line can require proof of Covid-19 vaccination in Florida, federal judge rules
Norwegian Cruise Line can require proof of Covid-19 vaccination for passengers and crew members, a federal judge ruled Sunday, after the cruise line operator had challenged Florida's ban on vaccine passports.
Gilead to require U.S. workers receive COVID-19 vaccine
Gilead Sciences Inc said on Monday it will require all its employees and contractors in the United States to become vaccinated against COVID-19. The biotech company's move comes less than a week after U.S. drugmaker Pfizer said all its U.S. workers would need to get vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing. All Gilead U.S. employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Oct. 1, where allowed by law and where the vaccine supply is readily available, the company said in a statement.
Nearly 1,500 health systems across the United States mandate Covid-19 vaccination
Hospitals coast to coast are demanding their employees get vaccinated against covid as the highly contagious delta variant tears through populations with low vaccination rates. Nearly 1,500 hospitals — roughly a quarter of all hospitals in the U.S. —now require staffers to get a covid vaccine, said Colin Milligan, a spokesperson for the American Hospital Association. More follow suit every day as hospital leaders aim to head off staff shortages like those experienced last year and to keep employees from becoming vectors of the disease.
France’s virus pass now required in restaurants, trains
France took a big step Monday into a post-pandemic future by requiring people to show a QR code proving they have a special virus pass before they can enjoy restaurants and cafes or travel by plane, train or bus across the country. The measure is part of a government plan to encourage more people to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot and slow down a surge in infections, as the highly contagious delta variant now accounts for most cases in France. Over 36 million people in France, or more than 54% of the population, are fully vaccinated. The special pass is issued to people who are vaccinated against COVID-19, or have proof of a recent recovery from the virus or who have a recent negative test. The measure also applies to tourists visiting the country.
Pentagon to require COVID vaccine for all troops by Sept. 15
Members of the U.S. military will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning next month under a plan laid out by the Pentagon Monday and endorsed by President Joe Biden. In memos distributed to all troops, top Pentagon leaders said the vaccine is a necessary step to maintain military readiness. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the mid-September deadline could be accelerated if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise.
More than 400 universities are requiring Covid-19 vaccines. But the murky threat of fake vaccination cards worries some students and experts
Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can voluntarily share their Covid-19 vaccine status with administration, but those who show up on campus unvaccinated or choose not to disclose their vaccination status will have to get tested for coronavirus weekly.
Community Activities
COVID-19: Coronavirus vaccine hesitancy among younger people decreases, ONS figures show
Hesitancy among younger age groups to receive a COVID-19 vaccine has fallen, according to new figures. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey looked at attitudes during the period from 23 June to 18 July - a day before most coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England. For 16 and 17-year-olds - who are now able to get a jab following last week's announcement to extend the rollout to that age group - hesitancy has decreased from 14% to 11%.
Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Cards Worry College Officials
As the delta variant of the coronavirus sweeps across the United States, a growing number of colleges and universities are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for students to attend in-person classes. But the mandatory requirement has opened the door for those opposed to getting the vaccine to cheat the system, according to interviews with students, education and law enforcement officials. Both faculty and students at dozens of schools interviewed by The Associated Press say they are concerned about how easy it is to get fake vaccine cards
Some May Be Getting Covid-19 Vaccines In Disguise To Hide Vaccination Status
There haven’t been any high school genre movies entitled The Fully Vaccinated Breakfast Club or Mean Antivaxxers just yet. But apparently some people who want to get vaccinated against Covid-19 may be facing high school-type peer pressure or even bullying. In the following video, Priscilla Frase, MD, the chief medical information officer for Ozarks Healthcare, described how her patients said they actually had to don disguises while getting vaccinated so that their family members and peers wouldn’t find out
No test, no entry: Berlin nightclubs pilot 'reboot' project
Six Berlin nightclubs opened their doors this weekend to some 2,000 revellers free of masks and social distancing restrictions in a pilot project to assess whether testing for COVID-19 could prevent another lockdown for the city's night life venues.
Crowd of 10,000 attends largest open-air music event in Ireland since start of pandemic
A crowd of 10,000 people have attended an open-air event in Falls Park, Belfast – the biggest crowd at a music event in Ireland since the start of the pandemic. The crowds were present on Sunday night as part of this year’s Féile an Phobail which is being held both in person and online. The Diversionary Féile Music Night, featured international DJ Paul Van Dyk and Judge Jules.
Anti-vaxxers try to storm the BBC in protest over vaccine passports and jabs for children
A group of anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protesters clashed with police as they tried to gain access to BBC studios in west London. Protesters were seen confronting officers with scuffles breaking out as they attempted to enter the site in White City. A line of police officers were filmed pushing back protesters to stop them entering. It is understood the group arrived to protest plans for vaccine passports and the vaccination of children.
Italian police break up network selling fake COVID ‘green passes’
The Italian police have shut down several groups on the mobile messaging app Telegram where users were selling fake COVID-19 health passes required to access services and leisure activities. Italy introduced the so-called green pass on Friday.
Working Remotely
Covid: Home-working officials won't get paid less, says minister
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has rejected the idea that civil servants should be paid less if they continue working from home. It comes after an unnamed cabinet minister told the Daily Mail it was unfair for those returning to the office not to be paid more. But Mr Kwarteng said this would set colleagues against each other. And he added that flexible working - with people working from home some of the time - was "here to stay". The government says it is aiming to "gradually and cautiously" increase the number of officials in its offices, as Covid restrictions are relaxed.
Move here, get paid: Small towns offer up to $20K just to get you to live there, work remotely
Northwest Arkansas is among a growing crop of cities, states and regions offering as much as $20,000 to entice newly remote workers to move to their areas. Some, like the Ozarks, are trying to create a pool of high-skilled workers to help fill job openings. Others aim to build up a skilled workforce to attract companies. Still, others are combating longstanding population declines or are looking to fill new housing complexes. The efforts are turning the traditional building blocks of economic development upside down. Typically, cities have spent hundreds of millions of dollars offering tax breaks and other incentives to lure companies.
Minister suggests civil servants should face pay cut for working from home
Ministers could face a battle with unions over a drive to get more civil servants back into Whitehall. One Cabinet minister has suggested that officials should have their pay docked if they refuse to return to the office after working from home for so long during the pandemic. The comments were described as “insulting” by a civil service union chief, who said ministers should focus on whether public services are being delivered, rather than where civil servants are sitting. The unnamed minister’s comments came as the Government stressed it would follow a “cautious” approach to civil servants returning to their offices, with departments able to be flexible in how the process is managed.
Amazon delays office return until 2022 as Covid spreads
Amazon has told its US corporate staff not to return to the office until next year as Covid continues to spread. The online shopping giant previously asked staff to work from home until 7 September, but will now extend this until 3 January 2022. It comes as new Covid infections surge across America, with with daily cases at an average not seen in months. Two US financial institutions, Wells Fargo and Blackrock, also said they would push back their office returns. "As we continue to closely watch local conditions related to Covid-19, we are adjusting our guidance for corporate employees," said Amazon.
Virtual Classrooms
COVID-19 has widened Australia's educational digital divide. But one program is closing the gap
Heading into the pandemic, Anne Hampshire from The Smith Family knew remote learning would widen the digital divide. "With COVID, we were particularly concerned that students who were already struggling with literacy and numeracy might fall further behind," she said. In an Australian first, Anne Hampshire organised for tutors to reach about 100 students in two hours of literacy and numeracy schooling for six months. They wanted to see if overseas success stories using this model would work in Australia. The group selected students already behind their classmates prior to the pandemic — the average for numeracy was three years behind. The experiment found not only did the students stop falling further behind, but in literacy six out of 10 students caught up to or surpassed their classmates.
Embracing virtual GCSEs
As the scope for digital learning continues to evolve, schools and educators alike are starting to recognise the true potential for the future of learning online and how it could add a new dimension in terms of providing support for children with specific individual needs and requirements. Experts are also considering how we might use learning platforms in the future to boost how we teach in the classroom, how we engage pupils using varied techniques and also how we can provide a more personalised approach to educating the young.
Schools Brace for More Cyberattacks After Record in 2020
Cyber criminals are targeting U.S. schools at an increasing rate after remote learning during the pandemic left them more vulnerable to hacks, and the risk shows no sign of abating as students and teachers head back to the classroom this month. The number of publicly disclosed computer attacks on schools has exploded since 2016 to a record 408 in 2020, according to the K-12 Security Information Exchange, a nonprofit that tracks such incidents, and those figures are almost certainly an undercount because many go unreported. While schools are opening back up across the country for in-person instruction, many are expected to retain virtual learning as an option and that means more access points for potential intrusion with financial consequences for districts that are already facing increased costs to bring students back.
Public Policies
Everything you need to know about the changes to Victoria's COVID-19 vaccine rollout
Victoria is fast becoming the vaccination state with thousands taking advantage of major changes to the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout today. Nine state-run clinics are now offering the AstraZeneca jab to under-40s from today, with Australia's first drive-through clinic also launching in Victoria today. Here is everything you need to know about the changes to Victoria's vaccine rollout.
UK set to ‘hoard’ up to 210m doses of Covid vaccine, research suggests
The UK is on course to “hoard” up to 210m spare coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year, research suggests, as ministers were accused of leaving poorer countries “fighting for scraps”. Pressure is growing on the government to do more to help nations where tiny proportions of their population have had a first jab given that the UK is opposing a temporary waiver to intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines that would allow more companies abroad to manufacture the doses themselves.
Moderna COVID-19 vaccine gets Swiss approval for 12- to 17-year-olds
Swissmedic has approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 17-year-olds, the Swiss agency said on Monday.
Malaysia to ease COVID curbs for fully vaccinated in eight states
Malaysia will relax some COVID-19 restrictions for fully vaccinated people in eight states that have met criteria such as reduced case numbers and higher vaccination rates, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Sunday. The measures, which will allow dining in at restaurants, outdoor individual sports and interstate tourism, will take effect on Tuesday, Muhyiddin said in a televised address.
Indonesia extends COVID-19 curbs as infections spread in regions
Indonesia extended its COVID-19 curbs on populous Java and Bali islands until Aug. 16, but will ease them in 26 areas, as official data showed infections have plunged in the capital Jakarta but are increasing elsewhere.
A WHO expert explains why she believes the rush for Covid-19 boosters is premature
When the World Health Organization last week called for a moratorium on giving Covid-19 booster shots, except in rare circumstances, it said it was concerned wealthy countries would start giving their populations a third dose before the people at highest risk from the disease — health workers and older adults — in many countries get their first. But Kate O’Brien, the WHO’s director of immunization, vaccination, and biologics, recently insisted on an additional reason: Providing booster shots without strong evidence that the shots are needed is ill-advised. “If we’re not really grounded in that clarity, we’re going to be in a place where we have forever uncertainty about what actually should be done,” she cautioned.
Australian PM approves use of Moderna COVID vaccine
The Australian government has announced that Moderna will become the third COVID-19 vaccine to be rolled out in the country next month. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday that the Australian vaccine regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, approved Moderna for use by adults 18 years and older.
Countries battle Delta beyond main hot spots
Indonesia today extended COVID-19 measures in areas where infection levels are rising, as a few more locations in Australia's New South Wales state went on lockdown due to rapid spread of the more transmissible Delta (B1617.2) variant. Elsewhere, more cities in China are conducting mass testing to stem their COVID clusters, as the country continues to report a spike in local cases.
Maintaining Services
Indonesia’s Aceh medics offer COVID lifeline for the isolated
Aceh doctors hope monitoring through WhatsApp can help reduce the risk of people dying from coronavirus when quarantining at home.
BioNTech says vaccine repeats beat devising new one for now
BioNTech said that repeat shots of its COVID-19 vaccine, of which more than a billion doses have now been supplied worldwide, was a better strategy than tailoring the product it developed with Pfizer to new variants. The German biotech firm said that offering a third dose of its established two-shot vaccine remained the best response to concerns over waning immune protection in the face of the highly contagious Delta variant, as worse strains may emerge.
‘Worrying’ numbers of pregnant women in intensive care with Covid
A record number of pregnant women were admitted to intensive care with Covid last month, data shows, as doctors raised concerns about vaccine hesitancy among expectant mothers and urged them to get jabbed as soon as possible. Figures from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) showed that in England, Wales and Northern Ireland 66 pregnant women ended up in intensive care in July, the highest number since the pandemic began and three times as many as April last year. A total of 46 recently pregnant women were also admitted to critical care. The numbers of expectant mothers in intensive care has risen steadily in recent months, from 17 in March to 22 in June but a spike in admissions occurred last month amid rising Covid cases and a loosening of restrictions.
Canada loosens travel restrictions for vaccinated US tourists
American tourists who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus are now allowed to enter Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government lifted months-long restrictions on non-essential travel into the country. As of Monday, citizens and permanent residents of the United States who received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival in Canada will be exempt from quarantine requirements.
Covid patients in critical care are decade younger than in previous waves, data shows
Hundreds of critically ill Covid patients have had to be moved between hospitals to relieve pressure on beds in recent months, according to new data which also shows those sick with the virus are a decade younger then in previous waves. The latest assessment of admissions to hospital critical care units showed 176 patients in intensive care had been moved to different hospitals 198 times since the start of May this year. The Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC) has been analysing Covid admissions to NHS ICUs throughout the pandemic and in its latest report, published on Friday, it compared the patients admitted to ICU since May with those admitted since September.
U.S. City With 2.4 Million Population Has Just Six ICU Beds Left
With ICU beds down to a single digit, Austin sounded the alarm Saturday, using its emergency alert system to let residents in the Texas capital city know that the local state of the pandemic is “dire.” The Austin area -- with a population of almost 2.4 million people -- has just six intensive-care unit beds left, state health data show. A total of 313 ventilators are available.
Healthcare Innovations
Less than 10% of newborns contracted COVID-19 from their infected mothers during or just after birth
Only 18.5% of newborns contracted COVID-19 after their mothers tested positive, a new study finds. Less than 4% of babies born in Ontario during the pandemic tested positive for the virus. Researchers say that mother-to-child transmission is rare as long as guidelines are followed. Pregnant women are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, though the CDC says the long-term effects of the vaccine are unknown
Big drop in Covid-19 patients thanks to vaccine – chief scientific adviser
There has been a dramatic reduction in the number of being people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 thanks to the vaccination programme, Northern Ireland’s chief scientific adviser has said. Professor Ian Young said there are 22 hospitalisations for every 1,000 cases of the virus, down from 80 per 1,000 last December. He was speaking during another surge of the virus in Northern Ireland on Monday when there were 245 Covid positive patients in hospital, with 41 in intensive care.
A 'super green' primary care clinic for shielding patients during Covid-19
How a nurse-led ‘super green’ clinic was set up to care for shielding patients during Covid-19. This initiative won the Infection prevention and control category in the 2020 Nursing Times Awards
Moderna considers including Australian children in Covid-19 vaccine trial
The vaccine manufacturer Moderna is considering Australia as part of a clinical trial to test its Covid-19 vaccine in children. In its latest quarterly report filed in the United States to the federal financial regulatory agency, Moderna indicated it would test the safety and efficacy of its Covid vaccine in 6,000 healthy children aged between six months and 12 years. The pharmaceutical company reported it would enrol participants “in the US and up to two ex-US countries (eg. Canada and/or Australia)”
Depression and anxiety doubled in children, pandemic study says
Around the world, children's depression and anxiety rates may have doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the results of a meta-literature review published in JAMA Pediatrics today. The researchers looked at 29 general-population studies, one of which was not peer reviewed, and found pooled depression and anxiety rates at 25.2% and 20.5%, respectively. Both depression and anxiety rates were associated with later stages in the pandemic and with girls, and higher depression was also associated with older children.