"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 17th Aug 2021

Isolation Tips
Covid-19: Relaxation of NI self-isolation comes in effect
Fully-vaccinated close contacts of people who have Covid-19 no longer need to automatically self-isolate. Instead, they should get a PCR test on day two and day eight of what would have been their 10-day isolation period. A number of changes to Covid-19 restrictions made by the NI Executive last week come into effect on Monday. More than six people can now sit together in pubs and restaurants and conferences can resume.
Australia extends COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne, reinstates night curfew
Australian authorities reinstated a night curfew and extended COVID-19 lockdown measures in Melbourne for another two weeks to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant.
Sydney records deadliest day of COVID-19 pandemic, Melbourne lockdown extended
Sydney lockdown extended statewide as Australia faces 'worst' COVID episode Sydney lockdown fines raised as Australia faces 'worst' COVID-19 situation
What are England and Northern Ireland’s new rules on self-isolation?
England and Northern Ireland have, from Monday, followed Scotland and Wales in relaxing rules so that people who are fully vaccinated no longer have to self-isolate if they are close contacts of people testing positive for Covid-19. They are advised to get a PCR test – the more reliable method of determining whether they have Covid-19. It will not be compulsory and they will not have to self-isolate while they wait for the result. The new guidance will apply to people who had their final dose of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before coming into contact with a positive case.
Scots with mental health issues more anxious about Covid easing
Scottish adults who are living with physical or mental health conditions are significantly more anxious about the easing of coronavirus restrictions, a study has found. In a survey of more than 2,000 people, the Mental Health Foundation found around 61 per cent of those who had long-term physical or mental health problems were “fairly” or “very” anxious about the easing of restrictions. This compared to 45% of the general population of Scottish adults who said they felt this way.
Hygiene Helpers
COVID-19: ASDA and National Express offer rewards for young people getting vaccine
Asda and National Express are among a number of firms set to offer rewards to young people getting a COVID jab. Free Now taxis, lastminute.com and Better leisure centres will also offer incentives for those booking in for a vaccine. Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo have already said they will offer discounted rides and meals for customers who get the jab to help boost vaccine uptake.
Coronavirus Australia: How young Australians under 30 can get Covid vaccines - Pfizer, AstraZeneca
Thousands of young Australians will finally get the chance to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as New South Wales is set to roll out new Pfizer jabs across transmission hotspots in Sydney. Anyone aged 16 and over will be eligible to book a priority vaccination appointment from Monday, if they work in authorised industries and live in one of nine government areas of concerns. That means freight, distribution, delivery or bus drivers, as well as construction workers, meat workers, food workers and disability, health and aged care workers, will all be able to jump the Covid jab queue and get their first shot between August 16 and 22.
Businesses tempt Covid vaccine shy with vouchers and discounts
Asda, National Express and lastminute.com are among companies that will offer incentives to customers who get vaccinated against coronavirus. The group of businesses join Uber and Bolt, the taxi companies, and the takeaway service Deliveroo, which have said they will give discounted rides and meals to customers who have had a jab.
More companies to offer Covid-19 jab-linked incentives
More of the country’s best known businesses will offer rewards to customers who are vaccinated against Covid-19. Asda lastminute.com, National Express Free Now taxis and Better leisure centres are among those offering incentives to encourage younger people to get vaccinated. Uber Bolt and Deliveroo have already said they will offer discounted rides and meals for customers who get a Covid-19 jab, to help boost vaccine uptake.
Indian state brings COVID vaccines to migrant workers’ doorstep
As a health worker swabs the skin on his arm with an alcohol wipe and prepares the syringe, Kartik Biswas feels an overwhelming sense of relief. He is finally about to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of a drive by the southern Indian state of Kerala to inoculate some of the country’s most marginalised people: migrant workers.
Community Activities
New Yorkers largely back mayor's vaccine mandate to dine out
New Yorkers interviewed by Reuters on Monday were largely backing the push by the city's mayor, Bill de Blasio, to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms and other businesses. The policy is set to launch Tuesday as the delta variant continues to make progress. With vaccines widely available, political leaders were combating the latest surge in infections with shots and masks rather than ordering businesses to close and Americans to stay home as they did last year.
Protesters in France denounce COVID health pass rules for fifth weekend
Protesters have marched in cities across France for a fifth consecutive weekend against rules compelling them to show a COVID-19 health pass for daily activities, but in lesser numbers than a week ago. Crowds rallied through the streets of Paris, Marseille, Nice, Montpellier and other towns, waving placards reading "Pass=Apartheid" and chanting "Freedom, freedom".
Working Remotely
Many summer interns are actually very happy to be working from home
A good summer internship can lead to the job of your 20-something-year-old dreams, assuming you have a few well-timed run-ins with your boss, make enough appropriate jokes at your team meeting, work harder than you ever thought possible and are blessed with a little (okay, a lot) of luck. When this rite of passage is remote, not only is a full-time offer potentially harder to secure, you miss out on free snacks, slightly awkward co-worker friendships and any semblance of what it’s like to work in an office. And many of this year’s interns are A-okay with that.
Three, two, win? How to adapt to hybrid home and office working
As coronavirus restrictions lift, many companies whose staff have worked from home for 18 months are asking those workers to dust off their bras and smart trousers and return to the office part-time. While the majority of people will be given little choice about where they work (the proportion of people working from home more than doubled in 2020, but was still only a quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics), many companies that have used remote working are now expecting staff to work more flexibly. Recent research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that about half of managers expected staff to be in the office two to three days a week, while 48% of managers feared team members could quit if they could no longer work remotely.
Work From Home: Computer, Mathematical Workers May Never Return to the Office
In July, 13% of the employed Americans surveyed for the government’s monthly jobs report responded “yes” to the question “Did you telework or work at home for pay because of the coronavirus pandemic?” That’s down from 35% in May 2020, when the question was first asked. Both then and now, those with white-collar jobs were more likely to work from home than others. But one group stands out: the 5.8 million people in what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls computer and mathematical occupations, of whom 49% were still working remotely because of the pandemic in July, even as only 25% of those in other non-health-care management and professional occupations (my proxy for white-collar workers) were.
Remote Work Is All Gen Z Knows. But Are They Satisfied?
One recent survey from Slack suggested that as few as 12% of workers want to return to the office full-time; another from Citrix, looking at Millennials and Gen Z workers specifically, estimated that 51% wanted to remain working from home the bulk of the time. Meanwhile, a different poll from research firm Generation Lab showed that as many as 40% of college students and recent graduates would actually prefer fully in-person work. And another survey from workforce engagement platform Ten Spot showed that only 30% of Gen Z wanted to stay remote full time, while 34% said they were “more productive and engaged” when working from the office. This confusion over what the workforce’s newest employees want—and the tension with more established workers—shows how complicated work’s place in our lives has become, especially for Gen Z as they settle into their new roles.
Leaders must stop blaming their bad management on remote workers
There is never a great moment to launch an anonymous public attack on the people who work for you. Still, some sort of award for bad timing should go to the faceless UK government ministers and officials who chose the late stages of an exhausting pandemic to complain about the output of remote-working civil servants. “There must be the suspicion that some people have spent the last 15 months working from home but haven’t actually been doing very much,” one cabinet minister told The Times last week. “It’s hard to know who is deserving of a promotion when people are working remotely,” added another source. Such comments, part of a cack-handed effort to coerce and cajole staff back to their offices, say less about the workers, and much more about their bosses. If after 15 months, you have only a “suspicion” about what your people are up to, and find it “hard to know” who are your top performers, you are guilty of neglect at best, mismanagement at worst.
More than one-third of remote workers are still waiting for their employer's return-to-office plan
The resurgence of Covid-19 cases due to the delta variant is casting uncertainty on future plans yet again, including the return to offices. Some 36% of people currently working from home say they’re still waiting to hear from their employer about whether they’ll stay remote or be expected to return to the workplace anytime soon, according to a survey of nearly 3,000 American workers conducted by LinkedIn in July. Avoiding a premature return is a good idea to safeguard workers’ health and safety, but not giving any indication of future plans can be stressful and frustrating for employees.
Virtual Classrooms
Students who are more adaptable do best in remote learning – and it’s a skill we can teach
The speed and scale of the shift to remote online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has really tested students’ adaptability. Our study of more than 1,500 students at nine Australian high schools during 2020 found strong links between their level of adaptability and how they fared with online learning. Students with higher adaptability were more confident about online learning in term 2. And they had made greater academic progress by term 4. The important thing about these findings is that adaptability is a teachable skill. Later in this article we discuss how to teach students to be more adaptable.
'Hybrid learning’ — teaching kids in-person and online at the same time — robs children of quality education
With an eye on back-to-school during the COVID-19 pandemic, some education advocates in the Greater Toronto Area’s York and Peel regions have been calling for school boards to say no to hybrid learning. In May, the York Region District School Board announced it would be adopting a hybrid model where by “students attending face-to-face and students attending remotely will be taught simultaneously by the same educators.” The Peel District School Board plans to follow the same model in secondary schools. Other boards across the province are weighing options now that families have opted for in-person or virtual schooling. What these decisions don’t show is that the hybrid learning plan for schooling in the COVID-19 pandemic is more about politics than what’s best for kids.
Some kids don't want to return to in-person schooling
As schools reopen across the US, many children are excited to get back into classrooms with their friends. But for some others, especially kids with social anxiety, online learning was a welcome respite from bullying and the stress of trying to fit in. For them returning to school, with its classroom dynamics and cafeteria social pressures, can feel daunting. The pandemic has taken a toll on children in different ways. A recent study found that rates of depression and anxiety among youth doubled during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic levels. After an unprecedented year filled with uncertainties, a return to pre-pandemic life -- whatever that may look like -- is overwhelming for a lot of people, said Robyn Mehlenbeck, clinical psychologist.
Public Policies
Requirement to isolate ends for fully vaccinated contacts
People who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer have to isolate if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. From Monday, people in England who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine, or are under 18, will not have to spend 10 days in quarantine if they are a contact of a positive case, a change which has been hailed “another step back towards normality”. They will be advised to take a PCR test, but that will not be compulsory and they will not have to self-isolate while they wait for the result.
Japan extends, expands coronavirus emergency as cases surge
Japan’s “state of emergency” for curbing surging COVID-19 cases will continue through Sept. 12 rather than ending at the end of this month as initially planned, the government decided Monday. With the pandemic continuing to spread in the country, the emergency for Tokyo Osaka Okinawa and three other regions which started in July would be prolonged and expanded.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Steps Down Amid Covid-19 Criticism
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin resigned amid criticism over his Covid-19 policies, bringing renewed uncertainty to a government that has been marked by political infighting since Malaysia’s longtime ruling party lost in the wake of one of the world’s largest financial scandals. In a speech Monday, Mr. Muhyiddin said his last ditch effort to shore up political support so he could see through the pandemic recovery had failed. “There were those who were greedy for power instead of prioritizing the lives and livelihoods of the people,” he said of political rivals.
North Macedonia reimposes restrictions as COVID-19 resurges
North Macedonia has reimposed restrictions on access to cafes, restaurants and public events in a bid to subdue a fresh spike in COVID-19 infections and nudge citizens to get vaccinated, prompting public anger and protests. From Monday, those who want to go to restaurants, concerts or any public events will have to show a certificate of at least one COVID-19 vaccination or of recovery from the disease within the past 45 days.
Hong Kong reclassifies 15 countries as 'high risk' for COVID-19
Hong Kong's government said it would upgrade 15 overseas places including the United States, Spain and France to "high risk" from "medium risk" by Aug. 20, meaning international arrivals from those countries will face lengthened quarantine due to a resurgence of the coronavirus. The government said arrivals from Bangladesh, Cambodia, France, Greece, Iran, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States would all face the new restrictions, according to a statement released on Monday.
Australia purchases Pfizer vaccines from Poland as COVID-19 infections spike
Australia has purchased about 1 million doses of Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine from Poland to add to its inoculation efforts in Sydney and its home state, which on Saturday entered a snap lockdown amid record new infections. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday the extra vaccines would start arriving immediately and over half will be directed to 20- to 39-year-olds in New South Wales, as the state reported its second largest increase in locally transmitted infections
WHO: $7.7 billion needed for COVID variant detection, oxygen
As many parts of the world battle the more transmissible Delta (B1617.2) variant, the World Health Organization (WHO) today said $7.7 billion is needed to track new variants and boost the supply of oxygen. Meanwhile, countries such as Iran, Japan, and Australia expanded their COVID-19 measures to slow their latest COVID-19 surges. In a statement, the WHO said the Delta variant’s transmissibility ramps up vaccination urgency and that rising infection rates are overwhelming health systems. The agency added that low testing levels, especially in low- and middle-income countries, is leaving the world blind to how the virus is evolving, leaving it vulnerable to new variants.
Maintaining Services
COVID-19 hospitalization rates for adults in their 30s hit record highs amid Delta variant surge
Dr. James Lawler addressed the alarming hospitalization rate among the young 'So this is not only the pandemic of the unvaccinated in the U.S., it's a pandemic of the young now,' he said. He called it a 'myth' that young people don't get very sick from the coronavirus. New COVID-19 hospital admissions for patients in their 30s reached an average of 1,113 per day for the week that ended Wednesday/ That average daily hospitalization rate had jumped 22.6 percent from 908 in the previous seven days. The data shows that thirtysomethings made up 170,852 out of more than 2.5 million new hospital admissions for COVID-19 since August 2020
US COVID-19 cases back to pre-vaccination levels
For the first time since February, the United States reported more than 900,000 COVID-19 cases last week—with the country represented 20% of global cases—a sign the pandemic surge caused by the Delta (B1617.2) variant has stalled the progress made by an aggressive vaccine rollout that dampened cases this spring and summer. Cases are on the rise in 46 states, according to USA Today. Hot spots continue in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Oregon, Hawaii, and Mississippi. Oregon reported 11,564 cases in the week ending Friday, the paper said, topping its December pandemic peak by more than 7.2%. The United States reported 38,482 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 382 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker.
Healthcare Innovations
Surgeon general worries about complacency on Covid-19 as cases surge and vaccinations lag
Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday they have submitted initial data to the US Food and Drug Administration to support the use of a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine. The booster dose elicited a significantly higher antibody response against the initial strain of coronavirus and the Delta and Beta variants, compared to what was seen among people who got two doses. The booster dose seemed to be equally protective against the Delta and Beta variants as against the original coronavirus.
GSK, CureVac say their COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in monkey trial
GlaxoSmithKline and CureVac said a study on macaque monkeys showed their jointly-developed mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate to be "strongly improved" in protecting against the virus compared with CureVac's first attempt. The encouraging news on its "second-generation" vaccine gave CureVac's German-listed shares an 8% lift, as the stock gradually recovers from a slump in June when the German biotech company's first vaccine candidate recorded a disappointing 48% efficacy in mass testing on humans.
Research sheds light on how safe vaccinated people are from Covid-19
In a preprint paper last week, a group of researchers from both academia and U.S. health agencies reported their findings of the immune correlates for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. The study demonstrated the link between the level of antibodies in a person’s system and how protected they are against Covid-19, validating the hypothesis that antibodies could be used as a measure that signifies overall protection.
German panel recommends all 12-17-year-olds get COVID-19 shot
Germany's vaccine advisory committee updated its guidance on Monday to recommend that all children and adolescents aged 12-17 be given a COVID-19 vaccine, citing further safety data and increased risks posed by the more infectious Delta variant. The committee, known as STIKO, had previously recommended that only children and adolescents with pre-existing conditions be given a coronavirus vaccine
Young kids more likely than older kids to spread COVID-19 to household
A Canadian study in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that while younger children are less likely than older children to be the index COVID-19 patient in their home, they are more likely to spread it to household members. The study involved 6,280 households with COVID-19 index patients 17 years and younger from Jun 1 to Dec 31, 2020. Of the 6,280 households, 1,717 (27.3%) experienced SARS-CoV-2 transmission to a median of two siblings or caregivers in the household 1 to 14 days after index patient diagnosis. Children aged 0 to 8 had higher odds of transmitting the virus, but those 3 years and younger had the greatest infectivity