"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 9th Sep 2021

Isolation Tips
Work From Home? 6 Ways to Stay Focused and Avoid Burnout
As we edge toward remote-work burnout, it’s getting harder to stay focused and productive. Even our diversions are digital—“breaks” to play phone games bloat into 30-minute lapses—exacerbating our lack of human connection and our minds’ tendencies to wander. According to Kirsten Clacey, a remote-work expert who co-founded the Remote Coaches, spontaneous interactions can help combat the unfocused WFH malaise some folks are feeling. To create “playful moments,” she recommends beginning each meeting with five minutes spent “connecting as humans.” But you also have to carve out a personal life within your work life.
Hygiene Helpers
Coronavirus vaccine passports to be rolled out in October
Australia will begin issuing coronavirus vaccine passports from next month as preparations to restart international jetsetting continue. Travel is not expected to start until vaccination coverage for people aged 16 and over reaches 80 per cent, which is likely months away. The first international immunisation certificates are set to be rolled out in October with the federal government also working with other countries to determine which vaccines will be recognised.
Covid-19: Further push to vaccinate students in 'jabbathon'
There is to be a further push to vaccinate more students at campuses in Northern Ireland. The health minister Robin Swann announced details of the plan on Wednesday. The initiative - termed "jabbathon" - will involve 60 walk-in clinics across 30 campuses giving first jabs to students in universities and Further Education colleges.
Community Activities
India restricts religious festivals over COVID third wave fears
Indian authorities are restricting major religious festivals that start this week and attract huge crowds, warning that a new COVID-19 wave had already begun in the financial capital, Mumbai. State governments across the country of 1.3 billion people, which saw a devastating coronavirus surge in April-May, are clamping down on mass gatherings.
British man with Covid-19 faces eight years in a Polish jail over 'faked test certificate'
The 39-year-old man was detained by border guards trying to fly to Nottingham Officials discovered he had faked the test result at passport control in Poland He had altered his positive test result in a desperate attempt to return home He was fined £100 and faces between six months and eight years in a Polish jail
S.Korea planning to live 'more normally' with COVID-19 after October
South Korea is drawing up a plan on how to live more normally with COVID-19, expecting 80% of adults to be fully vaccinated by late October, health authorities said on Wednesday.
Working Remotely
Silicon Valley finds remote work is easier to begin than end
Technology companies that led the charge into remote work as the pandemic unfurled are confronting a new challenge: how, when and even whether they should bring long-isolated employees back to offices that have been designed for teamwork. That transition has been complicated by the rapid spread of the delta variant, which has scrambled the plans many tech companies had for bringing back most of their workers near or after Labor Day weekend. Microsoft has pushed those dates back to October while Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and a growing list of others have already decided wait until next year.
Coworking with friends can cure remote work blues
As coronavirus case numbers soar with the rise of the delta variant, many employers are delaying their return-to-office dates. And while that’s welcome news for a lot of people, some are dreading a stretch of colder months that could look a lot like last year: endless days spent inside, with human contact relegated to screens. Across the country, friends are devising another way forward. Now vaccinated, they are meeting up in each other’s homes and at coffee shops and co-working spaces. They are watching each other nail the important meeting and wrangle that stressful conversation with their boss. They are learning the names of their friends’ favorite (and least favorite) colleagues. These friends have discovered the ultimate pandemic life hack: Working remotely need not mean working alone.
Virtual Classrooms
Large number of children deprived of virtual learning, UNICEF survey shows
In Nepal, despite claims by the government to have increased students’ access to virtual learning platforms, an overwhelming number of students still remain deprived of virtual learning opportunities. A survey carried out by UNICEF across the seven provinces shows textbooks are the only source of information for 63 percent of children ever since the country went into a lockdown in March last year to stem the spread of Covid-19. The number is higher in public schools with 70.5 percent of students relying solely on the textbooks while it is 61. 5 percent for the private schools. The report showed only 27 percent students have access to online classes — 18 percent at community schools and 43.5 percent at private schools.
COVID remote learning eroded mental health by race, age, income, data indicate
A study in JAMA Network Open reveals a small link between COVID-19–related school closures and worse child mental health, particularly among older and Black and Hispanic students and those from low-income families. The researchers said that a host of factors related to remote education could chip away at children's mental health, including isolation, decreased access to mental health services, loss of free and reduced-cost meals, disrupted routines, decreased physical activity, lack of structure, stress due to technological limitations, and lack of identification of abuse and neglect. For racial minorities and students from low-income families, the interruption of their schooling may be compounded by racism, poverty, food insecurity, and home instability.
Public Policies
Ireland to give COVID-19 vaccine booster shot to over-80s
Ireland will give COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to elderly people who were fully vaccinated at least six months ago, the health ministry said on Wednesday. People over the age of 80 and those over 65 living in long-term residential care facilities will receive a booster dose of a vaccine such as those made by Pfizer or Moderna, irrespective of what vaccine they received initially, the ministry said in a statement.
WHO seeks COVID-19 vaccines for poor nations, 'not empty promises'
The World Health Organization on Wednesday said low-income countries were ready to run effective COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and it was now down to manufacturers and rich countries to deliver the pledged doses to ease global health inequalities. About 80% of the 5.5 billion vaccines doses that have been administered globally went to high and upper-middle income countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing on Wednesday
Maintaining Services
Bulgaria, EU's least vaccinated nation, faces deadly surge
Standing outside the rundown public hospital in Bulgaria’s northern town of Veliko Tarnovo, the vaccination unit’s chief nurse voices a sad reality about her fellow citizens: “They don’t believe in vaccines.” Bulgaria has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the 27-nation European Union and is facing a new, rapid surge of infections due to the more infectious delta variant. Despite that, people in this Balkan nation are the most hesitant in the bloc to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Only 20% of adults in Bulgaria, which has a population of 7 million, have so far been fully vaccinated. That puts it last in the EU, which has an average of 69 % fully vaccinated.
Idaho moves to start rationing medical care amid surge in covid hospitalizations
For the first time in Idaho’s history, officials in the state on Tuesday moved to start rationing medical care in some overburdened hospitals grappling with a surge in covid-19 patients — a grim reflection of the delta variant’s devastation and a dire warning for other health-care systems pushed to the brink by rising infections. Officials activated Idaho’s “crisis standards of care” for at least 10 hospitals in two public health districts, saying in a statement that a “massive increase in patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization” had led to a shortage of staff and beds. Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with less than 40 percent of the population fully vaccinated.
Children make up more than a quarter of the weekly US Covid-19 cases, pediatricians' group says
Children now represent more than a quarter -- or 26.8% -- of weekly Covid-19 cases nationwide, according to data released Tuesday from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The update comes as schools across the US have been in session or are getting into full swing. Experts have encouraged adults to get vaccinated to protect young children returning to the classroom. "If we want to protect the children, particularly those who are not yet eligible for vaccination, you want to surround the children with people who are vaccinated -- teachers, school personnel, everyone else," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday.
In Parts Of The U.S., Delta Covid-19 Surge Is Forcing Hospitals To Ration ICU Beds
When Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) tweeted on Tuesday, September 7th, that “Real America is done with Covid-19” it raises the question whether the Congressman is even aware that the 7-day average of daily Covid-19 deaths is approaching 1,500 (real Americans, by the way), and approximately 100,000 Covid-19 patients are hospitalized nationwide. The Delta surge of Covid-19 is forcing hospitals in parts of the U.S. to plan for or implement rationing of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. On September 6th, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, said that as hospitals in a number of states fill up with Covid-19 patients, doctors will have to make “tough choices” regarding who will get an ICU bed.
Northern Ireland schools “on verge of collapse under strain of Covid-19” as hundreds of pupils sent home
Northern Ireland schools are “on the verge of collapse under the strain of Covid-19, a leading teaching union has warned. Jacquie White, General Secretary of the Ulster Teachers’ Union, was speaking as the Education Committee meets today to discuss the significant difficulties across schools at the start of the new term. Health chiefs are under pressure to ramp up coronavirus testing capacity as schools across Northern Ireland continue to send hundreds of pupils home. There is also concern at suggestions a faster form of Covid-19 testing could be used to allow self-isolating students to return to school.
New Zealand marks downward trend in new COVID-19 cases
New Zealand reported a further fall in locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, as the largely coronavirus-free nation looks to eradicate an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant. New Zealand reported 15 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, down from 21 a day earlier, on the first day of an easing of tough restrictions in all regions outside its largest city Auckland.
Moderna turns to biotech startup to ramp up Covid vaccine manufacturing
Moderna will turn to a biotech startup, National Resilience, to manufacture additional doses of its Covid-19 vaccine. Moderna had previously said it would manufacture 800 million to 1 billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccine in 2021, ramping up to 3 billion doses in 2022. A person familiar with the company said the collaboration might result in hundreds of millions more doses. Currently, the vaccine is given as a two-dose series, though Moderna has said at least some patients may need a third dose given many months later. National Resilience will manufacture mRNA to produce the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at its facility in Mississauga, Ontario, for worldwide distribution. The company is headquartered in San Diego and Cambridge, Mass.
Healthcare Innovations
Novavax begins early-stage trial for flu-Covid combo vaccine
Vaccine developer Novavax Inc said today it has initiated an early-stage study to test its combined flu and Covid-19 vaccine. The trial, to be conducted in Australia, will enrol 640 healthy adults between the ages of 50 and 70 years and who have either been previously infected with the coronavirus or given an authorized Covid-19 vaccine at least eight weeks prior to the study.
Countries should prioritize pregnant, breastfeeding women for COVID-19 shots -PAHO
Countries in the Americas should prioritize pregnant and lactating women in distribution of COVID-19 shots, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday, hailing the ability of the vaccines to protect women and their babies. "PAHO recommends that all pregnant women after their first trimester, as well as those who are breastfeeding, receive the COVID-19 vaccine," PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne said during the organization's weekly virtual briefing.
EU lists rare nerve disorder as possible side-effect of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
Europe's medicines regulator has added an extremely rare nerve-damaging disorder, Guillain-Barré syndrome, as a possible side-effect of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, regular safety updates from the watchdog showed on Wednesday. The European Medicines Agency said a causal relationship between GBS and the AstraZeneca shot, known as Vaxzevria, was a "at least a reasonable possibility" after 833 cases of GBS were reported out of 592 million doses of the vaccine given worldwide by July 31.
Australia to support waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines
Trade Minister Dan Tehan says Australia will support an international push to waive intellectual property (IP) protections for COVID-19 vaccines as soaring infection rates across the globe prolong the pandemic and create ripe conditions for new variants. India and South Africa have spearheaded the campaign to change World Trade Organization (WTO) rules in an effort to make it easier for low and middle-income countries to manufacture and sell cheaper generic copies of COVID-19 vaccines produced by multinational pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer.