"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 13th Sep 2021

Isolation Tips
Covid-19: Pupils will not have to 'routinely self-isolate'
Pupils in the same class as a positive Covid case "will not routinely be asked to isolate and book a test", ministers have said. Health Minister Robin Swann and Education Minister Michelle McIlveen said the Public Health Agency (PHA) would take a "more targeted approach" to contract tracing.
Auckland COVID cases drop again as New Zealand presses on with Delta curbs
New Zealand reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, all in locked down Auckland, its biggest city, as the country looks to limit the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Hygiene Helpers
Unvaccinated Americans Are 11 Times More Likely to Die of Covid, C.D.C. Reports
Three studies that drew data from different U.S. regions evaluated the protective power of the vaccines. One looked at more than 600,000 virus cases in 13 states, representing about one quarter of the U.S. population, between April and July, and concluded that individuals who were not fully vaccinated were far more susceptible to infection and death from the virus. They were 4.5 times more likely than vaccinated individuals to become infected, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from the coronavirus, the study found.
Community Activities
Denmark lifts all Covid restrictions as vaccinations top 80%
Denmark’s high vaccination rate has enabled it to become one of the first EU countries to lift all domestic restrictions, after 548 days with curbs in place to limit the spread of Covid-19. The return to normality has been gradual, but as of Friday, the digital pass – a proof of having been vaccinated – is no longer required when entering nightclubs, making it the last virus safeguard to fall. More than 80% of people above the age of 12 in the Scandinavian country have had the two shots, leading the Danish government to declare as of midnight it no longer considers Covid-19 a “socially critical” disease.
Refugees fear COVID risk in Australian immigration detention
Campaigners in Australia are urging the government to release asylum seekers held in immigration detention after at least one COVID-19 case was officially confirmed at a facility in Melbourne. Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, is currently in its sixth lockdown amid a coronavirus outbreak driven by the highly infectious Delta variant.
School Is Back and the Covid Rules Keep Changing: ‘It’s as Chaotic as You Can Get.’
Last year, Covid-19 shut down schools around the nation, forcing a largely failed experiment in remote learning and angry standoffs among teachers and parents over returning to schools. Now, the majority of the country’s 51 million school-age children are returning to class in the midst of a coronavirus resurgence, compelling districts to rethink their strategies. Schools are writing and rewriting pandemic policies for faculty and students from the moment they walk in the door, including where and how they interact, requirements for masking and testing, and the best ways to support students’ mental health.
'Loved ones died confused and alone' - calls for urgent public inquiry into pandemic handling in Wales
Our loved ones are being let down, families across Wales say, as a campaign has been launched for an inquiry into the Covid-19 handling. A UK-wide campaign has been launched as 'families deserve answers' following hundreds of thousands of Coovid-related deaths across the country. As a result, a Wales-specific group was launched - Covid-19 Bereaved Families Cymru group to provide support for Welsh families and not to be a 'footnote' in UK findings. The groups is calling for an independent public inquiry which will 'not save lives' but lessons can be learnt.
Working Remotely
Working from home? Then expect a pay cut as nearly one in ten London firms plan to cut the salary boost for the capital
Nearly one in ten of the capital's employers has dropped – or has plans to remove – the London weighting allowance on salaries for remote workers. An exclusive survey of more than 22,700 companies found that 11 per cent will ditch the salary boost for London workers who continue to work from home. The research also found that 28 per cent of employers are planning to hire staff to work remotely on a permanent basis, which was more than double the number in a previous survey.
New and young remote hires need mentors more than ever
Beginning a job remotely can be stressful. When your interactions with new colleagues are only happening through a screen, the process of getting close to others, and learning the best ways (and people) to help you do things often feels overwhelming. Many Gen Z workers are starting their first full-time jobs completely remotely. This means they’re often lacking the guidance and casual interactions that happen naturally in an office—experiences that are especially important for career development. Research shows that mentors are not only helpful to new workers acclimating to a new organization, but also key to employees’ professional growth.
Virtual Classrooms
University of Hertfordshire responds to petition calling for end to virtual learning
The University of Hertfordshire has responded to a petition signed by more than 400 people after students found a significant amount of classes would remain online this year. Students at the university have started to receive their first timetables for the new academic year, and some claimed they only have online classes scheduled. The university has said timetables have not yet been finalised, and “all students will receive in-person, on-campus” teaching. They added the decision to continue online teaching will allow students to benefit from more flexibility. The petition comes as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that universities should be teaching in person where possible.
Rethinking the improvement of teaching and learning in a virtual environment through unseen observation
With institutions having to make a rapid transition to online delivery, Covid-19 has left an indelible mark on the educational landscape. Understandably, some are concerned about how the quality of teaching and learning is being assured, along with supporting teachers to adapt and thrive in this new environment. How can this be done remotely? ‘Unseen observation’ is an innovative method that is increasingly being embraced by a growing number of colleges and schools, with practitioners acknowledging its positive impact on attitudes to observation and reporting significant improvements in their critical reflection on their professional practice, subsequently feeding into improvements in their teaching and their students’ learning.
Public Policies
Israel Is Preparing for Possible Fourth Covid Vaccine Dose
Israel is making preparations to ensure it has sufficient vaccine supply in case a fourth round of Covid-19 shots is needed, the country’s top health official said on Sunday. “We don’t know when it will happen; I hope very much that it won’t be within six months, like this time, and that the third dose will last for longer,” Health Ministry Director General Nachman Ash said in an interview with Radio 103FM. Israel, which has mainly used the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine, has so far inoculated about 2.8 million people with a third dose after beginning a drive to administer booster shots in August. Health officials have said the effects of the initial Covid-19 shots weaken five months after inoculation, making boosters necessary.
Oxford Covid jab faces effectively being withdrawn from Britain's vaccine rollout
Research suggests combining two different vaccines provides better protection Medical regulator ruled AstraZeneca cannot be used for third doses in this way Majority of third doses given out this autumn and winter are likely to be Pfizer
Brazil Moves Away from Chinese Covid-19 Vaccine
Brazil, a major buyer of China’s CoronaVac shot and a poster child for Beijing’s efforts at vaccine diplomacy, is making a speedy retreat from the Covid-19 vaccine as concerns grow over its efficacy against the Delta variant and other vaccines become more readily available. Brazil’s federal government has halted negotiations over additional doses of Sinovac’s vaccine, CoronaVac, spokespeople for the government and its local producer, the Butantan Institute, told The Wall Street Journal. The government has also said it won’t recommend use of CoronaVac for a third booster shot.
Opinion | Biden's Vaccine Mandate, Enforced By OSHA, is a Big Mistake
There’s one person that President Biden desperately needs to consult about his new federal vaccine mandate: President-elect Biden. In December 2020, as the prospect of imminent mass vaccination against Covid-19 was finally becoming a reality, Mr. Biden leveled with the American people: He said he would not force anyone to get the jab. “No, I don’t think it should be mandatory,” he told reporters. “I wouldn’t demand it be mandatory.” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, recently reiterated Mr. Biden’s position. “That’s not the role of the federal government,” she declared on July 23, referring to the idea of a government mandate. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the same thing a week later: “There will be no nationwide mandate.”
S.Africa's regulator approves Pfizer COVID-19 shot for children 12 and up
South Africa's health regulator has approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for use by children aged 12 and older, paving the way for the government to offer vaccinations to teenagers. The South African Health Products Authority (SAPHRA) said the decision came after a review of updated safety and efficacy information submitted in March this year. After a bumpy start, South Africa's vaccination campaign has ramped up in recent months with a solid supply of shots secured and just over 12% of its more than 60 million people vaccinated. That puts the country well ahead of others on the continent.
3M, Qiagen to comply with Biden's COVID-19 vaccination, test mandate
3M Co, the biggest U.S. producer of N95 masks, and German genetic testing specialist Qiagen said separately on Friday that they will comply with the Biden administration's new COVID-19 vaccination and testing mandate for workplaces. "We strongly support all initiatives aiming to increase vaccination rates especially at the workplace," Qiagen told Reuters in an email.
Pfizer to seek approval for vaccine in children 5 and over
Pfizer and BioNTech announced this week that it will soon seek approval from global regulators for use of its coronavirus vaccine in children ages 5 and over. The vaccine makers said in an interview published on Friday that they are looking to produce smaller doses of the vaccine for younger children. “We will be presenting the results from our study on five- to 11-year-olds to authorities around the world in the coming weeks,” Ozlem Tureci, the co-founder of BioNTech and its chief medical officer, told German news outlet Der Spiegel.
Maintaining Services
Mine worker tests positive for COVID-19 in South Australia after arriving on flight from Sydney
South Australia has recorded one new local case of COVID-19, in a mine worker who flew in yesterday from Sydney. He arrived on Virgin Australia flight VA406 at 9:20am, and was tested half an hour later. SA Health said the man went straight into quarantine at the Atura Hotel at Adelaide Airport, under the mining company's policy. Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the fact the case was identified so quickly was "a reflection of our system working".
Covid-19 Australia: A huge spike in pregnant women becoming severely ill with the virus
Seven pregnant women with Covid taken to Monash Medical Centre last week Health authorities are alarmed as the virus has caused premature births Dr Ryan Hodges worried over the spike in pregnant women in hospital with Covid Overwhelmingly the women being looked after in the ward are not vaccinated Dr Hodges noted international data showed Pfizer is safe for pregnant women
With more doses, Uganda takes vaccination drive to markets
At a taxi stand by a bustling market in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, traders simply cross a road or two, get a shot in the arm and rush back to their work. Until this week, vaccination centers were based mostly in hospitals in this East African country that faced a brutal COVID-19 surge earlier this year. Now, more than a dozen tented sites have been set up in busy areas to make it easier to get inoculated in Kampala as health authorities team up with the Red Cross to administer more than 120,000 doses that will expire at the end of September.
Healthcare Innovations
Some Vaccines Last a Lifetime. Here’s Why Covid-19 Shots Don’t.
Why don’t Covid-19 vaccinations last longer? Measles shots are good for life, chickenpox immunizations protect for 10 to 20 years, and tetanus jabs last a decade or more. But U.S. officials are weighing whether to authorize Covid-19 boosters for vaccinated adults as soon as six months after the initial inoculation. The goal of a vaccine is to provide the protection afforded by natural infection, but without the risk of serious illness or death. “A really good vaccine makes it so someone does not get infected even if they are exposed to the virus,” said Rustom Antia, a biology professor at Emory University who studies immune responses. “But not all vaccines are ideal.”
Germany recommends COVID-19 vaccinations for pregnant women
Germany's vaccine oversight body on Friday recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be vaccinated against COVID-19 with an mRNA-based shot. The Permanent Vaccination Commission (STIKO) advises that women should receive two shots from the second trimester of pregnancy, according to guidance posted on the website of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.