"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 22nd Sep 2021

Isolation Tips
Ukraine tightens COVID-19 lockdown restrictions from Sept 23...
A Ukrainian government commission decided on Tuesday to tighten coronavirus lockdown restrictions from Sept. 23 as the number of new infections has increased sharply, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said. Ukraine lifted lockdown restrictions as cases dropped over the summer but has now imposed a nationwide "yellow" code which restricts mass events and limits the occupancy rates of gyms, cinemas and other culture venues.
India asks UK to revise COVID quarantine rules, warns retaliation
India’s foreign minister has urged the United Kingdom for an “early resolution of quarantine issue” in the wake of a new British rule requiring Indians visiting there to quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated. England and Scotland will ease pandemic restrictions from early October, but the list of countries with approved vaccines does not include India, despite the country using a locally made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine developed in the UK.
Hygiene Helpers
Opinion | I Ran the CDC. Here’s How to Prove That Americans Are Vaccinated.
This month, President Biden announced a comprehensive plan to reinvigorate America’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. A big part of this plan hinges on mandating the vaccination of millions of federal workers. Employees of companies with more than 100 staff members will have to provide proof of vaccination or test negative for the coronavirus at least once a week. The businesses and other institutions that must enforce these mandates will have to verify vaccination status and test results to make this system work. Even before the plan was announced, a number of state and local governments and school districts and more than 1,000 colleges and universities adopted at least some vaccination requirements for employees and students. But without a unified approach to verify compliance, ideally through federal leadership, verification will be inaccurate, inconsistent and potentially insecure.
DC school, childcare workers must get covid vaccine, no test option
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said Monday that all teachers and school staff and early child-care workers in the District must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 1, eliminating a testing option for these professionals who regularly interact with children who are often too young to be vaccinated. The mayor’s initial vaccine requirement — which included a testing option — did not apply to public charter or private school workers nor day-care employees. But this stricter mandate applies to these nongovernment employees.
New Zealand increases fines for COVID-19 rule breakers
New Zealand on Friday announced higher fines of up to NZ$12,000 ($8,400) for individuals breaching coronavirus restrictions amid concerns that the current outbreak may spread beyond Auckland to other regions due to people breaking rules. "Our success has been really based on the fact that people by and large have been compliant," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference.
Community Activities
India Covid-19: Meet the teacher who turned a street into a classroom
Schools across India have been closed for more than a year to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. But most of them, especially government-run schools and those in rural areas or remote parts, have struggled to keep teaching. Patchy or no internet access and a lack of electronic devices such as phones and laptops has meant poorer children have had little to no education since the pandemic started. But in a remote village in India's West Bengal state, primary school teacher Dwipnarayan Naik did not let any of this stop him: he set up an open-air school of sorts, using the outside of buildings as blackboards and the streets as classrooms.
Melbourne police fire pepper balls, pellets to break up COVID-19 protest
Police in Melbourne fired pepper balls and rubber pellets on Tuesday to disperse about 2,000 protesters who defied stay-at- home orders to damage property, block a busy freeway and injure three officers, leading to more than 60 arrests. It was the second day of demonstrations in the locked-down Australian city after authorities shut construction sites for two weeks, saying workers' frequent movement was spreading the coronavirus.
Working Remotely
Here’s why flexibility, not hybrid, is what employees say they want
After more than 18 months of workers managing career responsibilities and their lives — and experiencing just how much flexibility is needed to do both — the idea of having to adhere to a hybrid schedule set by an employer may not be the ideal solution. Instead, what workplace experts and some CHROs are now saying is that what workers really need is flexibility — the ability to figure out for themselves which days are in the office and on which days remote is best. The distinction may sound like mere verbiage, the experts acknowledge, but the difference could mean keeping valuable workers or watching them walk out the door
Advantages of remote working should not be lost - Forsa
The largest public service union here will begin negotiations with the Government later this week on the future for working - post pandemic. The head of communications of Forsa, which represents around 80,000 public and civil servants, said the union wants to build on the momentum of remote working that was forced upon employees as a result of the pandemic. Bernard Harbor said despite some initial problems, it has been a very favourable experience for workers and employers have found that productivity has been maintained or improved through remote working. Mr Harbor said the advantages of remote working for workers, employers and the economy must not be lost.
Virtual Classrooms
UK staff to gain right to request flexible working from day one
Employees in the UK will have the right to request flexible working from the moment they start a job, with companies obliged to explain their reasons if it is then refused, the government will propose in a consultation document this week. The plan would also oblige employers to respond to such requests more quickly, and is being billed as a major reshaping of the way people work in a post-pandemic world, making flexible work the default. But before the release of the document, unions are warning that the proposals do not go far enough and that rather than obliging people to ask for flexible working, job adverts should set out what sort of options are available for the role.
Virtual medical school: Burnout and a path forward
Medical students share their experience of virtual learning at medical school: "Our cohort of 140 students had imagined embarking on this path toward physicianhood together but, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we started several time zones apart. Our class started school eager to connect with others answering the call to medicine but, like many professionals who were forced to pivot to remote work during the pandemic, we were confronted with new, lonelier routines. Instead of learning how to use stethoscopes by listening to each others’ hearts in Columbia’s high-tech simulation rooms, we’ve struggled to learn medicine by watching YouTube videos alone. Day after day, interactions via black Zoom boxes have displaced forming real connections with classmates and teachers and distanced us from our budding profession and passion. This disconnection has led to burnout."
Zoo charity partners with tech firm on virtual learning experience for children
The Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA) has teamed up with edtech firm KidsLoop on the launch of a brand-new virtual learning experience for children, focused on the theme of nature and conservation. The online club is the first of its kind in Europe, providing a fully immersive experience for children through interactive activities, animated video and recorded footage from the zoo. Families can currently participate in the learning club from home, but from early 2022 the platform will be rolled out to schools across the country, supporting teachers in integrating conservation- and nature-based topics in their lessons
Public Policies
Covid: US opens up to fully vaccinated travellers
The US is easing its coronavirus travel restrictions, reopening to passengers from the UK, EU and other nations. From November, foreign travellers will be allowed to fly into the US if they are fully vaccinated, and undergo testing and contact tracing. The US has had tough restrictions on travel in place since early last year. The move answers a major demand from European allies, and means that families and friends separated by the restrictions can be reunited.
John Nkengasong, of the Africa C.D.C., Will Lead PEPFAR
The Biden administration plans to nominate John Nkengasong, a virologist and director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to lead the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, according to several sources familiar with the matter. President Biden is expected to make the announcement in the coming days. PEPFAR is a $7 billion operation that funds and sets goals for AIDS care in many nations, most of them in Africa. Dr. Nkengasong, who was born in Cameroon, is the first person of African origin to head the program, which is housed in the Department of State.
India says it will resume Covid-19 vaccine exports next month
India will resume exports of Covid-19 vaccines in the October quarter, prioritizing the global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX and neighboring countries first as supplies rise, the country's health minister said on Monday. India, the world's biggest maker of vaccines, stopped exports of Covid shots in April to focus on inoculating its own population as infections exploded. The country's monthly vaccine output has since more than doubled and is set to quadruple to over 300 million doses next month, minister Mansukh Mandaviya said, adding that only excess supplies would be exported. Total production could top 1 billion in the last three months of the year as new vaccines from companies such as Biological E are likely to be approved, he added.
Brazil and Argentina tapped to make mRNA vaccines in Latin America
The Pan American Health Organization has selected two biomedical centers in Argentina and Brazil as regional hubs to develop and produce mRNA-based vaccines to fight COVID-19 in Latin America, the regional health agency said on Tuesday. The idea is to tap existing manufacturing capacities to help transfer vaccine technology developed by Moderna in the United States to a region badly hit by the coronavirus and still without access to enough vaccines.
Maintaining Services
U.S. Pledge to Vaccinate Poor Countries Stumbles Amid Logistical Challenges
A White House plan to donate hundreds of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines has been hampered in many developing countries by a lack of infrastructure to handle storage and distribution, leaving poorer nations far behind the developed world in vaccination rates. After a delayed start—the U.S. missed its first donation target—the Biden administration has been ramping up overseas donations, shipping around 137 million doses, most of them Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. It expects to send 500 million doses of a shot developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE by the end of June 2022, the largest donation total of any country.
Major Idaho Hospital System Says 70% of ICU Patients Have Covid
An unprecedented 70% of intensive care unit patients have Covid-19 at a hospital network in Idaho, a state where vaccination rates are low, medical care is being rationed and virus hospitalizations are setting records. The Covid-19 ICU mortality rate is up to 43% at St. Luke’s health system, higher than the prior peak, and 98% of ICU patients suffering the deadly malady are unvaccinated, James Souza, chief physician executive of the statewide network of six hospitals, told an online news briefing.
COVID creates shortages of an array of U.S. medical supplies
Shortages of masks and gloves that marked the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic have spread to a host of other items needed at medical facilities in the United States, from exam tables and heart defibrillators to crutches and IV poles. It can now take up to five months to get some types of exam tables, for instance, compared to three to six weeks before the pandemic, according to CME Corp, a distributor of medical equipment that handles over 2 million products.
U.S. retail industry seeks 90-day lead time on COVID-19 rules
Two major U.S. retail industry groups on Tuesday asked the Biden administration for at least 90 days before imposing new rules that will require employees at larger firms to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular testing. On Sept. 9, the White House said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing an emergency temporary standard that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated, or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative COVID-19 test once a week.
Thai campaign to vaccinate schoolchildren makes progress
Health officials in the Thai capital made headway Tuesday in their effort to vaccinate children against the coronavirus, giving shots of the Pfizer vaccine to students aged 12 to 18 with underlying diseases. Vaccinations for that age bracket were first offered last month through hospitals, but now are arranged by schools. A separate campaign by a medical research institute on Monday began inoculating children aged 10 to 18 with China’s Sinopharm vaccine. On Tuesday, 1,500 students received shots of the Pfizer vaccine, 800 for the first time and 700 as a follow-up to their first shot in August.
Colleges struggling with Covid-19 in Republican states where up to 40% students unvaxxed
School leaders in Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Texas are battling lawmakers Governors are banning colleges from implementing vaccine mandates Meanwhile schools in states like Maryland and NY have high vaccine rates Colleges fear not just for student health but also for their balance sheets
Victoria's construction industry has been linked to 403 Covid-19 cases prompting shut down
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has shut down the state's construction industry after it was revealed 403 Covid-19 cases have been linked to the sector. There are now 300,000 tradies out of work for two weeks following the shut down announced late on Monday night with hundreds taking to the streets of Melbourne to protest outside construction union CFMEU's office. The state's health minister Martin Foley said that the hundreds of cases found within the industry have been recorded across 186 construction sites.
Covid-19 Australia: ACT boosts funding to mental health services as 16 new Covid cases are recorded
ACT Chief Minister announced extra $14million to boost mental health services Includes support for people with eating disorders, alcohol and drug services The increase in funding will also assist Indigenous and social housing residents Canberra recorded 16 cases with lockdown scheduled to run until October 15
Covid-19: Monoclonal antibody treatment to be rolled out to hospital patients with no antibody response
Eligible patients with covid-19 in UK hospitals who have not mounted an antibody response against SARS-CoV-2 will be offered the monoclonal antibody treatment ronapreve from this week, the government has announced. The drug is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies (casirivimab and imdevimab), which work by binding to two different sites on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and neutralising the virus’s ability to infect cells. It was the first neutralising antibody drug specifically designed to treat covid-19 approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (in August 2021). Ronapreve will be administered to patients without antibodies—who must be either aged 50 or over, or aged 12 to 49 and considered to be immunocompromised—through a drip. The government said it had secured enough supply for NHS patients across the four nations and that antibody testing will be used to determine which patients are eligible.
HSJ Patient Safety Awards 2021: Covid-19 Infection Prevention and Control Award
Northern Care Alliance Group: Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Testing Using LFDs in Emergency Departments to Aid Infection Prevention & Control – Northern Care Alliance at the Vanguard. During the second wave of the pandemic, demand for PCR testing exceeded capacity and adversely affected patient management. At that time (November 2020), UK policy did not support deployment of lateral flow devices for covid. Northern Care Alliance NHS Group introduced LFD for patients needing admission through emergency departments. An LFD (SD Biosensor) was introduced in the ED by pathology. Significant improvement in patient flow and reduction in nosocomial transmissions was a testimony to its clinical utility. The alliance presented at the National Virology Cell meeting and by late December 2020, the government launched its use for all ED admissions.
Healthcare Innovations
J&J says second shot boosts protection for moderate-severe COVID-19 to 94%
Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday a second shot of its COVID-19 vaccine given about two months after the first increased its effectiveness to 94% in the United States against moderate to severe forms of the disease.
Trials begin on new vaccine to fight Covid-19 variants
Trials are under way in Manchester of a new jab to fight Covid-19 variants in the hope it can offer longer-lasting immunity than current vaccines. Initially involving participants aged 60 and over, its creators hope the new drug – GRT-R910 – can boost the immune response of first-generation Covid-19 vaccines to a wide array of variants of Sars-Cov-2, which cause Covid-19. First to receive the trial jabs were retired NHS nurse Helen Clarke, 64, and her husband Andrew, 63, from Bolton, Greater Manchester. Mrs Clarke said: “I used to work in the NHS and had been involved in research as a nurse in the past.