"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 26th Oct 2021

Isolation Tips
China Locks Down Thousands in North as Delta Outbreak Spreads
China locked down a county that has seen the most Covid-19 cases in the nation’s latest delta outbreak, as an initial flareup in the northwest quickly spirals into a nationwide surge. Ejin, a county in China’s Inner Mongolia region, asked its 35,700 residents to stay home from Monday and warned of civil and criminal liabilities should anyone disobey the order, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing a local government statement. The small county bordering Mongolia is the current outbreak’s hotspot, home to nearly one-third of the more than 150 infections found over the past week in the mainland. The lockdown comes a day after a warning from National Health Commission officials that the outbreak would continue to worsen after spreading to 11 provinces in about a week. China reported 38 Covid infections on Monday, half of which were found in Inner Mongolia.
Dutch consider new coronavirus curbs as infections soar
The Dutch government may impose new coronavirus restrictions to reduce pressure on hospitals struggling to deal with a swelling number of COVID-19 patients, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said on Monday. Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have been rising for a month and reached their highest level since July in recent days, after most social distancing measures were dropped in late September. The new wave of infections has driven up the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals faster than predicted this month, De Jonge said, and many hospitals are already cutting back regular care again to deal with coronavirus cases.
Covid vaccines: Brits double-jabbed abroad still forced to self-isolate despite having UK approved shots
People who were double-jabbed abroad are still being forced to self-isolate after being pinged by Test and Trace, despite their vaccines being recognised by the UK Government, i can reveal. Self-isolation rules were scrapped on 16 August for people in England who have received both doses of a Covid vaccine and are identified as having come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. However, the exemption does not apply to people who received both vaccine doses outside of the UK.
Hygiene Helpers
Vaccine Cash Incentives Don't Work, US Study Shows
Financial incentives and other nudges by local governments and employers have failed to increase Covid-19 vaccinations among Americans who are hesitant about getting the shot, a new study shows. What’s more, financial incentives and “negative messages” actually decreased vaccination rates among some groups, underscoring fears about a public backlash, according to the paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The pace of Covid-19 vaccinations climbed rapidly earlier this year as availability increased, with millions of adults getting the jab each day. However, that pace has slowed sharply. In the last week in the U.S., an average of about 800,000 doses per day were administered.
U.S. to invest $70 mln to boost access to COVID-19 tests
The Biden administration said it will invest $70 million to boost the availability and lower costs of rapid, over-the-counter COVID-19 tests in the United States, as it looks to ease a nationwide shortage that drove up testing costs. High demand for the tests from U.S. employers amidst the Delta variant surge, especially with the U.S. government mandating large employers to have their workers inoculated and tested weekly, pushed up costs for state and local testing programs.
First vaccine dose could alleviate long Covid symptoms, study suggests
A first vaccine dose appears to alleviate symptoms in long Covid sufferers, a new study has suggested, although it is unclear whether this improvement lasts until a second dose. People aged 18 to 69 who had received a first dose were 12.8 per cent less likely to report that they were still experiencing persistent symptoms, according to experimental findings published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). A second dose was associated with a further 8.8 per cent drop, with “statistical evidence” of a sustained improvement afterwards.
COVID-19: Millions of booster jab invitations being sent out as government resists more calls for Plan B
Two million eligible people will be invited to receive a COVID-19 booster jab from the NHS this week, as the government seeks to see off a sharp rise in cases without introducing Plan B measures. Calls for the reintroduction of masks, social distancing and working from home continued over the weekend, but ministers have so far shown no sign of doing so despite fears over the pressure on hospitals.
How to talk to your younger kids about the Covid-19 vaccine
Next, I had her look at photos of medical needles. She reported that she didn't like the pictures, but she could handle looking at them. We continued this gradual approach until she gave "vaccines" to an orange (parental supervision required even with toy needles). What she was doing is exposure therapy, learning to tolerate her discomfort and gradually build up to getting her own vaccine. Using exposure to cope with needle phobia requires time and professional guidance, but many adults are eager to get the Covid-19 vaccine for their vaccine-hesitant little ones as soon as it becomes available. These folks might not have the time or the resources to take a gradual approach to helping their kids overcome this fear, but they need help just the same.
Community Activities
Red Cross urges action for Papua New Guinea as COVID-19 overwhelms health system
Concerted international action is needed to support Papua New Guinea as a surge in COVID-19 cases overwhelms the Pacific country's health system, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Monday. Coronavirus cases in the island nation of 9 million have been surging in recent weeks, with 385 new cases recorded on Thursday, according to latest available government data. There have been 26,731 officially confirmed cases and 329 deaths in the country 150 km (90 miles) north of Australia.
Facebook takes down Bolsonaro video over false vaccine claim
Facebook late on Sunday removed a video by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro from its platforms, in which the far-right leader made a false claim that COVID-19 vaccines were linked with developing AIDS. "Our policies don't allow claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people," a Facebook spokesperson said on Monday.
Rural areas, hit hard by COVID-19, lack access to new treatment trials
Three-quarters of rural Americans live more than an hour from the nearest site testing new treatments for COVID-19, research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine reveals. Overall, almost a third of Americans would have to travel more than 60 minutes to access new therapies as they are being tested. This geographic disparity limits access to COVID-19 clinical trials in many parts of the country that are being hit hardest by the latest wave of the pandemic. Native Americans and Alaska Natives are particularly affected, with more than 50% living more than 60 minutes from a trial site.
Working Remotely
How to make remote and hybrid brainstorming less awkward
As companies are contemplating their return to office plans, one of the biggest arguments for in-person work is to regain the opportunity for spontaneous collaboration. That’s simply not how creative ideas are born, says Natalie Nixon. Nixon is the president of Figure 8 Thinking, author of The Creativity Leap: Unleash Curiosity, Improvisation, and Intuition at Work. She talks here about how teams can work together to come up with creative ideas even when they aren’t in the same place.
The future of work is hybrid – here's an expert's recommendations for success
What can we expect as we eagerly anticipate a post-pandemic future. One thing stands out: Hybrid work arrangements – that is, employees who do some tasks in the office and others virtually – is clearly going to be a big part of the picture. One survey from April 2021 shows 99% of human resources leaders expect employees to work in some kind of hybrid arrangement moving forward. Many have already begun. Listening to employees is critical to making sure the hybrid environment is working. Continually seeking feedback, through one-on-one conversations, focus groups or human resources surveys, is important too.
As Many Return To the Office, Will WFH Stigma Remain?
Prior to the pandemic, many companies did not offer employees the option to work from home, and for those that did, there was often a stigma around employees who worked remotely. Although working from home has become the norm over the past year and a half, many Americans think that there will be a stigma attached to those who continue to do so once there is an option to return to the office. In fact, a recent LinkedIn survey found that 52% of professionals think there is still a stigma associated with working from home. But is this really the case?
Young employees worried remote working will impact on their career and earnings potential
Young professionals and students have greater concerns about the rise of remote working than their senior counterparts, according to a new report from employer branding specialist, Universum. The report, which surveyed over 18,000 people in the UK, suggests in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, a remote-working ‘leadership gap’ could contribute to future skills shortages as junior and senior professionals have different views on being out of the office. The number of senior professionals with no concerns about working remotely is almost double that of younger workers (23% to 12%) and while 79 per cent of all professionals were interested in remote working, the data leans in favour of senior professionals.
Virtual Classrooms
Covid-19 Delta outbreak: Auckland's senior students sick of online learning but nervous about return to school
Senior students returning to school in Auckland say they want to get back in the classroom. They're sick of Zoom calls and emailing teachers for help. They say it's been a struggle to stay motivated as lockdown dragged on, despite their teachers' best efforts. But now they're replacing the frustration of lockdown with the uncertainty of gathering at school as Covid-19 cases climb across Auckland.
Atlanta schools offer $3K to lure teachers for online class
Atlanta public school officials are offering a $3,000 bonus to try to recruit new teachers for additional virtual classes. The district announced the hiring bonus recently amid a jump in the number of students seeking online instruction, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Atlanta Public Schools will also provide relocation and housing allowances for successful out-of-state candidates, according to the newspaper. Starting pay in the district for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree is just over $49,000.
Public Policies
China to start vaccinating children to age 3 as cases spread
Children as young as 3 will start receiving COVID-19 vaccines in China, where 76% of the population has been fully vaccinated and authorities are maintaining a zero-tolerance policy toward outbreaks. China becomes one of the very few countries in the world to start vaccinating children that young against the virus. Cuba, for one, has begun a vaccine drive for children as young as 2. The U.S. and many European countries allow COVID-19 shots down to age 12, though the U.S. is moving quickly toward opening vaccinations to 5- to 11-year-olds.
EU regulator starts real-time review of Merck's COVID-19 pill
U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) said on Monday the European Union's drug regulator has initiated a real-time review of its experimental COVID-19 antiviral drug for adults. Under the procedure, also known as a "rolling review", the European Medicines Agency (EMA) would assess data as soon as it becomes available, instead of waiting for a formal application when all required information has been gathered. While vaccines are the main weapons against COVID-19, Merck's experimental pill molnupiravir could be a game-changer after studies showed it could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for those most at risk of contracting severe illness.
UK falling behind most G7 countries in sharing Covid vaccines, figures show
The UK is lagging behind other G7 countries in sharing surplus Covid vaccines with poorer countries, according to newly published figures. The advocacy organisation One, which is campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030, described it as shaming for the UK government. The figures show that the UK is behind every member of the G7 – of which Britain is currently the chair – except for Japan. Romilly Greenhill, One’s UK director, said the number of vaccines the UK is committed to sharing this year is half that promised by France, less than a a third of Germany’s, and a tenth of that pledged by the US.
Russia approves Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccination with flu shot
Sputnik V has been developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. The Health Ministry of Russia has reportedly granted approval for administering Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V and flu shots simultaneously,
India's Biological E., U.S. body finalise $50 mln COVID-19 shot financing deal
The United States and India's Biological E. Ltd said on Monday they had finalised a financing arrangement for $50 million to expand the vaccine maker's capacity to produce COVID-19 shots. The agreement was struck in March when leaders of the United States, Australia, Japan and India - the so-called "Quad" countries - met during a virtual summit. The United States had said it would work via its International Development Finance Corp to finance Biological E.'s efforts to produce at least 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses for India and developing countries by the end of 2022
Africa tries to end vaccine inequity by replicating its own
In a pair of Cape Town warehouses converted into a maze of airlocked sterile rooms, young scientists are assembling and calibrating the equipment needed to reverse engineer a coronavirus vaccine that has yet to reach South Africa and most of the world’s poorest people. The energy in the gleaming labs matches the urgency of their mission to narrow vaccine disparities. By working to replicate Moderna’s COVID-19 shot, the scientists are effectively making an end run around an industry that has vastly prioritized rich countries over poor in both sales and manufacturing. And they are doing it with unusual backing from the World Health Organization, which is coordinating a vaccine research, training and production hub in South Africa along with a related supply chain for critical raw materials. It’s a last-resort effort to make doses for people going without, and the intellectual property implications are still murky.
Maintaining Services
Hong Kong: Stuck between rock and virus hard place
Hong Kong is stuck in indefinite isolation. Despite recording low single-digit daily infections, counting just 213 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began, and securing Chinese and Western vaccines early in large quantities, entry into Asia’s top financial hub remains tightly controlled. Arrivals are generally required to spend 14 to 21 days of quarantine in a government-approved hotel, where rooms as small as 140 square feet leave occupants barely enough room to sweat through a yoga workout.
S.Africa's Aspen aims to sharply increase COVID-19 vaccine capacity
South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare is aiming to ramp up its COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity to 1.3 billion doses a year by February 2024, up from a current annual output of around 250 million doses, the company's CEO told Reuters on Monday. Aspen is doing the final stages of manufacturing for Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccine under a so-called "fill and finish" deal, but CEO Stephen Saad said in an interview that the companies were close to announcing a broader deal for Aspen to produce J&J's COVID-19 shot under licence.
Ministers to ramp up Covid vaccine rollout as hospitalisations rise
Two million people who are eligible for a Covid booster vaccine in England will receive their invitation this week as ministers seek to intensify the rollout. The government has launched a media blitz encouraging people to get a booster jab, amid mounting concern over the speed of the vaccination rollout as Covid hospitalisations rise. NHS England said on Sunday that more than 5 million people had had a third jab since the vaccination programme began administering them last month. About 7.5 million people have already been invited by text, email and letter, encouraging them to book through the national booking service. Two million more will receive invitations this week
COVID-19: Exclusion zones around schools could be used to stop 'idiot' anti-vaxxers, health secretary says
Exclusion zones around schools could be used to prevent "idiot" anti-vaxxers from targeting children with their "vicious lies", the health secretary has said. Sajid Javid said the protesters are doing "so much damage" and it was "heartbreaking" that three children were injured during a recent protest after COVID-19 vaccines were opened up to 12-15-year-olds. He told Sky News' Kay Burley: "You've got, frankly, these idiots outside their school spreading vicious lies. "It is becoming a growing problem as time goes by."
Healthcare Innovations
Covid Poses Bigger Risk of Brain Conditions Than Vaccines, Study Says
Covid-19 is more likely to cause rare neurological conditions than vaccines, according to a study published in the Nature Medicine journal. The study, led by the University of Oxford, analyzed the health records of 32 million people in England to identify the risks of developing rare brain conditions before and after testing positive for Covid, or receiving the first dose of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca Plc or Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE jabs. The researchers compared how often neurological complications occurred in set windows of time. While the vaccines were found to result in an increase of neurological complications, like Bell’s palsy and Guillain-Barré syndrome, the study found that contracting Covid presented an even bigger risk.