"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 16th Nov 2021

Isolation Tips
Back in lockdown: Streets in the Netherlands are deserted as curfew comes in after protests over new Covid restrictions
Streets of Rotterdam were quiet and empty tonight following introduction of rules closing nightlife by 8pm. Around 200 protestors clashed with riot police and were blasted with a water cannon in The Hague on Friday. It comes as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the return of a partial Covid lockdown in the country. Bars, restaurants, shops will close from 8pm and social distancing measures are set to be reimposed
Austrian unvaccinated lockdown starts amid COVID resurgence
Austria took what its leader called the “dramatic” step Monday of implementing a nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated people who haven’t recently had COVID-19, perhaps the most drastic of a string of measures being taken by European governments to get a massive regional resurgence of the virus under control. The move, which took effect at midnight, prohibits people 12 and older who haven’t been vaccinated or recently recovered from leaving their homes except for basic activities such as working, grocery shopping, going to school or university or for a walk — or getting vaccinated. The lockdown is initially being imposed until Nov. 24 in the Alpine country of 8.9 million. It doesn’t apply to children under 12 because they cannot yet officially get vaccinated — though the capital, Vienna, on Monday opened up vaccinations for under-12s as part of a pilot project and reported high demand.
Hygiene Helpers
Why two emergency physicians’ kids took part in the Pfizer vaccine trials
Cue the collective sigh of relief from many parents across the country. While the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has been available for children ages 12 and up since mid-September, as of now 28 million even younger school-age children between the ages of 5 and 11 are eligible to receive it. As an emergency medicine physician and a parent, that reassures me. As a member of the global community, it gives me hope we’ll soon return to some level of normalcy. I acknowledge the personal decision of some parents who don’t want their kids to be vaccinated. Yet as someone whose own children were part of the vaccine’s clinical trials, I feel compelled to share the story of why my wife and I felt confident making that decision with them, and what vaccinating younger children will mean for the fate of the pandemic.
No 10 plans booster jab requirement for people to obtain Covid pass
Ministers are set to require three vaccinations from those eligible for booster jabs in order to qualify as being fully vaccinated in areas where people must prove their status, such as travel or avoiding mandatory isolation. Downing Street sources said the intention was to end up in a place where three jabs, rather than two, was the requirement to obtain a Covid pass showing full vaccination – though currently only over-40s are eligible for the booster. If the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) continues to recommend boosters for all adults six months after their second jab, then the requirement could be in place in England by the early spring.
U.S. CDC raises COVID-19 travel warnings for Czech Republic, Hungary
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised against travel to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Iceland because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases in those countries. The CDC raised its travel recommendation to "Level Four: Very High" for the three countries, telling Americans they should avoid travel there. The CDC separately lowered its COVID-19 travel advisory to "Level One: Low" for Japan, India, Pakistan, Liberia, Gambia and Mozambique.
COVID-19: Vaccine certificates now needed to visit theatres, cinemas and concert halls in Wales
People in Wales will now have to prove they are fully vaccinated or have had a negative lateral flow test to visit theatres, cinemas and concert halls after the existing NHS COVID Pass scheme was widened. Proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 48 hours has been a requirement to enter nightclubs and similar venues in the nation since 11 October. But the Welsh Parliament has now extended the rules to cover cinemas, theatres and concert halls in response to a high level of COVID-19 cases across the country. The guidance on self-isolation had also changed and people are being encouraged to work from home to help bring the coronavirus under control.
Britain to extend COVID booster rollout to over-40s
Britain's COVID-19 booster vaccine rollout is to be extended to people aged between 40 and 49, officials said on Monday, in a bid to boost waning immunity in the population ahead of the colder winter months. Currently all people aged 50 and above, those who are clinically vulnerable and frontline health workers are eligible for boosters, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said that the rollout would be extended. The advice comes as the UK Health Security Agency released data from a real-world study which found the booster gave over 90% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 for people aged 50 and above.
Norway plans third vaccine dose for all adults, "corona passes"
Norway will offer a third COVID-19 vaccine dose to everyone aged 18 and older and will give municipalities the option of using digital "corona passes" as a way to beat back a surge in COVID-19 infections, the government said on Friday. Norway has so far only given a third dose to those aged 65 and older. "Everyone aged 18 and older will be offered a third dose next year," Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference.
Community Activities
Maori Ask Anti-Vaccine Protesters to Stop Using Ceremonial Dance
Ngati Toa, an indigenous tribe in New Zealand, denounced a group of anti-vaccine protesters for performing a ceremonial Maori dance known as the Ka Mate haka during a demonstration in Wellington on November 9th. “As the descendants of Te Rauparaha, we insist that protesters stop using our taonga immediately,” said senior member of Ngati Toa Taku Parai, in a statement on Radio Waatea this week. “We do not support their position.” Last week, thousands gathered across New Zealand to protest Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s vaccine mandate, which requires all healthcare and education workers be fully vaccinated. An estimated 3,000 marched to the Wellington parliament building last Tuesday demanding an end to vaccine mandates and Covid 19 lockdowns. During those demonstrations, some performed the Ka Mate haka, a dance used before some rugby games.
Racial disparities in kids’ vaccinations are hard to track
The rollout of COVID-19 shots for elementary-age children has exposed another blind spot in the nation’s efforts to address pandemic inequalities: Health systems have released little data on the racial breakdown of youth vaccinations, and community leaders fear that Black and Latino kids are falling behind. Only a handful of states have made public data on COVID-19 vaccinations by race and age, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not compile racial breakdowns either. Despite the lack of hard data, public health officials and medical professionals are mindful of disparities and have been reaching out to communities of color to overcome vaccine hesitancy. That includes going into schools, messaging in other languages, deploying mobile vaccine units and emphasizing to skeptical parents that the shots are safe and powerfully effective.
Alaska doctors seek COVID-19 misinformation investigation
Alaska doctors plan to ask the State Medical Board to investigate concerns about the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments by other physicians. Merijeanne Moore, a private practice psychiatrist, said she drafted the letter out of concern over an event about COVID-19 treatments that featured prominent vaccine skeptics in Anchorage last month, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Moore said Saturday that nearly 100 doctors had signed the letter and more could before she plans to submit the letter on Tuesday. “We are writing out of concern that medical misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine and treatment is being spread in Alaska, including by physicians,” the letter stated.
Families fight over covid vaccines as Thanksgiving approaches
With Thanksgiving approaching, infections high or on the rise in many parts of the country and the vaccines now widely available to children, family breaches over immunization status are reaching new levels of rancor and intensity. Summer is over, and fall is ending — seasons when many gatherings could be held outdoors. Now American families must simultaneously confront the time of year when all respiratory viruses spread most easily and the challenge posed by loved ones who have rejected the best way to protect themselves — and others — from a respiratory virus that has claimed more than 750,000 lives in the United States.
Three snow leopards die of covid-19 at Lincoln Children's Zoo in Nebraska
The three big cats delighted visitors to the Nebraska zoo for years — pouncing on pumpkins during Halloween, preening for pictures and lounging on rocks in their enclosure. The Lincoln Children’s Zoo has described the snow leopards as silly, bubbly and handsome. They were one of the zoo’s main attractions, delivering a dose of mountain majesty to the Great Plains.
‘Detox’ routines won’t undo Covid vaccine, experts tell anti-vaxxers
Medical experts are speaking out against Covid-19 vaccine “detoxes” that some inaccurately claim can remove the effects of vaccinations received under mandates and other public health rulings. In one TikTok video that has received hundreds of thousands of views, Carrie Madej, an osteopath based in Georgia, falsely claims a bath containing baking soda, epsom salts and the cleaning agent borax will “detox the vaxx” from anyone who has received a jab. Experts say such a bath could irritate the skin and eyes – but will not remove the effects of a Covid vaccine. In Kansas, Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control for the state university health system, told the Kansas City Star borax was “potentially caustic and harmful”.
India opens to fully vaccinated foreign tourists
India began allowing fully vaccinated foreign tourists to enter the country on regular commercial flights, in the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions as infections fall and vaccinations rise. Tourists entering India, starting on Monday, must be fully vaccinated, follow all COVID-19 protocols and test negative for the virus within 72 hours of their flight, according to the health ministry. Many will also need to undergo a post-arrival COVID-19 test at the airport.
Working Remotely
You Don’t Have to WFH at Home—Try These Places Instead
For many without a home office, staying in isn’t a great answer: perhaps you share that front room with four roommates, you have toddlers roaming, or you just desperately need a change of scene after 18 months in the same place. Don’t stress. You have options—and not just coffee shops. Coworking spaces have survived lockdown, WeWork has 56 locations across the UK and more than 250 in the US. You can also hit up your local library, the original and free coworking space. Museums, galleries, and other arts venues are full of cafés and lounges for working, usually with free Wi-Fi.
How to convince your boss to let you keep working from home
Even as they embraced working from home at the outset of the pandemic, some companies are now racing to get teams back into offices. If yours is one of them, here’s some advice for convincing a reluctant boss to embrace remote work. It starts by asking for what you want.
Virtual Classrooms
The Benefits of Online Learning Are Also Its Weaknesses. That’s Where Advisors Help.
While asynchronous online learning works well for many students, it is not without its challenges, and those can be the very same attributes that make it attractive—that’s the paradox of online learning. Students who are balancing multiple responsibilities of jobs, children or aging parents are generally attracted to the anytime/anyplace virtue of online courses, but they may also need the most help in managing all of these things. Let’s examine the characteristics of online education and how they both enable and constrain learning, plus consider tips for how advisors can help students resolve these tensions.
Developing virtual experiential learning: key takeaways | THE Campus Learn, Share, Connect
It is important for students to integrate classroom learning with practical application, real-world experiences and community engagement. How can higher education institutions find ways to offer students experiential learning that are compatible with remote instruction? The Chinese University of Hong Kong set out to embed the topic of sustainable development within its general education curriculum through the launch of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Study Scheme. A fund was created to help teachers to organise SDG-related experiential learning. Their creativity and determination in implementing activities through the pandemic was impressive and many useful lessons can be drawn. With in-person meetings and trips cancelled, faculty developed innovative virtual solutions
Public Policies
Europe Toughens Rules for Unvaccinated as Fourth Covid Wave Swells
As temperatures drop and coronavirus infections spike across Europe, some countries are introducing increasingly targeted restrictions against the unvaccinated who are driving another wave of contagion and putting economic recoveries, public health and an eventual return to prepandemic freedoms at risk. On Monday, Austria set a new bar for such measures in the West. Facing a 134 percent increase in cases in the last two weeks, the Austrian government cracked down on its unvaccinated population over the age of 12, restricting their movement to traveling for work, school, buying groceries and medical care.
U.K. Expands Covid-19 Booster Program to People in Their 40s
The U.K. is expanding its Covid-19 booster program to younger people as the country seeks to head off another wave of infections this winter. A third vaccine dose will be available to people aged 40 to 49 starting six months after their second shot, the government said Monday. Previously, only those over 50 and other vulnerable groups were eligible. So far, more than 12 million people have received a booster. The government is also recommending a second shot of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine for 16 and 17-year-olds. That inoculation will be given at least 12 weeks after the initial dose or a Covid infection, whichever is later.
Israel delays entry of tourists vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V
The Tourism Ministry announced Monday that it was holding off on allowing in tourists inoculated with Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Originally, Israel said that it would start allowing visitors who received the Russia-developed shot starting November 15, but that move will now be postponed until December 1. Those inoculated with Sputnik V will be required to take a serological test to show the presence of antibodies, as per the original decision. Israel began readmitting vaccinated tourists on November 1, but only those who had received vaccines approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. They are not required to undergo a serological test.
Maintaining Services
Many Logistics Firms Are Avoiding Covid-19 Vaccine Requirements Amid U.S. Mandate Debate
Freight transportation companies are cautiously stepping around a Covid-19 vaccination requirement while trade groups fight the federal mandate in court. Companies including United Parcel Service Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and others that manage warehouse staffers, truck drivers and other employees across logistics networks in general aren’t requiring employees outside of some office workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Many firms say they are encouraging staffers to get vaccinated while mandating protection measures in workplaces. The federal mandate, which is slated to go into effect Jan. 4, exempts workers who are exclusively outdoors and don’t report to a workplace where they interact with others. So it may leave out many truck drivers but not the office and warehouse workers who help move goods from factories to stores and residences.
OSHA, South Dakota pork plant settle coronavirus complaint
Federal workplace safety regulators announced Monday that they have reached an agreement with Smithfield Foods to settle a contested citation of the company’s coronavirus safety measures during a massive outbreak last year at a South Dakota pork processing plant. Under the agreement, Virginia-based Smithfield Foods will develop a plan to prevent infectious diseases at meatpacking plants nationwide and pay a $13,500 fine. Smithfield’s Sioux Falls plant was one the nation’s worst COVID-19 hotspots during the early days of the pandemic. By June 16, 2020, four workers were dead and nearly 1,300 had tested positive for the virus, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. After an investigation, the federal agency said Smithfield did not do enough to space workers out or provide other safety measures such as face coverings or physical barriers.
Israel says children aged 5-11 can receive COVID-19 vaccine
Israel said on Sunday that children aged five to 11 would be eligible for vaccination against COVID-19, and that a starting date for the campaign would be made public within days. The decision, announced by the Health Ministry, followed approval by its expert panel on vaccinations last week, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use of Pfizer's (PFE.N) and BioNTech's vaccine for the age group at a 10-microgram dose. The original shot given to those aged 12 and older is 30 micrograms. Pfizer and BioNTech have said their vaccine showed 90.7% efficacy against the coronavirus in a clinical trial of children aged five to 11.
Australia aims to vaccinate children under 12 against COVID-19 from January
Australia, quickly becoming one of most-vaccinated nations against COVID-19, will likely start administering the shots for children under the age of 12 in January, officials said on Sunday. Health Minister Greg Hunt said medical regulators are still reviewing the health and safety data for the vaccinations to be administered for children between the ages of five and 11 and are unlikely to decide this year. "The expectation that they have set is the first part of January, hopefully early January," Hunt told the Australian Broadcast Corp's Insiders programme. "But they're going as quickly as possible."
Pressure on Dutch hospitals mounts as COVID cases break records
Dutch hospitals are feeling the strain from a surge in COVID-19 patients but the worst has yet to come, the head of the country's hospital association said on Monday. The number of COVID-19 patients in Dutch hospitals increased to around 2,000 on Monday, including almost 400 in intensive care, reaching the highest level since May. With almost 250 new admissions every day, the hospitals are set to pass last winter's peak of around 2,800 coronavirus patients in little over a week, the LNAZ association’s head, Ernst Kuipers, told lawmakers.
Healthcare Innovations
Non-White race tied to higher risk for COVID infection, severity
A US meta-analysis and systematic review of data on 4.3 million patients analyzed in 68 cohort and cross-sectional studies shows that, relative to White people, Black, Hispanic, and Asian populations were at higher risk for COVID-19 infection and admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) but were less likely to die of the disease. The study, published yesterday in JAMA Network Open, was designed to uncover the link between socioeconomic determinants of health and racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes. A team led by University of California at San Diego researchers searched for COVID-19 studies that included data on race and rates of infection, disease severity, and socioeconomic status published from Jan 1, 2020, to Jan 6, 2021, well before the more transmissible Delta (B1617.2) variant was predominant in the United States.
Late to the party: Europe on the verge of approving Roche and Celltrion antibodies for COVID
Nearly a full year after the U.S. gave Regeneron’s antibody cocktail for COVID-19 patients emergency authorization, Europe is on the verge of approving the monoclonal antibody duo. The European Medicines Agency's (EMA's) committee for human medicines also has recommended another antibody treatment for approval, Celltrion’s regdanvimab. The EMA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use has passed the recommendations to the European Commission for approval. The Regeneron cocktail of casirivimab and imdevimab, which is marketed outside of the U.S. by Roche and known commercially as Ronapreve, is recommended for COVID-19 patients who do not require supplemental oxygen and are at risk to progress to a severe form of the disease. It also is recommended for use as post-exposure prophylaxis. While the recommendations cover all adults, they also include adolescents 12 years or older weighing at least 40 kilograms, or roughly 88 pounds.