"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 15th May 2020

Isolation Tips
As Pandemic Drags On, The Burden Of Isolation Takes An Increasing Toll On Mental Health
Some days are better than others, says Lisa Charland, a 36-year-old who lives in Billerica. She fills her days reading, blogging and watching TV. But that isn’t enough to stave off the feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression that have harried her since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Student pen pals help senior citizens cope with coronavirus isolation
Some high school students in the American heartland are turning to the old-fashioned art of letter writing to reach local senior citizens who are not allowed to venture out or have visitors during the coronavirus pandemic. Chip Reid found some of these letter-writing relationships leapt off the page into newfound friendships.
Hygiene Helpers
Coronavirus: People enjoy easing of lockdown in England
Once the new measures were introduced, Jack Abrey, from Enfield, took the opportunity to have a socially-distanced picnic with his girlfriend, Kirsty, on Ealing Common. The 23-year-old, who lives an hour away from Kirsty, said the couple had only seen each other via video calls since the lockdown began. "The last time I saw her we didn't know we wouldn't be seeing each other again for a while," he said. "It was strange, we both had to bring a separate picnic blanket, but it felt like we were getting closer to being able to see each other properly.
Hygiene, masking, distancing: Dr Naresh Trehan’s mantra to fight coronavirus
Dr Trehan underlined that the coronavirus, the vaccine for which is still far away, is a “people’s war” and even though doctors are the frontline warriors in this, it is to be won by the whole population. With lockdown restrictions set to be eased, Dr Trehan, speaking exclusively to Hindustan Times, said the country needs hygiene, masking and social distancing.
Teachers can legally refuse to return over health risk, says union
Teachers can legally refuse to return when schools reopen unless they get the same protections against coronavirus as other frontline staff, one of the UK’s leading teaching unions has warned. In a letter to local authorities seen by the Guardian, the 300,000-strong NASUWT threatens to invoke legal action to defend teachers against being forced back into schools on 1 June because of the risk to their health. The union’s letter marks a significant hardening against the government’s push to reopen primary schools in England from 1 June. It comes as one academy chain says it is aiming to invite pupils back on that date.
An open letter from scientists across the globe calling for use of fabric masks to prevent COVID-19
Open letter from Jeremy Howard, Dr. Vincent Rajkumar and other leading scientists on using fabric masks to stop spread of COVID-19. In the light of convincing research evidence that face masks is a great tool to stop community spread of COVID-19, a group of scientists across the world have come together to issue an open letter promoting the use of masks by members of the public.
Community Activities
Pakistan recruits a Covid-19 'Tiger Force' to monitor social distancing
Hundreds of thousands of young people have registered for the civilian volunteer scheme, which will also help the poor
'The way we get through this is together': mutual aid under coronavirus | Rebecca Solnit
Amid this unfolding disaster, we have seen countless acts of kindness and solidarity. It’s this spirit of generosity that will help guide us out of this crisis and into a better future.
Three-year-old dances away COVID-19 blues in Punjab hospital's isolation ward
Unperturbed by the COVID-19 pandemic that has everyone worried, a three-year-old boy admitted to the isolation ward of the civil hospital in Punjab's Nawanshahr district keeps himself busy by grooving to Punjabi songs. Admitted to the hospital along with his 35-year-old mother on April 30 after they tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning from Gurdwara Hazur Sahib in Maharashtra's Nanded, the little one ensures that the mood in the ward remains upbeat.
Coronavirus: Free Isle of Man postcards to 'send hope' to those isolating
A prepaid postcard being delivered to every household on the Isle of Man will enable people to "send some words of hope" to family and friends in isolation, the chairman of Isle of Man Post Office (IOMPO) has said. The mailshot is designed to help people "stay connected" during the coronavirus pandemic, Julie Edge said. They were being distributed across the island this week, she added. The postcard can be sent to any address in the world free of charge.
Ireland swoons over Matt Damon's lockdown love affair with village
Hollywood actor goes native in Dalkey, touting his togs in a Supervalu bag and calling in to local radio
SoCalGas Employees Lead Drive to Get Hundreds of Hygiene Kits to Those Transitioning out of Homelessness through LA Family Housing
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) staff and LA Kings staff, fans and mascot Bailey today held a donation event for LA Family Housing, to deliver hundreds of hygiene items for people transitioning out of homelessness. SoCalGas and the Sempra Energy Foundation also teamed up to donate $50,000 to LA Family Housing (LAFH).
Reunions, eating out and a lot of haircuts: New Zealand embraces relaxation of lockdown
Joshua Young was raring to get to the Tahunanui Beach playground on Friday morning. For almost two months, the seven-year-old Nelson resident has had to see one of his favourite play spots wrapped up in caution tape, while New Zealand undertook the strictest lockdown in its history. While Joshua and his mother Claire Young have explored other parts of Nelson, there was no substitute for the popular beachside park. “We are lucky here that there are plenty of places to play without climbing structures, but he just couldn’t wait to come today,” she said.
Woodland Opera House Theatre and Dance Annex offering virtual classes
With the doors to both facilities closed since mid-March, the organization’s Education Director Emily-Jo Shepherd shared how they quickly came up with a plan to continue offering programming. “Immediately after our Theatre and Dance Annex closed to the public, we came together as a staff and implemented our virtual platform,” Shepherd explained. “In less than a week, our 19 instructors were trained in hosting virtual classrooms and we transitioned our 50+ classes online.”
Working Remotely
Pass the remote: Tips and tricks for successful home working
Before the UK went into lockdown, charities generally had most staff working in central head office. But in a few short weeks, full-time home working for office staff has become the norm. In fact, plenty of people are already suggesting that the new enforced working-from-home arrangements could usher in a permanent change to workplace environments, as people grow accustomed to their new ways of operating and organisations realise opportunities to cut property costs and boost staff retention.
How CIOs are promoting well-being of employees working remotely
After helping their IT teams and employees navigate the initial transition to working from home, CIOs are now shifting their roles to focus on employee mental health and well-being initiatives to stay connected and support its distant workforce, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Regulated industries: it's time to embrace remote working
Regulated industries, such as insurance or wealth management, have been reluctant to embrace flexible working, but now the coronavirus has left them no choice
Remote workers clocking up an extra 38 hours a month
People who are working from home due to the coronavirus are clocking up an extra 38 hours per month - the equivalent of an additional working week - new research shows today. The research, commissioned by LinkedIn, also revealed that 56% of respondents said they felt more anxious or stressed about work than before the Covid-19 lockdown was introduced. LinkedIn's research also found that men were more likely to feel anxious and stressed than women, with 61% of men saying they were experiencing these feelings while working from home, compared to 54% of women. The lockdown is also having a greater impact on the stress levels of younger workers, with over 70% of respondents under the age of 24 saying that they feel stressed or anxious as a result of working from home.
Like everyone else, the Supreme Court of Canada will be working remotely — on Zoom
The foreseeable future for the Supreme Court of Canada is virtual, as Chief Justice Richard Wagner told the court’s annual meeting Tuesday with the media. He did so by teleconference. The majestic Supreme Court building is currently closed and hasn’t heard any cases since the pandemic started, but four are scheduled for June — on Zoom.
Remote working to become a permanent fixture, says Dell founder
Remote working will become a permanent feature at Dell Technologies, according to CEO Michael Dell. Speaking during a webinar on Tuesday, Dell said he believes remote working sceptics have “probably” been silenced, CRN reported. “I think if you were sceptical about working from home, you probably aren’t now,” said Dell. “And I think we’ve all learned a lot in the last few months here. I think that will flow through and create opportunities.” Besides the well-documented benefits of remote working, such as better work-life balance, Dell also touched on another important “silver lining”: a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. He suggested long-term adoption of remote working practices could go some way to addressing environmental concerns, due to a decrease in commuter vehicles on the roads.
Virtual Classrooms
Classroom of the Future: The Rise of Online Learning
There are, in fact, many benefits of online education for everyone involved. "Online courses have benefits for both the trainer and the student," noted Greg Smith, CEO of Thinkific. "Coaches, experts and entrepreneurs who deliver in-person lessons can create more leverage in their time and scale their businesses effectively by teaching online," he told the E-Commerce Times. One of the primary benefits of online education is that it potentially can reach many more students than location-specific training.
California State University chancellor explains reasoning behind decision to hold virtual classes this fall
California State University won't be reopening campuses for the fall semester because of the coronavirus. Chancellor Timothy White said Wednesday on Good Morning America that the 23-campus system will continue to hold most instruction online, as it's done since March. "Preparing for the worst, hoping for the best," said White. "We'll probably end up somewhere in between those two places." Chancellor White says it's wouldn't be fair to risk reopening some classrooms to students only to shut them down again if there's a second wave of COVID-19 cases, which many health officials are predicting.
Plan well and keep children engaged
If the outbreak of Covid-19 has turned the life of an average adult topsy-turvy, you may well imagine the plight of school-going children. It is difficult to keep children engaged indoors all the time, but it surely is not impossible. Especially, if one plans well. Here are some ways that would help you not only keep your children happily engaged for now, but also in moulding them for the challenges of tomorrow.
Watch as teacher gives virtual tour of Birmingham 'socially distant' classroom
Wheelers Lane Primary School in Kings Heath is preparing for the potential return of pupils next month
Virtual Learning Is Putting a Serious Strain on Teachers and Parents of Children With Special Needs
For Jamie Croshaw, remote learning has been incredibly difficult. As a mom to a 6-year-old daughter, Emma, and a 3-and-a-half-year-old son, Jackson, who has cerebral palsy, autism, as well as other medical needs, Jamie initially thought she could handle stepping up as her children's teacher. But now that she's seven weeks into social distancing, Jamie is at her wit's end. "When we received notice that school was going to be doing remote learning, we thought how hard can it be?!" Jamie told POPSUGAR. "Boy, were we wrong. Suddenly overnight, I had to become a kindergarten teacher, a special needs preschool teacher, and a physical, occupational, and speech therapist. Plus, I had the regular duties of being a stay-at-home-mom and wife."
10 things to keep in mind while taking a virtual class amid Covid-19 lockdown
Over the last one month, 1.38 billion students across 138 countries have been forced to adapt to online learning, this has altered the mind set of students and teachers. With a sudden shift to digital classrooms, teachers have to go an extra mile to ensure that students continue to learn the quality of education is not hampered. Teachers and educators can keep in mind the following points to make a virtual classroom a success...
Public Policies
Health experts warn of Covid-19 mental health crisis
A mental illness crisis is looming as millions of people worldwide are surrounded by death and disease and forced into isolation, poverty and anxiety by the pandemic of Covid-19, United Nations health experts said today. "The isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil - they all cause or could cause psychological distress," said Devora Kestel, director of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) mental health department. Presenting a UN report and policy guidance on Covid-19 and mental health, Dr Kestel said an upsurge in the number and severity of mental illnesses is likely, and governments should put the issue "front and centre" of their responses.
Coronavirus: DfE told to 'step back' from June school openings
Government has shown 'lack of understanding about the dangers of the spread of coronavirus within schools', say unions
New Zealand budget: Robertson lays out $50bn plan to return jobs to pre-Covid-19 levels
Under the plan, government debt will balloon to 53.6% of GDP by 2023 as heavy borrowing finances the spending. The Treasury has forecast that the government will move from a surplus to a $28bn deficit this year, with a similar deficit expected in 2021. The government, led by Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party, faces an election in September and was under pressure to explain how it would preserve jobs and industries imperilled by the pandemic and resulting lockdown. Economists praised the generous spending, but some worried that long-term planning had been scrapped.
France slams pharma giant Sanofi for saying US will get first access to coronavirus vaccine
The French government warned Thursday that it would be "unacceptable" for pharmaceutical giant Sanofi to give any COVID-19 vaccine for the United States first, after the firm's chief said he would give preference to the American market. "To us, it would be unacceptable for there to be privileged access for such and such country for financial reasons," deputy finance minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Sud Radio. The French government official reacted to Sanofi's British CEO Paul Hudson statement on Wednesday that if its efforts to find a vaccine pan out, he would supply the US government first because "it's invested in taking the risk," after it expanded a partnership with his company earlier this year. "That's how it will be because they've invested to try and protect their population, to restart their economy," he told Bloomberg News.
The United Kingdom's four countries take a divided approach to coronavirus crisis
Of Johnson's roadmap, Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government had "not yet seen the full detail of the plan, so it's not possible for us to simply adopt it for Scotland," and that she had asked Downing Street "not to deploy their 'Stay Alert' advertising campaign in Scotland." The message there was still clearly to "stay home."
Maintaining Services
How offices will change after coronavirus
Pandemic-proofing offices could involve short-term fixes, new working patterns and long-term design upgrades that put hygiene at the heart of workplace planning.
Lloyd's of London expects up to £3.5bn in coronavirus payouts
Lloyd’s of London, the world’s biggest insurance market, expects to pay out between $3bn (£2.4bn) and $4.3bn (£3.5bn) to its customers due to the coronavirus pandemic, as it warned of a $203bn hit for the entire industry. Insurance companies around the world have suffered losses as widespread government shutdowns have prompted claims for business closures, and halted travel and events. The scale of payouts to customers forecast by Lloyd’s this year are equivalent to other big claims years for insurers, such as the aftermath of 9/11, when Lloyd’s paid out $4.7bn, and in 2017, when hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria caused widespread damage and loss, leading to $4.8bn in payouts.
Coronavirus: Manufacturer diversifies into making workplace sanitiser stations
A display manufacturer says reaction has been “phenomenal” as it gears up to go into full-scale production of hand sanitiser stations designed for workplaces and retail spaces as lockdown eases. With strict hygiene protocols expected to stay in place for a long time to come across all sectors, director and owner Matt Cater saw a need for focal points instructing people on how to maintain safe working environments.
Hotels vs. Airbnb: Has Covid-19 Disrupted the Disrupter?
For years, home sharing has put pressure on hotel rates and occupancy levels. Social distancing, hygiene and refund policies may be the new game changers.
Covid 19 coronavirus: Gyms will be keeping members spread out during level 2
Gyms gearing up to re-open their doors in the next few days are busy ensuring physical distancing and hygiene measures are in place to keep both gym-goers and staff safe. Exercise NZ expected most gyms to be back operating by Monday - if not sooner. Exercise NZ chief executive Richard Beddie said the key tool for gyms to manage the risks around Covid-19 were physical distancing and sanitisation. Beddie said for a gym class they were recommending gyms mark spots to keep attendees 2m apart and ensure equipment such as treadmills were 1.5m apart.
Virus hygiene scanning tech for bus and transport launched
A transport industry IT solution to the coronavirus pandemic’s hygiene challenge has been launched, which sees cleaners 'scan in' to record when and where buses, vehicles and locations have been cleaned. Melbourne-based software company RollCall Safety Solutions unveiled RollCall Services this week to transport and bus companies with the aim of helping reduce the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak.
Healthcare Innovations
Coronavirus vaccine could be ready by this time next year, says EU drugs agency
A coronavirus vaccine could be ready for approval in a year’s time in an “optimistic” scenario, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said. The head of vaccines for the EMA – the body which approves medicines for the European Union – said he had doubts over claims one could be available by September. Dr Marco Cavaleri said: “For vaccines, since the development has to start from scratch ... we might look from an optimistic side in a year from now, so beginning of 2021.”
Novartis CEO Says Covid-19 Vaccine May Take Until End of 2021
Novartis AG Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan said a vaccine for Covid-19 may only become available in the second half of next year, echoing the consensus view in much of the pharmaceutical industry. “The ultimate way to deal with this pandemic is likely to be a vaccine against Covid-19,” the CEO wrote in an opinion piece published in Switzerland’s Handelszeitung Thursday. “That will take more time -- my guess is about one and a half to two years.”
Oxford coronavirus vaccine found protective in small study on monkeys
A potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by scientists at Oxford University has showed promising signs in a small study of six monkeys. According to a report, some of the monkeys given a single shot of the vaccine developed antibodies against the virus within 14 days. All of them developed protective antibodies within 28 days, before being exposed to high doses of the virus, experts said.
Coronavirus: A quarter of COVID-19 patients who died in England had diabetes
NHS England said of the 22,332 people who died since 31 March, 5,873 (26%) of them had diabetes as an underlying health condition.
Data on children and Covid-19 based on 'small amounts of evidence', warns specialist
Professor Karina Butler, Consultant Paediatrician and Infectious Diseases Specialist has warned that emerging data on children and Covid-19 was based on “very small amounts of evidence”. While the data was encouraging, Prof Butler told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland “we are on a learning curve.”