"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 28th Mar 2022

Isolation Tips
Shanghai Imposes Staggered Lockdowns to Keep Coronavirus at Bay
Shanghai imposed stringent pandemic restrictions it has long tried to avoid on its 25 million residents that are likely to disrupt commercial activity well beyond the city limits. Local authorities said on Sunday they plan to lock down the city in two phases over the next week and a half to try to control an outbreak of the highly infectious Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus. All over Shanghai, the government’s announcement sparked frenzied scrambles to food markets and grumbling about the disruption to urban life in a city that until recently appeared relatively unaffected by Covid.
Travel, Alcohol, Masks: Singapore Lifts Major Covid Restrictions
Singapore will significantly ease Covid-19 curbs, lifting most restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors and a requirement to wear masks outdoors, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Travel-related stocks gained. With the latest wave of the virus subsiding, Lee said that Singapore will double the group size limit to 10 people and allow up to 75% of employees who can work from home to return to their workplaces. The city-state will ease testing and quarantine requirements for travelers and lift a ban on alcohol sales in pubs and eateries after 10:30 p.m.
Hygiene Helpers
Many in Malaysia to lose fully-vaccinated status if they don't get Covid-19 booster
Some two million recipients of the Covid-19 vaccine by Sinovac are set to lose their fully vaccinated status if they do not receive their boosters by April 1, said Malaysia's Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. "Based on the latest data, about 2.09 million recipients of the Sinovac vaccine for their primary series have yet to get their booster shots," he told a press conference in Parliament on Thursday (March 24). "They will stand to lose their fully vaccinated status when the deadline ends." The deadline for adult primary recipients of CoronaVac - the vaccine produced by China's Sinovac Biotech - is March 31, after it was extended from Feb 28. Mr Khairy also said that those who had yet to get their Sinovac booster would be deemed "not fully vaccinated" by Singapore.
German health minister urges people at risk to get second COVID booster
Germany's health minister on Friday urged people over age 60 with risk factors such as high blood pressure or a weak heart to get a second booster shot against COVID-19 to reduce their risk of getting seriously ill. Karl Lauterbach said he had asked the STIKO vaccine authority to adjust its current recommendation for a second booster to include a bigger group of people. STIKO currently recommends second boosters for people aged 70 and above, and for people belonging to particularly high risk groups. Only 10% of those have received it so far, Lauterbach told a news conference.
Community Activities
Pfizer, Moderna and J&J Face Shareholder Pressure to Broaden Covid-19 Vaccine Access
Socially conscious investors and global-health activists are turning to shareholders to press Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson to make more of their shots available to people in poorer countries. Groups including the antipoverty organization Oxfam have succeeded in placing proposals on shareholder proxy ballots that ask drugmakers to do more to widen access to the Covid-19 vaccines, such as exploring the transfer of their technology to other manufacturers. The proxy battles are the latest effort seeking to push Covid-19 vaccine makers to share their technology in order to boost supplies at lower-income countries, after some of the countries asked the World Trade Organization to lift patent restrictions and activists urged the U.S. government to share companies’ vaccine technology with other countries.
Uninsured Americans now to be charged up to $195 per COVID test by some providers: report | TheHill
Several testing providers will no longer provide COVID-19 tests for free to uninsured Americans, even if they are symptomatic, saying they will begin to charge between $100 and $195 dollars for PCR tests, ABC News reported. Quest Diagnostics, which is one of the country's largest COVID-19 testing providers, told ABC News that patients will now be billed $125 per PCR test if they are not on Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. Quest has started telling partners and clients that it will no longer be able to reimburse for uninsured claims due to a lack of congressional funding, ABC noted.
Nearly half of foreign businesses in Hong Kong are planning to relocate
Foreign businesses have for decades reaped the benefits of setting up shop in Hong Kong, a historically stable, expat-friendly finance hub at the doorstep of mainland China. But lately, as Beijing has tightened its grip on the former British colony, those firms are increasingly eyeing the exits. Nearly half of all European businesses in Hong Kong are considering relocating in the next year, according to a new report. Companies cite the local government's extremely strict Covid-19 protocols that mirror those on the mainland. Among the firms planning to leave, 25% said they would fully relocate out of Hong Kong in the next 12 months, while 24% plan to relocate at least partially. Only 17% of the companies said they don't have any relocation plans for the next 12 months.
Harvard Economist Says Covid Hit Worse by Education Than Gender
While the pandemic disproportionately hurt women in the workforce more than men, the bigger divide was among education levels, according to a new paper by Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin. When restaurants, retailers and other service providers closed, those without college degrees were more likely to lose their jobs. Meantime, many college-educated Americans could continue to work from home. “The pandemic produced both a he- and a she-cession,” Goldin wrote in a report discussed at the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity conference Thursday. “Relative to previous recessions, women have been harder hit. But the largest differences in pandemic effects on employment are found between education groups rather than between genders within educational groups.”
Working Remotely
The pandemic opened the door to remote working, now we need to support this way of working for future generations
The way people work has significantly changed since the pandemic and the Welsh Government is keen to do all it can to help lock in the positive benefits experienced by many and encourage more businesses to adopt this new approach to working. In a strategy published today the Welsh Government sets out its plans to work with businesses, trade unions and key stakeholders to help more employers to adopt a more agile and flexible approach within their workplace, so that employees can make a choice on the way they work, whether that’s locally from a shared work space, from home, or a mixture of both.
How to Create a Thriving Hybrid and Remote Work Culture
The pandemic has forced organizations to recognize that they need to adapt their work culture to a hybrid and remote future. Employees may have different office schedules: Some essential employees might be there full-time, others will be there 1-3 days a week, and some may be fully remote. However, the danger of a sense of resentment building up between “haves” and “have nots” around schedule flexibility calls for a work culture that addresses such issues. Leaders who want to seize a competitive advantage in the future of work need to use research-based best practices to create a culture of “excellence from anywhere” to address these concerns.
You want to work remotely. Your boss wants you back in-person. Here’s how to negotiate
Because of work-at-home benefits like more family time, more sleep (on account of no commute) and better work-life balance, many employees are staunchly against reverting to old ways. For some workplaces, this is a non-issue. Many bosses are embracing the new world of hybrid work, and some are taking it a step further by introducing year-round summer Fridays—the practice of ending work a few hours early before the weekend—or even four-day workweeks. But other employees may not be so lucky, with bosses who are intent on bringing everyone back in-person, despite the mountain of evidence that it doesn’t increase productivity or foster collaboration in any meaningful way.
Virtual Classrooms
The pandemic upended education. Two years later, what changes are here to stay?
Two years ago, the pandemic upended the education system. And while students are now back at their desks in before-times style, other parts of schooling will likely never be the same. From Chromebooks in classrooms to added mental health and social supports, some pandemic-induced changes appear to be here to stay — at least for now. What are COVID-19′s lasting impacts on the way kids learn, how schools operate, and how communities interact with them? Some educators and parents shared their perspectives.
Enrolling and Engaging Online Learners: A Compilation
“Enrolling and Engaging Online Learners” is a new print-on-demand booklet from Inside Higher Ed. You may download the free compilation of news articles and essays here. On Wednesday, April 27, at 2 p.m. Eastern time, Inside Higher Ed will present a webcast to discuss the themes of the booklet and answer your questions.
Public Policies
Experts worry about how US will see next COVID surge coming
As coronavirus infections rise in some parts of the world, experts are watching for a potential new COVID-19 surge in the U.S. — and wondering how long it will take to detect. Despite disease monitoring improvements over the last two years, they say, some recent developments don’t bode well: —As more people take rapid COVID-19 tests at home, fewer people are getting the gold-standard tests that the government relies on for case counts. —The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon use fewer labs to look for new variants. —Health officials are increasingly focusing on hospital admissions, which rise only after a surge has arrived.
U.S. to Clear Additional Booster Shot Against Covid-19
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is poised to clear a fourth dose of the mRNA coronavirus vaccine for adults age 50 and older, looking to shore up protections for more vulnerable groups, a person familiar with the matter said. The authorization could come as early as next week and, for most Americans, it would mean a second booster shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. Currently, only immunocompromised people are eligible in the U.S. for the additional dose. Unlike with previous authorizations, the FDA is expected to stop short of a full recommendation, meaning the option would be open for people who want the shot. The development was reported earlier by the New York Times.
How to get a Cuban COVID jab in 1,000 easy steps
On Valentine’s Day 2022 in Havana, Cuba, I received the Soberana Plus booster shot, one of the island nation’s five homegrown COVID-19 vaccines. The jab had been a long time coming. For the past year, I had been fixated on the idea of being injected with a made-in-Cuba coronavirus vaccine. While obviously not offering protection against the imperial machinations of my homeland and Cuba’s chief antagonist, the United States, the Cuban serums were at least being developed in the interest of global public health rather than pharmaceutical profit or “vaccine apartheid”, as World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has described it.
Maintaining Services
Australian Medical Association reveals full strain on the nation’s hospital system
Australia’s hospital system is “showing cracks” under the weight of increased demand and underfunding, according to the country’s peak professional body. The Australian Medical Association’s annual public health system report card has revealed just how dire the situation is nationwide, as emergency departments have buckled under the pressure of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than one in three people have waited longer than the clinically-recommended 30 minutes to receive urgent care. AMA president Omar Khorshid said only 63 per cent of patients had been seen within the recommended period in the past year. “One in three people who present to an ED will wait longer than four hours to be either discharged or admitted,” Dr Khorshid said.
Premier calls for pre-Songkran vaccine drive
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered authorities to speed up inoculation of vulnerable groups ahead of the Songkran festival next month, a spokesman says. Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, government spokesman, said Gen Prayut has ordered state agencies to encourage people aged 60 and over, those suffering from underlying illnesses and pregnant women to receive their shots against Covid-19 before the holidays as a precautionary measure. The goal is to offer booster jabs to at least 70% of the elderly who have already been vaccinated at least twice, he said. The Songkran festival marks an important time when families return home and pay respects to the elderly.
Persistent cough 'may be TB rather than Covid' - and cases are on the rise
UK health leaders fear cases of tuberculosis (TB) are slipping under the radar. The potentially dangerous bacterial infection begins as a persistent cough, similar to many people’s experience of Covid-19. Incidents of TB have been falling since 2019 but appear to be on the rise once again, fuelling fears people may be dismissing the symptom as the coronavirus. Now anyone with a cough is being warned not to assume their illness is definitely caused by Covid-19.
Costs of going unvaccinated in America are mounting for workers and companies
Nearly a year after COVID vaccines became freely available in the U.S., one fourth of American adults remain unvaccinated, and a picture of the economic cost of vaccine hesitancy is emerging. It points to financial risk for individuals, companies and publicly funded programs. Vaccine hesitancy likely already accounts for tens of billions of dollars in preventable U.S. hospitalization costs and up to hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths, say public health experts. For individuals forgoing vaccination, the risks can include layoffs and ineligibility to collect unemployment, higher insurance premiums, growing out-of-pocket medical costs or loss of academic scholarships.
Healthcare Innovations
The BA.2 Omicron subvariant is now dominant in northeastern US states
The Omicron BA.2 subvariant has become dominant over other Covid-19 coronavirus variants in the northeastern US, per the latest CDC data. The news comes as a surge of new cases in Europe, driven by the more-contagious BA.2 and by countries lifting Covid-19 restrictions. That surge is prompting some experts to worry that another wave could soon be coming to the US. Experts told previously Insider they expect a wave of BA.2 in the US could be milder than in Europe, in part because of previous exposure to its cousin, the subvariant BA.1. More vulnerable groups could still be at risk, the experts said. As of last week, BA.2 made up 55.4% of samples collected in Health & Human Services (HHS) Region 1, the CDC said Tuesday. This region covers Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as ten federally recognised Tribal Nations.
Edinburgh scientists find patients with both Covid and flu at greater risk of severe illness and death
Adults in hospital with Covid-19 and the flu at the same time are at much greater risk of severe disease and death compared with patients who have Covid-19 alone or with other viruses, according to new research. Scientists found that patients who had both SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, and influenza viruses were more than four times more likely to require ventilation support and 2.4 times more likely to die than if they just had Covid-19. The study looked at more than 305,000 hospitalised patients with Covid-19 and involved researchers from the University of Edinburgh, University of Liverpool, Imperial College London and Leiden University in the Netherlands. Researchers say the findings show the need for more flu testing of Covid-19 patients in hospital and highlight the importance of full vaccination against both Covid-19 and the flu. Professor Kenneth Baillie, professor of experimental medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We found that the combination of Covid-19 and flu viruses is particularly dangerous.