"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 13th Apr 2022

Isolation Tips
Shanghai tweaks lockdown rules amid COVID-19 surge
Shanghai has eased a punishing citywide lockdown that it imposed to break a surge in cases that is the biggest test of China’s two-year strategy to stamp out the disease wherever it appears. Authorities in Shanghai introduced the three-tier disease control system on Monday, allowing residents in areas where no cases have been reported for 14 days to leave their homes so long as they follow health protocols and remain in their sub-district.
Hygiene Helpers
MU researchers receive grant to increase confidence about COVID-19 vaccine among nurses
As an assistant teaching professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, Stefanie Birk knows there are nursing students unsure of how to talk with people hesitant about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Being a public health nurse herself, Birk has been in similar situations and is passionate about equipping the next generation of nurses with the knowledge and confidence they need to have conversations that ultimately promote public health. To help increase knowledge and confidence about the COVID-19 vaccine among nurses and the communities they serve, Birk and an interdisciplinary team of educators and researchers at the University of Missouri have earned a grant from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) with funding through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "We want to prepare our nursing students as they get ready to graduate and go on to become nurses serving our communities," said Birk, who teaches public health classes to hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. "By incorporating these lessons into their current curriculum, they will be better prepared going forward to have effective conversations with people who may be feeling hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine."
Researchers outline need for new approach to COVID-19 vaccine testing
The commentary by bioethicist Nir Eyal and epidemiologists Tobias Gerhard and Brian Strom (the latter is chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences) – published in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety – examines how this parallel approach to vaccine trials can lead to faster and more accurate vaccine assessment and more effective pandemic response. The researchers say that further vaccine testing could help settle remaining questions about how effective the shots are at blocking infection against old and new virus strains. It could also reveal the most effective dosing and timing between shots, the level of protection compared to natural immunity and how well vaccines work in groups that were underrepresented in initial trials. While some researchers proposed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that challenge trials take place, others argued that too little was known about the virus and that conducting the trials would be too dangerous. They were not used for the studies that led to approval of the major COVID-19 vaccines but are now being used in testing.
Thailand Ramps Up Vaccinations as Festival Seen Fueling Covid
Thailand is rushing to vaccinate its elderly citizens and other vulnerable groups ahead of the local New Year celebrations as the festivities are seen fueling a surge in Covid cases and deaths, potentially derailing a tentative economic and tourism recovery. Millions of Thais will travel to their hometowns this week from cities such as Bangkok to join families in celebrating Songkran, the first time they can do so without any travel curbs since the outbreak of the pandemic. That’s prompted the Health Ministry to warn new daily cases could jump to as high as 100,000 a day from almost 20,000 on Tuesday.
UN official urges acceleration in coronavirus vaccinations
The U.N. official spearheading global vaccination efforts against the coronavirus said Monday the number of countries where 10% or less of the population has been vaccinated dropped from 34 to 18 since January and called for accelerated progress to end the pandemic. Assistant Secretary-General Ted Chaiban told the U.N. Security Council that with over 6 million lives lost to COVID-19 and just over 1 million new coronavirus infections reported to the World Health Organization in the last 24 hours, it is urgent to increase vaccinations in countries where it wasn't possible to boost rates in 2021.
COVID vaccines: why second boosters are being offered to vulnerable people in the UK – but not young and healthy people yet
Until recently, the UK government limited a fourth dose of the COVID vaccine to people with severely weakened immune systems over the age of 16. But, following a resurgence of COVID cases in the UK, the government has followed some other countries such as Israel, Germany and Sweden, and expanded the eligibility for a second booster shot. People aged 12 and over who have a weakened immune system, care home residents and people aged 75 and over are now eligible. But if you’re young and healthy you may be wondering whether you are going to be offered a fourth dose, and indeed, if a fourth dose is necessary for you. Let’s take a look at what we know so far
Philadelphia to restore indoor mask mandate as cases rise
Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to reinstate its indoor mask mandate on Monday after reporting a sharp increase in coronavirus infections, with the city’s top health official saying she wanted to forestall a potential new wave driven by an omicron subvariant. Confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen more than 50% in 10 days, the threshold at which the city’s guidelines call for people to wear masks indoors, said Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, the health commissioner. Health officials believe the recent spike is being driven by the highly transmissible BA.2 subvariant of omicron, which has spread rapidly throughout Europe and Asia, and has become dominant in the U.S. in recent weeks.
Community Activities
Shanghai Factory Closures Mount as Covid-19 Lockdowns Hit Supply Chains
More factories in and around Shanghai, including two run by an Apple Inc.supplier, are halting production because of extended Covid-19 lockdowns in the region, adding to pressure on the global supply chain. Analysts said Shanghai-area manufacturers were having more trouble getting parts delivered because China’s restrictions on movement are making it difficult for trucks to enter the region. That means some factories can’t operate normally even if they manage to keep workers on the job. Pegatron Corp., a major assembler of Apple products, said Tuesday it has temporarily suspended production at factories in Shanghai and nearby Jiangsu province in compliance with local government requirements.
Chinese Stockpile Food as Covid-19 Concerns Ripple Out From Shanghai
As Shanghai battles the country’s worst Covid-19 outbreak in two years, people across the rest of China are stockpiling necessities as they brace for the prospect of similar lockdowns. In Beijing, where some residential districts have been closed in recent weeks as infections have been discovered, supermarket shelves in some parts of the city have been picked clean of toilet paper, canned foods, instant noodles and rice in recent days. In Suzhou, an industrial hub roughly two hours’ drive west of Shanghai, residents swarmed supermarkets to fill their grocery baskets with instant noodles and other food on Tuesday morning, hours after local officials said they would conduct districtwide testing in one section of the city.
Shanghai patients crowdsource medical help during COVID lockdown
Shanghai residents have turned online for grassroots help on medical treatment as the city's tough COVID-19 curbs limit access to healthcare and fuel frustration and anxiety. While the city of 25 million has used lockdowns and extensive testing to fight the disease, those suffering from other medical conditions are posting requests for help in mutual-help platforms and social media chat groups. One woman said she sought help online as her worry grew over the risk of infection to her paralysed mother from a urinary catheter used for about a month.
Working Remotely
Wall Street is battling to determine the future of work from home
Big banks like to stick together on major policy decisions. But as Wall Street grapples with heading back-to-work, a rare chasm is growing between the finance giants. The implications of these choices, and the resulting stratification of policies will likely ripple through the world of finance and out to Main Street in the coming months. Citigroup's chief executive Jane Fraser announced in March that the majority of the company's 210,000 employees will be allowed to go hybrid with three days in the office and two days at home each week. UBS made similar plans last month with the launch of their Virtual Worker Framework that will allow some US employees to work 100% remotely. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley are taking hardline approaches, requiring employees to come into the office five days a week.
One or Two Days in the Office Is the 'Sweet Spot' of Hybrid Work
Just one or two days in the office is the ideal setup for hybrid work, according to a new study, as it provides workers with the flexibility they crave without the isolation of going fully remote. The findings, in a paper from Harvard Business School, were based on an experiment in the summer of 2020 where 130 administrative workers were randomly assigned to one of three groups over nine weeks. Some spent less than 25% of their work days in the office, some were in more than 40% of the time, while a third “intermediate” cohort landed in the middle, translating to a day or two per week. That subset turned out more original work than the other groups, and “this difference was significant,” the authors wrote.
Work remote, get paid less? The battle dividing offices will define the future of work
These developments come as no surprise: the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that up to a quarter of workers in advanced economies will work permanently on a hybrid basis, ie partly from home, several days a week. Discussions about RTO (returning to the office) are increasingly fraught and in flux. There is no uniform model or agreement. The case for going into an office regularly is having to be made to the workforce – and many are rejecting it. Meanwhile, CEOs have to grapple with employees who want more flexibility, the ability to work remotely and even the ability to choose their working hours – and this without a paycut.
Virtual Classrooms
Some Colleges Are Ending Hybrid Learning. Students Are Pushing Back.
Johnny Ellsworth would like nothing more than to return to a classroom in a world without a pandemic, where the sophomore at Pomona College could “connect with people in a more intimate way than you might be able to over Zoom.” Instead, as a person who is immunocompromised, he wakes up every morning and checks his phone to see what the local Covid rates are before he heads to class, reminding himself of all the reasons his education is important to him, including his family and his future job.
Public Policies
CDC eases COVID travel assessment for Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Haiti
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday eased its COVID-19 travel ratings for Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Haiti. The CDC said it had changed its COVID-19 travel recommendation for the three countries to "Level 1: Low" from "Level 4: Very High," which urges Americans to avoid travel to those locations. In recent weeks, the CDC has been easing ratings on a number of countries around the world as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes. The CDC also on Monday lowered to "Level 1" ratings for Bangladesh, Philippines, and Saint Kitts and Nevis from "Level 2: Moderate."
200,000 Covid-19 vaccines donated to Ivory Coast
The Maltese government has donated 200,000 vaccine doses to Ivory Coast, while it continues to show solidarity with countries in need, in particular to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest ever Covid-19 vaccination donation by the government thus far with national carrier Air Malta facilitating the donation. As part of the humanitarian aid Malta is offering throughout the pandemic, AirMalta conducted its second longest direct flight to the Sub-Saharan country of Ivory Coast. The flight occurred at the beginning of April and took five hours 45 minutes to reach the destination. This was a conjoined effort by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Ministry of Health. So far Malta has donated and delivered more than 710,000 vaccines to countries in need. These countries included Libya, Egypt, Ghana and Rwanda.
Thai FDA grants EUA to Novavax-Serum Institute's Covid-19 vaccine
The Thailand Food and Drug Administration (Thai FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to Novavax and Serum Institute of India for a protein-based Covid-19 vaccine, NVX-CoV2373. Created from the genetic sequence of the initial SARS-CoV-2 virus strain, the vaccine is formulated with Novavax’s saponin-based Matrix-M adjuvant. The vaccine is authorised for active immunisation for preventing Covid-19 in adults aged 18 years and above. SII will produce and supply the vaccine under the brand name Covovax.
U.S. orders some personnel to leave Shanghai consulate amid COVID surge
The U.S. State Department on Monday ordered non-emergency U.S. government workers to leave the consulate in Shanghai due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and China's measures to control the virus. On Friday, the State Department announced that non-emergency personnel could voluntarily leave the consulate. It is not clear why the departure of those workers has become mandatory.
British PM and finance minister to be fined over lockdown parties
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his finance minister Rishi Sunak will be fined for breaking Britain's strict coronavirus lockdown rules, his office said on Tuesday, provoking anger and calls for them both to resign. Police have been investigating 12 gatherings at Johnson's Downing Street office and the Cabinet Office after a damning internal inquiry found his staff had enjoyed alcohol-fuelled parties that were not permitted. Johnson said he had attended some of the events, held when social mixing was all but banned by laws his government brought in to curb the spread of COVID-19, but he has always denied knowingly committing any wrongdoing.
Pfizer's COVID pill Paxlovid gets boost in Britain thanks to spot in national trial
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and antiviral show little sign of slowing down in the pandemic’s third year. Now, the company’s oral therapy is getting a boost across the Atlantic. Thousands more people in the U.K. will gain access to Pfizer’s Paxlovid thanks to its inclusion in the national Panoramic study, which is looking at how best to use the pill among Britain’s highly vaccinated population, the country’s Department of Health and Social Care said Tuesday. Paxlovid is the second antiviral to enter the Panoramic fray behind Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ molnupiravir, Britain’s health ministry pointed out. The drug has been shown to slash the risk of hospitalization or death by 88% in clinical studies, and it’s already available in the U.K. for patients with
Filipinos urged to get booster shots to save 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines
Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion has encouraged citizens to get their needed booster shots against COVID-19 so as not to waste vaccines already available for use. Concepcion earlier revealed that 27M doses of COVID vaccines are set to expire by July. These vaccines which are a combination of procured vaccines and donations, are part of a total of around 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in storage.The 80 million doses of various brands of COVID-19 vaccines with an estimated worth of P40 billion are currently stored in the Department of Health’s 3rd party logistics warehouses, regional warehouses and Zuellig’s warehouse. “We call on fellow Filipinos to think about their safety and the safety of their families as well and get their booster shots immediately. As citizens, we also have a responsibility to help our government in its efforts to control the pandemic and ensure our safety while keeping the economy open,” Concepcion said.
Maintaining Services
Japan, US to exclude Russian COVID vaccines over Ukraine invasion
Japan and the United States are set to exclude Russian COVID-19 vaccines from a list of items subject to financial assistance when manufactured in developing countries, sources familiar with the plan said Tuesday. The move, which comes as Western nations step up sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, is especially aimed at dissuading India from fulfilling an agreement to produce Russian vaccines under the funding support scheme, the sources said. India has built close relations with Russia, including cooperation in the fields of energy and military technology. Japan and the United States are planning to gain India's understanding and make necessary arrangements ahead of a summit of the Quad nations, also involving Australia, according to the sources. Japan will host the summit, possibly in May.
U.S. Supreme Court to stop public access in April as COVID cases rise
The United States Supreme Court said on Monday it will stop allowing the public to attend courtroom sessions in person during the month of April as coronavirus cases rise in the District of Columbia. Despite infections remaining relatively flat nationwide, a number of high-profile political figures in Washington D.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 recently, including members of President Joe Biden's Cabinet and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Canada's Ontario in sixth COVID wave, hospitalizations likely to rise -official
Ontario is in the sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic driven by the highly transmissible BA.2 sub-variant of the Omicron coronavirus and hospitalizations are likely to rise over the coming weeks, the most populous Canadian province's top doctor said on Monday. "In the last few weeks we have seen an increase in the percent positivity and upward trend in wastewater surveillance and a rise in hospitalizations. These trends are likely to continue for the next several weeks," Ontario's chief medical officer Kieran Moore said at a briefing.
French COVID-19 hospitalisations at a peak since early March
French health authorities said on Monday the number of patients hospitalised for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours jumped by 579 to 24,205, the highest level since March 1, as new cases are picking up again. On a week-on-week basis, daily COVID-19 infections have been rising again in the last three days after declining during the six previous days, prompting Health Minister Olivier Veran to say last week the current pandemic wave was past its peak. Most of the country's COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in early March.
With aid to spend, schools look for students who need help
Schools across America are racing to make up for time they lost during the pandemic by budgeting billions of dollars for tutoring, summer camps and longer school days and trying to untangle which students need help most urgently after two years of disruptions. Many schools saw large numbers of students fall under the radar when learning went online for the pandemic. Many skipped class, tests and homework. Record numbers of families opted out of annual standardized tests, leaving some districts with little evidence of how students were doing in reading and math. Now districts are trying to address that lack of information by adding new tests, training teachers to spot learning gaps and exploring new ways to identify students who need help. In many districts, the findings are being used to guide the spending of billions of dollars in federal relief that’s meant to address learning loss and can be used in myriad ways.
Healthcare Innovations
COVID-19 household transmission is high, with children being a significant source of spread, study finds
A study released today indicates that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) spreads extensively in households, with children being a significant source of that spread. Approximately 50% of household members were infected from the first-infected individual during the study period. Although kids were less likely to spread the virus compared to adults, children and adults were equally likely to become infected from the first-infected individual.
Heart inflammation after Covid vaccine ‘no more common than after other jabs’
Heart inflammation after a Covid jab is not only rare but no more common than after other types of vaccinations, researchers have found. As Covid vaccination programmes began around the world it emerged that some people – particularly young men – subsequently developed myocarditis, a type of inflammation of the heart muscle, or pericarditis, inflammation of the outer lining of the heart. While cases were rare, the findings caused concern, with risk of such heart inflammation among the reasons cited by experts in the UK for the delay in expanding the vaccination programme to children. Now research suggests that myopericarditis – an umbrella term that encompasses myocarditis and pericarditis – is not only uncommon after Covid jabs, but the risk of developing it is no greater than that posed by other types of inoculations, such as flu vaccinations.
Even mild COVID-19 raises the risk of blood clots
A new nationwide study conducted in Sweden reports that individuals with COVID-19 were at greater risk of developing a blood clot at least up to 3 months after the infection. Although individuals hospitalized with severe COVID-19 were at the highest risk of developing blood clots, even those with mild COVID-19 were at increased risk of blood clots. The study highlights the importance of treatments to reduce blood clots, especially in high risk COVID-19 patients, and vaccination against COVID-19.