"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 27th May 2020

Isolation Tips
Positive Parenting: Mental Healthy Hygiene During COVID-19
Scientists looked at 300 – fifth through eighth-grade students, and they found those who participated in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program – reported improved psychological functioning and less stress. The ‘mindfulness program’ focused on the practice of good mental hygiene, and includes:
Mum makes coronavirus 'cuddle curtain' so she can hug self-isolating daughter
Lara Green, 35, surprised her daughter Katie, 13, with the homemade contraption last Monday. When the government suggested vulnerable people should shield at home from the coronavirus in March, Lara made the heartbreaking decision to send severely asthmatic daughter Katie to self-isolate with her grandma Helen, 65, for 12 weeks. But after noticing Katie had been feeling homesick, preschool worker Lara whose key worker status meant she was still spending more time in proximity with others, constructed the ‘cuddle curtain’.
Why you're losing hair in isolation
Thousands of Australian men and women have reported suffering hair loss while at home during the virus pandemic - and now experts have revealed exactly why this is.
Hygiene Helpers
Hard surface disinfection and hand sanitation crucial after lockdown ends
UK based Christeyns Food Hygiene, which manufactures specialist hygiene solutions, is stressing the importance of hard surface hygiene in reducing the risks of future coronavirus contamination and protecting staff.
Homemade cloth masks CAN help stop the spread of COVID-19 and block up to 99% of particles, study finds
Analysis of previous studies shows cloth masks block droplets carrying the virus. A three-layer homemade mask reduced surface contamination by 99 per cent. Researchers warn that making cloth masks in low-resource areas would be risky
Keeping surfaces clean matters to contain Coronavirus
WHO advises use of sodium hypochlorite or alcohol for disinfection to curb transmission of Coronavirus
Contact Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: What Role Do Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment Play?
As an infection preventionist, one of the most frequently asked questions that I receive regarding SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, is “how does transmission occur?”
Train firm to use disinfectant which 'will kill coronavirus on surfaces for 30 days'
Staff are using electrostatic spray guns – which were used at the NHS Nightingale hospitals – to applying the disinfectant
Robot barista helps maintain social distancing measures at South Korean cafe
A South Korean cafe has found an innovative way of serving its customers during the coronavirus pandemic, with an efficient robot barista. The new robot barista at the cafe in Daejon is "courteous and swift" as it delivers coffee and tea to its customers,
Shops putting PPE, customer limits and hygiene plans in place to reopen next month
High street shops are putting measures in place to protect customers and maintain social distancing ahead of their proposed reopening next month. Owners have told Grimsby Live how seriously they are taking safety requirements, with PPE, customer limits and hand sanitiser being used to prevent any transmission of coronavirus. Councils will also be making public spaces outside shops easier to socially distance in and addressing any safety issues
Dental practices consider using UV light tech to safely reopen
As more businesses reopen, dental practices are considering enhanced measures to clean their facilities and equipment, as well as protect their patients and staff. One method involves the use of ultraviolet light to sanitize the air, surfaces and equipment in dental offices. Disinfecting with UV light products is widely used in hospitals and larger medical facilities, but now small practices are looking into adopting the technology.
Ottawa signs deal with GM to produce 10m face masks
The federal government is tapping General Motors Co. to produce 10 million face masks. “They will help keep people safe and slow the spread of COVID-19,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday (May 26) during his daily media briefing outside his home in Ottawa.
Community Activities
Care home creates a drive-through so families can visit their loved ones safely during lockdown
Gracewell of Ascot set up a drive-through for people to visit loved ones safely The Berkshire care home keeps residents outside while visitors stay in their cars Many of the cars were decorated cheerfully with balloons, flags and drawings
‘There is no work from home’: As Hong Kong moves past pandemic, unsung hygiene army soldiers on
Leung, a 54-year-old patient-care assistant in an isolation ward at Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, does not consider herself a front-line fighter against the coronavirus. A decade of serving patients had prepared her for the risks, she said, and quitting has never been on her mind. But Leung and others like her — street cleaners, hotel housekeepers, subway disinfecting crews — form a largely unheralded hygiene army helping to prevent the spread of the virus. Many of them elderly or migrants, they toil at considerable risk to their health, spending extended periods away from their families to minimize potential exposure.
Germany's corona detectives led way out of lockdown
As the coronavirus permeated Germany with a speed that was scarcely credible, there was no technology in the world that could track it. Instead, the job of mapping and slowing the advance of the pandemic has been carried out largely by hand, often with little more than a telephone, a fax machine and many cups of coffee. The secret of Germany’s much-lauded contact-tracing system, one of the central pillars of its relative success in managing Covid-19, is not ingenious software nor an all-seeing state. It is an impromptu army of students, off-duty planning inspectors, social workers, police officers, military health workers, administrators and, in at least one case, the local fire brigade.
Working Remotely
'Business unusual:' How COVID-19 could change the future of work
What are the longer-term effects of the pandemic on the workplace in developed countries, once the immediate crisis is over? Before the pandemic, there was already a lot of discussion on the implications of technology for the future of work. The message was clear: the future of work is not pre-determined, it is up to us to shape it.
Best Practices for Supporting Successful Remote Collaboration
How can teams doing generative collaboration stay on the same page when they’re working remotely? According to Kammer, the first thing they should do is find digital ways to replicate the analog processes (such as whiteboards and sticky notes) they use when they’re working side-by-side. “When it comes to generative work, teams need a digital platform where they can co-create content,” explains Kammer. “By leveraging tools like Mural, Google Drive and Microsoft Teams, teams are able to orchestrate their work across the platform and develop a shared mind, a shared historical reference of where they are and where they’re going.”
Making Remote Work Work
Dery urges us to take a fresh look at remote work and how it can become not just something we suffer through, but something that actually helps us excel. This means working with your employees to iterate designs for physical spaces and operational processes that work; it means adopting new management techniques; and it may mean being willing to revisit how you communicate and how you lead. Listen to the full episode to learn more.
How social distancing and remote working will impact Irish life
We have released a new paper - Covid-19, Occupational Social Distancing and Remote Working Potential in Ireland - that examines these questions. We generate two indices which capture the potential impact of Covid-19 through identifying firstly, the occupations which may be most able to implement social distancing procedures and secondly the occupations which have the greatest potential scope for remote working. This is accomplished using occupational level data from O*NET which provides very detailed information of the tasks performed by individuals within their occupations.
Remote working doesn’t need to affect innovation, new research reveals
EMPLOYEES THAT work from home are unlikely to be less innovative, according to new research by the University of Cologne and the Leibniz University Hannover. The study, conducted by professors Marina Schröder and Bernd Irlenbusch, found that video conferencing among team members can compensate possibly negative effects on innovation when employees work remote from each other
Virtual Classrooms
Powys teachers get their own lessons in virtual education
Since returning from the Easter break in April, Powys youngsters have been taught online. And teachers in Powys have been prepared for their new virtual classrooms by taking their own online courses run by the Open University. While preparations in England are being made for a return of some classes next week, it is highly likely that children in Powys and the rest of Wales will not be going back to school until September, meaning that teachers will have plenty of time to put their training into action.
Surge in demand for e-learning classes
There has been a surge in e-learning across the country as the possibility of a quick return to the classroom becomes more remote. In Penang, where about 2,000 tuition and special skills learning centres have closed temporarily to prevent the spread of Covid-19, teachers are turning to virtual classrooms to conduct lessons. Students, from pre-school to college, have been logging in to their teacher’s virtual classrooms to catch up on school-work.
Public Policies
Coronavirus: Ireland records no new COVID-19 deaths as Varadkar hails 'day of hope'
"First day with no reported #CoVid19 deaths since March 21st. This is a day of hope. We will prevail." Dr Tony Holohan, Ireland's chief medical officer, said figures over the past week indicated "we have suppressed COVID-19 as a country". He added: "It has taken strict measures to achieve this. "It will take another week to see any effect on disease incidence that might arise from the easing of measures in Phase 1."
New Zealand Reopens Bars After Two Months Of Lockdown
After three consecutive days of no new coronavirus patient, New Zealand decided to reopen bars and other businesses last Thursday, i.e., May 21st. The country was under lockdown for two months during which many bars struggled to stay afloat but the government decided not to open them early as they were deemed as high-risk spots. The lockdown got shifted from “Level 4” to “Level 2” with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying "level 2" restrictions will mean retail, restaurants and other public spaces including playgrounds can reopen from Thursday. "I am announcing that Cabinet agrees we are ready to move into level 2, to open up the economy, but to do it as safely as possible," Ardern told a news conference. However, businesses will be required to have physical distancing and strict hygiene measures in place.
South Korea unveils new coronavirus rules, including bars registering all patrons
It will be up to bus drivers and subway station workers to enforce masks on public transportation, while taxi drivers will be allowed to refuse passengers who aren't wearing masks. Customers who refuse to download QR codes at entertainment venues will have to write their personal information by hand instead. South Korea has reported 11,206 COVID-19 cases, including 267 fatalities. The recent increase in infections has been centered around the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where more than 200 cases were linked to nightclubs and other entertainment venues.
Call to fast-track bike lanes to boost jobs and take advantage of lockdown-induced bicycle sales
Australia’s peak cycling organisation is calling on governments to capitalise on a surge in lockdown-induced bicycle sales by fast-tracking the construction of all 750km of planned bike lanes around the country, a move it says would promote physically distanced commuting while taking “tens of thousands” of cars off city roads. The rising interest in cycling has also been noticed by Queensland’s transport and roads minister, Mark Bailey, who told the Guardian the Palaszczuk government would consider “further investments in cycleways across Queensland in the near future” as a result of the demand.
Coronavirus: Sports events in March 'caused increased suffering and death'
The UK government's stance remained consistent. Just 24 hours before Cheltenham opened its gates to 250,000 spectators on 10 March, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden rebuffed growing calls for a ban on mass outdoor gatherings. He told the BBC: "There's no reason for people not to attend such events or to cancel them at this stage." But Prof Spector from King's College London said "people will have probably died prematurely" because of the decision.
Coronavirus: France announces €8bn rescue plan for car industry
The French government has announced an €8bn (£7.1bn) rescue plan for its car industry, which has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. President Emmanuel Macron's proposal includes €1bn to provide grants of up to €7,000 to encourage citizens to purchase electric vehicles. It also puts money toward investments to make France a centre for electric vehicle output. The plan comes as the industry braces for thousands of job cuts.
'The price you pay': Sweden struggles with 'herd immunity' experiment
"I’d say it hasn’t worked out so well," said Dr. George Rutherford, professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco. "I think the mortality in Norway is something like ten-fold lower. That’s the real comparator." (Norway's 7-day rolling average death rate is less than .01 per 1 million people.) "If you let this go or don’t try very hard or go about it in somewhat of a more restrained way rather than we have here, this is the price you pay," Rutherford said. "Maybe it didn’t hurt businesses, but you have twice the mortality rate of the United States. All those people who died were part of families and they were citizens and part of the fabric of Swedish society. And now they’re gone because of a policy that hasn’t worked out quite the way they thought it would."
Maintaining Services
Ryanair will ramp up services when Spain reopens to tourists on July 1
Ryanair confirmed plan to ramp up flights to 40 per cent of its normal schedule. The budget airline group has now launched a sale for flights in July and August. Spain said 14-day quarantine measures for passengers will be lifted from July 1
A four-day work week in New Zealand could boost domestic travel
According to Prime Minister Ardern, 60 percent of New Zealand is dependent on tourism. Therefore, New Zealanders should travel domestically in order to support the tourism industry. She believes that a four-day work week will leave enough time for domestic travel. She has left employers and employees to decide on the four-day work week scenario; and rightly pointed out that the lockdown has caused us to learn a lot about our work; about how it is really possible to be productive while working from home.
As physical doors close, new digital doors swing open
In this piece, we’re taking a deeper look at how the Australian lockdown experience has created a new set of digital users and at what businesses can do to emerge stronger after the COVID-19 crisis. While the future is still in flux and new habits haven’t yet been solidified, our initial data on consumer uptake of digital technologies, matched with historical parallels, point to significant changes for the digital sector.
Healthcare Innovations
Urgent need for coronavirus testing in care homes, suggests study
A team of academics from the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) has undertaken a coronavirus outbreak investigation in four London nursing homes. The research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, showed 26 per cent of residents across four nursing homes died between March and May, three times the rate in previous years. High rates of coronavirus infection (40 per cent) were detected, and 60 per cent of those infected were asymptomatic or had atypical symptoms. Specific, tailored measures are needed to manage coronavirus infection in care homes, say the research team, including comprehensive and repeated testing
Study blames sit-down restaurants, fast food chains and hotels for being 'super-spreader' businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak in New York, California and six other US states
Researchers analysed nearly a million businesses in eight US states in their study Found risk of coronavirus spreading was five times higher in these businesses They're densely packed with people and visitors linger for long time period
Coronavirus: WHO suspends hydoxychloroquine trial over safety
Hydroxychloroquine is most typically used to treat malaria, lupus and arthritis. The WHO had been testing the drug as part of its Solidarity trial looking at the safety and efficacy of four medications against coronavirus. But a study on Friday revealed higher mortality rates among COVID-19 patients who took the drug. On Monday, the WHO announced it was suspending the hydroxychloroquine arm of its trial over safety concerns. President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that he finished taking his two-week prescription of the drug, which he had used as a prophylactic
Coronavirus: UK authorises anti-viral drug remdesivir
A drug treatment called remdesivir that appears to shorten recovery time for people with coronavirus is being made available on the NHS. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was probably the biggest step forward in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis began. Remdesivir is an anti-viral medicine that has been used against Ebola. UK regulators say there is enough evidence to approve its use in selected Covid-19 hospital patients.
Merck in collaboration to develop coronavirus vaccine, with clinical trials to start this year
U.S. drugmaker Merck plans to work alongside nonprofit scientific research organization IAVI to develop a potential vaccine against the coronavirus. Most experts agree that it could take 12 to 18 months for a safe vaccine to be rolled out to the market. Even if an effective vaccine becomes available, many have warned of significant logistical challenges around distributing enough doses for the global population.
Front-line coronavirus workers could be vaccinated as soon as this year, Novavax CEO says
Workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic will be first to receive a vaccine and that could come as soon as later this year, Stanley Erck, CEO of vaccine development company Novavax, said Tuesday. Novavax announced Monday that it has launched clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate and it expects preliminary results in July. Erck said his company plans to price its potential vaccine on a tiered approach based on affordability.
Merck Leaps Into COVID-19 Development Fray With Vaccine, Drug Deals
Merck & Co Inc, which has largely kept to the sidelines of the race for COVID-19 treatments, said it was buying Austrian vaccine maker Themis Bioscience and would collaborate with research nonprofit IAVI to develop two separate vaccines. It also announced a partnership with privately held Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to develop an experimental oral antiviral drug against COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Bill Gates Funds a Crucial COVID-19 Vaccine Human Trial, Merck Adds 2 Candidates
Over the Memorial Day weekend, an experimental vaccine made by Maryland-based biotech firm Novavax started phase 1 clinical trial in Australia. The trial plans to enroll approximately 130 volunteers, with results coming out as soon as July. If phase 1 is successful, Novavax will move on to a phase 2 trial in more countries, including the U.S. The vaccine, called NVX‑CoV2373, proved to produce high levels of neutralizing antibodies against COVID-19 in pre-clinical testing. “These results provide strong evidence that the vaccine candidate will be highly immunogenic in humans, leading to protection from COVID‑19 and thus helping to control the spread of this disease,” the company said in a statement on Monday.
Study reconfirms coronavirus has higher transmission rate among close contacts: ICMR
The novel cornonavirus has a higher rate of transmission among close contacts and thus, public health measures such as physical distancing, personal hygiene and infection control are necessary to prevent its spread, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has reconfirmed. Sharing the findings of the first cluster of SARS-CoV-2 infection among Italian tourists in a study, the ICMR also said testing of close contacts identified infection in presymptomatic and asymptomatic cases, and stressed that the strategy to trace and test close contacts is crucial for early identification and isolation of positive patients to prevent community transmission.