"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 27th Apr 2022

Isolation Tips
Anger Erupts at Xi's 'Big White' Army of Lockdown Enforcers
“Being a big supporter of authority and power seems to be deeply rooted in some residents’ mindsets,” said Liu, who has been locked down in his compound since April 1. “There are not many people who question authority, or the very validity of the Covid-Zero policy.” Big White describes the brigades of police, medical workers and volunteers in white hazmat suits who have become ubiquitous throughout the pandemic. China’s state media has used the term since the virus emerged in 2020 in Wuhan to soften their image: The moniker is the same as the local name for Baymax, the gentle inflatable robot in the movie “Big Hero 6.”
China expands Covid testing to almost all of Beijing’s 22 million residents
Beijing has swiftly expanded its Covid-19 mass testing from one district this week to most of the city of nearly 22 million, adding to expectations of an imminent lockdown similar to Shanghai’s. The Chinese capital began testing the residents of its most populous district, Chaoyang, on Monday. By the end of the day, even though only a fraction of the results had come out, the city decided to conduct tests on 10 other districts and one economic development zone by Saturday.
Hygiene Helpers
Relief, revival as Singapore scraps its COVID curbs
Strict limits on workplaces and gatherings were no more on Tuesday, with employees lingering outside workplaces and public transport teeming with commuters eager for normalcy after two years of containment. "Almost full office today, first time in quite a while," said Slava Nikitin, 34, a product manager. "There were queues for elevators this morning, even though we have six elevators." Singapore has been lauded for its speed and success in its vaccine rollout, with 93% of the population inoculated, one of the highest rates in the world, helping to limit COVID fatalities to just 1,331.
Turkey ready to lift all COVID-19 measures, Erdogan says
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey is ready to lift all measures against the coronavirus, adding that mask wearing will no longer be obligatory indoors. Speaking after the final meeting of the advisory science council, Erdogan said masks will still be mandated on public transport and in medical institutions until daily new cases drop below 1,000. Turkey had previously lifted the requirement to wear masks outdoors and in indoor areas with good ventilation.
Albania to end virus restrictions before summer vacations
Albanian authorities have decided to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions before the summer vacation season. The Technical Committee of Experts, the country’s highest executive body during the pandemic, said Tuesday that coronavirus-related measures will end in Albania as of May 1. The decision means masks no longer will be required indoors and nightclubs won’t be subject to an 11 p.m. curfew Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test for the virus won’t be needed at border crossings.
WA announces major overhaul to mask, proof of vaccination COVID-19 rules
West Australians will finally be able to ditch their face masks in most indoor settings, as the state prepares to ease a swathe of public health measures. From 12.01am Friday, people aged 12 and over will only be required to wear masks will in hospitals, aged care, disability care facilities and on public transport, taxis and rideshares. Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson announced proof of vaccination requirements will also be scrapped except at hospitals and residential aged care facilities.
Mexico to enable COVID vaccination of all children aged 12 and above
Mexico will let all children aged over 12 be registered for COVID-19 vaccination from Thursday, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said. Lopez-Gatell, the country's coronavirus czar, was speaking at a regular government news conference on Tuesday.
Community Activities
Which Countries Are Open to Unvaccinated Tourists?
The U.K. doing away with all coronavirus-related travel restrictions on March 18 was major news—that is, until six more European countries (and counting) followed suit since. Whether they’re vaccinated or not, travelers entering the region now have even more destinations in which they won’t have to take a pre- or post-arrival test, follow any quarantine rules, or fill out passenger-tracking forms. International travelers still need the requisite visas, of course, but there are now nations on every continent that have adopted a post-pandemic attitude toward travel—even internally with mask-free living and no-quarantine requirements for those who test positive. The loosening of restrictions is sparking optimism for wanderlust after two years of stay-home pandemic rules and border closings. It’s also, alternately, serving as a red flag for travelers still taking a more cautious approach.
Confusion, fear behind reluctance to take Covid booster, says experts
With only 4.64 lakh people taking their third Covid jab since April 10, Indians could be grappling with vaccine fatigue, a reluctance to take a booster shot that experts attribute to a combination of fear, confusion and misinformation.As India's Covid graph inches upwards, not enough people are getting their booster shots. Among the reasons for the apparent lethargy are the fear of adverse effects, the view that Covid is now a mild infection and doubts over whether a precaution dose is indeed useful, said scientists, public health experts and industry insiders. According to virologist Dr T Jacob John, vaccine fatigue has set in, also because the "cacophony of new experts" has been confusing.
Working Remotely
New college course to support bosses managing a remote workforce due to pandemic
A new course will support company owners managing a remote or ‘hybrid’ workforce due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Level 4 and Level 5 programmes will be delivered by Northop Business School – part of Coleg Cambria – and are aimed at directors, senior leaders and HR employees who faced the unprecedented challenge of switching operations online during lockdown.
Job-life satisfaction highest amongst those who work remotely - CSO
People who worked remotely, either before or during the Covid-19 pandemic, were more satisfied with their jobs and lives, a new survey from the Central Statistics Office shows. The CSO’s Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey found that 39 per cent of employees worked remotely at some stage last year compared with just 8 per cent who availed of some form of remote working before the Covid-19 pandemic forced many people out of their workplaces.
Workers Are Winning the Return-to-Office War Because They're Right
The masks are coming off. Restaurants are filling up. International travel is resuming. But one thing is missing from this picture of returning normality: the rows of office workers bent over their desks. Just over two months ago, I wrote that returning to the office was the great class struggle of our time. I’m happy to report that, so far at least, the workers are winning. In the U.S., office occupancy rates seem to have flatlined at about 43% according to Kastle Systems, which collects figures on the number of workers who are working at their desks in America’s ten largest business districts by measuring key swipes. Occupancy rates fell to 42.8% on April 13, having risen to 43.1% on April 6. Across the Atlantic, London’s occupancy peaked at 42% last month.
Virtual Classrooms
Virtual learning due to COVID-19 helps UMKC student with disability
With the introduction of lockdown browsers and proctoring, universities are able to maintain academic integrity while still allowing students the freedom to receive an education remotely. This is the future of the college experience for many people in unique circumstances, and the shift to online learning helps professors become more helpful and understanding.
How Higher Ed Institutions Are Meeting the Demand for Student Devices
When universities pivoted to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, devices became even more crucial resources — which, for some students, proved problematic. An EDUCAUSE survey fielded the year before the pandemic struck found that although 99 percent of college students felt laptops were at least moderately important for academic success, 8 percent (potentially more than a million students) didn’t have access to one. While many universities provided devices to some students before 2020, the expanded use of online instruction has ushered in a new emphasis on device availability.
Public Policies
Covid Pills to Become More Widely Available
The Biden administration on Tuesday is expected to outline plans to make it easier for infected people to get Covid-19 treatments, which some health leaders and patient advocates say are too difficult to obtain despite a federal program to help make them more widely available. The administration has heavily touted vaccines to reduce the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. Officials also have been urging greater use of two pills given they are easy to take at home: Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid and Merck & Co.’s and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP’s molnupiravir, also known as Lagevrio. Both were cleared for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December. The authorization of those pills marked a turning point in the treatment of Covid-19 because people can take the therapies at home shortly after they develop symptoms, helping prevent hospitalization.
South Korea Downgrades Covid-19 From Riskiest-Disease Category
South Korea has downgraded Covid-19 from the country’s riskiest category of infectious disease, a first step toward treating the virus more like the seasonal flu. The country is one of the first to make such a move. The downgrade, approved Monday by health officials, will take effect after a four-week transition period. Once it does, South Koreans who test positive will no longer be required to go into quarantine, which currently lasts seven days by law. Doctors will no longer need to report a positive case immediately, as infection-tracking diminishes in importance. Those showing symptoms will be able to get treatment at local clinics rather than solely at hospitals, due to the reduced fears of virus spread.
China Politburo Under Pressure to Help Economy as Covid Spreads
China’s leaders are under mounting pressure to throw the country’s Covid-stricken economy a lifeline as they gather for a critical meeting in the coming days. Several prominent policy advisers and Chinese economists have called on the government to take more decisive measures to prop up the economy, ranging from the relaxation of property and internet curbs to acting with more flexibility when it comes to Covid restrictions and lockdowns. The People’s Bank of China on Tuesday pledged economic support in a bid to reassure jittery investors, and the Communist Party’s Politburo -- its top decision-making body -- has an opportunity to signal changes this week during its April quarterly meeting to discuss economic issues.
Maintaining Services
China's Covid Crisis Threatens Global Supply Chain Chaos for Summer 2022
China’s stringent rules to curb Covid-19 are about to unleash another wave of summer chaos on supply chains between Asia, the U.S. and Europe. Beijing’s zero-tolerance approach amid an escalating virus outbreak brings the pandemic full circle, more than two years after its emergence in Wuhan upended the global economy. Shipping congestion at Chinese ports, combined with Russia’s war in Ukraine, risks a one-two punch that threatens to derail the recovery, already buffeted by inflation pressures and headwinds to growth. Even if the virus is reined in, the disruptions will ripple globally — and extend through the year — as bunched-up cargo vessels start sailing again.
Healthcare Innovations
More Than Half of People in U.S. Likely Had Covid-19, CDC Says
Nearly 60% of people in the U.S., including three in four children, exhibited signs of previous Covid-19 infection as of February, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report said. The estimated proportion of people in the U.S. with detectable, infection-induced antibodies jumped from 34% in December 2021 to 58% by February 2022, according to a study the CDC released Tuesday, highlighting the reach of the winter Omicron surge that washed over the country. “We do believe that there is a lot of protection in the community both from vaccination, as well as from boosting and from prior infection,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. “Those who have detectable antibodies from prior infection, we still continue to encourage them to get vaccinated.”