"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 4th May 2022

Isolation Tips
China Covid News: Shanghai Lockdown End Delayed by Community Cases
Shanghai’s final exit from a punishing five-week lockdown is being delayed by Covid-19 infections persistently appearing in the community, despite China’s hardline strategy of isolating all positive cases and their close contacts. While total cases in the financial hub keep falling -- 4,982 infections were reported for Tuesday, down from 5,669 on Monday -- community spread remains stubbornly present. After briefly hitting zero late last week, the count has bounced back to more than 50 a day this month. Shanghai authorities have indicated the lockdown will only be lifted once community transmission reaches zero -- the same path taken in Jilin province in the northeast, where a lockdown gradually started to ease once there was no more community transmission.
Serbia lifts COVID-19 entry restrictions – EURACTIV.com
Serbia will lift all pandemic-related entry restrictions for all travellers from Tuesday, the government has announced. Travellers will no longer be required to present a negative PCR, rapid antigen test, proof they had COVID-19, or a vaccination certificate when entering the country from Tuesday (3 May), the government’s statement reads.
Central Chinese city of Zhengzhou imposes new COVID movement curbs for May 4-10
The central Chinese city of Zhengzhou announced on Tuesday it would impose new COVID-related movement curbs for May 4-10. Schools in the main city district will go online, while employees with government organisations and companies in the area must work from home during that period, according to a statement on the city's official WeChat account. The new measures would be subject to adjustment after May 10, in accordance with the COVID-19 outbreak situation, the notice said.
Taiwan cuts COVID quarantine for arrivals even as cases rise
Taiwan announced on Tuesday it was cutting to seven days from 10 mandatory quarantine for all arrivals, its latest relaxation of the rules to try to live with COVID-19 and resume normal life even as the number of domestic infections spikes. Taiwan has kept its quarantine rules in place as large parts of the rest of Asia have relaxed or lifted them completely, though it had already reduced the time spent in isolation from two weeks to 10 days in March.
Hygiene Helpers
CDC restates recommendation for masks on planes, trains
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Tuesday that Americans age two and older wear masks while on planes, trains and buses. It comes after the Department of Justice filed an appeal at the request of the CDC over a Florida judge's decision to strike down the mandate on April 18. The CDC's recommendation does not have to be enforced after many airlines opted to drop the masking and let passengers and employees do as they please. United Airlines said it would not reimpose its masking requirements following the CDC's latest recommendation. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg suggested on Tuesday that the administration may not want to bring back the mask mandate
NHS to consider closing hundreds of COVID-19 vaccination sites
NHS commissioners will consider closing or 'pausing' hundreds of COVID-19 vaccination sites across England as the pandemic jab programme winds down.
CDC moves tourism hot spot out of 'high' risk level for Covid-19
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered the Covid-19 travel risk for one of the most popular destinations in the Western Hemisphere. Mexico was moved down a level on the CDC's scale from "high" risk to "moderate" risk on May 2, along with four other places around the world. Tourism is an important segment of the nation's economy, and Mexico has had some of the world's loosest border restrictions throughout the pandemic. There are no vaccination or testing requirements to visit.
Costa Rica to roll out fourth COVID shot for some
Costa Rica will offer a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to the immunocompromised and to those over 50, the country's Health Ministry said. The fourth dose will be optional and can be applied three months after the third shot, said Dr. Roberto Arroba, secretary of the National Commission for Vaccination and Epidemiology at the Ministry of Health. More than 85% of the Central American country's population has received at least one shot, while 79% have had two doses, and 41% have received a third vaccine, according to official data.
Community Activities
Pfizer accused of Covid profiteering as first-quarter sales hit $26bn
Pfizer has made nearly $26bn (£21bn) in revenues in the first three months of the year, the bulk from its Covid-19 vaccine and new pill to treat the virus, prompting fresh accusations of pandemic profiteering. Covid vaccines have saved many lives around the world and relieved the pressure on health systems, but Pfizer has faced criticism over its vaccine pricing and its refusal to waive patent protection to enable others to make the jab. Last week 35 campaigners from Global Justice Now, Act-Up London, Just Treatment and Stop Aids protested against what they call pandemic profiteering, and delivered wheelbarrows full of fake money to Pfizer’s UK headquarters in Surrey on the day of the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
Some in Shanghai Come Out for Air as Beijing Resumes Mass COVID Tests
Some of Shanghai's 25 million people managed to get out on Tuesday for short walks and shopping after enduring more than a month under a COVID-19 lockdown, while China's capital, Beijing, focused on mass tests and said it would keep schools closed.
Covid-19: Hong Kong to reopen beaches, pools on Thur, no masks for outdoor exercise; bars to reopen May 19
Hong Kong will reopen beaches and pools, masks will no longer be required during outdoor exercise, and restaurants will be allowed to sit eight people to a table from Thursday, as the city prepares to further ease Covid-related restrictions. Bars and clubs will also be allowed to reopen on May 19, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced during a press conference on Tuesday.
Hong Kong to further ease COVID curbs, bars to stay open until 2 a.m.
Hong Kong will further ease COVID-19 restrictions, allowing bars to open until 2 a.m. and raising the number of diners permitted at a table to eight from four, as cases in the global financial hub continue to ease, leader Carrie Lam said. Beaches and swimming pools would reopen from Thursday, when restaurants could also cater to four more people at each table, Lam said at a regular news briefing.
Working Remotely
The Changing Campus Workplace: What Deans and Department Chairs Need to Know
The workplace is changing, in higher ed and beyond. As more employees demand greater flexibility and seek remote-work options, how will colleges adapt? Our virtual forum, “The Campus Workplace: What Deans and Department Chairs Need to Know,” offers advice for managing from the middle, balancing institutional policies with staff and faculty requests.
How We Renovated Our House So It Was Perfect for Working From Home
Reimagining and renovating a home to be more suited to remote work requires an unflinching inventory of your work-from-home pain points and a clear sense of the different types of work you and your family members need to do from home. And you must be prepared to reshape your home during the process—not just make easy fixes like putting a desk in a spare room.
Virtual Classrooms
The Pros and Cons of Online Classes
Online courses have a bright future. It is not hard to imagine a world where students can freely access education that is relevant to their needs and flexible to their schedules. But as they exist today, university online courses are an implicit admission that many schools treat education solely as a series of hurdles to be jumped through. The structure of a typical online course reveals that the goal is not learning but to prove that an attempt at learning was made.
Op-Ed: Virtual internships and learning experiences are just as valuable as in person ones
Roger Adkins is the executive director of the Center for Global Education at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana..He writes: "As the pandemic picked up steam, our signature global learning programs and fully funded internship and research program at Earlham College were abruptly paused. As our students and faculty shifted to online coursework, many did so for the first time in their young lives or long careers. Virtual internships and online global learning experiences were offered simply to fill the void. But instead of reading student reflections decrying these as second-rate experiences, I’ve heard a refreshing narrative for the last two years." "Despite missing out on the more esoteric kind of learning when we experience things in real life, many who work in the experiential education space are learning that online internships and virtual study abroad experiences have significant capacity to prepare young people for the world of work while sharpening their worldviews."
Public Policies
Taiwan won’t go into lockdown like Shanghai despite Covid surge, premier says
Taiwan will not go into a Shanghai-like lockdown to control a rise in Covid-19 cases as the vast majority of those infected have no symptoms or show only minor symptoms, the premier, Su Tseng-chang, has said. Taiwan has been dealing with a spike in local cases since the start of the year, but the numbers overall remain small – 18,436 since 1 January for a population of some 23 million – and just four people have died. Backed by a high vaccination rate, the government has been promoting the “new Taiwan model”, learning to gradually live with the virus and avoiding shutting down the economy, unlike in Shanghai, which is in its third week of a lockdown to control the pandemic.
Main negotiators reach 'outcome' on COVID vaccine IP waiver, WTO says
The four main parties to negotiations on an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines have prepared an "outcome document" for approval by the broader membership, the WTO said on Tuesday, with its chief hoping for a final deal by June. WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who has made vaccine equity her top priority since taking office in 2021, has been working for months to broker a compromise between the United States, the European Union, India and South Africa to break an 18-month-long impasse. "What the discussions were aiming at was coming up with something workable," Okonjo-Iweala told Reuters, saying she hoped the WTO's 164 members would finalise and approve the proposal by a major conference in June. "This will advance the discussion and dialogue. For the next pandemic or a flare up of this one, this is hugely important," she said. The document showed that there were still unresolved areas in the draft deal, including on the duration of the waiver's application which could be either three or five years.
Japan to review official COVID-19 response, with report expected from June
In Japan, a panel of experts set up by the central government will begin discussions shortly to review its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a report expected as early as June. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said he plans to use the outcome of the review by the the eight-member panel to make improvements on the government’s strategy in the fight against the deadly virus. High on the panel’s agenda will be how authorities and hospitals should cooperate. Health care systems have been strained across the country at times during the pandemic, though Japan is among countries with large numbers of hospitals and hospital beds.
Denmark to destroy 1.1 million excess COVID-19 vaccines
Danish health officials say that 1.1 million excess COVID-19 vaccines will be discarded in the coming weeks because their expiration date is near, and efforts to donate them to developing countries have failed. Statens Serum Institut (SSI), a government agency that maps the spread of infectious diseases including COVID-19 in Denmark, said the epidemic in the Scandinavian country “is currently under control, and the vaccine coverage in the Danish population is high”.
Maintaining Services
Beijing 'preparing 1000-bed hospital for new Covid spike'
Beijing is preparing thousands of hospital beds to deal with a spike in Covid-19 cases, according to local reports. A 1,000-bed hospital at Xiaotangshan in the northeastern suburbs, built for the 2003 Sars outbreak, has been refurbished in case it is needed,
ACT to drop COVID-19 vaccine mandates for healthcare workers, teachers in Canberra
Workers in healthcare and education settings across Canberra will soon no longer be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the ACT Health Minister has announced. Speaking in the ACT Legislative Assembly, Rachel Stephen-Smith flagged the changes would come into place on May 13, and would no longer require healthcare workers or teachers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. She said the move was based on advice provided by Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman. But Ms Stephen-Smith said the mandatory vaccination requirements would still remain in place for workers in aged care and disability settings.
Healthcare Innovations
Time for a fourth Covid vaccine dose? Here's why medical professionals are skeptical
Countries are beginning to offer a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to vulnerable groups, but medical professionals are undecided on whether it would benefit the wider population. The U.S. FDA has so far authorized a fourth shot only for those aged 50 and above, as well as those who are immunocompromised. And the U.S. CDC was skeptical of the need for a fourth dose for healthy adults in the absence of a clearer public health strategy. Those decisions came as a study from Israel found that although a fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offers protection against serious illness for at least six weeks after the shot, it provides only short-lived protection against infection, which wanes after just four weeks.
Covid-19 news: Cognitive impairment equivalent to 20 years of ageing
People hospitalised with covid-19 may lose 10 IQ points, equivalent to the natural cognitive decline that occurs between 50 and 70 years old. Covid-19 can cause lasting cognitive and mental health issues, including brain fog, fatigue and even post-traumatic stress disorder. To better understand the scale of the problem, researchers at the University of Cambridge analysed 46 people who were hospitalised due to the infection between March and July 2020. The participants underwent cognitive tests on average six months after their initial illness. These results were compared against those of more than 66,000 people from the general population.