"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 23rd May 2022

Isolation Tips
Shanghai reopens some public transport, still on high COVID alert
Shanghai reopened a small part of the world's longest subway system on Sunday after some lines had been closed for almost two months, as the city paves the way for a more complete lifting of its painful COVID-19 lockdown next week. With most residents not allowed to leave their homes and restrictions tightening in parts of China's most populous city, commuters early on Sunday needed strong reasons to travel. Shanghai's lockdown and curbs in other cities have battered consumption, industrial output and other sectors of the Chinese economy in recent months, prompting pledges of support from policymakers
Beijing ramps up local COVID-19 lockdowns as Shanghai slowly starts to move again
Authorities in Beijing are ramping up COVID-19 restrictions, while some residents of Shanghai said they were able to leave their apartments on brief trips outside on Friday. Much of Chaoyang district in the eastern part of the Chinese capital was under lockdown on Friday, while 100 subway stations and 24 administrative districts in Fangshan district were locked down after 10 positive PCR tests among college students there. The Beijing municipal health commission reported 64 newly discovered local cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, of which 10 were students at the Beijing Institute of Technology's Fangshan campus. While the authorities haven't declared a lockdown, parts of the city are indeed in a locked-down state, a Fangshan resident surnamed Zhang told RFA.
Hygiene Helpers
At least 25m people in UK to be offered Covid booster this autumn
Millions of people in the UK will be offered further Covid booster shots in the autumn under draft guidance published by the government’s vaccine watchdog. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said another round of jabs would help protect the most vulnerable adults and frontline social care and health workers against severe Covid in the winter. Despite “considerable uncertainty” over the likelihood, timing and severity of any future wave of Covid in the country, the committee said the threat from the virus would be greatest in the winter months.
North Korea shuns outside help as COVID catastrophe looms
Like no other country, North Korea could do with help against COVID-19. The country’s population is unvaccinated and susceptible to disease due to chronic malnourishment. Its dilapidated healthcare system lacks supplies of basic drugs and equipment. But even as North Korea faces the prospect of a humanitarian catastrophe amid its first officially confirmed coronavirus outbreak, Pyongyang is steadfastly refusing offers of international assistance. The United States and South Korea have not received a response to offers to help tackle the outbreak, including by sending aid, according to South Korean officials. The World Health Organization, which is “deeply concerned at the risk of further spread”, said the country had not responded to requests for information about the outbreak.
Community Activities
Coronavirus: Shanghai faces exodus of talent as lockdown dashes workers hopes for good jobs and a better life
Shanghai is facing an exodus of talent and labour as thousands of people leave the pandemic-hit city which has been in total lockdown since April 1, knocked by worries that local authorities will backtrack from plans to switch to normal virus control measures in June after achieving a societal zero-Covid goal. At the city's Hongqiao railway station, passengers have to queue up for two hours before they can even access the terminal. Those who plan on leaving need to show train tickets, approval letters from sub-district authorities and negative nucleic reports within 48 hours of their journey, before gaining permission to enter the terminal. A rapid antigen test is also required at the security checkpoints.
Taiwan export orders fall for first time in 2 years, hurt by China lockdowns, global weakness
Taiwan's export orders -- a bellwether for global technology demand -- fell for the first time in 25 months in April, taking a larger-than-expected hit from COVID lockdowns in China and broader global supply chain disruptions. Export orders unexpectedly fell 5.5% from a year earlier to $51.9 billion last month, data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs showed on Friday. The decline was the first in more than two years, since the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping the world in 2020, and up-ended analysts' forecasts for 8.3% growth.
Working Remotely
Five telltale signs you need a ‘chief remote officer’
When Darren Murph created his “head of remote” role at the software maker Gitlab in 2019, he couldn’t have known how quickly the idea would catch on. Or why. By the end of the first year of the pandemic, with knowledge workers everywhere getting used to the idea of working from home at least part of the week, and possibly forever, companies like Meta and others began hiring people to fill positions similar to Murph’s. With more companies choosing to stick with hybrid and remote work after the pandemic, and more employees demanding it, is the “remote lead” here to stay?
Remote work: 5 tips to keep your teams healthy and successful
Respondents in a recent Harvey Nash Group Digital Leadership Report, agree that remote work has improved work-life balance and productivity, offering increased flexibility, less time commuting to and from work, and more time engaged in work. On the flip side, over half (54 percent) reported a decrease in the mental wellness of their tech teams. Even as COVID restrictions are increasingly relaxing, the tech industry still favors flexible work arrangements, both in location (59 percent) and hours (64 percent) according to a Gartner survey of digital workers. Therefore, both tech and human resource leaders must work together to build stronger connections and promote a healthier, happier workforce in this new normal.
How Will Remote Work Effect The Media Industry
Though statistically the pandemic is starting to recede, the work-from-home culture is statistically looking like it is going to stay. Known societally as The Great Resignation, how much will this cultural phenomenon affect the media industry and society at large. The rise in remote working is set to have an impact on numerous fields. Before the pandemic, the opportunity for remote work at high paying jobs was just over 3%. Today it’s at 15%. The pandemic acted as a seismic catalyst to workplace policy, with potential proof of concepts being found that people work longer and more efficiently remotely, with the next step potentially being to decrease the standard workweek to four days instead of five.
Virtual Classrooms
Virtual Is the New Reality for M.B.A. Students
More business schools are venturing into virtual reality, using video delivered via headsets to immerse students in far-flung locales. The pandemic forced many M.B.A. programs to curtail international travel just as VR technology took off and headsets proliferated. Now, early experiments such as Dartmouth’s are prompting more schools to explore the technology, both in classes and as part of the overall student experience.
Kids Are Far, Far Behind in School
Starting in the spring of 2020, school boards and superintendents across the US faced a dreadful choice: Keep classrooms open and risk more COVID-19 deaths, or close schools and sacrifice children’s learning. In the name of safety, many districts shut down for long periods. But researchers are now learning that the closures came at a stiff price—a large decline in children’s achievement overall and a historic widening in achievement gaps by race and economic status. The achievement loss is far greater than most educators and parents seem to realize. The only question now is whether state and local governments will recognize the magnitude of the educational damage and make students whole.
Public Policies
Biden, Yoon vow to deter North Korea and offer COVID aid
President Joe Biden and his new South Korean counterpart agreed on Saturday to hold bigger military drills and deploy more U.S. weapons if necessary to deter North Korea, while offering to send COVID-19 vaccines and potentially meet Kim Jong Un. Biden and Yoon Suk-yeol said their countries' decades-old alliance needed to develop not only to face North Korean threats but to keep the Indo-Pacific region "free and open" and protect global supply chains. The two leaders are meeting in Seoul for their first diplomatic engagement since the South Korean president's inauguration 11 days ago.
Welsh Government announces who will get Covid jabs this autumn
From this autumn, the Welsh Government has announced. The government has confirmed a list of those who will be offered a Covid jab between September and December this year following the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation's (JCVI) latest review of the existing vaccine programme in Wales. Following the review, the Welsh Government has confirmed it will offer a single dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to: Residents in a care home for older adults, and staff working in care homes for older adults, Frontline health and social care workers All those 65 years of age and over, Adults aged 16 to 65 years in a clinical risk group
Judge: COVID asylum restrictions must continue on border
Pandemic-related restrictions on migrants seeking asylum on the southern border must continue, a judge ruled Friday in an order blocking the Biden administration’s plan to lift them early next week. The ruling was just the latest instance of a court derailing the president’s proposed immigration policies along the U.S. border with Mexico. The Justice Department said the administration will appeal, but the ruling virtually ensures that restrictions will not end as planned on Monday. A delay would be a blow to advocates who say rights to seek asylum are being trampled, and a relief to some Democrats who fear that a widely anticipated increase in illegal crossings would put them on the defensive in an already difficult midterm election year.
Switzerland buys Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid
Switzerland signed a contract to buy Pfizer's anti-viral drug Paxlovid to treat Covid-19, it said on Friday. The European country said it had signed a contract to buy 12,000 packages and first treatments for certain at-risk patients would start this month.
Maintaining Services
Apple Looks to Boost Production Outside China
Apple Inc. has told some of its contract manufacturers that it wants to boost production outside China, citing Beijing’s strict anti-Covid policy among other reasons, people involved in the discussions said. India and Vietnam, already sites for a small portion of Apple’s global production, are among the countries getting a closer look from the company as alternatives to China, the people said.
Senior, Nursing Homes Rocked By Covid Costs Struggle to Escape Closure
That’s a huge difference from the strongest financially performing nursing homes that saw up to 10% returns before the pandemic, said John Tishler, who specializes in transactions involving distressed and bankrupt health-care facilities at Nashville law firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis. The pandemic revealed and amplified long-existing shortcomings at the more than 15,000 nursing homes in the US, such as inadequate staffing, poor infection control and regulatory failures, according to an April report from the National Academy of Sciences. As of last month, more than 150,000 nursing home residents and 2,362 workers had died from Covid-19, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
COVID-19 alert level in UK reduced - as Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 reclassified as variants of concern
The UK's coronavirus alert level has been reduced - as two rare types of Omicron have been reclassified as variants of concern. The level has moved from four to three after advice from the four nations' chief medical officers and the NHS England medical director. They said that "the current BA.2 driven Omicron wave is subsiding" and "direct COVID-19 healthcare pressures continue to decrease in all nations". Their statement added: "Whilst it is reasonable to expect the number of cases to increase due to BA.4, BA.5 or BA2.12.1, it is unlikely in the immediate future to lead to significant direct COVID pressures." The alert level was last raised on 12 December as Omicron spread rapidly.
Shanghai economy hit on all sides in April by COVID lockdown
China's commercial hub of Shanghai reported on Friday a broad decline in its economy last month when a city-wide COVID lockdown shut factories and kept residents at home, sparking concerns among foreign firms over their presence in the country. Output of Shanghai's industries, located at the heart of manufacturing in the Yangtze River Delta, shrank 61.5% in April from a year earlier, the local statistics bureau said.
Healthcare Innovations
Hypoxemia in COVID-19–Related ARDS: Links to BMI, Prior Respiratory Disease
The presence of hypoxemia in patients with COVID-19–related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is associated with such risk factors as body mass index (BMI) and prior respiratory illness, according to clinical trial results recently published in the Journal of Critical Care. Organized by the Argentine Society of Intensive Care Medicine, the SATICOVID19 clinical trial (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04611269), a prospective, multicenter cohort study, identified determinants of oxygenation over time (as measured by the ratio of arterial oxygen partial pressure to fractional inspired oxygen over days 1, 3, and 7 from ICU admission) among patients with COVID-19 ARDS. Study authors also analyzed the differences in physiological parameters, ventilation management, and outcomes over time associated with the 3 categories of ARDS severity outlined in the Berlin definition of ARDS.
Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on procedure volumes in gastroenterology in the Netherlands
We used claims data extracted from the Dutch national health insurers information system (Vektis) to identify all gastroenterological health-care activities performed from Jan 1, 2019, to March 28, 2021, as part of a diagnosis treatment combination plan with a hepatogastroenterologist as the treating physician. The activities were analysed overall and across procedure types and diagnosis groups of interest (appendix pp 2–5). We compared absolute and relative changes for the index week during the COVID-19 pandemic with the reference week in 2019. We defined three timeframes on the basis of the number of weekly COVID-19 admissions:3 the first wave from week 9 through week 22 of 2020; a subsequent recovery phase with relatively few admissions from week 23 through week 35; and a second wave with high ongoing admission rates from week 36 through to the end of the study period
U.S. CDC says adenovirus leading hypothesis for severe hepatitis in children
Infection with adenovirus, a common childhood virus, is the leading hypothesis for recent cases of severe hepatitis of unknown origin in children that have led to at least six deaths, U.S. health officials said on Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is continuing to investigate whether 180 cases identified in 36 states and territories since last October represent an increase in the rate of pediatric hepatitis or whether an existing pattern has been revealed though improved detection.
Paxlovid Rebound: FDA Investigating Reports Of Covid-19 Relapses After Taking Pfizer Antiviral
For example, there’s that pre-print case report uploaded to Research Square on April 26, 2022, of a 71-year-old man who had been fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19. He began taking Paxlovid as soon as he had tested positive for Covid-19, two days after he had gotten exposed to the virus. His Covid-19 symptoms essentially disappeared after two days of Paxlovid, which seemed like a good thing. Yet, nine days after he had first tested positive and four days after he had completed the five-day course of Paxlovid, guess what happened? His runny nose, sore throat, and difficulty breathing returned, along with SARS-CoV-2 levels in his body going up again. It was like déjà eww all over again. Viral genome sequencing showed that during both his initial symptoms and his return of symptoms, he was infected with the BA.1 Omicron subvariant of the SARS-CoV-2. This suggested that he has experienced not two separate infections but a single one that improved before subsequently getting worse.