"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 1st Jun 2022

Isolation Tips
Beijing Says Outbreak Under Control as City Eases Curbs
China’s capital Beijing will loosen mobility curbs in several districts from Sunday after authorities said its outbreak is under control, while total case numbers in the financial hub of Shanghai continued to decline. Most public transportation services including buses, subways and taxis will resume in three districts including Chaoyang, according to Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing city government. Shopping centers outside of controlled areas in the city will also be allowed to reopen with capacity limits on the number of people. Chaoyang is home to Beijing’s central business district, most foreign embassies and expatriates.
Shanghai moves toward ending 2-month COVID-19 lockdown
Shanghai authorities say they will take major steps Wednesday toward reopening China's largest city after a two-month COVID-19 lockdown that has set back the national economy and largely confined millions of people to their homes. Already, a steady stream of people strolled in the Bund, the city's historic waterfront park, on a pleasant Tuesday night, some taking selfies against the bright lights of the Pudong financial district on the other side of the river. Elsewhere, people gathered outside to eat and drink under the watch of police deployed to discourage large crowds from forming. Lu Kexin, a high school senior visiting the Bund for the first time since late March, said she went crazy being trapped at home for so long. “I’m very happy, extremely happy, all the way, too happy," she said. “I could die."
Israel to cancel quarantine for coronavirus patients?
Professor Salman Zarka, Israel's coronavirus czar, estimates that quarantine for coronavirus-positive individuals will be canceled. Speaking to reporters, Prof. Zarka estimated that in the middle of June, those testing positive for COVID-19 will no longer need to quarantine. Though both the infection coefficient and the percent positive have held relatively steady since mid-April, Prof. Zarka also claimed that the fifth wave of the virus is continuing to slow down
Hygiene Helpers
COVID-19 border measures to stay until at least end of June: PHAC
The Public Health Agency of Canada says COVID-19 restrictions at the border will remain in place for at least another month. The agency made the announcement on Twitter, the day after Parliament voted down a Conservative opposition motion to revert to pre-pandemic rules for travel. Several pandemic restrictions are in place at Canadian airports and land borders, including vaccine mandates, random COVID-19 tests and the requirement that international travellers answer pandemic-related questions on the ArriveCan app.
Italy Scraps COVID-19 Entry Rules For Travellers As Cases Drop
Italy said it was dropping the requirement to show proof of coronavirus vaccination, recent recovery or a negative test before entering the country. The health ministry announced that the requirement to show a so-called "Green Pass" to enter Italy "will not be extended" when it expires on May 31. Italy was the first European country hit by coronavirus in early 2020 and has had some of the toughest restrictions, including requiring all workers to show a Green Pass.
Cuba lifts mask mandate as vaccination rate soars and deaths plummet
Cuba on Tuesday lifted a mask mandate in place for two years following a successful vaccination drive that health officials say has contributed to a sharp drop in cases and nearly three weeks without a single death from COVID-19. The island, whose communist government has long sought to stand out by providing a free healthcare system that focuses on preventative treatment such as vaccinations, developed its own COVID vaccines and became the first country in the world to begin the mass vaccination of kids as young as age 2. rge Luis Banos/Pool via REUTERS HAVANA, May 31 (Reuters) - Cuba on Tuesday lifted a mask mandate in place for two years following a successful vaccination drive that health officials say has contributed to a sharp drop in cases and nearly three weeks without a single death from COVID-19. The island, whose communist government has long sought to stand out by providing a free healthcare system that focuses on preventative treatment such as vaccinations, developed its own COVID vaccines and became the first country in the world to begin the mass vaccination of kids as young as age 2. Cuba has since vaccinated 94% of its population with at least one dose of its home-grown vaccines, according to a Reuters tally. Health minister José Ángel Portal said the wide-ranging vaccination program had led to a "radical change" in contagion and health risks and prompted the decision to do away with masks in most scenarios.
Shanghai Unveils 50-Point Plan to Return to Normalcy
Banks will be asked to renew SME loans; asset managers are asked to set up global or regional investment management centres in Shanghai. Shanghai has unveiled a comprehensive 50-point plan to reopen the city and its economy in stages, with the goal of restoring normalcy to business and daily life following the two-month-long lockdown. Last week, Premier Li Keqiang called for efforts to be made to stabilise the economy and restore investor confidence. New Covid-19 cases in Shanghai have also fallen fell to their lowest levels since mid-March. The 50-point plan to reopen the city covers measures to help enterprises reduce their operating costs, incentives to prevent job losses, and broader reopening measures. Companies will no longer need to be on a “whitelist” to resume production starting from 1 June. Under the existing whitelist system, about 6,000 companies are allowed to resume production provided they adhere to certain pandemic prevention guidelines.
Push to get more people fully vaccinated against Covid over half term holiday
Health bosses in Leicestershire are urging families to use the half term holiday to go and get jabbed together. The schools in both the city and the county are off his week and alongside the fun days out, people are being urged to make sure they get fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Clinics across the county are still open - although the Platinum Jubilee bank holidays mean Thursday and Friday will see them close again.
WA's mandatory COVID-19 vaccination rules set to stay as experts see no reason to change
Throughout the ebb and flow of WA's various COVID restrictions, one rule has remained steady for months now — workplace vaccination requirements. Since late last year, about 60 per cent of WA workers have been required to be vaccinated to continue working and from today, this cohort will need to have had their third booster shot. But with WA achieving world-leading vaccination rates and about a quarter of people having some level of immunity from having recently had the virus, questions have been raised about the utility of those mandates. However, experts and the government say there should be little change, at least in the short term.
Community Activities
Legal challenges to Queensland's COVID vaccine mandate get underway
The first of several civil cases, brought on by dozens of Queensland frontline workers who are challenging their COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including police officers and paramedics, begins in Brisbane.
Hong Kong to distribute 240,000 RAT kits following sewage COVID-19 detection
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said Tuesday that it will distribute about 240,000 sets of COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RAT) kits to people in some areas of the city as part of a follow-up on recent detection of the COVID-19 virus in sewage samples. The test kits will be distributed to residents, cleaning workers, and property management staff working in the areas with positive sewage testing results showing relatively high viral loads, in order to help identify infected persons, it said. The HKSAR government also urged RAT kit users to report any positive results for COVID-19 via the government's online platform.
Working Remotely
Two rural towns are giving remote workers free housing for a month, in the hopes they’ll stay longer
Last month, the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship launched a unique program called “The Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience,” with the goal of luring remote workers to rural corners of the state. Bellefonte, a town of 6,276 about 10 miles north of Penn State, and Kane, a McKean County town of 3,500 on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest, were chosen as the pilots for the program. Rural “zoom towns” across the US have launched similar programs, some of them giving workers $10,000 to relocate there for one year.
Remote jobs: Why tech professionals are the only ones who can choose where to work
Digital nomads existed long before the pandemic. But new work modes became more common as the pandemic lingered, enabling many workers to embrace a new lifestyle. The advent of flexible work, which Ángel Sáenz de Cenzano, LinkedIn’s country manager for Spain and Portugal, believes will one day become widespread in every company that can operate remotely, opens up a world of possibilities for workforces. This is especially true for those with technology jobs, perhaps the only professionals these days who can choose where they want to work.
Virtual Classrooms
Using Virtual Teachers to Help Fill Vacancies: Some Pros and Cons
For-profit companies, including Elevate K12 and Proximity Education, offer districts the opportunity to fill hard-to-staff positions in everything from 6th grade reading to AP Physics, using virtual teachers who may be working in a completely different area of the country. The option is becoming increasingly popular. Is this a clever solution to teacher shortages, or another instance of shortchanging the neediest kids? It depends on who you ask. Here are some pros and cons, according to the companies and their critics.
Public Policies
Philippine FDA grants approval for Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine for children
The Philippine FDA has granted approval for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, Spikevax, for use in children who are aged six to 11 years.
Japan Panel OKs J&J Coronavirus Vaccine
A panel of Japan's health ministry Monday endorsed a ministry plan to give pharmaceutical approval to U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine. The ministry is expected to grant the approval soon to what will be the fifth COVID-19 vaccine that can be used in the country. The ministry does not plan to make inoculations of the vaccine free of charge at public expense because it has already secured necessary amounts of vaccines. Japan has not signed to buy the J&J vaccine. The J&J product is a viral vector vaccine like the one made by British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC. It can be administered only to people aged 18 or above. Only a single shot is necessary for the J&J vaccine unlike the previously approved vaccines, all of which require two shots at an interval of at least three to four weeks.
Maintaining Services
After Ontario's COVID-19 school closures, a responsive recovery plan is critical
Three years into the pandemic, it’s clear that Canada’s provinces have been hampered by a lack of a comparative cross-Canada analysis of school closures and the effects on students. What we do know about the disruptive impact of school closures on Ontario and other provinces comes largely from a June 2021 Ontario Science Table study documenting the extent of school closures from province-to-province.
As UK Covid cases fall to lowest level for a year, what could the future look like?
After enduring record-breaking levels of Covid in the past six months, Britain has seen cases fall to their lowest for a year. But as the country eases back into a life more normal, will the disease remain in the background – or is another resurgence on its way? Science editor Ian Sample explains how the virus is changing – and why one expert thinks infection rates “are not going to get down to very low numbers again in our lifetimes”.
Covid-19 weekly deaths lowest since last summer
The number of deaths involving coronavirus registered each week in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level for nine months. A total of 547 deaths registered in the seven days to May 20 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is down 24% on the previous week and is the lowest total since early August 2021. It is the third week in a row that deaths have decreased, which suggests the figures are now on a downwards trend. There have been similarly sharp falls in recent months in the number of Covid-19 infections and patients in hospital with the virus. Infections in both England and Wales hit an all-time high at the end of March, but in England they have dropped to levels last seen in November 2021 and in Wales they are back to where they were in September.
Healthcare Innovations
South Africa Had Fifth Covid Wave Despite 97% Antibody Protection
South Africa experienced a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections despite 97% of the population having antibodies due to previous infections or vaccination, the results of a blood survey show. Examination of 3,395 samples from blood donors earlier this year, at the tail end of the fourth wave of infections, showed that 87% of South Africans had previously been infected with the virus, while just over 97% had either had a previous infection or a vaccination or both. The study was lead by Stellenbosch University’s DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis and the South African National Blood Service.
Evidence on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness and duration of protection against Omicron
In the present study, researchers reported results from an interim analysis of a living systematic review (LSR) summarizing evidence on VE and duration of protection against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron. For the LSR, the researchers included studies investigating VE against SARS-CoV-2 infection among people aged 12 years or older for European Medicine Agency (EMA) approved vaccines. For the current analysis, only the studies which investigated the mentioned outcomes due to SARS-CoV-2 Omicron or during the Omicron period were considered. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) literature database created by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) library was searched for studies published from October 23, 2021, to January 14, 2022, regardless of publication status or language.
Study shows low social cohesion is a factor in reducing vaccine responses
Loneliness and social stresses can have a negative impact on the antibody response to Covid-19 vaccines, new research has revealed. University of Limerick researchers have found that lower neighbourhood cohesion is associated with antibody response to Covid-19 vaccines. In a study published in the journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity, the research team demonstrated that lower social cohesion also made people feel lonelier, and this was an additional factor in reducing Covid-19 vaccine responses. The report stated that social cohesion is the degree of social connectedness and solidarity among different community groups within a society, including levels of trust and connectedness between individuals and across community groups.
International study reveals factors contributing to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among healthcare providers
A new 23-country study by a multidisciplinary team of researchers in the journal Vaccine, published by Elsevier, sheds light on the factors that contribute to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among healthcare providers. To assess the associations between self-reported vaccine hesitancy and a number of sociodemographic and COVID-19 vaccine perception factors, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) Senior Scholar Jeffrey Lazarus, PhD, Dean Ayman El-Mohandes, MBBCh, MD, MPH, FAAP, and colleagues from the School of Health Administration at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Barcelona, Spain, developed a cross-sectional survey relating to perceptions of risk, efficacy, safety and trust, and current COVID-19 vaccine uptake.
Leicester study finds promising link between treatment of 'long Covid' and vaccinations
Symptoms of 'long Covid' can decrease after being vaccinated, a Leicester study has found. The research conducted by the University of Leicester was published in the British Medical Journal. It found that a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination was associated with a reduction in the likelihood of continuing symptoms of the virus by 12.8 per cent. A second dose showed a further reduction of 8.8 per cent, according to the study. Between February 3 and September 5, 2021, a team of academics and government statisticians assessed the results of the Office for National Statistics’ COVID-19 Infection Survey to examine the health outcomes of 28,356 people who had received a vaccine after contracting the coronavirus. More than 23 per cent of the participants went on to experience symptoms of long Covid 12 weeks after they were infected with the virus.
Long term implications of covid-19 in pregnancy
Complications in pregnancy, including maternal and perinatal deaths, increased with each wave of the covid-19 pandemic. By contrast, serious illness fell in other high risk groups because of vaccines and approved treatments. More than a year after the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) opened up covid-19 vaccination to pregnant women, 40% of women giving birth have still not received a first dose.2 This is despite a positive benefit-risk profile, endorsement in guidelines, and public health campaigns. Worryingly, 69.5% of black women giving birth have not received any covid-19 vaccine. Meanwhile the JCVI has chosen not to include pregnant women in its interim autumn booster plans. Strategies for treating covid-19 in pregnancy and potential long term complications are also underused.1 A large portion of the diffidence for both vaccination and treatment in pregnancy stems from the continued exclusion of pregnant women from much of the pre-approval drug development process. This results in delayed or even absent data on benefit-risk profiles and a dangerous spiral of indecision
Covid Booster Shots Are Key to Stopping Severe Infection: Study
A third dose of messenger RNA Covid-19 vaccine provides a key boost to immunity against the coronavirus, regardless of the original type of immunization, researchers said. An mRNA booster following an initial course of two shots of the same type is the most effective way to prevent non-severe Covid infections, according to an analysis of studies published Wednesday in the BMJ medical journal. Adding a third mRNA shot to other primary vaccination regimens raises protection to almost the same level, the authors from the Chinese University of Hong Kong said.