"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 14th Jun 2022

Isolation Tips
Thousands of Queenslanders in the dark over COVID-19 hotel quarantine fee waivers
As of this month, Queensland Health has issued 84,463 invoices for hotel quarantine. 21,401 people had applied for a quarantine fee waiver, and so far 4,639 have been approved in part or in full. The remaining 16,762 people are either still having their applications processed or considered — or they've been rejected
Beijing tests millions, isolates thousands over COVID cluster at 24-hour bar
Authorities in China's capital Beijing on Monday raced to contain a COVID-19 outbreak traced to a raucous 24-hour bar known for cheap liquor and big crowds, with millions facing mandatory testing and thousands under targeted lockdowns. The outbreak of nearly 200 cases linked to the city centre Heaven Supermarket Bar, which had just reopened as curbs in Beijing eased last week, highlights how hard it will be for China to make a success of its "zero COVID" policy as much of the rest of the world opts to learn how to live with the virus.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19: Patients without respiratory symptoms no longer have to wear a face mask in GP surgeries
Patients who enter general practices in England no longer have to wear a face mask unless they have respiratory symptoms, NHS England and NHS Improvement says. But the updated guidance also underlines the importance of local risk assessments and says that increased measures can be used when deemed necessary. A letter sent to clinical commissioning groups and trusts set out the changes to infection prevention and control measures following updates from the UK Health Security Agency.1 It said that health and care staff should continue to wear face masks as part of personal protective equipment when working with patients with suspected or confirmed covid-19, including untriaged patients in primary care and emergency departments.
Don’t be complacent, another Covid wave is coming. Here’s how we can manage it
As we move into summer, more than two years since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the words “new wave” are probably the last thing anyone wants to hear. Yet it is true that recent UK data (as well as data from Florida and other places) indicates that sublineages of the Omicron variant, BA.4 and BA.5, are kicking off a new wave of cases. With the pandemic no longer dominating the news in the way it once did, it’s worth taking stock of where we are and what needs to be done. After all, these variations on Omicron are not more severe, but they do have the capacity to reinfect people, even those who have had a previous version of Omicron. This is further evidence that reaching “herd immunity” (where enough people are vaccinated or infected to stop further circulation) against Covid-19 is probably impossible.
Philippine officials, governor clash over face mask policy
Philippine officials warned Monday that people can face arrest if they defy a presidential order to wear face masks in public to protect against the coronavirus even in a province where the governor has declared they are optional. Officials asked Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia of central Cebu province to cooperate with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order, but she insisted Monday that her decision to allow people to decide whether to wear masks in public in her province has legal grounds because provincial officials can decide on health issues.
Community Activities
Canada urged to support COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver
Advocates for vaccine equity are calling on the Canadian government to join the push for a patent waiver to help in the global fight against COVID-19, just as the World Trade Organization opens high-level talks on this and other issues.
Coronavirus: More than 100 TfL workers died from Covid-19
More than 100 Transport for London (TfL) workers are known to have died from Covid-19, new figures show. Of those who died from the virus, 75 worked on London buses, while 23 worked on the Tube network. The majority were people belonging to ethnic minorities and only five were women, TfL said. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said TfL had "put in place a range of additional support for families and colleagues where there has been a bereavement". TfL said a permanent memorial would be completed later this year to "help pay tribute to the critical role transport workers played during the global pandemic".
Working Remotely
States Experiment with Hybrid or Remote Models for Employees
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, social distancing quickly became necessary, and anyone who could work remotely did. Both the private and public sectors discovered the need for remote work infrastructure — edge computing, private and public clouds for data storage, extended broadband to support network connectivity, and a host of collaboration platforms. Now, as both sectors reopen, many government employees are being asked to return to offices.
Virtual Classrooms
Remote learning linked to sleep, behavioral disruption in elementary students: study
Elementary school children involved in pandemic-related remote learning faced greater disruptions in sleep habits and behavior than children learning in person, according to a new small study. Researchers surveyed close to 300 parents with children ages 5-10 throughout Michigan between February and March 2021, as some schools returned to the classroom and others opted to stay online, noting their focus was to uncover pandemic-era learning’s impact on children’s foundational period.
Research aims to refine digital learning to help children stay on track
Many believe the gold standard in raising children is to keep them away from technology as much as possible. But Karen Murcia, an associate professor at Curtin University and a chief investigator with the National Centre for the Digital Child, attributed that to a "dated" study that investigated the impacts of small children watching television. She said it could not be applied to today's interactive digital offerings. She has begun a new research project to examine, in detail, how the use of digital technologies can assist and influence young children's educational outcomes.
Public Policies
Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Nuvaxovid™ Provisionally Registered in Australia as a Booster in Individuals Aged 18 and Over
Novavax, Inc., a biotechnology company dedicated to developing and commercializing next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases, today announced that the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has granted provisional registration of Nuvaxovid™ (NVX-CoV2373) COVID-19 vaccine as a booster in individuals aged 18 and over. "Today's provisional registration for Nuvaxovid as a booster in Australia is an important step in ensuring broad global access to diversified vaccine options," said Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novavax
Pfizer Vaccine Effective in Children Under 5, the F.D.A. Says
The Food and Drug Administration said on Sunday that three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine appeared to be effective in preventing Covid illness in children under 5, judging by the level of virus-blocking antibodies the shots induced. The agency’s evaluation was posted online ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of outside vaccine experts, summoned to recommend how the F.D.A. should rule on applications from both Pfizer and Moderna on vaccinating the nation’s youngest children. Some public health experts are expecting the F.D.A. to authorize both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines, offering parents a choice between the two. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must also weigh in with its recommendations after the F.D.A. acts. Roughly 18 million children younger than 5 are the only Americans who are not yet eligible for shots.
Saudi Arabia ends COVID-19 protective measures - state news agency
Saudi Arabia announced on Monday the lifting of measures that had been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the state news agency (SPA) reported, citing an official in the interior ministry. The measures lifted include the requirement to wear face masks in closed places, with the exception of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque.
Saudi Arabia eases mask mandate as first Hajj pilgrims arrive
Saudi Arabia has lifted a mask mandate for indoor spaces even as COVID-19 infection numbers steadily climb past 1,000 new cases a day after reaching double-digit lows just two months ago. Monday’s move comes as the kingdom prepares to welcome around 850,000 pilgrims from abroad to participate in the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Maintaining Services
Bank of England to drop post-COVID capital buffer rule
The Bank of England said on Monday that it would remove a post-COVID capital buffer adjustment now that risks from the pandemic had subsided. "Removing a temporary capital adjustment that is no longer necessary aims to achieve simplicity and enhances proportionality, thereby facilitating effective competition," the BoE said in a statement. In July 2020, the BoE's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) announced the temporary increase of the buffer for all firms that received a Pillar 2A reduction under its PS15/20 policy to reconcile capital requirements and macroprudential buffers
‘Covid not over yet, increase vaccinations for schoolkids': Mandaviya to states
Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya interacted with health ministers of states and Union territories and urged them to focus on increasing Covid-19 vaccination coverage for schoolchildren, precaution dose for the elderly and strengthening genome sequencing, the health ministry said. “Covid-19 is not over yet. With rising Covid-19 cases in some states, it is important to be alert and not to forget Covid-appropriate behaviour,” Mandaviya told the states at the review meeting. Highlighting increased case positivity in some districts and states and reduced Covid-19 testing, Mandaviya said increased and timely testing will enable early identification of cases and help to curb the spread of the infection among the community. “He urged states/UTs to continue and strengthen the surveillance and focus on genome sequencing for identifying new mutants/variants in the country. He stated that the five-fold strategy of test, track, treat, vaccination and adherence to Covid Appropriate Behavior (CAB) needs to be continued and monitored by States/UTs,” the ministry said in a statement.
Japan Has Fewest Covid-19 Deaths Per Capita in OECD, New Data Show
Japan has the lowest number of Covid-19 deaths per capita among wealthy nations, according to new data, with health experts citing the country’s mask habit and low obesity rate as possible reasons. As of Sunday, Japan’s cumulative Covid-19 deaths per million population stood at 245, according to Our World in Data, a website that tallies Covid-19 statistics. That is the lowest figure among the 38 member states in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of wealthy nations that includes the U.S. and most of Europe. The Japanese rate compares with 2,469 Covid-19 deaths per million people in Europe and 3,038 per million in the U.S., which has the highest rate in the OECD. While the reasons for the U.S. rate aren’t well-understood, widespread obesity, less mask-wearing, disparities in access to healthcare and a lower vaccination rate than some other OECD countries likely played a role, public-health specialists have said.
Healthcare Innovations
EMA’s PRAC finds no link between mRNA Covid-19 vaccines and menstruation
The Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has found no link between messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) Covid-19 vaccines and the absence of menstruation (amenorrhea). The development comes after the committee analysed all the available findings, including cases reported during clinical trials, those reported spontaneously in Eudravigilance and data from the literature. Data also comprise the literature and cases of amenorrhea reported to EudraVigilance following dosing with the Covid-19 vaccines of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, Comirnaty and Spikevax, respectively.
Ivermectin Has Little Effect on Recovery Time From Covid, Study Finds
The antiparasite drug ivermectin does not meaningfully reduce the time needed to recover from Covid, according to a large study posted online Sunday. It is the largest of several clinical trials to show that the drug, popular since the early pandemic as an alternative treatment, is not effective against the virus. The new trial, conducted by researchers at Duke University and Vanderbilt University, tested more than 1,500 people with Covid, about half getting the drug and the others a placebo. The study has not yet been published in a scientific journal. “Given these results, there does not appear to be a role for ivermectin outside of a clinical trial setting, especially considering other available options with proven reduction in hospitalizations and death,” Dr. Adrian Hernandez, the executive director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute who led the trial, said in a statement on Sunday night.
Vaccinated people who recovered from Omicron found to be best protected against BA.5
People vaccinated against COVID-19 and who recovered from an Omicron infection are best protected against the BA.5 subvariant that has been spreading, according to new findings by an Israeli hospital. Initial results of research by Sheba Medical Center showed those who were vaccinated and had been sick with Omicron developed the most antibodies against BA.5, the Kan public broadcaster reported Sunday. The report added that those who were either vaccinated and did not contract Omicron or vice versa had significantly fewer antibodies than people who were both inoculated and previously infected with the coronavirus variant.
Risk of severe COVID-19 in adults with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases and those on immune-modifying therapies
A total of 17,672,065 subjects, of which 1,163,438 subjects (55% females and 45% males, and 71% Whites) had inflammatory disorders, and 16,508,627 subjects (49.8% females and 50.2% males, and 64% of Whites) were included from the general public. Out of 1,163,438 subjects with immunological inflammatory disorders, 1.6% (n=19,119) were administered immunomodulatory therapeutic agents, whereas 15.6% (n=181,694) were administered standard systemic therapies. Compared to the general public, individuals with inflammatory disorders showed a higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection-associated mortality after data adjustments for confounding variables (HR 1.2) and mediators (HR = 1.2). In addition, individuals with inflammatory disorders showed a higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection-associated admissions in critical care settings or mortality (confounder-adjusted HR and mediator-adjusted HRs were 1.2 and 1.2, respectively) and hospitalization (confounder-adjusted HR 1.3, and mediator-adjusted HR 1.2).