"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 24th Jun 2022

Isolation Tips
Macau extends COVID shutdown of city, casinos stay open
Macau extended its COVID-19 restrictions including the closure of bars, cinemas, hair salons and outdoor parks from Thursday, its chief executive said as the world's biggest gambling hub battles to curb a rise in locally transmitted cases. Casinos are allowed to remain open while theatres, fitness centres, and leisure facilities must halt operations from 5 p.m. local time on Thursday, Ho Iat Seng said in a statement on the government's website.
Hygiene Helpers
Scientists probe Japan's remarkable COVID success in hunt for new vaccine to protect some of the most vulnerable
Japan's notable coronavirus pandemic resilience has generated scores of possible explanations, from the country's preference for going shoeless indoors, to the purportedly low-aerosol-generating nature of Japan's quiet conversation, to its citizens' beneficial gut bacteria. Even irreligiousness — said to have spared the Japanese from exposure to crowded houses of worship — has been touted as a virtue in the age of COVID-19. Despite having the world's oldest population, with almost one in three residents 65 or older, Japan has had fewer COVID fatalities per capita than almost any other developed nation.
Omicron-specific COVID vaccines on the horizon, Pfizer chief says
COVID-19 vaccines that specifically target the Omicron and other variants are under development, Pfizer Inc's (PFE.N) chief executive said on Wednesday, adding that the company will be able to quickly adapt shots as the novel coronavirus mutates. While the ultimate approval decisions rest with U.S. regulatos, "we are ready for that," the drugmaker's CEO Albert Bourla told MSNBC in an interview, noting that the Food and Drug Administration is convening a meeting later this month.
Eric Adams Stopped Enforcing Covid Vaccine Mandate for NYC Businesses
Mayor Eric Adams of New York City has not enforced the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for employees at private businesses, and has no plans to begin inspecting businesses or begin fining those that are not in compliance. Newsday first reported on the lack of enforcement of the vaccine mandate for private employers. “We have been focused on prioritizing education instead of enforcement when it comes to the private sector mandate, which is how we’ve been able to get more than 87 percent of all New Yorkers with their first dose to date,” Fabien Levy, a spokesman for New York City Mayor Eric Adams, said in an email. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a vaccine mandate for employees at private businesses in December, the most far-reaching local measure in the United States at the time. The mandate applied to around 184,000 businesses of all sizes with employees who work on-site in New York City.
Over-60s urged to coronavirus vaccine top-up as new cases mount
Healthcare minister Ernst Kuipers has called on the general public to stick to the basic coronavirus rules and urged the over-60s who have not yet had a second booster vaccination to come forward. So far, just 40% to 59% of people entitled to a fourth vaccination (herhaalprik) have taken up the offer, depending on where they live. Extra measures to control the spread of the virus are not yet needed, the minister told reporters after a meeting of cabinet ministers which was called to discuss the rising infection rate.
Austria scraps COVID vaccine mandate, says it split society
Austria’s health minister announced Thursday that the country is scrapping a dormant coronavirus vaccine mandate, saying the measure risked polarizing society and could even lead to fewer people getting the shot. The government announced plans last year requiring all people aged 18 and over to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the first country in Europe to do so. The law took effect in February but lawmakers suspended the mandate before police were due to enforce it in mid-March. Health Minister Johannes Rauch said the rise of new virus variants had changed citizens’ perception of the effectiveness and necessity of a vaccination, even among those willing to get the shot. This could deter them from voluntarily getting booster shots that will help curb the outbreak in the fall, he said. “The vaccine mandate hinders some people who are generally willing to get the shot from taking the booster, the idea being: I’m not going to be told what to do,” said Rauch.
Denmark to offer fourth COVID vaccine dose to people over 50 years
Denmark plans to offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose in the autumn to those who are over 50 years old, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Wednesday as she announced a strategy to curb the spread of the disease over the coming months. Although COVID infections are still at low levels, Denmark has seen an increase in the number of cases after the new BA.5 subvariant of Omicron, which seems to spread more quickly than other variants, became dominant in the Nordic country.
South Africa repeals COVID rules as fifth wave fades
South Africa has repealed COVID-19 rules that made masks mandatory in indoor public spaces, limited the size of gatherings and imposed entry requirements at its borders, the health minister said on Thursday. South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus cases and deaths on the African continent, with over 3.9 million confirmed infections and more than 101,000 deaths. Minister Joe Phaahla said authorities had noted a decline in cases, hospitalisations and reported deaths and concluded that a limited fifth wave was dissipating.
Covid-19 Vaccines Prevented 20 Million Deaths in One Year: Study
Covid vaccines that were developed in record time saved an estimated 20 million lives in the first year of the rollout, more than half of them in wealthier countries, according to the first study of its kind to quantify the impact. While more than 7 million deaths were likely averted in countries covered by Covax, the World Health Organization-backed distribution program, the research nonetheless highlights the devastation caused by uneven access. About one in five lives lost due to Covid in poorer countries could have been prevented if WHO targets had been reached, data published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal show.
Community Activities
Video: How the Pandemic Has Accelerated Child Marriage in India
In a bid to combat child marriage, Archana Sahay started a 24-hour helpline based in the central Indian city of Bhopal. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, she was inundated with calls: Some were what she had come to expect from already-vulnerable girls and people concerned with their welfare. Others caught her by surprise. On this episode of “The Pay Check,” Bloomberg explores how another unforeseen consequence of Covid-19 in India has been a significant increase in child marriage—and how one woman is trying to fight it.
Shanghai's fashion stores struggle to clear lockdown stock hangover
Almost a month since Shanghai lifted its strict COVID-19 lockdowns, fashion retailers are stuck with piles of unsold stock as cautious consumers stay away from the commercial hub's glitzy shopping districts. Curbs to stop the virus in Shanghai, China's fashion capital, ground the city of 25 million to a halt in April and May, leaving clothing and beauty product displays in stores untouched and containers of imported apparel stranded at port.
Working Remotely
Half of employees now work from home full or part-time, research finds
More than half of employees in Scotland are now working from home either all or part of the time, research has found. A new report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found 15% of employees in Scotland are now fully working from home, while 39% work in a hybrid pattern.
How a Recession Could Weaken the Work-From-Home Revolution
Clearly, the pandemic and the brisk economic recovery helped remote work in several ways. The coronavirus closed offices, and the ensuing tight labor market gave workers power to quit jobs, fight for more money, and reject the purgatorial tradition of a daily commute. But just as the Uber-for-Everything revolution relied on a specific set of economic conditions that shifted very quickly, remote work might be sensitive to brisk economic changes.
Is remote work effective: We finally have the data
When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered workplaces nationwide, society was plunged into an unplanned experiment in work from home. Nearly two-and-a-half years on, organizations worldwide have created new working norms that acknowledge that flexible work is no longer a temporary pandemic response but an enduring feature of the modern working world. The third edition of McKinsey’s American Opportunity Survey provides us with data on how flexible work fits into the lives of a representative cross section of workers in the United States.
Virtual Classrooms
How analytics can support online teaching
Even as they continuously improve their models, sharpen teaching practices and boost academic performance, universities have still found the need to identify areas of opportunity for providing quality service. One key party interested in this information is teachers: as they attend to students first-hand, they need to understand what concerns them and how they interact during classes. As we know, there has been an increase in digital classes across most higher education institutions, but such classes can often mean the teacher has only limited access to and knowledge of what happens during their teaching. Not visible, for example, are most direct interactions between students, nor the level of attention they pay to the class or the activities and so on.
The Biggest Disruption in the History of American Education
The coronavirus caused by far the biggest disruption in the history of American education. Neither the Great Depression nor even the two World Wars imposed anything close to as drastic a change in how America’s schoolchildren spent their days. When schools closed, they shut children out of the place where much of this growth happens. Some of the lost growth was academic and social, as school closures cut children off from teachers and friends. These losses were compounded by children’s exclusion from an array of other goods and services. In the United States, almost all public services for school-age children in some way run through schools.
New study out of Michigan shows students in virtual learning had academic, social and sleep issues
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, data show an estimated 55 million children in the U.S. were impacted by changes to school formats. Many of those kids had to turn to virtual learning from home. “Parents were trying to do their best, educators were trying to do their best. Everyone was really trying to make the best, most important decisions for their children,” said Dr. Kimberley Levitt, Clinical Assistant Professor for the Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at the University of Michigan and a Michigan Medicine Researcher.
Public Policies
CDC Advisers Endorse Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine for Kids 6 to 17 Years
Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backed use of Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine in children ages 6 to 17 years. Children in the age group already have access to Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE. The advisers recommended on Thursday that Moderna’s shot should also be made available to that age range, in a pair of 15-0 votes. The advisers’ endorsement follows the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of the shots last week. It is one of the last steps before the Moderna shot would be more broadly available in doctors’ offices, pharmacies and vaccine clinics. Many states and vaccination sites wait for the CDC’s signoff before providing the inoculations. It typically follows the recommendations of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices but doesn’t have to. The panel is made up of pediatricians, epidemiologists and other health experts.
UK Covid Cost: Government Spends £376 Billion on Pandemic Response
The coronavirus pandemic, marked by an ambitious vaccine rollout, has cost the UK government an estimated £376 billion ($459 billion). The figure released Thursday by the National Audit Office has increased by £6 billion over the last ten months, with much of the expense going to support train traffic even as passenger numbers dwindled. The amount -- more than the annual gross domestic product of a country like Austria -- grew amid measures to administer vaccines, test and trace contact cases, and alleviate pressure on hospitals by improving patient discharge. The cost is estimated to be similar in neighboring France after governments across Europe opted to strain their finances to support the economy through the crisis.
Valneva Receives Positive CHMP Opinion for Marketing Authorization of its Inactivated COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate in Europe
The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended marketing authorization in Europe for Valneva’s inactivated whole-virus COVID-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001, for use as primary vaccination in people from 18 to 50 years of age. The European Commission will review the CHMP recommendation, and a decision on the marketing authorization application for VLA2001 is expected shortly. If granted, this will be the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive a standard marketing authorization in Europe.
Maintaining Services
Biden team launches all-out push to vaccinate youngest children
The Biden administration pushed American families to immunize infants and small children for COVID-19 on Thursday, deploying ads intended to tug at heartstrings as it contends with Republicans and parents who are leery or outright opposed to shots for children as young as 6 months. The Department of Health and Human Services released a 30-second ad urging parents to protect children 4 and younger, who became eligible for shots this week, while the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said COVID-19 has been one of the top five causes of death in children since the start of the pandemic.
COVID-19 vaccine scheme for world's poorest pushes for delivery slowdown
Leaders of the global scheme aiming to get COVID-19 vaccines to the world's poorest are pushing manufacturers including Pfizer and Moderna to cut or slow deliveries of about half a billion shots so doses are not wasted. COVAX, the World Health Organization-led scheme, wants between 400 and 600 million fewer vaccines doses than initially contracted from six pharmaceutical companies, according to internal documents seen by Reuters.
Healthcare Innovations
Nearly 1 in 5 adults who had COVID have lingering symptoms - U.S. study
Nearly 1 in 5 American adults who reported having COVID-19 in the past are still having symptoms of long COVID, according to survey data collected in the first two weeks of June, U.S. health officials said on Wednesday. Overall, 1 in 13 adults in the United States have long COVID symptoms lasting for three months or more after first contracting the disease, and which they did not have before the infection, the data showed.