"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 15th Jul 2022

Isolation Tips
Analysis: China makes tweaks, but tough COVID policy still drags on economy,
China has been tweaking its stringent COVID curbs but shows no sign of backing off from its "dynamic zero" policy, and has lagged in vaccination efforts that would enable it to do so, casting a heavy shadow over the world's second-largest economy. The absence of a roadmap out of zero-COVID and expectations that it will persist well into 2023 leaves residents and businesses facing a prolonged period of uncertainty.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19: MPs call for greater efforts to reach the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated
MPs have called on NHS England and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to redouble efforts to reach the almost three million adults in England who remain unvaccinated against covid-19 as well as those who are only partially vaccinated. The Public Accounts Committee has challenged the government to reduce the overall number of unvaccinated people to 2.5 million and achieve an 80% uptake for first boosters within four months. The committee’s report on the rollout of the covid-19 vaccine programme acknowledged its early success but said low vaccination rates persist in many vulnerable groups including pregnant women and minority ethnic groups
Masks could return to Los Angeles as COVID surges nationwide
Nick Barragan is used to wearing a mask because his job in the Los Angeles film industry has long required it, so he won't be fazed if the nation's most populous county reinstates rules requiring face coverings because of another spike in coronavirus cases across the country. “I feel fine about it because I’ve worn one pretty much constantly for the last few years. It’s become a habit,” said Barragan, masked up while out running errands Wednesday. Los Angeles County, home to 10 million residents, is facing a return to a broad indoor mask mandate later this month if current trends in hospital admissions continue, county health Director Barbara Ferrer said this week.
Free Covid Booster Dose For All Adults From Friday For The Next 75 Days
In India, all adults will be able to get free booster doses of the coronavirus vaccine at government centres under a special drive over the next 75 days from Friday, officials said on Wednesday. Aimed at improving the third-dose coverage, the drive will be held as part of the government's 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of India's Independence.
Canada's Ontario to offer second COVID booster dose to all adults
Ontario, Canada's most populous province, said on Wednesday that it would offer a second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose to everyone aged 18 and older from Thursday. "As we continue to manage COVID-19 for the long term, we're expanding second booster doses and extending the availability of free rapid antigen tests to give people the tools they need to stay safe and to ensure Ontario stays open," Ontario's Health Minister Sylvia Jones said in a statement.
Some Chinese cities order more frequent COVID testing as cases creep higher
Several Chinese cities have doubled down on COVID-19 testing, ordering residents to have their mouths swabbed more often, with some punishing people who skip tests, as authorities try to stop the virus from spreading while the case numbers are still small. In June, several cities had relaxed testing requirements as the outbreaks suffered in spring began to subside, but an uptick in infections this month, fuelled by an Omicron subvariant, have forced a few areas to quickly tighten rules
Explainer: What is the COVID BA.5 variant and why is it reinfecting so many people?
BA.5, part of the Omicron family, is the latest coronavirus variant to cause widespread waves of infection globally. According to the World Health Organization's most recent report, it was behind 52% of cases sequenced in late June, up from 37% in one week. In the United States, it is estimated to be causing around 65% of infections
New Zealand announces free masks, tests as health system struggles with COVID
The New Zealand government on Thursday announced free masks and rapid antigen tests as it tries to stem the spread of COVID-19 and relieve pressure on the country's health system which is dealing with an influx of COVID and influenza patients. There has been a significant jump in the number of new COVID cases in New Zealand in the past couple of week and authorities are forecasting that this wave of Omicron might be worst than the first
How long after exposure you can test positive and early signs to look for
Covid rates are continuing to increase, and more and more people are testing positive across the UK. The Zoe Health Study produced data this week showing that there were over 350,000 daily Covid cases – a new record for the UK. Professor Tim Spector, Zoe scientific co-founder and lead scientist on the Zoe Health Study, said: “Covid is still rampant in the population. “So much so that if you have any cold-like symptoms at the moment it’s nearly twice as likely to be Covid as a cold. “Even if people have had a past infection and are fully vaccinated, people are still catching it.” Here’s everything you need to know about how quickly you will show symptoms.
Community Activities
Some Beijing travelers asked to wear COVID monitoring bracelets, sparking outcry
Some Beijing residents returning from domestic travel were asked by local authorities to wear COVID-19 monitoring bracelets, prompting widespread criticism on Chinese social media by users concerned about excessive government surveillance. According to posts published on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning on microblogging platform Weibo, some Beijing residents returning to the capital were asked by their neighbourhood committees to wear an electronic bracelet throughout the mandatory home quarantine period.
Australia athletes barred from other Commonwealth Games venues over COVID risk
Australian athletes will be banned from supporting their team mates at other Commonwealth Games events at Birmingham due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission, team chef de mission Petria Thomas said. They will also have to wear face masks when not in their rooms or exercising at the July 28 - Aug. 8 Games as part of team health protocols.
Colleges Serving Low-Income Students, HBCUs Get $198 Million in Covid-Relief Funds
In the US, the Education Department awarded nearly $198 million in Covid-19 relief funds to 244 colleges and universities serving large numbers of students who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Almost 90 percent of the money will go toward historically Black colleges and universities, universities with high rates of minority enrollment and institutions serving large populations of low-income students, including community colleges.
Covid rise deepens Lake District staffing crisis
Tourism businesses in the Lake District say the rise in Covid infections is making their recruitment crisis even worse. More than 170,000 positions are thought to be unfilled in the UK. In May, for the first time ever, the number of vacancies across the UK was higher than the number of unemployed. It means businesses like The Lancrigg Hotel in Grasmere are trying to offer the same service with fewer staff. It is proving difficult for the manager, Paul Criscuolo-Wray.
Working Remotely
Remote work spurs a national wage leveling in tech
As more employees work remotely in the aftermath the global COVID-19 pandemic, salaries based on where in US they live are showing signs of leveling. For example, a recent study by fintech startup Carta found that salaries for tech startup employees in Seattle now match those of workers in San Francisco, which is a tech market salary leader. “As remote work becomes a fact of life, [startup] founders are increasingly faced with a key decision: should they adjust compensation by location?” the Carta report said. “The vast majority of companies (84%) do take location into account when deciding on compensation packages.”
Is it up to employees to fix the remote-work promotion gap?
It’s well-known that proximity plays a role in promotions: managers are more likely to know workers they spend more time with better, give them key assignments and, as a result, develop their careers. And now, in the wake of the pandemic, it’s also becoming clear some managers view in-office workers more favourably, due to concerns they have that employees who work from home could be less engaged. This represents a concern for remote workers: if managers are biased towards colleagues they see more often, will home-workers be able to compete – or might their choice of work location leave them overlooked, potentially stigmatised and struggling to move up the ladder?
Virtual Classrooms
How Technology Is Impacting Modern Education?
Modern education is not only becoming global in the way how information is being distributed but it’s even more technology-driven. As the pandemic times helped us see, technology inspires modern students to research and become more responsible because they are often in the lead. Examples include remote learning and dealing with the LMS platforms like Google Classroom where education takes a totally different virtual approach. The educators feel divided about the impact of modern education as there are accessibility and technical gap issues that become a barrier for certain learners, yet it cannot be denied that modern education is affected by the use of technology.
Don't abandon virtual learning options (opinion)
With 2022 commencement in the books and colleges and universities now turning to the upcoming school year, administrators and students alike should discount a sentiment that many administrators and others in the higher education universe hold and which was captured in a recent New York Times opinion piece. The Times author argued that if higher education is to thrive, “everyone involved—students, faculties, administrators and the public at large—must insist on in-person classes and high expectations for fall 2022 and beyond.”
Public Policies
Spanish response to Covid poverty was too little, too late, report says
The Spanish government’s efforts to tackle the economic turmoil unleashed by the Covid pandemic were “too little, too late and too few”, according to a report that finds thousands of people are still reliant on emergency food aid and facing even greater hardship as prices soar. The Human Rights Watch study, which documents cases of parents skipping meals so their children can eat, says the pandemic has revealed and exacerbated weaknesses in Spain’s social security system. All too often, food banks, community groups and NGOs have had to step in and help people in need – particularly those in informal work who were not eligible for state help. According to the report, which comes as a seventh wave of Covid sweeps across Spain, pandemic poverty has disproportionately affected families with children, older people dependent on state pensions, migrants and asylum seekers, and people working in the hospitality, cleaning, care and construction sectors.
IMF says China needs more fiscal, monetary support to fight COVID slowdown
The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that China needs to add more fiscal and monetary policy support to combat an economic slowdown brought on by continued COVID-19 lockdowns, but less-restrictive pandemic containment policies also were needed. "We welcome the shift to a more expansionary fiscal policy this year, but even more support would help counter the ongoing growth slowdown," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told a news briefing when asked about the Fund's policy advice for China.
Health Canada approves first COVID-19 vaccine for youngest kids
Canada's drug regulator approved Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for infants and preschoolers Thursday, making it the first vaccine approved for that age group in the country. Health Canada now says the Moderna vaccine can be given to young children between the ages of six months and five years old in doses one-quarter the size of that approved for adults. “After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the department has determined that the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 in children between 6 months and 5 years of age,” the department said in a statement.
Novavax, at long last, clinches FDA emergency nod for protein-based COVID shot
The U.S. FDA gave the all-clear to Novavax’s adjuvanted, protein-based shot, teeing up the nation’s fourth pandemic prophylactic behind those from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The FDA’s emergency use authorization covers the prevention of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 among adults ages 18 and up. The company aims to file a full biologics license application by year-end and figures it will be the last COVID vaccine player blessed with an emergency nod, Novavax’s John Trizzino, executive vice president, chief commercial officer and chief business officer, told Fierce Biotech at this year’s BIO International Convention.
Maintaining Services
U.S. FDA classifies recall of GE's ventilator batteries as most serious
U.S. health regulators on Tuesday classified the recall of some backup batteries of GE Healthcare's ventilators, which the company had initiated in mid-April, as the most serious type, saying that their use could lead to injuries or death. The CARESCAPE R860 ventilator's backup batteries, including replacement backup batteries, were recalled as they were running out earlier-than-expected, which could cause the device to shut down preventing the patient from receiving breathing support, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.
Hospital staff absences due to Covid-19 highest for nearly three months
Staff absences at NHS hospitals in England due to Covid-19 have jumped to their highest level for nearly three months, putting further pressure on health teams struggling to clear a record backlog of treatment, new figures show. It comes as the number of patients testing positive for the virus continues to rise across the country, driven by the latest wave of infections. An average of 22,918 hospital staff in England were absent each day in the week to July 6, either because they were sick with Covid-19 or were self-isolating. This is up 30% on the previous week, and is the highest since 23,813 absences in the week to April 20.
Summer COVID spike is less severe - but relentless pressure on emergency departments is taking its toll
The North West has seen a rise of between 50% and 200% in COVID infections in recent weeks. And this comes at a time when the Royal Preston Hospital emergency department is struggling to cope with the sheer number of patients coming through its doors.
Healthcare Innovations
WHO Panel Advises Against Generic Antidepressant to Treat Covid
A generic antidepressant and a gout medicine that garnered some popularity as Covid-19 treatments shouldn’t be used for mild infection because there’s no evidence they help, according to a panel of experts advising the World Health Organization. The drugs, fluvoxamine and colchicine, could potentially cause harm, the group of experts said in the BMJ medical journal Thursday. The panel didn’t give advice for severe illness, saying there was a lack of data.
Study: Kids have stronger COVID-19 antibody response than adults
A new prospective study of 252 families with members diagnosed as having mild COVID-19 in Italy finds that, while all age-groups had detectable SARS-CoV-2 antibodies up to 1 year after infection, children—especially those younger than 3 years—had higher antibody levels than adults at all intervals tested. In the study, published today in JAMA Network Open, a team led by University of Padua researchers enrolled 902 unvaccinated patients at a COVID follow-up clinic from Apr 1, 2020, to Aug 31, 2021. Families were included in the study if they had children younger than 15 years and at least one member who had tested positive for COVID-19 at least 4 weeks earlier.