"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 21st Jul 2022

Isolation Tips
China braced for renewed lockdowns as Omicron subvariant spreads
China is at risk of more frequent lockdowns and mass testing as officials struggle to contain the spread of the highly transmissible BA.5 Omicron subvariant despite the damage pandemic restrictions have already wrought on the world’s second-biggest economy. Forty-one Chinese cities are under full or partial lockdowns or district-based controls, covering 264mn people in regions that account for about 18.7 per cent of the country’s economic activity, according to an analysis released on Monday by Japanese investment bank Nomura.
Authorities in south China city apologise over COVID-19 break-ins
Authorities in southern China have apologised for breaking into the homes of people who had been taken to a quarantine hotel in the latest example of heavy-handed virus-prevention measures that have sparked a rare public backlash. State media said that officers had forced their way into 84 homes in an apartment complex in Guangzhou city’s Liwan district in an effort to find any “close contacts” hiding inside and disinfect the rooms. The front doors were later sealed and new locks installed, according to the Global Times tabloid. The Liwan district government apologised on Monday for such “oversimplified and violent” behaviour, the paper said. An investigation has been launched and “relevant people” will be severely punished, it added. China’s leadership has maintained its “zero-COVID” strategy despite the disruption to the lives of residents who are subjected to regular testing and quarantines, and mounting economic costs.
Hygiene Helpers
Bring Covid curbs back AGAIN, say top medical journals: Editorial calls for new clampdown on Britons
No10 has batted away calls to bring back pandemic-era curbs in response to soaring infections. Surveillance models suggest 3.5million people in the UK (one in 20) people were infected in week to July 6. But editors of two health publications accused Government of 'gaslighting' public about threat Covid poses. They say it is time to face the fact that attempt to 'live with Covid' is 'straw that is breaking the NHS's back'. Authors blame 'failure to recognise that the pandemic is far from over' and call for return of virus curbs. Face masks, free Covid tests for all, WFH guidance and restrictions on social gathering should return, they say
Micronesia last of bigger nations to have COVID-19 outbreak
Article reports that Micronesia has likely become the final nation in the world with a population of more than 100,000 to experience an outbreak of COVID-19. For more than two-and-a-half years, the Pacific archipelago managed to avoid any outbreaks thanks to its geographic isolation and border controls. Those people who flew into the country with the disease didn’t spread it because all new arrivals were required to quarantine. But as has been the case in several other Pacific nations this year, those defenses couldn’t keep out the more transmissible omicron variant forever.
Weekly tests dropped for unvaccinated state employees
Minnesota state government employees who are unvaccinated for COVID-19 are no longer required to take weekly tests for the virus in order to stay in the workplace. The requirement that went into effect in September 2021 meant thousands of employees took tests each week. Those that didn’t comply were subjected to suspensions or other discipline. A state official said the requirement was rescinded because of the evolving nature of the virus. “Whereas it was common to have broad, uniform precautionary measures earlier in the pandemic, the pandemic is at a point where public health COVID-19 risk assessments and precautions are now more dependent upon the specific circumstances of individuals and communities,” said Patrick Hogan, Department of Minnesota Management and Budget spokesman.
Community Activities
Nurse Burnout Reaches New High as Latest Omicron Variant Surges
Many people may be moving on from Covid, but nurses certainly aren’t — and as the latest variant sweeps the US, the mental stresses on the profession have reached new highs. A survey of 2,500 nurses released Wednesday finds that 64% are looking to leave the health-care profession, a nearly 40% increase from a similar survey a year ago. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they’ve experienced burnout since the pandemic began and half said they had experienced feelings of trauma, extreme stress or PTSD. “Our nurses are the backbone of our health system,” said Dr. Dani Bowie the vice president of clinical strategy and transformation at Trusted Health, a healthcare advocacy group that released the survey. “So, if they're not operating out of their best state, it's very detrimental to the wellbeing of our community and our patients.”
Covid. Vacation. Covid.
Public health officials warn that this is no time for complacency. In the United States, BA.5 has become the dominant strain and is driving a significant spike in cases -- more than 120,000 a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though experts say that number may be more like 1 million, given the underreporting of home test results. Europe, meanwhile, has seen a tripling of new Covid-19 infections over the past six weeks, with nearly 3 million reported last week, accounting for almost half of all new cases worldwide. Hospital admissions in Europe over the same period have doubled.
S.Africa arrests 13 police officers over lockdown violence
South Africa’s police watchdog said Tuesday it arrested 13 officers over the death of a man in custody, the first major breakthrough in several cases of alleged brutality during the Covid lockdown. The man, who has not been named, was held along with three others in April 2020 in a Johannesburg suburb for breaching lockdown rules, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) said in a statement. He was then allegedly assaulted by the police officers and members of a private security firm, before being taken to a police station, where he complained about stomach pains, it said. “An ambulance was called in, the paramedics declared the one civilian dead,” the police watchdog said in a statement, adding that a murder investigation was subsequently opened.
City of London Bankers Trigger Nearly 650 Covid Restrictions Breach Alerts
The City of London’s banks and asset managers notified the UK’s financial regulator of more than 700 incidents of non-financial misconduct by senior staff during the pandemic, including more than 600 breaches of Covid restrictions. The Financial Conduct Authority was notified of 194 incidents of non-financial misconduct by bankers belonging to its senior managers and certification regime, and another 552 by staff at fund managers from the start of 2020 to September 2021, according to a Freedom of Information request by Following the Rules, a financial regulation podcast. Those included 646 episodes tied to Covid breaches as well as 44 counts of bullying and 66 linked to racism. The FCA has disclosed it has opened five investigations into non-financial misconduct in 2019 and none in 2020.
Working Remotely
Australians urged to work from home as COVID hospital cases surge
Australians have been urged to work from home and wear masks indoors as the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 nears record levels. The country is in the midst of a third wave of coronavirus, driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, and earlier this month broadened access to second booster shots to deal with the surge in cases. Daily cases climbed to 50,248 on Tuesday, the highest in two months. Some 5,239 Australians are currently in hospital with COVID-19, just short of the record 5,390 recorded in January. “We need to do some things differently at least for a short period of time,” Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told ABC Radio on Wednesday, as he predicted the number of people admitted to hospital will soon hit an all-time high.
Virtual Classrooms
Human Rights Watch notes child rights violations due to surveillance into private lives outside school hours
In a statement issued last Tuesday (12), HRW said that the overwhelming majority of education technology products, endorsed by 49 governments of the world’s most populous countries and analysed by the HRW, appear to have surveilled or had the capacity to surveil children in ways that risked or infringed their rights. It made this statement after reviewing technical evidence and easy-to-view privacy profiles for 163 education technology products that were recommended for children’s learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Of the 163 products that were reviewed, 145 (89%) surveilled or had the capacity to surveil children outside school hours and deep into their private lives. Many products were found to harvest information about children such as who they are, where they are, what they do in the classroom, who their family and friends are, and what kind of device their families could afford for them to use for online learning,” the statement read.
Public Policies
CDC stops monitoring COVID-19 cases on cruise ships
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has discontinued a program that tracked cases of COVID-19 aboard cruise ships in the U.S. and reported the findings to the public. The initiative, called the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships, ended Monday, according to the government agency. "CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for passengers, crew and communities going forward," the agency said on its website.
CDC endorses more traditional Novavax COVID shot for adults
U.S. adults who haven’t gotten any COVID-19 shots yet should consider a new option from Novavax -- a more traditional kind of vaccine, health officials said Tuesday. Regulators authorized the nation’s first so-called protein vaccine against COVID-19 last week, but the final hurdle was a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “If you have been waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine built on a different technology than those previously available, now is the time to join the millions of Americans who have been vaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC’s director, said in a statement, endorsing an earlier decision from an influential advisory panel.
Faulty Covid Gear May Cost UK Taxpayer £2.7 Billion, Report Says
The UK has made little progress in settling disputes with suppliers of personal-protective gear that turned out to be of little use in the pandemic, potentially wasting as much as £2.7 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) in taxpayers’ money. The country’s department of health and social care is left with “billions of items that are unusable or not needed,” some of which will just have to be incinerated, according to a parliamentary report released Wednesday. Meantime, these products cost £7 million a month to store. The quality issues, lack of supervision and fraud by some suppliers is coming under scrutiny as lawmakers investigate how Boris Johnson’s government handled the pandemic.
Maintaining Services
Macau Casinos to Reopen Saturday After Covid-19 Shutdown
Casinos in the gambling hub of Macau will be allowed to reopen Saturday after a nearly two-week shutdown amid a Covid-19 outbreak, according to the government. The citywide lockdown that began July 11 was the first shutdown of casinos in Macau since the early days of the pandemic in 2020. The government said most nonessential industries, companies and venues will be allowed to reopen starting Saturday through July 30. Las Vegas Sands Corp which operates several casinos in Macau, is scheduled to report quarterly earnings Wednesday, the first of the three U.S.-based operators in Macau to update investors since the closures this month. Industry executives have continued to express confidence in a Macau comeback, but analysts have lowered gambling revenue forecasts for the Chinese territory this year, and some predict a full recovery won’t come until 2024.
Healthcare Innovations
Covid-19 Complication Among Children Fades in Latest Wave of Virus
A serious inflammatory complication that strikes some children in the weeks following a Covid-19 infection has almost disappeared. A buildup of immunity and changes to the virus both likely play a part, pediatric infectious-disease doctors and researchers said. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome is afflicting far fewer children as a proportion of known Covid-19 cases than during earlier waves of the pandemic, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition, also known as MIS-C, is similar to Kawasaki disease, another rare pediatric inflammatory condition. Early in the pandemic, doctors believed they were seeing Kawasaki disease but soon recognized MIS-C as a distinct condition associated with an earlier Covid-19 infection.