"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 26th Jul 2022

Isolation Tips
H.K. to Cut Hotel Quarantine With Health Code, Report Says
Hong Kong plans to cut hotel quarantine for arrivals with the introduction of a two-color health code system, local media reported on Monday. The government is considering moving to five days of hotel quarantine, after which arrivals will be issued with a so-called yellow health code for two days that would prohibit them from entering high-risk areas where masks can be removed. Another option under consideration is four days of hotel isolation followed by three days of yellow code restrictions, according to Sing Tao, which cited a person it didn’t identify. Hong Kong currently requires seven-day quarantine for arrivals. Separately, the South China Morning Post said authorities could even shorten the hotel quarantine to three days as they put the finishing touches to the China-style health code.
Hygiene Helpers
The Covid vaccine no Aussies wanted
Deemed the “alternative” Covid vaccine, there were high hopes for Novavax in Australia when the more traditional formula got the tick of approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in January. Due to its similar composition to hepatitis B, tetanus and diphtheria vaccines, a large amount of interest was shown for Novavax, or Nuvaxovid, by those who were reluctant to take either AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Additionally experts, like TGA boss Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, believed the increased interest would see vaccination rates rise from 95 per cent fully vaccinated to at least 98 per cent. “I would have had several hundred emails from individuals and groups who have said for whatever reason we would like to have [this] particular vaccine … this just gives them further choice,” Professor Skerritt said upon Novavax’s approval in January.
Covid in China: Xi Jinping and other leaders given domestic vaccine
President Xi Jinping and other top politicians have been given domestically produced Covid vaccines, China has said. The news was released as part of a campaign to increase vaccination rates, especially of boosters. The deputy head of China's National Health Commission, Zeng Yixin, said it showed the leadership's confidence in the Chinese vaccines. Health information about these figures is not usually shared with the public. Mr Zeng said the country's leaders had "all taken the home-grown Covid-19 vaccination jabs".
Australia's COVID-19 cases and death rates currently among world's highest per capita
Australia ranked third in cases per million people in the past seven days. Experts are pleading with the public to wear masks, get PCR tests if symptomatic and get boosters. Health workers say they are bearing the the strain of the ongoing pandemic
China Covid Cases Drop as Macau, Shanghai Ramp Up Mass Testing
China’s Covid-19 cases fell to the lowest in a week, even as officials in the financial hub of Shanghai and the gaming enclave of Macau ramped up mass testing. China reported 680 cases for Sunday, down from 869 on Saturday and the lowest daily tally since July 17. Still, authorities continue to roll out testing blitzes to catch flareups and stamp out outbreaks. In Macau, all residents must perform daily rapid Covid tests on themselves and report the results to the government for the next week, with mass laboratory tests slated for the coming weekend.
Community Activities
Covid 19 Omicron: School attendance rates plummet below 50 per cent
School attendance rates for term 1 plummeted below 50 per cent - the lowest in at least a decade, as the Omicron outbreak ripped through communities. Record low levels of school attendance hit Māori and Pasifika hardest with fewer than a third of those populations attending school regularly (attending more than 90 per cent of the time). The latest Ministry of Education data showed overall 46.1 per cent of all students were attending school regularly. This was down from 72.8 per cent in term 1 2019, pre-Covid, 50.5 per cent in 2020 and 66.8 per cent in 2021. In term 4 last year it was 65 per cent. The Ministry noted the Covid-19 Omicron outbreak resulted in "high levels of absences for both students and staff".
Newmarch House COVID-19 inquest told residents went without food, oxygen during outbreak
During the outbreak, 37 of Newmarch House's 97 residents contracted COVID. The facility is owned and run by Anglicare Community Services. One witness said his mother’s breathing apparatus was not operating when he went to visit
‘Exhaustion and burnout’: states look to boost volunteer numbers as demand increases
Unlike many others at the organisation, the pair are continuing their volunteer work well after lockdowns have ended. “It’s given me a purpose and the best thing is I met my nextdoor neighbours,” Bergman says. Hazels agrees that their friendship has been a “lovely” outcome of her volunteering experience. “We laugh, and we have fun, and we’re all doing a good thing,” she says. They were drawn to volunteering during Melbourne’s early Covid restrictions, as it was a permitted activity that allowed them to escape lockdowns.
Xi's Covid Rules and Tech Crackdown Push Gen Z in China to 'Bailan'
The most educated generation in China’s history was supposed to blaze a trail towards a more innovative and technologically advanced economy. Instead, about 15 million young people are estimated to be jobless, and many are lowering their ambitions. A perfect storm of factors has propelled unemployment among 16- to 24-year-old urbanites to a record 19.3%, more than twice the comparable rate in the US. The government’s hardline coronavirus strategy has led to layoffs, while its regulatory crackdown on real estate and education companies has hit the private sector.
Working Remotely
Working-from-home comforts create new class divide
Earlier this month, unions covering white-collar workers began a campaign for the right to work from home to be included in future enterprise agreements, arguing, among other things, this will keep their members safe from new COVID variants. It didn’t take long for the Victorian government to agree with the Premier quickly conceding last Friday that working-from-home arrangements will be a feature for the state’s employees going forward. The evolution of WFH from an emergency measure, for which public servants received compensation, to a here-to-stay part of the landscape has come quickly.
Need to strike a healthier work-life balance when you work from home? These apps can help.
Is there such a thing as work-life balance now that so many of us are working from home? A bevy of experts and happy WFH-ers say there is – especially with the help of the latest tech tools and expert tips.
Virtual Classrooms
Virtual Intensive Study in China Trigger Exchange between China and UK Youth
When the two-week Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) virtual study trip to China pulled the curtain down on July 15, more than 1,500 secondary school students from 64 schools across England had completed the online summer camp of learning Chinese and Chinese cultural under four themes of panda zoo, sport and modern life, Chinese campus, history and cultural heritage.
Law students want more distance education classes, according to ABA findings
A recent survey of 1,394 students in their third year of law school found that 68.65% wanted the ability to earn more distance education credits than what their schools offered. The survey, which was compiled in February, is from the strategic review committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Questions were shared on a group email list for associate deans and voluntarily distributed to students.
Awaken your students' interest in your online course
Online courses bring a variety of challenges, from providing support to students and having a user-friendly platform to finding the requisite academic resources and tech, both of which are key to us successfully meeting the challenge of providing quality virtual teaching. In addition to these challenges, in asynchronous courses almost all of us will by now have experienced disinterest from the participants in our virtual class. This can manifest itself as receiving no questions from attendees, a sea of turned-off cameras or low participation in class activities, among others.
Public Policies
TGA provisionally approves COVID-19 vaccine, Nuvaxovid, for use in 12-17 year olds
Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the Biocelect - on behalf of US biotech Novavax (Nasdaq: NVAX) - COVID-19 vaccine, Nuvaxovid, for use in individuals aged 12-17 years. The decision follows provisional approvals on 19 January 2022 for the use of Nuvaxovid in adults, on June 9, 2022, the Nuvaxovid booster dose for use in adults. As with adults, the vaccine should be administered in adolescents intramuscularly…
China approves Genuine Biotech's HIV drug for COVID patients
China on Monday gave conditional approval to domestic firm Genuine Biotech's Azvudine pill to treat certain adult patients with COVID-19, adding another oral treatment option against the coronavirus. The availability of effective COVID vaccines and treatments is crucial in laying the groundwork for China's potential pivoting from its "dynamic COVID zero" policy, which aims to eliminate every outbreak - however small - and relies on mass testing and strict quarantining.
China's Shenzhen orders big firms such as Foxconn into closed loop to curb COVID
The Chinese city of Shenzhen told 100 major companies including iPhone maker Foxconn to set up "closed-loop" systems as it battles COVID-19, according to a document attributed to the local government circulating online on Monday. While Reuters could not independently verify the document, a notice at a Shenzhen office of oil giant CNOOC Ltd seen by Reuters said that the building would be closed for seven days until July 31, with staff to work from home and continue with daily COVID testing.
Maintaining Services
Slow uptake of Pfizer's Covid drug hints at end to sales boom
Sales of Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid have leapfrogged a rival pill developed by Merck and now dominate the Covid-19 treatments market, but slower than expected patient uptake could dent sales over the next six months and beyond. Airfinity, a health data analytics group, said recent data showed the whirlwind pace of new supply deals Pfizer signed had begun to slow because of the lacklustre rollout of a treatment billed as a key tool to help quell the pandemic. By the end of 2022 there could be a surplus of up to 70mn courses of Paxlovid on the global market following an increase in Pfizer’s production and weak demand for a treatment that US president Joe Biden is taking to fight his Covid infection.
Defence force to expand aged care support as COVID-19 wave hits sector
The federal government is expanding Defence force support for Australia's coronavirus-stricken aged care sector. More than 200 extra military medical personnel will be deployed to aged care homes in coming weeks, Defence Minister Richard Marles has announced. The move came after aged care providers and trade unions requested Defence force support for the sector be extended beyond the August 12 end date.
Healthcare Innovations
Are We Getting Closer to a Potential Universal Coronavirus Monoclonal Therapeutic?
A research team reports discovering a neutralizing monoclonal antibody that it says has the potential to become a universal coronavirus therapy against SARS-CoV-2 and all its variants of concern, including Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Omicron. In multiple animal models, the mAb shows effectiveness against the SARS-CoV, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that emerged in China in 2002, and MERS-CoV, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome that appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012, according to the scientists, who had that it also shows effectiveness against several common cold coronaviruses.
New RT-PCR platform gives results faster than other COVID-19 tests on the market
Researchers at Columbia Engineering and Rover Diagnostics announced today that they have built an RT-PCR platform that gives results in 23 minutes that match the longer laboratory-based tests--faster than other PCR tests on the market. It can be adapted to test for a broad range of infectious diseases including not just COVID-19 but also flu, strep, and other viruses that require fast diagnosis. Its targeted sensitivity is higher than other types of tests such as isothermal, antigen, and CRISPR. And, at just two pounds, the Rover PCR is easy to carry around and can be used by anyone.
Scientists identify how the coronavirus spike protein causes heart damage
The new research has found that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus spike protein is capable of causing heart muscle injury through the inflammatory process, setting it apart from previously known coronaviruses. The good news is that the preliminary research suggests the damage caused by the process, which is part of the heart muscle cells' "own natural immune machinery" can be reduced by vaccination. Research published in 2020 discovered abnormal changes to the way the heart was pumping in 55% of hospitalised patients, with around one in seven showing evidence of severe dysfunction.