"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 5th Jun 2020

Isolation Tips
How 14-day coronavirus quarantine law will work - and everyone who won't have to isolate
Lorry drivers, postal workers, pilots, sailors, commuters and fruit pickers will be among hordes of people exempt from the quarantine rules - and people can leave the country early if they wish. Here's everything you need to know
Coronavirus lockdown: Levels of anxiety and depression in the UK fall as restrictions ease
Ongoing UCL study of over 90,000 adults shows that depression levels have decreased particularly among the under-60s
Young parents juggle online schooling, child care and isolation during COVID-19
Young parents in Edmonton are facing mounting challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many try to finish high school online. “I’m in four core classes this year, so it’s definitely a lot,” said Grade 12 student Katelyn Dawe. “It’s definitely a lot on top of child care. But, I’m handling it.” Dawe said her 11-month-old daughter, Stella, is keeping her busy in between those online classes. “She’s amazing. She makes me incredibly happy. She is laughing all the time at everything,” said Dawe.
‘Did I Miss Anything?’: A Man Emerges From a 75-Day Silent Retreat
Daniel Thorson went into a silent retreat in mid-March, meditating through 75 coronavirus news cycles, Boris Johnson’s hospitalization, social distancing and sourdough starter. Now he’s catching up.
68 days of isolation and 22 swab tests: A Singaporean's long COVID-19 journey after possible infection at UK party
On Friday (May 30), he tested negative for the illness, after a total of 22 uncomfortable swab tests. With that test result, he was able to take the first steps out of his home for more than two months - a single-bed ward in Gleneagles Hospital. “When I went down to the lobby, and smelt the fresh air, it felt very good, because I couldn’t even pop my head out when I was in the ward,” he told CNA in a phone interview. “When I found out I was going to be discharged, that was the happiest day of my life.”
This moment in time: Reflections on life in coronavirus isolation
Life is slowly transitioning to 'normal' as COVID-19 restrictions ease, but over recent weeks the ABC and State Library of NSW have been creating a time capsule of life in lockdown. Isolation and loneliness feature prominently in images and anecdotes representing the lives of ABC audience members during the coronavirus pandemic. But, as Sydney photographer Amanda Naylor says, there has also been humour and connection.
Some people forced to self-isolate will be now charged £20 to get a coronavirus food parcel
Some self-isolating people are now to be asked to pay £20 to receive a coronavirus food parcel distributed by a town hall’s ‘humanitarian hub’. Tameside’s executive cabinet has agreed to introduce a means tested payment charge for its food packages that have been delivered to people who are self-isolating during the pandemic. The ‘humanitarian’ emergency hub, which was set up by the council in March, has delivered food and medical support coordinated through a special helpline.
Lockdown prompts surge in Germans seeking help for alcoholism
When the coronavirus lockdown started in Germany, all Marco wanted to do was get drunk. The musician from Berlin, 38, was downing roughly a bottle of gin every night. “I was like, why not, come on! It’s quarantine, let’s party!” But as the days went on, he started to see things differently. “Because of quarantine you’re forced to look at yourself and realize, wait a second, this is not OK. This is actually a problem, this is addiction.” Marco — speaking on condition of anonymity — reached out to a local Alcoholics Anonymous group and made the decision to get sober after 20 years of drinking heavily almost every night
COVID-19 lockdowns worsen childhood obesity, study finds: Research finds obese kids under lockdown in Italy ate more junk food, watched more TV at expense of physical activity
Lockdowns implemented across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively impacted diet, sleep and physical activity among children with obesity, according to new research.
Coronavirus: UK quarantine plans and £1,000 penalties confirmed
Plans to force almost all arrivals to the UK to isolate for 14 days have been confirmed by the home secretary. Priti Patel told the Commons that Border Force will check that travellers fill out a form with their contact details and location for isolation. Leaving isolation prematurely in England could result in a fine of up to £1,000 or prosecution, she said. "We will not allow a reckless minority to put our domestic recovery at risk," she said. Ms Patel told MPs that scientific advisers had said quarantine would not have been effective earlier in the coronavirus pandemic when infection rates in the UK were higher.
Hygiene Helpers
Social 'bubbles' of close contacts may be the best way to keep coronavirus contained
Social bubbles - made up of friends and family - may be the best way to keep coronavirus contained when lockdown is lifted, study shows. Researchers from the University of Oxford created a series of models to discover the best measures governments could use in order to keep the infection rate flat. Strict social distancing and isolation measures were likely to be ignored by large parts of the population, so a solution was needed people would follow, they found. However, creating small groups of contacts could keep the risks from COVID-19 low while giving people more freedom, Oxford University researchers have said.
Cleaner air during UK lockdown relieves asthma for millions
Two million people in the UK with respiratory conditions such as asthma have experienced reduced symptoms during the coronavirus lockdown, according to the British Lung Foundation. A survey by the charity of 14,000 people with lung conditions found one in six had noticed improvements in their health. Among children, the figure was higher, with one in five parents saying their child’s condition had been alleviated. Asthma sufferers in particular reported benefits, with one in four noting relief.
Face coverings to be made compulsory on public transport in England
Passengers face fines from 15 June for flouting new rule to stop spread of coronavirus
Community Activities
EDIS helping to release wiggles and giggles during COVID-19
The Educational and Developmental Intervention Services team at the 52nd Fighter Wing is taking the initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide a resource to families through a virtual classroom called Wiggles and Giggles.The playgroup focuses on early intervention and provides information and support to families who have questions or concerns about their child’s development. “EDIS is comprised of two programs,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Johnny Foster, EDIS flight commander. “Ages birth to age three take the program Early Intervention Services, and our school-age children the Medically Related Services. These unique services ensure children with special needs and their families have access to early intervention and school-based services with access to an audiologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, speech-language pathologist, early childhood special educator, occupational and physical therapist.”
Working Remotely
Over 20 pct of Latvians work from home amid COVID-19 pandemic | English.news.cn
Like in many other countries across the world, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led an increasing number of employees in Latvia to work from home, showed a survey released on Thursday by the national statistics office. In April, more than one in five employees in Latvia, or 22 percent, switched to work from home, according to the statistics office's survey. While an estimated 19,000 people had been working from home already before Latvia was hit by the COVID-19 crisis, the number of employees doing their job remotely has increased to 148,400 now. More than one in four employees, or 27.4 percent, had the remote work option in April, while 72.6 percent of the working population had to go to work during the virus emergency. Meanwhile, 5.4 percent of the people who had the option to work from home preferred not to use it.
GP practices should enable all staff to work remotely 'where possible'
All staff working in GP practices should be enabled to work remotely ‘where possible’, NHS England has said.
Remote work will be a legacy of pandemic; job losses may not be over, survey finds
Companies expect an increased portion of their workforce to remain working remotely even after the pandemic passes, according to a Conference Board survey released Wednesday of 152 human capital executives. The survey revealed that most employers have implemented some form of workforce cost reductions, and many plan to continue to do so this summer. Additional workforce cost reductions are more likely in organizations that employ mostly industry and manual services workers. A majority of companies surveyed expect to return to pre-pandemic revenue levels within the next 12 months.
HR leaders: Expect teleworking to remain long after coronavirus is gone
Widespread teleworking is likely to well outlast the Covid-19 pandemic. At least, that’s the opinion of 77% of human resources leaders from major American companies surveyed by the Conference Board, a member-driven think tank aimed at looking ahead on business issues. The survey gathered responses from 152 HR leaders in late April in the thick of coronavirus business closures and stay-at-home orders.
The office is here to stay - but it's going to evolve, too
The huge shift to home-working caused by COVID-19 has led many to wonder whether offices have a future. But the shift has not been welcomed by - nor is it easy for - many employees. Flexibility and choice will be key as we move forward into the next normal.
Poll: More voters want to keep remote working once coronavirus restrictions lifted
More Americans would prefer to keep working from home full time over going back to the office full time once social distancing restrictions are lifted, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. Twenty-eight percent of registered voters said once their area has reopened, including schools and childcare options, they would prefer to remain working from home full time. By contrast, 18 percent said they'd prefer to go back to working in an office full time. Another 18 percent of voters said they would prefer to work from home some days of the week but would still like to go into the office part of the time. Thirty-six percent of voters in the May 27-28 survey said working from home is not an option for them.
Virtual Classrooms
Covid-19 makes it clearer than ever: access to the internet should be a universal right
The internet eased lockdown life for millions. But millions more still can’t get online, and that’s fundamentally unfair
Two girls' lockdown learning underlines South Africa's educational divide
When Zinzi Lerefolo was sent home from her fee-paying girls’ school in a leafy Johannesburg suburb in March, her family set up a virtual classroom that allowed her to continue studying uninterrupted.
Online summer camps for children and teenagers
For many parents, summer camps are an important way for children to learn new skills, make friends and stay active over the long break. And they also often provide crucial time and space for parents. This summer, however, is very different, with traditional “in-person” camps still not guaranteed to take place, even later this summer, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, online camps are experiencing a growth in popularity, especially with parents looking to balance childcare with working from home.
Public Policies
'Answered prayers': Fiji declares itself coronavirus free
Fiji announced it was COVID-19 free Friday after the island nation's last known infected patient was given the all-clear, continuing the Pacific's remarkable record of success against the virus.
June 15 to mark New Zealand's COVID-19 elimination day
New Zealand finally has a date for when it will achieve its lofty goal of elimination of COVID-19: June 15. After weeks of urging by public health experts and government wrangling, the Ministry of Health has settled on a definition of elimination of the deadly virus. New Zealand has followed an elimination policy path since the arrival of the virus, eschewing lighter approaches by countries including Australia.
Breaking Down Wuhan's Blueprint for Lifting Lockdown
People were restricted to their compounds from Jan. 23 when Wuhan went into a lockdown that lasted 76 days. Extensive surveillance infrastructure and strict housing registration rules already in place helped to facilitate implementation of the restrictions and the easing of them later. Now, Wuhan residents live and move under the auspices of coloured QR codes embedded in WeChat and Alipay smartphone apps that use automatically collected travel and medical data. A green rating allows for unrestricted movement in and out of residential compounds and public areas, while orange and red signify a quarantine for seven and 14 days respectively.
Coronavirus: Shielding MP takes legal advice over 'discriminatory' new rules
The shadow minister for disabled people has taken legal advice over the government’s “outrageous” decision to prevent MPs at serious risk from coronavirus from continuing to vote and take part in debates from their own home. Labour’s Vicky Foxcroft, who has a long-term health condition, was unable to vote on Tuesday because of the government’s decision.
Peru Reopens More Industries, Undeterred by Almost 5,000 Deaths
Peru authorized more parts of the economy to reopen even as deaths from the virus surpassed 5,000 and hospitals in Lima begin running low on oxygen for patients. The government said a wide range of sectors, from roadbuilding to beermaking and printing, could restart, along with inter-provincial transport services, according to decree published Thursday. Seven of the country’s 25 regions were exempted from the measure given their high prevalence of Covid-19 cases. President Martin Vizcarra said the move would see 80% of the economy reopened, up from close to 50% now. ”We can’t support 100% of the country’s needs with just 50% of the economy’s output,” he said.
Coronavirus: Italy's Conte offers hope as travel restrictions end
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte offered a hopeful message as the country moved to its final stage in easing lockdown restrictions. "We deserve to smile, to be cheerful, after weeks of great sacrifice," he said on Wednesday. He added that now was the time for the country to enact economic reforms. With more than 33,600 fatalities and almost 234,000 cases since the coronavirus outbreak began, Italy has been one of the hardest-hit countries. Only the US and the UK have recorded higher death tolls. Mr Conte's comments came the same day as the country entered its final phase in easing lockdown restrictions, allowing domestic travel between regions and opening its international borders.
CDC wants people to drive solo to avoid coronavirus, sparking fear over more congestion and emissions
The CDC’s new guidelines for returning to work sparked some backlash and raised major concerns of what could be unbearable congestion and a surge in carbon emissions from vehicles. Although it’s unclear what commuting will look as more people return to offices during the coronavirus pandemic, there are already signs that people are turning to cars. “Promoting private vehicle use as public health strategy is like prescribing sugar to reduce tooth decay,” said University of British Columbia urban planning and public health professor Lawrence Frank.
Coronavirus: Stormont gives green light to more lockdown easing
The easing of more lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland has been given the green light by the Stormont Executive. The move, which was expected, was dependent on the R-number staying below one when ministers met on Thursday. From Monday, vulnerable people advised to shield will be allowed outdoors. Large retailers including car showrooms and shops in retail parks can also reopen, and outdoor weddings with 10 people present will be allowed. The executive has also confirmed that from Monday, anyone who enters Northern Ireland from outside the Common Travel Area will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Coronavirus: ROI expected to ease lockdown further on Monday
The taoiseach (Irish prime minister) said he believes Ireland will move to the next phase of its Covid-19 relaxation measures on Monday. This includes reopening small retail outlets where social distancing is possible and an increase in travel restrictions to 20 kilometres. Leo Varadkar said he was concerned by some calls to accelerate the five-stage relaxation plan
Spain to open land borders with Portugal, France from June 22
Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said on Thursday that all restrictions to border crossings with France and Portugal will be lifted from June 22. Maroto told reporters that Spain would probably lift quarantine for people coming in by land from France and Portugal then,
Four ways Australia's coronavirus response was a triumph – and four ways it could have done better
Australia’s response to the coronavirus outbreak so far has been among the most successful in the world. From a peak of more than 400 cases a day, the rate has fallen to fewer than 20 new cases a day. Australia has avoided the worst of the pandemic, at least for now. Comparable (albeit larger and more densely populated) countries, such as the UK and US, are mourning many thousands of lives lost and are still struggling to bring the pandemic under control. The reasons for Australia’s success story are complex, and success may yet be temporary, but four factors have been important.
Swedish expert admits country should have had tighter coronavirus controls
The architect of Sweden’s controversial lighter lockdown policy for dealing with coronavirus has for the first time conceded the Scandinavian country should have imposed more restrictions to avoid having such a high death toll. Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, agreed with the interviewer on Sveriges Radio that too many people had died in the country. “If we would encounter the same disease, with exactly what we know about it today, I think we would land midway between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world did,” said Mr Tegnell in the interview broadcast on Wednesday morning.
Maintaining Services
Vaccines group raises $8.8 billion for immunisation plans for poor countries
The GAVI vaccines alliance said on Thursday it had raised $8.8 billion from international donor governments, companies and philanthropic foundations to fund its immunisation programmes through to 2025. At a funding summit in London, GAVI said the pledges had exceeded its target of $7.4 billion, and would “help immunise 300 million more children in the world’s poorest countries against diseases like measles, polio and diphtheria”. The vaccines alliance also said it had raised $567 million towards an initial goal of $2 billion from international donors for an Advanced Market Commitment to buy future COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries.
Avoid coronavirus travel quarantine by flying from 'clean' airport
Holidaymakers flying from a limited number of British airports will be able to enter Europe without being tested and quarantined under new measures to open up tourism. A “blacklist” of 13 UK airports has been drawn up by the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa), an EU organisation, to mark out those in areas with the highest coronavirus infection rates. Greece confirmed yesterday that the system would be used to determine which passengers would be subject to the strictest measures on arrival from June 15 when it opens its borders to tourists for the first time since March. All people from high-risk areas will be given a Covid-19 test, with isolation periods of seven or 14 days depending on whether the result is positive.
The Winding Roadmap for Reopening Offices and Putting Workers First
The majority of American workers say their employer is offering flex time or remote options during the pandemic, an increase of almost 20 percent since February 2020, according to a recent Gallup poll. A majority also reported that they would prefer continuing to work remotely even after workplaces reopen.
Healthcare Innovations
124 coronavirus vaccines are in development – but will any work?
UST months after the coronavirus pandemic began, 10 vaccines designed to prevent covid-19 are already being tested in people, and another 114 are in development. A vaccine that provides effective, long-lasting protection against the coronavirus would be a game-changer, far better than any treatment. “Do we need a vaccine? Absolutely we do. It’s really better to prevent,” says Peter Horby, who is leading a UK trial evaluating several covid-19 treatments.
AstraZeneca lays out plans to produce 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine
The drug giant AstraZeneca said Thursday that it has found partners to manufacture and distribute 2 billion doses of the experimental Covid-19 vaccine created by Oxford University, inking a series of deals with non-government organizations and another manufacturer. AstraZeneca said that CEPI and Gavi, public-private partnerships aimed at developing and distributing vaccines, would spend $750 million to manufacture and make available 300 million doses of the vaccine to distribute by the end of the year — assuming the vaccine is shown to be safe and effective. It also reached a licensing agreement with SII, previously known as the Serum Institute of India, to supply 1 billion doses of the vaccine to low- and middle-income countries. SII committed to provide 400 million doses before the end of 2020.
COVID-19 Can Last for Several Months
The disease’s “long-haulers” have endured relentless waves of debilitating symptoms—and disbelief from doctors and friends.
Remdesivir: Ebola drug endorsed as a coronavirus treatment in Australia
The antiviral drug remdesivir has been recommended for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in Australia, by the national taskforce bringing together the country’s peak health groups. The National Covid-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce said Australian doctors treating adults with moderate, severe or critical Covid-19 should consider using the drug to aid recovery times. The antiviral drug is the first medication to be recommended as a considered treatment for patients treated in hospital after contracting coronavirus.
Study reveals slow easing of lockdowns might be good for global economy - ​Easier rebound
The study found that stricter lockdowns imposed earlier - such as the two-month lockdown imposed in China - are economically preferable to more moderate lockdowns imposed for four or six months, as the duration of lockdown matters more to economies than their severity. This is because businesses can absorb the shock of a brief lockdown better by relying on reserves and because shorter lockdowns cause less disruption to regional and global supply chains. This is the first peer-reviewed study to comprehensively assess potential global supply chain effects of Covid-19 lockdowns, modelling the impact of lockdowns on 140 countries, including countries not directly affected by Covid-19.
Covid-19 causing 10,000 dementia deaths beyond infections, research says
There were almost 10,000 unexplained extra deaths among people with dementia in April, according to official figures that have prompted alarm about the severe impact of social isolation on people with the condition. The data, from the Office for National Statistics, reveals that, beyond deaths directly linked to Covid-19, there were 83% more deaths from dementia than usual in April, with charities warning that a reduction in essential medical care and family visits were taking a devastating toll.
Will Warm Weather Slow Spread of Novel Coronavirus?
We’ll obviously have to wait a few months to get the data. But for now, many researchers have their doubts that the COVID-19 pandemic will enter a needed summertime lull. Among them are some experts on infectious disease transmission and climate modeling, who ran a series of sophisticated computer simulations of how the virus will likely spread over the coming months [1]. This research team found that humans’ current lack of immunity to SARS-CoV-2—not the weather—will likely be a primary factor driving the continued, rapid spread of the novel coronavirus this summer and into the fall. These sobering predictions, published recently in the journal Science, come from studies led by Rachel Baker and Bryan Grenfell at Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton, NJ. The Grenfell lab has long studied the dynamics of infectious illnesses, including seasonal influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Last year, they published one of the first studies to look at how our warming climate might influence those dynamics in the coming years