"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 5th Aug 2022

Isolation Tips
China Resort Town Sanya Is Covid Hotspot, Stranding Summer Vacation Tourists
The Chinese beach resort city of Sanya has become the nation’s latest virus hotspot with more than 100 Covid-19 cases recorded Thursday, leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded in one of the country’s most popular summer destinations. The city in the southern province of Hainan -- often called the “Hawaii of China” -- reported 107 new infections since noon Thursday, a sharp jump from the 11 cases found Wednesday, according to CCTV. Authorities partially locked down the city on Thursday, closing indoor venues like karaoke parlors and bars. People in areas categorized as high-risk are banned from leaving their homes or lodgings, while others can only venture out of their compounds once every two days to purchase necessities.
Eastern Chinese export hub Yiwu imposes COVID restrictions
Article reports that the Chinese city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province has suspended some public gatherings and dining at restaurants, closed multiple entertainment venues and locked down some areas to cope with COVID-19 flare-ups, the city government said on Wednesday. In light of the latest COVID-19 infections, city-wide mass testing will be conducted on Aug. 4, Yiwu's health authorities said late on Wednesday. There were 38 new coronavirus cases in Yiwu since Tuesday, of which nine were symptomatic and 29 were asymptomatic, the city's health authorities said.
Hygiene Helpers
Most kids in northeastern Ontario have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19
"So certainly we do have some work to do," said Kendra Brunet, the manager of COVID response for the Porcupine Health Unit. "But over the next few weeks we have several child and youth friendly clinics set up, as well as outdoor clinics so that we can get those vaccine rates up for the return to school," she said. Nastassia McNair, the manager of COVID planning for Public Health Sudbury and Districts, says based on the lower uptake for children, she'll be happy if they hit 30 or 40 per cent vaccine coverage for the newly eligible six months to five-years old group.
Ventilation key to battling COVID-19, experts say, urging Australia to do more
Tasmanian schools are keeping windows and doors open as much as they can, despite winter weather. Indoor air quality expert Professor Lidia Morawska says consideration of ventilation is patchy across Australia. There are calls for mandated standards for indoor air quality
Second Covid-19 vaccine boosters, explained
Federal officials said that they weren’t yet changing the eligibility guidelines for a fourth dose. Currently, they’re recommended only for people over the age of 50 and people who are immunocompromised. Everyone else will likely have to wait until the fall to get the go-ahead from regulators. Some experts, though, think it might be worth getting a second booster now if you face a high risk of Covid-19 exposure or if your previous dose was ages ago. The rise of BA.5 has spooked many of them, despite evidence the virus causes less severe disease now than at any other point during the pandemic. And despite the surge in cases, death trends have hardly moved, indicating that the previous crop of vaccines is still doing its main job of preventing severe illness for most people.
Covid has settled into a persistent pattern — and remains damaging. It may not change anytime soon
Our tussle with Covid-19 — after a harrowing introduction and then wave upon wave of infections — seems to have settled into a persistent pattern. It may stay that way for a while. While Covid is not nearly the threat it once was, transmission of the coronavirus remains at sky-high levels. At the same time, the death rate has dropped thanks to vaccinations and improved treatments, and the overwhelming majority of people in the United States have developed some level of protection, from shots, a previous infection, or some combination of the two. In some ways, Covid is increasingly looking like other respiratory infections — mild in many people, but sometimes severe in certain high-risk populations.
People vaccinated against Covid share common symptom after testing positive
“It usually lasts for an average of two to three days, but can last up to seven days in adults,” the ZOE team said. The data found this symptom has become less prevalent with each variant, as nearly a third of adults aged over 35 reported having diarrhoea during the Alpha wave, while just one in five said they experienced it during the Omicron and Delta waves. The people who experienced it during the latter two waves had been vaccinated either twice or had also received their booster jab.
Community Activities
Northern Ireland families who lost loved ones to Covid-19 mount legal bid for central role in UK inquiry into pandemic
Families who lost loved ones to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland are mounting a legal bid to secure a central role at the UK-wide inquiry into the pandemic. The tribunal has been set up to examine the response of government and impact of the public health emergency. Lawyers representing campaign group Northern Ireland Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice confirmed they are applying for core participant status at the hearings. A statement issued by the group said: “It is difficult to conceive of a group who have been more tragically affected by the pandemic. “Our key objectives are to secure answers and accountability for the deaths of our loved ones and to learn lessons to help save lives in the future and the most effective means of achieving this is by participating in the Covid-19 Public Inquiry.
Calls to rethink 'immoral' removal of Covid-19 sick pay policies
Nurses are among those urging governments across the UK to reinstate special Covid-19 sick pay policies for NHS staff and are appealing for support from the profession and the public via an online petition. The petition, which demands that special Covid-19 sick pay is reintroduced, has received more than 38,000 signatures in just under a month. It was launched by midwife Maria Esslinger-Raven on behalf of health professionals like herself who have long Covid.
Austrian doctors speak out after suicide of GP following Covid threats
Austrian medical representatives have called for greater protection for doctors after a GP who faced months of violent threats from anti-vaccination activists and pandemic conspiracy theorists took her own life. Lisa-Maria Kellermayr was found dead in her practice in the lakeside resort of Seewalchen am Attersee on Friday. Prosecutors told the media they found three suicide notes and were not planning to carry out an autopsy. Her death prompted a wave of vigils and demonstrations. There have also been calls for laws against bullying and psychological warfare to be tightened, including making it easier to prosecute perpetrators in other EU countries, after at least two of the people believed to have targeted Kellermayr with death threats were identified as coming from Germany.
Working Remotely
How to minimize distractions when you work from home
The first step to mitigating distractions when working from home is to accept that you become distracted because humans are distractible. It is part of your nature. To be clear, the goal isn’t to avoid non-work at all costs. The goal is to manage distractions. Sometimes, that means leaning in. The corollary of all of this is that, to avoid distractions while working from home, you also have to avoid work distractions while living from home. Unless you truly have the kind of job where you have to be available 24/7, make sure that when you’re off the clock, you’re off the clock
Five strategies for retail businesses still struggling to switch to remote work
For many people, staying productive and maintaining balance when working remotely can be very challenging. You must equip your home office with all the tools, maintain communication as if you were in the office, and many more things. Luckily, here are the five strategies to help you stay productive when working remotely in retail.
Virtual Classrooms
Statistics Update: New Trends in Enrollment, Virtual Schooling, and Special Education
In the US, there were 691 virtual schools in 2019-20, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s before the pandemic took hold, so the number has likely changed. But it’s the most recent data available. By comparison, 21 percent of public schools offered online courses in 2017-18.
Public Policies
China's Covid Zero Strategy Could Last Years Under Xi
It’s 2025 in Beijing, five years since the start of the pandemic, and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Covid Zero policy is still an inescapable part of daily life. Residents must get PCR tested every few days at one of the booths on nearly every street corner. A personalized health code app determines who can move around the capital, and where. Children have to test negative to go to the park. Something as simple as a visit to a coffee shop or supermarket can result in being locked down in your apartment, not even allowed out for food – which the state instead provides. Because a few positive cases prompt officials to restrict movement in all or parts of the city, CEOs assume they must deal with several shutdowns a year.
Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine gets approval for use in children in Hong Kong
Sinovac Biotech has reported that its Covid-19 vaccine, CoronaVac, obtained approval from the Health Bureau of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China for usage in children of the age six months to three years. The consensus interim recommendations on Covid-19 vaccine use in children aged six months or above in Hong Kong were released by the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases and the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases under the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health. The approval is based on clinical trials and studies of Covid-19 inoculation in children and adolescents in the region.
Maintaining Services
Lilly Plans to Sell Covid-19 Antibody Directly to Health-Care Providers
Eli Lilly & Co. plans to sell its Covid-19 antibody directly to health providers, states and territories in a bid to keep the drug available even as US government funding and purchases dry up. The US is working with Lilly to allow it to sell the antibody, bebtelovimab, through commercial channels, representatives for the Indianapolis-based drugmaker and the Health and Human Services Department said Wednesday. The government’s supply of the therapy will run out as early as the week of Aug. 22, according to Lilly spokeswoman Dani Barnhizer. Concern about the pandemic has ebbed as vaccines have prevented high numbers of severe cases and deaths that accompanied the outbreak’s early stages. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has been frustrated by unwillingness in Congress to provide more funds to continue buying Covid drugs and shots.
Covid-19: Unprecedented levels of chronic absence in schools
The impact of the Covid pandemic has resulted in "unprecedented" numbers of children chronically absent from school, the Department of Education (DE) has said. It said the rate of absences was evident from figures it collected during the 2021-22 school year. Chronic absence is classed as missing more than 10% of the year. The children's commissioner in England is concerned some pupils never fully returned to school after lockdowns. An investigation by Dame Rachel de Souza suggested persistent absence from school was at a rate in England almost twice as high as before the pandemic. Previous reports from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) also said that the pandemic and restrictions had "a severe impact" on children and young people. Most pupils in Northern Ireland were taught remotely out of school for months in 2020 and in early 2021.
Economically inactive Britons with long Covid has ‘doubled’ in a year
One in 20 people in the UK who are neither employed nor seeking paid work are suffering from long Covid, with the figure more than doubling in the past year, official data has revealed. The proportion is far higher than for the one in 29 people who are unemployed but seeking work who have long Covid symptoms, or the one in 30 employed people who are sufferers, data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.
'Permanent shock' to nursing homes? Facilities fail to replace workers who quit after COVID outbreaks
Before pandemic, 82% of facilities did not meet recommended staffing levels. Pay levels are low and competition from hospitals is steep. Industry says inadequate government funding impacts recruitment and retention
Photo exposes stark difference in China’s Covid-19 lockdown rules
One photo has summed up the mind-boggling difference in Covid rules between two neighboring Chinese districts. The image, shared on social media by Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for global health Yanzhong Huang, shows locals on one side of a street lining up for Covid tests, while on the other, diners are enjoying their restaurant meals. Dr Huang said the photo represented a “tale of two districts in Chengdu, (a city in) Sichuan province”. “Residents of Chenghua district (left) line up to be tested on Covid, while residents of Jinniu district (right) wait to get a nice meal,” he wrote. He said the Chenghua district was currently under strict lockdown rules after a concentration of Covid cases in the area.
Healthcare Innovations
Studies: 3 or 4 COVID vaccine doses protective against Omicron
In the first study, published yesterday in JAMA Network Open, researchers in Israel studied the effectiveness of a fourth dose of Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine against infection in 29,611 healthcare workers (HCWs) at 11 general hospitals who had received three vaccine doses in August or September 2021. The Omicron surge in Israel began in December 2021. The researchers tested workers for COVID-19 using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) only after symptoms emerged or they were exposed to the virus. Of all participants, 5,331 (18%) received a fourth dose in January 2022, the start of a fourth-dose vaccination campaign for Israeli HCWs, and were not infected in the first week after vaccination. Average participant age was 44 years, and 65% were women. Participants were followed until Jan 31, 2022.
A first update on mapping the human genetic architecture of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a major public health threat, especially in countries with low vaccination rates. To better understand the biological underpinnings of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 severity, we formed the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative1. Here we present a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of up to 125,584 cases and over 2.5 million control individuals across 60 studies from 25 countries, adding 11 genome-wide significant loci compared with those previously identified2. Genes at new loci, including SFTPD, MUC5B and ACE2, reveal compelling insights regarding disease susceptibility and severity.
Covid Study Gives 'Powerful' Clues to Pandemic's Lasting Impact
One in eight people recovering from Covid-19 had lingering symptoms due to the illness at least three months later in a study that provides greater clarity on the ailments triggered by the pandemic disease. Scientists used data from the Netherlands’ largest population-based cohort study to track long Covid problems, such as a loss of smell and chest pain. The proportion of participants who had one or more hallmark symptoms was 21% among those who caught Covid, compared with almost 9% in people who didn’t, leaving about 13% of patients with symptoms that can be attributed to the coronavirus, according to researchers at the University of Groningen.