"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 8th Aug 2022

Isolation Tips
Hong Kong to Announce Hotel Quarantine Cut as Soon as Monday
Hong Kong may announce a reduction in the amount of time international travelers need to spend in mandatory hotel quarantine as soon as Monday, according to people familiar with the matter, with discussions over the scale of the change still ongoing. While officials had anticipated making an announcement on Friday, it has been pushed back to Monday at the earliest since no firm decision has yet been made on the parameters of the cut, according to one person, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations.
Hygiene Helpers
CDC: 85% of Americans Should Be Wearing a Mask Indoors or Considering It
Nearly 85% of Americans should be wearing a mask while indoors in public spaces or considering the measure, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 55% of the U.S. lives in counties that are considered a “high” COVID-19 community level by the CDC. Under the agency’s guidance, those people should be wearing a mask while inside. More than 29% of the country lives in counties considered a “medium” level where they should consider the measure based on their risk of severe COVID-19. The percentage is a slight decrease over the previous week, when nearly 88% of the population was in a high or medium community level.
New Zealand allowed pharmacists to dispense COVID-19 antivirals and 'everyone realised it was a win'
There are calls for awareness of COVID antivirals and easier access to the treatments in Australia. Pharmacy experts suggest looking to New Zealand where the drugs are available without a prescription. As well as reducing the severity of disease, emerging research suggests the medications can help reduce the risk of long COVID
Covid in Schools: Masks, Shots Helped Protect College Students from Infection
Vaccinated and masked college students had virtually no chance of catching Covid-19 in the classroom last fall, according to a sweeping study of 33,000 Boston University students that bolsters standard prevention measures. The researchers screened the college’s health records to find nine sets of students who developed Covid at about the same time, were in class together without social distancing and had no known contact outside school, suggesting that they might have transmitted it in the classroom. However, genome analysis of coronavirus samples from the groups showed that all of them more likely were infected in other places.
UK Covid-19 infections fall for second week in a row
Covid-19 infections in the UK have fallen for the second week in a row, in a fresh sign that the current wave of the virus has peaked, new figures show. The number of patients in hospital with the virus is also on a clear downwards trend. A total of 2.6 million people in private households are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to July 25/26, down 19% from 3.2 million in the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Infections have now dropped by more than a million in the space of a fortnight.
U.S. administers over 7300 Novavax vaccine doses - CDC
The United States has administered more than 7,300 doses of Novavax Inc's COVID-19 shot, which health officials hope will convince more people to opt for vaccinations as it is based on a technology that has been in use for decades. Over 330,000 doses of Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed in the United States, and more than 2,300 people have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated on Thursday.
Top covid symptom is ‘sore throat’, says latest data
Covid-19 infections in the UK have jumped by around 7 per cent, with the ongoing rise still driven by the newest Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5. Hospital numbers are also continuing to increase, with early signs of a rise in intensive care admissions among older age groups. A total of 3.8 million people in private households are estimated to have had in the week up to 14 July, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures. The previous week there were around 3.3 million cases across the UK. That is the highest estimate for total infections since late April, but is still some way below the record high of 4.9 million seen at the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave at the end of March.
Even Mild Covid-19 May Cause Lasting Brain Fog
In previous installments of this series, we looked at new research that suggests even mild SARS-CoV-2 infection can impair cognitive function. The first step in this chain of events happens when the virus sets off an intense inflammatory response that eventually reaches the brain. Once there, inflammation triggers reactivity of microglial cells —the resident immune cells of the central nervous system— which produce yet more inflammation and interfere with the normal functioning of important cells, including oligodendrocytes and neural precursor cells (Figure 1). Schematic of the pathway through which general inflammation causes cognitive dysfunction. But given that all of this happens off the back of inflammation, which we experience during any number of infections or injuries, wouldn’t we expect to see something similar unfold in other viral diseases? As part of their research, Fernández-Castañeda et al. asked themselves this same question. In the search for an answer, they turned to influenza. Like Covid-19, the flu has also been associated with cognitive and neurological issues. And like SARS-CoV-2, influenza is rarely neuroinvasive — even though both viruses can infect the brain directly, as can many other viruses, it seems to happen only infrequently. It could be, then, that influenza causes cognitive issues through a similar mechanism as Covid.
Community Activities
Australia cricketer wins in Commonwealth Games gold medal match after positive Covid test
Tahlia McGrath was allowed to play for Australia in their Commonwealth Games T20 cricket final against India despite testing positive for Covid-19. The all-rounder is the No1 ranked side’s hottest property and Aussie chiefs were desperate that she started the Edgbaston showpiece. Despite experiencing “mild” symptoms, and following consultation with health experts, team and match officials delaying the toss by 10 minutes, the International Cricket Council gave her the green light. Under Games Covid rules, affected players across all disciplines are assessed on a case-by-case basis. McGrath, who contributed 126 runs and eight wickets to Australia’s previous four matches, sat apart from her team-mates in the dressing room wearing a mask.
Prada Navigates Tricky COVID Curbs to Hold Beijing Show
Prada on Friday became the first major luxury house to host a show in China this year, navigating strict COVID curbs to send models down a catwalk in a historic Beijing mansion hotel, a move aimed at underscoring its commitment to the market. Livestreamed on multiple online platforms including Weibo, more than 400 celebrities and customers attended the event held by the Italian group in the Prince Jun’s Mansion Hotel, where it showcased its men and women's fall and winter collections. Shows in Chinese cities by global luxury giants, from Prada to LVMH's Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, used to be a familiar sight and continued even in 2020 and 2021 after China curbed the spread of the virus relatively quickly thanks to tough border curbs. But much has changed in 2022 with China's continued insistence on a "dynamic zero COVID" policy that uses harsh measures to cut any virus transmission chain, even as the rest of the world opens up in the face of infectious Omicron variants.
Working Remotely
Remote working: The countries shunning the post-COVID work trend and why
A recent study from employment site Indeed found that the number of global job listings with a remote component has soared since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly tripling from an average of just 2.5 per cent in January 2020 to almost 7.5 per cent in September 2021. Spain, Ireland, and the United Kingdom are just some of the countries seeing the greatest increases, and the United States is no stranger to the trend either. Remote opportunities leapt from under 4 per cent of all high-paying jobs before the pandemic to about 9 per cent at the end of 2020, and to more than 15 per cent today in North America.
8 Ways to Balance Your Home Life and Remote Work (And Stay Productive)
Even though most of us feel our lives have returned to normal since 2020, many aspects of life across the globe have seen a radical transformation. The most obvious of these might be the workplace. According to the Pew Trust, six in 10 U.S. workers are still working remotely. About that same number are choosing to work at home. For many, this transition has its challenges. But there are strategies to making a work-at-home life more fulfilling and productive.
Virtual Classrooms
As students return to classrooms and ditch virtual instruction, experts and parents wonder about pandemic learning loss
Parents heard a lot about learning loss throughout the pandemic as schools went virtual. Experts say it was harder for kids to reach milestones, both academic and social. As we look to the upcoming school year, the first fully back in the classroom for many students, where are our kids now?
How Effective is Online Learning for Those in Senior Education
With the rise of new technologies, being physically present in a classroom is no longer necessary to receive a high-quality education. Thanks to online education, we are in an era where you can receive an education anywhere and anytime. Although the idea of leaving behind conventional teaching practices and the classroom setting may seem foreign, online education has been proven to be valid and valuable for many students. There are many reasons why online learning is effective for those in senior education who want to learn a new skill or improve their knowledge of a particular subject.
Public Policies
Biden tests negative for COVID, White House physician says
President Joe Biden has tested negative for COVID-19 after testing positive with a breakthrough case for days, the White House physician said on Saturday. The Democratic president, "in an abundance of caution," will remain in isolation until he tests negative on a second test, Dr. Kevin O'Connor said in a memo released by the White House. Biden, 79, emerged from isolation at the White House on July 27 after testing positive for COVID-19 for the first time on July 21. He tested positive again on July 30 in what O'Connor described as a "rebound" case seen in a small percentage of people who take the antiviral drug Paxlovid.
Maintaining Services
Desperately seeking nurses: What can be done to retain them?
The pandemic has taken a toll on nurses. Across nations, nurses are quitting in large numbers. In Singapore, they are resigning in record numbers, causing a severe shortage at the hospitals. The Straits Times looks at why they quit and where some of them have gone to.
All Manitoba kids 6 months and older can get COVID-19 vaccine starting Friday
Articlee reports that all kids in Manitoba six months and older will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine starting Friday morning, the province says in a news release. Previously, only Indigenous kids and those with certain health conditions were eligible to get their shots. Parents and caregivers can start booking appointments for newly eligible kids at 9 a.m. Children need to be at least six months old at the time of their appointment, the release said. Health Canada approved the two-dose Moderna vaccine for kids ages six months to four years old in July. So far, Manitoba has gotten 14,900 doses, the release said. It's shipped more than 3,700 of them to regional vaccine sites and medical clinics and another 2,100 to First Nations medical leadership to distribute in their communities.
Hospitalizations, deaths tied to COVID-19 up slightly, latest report says
The latest provincial report on COVID-19 in Manitoba suggests an uptick in some severe outcomes for the second week in a row, including more people landing in hospital due to the coronavirus. The report says 53 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized during the week ending July 30, compared to 45 one week earlier. Slightly fewer people ended up in intensive care units: there were seven ICU admissions, down from eight ICU admissions during the week ending July 23. There were six deaths associated with coronavirus, up from five the week before. So far, 2,067 people have died due to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Healthcare Innovations
Covid-19: One in eight adults develops long covid symptoms, study suggests
One in eight covid-19 patients (12.7%) is likely to experience long term symptoms, a study from the Netherlands has reported. Using digital questionnaires, researchers collected data on the frequency of 23 symptoms commonly associated with covid in an uninfected population and in people who had had a covid diagnosis. The findings, published in the Lancet,1 found that 21.4% (381/1782) of adults who had had covid experienced at least one new or severely increased symptom three to five months after infection when compared with before. This compared with only 8.7% (361/4130) of uninfected people followed over the same period. The core long covid symptoms highlighted by the researchers include chest pain, difficulties breathing, pain when breathing, painful muscles, loss of taste and smell, tingling extremities, lump in throat, feeling hot and cold, heavy arms or legs, and general tiredness.