"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 8th Jun 2020

Isolation Tips
Internet-Based CBT for Health Anxiety Compares Well to In-Person Therapy
Potential healthcare savings could be in the thousands per patient
Diary of a Wuhan lockdown survivor
The Wuhan authorities are testing 11 million citizens to rule out a resurgence of cases. Such painstaking efforts to contain the virus may not have been directly precipitated by free speakers like Fang, but without her diary and her repeated exhortation to fellow citizens to record the trauma of these tragic times, the history of the pandemic would be incomplete. When she began writing the diary, Fang was a celebrated writer in China, seldom translated into English. With the publication of Wuhan Diary in English, she has become a global figure of free speech. Here are the highlights from the 60-odd days Fang recorded in her diary. The original entries have been excerpted and shortened with permission from her publisher.
Paul Workman: Locked down in London, Day 75
Tomorrow will mark 76 days since the U.K. was put under lockdown and it’s still counting as many as 8,000 daily infections. The country’s scientist adviser says the numbers are “still not coming down fast.” And yet a lot of people are acting as if the lockdown is over. I don’t even know what to call it anymore. Lockdown Light I suppose.
Hygiene Helpers
Japan's Coronavirus Numbers Are Low. Are Masks the Reason?
In America, masks have become a weapon in the culture wars. In Japan, wearing one is no big deal, and deaths have stayed low.
Coronavirus: WHO advises to wear masks in public areas
The global body said new information showed they could provide "a barrier for potentially infectious droplets". Some countries already recommend or mandate face coverings in public. The WHO had previously argued there was not enough evidence to say that healthy people should wear masks. However, WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday that "in light of evolving evidence, the WHO advises that governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where there is widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments".
Rushing back to social life is like sucking your thumb
Yet there are some things that just don’t work unless we all do them. Road rules, for example. Certainly, driving on the wrong side of the road might be more exciting — for a while. Think of the endorphin rush you’d get, doing a Mad Max, tearing down the freeway with a huge semi-trailer hurtling towards you. However thrilling it might be, it’s not something we can tolerate. Because the downside is death, for the rebel who chose to embrace excitement over life, but also for the people he ran into. People who did the right thing but died along with the idiot.
Community Activities
Women's unpaid and underpaid work in the times of Covid-19 - World
We ask the governments in Asia to save lives of all including caregivers from health risks of COVID-19. Invest in information, training, safety equipment, fair wages and just and favourable conditions of work. Ensure equal access to testing, treatment, and health care for all including caregivers at homes, in communities, and health centers. Commit to ensuring vaccine and treatment when available is accessible and affordable to all including women and girls living in poverty.
Three sisters who moved from India to save lives at Burton hospital
The sisters had always wanted to be nurses growing up in the Kerala region of southern India and when staff from Burton’s Queen’s Hospital went out there to recruit new workers, they knew it was what they wanted to do. Priya took the plunge first in 2002 when she decided to up sticks, leaving her family behind and move to the UK to work for the NHS. She was closely followed by Preema in 2004 then Preethy in 2005.
Elephants, Long Endangered by Thai Crowds, Reclaim a National Park
Tourist trails helped push elephants to their deaths in Thailand’s oldest nature preserve. The coronavirus lockdown is allowing them to roam freely again.
Working Remotely
The Shift to Remote Work Could Be a Big Swing and a Miss
A permanent shift isn’t appealing to all companies—even to Facebook’s social-media peers. Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel says he is “avoiding making sweeping statements that project far into the future in such a rapidly evolving situation.” Major corporations rushing to turn lockdown lemons into lemonade could get hit with a sour aftertaste.
Who Needs Cities When We All Work From Home?
Urban areas will survive a surge in working from home but may have to reinvent themselves
Virtual Classrooms
Coaching industry tries to reinvent itself in Covid times
Every year about this time, India’s coaching industry starts admitting lakhs of students aspiring for entrance to premier institutes. In the wake of coronavirus, numbers are down to half as institutes try to reinvent their classrooms for a post-pandemic world.
Online classes to continue
The online classes for schoolchildren are likely to continue even after the summer vacation since parents are unwilling to risk sending their children to school, multiple school authorities have told The Telegraph. In the same breath, several school principals and teachers said that online classes are less engaging and less productive, particularly for the weaker students and those very young who need individual attention.
Teaching post-Covid-19: Will we still need classrooms?
The prolonged lockdown situation has made us all reassess various aspects of life including how and where we work. Educationalists are no exception. Just over 10 weeks of working from home – carrying out administrative duties, having virtual meetings and setting assignments – have made us all think about what it is we and our students are missing out on. For me, it's these eight key aspects of teaching. Human beings require physical contact – that’s a given. It is the core of our being. Real contact that relies on our five senses defines and shapes the way we perceive the outside world.
Violinist.com Interview with Anthea Kreston: Going Virtual During the Pandemic
Anthea is a violinist with a B.A. in women’s studies from Cleveland State University and a performance degree from the Curtis Institute of Music. She spent four years as a member of the Artemis Quartett in Berlin, where she also was a Professor at the Universität der Künste Berlin and Master Teacher at the Queen Elizabeth Chapel in Brussels. You may have seen her regular blog on Slipped Disc. Now back in the U.S., she has been teaching students at Curtis and spending time with her husband and two daughters. She's also has been hard at work, developing the fully-online Inside Music Academy Virtual Summer Sessions, which will feature a variety of offerings, including classical strings, winds, piano, composition, conducting, adult learners and Suzuki. Last week I spoke to Anthea about her experience with online teaching, her perspective on the pandemic, and the new summer program that starts June 15.
The Results Are In for Remote Learning: It Didn’t Work
The problems began piling up almost immediately. There were students with no computers or internet access. Teachers had no experience with remote learning. And many parents weren’t available to help. In many places, lots of students simply didn’t show up online, and administrators had no good way to find out why not. Soon many districts weren’t requiring students to do any work at all, increasing the risk that millions of students would have big gaps in their learning. “We all know there’s no substitute for learning in a school setting, and many students are struggling and falling far behind where they should be,” said Austin Beutner, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, in a video briefing to the community on Wednesday.
Public Policies
Coronavirus latest news: ‘Air bridges’ to ease travel quarantine unlikely to be ready before July
The much longed-for “air bridges” with other countries are unlikely to be in place before July despite the airline industry calling for a decision to be made “within days rather than weeks”. It's hoped British holidaymakers could avoid quarantine in certain European destinations with the implementation of 'air bridges' if they fly from a UK airport not included on a "high-risk" list drawn up by an EU aviation body. Opponents of the Government’s quarantine plan, which comes into force today, had hoped that Boris Johnson would be able to announce bilateral deals with other countries when the policy first comes up for review on June 28.
Changes to the lockdown rules from today
Today, the two biggest changes across England will be dentists reopening and the introduction of quarantine rules.
Coronavirus: PM to set out plans to rebuild economy amid fears of lack of strategy over second surge
Boris Johnson will make a key speech on rebuilding Britain's economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, amid growing concern that he does not have an effective strategy for preventing a second peak of the virus. Fear is growing among ministers that millions of jobs may be lost if pubs and restaurants are not allowed to reopen this summer and Mr Johnson is understood to have tasked his team with developing plans to get business moving as soon as possible to prevent a major economic slowdown.
Al fresco Britannia! Restaurants, pubs and cafés prepare for outdoor-dining revolution
Boris Johnson is drawing up a 'Great Recovery Bill' to cut red tape and get the economy moving again. Under the plans, cafes and pubs could be given fast-track approval to serve food and drink outside. A mini-budget is expected to be announced for July - including tax cuts to fuel spending and investment. Under-pressure Chancellor Rishi Sunak is also considering a national insurance holiday for employers. Official Covid-19 death toll has reached 40,261 - as R-rate reaches danger level in North West and South West
Prime minister told to dump rhetoric and plan for new Covid wave
• An “aggressive public health campaign” to boost flu immunisation to stop the NHS having to deal with flu as well as Covid-19 outbreaks this winter. • The retraining of more hospital staff so that they could be a “reserve” force, redeployed in the event of a second peak. • The retaining of private hospital space to help deal with the NHS backlog. • A comprehensive plan to protect care homes from a second peak in Covid-19 infections.
How Egypt's economy can continue to thrive during a global pandemic
COVID-19 has reshaped the social and economic progress that Egypt has experienced. Private investors in infrastructure can help expand transportation, upgrade power grids, and improve water sanitation and supply. Egypt could rebalance its supply chain to ensure food security. The government should promote Egypt as a hub for business process outsourcing.
Covid 19 coronavirus: New Zealand 'a week away' from Italy-style health system crash before lockdown
New Zealand was a week away from a Italy-style "health system meltdown" because of Covid-19 just days before the decision was made to lock the country down. The revelation is contained in a startling letter by Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners medical director Dr Bryan Betty, where he also warned it would take just several infected people several days to cause a "potentially exponential increase in cases again". Betty sent the letter to GPs on Thursday night. In it, he praised their work in confronting the virus and helping avoid a crisis. "New Zealand has done incredibly well to avoid a Covid-19 crisis, which I believe is in large part due to general practice," he wrote.
Contact-tracing and peer pressure: how Japan has controlled coronavirus
The first principle of controlling an emerging disease is to detect the outbreak and respond early. Understanding the transmission dynamics through field investigations is key. Japan is fortunate to have 469 local public health centres with more than 25,000 staff, who have been working hard to conduct contact tracing even before the virus became prevalent in the country. With no tracing apps (given patients’ reluctance to disclose full information), contact tracing has been somewhat analogue and time-consuming, involving calling patients and politely asking them to name the people they have met with in the last fortnight. But the system has worked well, and has resulted in an effective “cluster-focused” approach.
British complacency is behind pandemic failings — and we’re all involved
The Financial Times has been keeping score in this grim Covid Olympics. So far this year we have had more than 62,000 more deaths than would have been normal, which puts us at the top, just ahead of Spain, Italy and Belgium, in deaths per million people. And unlike Spain — which reported no deaths on Monday or Tuesday and just a few hundred infections — our total is climbing. How has this happened? How has a country which worships the NHS and likes to think it does things better than most places, which runs a huge aid programme telling others what to do about health and development, screwed up like this?
Beware the dangers of COVID-19 fatigue
"Signs of pandemic fatigue are emerging, as governments lack the wherewithal to continue leading an effective response. With patchwork management strategies, minimal federal leadership and a rapid return to pre-outbreak behaviours, it increasingly looks as if Canada is throwing in the towel."
Six Months of Coronavirus: Here’s Some of What We’ve Learned
At first, it had no name or true identity. Early in January, news reports referred to strange and threatening symptoms that had sickened dozens of people in a large Chinese city with which many people in the world were probably not familiar. After half a year, that large metropolis, Wuhan, is well-known, as is the coronavirus and the illness it causes, Covid-19. In that time, many reporters and editors on the health and science desk at The New York Times have shifted our journalistic focus as we have sought to tell the story of the coronavirus pandemic. While much remains unknown and mysterious after six months, there are some things we’re pretty sure of. These are some of those insights.
Bolsonaro threatens WHO exit as COVID-19 kills 'a Brazilian per minute'
In an editorial running the length of newspaper Folha de S.Paulo's front page, the Brazilian daily highlighted that just 100 days had passed since Bolsonaro described the virus now "killing a Brazilian per minute" as "a little flu." "While you were reading this, another Brazilian died from the coronavirus," the newspaper said. Brazil's Health Ministry reported late on Thursday that confirmed cases in the country had climbed past 600,000 and 1,437 deaths had been registered within 24 hours, the third consecutive daily record.
Coronavirus: Spain considers reopening land borders with France and Portugal this month
Spain has announced it is considering plans to reopen its land borders with France and Portugal from 22 June. The country shut its borders in mid-March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with only Spaniards, cross-border workers and truck drivers able to cross into neighbouring countries. Spanish tourism minister Reyes Maroto said the country would probably lift quarantine measures for travellers coming from Portugal and France at the same time.
'In the dark': NHS chiefs were not consulted over need to wear face masks
The government did not consult NHS leaders or give them notice before a decision to make all hospital staff wear surgical masks from 15 June, senior healthcare chiefs have said. Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said healthcare workers believe last-minute decisions are being made on the hoof because of political rather than public health considerations and that announcements were being made to “fill the space” at the Downing Street coronavirus briefings. His intervention comes after the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said on Friday that all hospital visitors and outpatients in England would have to wear face coverings, and that hospital staff must use surgical masks from the middle of the month, despite the government previously saying the evidence that face masks prevented the spread of Covid-19 was inconclusive.
'Can't quite believe it': New Zealand tiptoes towards elimination of coronavirus
Twenty-two New Zealanders have died of Covid-19, ; thousands have lost their jobs and the nation’s largest export sector, tourism, lies in tatters. But as New Zealanders look to the hundreds of thousands of deaths recorded in other countries, there is a sense that the rest of the world faced a different pandemic, the disastrous scale of which never fully arrived here. Now, providing there are no new and unexpected cases to marr the country’s 14-day streak of zero fresh instances of Covid-19, scientists say they expect to be able to declare next week that the virus has been eliminated from New Zealand – making it the first country among the OECD group of wealthy nations, and the first country that has recorded more than 100 cases to make such a statement, analysts said.
The 6 most successful anti-Covid strategies so far, and the reasons why they worked
Five months have passed since the Wuhan outbreak. Although no cure is in sight, we have had the opportunity to learn from the successes of some, and the failures of others. While the battle is still raging, the following might be the top six factors that made the difference between success and failure so far....
Maintaining Services
UN headquarters preparing for three-phase reopening to 'new normal' amid COVID-19
The sprawling United Nations headquarters, which has remained largely closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is preparing to re-open in three phases with new workplace measures being put in place for staff, diplomats and journalists that will include maximum two-person occupancy in elevators and wearing masks in common areas.
Vietnam Breaks Out of the Covid Tourist Trap
The result is that Vietnam has been among the first countries globally to get its citizens holidaying again. Tourism makes up only about 9% of the $260 billion economy — a smaller portion than Thailand, where the industry accounts for a fifth of gross domestic product — but it still adds up to some 5 million jobs, many for lower-skilled workers. A “Vietnamese People Travel in Vietnam” campaign began just as the country’s airline industry restarts regular schedules. Last year, there were 85 million domestic tourists, who made up more than 80% of all visitors — a huge number even if they are less spendthrift than foreigners.
Japanese architect Shigeru Ban calls for coronavirus-safe shelters
Japan’s Pritzker Award-winning architect Shigeru Ban, famous for designing buildings from paper tubes in disaster areas, says the world needs to think about tackling natural catastrophes in the coronavirus era. And while he hopes the pandemic will lead to less of a crush on Tokyo’s packed commuter trains, he warns against relying on teleworking, stressing that hands-on contact with materials is vital for great architecture. Speaking from his Tokyo office, the 62-year-old said cities need to start planning now to mitigate the nightmare scenario of an earthquake or typhoon striking before the pandemic has run its course.
Coronavirus: No return to 'business as usual' for dentists
The British Dental Association (BDA) has warned there will be no return to "business as usual" for dentistry in England. Practices were told last week that they could reopen from Monday 8 June, if they put in place appropriate safety measures. But some dentists say it was not enough warning and they lack necessary kit. A poll of 2,053 practices in England suggests that just over a third (36%) plan to reopen on Monday. "Anyone expecting dentistry to magically return on Monday will find only a skeleton service," says BDA chair Mick Armstrong.
What Will It Take to Reopen the World to Travel?
Above all, it’s trust. Countries are rebuilding relationships under enormous economic pressure, while keeping a wary eye on a virus that’s not going away soon.
How to Reopen America’s Schools
Many questions remain as experts weigh options for getting children back into the classroom.
Japan to require virus testing, itinerary in travel restriction easing
Japan is already in talks with Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand to mutually reopen borders, with businesspeople and professionals such as medical staff expected to be fast-tracked. Under the plan, travelers leaving Japan will first have to get a negative result in a polymerase chain reaction or PCR test, which they will then submit to the embassy of the country they plan to visit. During the first two weeks of their trip, travelers will also be required to stay at a hotel and there will be restrictions on their movements except for commuting to work and a ban on using public transport. The two weeks will likely be counted from when a negative virus test result is confirmed, the sources said, though alternatively it may be from the date of arrival.
Under lockdown, social work has gone virtual. What happens when the real world comes back?
Change has made a tough job harder – at the same time as children have also been seen far less by teachers, health workers, children’s centre staff and others who so often pick up the first signs something is wrong. Now, as restrictions begin to ease and schools make preparations to open, concerns are growing that a surge in referrals could test an already creaking system to breaking point. Against this backdrop, the government has caused further alarm by diluting – without warning – a wide range of the rules that help keep children in care safe.
How digital entrepreneurs will help shape the world after the COVID-19 pandemic
The ability to leverage digital tools has become a must for entrepreneurs, to survive the ongoing crisis. The pandemic has accelerated the process of digital transformation across almost all sectors. Greater social mobility and shared value creation are among those factors that entrepreneurs can leverage using digital tools on the recovery path.
A sight for sore eyes: Madrid reopens its museums
The government shut state-run museums on March 12 as it locked down the country to curb the coronavirus spread. Curbs have been lifted gradually, with Madrid one of the slowest places to ease restrictions as it was among the worst hit. The Prado and Reina Sofia are not yet fully open, but many masterpieces, including works by Velazquez and Goya in the Prado and Picasso’s “Guernica” in the Reina Sofia, are on display. Health measures are in force, including social distancing, reduced capacity and timed tickets for visits. Staff took visitors’ temperatures as they entered the Prado.
Healthcare Innovations
China would make a coronavirus vaccine a 'global public good'
China is expending great efforts in the global scramble to develop a vaccine for the new coronaries epidemic that began in its central city of Wuhan, with Chinese researchers conducting five separate clinical trials on humans, or half of all such trials globally, according to the data compiled by the World Health Organization. President Xi Jinping vowed last month at the World Heath Assembly, the WHO’s governing body, that vaccines China’s develops will become a “global public good” once they are ready for use, and it will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. Developing “a vaccine is still the fundamental strategy in our effort to overcome the new coronavirus,” Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang told a news conference in Beijing.
Scientists find link between COVID-19 severity and genetics
Patients with blood type A were linked to a 50% increase in the likelihood in needing to get oxygen or go on a ventilator. Genetic variations may be what causes different people to suffer from different symptoms of the coronavirus, according to a new study by European scientists, The New York Times reported. The study, which has not been peer-reviewed yet, is the first to find a strong statistical link between genetic variations and COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
The danger of blaming Covid-19 deaths on our genes
The researchers noticed that dementia was an underlying condition among many patients who died from Covid-19 and decided to explore whether the same gene that made people predisposed to Alzheimer's disease might also be associated with severe Covid-19 outcomes. The theory is not a new one. A molecule that carries cholesterol called apolipoprotein E (APOE) has a variant, APOE4, that is seen in higher rates among Alzheimer's patients than other APOE variants. Interestingly, the same variant also has also been linked to strong inflammatory responses. And an overwhelming inflammatory response is a hallmark of severe Covid-19.
Genetic Variations and Blood Type May Leave Some People More Vulnerable to Severe COVID-19
Researchers concluded that patients with Type A blood were 50 percent more likely to need to get oxygen or go on a ventilator
Oxford vaccine clinical trials to take volunteers from Brazil
The clinical trial for a vaccine conducted by experts at the University of Oxford will soon recruit 2,000 volunteers in Brazil The university said that on Tuesday, the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency approved the inclusion of Brazil in the clinical trials. Scientists are resuming Covid-19 trials of the now world-famous drug hydroxychloroquine, as confusion continues to reign about the anti-malarial hailed by US President Donald Trump as a potential “game-changer” in fighting the pandemic. It follows widespread criticism of the quality of data in a study in The Lancet which found high risks associated with the treatment.