"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 17th Aug 2022

Isolation Tips
Marshall Islands, haven from Covid for two years, gets 3,000 cases in space of weeks
After dodging the Covid-19 pandemic for two years, the Marshall Islands is grappling to control the spread of infections, which have tripled since the first community transmissions were detected a week ago. The number of positive cases in the north Pacific nation, which has a population of about 60,000 people, has skyrocketed to more than 3,000 cases with four Covid-linked deaths and seven hospital admissions. One thousand cases were reported in the capital, Majuro, on Sunday, which was “almost double from the previous day”, said the health secretary, Jack Niethendal.
China Covid Cases Near Three-Month High With Hainan, Tibet Outbreaks
China reported more than 2,000 new coronavirus infections for a fourth day as outbreaks flare across the country, raising the prospect of more disruptive restrictions in line with its Covid Zero strategy. Nationwide, there were 2,368 cases for Monday, near the highest level since May. More than half the infections are in the tropical island of Hainan, where an outbreak has stranded more than 150,000 tourists who have faced lockdowns, frequent testing and a dearth of flights.
Hygiene Helpers
What, Exactly, Is 'Paxlovid Mouth,' and How Do You Get Rid of It?
The 56-year-old in Montclair, N.J., was looking for a reprieve from a persistent residual taste—“like your mouth is just clenched around a grapefruit rind”—that came after she took Paxlovid, Pfizer’s antiviral drug to treat Covid-19. Ms. Witten is one of many people who have scouted remedies for what is informally known as Paxlovid mouth, a taste that can linger for as long as you take the drug. Patients who have taken Paxlovid have described it as sun-baked trash-bag liquid, a mouthful of dirty pennies and rotten soymilk. They have tried to erase the taste with salves from cinnamon to milk to pineapple. They are also trading strategies online. A Pfizer spokesperson acknowledged the side effect, called dysgeusia, and pointed to a study that found the symptom occurred 5.6% of the time people took the drug. The study was funded by Pfizer and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The company said most patients’ dysgeusia symptoms were mild.
Public urged to get next-generation Covid vaccine
All over-50s are likely to be offered an updated coronavirus vaccine in a booster campaign due to begin within a month. Yesterday Britain became the first country to approve a jab that directly targets the Omicron strain of the virus, and officials are confident of having tens of millions of doses of next-generation vaccines ready for autumn. Half the population is being urged to have a fourth vaccination to reduce the risk of illness over winter and ease pressure on the NHS.
Bharat Biotech says Phase 3 trial over, intranasal vaccine safe
Bharat Biotech has submitted data from Phase 3 clinical trials of BBV154, its intranasal Covid vaccine candidate, to the drug regulator. It has sought approval both as a primary two-dose vaccine, and a heterologous booster shot. A heterologous booster implies that the third or subsequent dose of the vaccine is different from its primary dose. Typically, the primary dose comprises two shots. The Hyderabad-based company claimed that BBV154, which is stable at 2-8 degrees Celsius, is proven to be safe, well-tolerated and immunogenic in the subjects under controlled clinical trials. “Being an intranasal vaccine, BBV154 may produce local antibodies in the upper respiratory tract. These may provide the potential to reduce infection and transmission. Further studies are being planned,” the company noted on Monday.
Covid-19: Southampton vaccine trial calls for pregnant women
A national Covid-19 vaccine trial is now calling for pregnant women from across the South. The study, taking place at University Hospital Southampton, will start to recruit participants later this month. It will look into the immune response to vaccination at different dose intervals - either four to six weeks or eight to 12 weeks. Participants will need to be between 18 and 44-years-old and 13 to 34 weeks pregnant on the day of vaccination. Women who have had previous vaccinations can still take part as the trial focuses on boosters, the size of the dose and which vaccine works best. The study, led by St George's, University of London, is backed by £7.5 million of government funding.
Quebec kicks off new COVID-19 vaccination campaign, starting with long-term care homes
On Monday, Quebec started offering fifth doses of COVID-19 vaccine to residents of long-term care homes and private seniors' residences. The Health Ministry said it launched the new vaccine campaign for at-risk people because it expects infections to rise in the fall after schools reopen. It said the recommended interval between booster doses is at least five months. Public Health Director Dr. Luc Boileau has said the government will be intensifying its message around vaccination in the coming weeks, as the health system prepares for another COVID-19 wave. He has also said Quebecers should continue wearing masks in crowded places and at the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.
Covid-19: Masks no longer needed in clinical settings in Wales
THE use of masks in clinical settings in Wales is no longer mandatory as of today. Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) says the change comes amid a reduction in the rates of Covid-19 infections over recent weeks. It adds however that the position will be reviewed once more should numbers begin to rise again in Wales.
Community Activities
Carnival Cruise bookings soar after it eases COVID testing requirements
Carnival Cruise Line said booking activity nearly doubled pre-pandemic levels on Monday after it announced an ease in COVID-19 testing requirements for passengers, sending its shares more than 3% higher. The company's parent, Carnival Corp, said on Friday it would drop mandatory testing for guests vaccinated against COVID-19 and allow unvaccinated passengers to travel without an exemption in some cases, after a similar move by rival Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd
Pandemic pushes 2.3 million Filipinos into poverty
Preliminary results of the family income and expenditure survey for 2021 released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Monday showed that the poverty rate had worsened to 18.8 per cent from 16.7 per cent in 2018.
Artificial intelligence can explain why each COVID-19 wave impacts our bodies differently
Researchers have identified what they believe to be robust metabolic markers of Covid, a discovery which could lead to better understanding and treatments for people that suffer from symptoms of the disease months after diagnosis. Scientists from the University of Surrey collected blood samples of hospital patients and found that Covid-19 changed people's metabolism. The team observed that the effects of Covid-19 changed over time, with the first wave disrupting metabolites differently from the second.
Working Remotely
Remote Work Is Hurting Productivity, New York-Area Firms Say
More New York area service firms think remote work is hurting productivity than helping it, according to a survey released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Among firms from a wide range of industries outside of manufacturing, 30% reported a negative effect on productivity, while 20% indicated a positive effect. The remaining half noted little change, per the data released Tuesday.
Are You a ‘Digital Nomad’? European Locales Want Remote Workers
Many remote workers indulged their wanderlust during the pandemic, taking their laptops and passports to far-flung destinations. Now many parts of Europe are enticing them to come stay awhile longer. Nearly a dozen European countries, from Latvia to Croatia to Iceland, have introduced longer-term visas to attract affluent remote workers from abroad. Others, including Italy and Spain, have similar plans in the works. Many, such as Greece and Estonia, are also wooing these so-called digital nomads with tax breaks and other perks. Some European cities and villages have also started their own remote-worker campaigns as a way to boost their economies and sustain local service jobs.
Virtual Classrooms
What is the digitalization of education, and why do we need it?
The digitalization of education and online distance learning differs. The concept of digitalization is much broader. It means using different programs, applications, and other digital resources for e-learning remotely and directly at school or university. For example, one element of digital education is using an essay writing service to aid academic writing. Digitalization concerns not only educational processes but also organizational ones.
Tech at school: How teachers are maximizing digital tools in today’s classrooms
Inspired by the need to connect remotely, and supported by $122 billion in educational funding in the American Rescue Plan, education technology, or edtech, has taken center stage in school systems across the US. The rise of learning management systems (LMS) has been especially impactful. These systems give teachers the ability to plan and deliver lesson content, monitor students’ participation in the work and assess performance.
Public Policies
'Next Generation' Moderna Coronavirus Booster Jab Approved for Use in Adults
A "next generation" coronavirus booster jab which may only need administering once a year has been approved for use in adults. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorised Moderna's bivalent vaccine, which targets the original Covid strain and the Omicron variant.
Maintaining Services
China's service sector sustains recovery amid COVID-19 resurgence
China's service sector, a key driver of its economic growth, has sustained recovery momentum in July despite a resurgence of sporadic COVID-19 cases and a weak property market. The services production index grew 0.6 percent year on year last month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed. In the first seven months, the index dropped by 0.3 percent year on year, narrowing 0.1 percentage points from that of the first six months.
Health DG: Paxlovid for high-risk Covid-19 patients, not for mild cases or prevention
The country’s policy on the usage of Covid-19 antiviral drug Paxlovid does not include low-risk, asymptomatic patients, says Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. The medication was also not for prevention of Covid-19, he said. The ministry’s policy on administration of Paxlovid for Covid-19 was in line with the intent to reduce hospitalisation and deaths, he said. "The Malaysian policy on the usage of Paxlovid has not included low risk patients who have no symptoms or usage for prevention of infection. "Paxlovid is an antiviral and thus has to be started early when the illness is still in the mild category. "The usage of Paxlovid is based on risk stratification from real Covid-19 patients’ data, who are determined as at high risk of deterioration.
Western Trust eases Covid-19 restrictions for Altnagelvin, South West Acute and Omagh Hospital
The Western Trust has eased Covid-19 visiting rules in hospitals in Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh by increasing the number of people allowed to visit their loved ones. The new guidance will now allow for two visitors to visit at the same time, for one hour per day, per patient from four nominated visitors. The Northern Ireland trust said that e xceptions would continue to apply in some areas, but it's hoped that a move to a further ‘gradual easing’ of restrictions would continue during the next review on September 5.
Healthcare Innovations
What Is Bivalent Vaccine? New Moderna Omicron Covid Booster Explained
The new shot targets two separate strains of Covid-19 — the original version of the virus that emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan along with the BA.1 subvariant, the earliest version of omicron. Other versions of omicron, BA.4 and BA.5, are now more prevalent, but the virus is evolving faster than new vaccines can be formulated and tested, and this is the closest match available that has received clearance. Moderna has another shot available that targets the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which has been ordered by the US, but not yet cleared.