"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 30th Aug 2022

Isolation Tips
Chinese province neighbouring Beijing expands COVID lockdown
Another city near Beijing imposed a partial lockdown as COVID-19 infections climbed, taking extra precautions even as cases nationwide continued to ease. Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of China’s Hebei province that borders Beijing, said mass testing will be done on residents in four major downtown districts and they are required to stay at home for three days from 2pm on Sunday. It reported 25 local COVID cases for Saturday.
Hygiene Helpers
Hong Kong to Expand Covid Testing Across City as Virus Cases Surge
Hong Kong imposed a select set of measures to try to protect its most vulnerable from a surging Covid-19 outbreak that is putting the city’s health care system under pressure, and forcing the government to take action. The Asian financial hub will expand testing across the city, while holding off on the full-scale closures and tighter mitigation measures it’s used in the past, and which are still frequently deployed in mainland China now. The aim is to balance the health of its people with the city’s economic needs, officials said. Those who test positive for Covid will be sent to isolation facilities with their families if any of them are at high risk and their living conditions don’t provide adequate space, Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau said at the daily virus briefing
MOH to offer COVID-19 booster shot for children aged 5 to 11
Children aged 5 to 11 are now recommended to receive one booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine, from five months after the second dose of their primary vaccination series. Preparations are under way to start inoculating the group in the fourth quarter of the year, “likely when examinations in primary schools are towards the tail end or over”, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a news release on Wednesday (Aug 24) The move comes on the recommendation of the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination. MOH said that the booster dose will sustain protection against severe illness and strengthen Singapore's preparation for the next infection wave.
Posted inHealth COVID-19: Ongoing vaccination reason for Nigeria’s impressive decline in deaths ― FG
The federal government has attributed what it referred to as ‘impressive decline in deaths arising from COVID-19 ‘ to the ongoing vaccination in the country. The government, however,enjoined Nigerians against complacency, saying the dreaded virus was still very much in the country, saying it mutates, making it more dangerous and deadly.
Community Activities
At Jackson Hole, World’s Central Bankers Gauge Economic Risks in Covid’s Wake
The world’s central bankers returned to Grand Teton National Park after a three-year, pandemic-induced hiatus with angst over inflation that has been at the highest levels since the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City began hosting its annual summer symposium there in 1982. Policy makers and economists signaled growing unease with the trade-offs they could soon confront, particularly if the forces that helped central banks bring down inflation and keep it low over the past three decades are unraveling. “For the first time in four decades, central banks need to prove how determined they are to protect price stability,” said Isabel Schnabel, who sits on the European Central Bank’s six-member executive board, during a panel that concluded the conference Saturday afternoon.
Pandemic's impact on U.S. productivity may be a wash, research shows
The coronavirus pandemic touched off a scramble among U.S. firms and households to adapt their work lives and business models, with work-from-home arrangements and teleconferencing tools boosting what some employees could do, and new technology helping even the smallest cafes do more with less. But the crisis also brought a wave of inefficiency in the form of snarled supply chains, time and money spent on cleaning and health management, and hiring difficulties that still keep some businesses below capacity.
China drops some COVID rules for travellers but keeps quarantine
China still requires international passengers to take pre-departure COVID-19 tests and quarantine upon arrival, the country’s customs office has said, after dropping some reporting requirements for travellers clearing customs. China, which has shortened the quarantine period and removed some testing and self-isolation requirements for inbound international travellers, still has some of the world’s most stringent COVID-19 policies.
Why Most Parents Aren’t Getting Their Toddlers Vaccinated Against Covid-19
Many don’t consider the virus a threat to their kids’ health or have concerns about the vaccines’ safety so they are not getting, or planning to get, their kids vaccinated against Covid.-19,
US Suspends 26 Flights by Chinese Airlines in Escalating Dispute Over Covid Policies
The US Department of Transportation is suspending 26 flights by Chinese airlines next month in a dispute over Beijing’s strict policies when travelers test positive for Covid-19. The retaliatory move follows the Chinese government’s decision to limit inbound flights by US carriers including United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. China’s actions are “adverse to the public interest” and warranted “additional proportionate remedial action by the Department,” the US regulator said in an order dated Thursday.
Working Remotely
Needed: Design Thinking For Remote And Hybrid Workplaces
Remote work and hybrid workplaces have become a staple of doing business in the 2020s. Just about every organization was pushed into it starting in March 2020, and continue to maintain portions of their workforces remotely. At the same time, while the Covid crisis required employees to simply pick up and relocate to their homes or other remote sites, a hybrid or flexible work culture needs to be baked into the organizational psyche. Preparation and a change of mindset is key, says Robert C. Pozen, senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management. “Most companies have found that a significant portion of their work can be done remotely. But the exact portion of work that is remote and in person is a design decision that should be made at the team level, rather than a uniform rule across the entire organization".
Does remote working have a future in a post-COVID Middle East?
Since the easing of pandemic restrictions, companies and government departments have been eager — some of them impatient — to bring staff back into the office setting. Indeed, new studies show that the demand for office space in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE is now on the rise. Could the Middle East be witnessing the end of the era of “working from home,” popularly known as WFH?
Is the work-from-home debate already over?
For the most part, the worst of the Covid pandemic is over. People are getting back to their normal lives. But does a “normal life” mean coming back to the office? That’s up for debate. Workers at AT&T say they’re being forced to return to the office early and have started a Change.org petition to make their company’s pandemic work-from-home policies permanent. Apple employees, upset with their company’s return-to-office orders, have launched a petition saying the company has risked stifling diversity and staff wellbeing by restricting their ability to work remotely. Meanwhile a few big-name corporate leaders are pushing back.
Virtual Classrooms
Back to school in UAE: Is remote learning still an option for students?
In UAE, over one million students and 65,000 teaching staff will return to school from tomorrow, Monday, August 29, for the academic year 2022-23. This would mark the beginning of the most ‘normal’ schooling for students since the pandemic hit as most Covid safety rules have been eased. Last week, authorities announced an update to the national protocol for educational establishments for the new academic year. Notable changes include doing away with the requirement for periodic PCR testing as well as social distancing in schools and buses.
Distance learning affected disadvantaged students most. The teacher shortages are just piling on.
The kids hit hardest when the pandemic closed their schools are also among the most likely to start off the year at districts without enough teachers and other staff. Many schools have all the teachers they need, data shows, despite a national uproar over a teaching shortage. But data suggests that districts with large numbers of Black, brown or poor students – the students who fell furthest behind in math and reading during remote schooling – could bear the brunt of the teaching vacancies.
Public Policies
Britain approves Novavax COVID shot for 12-17 year-olds
Britain's medicines regulator on Friday approved Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged between 12 and 17 years. The mRNA vaccines made by Moderna as well as the partnership between Pfizer-BioNTech are also cleared for use by this age group, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said. Britain in February cleared Novavax's two-dose vaccine, Nuvaxovid, for use in adults.
Maintaining Services
Top Thai Hospital Bets on Tourists to Counter Covid Revenue Dip
Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Pcl, Thailand’s biggest private hospital operator, expects a rebound in international patient arrivals to make up for an expected decline in revenue from Covid-19 treatment and services. Foreign patients seeking treatment at Bangkok Dusit’s 53 hospitals in the Thai capital and other tourist hotspots have reached about 90% of the pre-pandemic level, Chief Executive Officer Poramaporn Prasarttong-Osoth said. The recovery in fly-in patients are led by those from the Middle East, Australia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. But a slower-than-expected return of European tourists may still weigh on earnings in the second half, especially of hospitals in places such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya as they serve visitors from the region, she said.
Cambodia to build factory to produce 104 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from 2024 to 2026
A pharmaceutical company in Cambodia signed a memorandum with Chinese company Sinovac Biotech to build a factory for filling and packaging vaccines in that country. The factory is expected to produce around 104 million COVID-19 doses from 2024 to 2026 and explore the possibility of making other vaccines. China has become a reliable, stable and indispensable provider of COVID-19 vaccine supplies to the developing world, experts and officials from several countries said.
Healthcare Innovations
Booster Shots Protect Against Severe Covid for at Least Six Months, Study Finds
A Covid-19 vaccine booster shot protects people from becoming severely ill or dying and its efficacy lasts for six months, according a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, underscoring the importance of additional jabs as the world moves to coexist with the virus. The mRNA booster vaccines -- made by drugmakers Pfizer Inc. and BionTech SE, or Moderna Inc. -- were most effective in cutting the rate of people with severe Covid, scoring an estimated 87%, and there was no evidence of their effect waning within six months, the study found. Inactivated booster vaccines by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and Sinopharm Group Co. also cut the chance of severe illness by about 70%. Severe Covid was defined in the research as requiring oxygen supplementation, intensive care or death.