"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 9th Jun 2020

Isolation Tips
What hobbies can I learn during coronavirus isolation?
Are you looking for a way to keep your brain active during these trying times? Why not try your hand at studying another tongue, suggests English tutor and language coach Darren Cameron, of Kewstoke, in Weston,
7 mental health coping tips for life in the time of COVID-19
There are actions individuals can take to ease the burden, writes Linda Carlson, Cumming School of Medicine, in Conversation Canada
Coronavirus: Fears of ‘loneliness epidemic’ as dozens of UK patients found dead at home undetected for two weeks
Dozens of Covid-19 patients died at home alone and weren’t discovered for up to two weeks, according to a report. Medics investigating such deaths said that people had only been found after friends, relatives or neighbours had sounded the alarm and alerted authorities. Some cases had gone under the radar for so long that their bodies had begun to decompose, leading to fears of an “epidemic of loneliness“.
What impact will Covid-19 have on the UK Government's loneliness strategy?
Building on excellent work done by the Jo Cox Foundation and other civil society groups, in October 2018 the then-Government published a strategy called A Connected Society: a strategy for tackling loneliness, and a progress report was published in January 2020. The strategy relates to England, but there are similar initiatives elsewhere in the UK. It has attracted the attention of policy makers and media commentators around the world. I was proud to contribute to the strategy as lead official for the Department for Transport, recognising that transport can play a big part in alleviating loneliness.
Hygiene Helpers
Italy rolls out covid-19 tracing app
Italy begins testing the Immuni contact-tracing app, designed to help contain fresh outbreaks of covid-19, begins on Monday 8 June after getting the green light from the country's privacy ombudsman. The first trials of the app will begin in the regions of Abruzzo, Liguria, Le Marche and Puglia, with Immuni expected to be in nationwide use by 15 June. The app, which has been available since 1 June, has so far been downloaded by more than two million people in Italy, according to the nation's special commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, Domenico Arcuri.
Germany gets ready to launch coronavirus tracing app
Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn says a mobile phone app to help trace coronavirus infections in a bid to keep the spread under control will be made available to the public in the coming days.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks
Watch again: WHO tells George Floyd protesters to wear face masks
The World Health Organization (WHO) urged all people to protest "safely" and wear masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, as it warned the biggest threat in the ongoing outbreak “was now complacency”. Demonstrations over the death of black man George Floyd have erupted in the US and Europe, sparked fears of a new COVID-19 spike. "WHO fully supports equality and the global movement against racism. We reject discrimination of all kinds. We encourage all those protesting around the world to do so safely," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus said on Monday. "As much as possible, keep at least one metre from others, clean your hands, cover your cough and wear a mask if you attend a protest," he added.
WHO new guidelines explained: What are the rules around the world for wearing masks?
In its new guidelines, the WHO has said, “Masks can be used either for protection of healthy persons (worn to protect oneself when in contact with an infected individual) or for source control (worn by an infected individual to prevent onward transmission).”
Coronavirus in Italy: Avoid fellow diners at café up a tree
Italians nervous about social distancing while eating out are being offered the perfect solution by a couple in Umbria who have opened a restaurant in a tree. People looking for an undisturbed meal have been queuing to climb 15 feet to a wooden platform in the branches of a walnut tree at the Poggio Brico farm near Todi. Diners call in orders to the kitchen via walkie talkie, while courses are delivered by a pulley system. “There doesn’t have to be contact with anyone else, making it perfect for the post-coronavirus world, which is perhaps why we are booked solid,” said Valerio Andrei, 59, who opened the venue with his wife, Silvia Mocci. Restaurants reopened on May 18 after two months of strict lockdown.
Iran urges people to wear face masks amid fears of new coronavirus wave
Iran’s health ministry urged people on Monday to wear face masks in public areas, following warnings that the Islamic Republic could face a new wave of coronavirus infections, reported Reuters. Health officials said last week there could be a second, stronger wave of novel coronavirus infections if people ignored social distancing rules.
Canary Islands Considers Paying for Tourist’s Covid-19 Tests Before Arriving to Spain This Summer
The Canary Islands are considering paying for Covid-19 tests as they gear up to welcome tourists in Spain after the pandemic. The Canary Islands have had one the most positive epidemiological evolutions in Spain during the coronavirus crisis and therefore the region is a top contender for welcoming tourists during the summer season. The tests will be conducted before the passengers at their original destination even board their flight. This decision to test passengers falls under the umbrella of marketing the Canary Islands as a safe and Covid-free destination.
Community Activities
Back to school for some, clubbing for others as Spain loosens restrictions
Pupils returned to school in some areas of Spain on Monday and nightclubs opened in others in a further easing of the country’s coronavirus lockdown. Spain, which has suffered one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks, imposed strict confinement measures in March but has been gradually reopening its hard-hit economy since May, with different regions progressing at different speeds. Some schools in the capital Madrid reopened for primary pupils on Monday and seniors preparing for university-entrance exams will return on Tuesday. Other regions are allowing different age groups to return.
Thailand takes live music festival to Zoom during coronavirus outbreak
Rock fans in Thailand watched their favourite bands play via video-meeting platform Zoom on Sunday as a live music festival went online. Public gatherings have been banned in Thailand since mid-March to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, but Sunday's six-hour-long show gave people a chance to see and interact with artists from afar. "My favourite band hasn't had a live performance during the lockdown, so being able to see them today will make me happy," said 21-year old Siriyagorn Aimchomchid as she waited for their performance set to start. Some music fans gathered in small groups, permitted under the coronavirus restrictions, to watch the event, for which about 3,000 tickets were sold at 499 baht (around Rs 1197) apiece.
A Million Volunteers Help Thailand Curb Coronavirus Infections
Thailand is banking on an army of volunteer community health workers, tight border controls and acceptance of social distancing to reopen its economy, after a lockdown prevented a large novel coronavirus outbreak.
Working Remotely
Working from home: Boundaries, productivity and the future of cities
Over the past 12 weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of employees in America to begin working from home. Before the pandemic, 2.5% of U.S. employees teleworked full-time, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Now, almost everyone who can telework is doing so. Some economists expect the share of people teleworking full-time to remain high even after the pandemic ends. We collected a variety of research to address big questions employers, employees and cities face as America’s office workers consider the future of working from home. Research indicates there is no one-size-fits all approach when it comes to telework arrangements. Everyone now teleworking faces challenges, from caring for children to adjusting to virtual collaboration with coworkers. Some people will be more productive working from home, some people less so.
No turning back from telework's rise
More federal employees are working from home during the coronavirus crisis than ever before. But will individual telework only be seen as a workaround until everyone returns to the office, or will agencies consciously decide to change how work will be done from now on, as distributed teams working from anywhere? A recent Washington Post article cautions that even with a vaccine, the coronavirus likely will remain with us for the long haul and that coping with it will require long-term thinking. It quotes University of Chicago epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Cobey, saying: “The question is, how do we live with it safely?”
As offices evolve, will remote work become the new ‘normal’ after COVID-19?
In times of the coronavirus pandemic, a certain desk or corner of the house has turned into our office, catching up with colleagues and official meetings have moved to virtual platforms. Work from home has been a new experience that many of us are gradually adapting ourselves to. Like everything else, the pandemic has left its imprint on work culture, making professionals re-evaluate their functions and working processes. Now, with the recently announced relaxations, some have started heading back to their offices but with a certain awareness about the evolved circumstances, which are most likely here to stay.
Zoom is Killing It Financially, Thanks to Remote Work
Arguably no company better exemplifies the change to work life in the ongoing pandemic than Zoom Video Communications, which saw its revenue skyrocket.
Developers plan for 'very different' post-Covid workplace as more staff work from home
Office block developers, architects, engineers and builders are all preparing to redesign projects for what could be a ‘very different’ post-crisis workplace in which much higher numbers of staff could work from home.
HR pros think remote work will keep growing post-Covid - Bizwomen
It might be time to invest in a better webcam and a more comfortable home office chair. More than three-fourths of human resource professionals believe that the shift to teleworking will continue even a year after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, and that the trend will shift the way HR departments approach recruiting and hiring, according to a new survey by The Conference Board. The ability to work anywhere will have “major implications” for hiring, enabling HR departments to draw talent from a broader geographic area, said Robin Erickson, a co-author of the report and principal researcher at The Conference Board.
Virtual Classrooms
As pandemic continues, local school worked to keep students engaged as school year ends
The coronavirus pandemic has made many organizations rethink their operations, especially in the field of education. Like its public school counterparts, Fairfield Christian Academy, a private school system in Lancaster, worked to make the transition to distance learning easy for its students, creating content that would keep their interest and remain educational.
Stay-at-home kids need help until a coronavirus vaccine arrives
Even if school opens in the fall not every teacher and student will be able to return if there isn’t a vaccine. There are many children who have compromised immune systems or someone in their household might have a pre-existing condition which will force them to stay home. Others simply just don’t want to chance it. The same predicament is true for many teachers across the commonwealth. Gov. Charlie Baker’s team has been leading from behind since the pandemic first hit and the same can be said concerning the Department of Early Education.
Public Policies
BAME Women Hardest Hit By Financial Impact Of Coronavirus
BAME women are more likely to worry their debt will increase as a result of the pandemic, according to the survey of more than 3,200 people. More than four in 10 (42.9%) BAME women said they believed they would be in more debt than before the pandemic, compared to 37.1% of white women and 34.2% of white men. A similar proportion of BAME women, 42.9%, said they would struggle to make ends meet over the next three months. Nearly a quarter (23.7%) of BAME mothers reported that they were struggling to feed their children during the pandemic, compared to 19% of white mothers.
Senior Living: Isolation can be just as deadly as coronavirus for seniors
We may lose many more seniors to isolation, depression, lack of medical care and malnutrition than to the virus. It is true we have lost 100,000 souls to COVID-19 in only about two months. This is a horrible toll. It is also true that most of our COVID-19 deaths have been in the elderly, with co-morbidities living in nursing homes and retirement centers. We must try to protect them. Isolation, however, is dangerous too, we on the front lines have rediscovered.
Coronavirus: Plan dropped for all primary pupils back in school
The plan for all primary school years in England to go back to school before the end of term is to be dropped by the government. There had been an aim for all primary pupils to spend four weeks in school before the summer break. But it is no longer thought to be feasible and instead schools will be given "flexibility" over whether or not to admit more pupils. Head teachers' leaders said it had never been a practical possibility. It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock conceded at Monday's Downing Street briefing that secondary schools in England may not fully reopen until September "at the earliest".
South African schools reopen as COVID-19 lockdown is eased
Most schools in South Africa have reopened and pupils in their final years of primary and secondary school are allowed to return.
First arrivals under UK quarantine rules: 'They didn't even check my temperature'
At Heathrow airport there was some confusion, however, as the first passengers subject to the new restrictions landed. Travellers were asked to fill in the online forms but evidence to prove the information was correct was not required. Some passengers were surprised by the lack of physical screening for the virus. Fiona Gathright, 59, travelled from Washington DC and will be living in Bristol with her fiance, who had flown in from Hong Kong. “They didn’t even do a temperature check at either end, not in Washington before we got on the flight and not in London when we got off the flight,” she said. “Somebody could have been on the flight with a 100-plus temperature and gotten off and gone on their merry way.”
Thailand 'State of Emergency' may be extended
The state of emergency may be extended while schools and airports will reopen and there will be long holidays next month, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam. “It is possible to extend the imposition of the emergency decree. It is being considered. The choice is to either extend or end it. However, measures will be reduced. For example, the curfew will be lifted and crowd gathering will be allowed. The emergency decree may remain in effect for the sake of swift solutions,” Mr Wissanu said.
As India reopens, one state outnumbers China in coronavirus cases
As India begins to reopen more public spaces after a 10-week lockdown, its western state of Maharashtra has crossed a grim milestone by having more coronavirus cases than China. India's health ministry on Monday said Maharashtra - the country's most industrialised state - now has a total of 85,975 coronavirus cases, including more than 3,000 deaths.
Honduras extends coronavirus curfew by one week to June 14
Honduras has extended a curfew by one week through June 14 in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, security ministry spokesman Jair Meza said on Sunday. Meza made the announcement on national television even as the Central American country is about to begin the gradual re-opening of its economy on Monday.
Coronavirus LIVE: World Health Organisation warns pandemic worsening across the world
The World Health Organisation has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is worsening globally after new cases had their biggest daily increase. The WHO urged countries to press on with efforts to contains the virus and said some countries are yet to see their peak. It comes as pubs are due to reopen two weeks earlier than planned on June 22, according to reports, as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there is not a simple trade-off” between the economy and health.
Covid 19 coronavirus: Should the Pacific be included in New Zealand's travel bubble?
A Pacific bubble would undoubtedly help economic recovery. But this merely highlights how vulnerable these island economies have become. Tourism accounts for between 10 per cent and 70 per cent of GDP and up to one in four jobs across the South Pacific. The pressure to reopen borders is understandable. But we argue that a tourism bubble cannot be looked at in isolation. It should be part of a broader strategy to diversify economies and enhance linkages (e.g. between agriculture and tourism, to put more local food on restaurant menus), especially in those countries that are most perilously dependent on tourism.
Moscow mayor says to lift all major coronavirus restrictions this month
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Monday that all major restrictions relating to the novel coronavirus would be lifted in the Russian capital in June. Writing on his personal website, Sobyanin said beauty salons and veterinary clinics could open from June 9, museums and outdoor areas at cafes from June 16, and gyms and restaurants from June 23
India reopens more public spaces despite record virus infections - The Jakarta Post
Malls and temples reopened in several cities across India on Monday despite the country recording a record daily number of new coronavirus infections, with the pandemic expected to ravage the country for weeks to come. After a 10-week lockdown the government has risked lifting some restrictions in a bid to ease the devastating blow to the economy dealt by the coronavirus. But the number of new cases rose by 9,983 to 256,611, according to government figures announced Monday, putting the country of 1.3 billion on course to overtake Britain and Spain among nations with the highest number of infections.
Cuba declares coronavirus pandemic 'under control'
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has declared the coronavirus pandemic "under control" after the island nation registered an eighth straight day without a death from COVID-19. It paves the way for an announcement next week on Cuba's strategy to gradually lift its lockdown. The country of 11.2 million has recorded just under 2,200 cases and 83 deaths from the virus. With 1,862 people having recovered, Cuba has only 244 active cases
Maintaining Services
In Italy, Signs of Psychological Distress Among Healthcare Workers Tackling COVID-19
A substantial proportion of healthcare workers in Italy, particularly young women and frontline workers, have experienced mental health issues during the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a cross-sectional, web-based study published in JAMA Network Open. Posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and depression were observed in nearly half and a quarter of the sample, respectively.
New Zealand lifts COVID-19 restrictions crowds free to attend Super Rugby Aotearoa
Crowds will be permitted to attend the opening round of Super Rugby Aotearoa this weekend, after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the country would shift to Alert Level 1 from midnight Monday [NZT]. In what is believed to be a first since the coronavirus pandemic put most professional sports on hold, there will be no restrictions on the size of the crowd that can attend this weekend's opening games between the Highlanders and Chiefs in Dunedin (Saturday), and the Blues and Hurricanes in Auckland (Sunday). New Zealand has not had a new COVID-19 case for 17 days, and there are no longer any active cases of the virus across the country.
Government seeking to increase social gathering limit to 50
Due to the Coronavirus Crisis, the public in Denmark has had to limit their social gatherings to a maximum of ten people in recent months. But that could well change in the very near future after PM Mette Frederiksen sent a letter to members of Parliament proposing increasing the limit to 50 on June 8. The letter also revealed the government proposes additional increases to the gathering limit – up to 100 on July 8 and then to 200 on August 8.
New Zealand's star tourism attraction struggles as visitors stay away post-Covid
It's a stunning fall morning in Queenstown, New Zealand. Trees with orange leaves border the calm Lake Wakatipu, and craggy mountains -- the kind made famous by Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" movies -- tower in the distance. It's the perfect spot for a photo. But for now, there are very few tourists about. "It's usually quiet for us in the winter," says Betty Perkins, the owner of Million Dollar Cruise, which has been running boat tours of Queenstown's lake for 13 years. "But not this quiet." There are now no active coronavirus cases in New Zealand, a country of five million people. But borders remain closed, and there is still no firm date for a much-anticipated trans-Tasman bubble, which would open up travel with neighboring Australia.
Italy's cultural cities strategize after tourism losses post-lockdown
Italians become tourists at home and embrace 'slow tourism' as the country reopens. As pandemic restrictions were lifted this past week, with Italy opening its borders to travellers, the country's world-renowned museums and cultural sites saw only a trickle of tourists arriving. Italians now have the chance to see their own masterpieces by booking just days in advance,
'A dream come true' as visitors return to Spanish nursing home
The sounds of tears and laughter rang through the Casaverde nursing home in Navalcarnero outside Madrid on Monday, as residents received their first visitors since the facility was locked down in March.
France identifies 150 coronavirus clusters, many in health centres and hospitals
Since France began to ease its strict nationwide lockdown on May 11th, health authorities have focused their efforts on a 'test and trace' strategy to identify early new outbreaks of the illness. The latest data from Santé Publique France shows that up to June 3rd 150 Covid-19 clusters have been identified - 142 in mainland France and eight in its overseas territories.
Covid-19: Singapore and France agree to keep supply chains for essential food open and connected
Singapore and France have agreed to maintain open and connected supply chains for essential food supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic. Both countries affirmed their intention to do so in a joint statement by Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and France's Minister of Agriculture and Food Didier Guillaume on Monday (June 8).
Action! Film-makers back to work in New Zealand after coronavirus
New Zealand’s capital has had an extra buzz of excitement over the past week since Hollywood director James Cameron and his crew flew in to film the much-anticipated sequel of the epic science-fiction film “Avatar”.
Coronavirus: Will UK universities open in September?
The numbers of students in UK universities could be much lower than usual from September. A survey by the University and College Union found that more than one in five students could defer going to university this year. Universities and colleges take varied approaches to the issue. Some will not allow deferred entry for subjects such as medicine, but will consider it for other courses. However, you need to check that the same course is being offered the following year
Coronavirus: UK travel quarantine, dentists reopen and NI weddings return
Rules requiring the majority of people arriving in the UK to self-isolate for 14 days have come into effect. Whether it's by plane, ferry or train, arrivals - including UK nationals - will have to provide an address where they'll stay and face fines if they don't comply. The government says the quarantine is essential to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections, but the measures are hugely unpopular across the beleaguered travel industry. There are some exceptions, so check out the rules in full. Our experts have also answered a list of your questions. And if we can't easily go abroad, what are the chances of taking a holiday within the UK?
Spain Looks to a New Kind of Tourism After COVID-19
“Our biggest overseas market has always been the British. We are also popular with Spaniards. But this year we will have to concentrate on attracting the French, who are also a big market, and the Portuguese. Reluctance to travel by air and to make reservations may mean the British come later.” Peréz said cleaning hotels, making staff and customers wear masks, enforcing social distancing in restaurants, bars and even nightclubs will be essential. Avoiding crowding on the beaches will also be imperative. Known as the Manhattan of the Costa Blanca, Benidorm is famous for its skyscraper-like hotels. The close proximity of guests in these buildings is likely to prove a problem until an effective vaccine is found for COVID-19.
Video: Thai businesses develop robots to adapt to coronavirus era
The coronavirus outbreak has accelerated the development of the robotics industry in Thailand, as companies race to devise solutions to meet increased hygiene and medical needs. Robotics is one of 10 strategic sectors that the government wants to focus on, but the industry's development had been slow until now. The coronavirus pandemic has moved things forward rapidly and companies have now developed robots that can take body temperatures, check mask usage, as well as conduct remote medical examinations.
Healthcare Innovations
COVID-19: Google Maps rolls out new features to avoid crowds when using public transit
Google on Monday introduced new features to Google Maps that aim to inform users better about how their trip may be impacted due to the coronavirus. When a user will look up public transit directions for a trip that is likely to be affected by COVID-19 restrictions, Google Maps will show "relevant alerts" from local transit agencies. Transit alerts are rolling out in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and the US where the company has information from local transit agencies, with more coming soon.
Spain’s macro study shows just 5.2% of population has contracted the coronavirus
The results indicate no major resurgence of the virus in this period, and confirm geographical variations observed the first time around. They also underscore the role of asymptomatic spreaders and the greater presence of the coronavirus in large cities. The eight-week seroprevalence study is being conducted by the Carlos III Health Institute, a public research agency. It comprises three waves of testing on a random sampling of households across Spain, and is due to end in late June. Between May 18 and June 1, researchers tested 63,564 individuals, a large sample size compared with similar studies conducted worldwide.
Italian Researchers Identify Common Susceptibility Genes in COVID-19 Patients
Scientists based in Italy studying the exomes of patients with COVID-19 identified links between genetic and molecular markers and susceptibility to infection, as well as disease severity. Presenting at the European Society of Human Genetics on Saturday, June 6, the researchers with the GEN-COVID project identified a number of common susceptibility genes that were linked to a favorable or unfavorable course of disease. The GEN-COVID team based at the University Hospital of Siena, Italy performed whole exome sequencing (WES) on 130 patients with COVID-19 to try to find any genetic causes for differences in clinical outcomes. The group’s larger plan is to collect and analyze 2,000 patient samples.
Over half of people tested in Italy's Bergamo have COVID-19 antibodies
More than half the residents tested in Italy's northern province of Bergamo have COVID-19 antibodies, health authorities said on Monday, citing a sample survey. Of 9,965 residents who had blood tests between April 23 and June 3, 57% had antibodies indicating they had come into contact with the coronavirus, the survey showed. Health authorities in Bergamo said the results were based on a "random" sample which was "sufficiently broad" to be a reliable indicator of how many people had been infected in the province, which became the epicentre of Italy's outbreak.
EU watchdog assessing Gilead application for COVID-19 treatment
The European health regulator said on Monday it had received an application from U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc for approval of its antiviral drug, remdesivir, as a potential COVID-19 treatment in Europe. "The assessment of the benefits and risks of remdesivir is being performed under a reduced timeline and an opinion could be issued within weeks," the European Medicines Agency said in its statement.