"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 28th Nov 2022

Isolation Tips
China Sees Lockdowns Surge in Week Since Covid Policy Adjusted
Covid control restrictions now weigh on a fifth of China’s economy as infections continue their upward march, defying the central government’s call for more targeted, less disruptive Covid Zero measures. There were 27,307 new cases recorded for Monday, just shy of the previous record 28,973 reached in April when Shanghai’s outbreak sparked a surge in infections. The southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou remains the epicenter of the current wave, reporting the bulk of the 8,588 infections in the broader Guangdong province. The metropolis of Chongqing detected 6,297.
Hygiene Helpers
Is Covid-19 an Endemic Disease and What Does It Mean for the World?
Most of the world is done with Covid-19, though it clearly isn’t done with the world. Countries with the notable exception of China in 2022 unwound a bevy of restrictions designed to contain the coronavirus that causes Covid, and even China loosened its stern rules a bit. For the most part, political leaders and their constituents were eager to pivot to accepting Covid as an endemic disease, much like seasonal flu, even though the World Health Organization continued to designate SARS-CoV-2 a public health emergency of international concern.
Community Activities
Chinese Protests Spread Over Government's Covid Restrictions
Protests are erupting in major cities in China over President Xi Jinping’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19, an unusual show of defiance in the country as the economic and social costs from snap lockdowns and other strict restrictions escalate. Demonstrations occurred throughout the weekend in Beijing, Shanghai and the eastern city of Nanjing, according to witness accounts. Video footage and photos circulating on social media, which The Wall Street Journal wasn’t able to independently verify, suggest protests broke out in several other cities, including Wuhan, the original epicenter of the pandemic.  The protests followed demonstrations on Friday in Urumqi, capital of the remote region of Xinjiang, where a deadly fire enraged residents who had struggled with lockdowns of more than 100 days. Residents flooded social media with comments suggesting that Covid restrictions contributed to a delay in putting out the fire, in which officials said 10 people died.
Videos Show How Covid Protests Are Spreading Across China
Since Friday, opposition against China’s zero-tolerance Covid policies has been gathering steam across the vast country. Protesters have taken to the streets in a public outpouring of anger and frustration, with some even calling for President Xi Jinping to step down, a level of national dissent unheard of since he took power a decade ago. Others have clashed with officials at residential compounds, defying orders to go into quarantine, while students have also been demonstrating at university campuses.
Protests erupt in Xinjiang and Beijing after deadly fire
Public anger in China towards widening COVID-19 lockdowns across the country erupted into rare protests in China’s far western Xinjiang region and the country's capital of Beijing, as nationwide infections set another record. Crowds took to the streets on Friday night in Xinjiang's capital of Urumqi, chanting "End the lockdown!" and pumping their fists in the air, after a deadly fire on Thursday triggered anger over their prolonged COVID-19 lockdown according to videos circulated on Chinese social media on Friday night.
Working Remotely
Closing The Cultural Divide in Hybrid And Remote Work
We talk a lot about the powerful influence culture has over every significant business activity — from digital transformation to artificial intelligence to product design. Unfortunately, in many cases, it’s also possible to be a cultural void. This can be particularly vexing in remote-intensive companies. The cultural divide is evident in a survey of 1,200 workers by eLearning Industry, which finds close to two-fifths (37%) believe culture doesn’t exist in the workplace today. In fact, 50% say their leaders “don’t understand what constitutes a strong company culture or what employees want.” Even more damning is the fact that 53% of workers in the survey say their leaders think that simply working in an office is “company culture.” Maybe leaders and managers aren’t that shortsighted, and truly want a more supportive and forward-looking culture — but that is not the impression they're leaving with their workforces.
Quick Study: Managing and Supporting Remote Work
Now, with offices repopulated, some element of remote work is here to stay for office workers and the IT professionals who support them. This Quick Study features some of the many InformationWeek articles dealing with remote work, including the benefits, challenges, and logistics, as well as what it all means to the IT professionals themselves.
How to build a thriving flexible, remote work culture
As yet another survey highlights the stark disconnect between what employers and their staff want when it comes to remote working, 360Learning has released a report that aims to address the myths surrounding flexible working and how to implement it successfully as a business.
Virtual Classrooms
The science on remote schooling is now clear. Here’s who it hurt most.
Academic progress for American children plunged during the coronavirus pandemic. Now a growing body of research shows who was hurt the most, both confirming worst fears and adding some new ones. Students who learned from home fared worse than those in classrooms, offering substantial evidence for one side of a hot political debate. High-poverty schools did worse than those filled with middle class and affluent kids, as many worried. And in a more surprising finding, older students, who have the least amount of time to make up losses, are recovering much more slowly from setbacks than younger children. Most school districts saw declines, but the magnitude varied.
Productivity tips for students in remote learning
Students can adopt a list of productive tips and habits to keep them from burning out whilst studying remotely: a schedule, the right working conditions, a specific place to study, up-to-date study tools, a reward to look forward to, setting goals and keeping track of them will all help staying focused and efficient.
Disability advocates criticise 'discriminatory' university plans to end remote learning
Disability advocacy groups have slammed a decision by leading Australian universities to end remote learning options for students. Students from the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney who began their degrees online will need to show up in person from next year. The University of Sydney said a decision by the national regulator requiring all international students return to on-campus learning influenced their decision for domestic students.
Public Policies
China's Central Bank Takes Action as Record Covid-19 Outbreak Hits Economy
China’s central bank moved to backstop growth by boosting lending to households and businesses, as the world’s second-largest economy struggles with its biggest Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began. Economists said the shift in policy will likely have limited impact, as repeated lockdowns, a continuing real-estate crunch and fading demand for Chinese exports mean appetite for loans is weak. Still, the move—telegraphed earlier in the week by China’s State Council, which acts as its cabinet—nonetheless underlines the darkening outlook for growth as authorities tighten restrictions across the country to stamp out record infections.
Novavax ends COVID vaccine sale agreement with Gavi
Novavax Inc said on Monday it had delivered a written notice to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, terminating with immediate effect an agreement for the sale of the company's COVID-19 vaccine to low- and middle-income countries. The company cited Gavi's failure to procure the 350 million doses it had agreed to buy in May last year for the COVAX facility. The COVAX facility is a joint program between Gavi, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations for the equitable distribution of COVID vaccines in poorer countries.
Maintaining Services
China's Covid Cases Jump to a Record as Outbreaks Persist
China’s daily Covid infections climbed to a record high, exceeding the previous peak in April, as it battles an outbreak that has grown since the country adopted a more targeted approach to containing the virus. The country reported 29,754 new cases for Wednesday, more than the 28,973 infections recorded in mid-April when the financial hub of Shanghai was in the midst of a grueling two-month lockdown that saw residents struggle to access food and medical services. China’s official figures separately report symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, which can lead to inflated numbers when people are re-classified after developing symptoms.
China Covid Cases Hit Record, Topping Shanghai Omicron Outbreak
China’s daily Covid infections climbed to a record high, exceeding the previous peak in April, as it battles an outbreak that has grown since the country adopted a more targeted approach to containing the virus.  The country reported 29,754 new cases for Wednesday, more than the 28,973 infections recorded in mid-April when the financial hub of Shanghai was in the midst of a grueling two-month lockdown that saw residents struggle to access food and medical services. China’s official figures separately report symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, which can lead to inflated numbers when people are re-classified after developing symptoms. The Bloomberg News tally counts all local cases, regardless of symptoms, and removes the double-counting issue.
Healthcare Innovations
Bivalent Covid Boosters Give Some Protection in CDC Study, But Not Much
Covid-19 boosters from Moderna Inc. and the partnership of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE that fight the latest omicron variants provide only modest short-term protection against mild infections, and experts say it’s still unclear whether the updated shots are any better than earlier versions at preventing hospitalization and severe illness. The bivalent boosters were just 43% effective at preventing mild illness compared to receiving no vaccine in adults 49 and under, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published Tuesday. In those aged 50 to 64 years, comparative protection against symptomatic Covid was 28%, while the booster was just 22% protective in adults 65 and older, the study showed. 
Blood clot drug totally ineffective as post-Covid treatment, research finds
A drug to reduce blood clots, widely prescribed to Covid-19 patients after discharge from hospital, does not lessen their chances of readmission or improve survival, according to groundbreaking research which is set to change treatment protocols around the world. The results of the UK-wide trial, led by Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the University of Cambridge, were shared with the Financial Times. They found that prescribing the anticoagulant Apixaban did not help patients recovering from moderate and severe Covid and in a small number of cases caused serious harm.
New coronavirus at 'particular risk' of jumping to humans discovered in Chinese bats
A new virus with similarities to Coronavirus has been identified in bats with the potential to jump to humans and livestock, according to new research. Chinese and Australian scientists took samples from 149 bats across Yunnan province in China, bordering Laos and Myanmar, and identified five viruses “likely to be pathogenic to humans or livestock”. One virus, known as BtSY2, is closely related to SARS-CoV-2 (which causes Covid-19) and is "at particular risk for emergence." Professor Eddie Holmes, an evolutionary biologist and virologist at the University of Sydney and co-author of the report said: “This means that Sars-Cov-2-like viruses are still circulating in Chinese bats and continue to pose an emergence risk."
Study says as Covid evolves in long-term infections it may become more harmful
A South African laboratory study using Covid-19 samples from an immunosupressed individual over six months showed that the virus evolved to become more pathogenic, indicating that a new variant could cause more illness than the current predominant omicron strain.  The study, conducted by the same laboratory that was to first test the omicron strain against vaccines last year, used samples from a person infected with HIV. Over the six months the virus initially caused the same level of cell fusion and death as the omicron BA.1 strain, but as it evolved those levels rose to become similar to the first version of Covid-19 identified in Wuhan in China.
COVID-19 SeroHub, an online repository of SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence studies in the United States | Scientific Data
Seroprevalence studies provide useful information about the proportion of the population either vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, previously infected with the virus, or both. Numerous studies have been conducted in the United States, but differ substantially by dates of enrollment, target population, geographic location, age distribution, and assays used. This can make it challenging to identify and synthesize available seroprevalence data by geographic region or to compare infection-induced versus combined infection- and vaccination-induced seroprevalence. To facilitate public access and understanding, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed the COVID-19 Seroprevalence Studies Hub (COVID-19 SeroHub, https://covid19serohub.nih.gov/), a data repository in which seroprevalence studies are systematically identified, extracted using a standard format, and summarized through an interactive interface.