"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 11th Jun 2020

Isolation Tips
COVID-19 Coverage: Dealing with Isolation
Richard Ollis, CEO of Ollis/Akers/Arney, says all of us are going to be impacted by the mental effects of isolation and the pandemic. Ollis recommends some simple tips to help you navigate the difficult time.
OWU professors: Distance is not isolation
Two Ohio Wesleyan University psychology professors explained how to maintain one’s social connections during this stressful time at an online panel discussion held Monday. “Social Distance, Not Social Isolation: Staying Connected During COVID-19” featured Kira Bailey and Vicki DiLillo discussing best practices from a scientific perspective. It was the 13th of 24 free classes on the novel coronavirus offered by Ohio Wesleyan. “COVID has impacted our social connections,” Bailey said. This has been sensory-based, in terms of vision and touch. “There has been a lot of turmoil and troubles in the past few months. However, it has hit some of us harder than others.”
Keep your isolation stresses in check by learning some easy coping mechanisms
ARE you riding a coronavirus-coaster of emotions? You’re not alone. People with no history of mental illness are feeling the strain of isolation, job worries, relationship strife and loss of routine, the Royal College of Psychiatrists reports.
5 Tips to Promote Positive Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
During this time, it is important to practice skills that will enhance our mental well-being. Here are five tips to promote positive mental health. Engage in self-enhancing activities — Whether it is learning a new language, taking dancing lessons or meditating daily, developing new skills provides a sense of confidence and achievement leading to stronger emotional health.
5 Tips to Promote Positive Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
During this time, it is important to practice skills that will enhance our mental well-being. Here are five tips to promote positive mental health. Engage in self-enhancing activities — Whether it is learning a new language, taking dancing lessons or meditating daily, developing new skills provides a sense of confidence and achievement leading to stronger emotional health.
Hygiene Helpers
Tips For Pregnant Women To Stay Safe During COVID-19
The most recent publication on pregnancy is from Europe 2 days ago - Focus on Reproduction, which states that the effect of COVID-19 on pregnancy is still a priority for research.
Coronavirus lifespan on surfaces depends on temperature, humidity
Droplets containing the coronavirus can survive for a time on surfaces before drying out. A new study found that higher temperatures and lower humidity shorten the lifespans of coronavirus droplets on surfaces. The research also showed that in cities where weather made the droplets' drying time longer, coronavirus infection rates rose faster. This could in part explain why New York City was hit harder by the pandemic in March compared to, say, Singapore.
No new COVID-19 cases after infected Missouri hairstylists worked with over 140. How?
Missouri health officials discovered no new coronavirus cases after two infected hairstylists served dozens of clients at a Great Clips hair salon. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department says the incubation period has passed after the hairstylists worked on 140 people at the location in Springfield. Six coworkers also were potentially exposed. “This is exciting news about the value of masking to prevent COVID-19,” Health Director Clay Goddard said in a news release. “We are studying more closely the details of these exposures, including what types of face coverings were worn and what other precautions were taken to lead to this encouraging result.”
The largest taxi company in Denmark installs COVID-19 safety measures
The safety screen is installed in all Dantaxi vehicles, accounting for approximately half of the 4,000 taxis in Denmark. The safety screen is not the only new measure. All of the nearly 2,000 taxis have a fixed dispenser of hand sanitiser and drivers have implemented a completely new cleaning routine covering all typical contact points in- and outside the taxi. Dantaxis measures to prevent infection with COVID-19 include: All taxis are fitted with safety screens made by plexiglass and fixed dispensers of hand sanitiser. The rear window is fitted with a streamer informing the passenger that ”This taxi operates with COVID-19 safety measures”. Drivers must use hand sanitiser and passengers are encouraged to do so. The driver must clean all contact surfaces after each customer.
Poland rolls out privacy-secure coronavirus tracking app
Poland has released its latest version of a smartphone application to help to track coronavirus outbreaks, which has been adapted to address concerns about privacy, the country’s digital minister said on Tuesday. Dozens of countries have launched or plan contact tracing apps using either Bluetooth or location-tracking technology to notify people quickly of possible coronavirus exposure. But the first generation of contact tracing apps rushed out in March and April raised privacy alarms. Poland’s latest app comes after the country lifted some restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus and after a few days of record high new coronavirus cases mainly due to the spread among miners.
Contactless banking, remote working to witness increased demand in times of Covid-19, says Deloitte
The Covid-19 outbreak and resultant government response have triggered significant structural and behavioural changes across retail and MSME (micro, small and medium enterprise) customers, it added. The audit, consulting, risk and financial advisory firm, in a report, said contactless banking solutions will entail digital onboarding enabled by video KYC (know-your-customer), contactless authentication and payments, virtual customer servicing, and immersive banking experience. Deloitte observed that adopting Aadhar and Video Customer Identification Processes (V-CIP)-based digital onboarding can help drive new customer acquisition, while offering cost efficiencies and lowering the turnaround time. Artificial intelligence (AI) and facial recognition technologies could help enhance the veracity of customer data during this process, it added. The firm underscored that customers are likely to opt for contactless authentication and payments to minimise physical interactions.
Community Activities
How Afghan refugees are helping Turkey fight coronavirus
Afghan refugees are contributing to Turkey's fight against the coronavirus, producing soap and 1,000 face masks a day to protect people from the pandemic. A group of about 12 refugees living in the Turkish city of Kayseri have teamed up with local volunteers to produce and deliver these essential supplies to state hospitals, migrant health centres and local NGOs. The initiative is funded by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
Going viral: A walk on a ‘new’ beach has never felt so good
I went for a walk on a new beach on Monday afternoon that’s some 25 kilometres from my house. Under new rules that kicked into effect in Ireland on Monday, I have a new sense of freedom – even if there are still many restrictions in place.
Netherlands sends first herring catch to German medics as coronavirus thank you
Some 4,000 new-season herrings are to be delivered to German medics as thanks for treating Dutch Covid-19 patients. The salty delicacies go to Münster clinic staff who coordinated Dutch transfers to German hospitals.
Working Remotely
London SMEs could save £75,000 in rent by embracing more remote working after Coronavirus
Small and medium-sized enterprises renting from serviced office providers in London could save a staggering £6,276 per month in rent if half of their staff worked from home – or £75,312 annually.
How to negotiate a permanent work-from-home arrangement
Long considered a perk reserved for company all-stars and senior leaders, the ability to work from home has been introduced to millions of office workers, across all levels, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Now, as professionals across the U.S. have adjusted to a new way of working, major companies including Twitter and Facebook announced plans to allow employees to continue working from home forever, if they so choose. That’s welcome news for the majority of office workers who report they’d like the option to extend their remote-work arrangement beyond the pandemic. A recent Prudential survey of 2,050 U.S. workers finds 68% of those currently working from home would like to continue doing so to some extent in the future.
At end first quarter, 11 pct of Poles worked remotely - stats office
At the end of the first quarter of 2020, 11 percent of Polish workers were working remotely due to the coronavirus epidemic, the Central Statistical Office (GUS) reported on Wednesday. GUS reported that more people in the public sector worked remotely than in the private sector. The statistical office also said the number of remote workers was higher in the Warsaw region than the Polish average, with almost one in six workers there working remotely. In the remaining regions of the country, the figure was every eighth to 14th worker. At the end of March, the number working remotely was the lowest in the northeastern Warmińsko-Mazurskie, central Świętokrzyskie and eastern Podlaskie provinces, where one in 14 people worked at distance.
Data Reveals 60% Of People Want to Stay At Home After COVID-19
COVID-19 has forced businesses across the globe to work remotely and new data found by Adzooma, suggests that this could be the new normal, killing the traditional office as we know it. In the UK, more than 60% of the adult population is working from home during the Coronavirus lockdown. But now everyone has had a taste of working from home, the future workplace is likely to never look the same again. Adzooma surveyed 447 workers* and interviewed dozens of businesses about their current plans and opinions. The data identified that 93.3% of people can perform their job as normal, from the comfort of their own home. Over half (60%) of people surveyed said they would like to work from home if they had the choice. What’s more, 52.6% said they don’t want to return to a normal office after COVID-19. For the majority of people, working at home is an enjoyable experience, with 83.5% of respondents admitting that they enjoy working at home, even during a global pandemic.
Virtual Classrooms
Summer school to stay online for Edmonton public and Catholic schools, even as province re-opens amid COVID-19
“(We) will be offering remote instruction and not in-person instruction as the majority of student enrolment and staffing has already been completed for an online platform,” Lori Nagy, spokeswoman for Edmonton Catholic Schools, said in an email Wednesday. “As for diploma exams, we are in the process of planning to ensure that we are respecting all Alberta Health guidelines, determining staff needs and considering the space requirements at some of our high schools. We will know more in the next week or so.”
Rebooting Education: E-Learning rises to the challenge
How should educational institutions cope up with the brimming effects of the lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic?” This question created ripples across the education sector when the virus took a toll on the lives of people across the globe. As we grappled with the effects of the pandemic, educationists worked towards serving the best interest of the students by strengthening the virtual modes of learning. Undeterred by the impact of the novel coronavirus, educational institutions are today at the brink of a new revolution, popularly known as e-learning.
Rogers High School teacher recognized as Cox “Hero of Distance Learning”
Michael Carlino, a math teacher at Rogers High School, was among three teachers recognized as a Cox Communications “Hero of Distance Learning” today during Governor Raimondo’s regular COVID-19 press briefing. “As educators have migrated to uncharted waters with the transition to distance learning, many have emerged as heroes to the students and families depending on them to keep their school work on track,” a press release from COX Communications states. Cox Communications asked members of the community and school departments which teachers were truly excelling in this challenging environment in order to reward educators with a $1,000 home technology makeover for their virtual classrooms.
Public Policies
Coronavirus: PM's plans to get more pupils back to school 'lie in tatters', Starmer says
Government plans to get more pupils back to school in England during the coronavirus pandemic "lie in tatters", Sir Keir Starmer has said, as he told the prime minister the UK's number of COVID-19 deaths should "haunt us". The Labour leader and Boris Johnson clashed in the Commons at PMQs. It was the first time they faced each other since it was confirmed ministers have dropped plans for all primary school pupils to return before the summer holidays during the coronavirus outbreak.
Ex-Ofsted chief: failure to plan for reopening of schools is ‘astonishing’
The government’s failure to plan to get children back to school safely is “absolutely astonishing” and must be remedied before September, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former chief inspector of schools in England, has said. Wilshaw, who led Ofsted from 2012 until 2016, said schools will need to put in place recovery programmes, appeal to teachers to run catch-up classes over the summer and even allow some of the most affected to repeat their school year. The government has been criticised by MPs from all parties and unions for lacking a coherent plan, after announcing that primary schools in England would return in June before backtracking this week. There is particular annoyance after ministers revealed that zoos, theme parks and outdoor cinemas would be able to open shortly – on the same day as confirming that not all primary schools could get back to operation before the end of the summer term.
Coronavirus: UK could have ‘halved’ deaths by moving a week earlier
The UK could have saved half the lives lost to coronavirus if it introduced lockdown a week earlier, one of Boris Johnson’s top scientific advisers has told MPs. Neil Ferguson, whose modelling at Imperial College London persuaded the prime minister to impose a lockdown on March 23rd,
Covid-19: Doctors launch judicial review over PPE failures
Covid-19: Doctors have launched judicial review proceedings after the government decided not to open an inquiry into failures to provide adequate personal protection equipment
Coronavirus: Wales school reopening advice published
Outside learning, teaching in small groups and pupils eating at their desks are among some of the measures schools in Wales should consider when reopening, according to new guidance. Only around a third of pupils will be allowed at any one time when Welsh schools reopen from 29 June. The guidance also includes recommendations on social distancing and getting to and from school. But unions have expressed concern that there is not enough time to prepare. Education Minister Kirsty Williams said "striking a balance" between national public health and "local flexibility" had been key.
Nigeria to cut healthcare spending by 40% despite coronavirus cases climbing
Nigeria currently spends less than 5% of its federal budget on health. Dwindling oil sales, the crash in global oil prices and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are understood to be the reason for the cuts. According to Prof Innocent Ujah, the head of the Nigerian medical association, the proposed cuts have come just as more investment in health is needed. “Our budget for health is unacceptably low, under 5%. With the Covid-19 pandemic, it becomes even more serious,” he said. “It will have an impact on our response to the virus.” Ujah said he was shocked at the announcement of the cuts, as it had been assumed health budgets would be ringfenced during the pandemic. Fuelling criticisms of the healthcare cuts has been the 37bn naira (£75m) set aside for renovations to Nigeria’s National Assembly buildings.
12 states see rising Covid-19 hospitalizations as Arizona asks hospitals to activate emergency plans
Health experts have long warned about a second peak in Covid-19, and now a rise in cases has pushed Arizona to tell its hospitals to activate emergency plans. Arizona is one of the 19 states with the trend of new coronavirus cases still increasing. While 22 are trending downward, trends in nine states are holding steady. Nationally more than 1.9 million people have been infected by the virus and more than 112,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. At its peak, Arizona's intensive care unit beds were 78% in use. As of Monday, 76% were occupied. Arizona's Director of Health Services Dr. Cara Christ asked that hospitals "be judicious" in elective surgeries to ensure bed capacity. "We know Covid-19 is still in our community, and we expect to see increased cases," the Arizona Department of Health Services tweeted Tuesday night.
Malaysia to reopen schools in stages from June 24
Malaysia will begin reopening schools from June 24, its Education Minister said yesterday, as the country enters recovery mode after three months of strict curbs on movement and businesses to contain the spread of the coronavirus. South-east Asia's third-largest economy began lifting most coronavirus restrictions from yesterday, after the government declared that the outbreak was under control. Schools will be reopened in stages, beginning with students facing public examinations and equivalent international school examinations this year, Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said.
Brazil's biggest cities start reopening as COVID-19 surges
Brazil’s most populous state Sao Paulo reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths for the second day running on Wednesday even as its homonymous metropolis allowed shops to resume business and prepared to reopen its malls. The state, the epicenter of the pandemic in Brazil, recorded 340 new deaths in the last 24 hours, raising its confirmed death toll to 9,862, a fourth of the country’s total fatalities, the governor’s office said.
Brazil restores coronavirus data after controversy, court ruling
Brazil on Tuesday restored detailed COVID-19 data to its official national website following controversy over the removal of cumulative totals and a ruling by a Supreme Court justice that the full set of information be reinstated. The move followed days of mounting pressure from across the political spectrum and allegations the government was trying to mask the severity of the outbreak, now the world's second-largest.
Bulgaria extends epidemic emergency on COVID-19 until end of June
The Bulgarian government on Wednesday approved the extension of a nationwide epidemic emergency until June 30 in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. The epidemic emergency took effect on May 14 with a duration of one month, replacing the state of emergency which was implemented on March 13. The implementation of anti-epidemic measures has contributed to slowing down the COVID-19 epidemic in the country and reducing pressure on the healthcare system, the government said in a statement. "The prolongation of the epidemic emergency will help slow down and limit the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic by applying temporary anti-epidemic measures," the statement said. Meanwhile, it would improve the preparedness of the health care and other systems to respond to a subsequent wave, the statement said.
Italy PM says prosecutors to question him over coronavirus response
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he will be questioned by prosecutors on Friday over the way the coronavirus outbreak was handled in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, one of the areas most badly affected by the epidemic. “I am not at all worried,” Conte told reporters outside the prime minister’s office in Rome. “We will speak on Friday and I will pass on all the facts I am aware of,” he said, adding that he was not under investigation himself. The prosecutors are looking into why badly hit areas around Bergamo were not closed down early in the outbreak, and have already questioned the regional governor of Lombardy, which includes Bergamo, and Lombardy’s health chief.
Nobel laureate Mukwege quits DR Congo Covid-19 team, blasts govt response
In a statement, he said there had been "weaknesses in organisation and clarity between the various teams in charge of the response to the pandemic in South Kivu." "We are at the start of an exponential... curve (in infections) and we can no longer apply a strategy that would be purely preventive," Mukwege said. "I have decided to resign... in order to devote myself entirely to my medical duties and to treat the influx of patients at Panzi hospital." He said he regretted that it took "more than two weeks" to get coronavirus test results from the national reference lab in Kinshasa -- "a major handicap for our strategy based on 'testing, identifying, isolating and treating'."
Maintaining Services
World faces worst food crisis for at least 50 years, UN warns
The world stands on the brink of a food crisis worse than any seen for at least 50 years, the UN has warned as it urged governments to act swiftly to avoid disaster. Better social protections for poor people are urgently needed as the looming recession following the coronavirus pandemic may put basic nutrition beyond their reach, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said on Tuesday. “Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults,” he said. “We need to act now to avoid the worst impacts of our efforts to control the pandemic.”
Pope expresses concern about children in poverty amid virus
Pope Francis appealed for help to protect children who are being forced to work to help their families living in extreme poverty during the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking from the Papal library at the Vatican during his weekly audience, the Pope said that in some circumstances this amounted to child slavery or imprisonment. Pausing from his prepared text, the Pope added, “we are all responsible for this.” There have been 12 cases of COVID-19 among the employees and residents of the small Vatican city state.
Hairdressers, beauty salons reopen in Malaysia
The government says the country will enter a "recovery" phase until the end of August, and warned that restrictions will be reinstated if infections soar again.
Will people ever go the movies again?
Movie theaters are used to screening nail-biting endings, but are they now looking at their own? Theaters have been shuttered since mid-March, and in the months since the curtain came down, thousands of theater staffers have been furloughed or laid off, rent on cineplexes has gone unpaid, and movie studios have canned premieres for their multimillion-dollar productions. While box office receipts have hovered at a healthy $11 billion for North America for the past five years, analysts predict that ticket sales will plunge to $5.5 billion in 2020 — a 52 percent decline — according to MoffettNathanson, a media research company. AMC Theatres, the world's largest cinema chain, said last week that it had "substantial doubt" that it could continue its operations for an extended period.
Healthcare Innovations
Human trials for a coronavirus vaccine are starting in late July
The pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday that it is going to begin its human trial phase of developing a potential coronavirus vaccine in the second half of July, rather than September as originally planned. In a press release, Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels explained that "based on the strength of the preclinical data we have seen so far and interactions with the regulatory authorities, we have been able to further accelerate the clinical development of our investigational SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, Ad26.COV2-S, recombinant."
Exclusive: Europe to accelerate trials of gene-engineered COVID-19 vaccines - sources
European officials aim to speed up trials for coronavirus vaccines containing genetically modified organisms, two EU sources told Reuters, in a move that could help shots developed by companies like AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
Potential COVID-19 vaccine from China shows promise in animal tests
A potential COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Chinese researchers showed promise in trials in monkeys, triggering antibodies and raising no safety issues, researchers said, and a human trial with more than 1,000 participants is under way. The vaccine candidate, called BBIBP-CorV, induced high-level neutralising antibodies that can block the virus from infecting cells in monkeys, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits, researchers said in a paper published in online by the medical journal Cell on Saturday. “These results support the further evaluation of BBIBP-CorV in a clinical trial,” researchers said in the paper. BBIBP-CorV, developed by Beijing Institute of Biological Products affiliated to state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), is among five candidates China is testing in humans.
Singapore to launch TraceTogether Token device for COVID-19 contact tracing
In March, MobiHealthNews reported that the Singapore government launched the mobile app TraceTogether to help support and supplement current contact tracing efforts in the nation-state in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. TraceTogether works by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other participating TraceTogether users in close proximity. Records of such encounters are stored locally on each user’s phone. According to a statement by the Smart Nation Office under the Prime Minister’s Office in Singapore, there are about 1.8 million people who have downloaded the TraceTogether app, but “it is not enough,” as the app does not currently cover the digitally excluded population including the elderly and young children who may not have smartphones.
Explainer: Summer might slow coronavirus but is unlikely to stop it
Two other studies did find an effect, including a look at new infections in 47 countries that linked higher temperatures to slower transmission in places like the Philippines, Australia and Brazil. “The Northern hemisphere may see a decline in new COVID-19 cases during summer and a resurgence during winter,” concluded the authors of another study of 117 countries, which found that each 1-degree of latitude increase in distance from the Equator was associated with a 2.6% increase in cases. The head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies programme, Mike Ryan, cautioned: “We cannot rely on an expectation that the season or the temperature will be the answer to (the disease’s spread).”
Impact of seasons on coronavirus unclear, WHO's Ryan says
It is unclear how the arrival of winter in the southern hemisphere will impact the novel coronavirus, the head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies programme Mike Ryan said on Wednesday. “We don’t know how the coronavirus is going to be,” Ryan said during a virtual press conference. “Right now, we have no data to suggest that the virus will behave more aggressively or transmit more efficiently or not,” Ryan said, adding that the impact of summer’s arrival in the northern hemisphere was also unclear. “We cannot rely on an expectation that the season or the temperature will be the answer to (the disease’s spread),” he said.
Fujifilm plots $928M infusion at Danish biologics plant to double production capacity
Fujifilm's infusion into its Denmark site comes weeks after the Japanese drugmaker agreed to set aside manufacturing space at the site for the Bill Gates-funded COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. In late April, Fujifilm agreed to dedicate room at the Hillerød, Denmark, facility and "work with a selected pharmaceutical partner in supporting the swift manufacture and dedicated supply for patients with COVID-19 in lower-income countries," the drugmaker said in a release. The deal set aside an unspecified production volume for 2021 with options for the following years.
Polish scientists design remote-controlled ventilator to fight COVID-19
A team of Polish scientists has designed a remote-controlled ventilator they hope will allow doctors to help critically ill patients breathe, but from a distance, in a bid to make medical personnel safer during the coronavirus pandemic.