"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 17th Jun 2020

Isolation Tips
Pilot scheme plays key role in preventing social isolation at Sudbury care home during coronavirus lockdown
A nationwide pilot scheme has played a key role in helping to combat social isolation among residents at a Sudbury care home during the coronavirus lockdown. As part of the project, St Joseph’s care home in The Croft has been provided with a Facebook Portal electronic device, which has enabled residents at the facility to host regular video calls with their loved-ones. Spearheaded by Facebook, the social media giant who created the electronic equipment, the scheme is being rolled-out to care facilities and hospitals across the country in partnership with NHSX, a government-led initiative designed to boost the digital transformation of health and social care.
'Loneliness kills people': Researchers say social isolation affects mental, physical health
As restrictions on social gatherings continue across the country in the fight against COVID-19, new research is revealing how the feeling of loneliness can have far-reaching consequences for people’s psychological and physical well-being, and even their life expectancy. The findings, published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences earlier in June, show how social isolation can negatively affect the health of the brain as well as the immune system. “Social isolation, or a lack of social opportunity, gives rise to a sense of loneliness. Directly or indirectly, this feeling has many wide-ranging consequences for our psychological well-being as well as our physical health, even our longevity,” the study states. “In short, loneliness kills people.”
The Toll That Isolation Takes on Kids During the Coronavirus Era
After six weeks of lockdown due to Covid-19, Cari Marshall was getting concerned about her 11-year-old daughter Chloe. The child missed seeing her friends in person and was becoming frustrated communicating with them solely via FaceTime, TikTok and the gaming app Roblox. “It laid bare how important her personal relationships are to her daily happiness,” says Ms. Marshall, a political volunteer organizer in Austin, Texas. “She is all about her friendships.”
The Hidden Emotional Cost of the Coronavirus Pandemic
In the past couple of years, I thought I’d made headway toward real healing, so much so that it had become one of the big themes of the novel I’d written. It was the story of a young man, much like me, who meets a mysterious healer who promises to “fix” his emotional issues in three days. As he begins to face the ghosts in his past, he interrogates the problem of thinking of oneself as broken in the first place. I’d thought while promoting the book–looking very trim, of course–I would deliver inspirational speeches about the transformative power of self-acceptance. Now that was the very thing upon which it seemed I had lost my grip, and I felt like a fraud, backsliding into addictive patterns I’d believed I’d conquered.
Hygiene Helpers
Not wearing a facemask 'significantly increases risk of coronavirus infection'
Scientists at Texas A&M University examined the person-to-person spread of Covid-19 as part of a study into preventative procedures and trends in New York City, Italy and the pandemic's epicentre of Wuhan in China. Researchers found that wearing a mask was key to preventing infected droplets reaching healthy people, and also those with the virus from spreading it. The study - titled Identifying airborne transmissions as the dominant route for the spread of Covid-19 - was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Europe Rolls Out Contact Tracing Apps, With Hope and Trepidation
Italy and Germany activated apps this week as tools to avoid a second wave of coronavirus infections, fueling a debate about privacy rights.
South Africa Marks Youth Day With Masks, Social Distancing
With calls to protect each other against COVID-19, nearly 200 young South Africans, wearing face masks and keeping a distance, marked the country's Youth Day holiday, the 44th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto students' uprising which helped to bring about the end of apartheid, the country's previous regime of racist, minority rule.
Woman, 15 friends test positive for coronavirus after night out at Lynch’s
Erika Crisp has been short of breath for several days and has tested positive for COVID-19. So have more than a dozen of her friends. The one thing they all had in common: a night out at Lynch's Irish Pub on June 6 in Jacksonville Beach. Crisp, a 40-year-old health care worker from Jacksonville, said she’s been sick for eight days, and 15 of her friends have also tested positive for COVID-19. Lynch’s learned some of its customers had tested positive for coronavirus after visiting the pub and the general manager opted to shut down voluntarily over the weekend for a deep cleaning. Crisp said she and her friends had been careful with social distancing and had stayed indoors for months “doing everything the right way.” “And then the first night we go out, Murphy’s Law, I guess,” Crisp said. “The only thing we have in common is that one night at that one bar.”
COVID-19 can pass between people up to THREE FEET even with a mask
Researchers created a computer model to simulate saliva flowing from a cough. They found that even with a mask droplets of saliva can still escape the mouth. As people cough into the mask it becomes even less effective and lets out more. They say this makes keeping the 6ft social distancing rule in place more vital.
Coronavirus: Flushing the loo can create a cloud of virus particles which the next user might inhale, warns study
A new study warns that virus particles in the faeces of infected people could be ejected into the air when toilets are flushed. Flushing the toilet can create an aerosol cloud of coronavirus droplets more than a metre high which can be inhaled by others, spreading the infection, new research warns. Physicists specialising in fluid dynamics are warning about the transmission method following studies which found coronavirus particles surviving in the faeces of the infected. The danger that COVID-19 could be transmitted through the common use of toilets could impact how workplaces, restaurants and bars re-open as the world leaves lockdown.
Community Activities
Project helping to combat social isolation helps thousands during the coronavirus outbreak
A project helping to combat social isolation has helped thousands of vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak. Community care forum Your Voice has offered a lifeline to residents forced to stay in their own homes during the pandemic. Since the lockdown their staff and volunteers have made more than 6,000 calls, staying in touch with nearly 4,500 people. Your Voice's Stephen Harrison said: "Whilst being physically distanced, we remain socially connected and are actively listening to communities and working with partners to respond to the situation.
Officials hope Austin's voluntary isolation facility will help slow coronavirus spread
The recent increase in COVID-19 cases has city officials working to minimize the number of hospitalizations. One of the ways they're doing so is with the use of a designated isolation facility. Tuesday, city officials gave CBS Austin an inside look at how they've turned a locally owned hotel into a safe place for people to voluntarily isolate. EMS Cmdr. Keith Noble is part of Austin-Travis County's Isolation Unit Task Force. "Our criteria is not based on where you live, or what your situation is. It is based on the criteria of your risk to CVOID," he said.
Medical students are helping the homeless in quarantine survive the virus, isolation
The novel coronavirus poses a unique predicament for the homeless. If a homeless person contracts COVID-19 and needs isolation, where do they go? They can’t go to a shelter. The virus can spread like wildfire in such communal settings. Even if they find a place to quarantine, who will monitor their health? The Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) joined forces with the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust and the Rotatory Club of Miami for a telehealth initiative to help homeless individuals infected with the virus. “Because people with COVID-19 can decompensate quickly, and the homeless are a particularly vulnerable population that lacks resources, we wanted to make sure that these patients are followed closely,” said Dr. Gregory Schneider, associate professor in the Division of Family and Community Medicine.
Qatar Charity establishes 14 community-based isolation units in northern Syria to fight coronavirus - Syrian Arab Republic
Qatar Charity (QC) has started to establish 14 community-based isolation units in northern Syria, in cooperation with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to benefit 2,800 people of camps at a total cost of US$1.6 million. The initiative came as part of the urgent response to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), aiming at protecting the internally displaced Syrians living in camps from the virus. OCHA contributed to the project with a value of US$ 830,000, while Qatar Charity will contribute a value of US$770,000 to these medical and non-medical units. The community-based isolation centers, which are expected to be completely built at the beginning of next September, will provide an appropriate place to isolate COVID-19 suspicious and confirmed mild cases to prevent the spread of the epidemic in poor, especially densely crowded communities living in camps and displacement areas.
Peru archbishop fills cathedral with portraits of Covid-19 victims
Lima cleric covers walls and pews with thousands of photographs while criticising health system ‘based on business and not on mercy’
Working Remotely
Homeworking likely to last long after coronavirus lockdown and could keep air pollution down
Working from home is the way ­forward, according to 87 per cent of ­people who want it to continue after the lockdown ends. A survey by the Business Clean Air Taskforce found that remote working was a popular option and could have enormous environmental benefits.
Working From Home Indefinitely? Here's How To Keep Some Work-Life Balance
You’re reading Working It Out, our series exploring the future of work and wellbeing after coronavirus – from office life to working from home. The coronavirus pandemic has flipped everyone’s world upside down, forcing us to adjust to new ways of living and working. For those fortunate enough to be working remotely during this crisis, three months of work, life, pyjamas and Zoom calls have whizzed by.
How to empower a remote workforce in the long-term
When describing the realities of the ‘new normal‘, remote working has a significant role to play, and how to empower a remote workforce in the long term, will become one of the great challenges for business leaders. In the short term, when coronavirus hit and the resulting lockdown ensued, businesses reacted quickly and put together an amalgamation of different solutions — some that were enterprise ready and some that were not
Almost a third of Australians want to work from home forever after coronavirus
Survey finds less than half who worked from home want to come back full time. Only 14 per cent want to be back every day and 28 want to stay home forever. Three quarters think their boss will be OK with it after the pandemic ends. Coronavirus forced many firms to empty their offices and try to work remotely
Virtual Classrooms
UK students to head back to campus a week early this fall and end with virtual finals
University of Kentucky students will start classes a week early and end with virtual finals this fall, the university announced Tuesday. In-person classes will begin Aug. 17 and end by Thanksgiving, with UK joining a growing list of schools opting to end the semester remotely to help prevent a second spike of the coronavirus. Classes will take place on Labor Day and a prescheduled fall break has been canceled, UK said in a press release. All students will be able to get tested for the virus when they return to campus. Masks will be required almost everywhere on campus, the school said, and students and faculty will be encouraged to check for coronavirus symptoms daily.
Some families won’t return when schools reopen. Wake wants to give them online option.
The Wake County school system plans to offer a virtual school option this fall for students who don’t feel comfortable returning to campus during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sorry Not Sorry: Online Teaching Is Here to Stay
Four reasons you should join the online-teaching movement and spend some time this summer polishing your digital skills
How the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing is making us go more digital
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a massive change in how people behave. In a country like India, where pushing and shoving in public places was common, people are now practising social distancing by keeping themselves at least three feet from others. Lines in public areas are orderly for the first time. Another impact of the pandemic is that it has accelerated trends that existed before COVID-19. While fewer people are venturing outside, more people than ever before are spending time online. Online gaming and video streaming sites have seen their subscriptions grow substantially. Social media has never been more popular; a fact attested to by the rising value of technology companies.
Virtual tours launched at Shropshire college ahead of September
A Shropshire college is busy planning for its next intake of students in September by hosting virtual tours and meetings.
Public Policies
Asymptomatic contacts need not go to quarantine facilities
The nine government quarantine facilities in Ghaziabad with the capacity to accomodate over 1,200 people, and which wer packed two months ago, now mostly lie vacant and had just 90 people across three of them as of Sunday. This has been the case ever since the state government allowed asymptomatic contacts of Covid patients to be quarantined at home, the health department has preferred that over the cumbersome action of putting up a large number of people in one place.
Covid 19 coronavirus: Isolation and quarantine facilities to be inspected
The Chief Ombudsman says he will inspect Covid-19 isolation and quarantine facilities set up for people arriving from overseas. Peter Boshier announced his new inspection programme to Parliament's Governance and Administration Committee this morning. The Government is under fire after two women in isolation were allowed to drive from Auckland to Wellington without being tested for Covid-19. They later tested positive. Boshier said isolation facilities fall within his designation, so a new inspection programme will independently monitor and report on them. He said the public needs to be assured that people who are being isolated for health reasons are being treated fairly and their basic human rights were being respected. Boshier said he understood about 3500 people were in managed isolation or quarantine, as at June 16.
Coronavirus: Auckland hotel guests, staff isolated and tested after new cases
Two new covid-19 cases have sparked an immediate rule change, meaning anyone given compassionate dispensation to leave a managed isolation facility must return a negative test result before walking out the door.
Montgomery City Council votes down mask ordinance, sends doctors out in disgust
Jackson Hospital pulmonologist William Saliski cleared his throat as he started describing the dire situation created by the coronavirus pandemic in Montgomery to its City Council before they voted on a mandatory mask ordinance. "It's been a long day, I apologize," he said. "The units are full with critically-ill COVID patients," Saliski said. About 90% of them are Black. He said hospitals are able to manage for now, but it's not sustainable. "This mask slows that down, 95% protection from something as easy as cloth. ... If this continues the way it's going, we will be overrun." More doctors followed him to the microphone, describing the dead being carried out within 30 minutes of each other, and doctors being disturbed when people on the street ask them if the media is lying about the pandemic as part of a political ploy.
Florida businesses, restaurants not required to report coronavirus cases among employees, officials say
FOX 35 Orlando also spoke with the epidemiologist at the Seminole County Health Department to see if businesses are required to report their cases and shut down if their workers get coronavirus. He said that the cases should be reported, but it is not a requirement, and the business is not required to shut down. “We are not regulatory over businesses. For the most part, that is the Department of Business and Professional Regulation,” Baker said. “So, they don’t have to call us and say I’m shutting down my business.”
Could government change permanently after Covid-19?
Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister, shares her vision for government as a platform for co-creation.
Coronavirus: NHS staff need tests 'twice a week'
A leading surgeon has said NHS staff must be routinely tested for coronavirus up to twice a week. Prof Derek Alderson, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said it was vital, to reassure patients staff were not unwittingly carrying the virus. But hospital trust bosses say they are still waiting for clarity on plans for regular testing. The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was focusing on routine testing in care homes. Prof Alderson was speaking at a Health Select Committee meeting about the necessary steps to get all NHS services back up and running. He said: "It's absolutely essential to regain public confidence that we are able to test our staff regularly."
Fauci: No Need for a Second Lockdown
With top officials in the Trump White House declaring the mission accomplished in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert is sounding a more ominous note. There’s no need to talk about avoiding a second wave of the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said on Tuesday, because the country is still in the first one. “We are seeing infections to a greater degree than they had previously seen in certain states, including states in the southwest and in the south,” Fauci said. “I don't like to talk about a second wave right now, because we haven't gotten out of our first wave.”
Why South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak could be a ‘catalyst for transformation’
Now, as the country eases restrictions, which will allow its cash-strapped citizens to earn a living, South Africa is bracing for a wave of infections. Health-care networks designed to fight the world’s most devastating co-epidemic—HIV and TB—are being subsumed into the COVID-19 response. The government has deployed more than 28,000 community health workers to screen for the coronavirus in poor areas, and teams once established to trace the contacts of TB patients have pivoted to handling this year’s pandemic.
Beijing coronavirus outbreak: travel restricted to tackle 'extremely severe' situation
Restrictions on travel to and from China capital brought in as neighbourhoods sealed off and venues close. Authorities in Beijing have described the city’s coronavirus outbreak as “extremely severe” as dozens more cases emerged, travel from the city was curtailed and its schools and universities shut down. Beijing residents were told to avoid “non-essential” travel out of the capital, and anyone entering or leaving will be tested for Covid-19. Additional neighbourhoods were fenced off on Tuesday, with 27 now designated medium risk, which means authorities can impose stricter restrictions on the movement of people and cars and can carry out temperature checks. One has been designated high risk
Virus Exposes Weak Links in Peru’s Success Story
President Martín Vizcarra followed the best advice when the coronavirus arrived in Peru. He ordered one of Latin America’s first and strictest lockdowns, and rolled out one of the region’s biggest economic aid packages to help citizens stay home. He shared detailed health data with the public, rushed to add hospital beds and ventilators and increased testing. With robust public coffers and record-high approval ratings, Mr. Vizcarra’s centrist government appeared well prepared to face the pandemic. Yet instead of being lauded as a model of disease control, Peru has become one of the world’s worst coronavirus hot spots — its hospitals overwhelmed, its people fleeing the cities. The crisis has marred Peru’s veneer of economic progress, exposing the deep-rooted inequality and corruption that have thwarted its pandemic response.
Maintaining Services
Coronavirus: US airlines threaten to ban passengers who refuse to wear masks
Passengers could be barred from flying with US airlines if they refuse to wear face coverings during their journey, the industry's main lobby group said. United said those who do not comply with the rule will be placed on an internal travel restriction list.
Hospitals in several Alabama cities now seeing all-time highs in coronavirus patients
The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Decatur has hit all-time highs this month, filling beds and taxing staff as the state struggles with a wave of new cases. Nearly one-third of those patients will require ventilators during treatment, said Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers. Cases are surging in Alabama. The department of public health reported record-high numbers of new coronavirus cases in recent days, with more than 1,000 cases added on Sunday.
Footfall on England's high streets rise by 50% as shops reopen for first time since lockdown
Customers turned out in force for the reopening on Monday across the country's major cities as people stepped out to bag a bargain or browse the rails for the first time since lockdown. Shoppers have been encouraged to be sensible and adhere to new hygiene measures and social distancing in place to tackle the spread of coronavirus in the UK. Figures recorded up to 5pm on Monday showed that footfall in England was up by more than a third on last week.
Coronavirus Accelerates Across Africa
The virus was slow to start in many African countries, but epidemiologists say the number of confirmed cases on the continent is now rising fast.
New Zealand puts Covid-19 quarantine in hands of military after border fiasco
The New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has branded as an “unacceptable failure” a quarantine blunder that meant two arrivals from Britain left managed isolation in New Zealand without being tested for the coronavirus – which they were later diagnosed with. “It should never have happened and it cannot be repeated,” Ardern said on Wednesday, adding that the defence force would now oversee the quarantine of new arrivals and audit the quarantine process. Ardern also said she would temporarily remove the compassionate exemption under which the pair were released from quarantine early. Health officials are tracing 320 people who are regarded as “close contacts” of the women, and they will be urged to get tested. Close contacts could include passengers on their flight to New Zealand and other quarantined travellers at their Auckland hotel, as well as hotel staff and flight crew. The women were now in isolation with a relative, officials said.
Healthcare Innovations
In the future, your phone could test you for coronavirus – here's how
It may seem far-fetched, but it’s possible to use your smartphone to detect diseases. Mobile devices can be turned into tools to rapidly identify a variety of disease-causing agents, including bacteria, toxins and viruses. Smartphone-based tests have been developed for detecting HIV, malaria, TB and various food contaminants. Work is now also underway to use smartphones to detect COVID-19 – though there are various questions about the practicality and usefulness of using technology in this manner. We’ve been involved in developing ways of using smartphones to monitor food contamination as part of the EU project FoodSmartphone. Here, we weigh up the potential of using this exciting technology to fight the virus.
Coronavirus Vaccine Makers Are Hunting for Vital Equipment: Glass Vials
Frantic efforts to develop coronavirus vaccines are facing a maddening bottleneck: a shortage of the small glass vials that hold the shots.
MIT’s new way to remotely monitor vital signs over time could help with early COVID-19 detection in care homes
The new tech, which is called “RF-ReID” is useful because it could allow for monitoring individuals cohabiting in a group over time, like seniors in a retirement or long-term care facility, for instance. This development is particularly important because the ability to monitor an individual over time is crucial for actually being able to observe and detect any deviation from a healthy baseline.
Commonly used steroid reduces risk of death in sickest coronavirus patients, preliminary study results suggest
The widely available steroid drug dexamethasone may be key in helping to treat the sickest Covid-19 patients who require ventilation or oxygen, according to researchers in the United Kingdom. Their findings are preliminary, still being compiled and have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal -- but some not involved with the study called the results a breakthrough. The two lead investigators of the Recovery Trial, a large UK-based trial investigating potential Covid-19 treatments, announced to reporters in a virtual press conference on Tuesday that a low-dose regimen of dexamethasone for 10 days was found to reduce the risk of death by a third among hospitalized patients requiring ventilation in the trial. "That's a highly statistically significant result," Martin Landray, deputy chief investigator of the trial and a professor at the University of Oxford, said on Tuesday.
Patients with underlying conditions were 12 times as likely to die of covid-19 as otherwise healthy people, CDC finds
People with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes were hospitalized six times as often as otherwise healthy individuals infected with the novel coronavirus during the first four months of the pandemic, and they died 12 times as often, according to a federal health report Monday.
Covid-19 news: Dexamethasone drug saves lives of coronavirus patients
In the trial, 2104 covid-19 patients were randomly selected to receive dexamethasone and 4321 received standard care. The preliminary results suggest that treatment with dexamethasone could save one life for every eight patients receiving ventilation, and one for every 25 requiring oxygen. Researchers suggest the drug could have saved up to 5000 lives in the UK if it had been used to treat patients from the start of the pandemic, the BBC reports. Dexamethasone should only be taken if prescribed by a doctor.
In South Africa, COVID-19 Breath Test Trial Set for June
In Hillbrow, a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, researchers are gearing up to start a trial to assess a rapid breath test for COVID-19 to deliver results on-site in less than five minutes. If successful, the test would offer the advantages of being non-invasive, easy to use, and appropriate in settings other than hospitals. “We believe that breath is potentially a powerful medium in detecting certain diseases early,” says Mohammed Majam, the head of medical technologies at Ezintsha, an academic policy and research unit of the health sciences faculty at University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). “We are evaluating if this is the same for a virus like COVID. Our body responds immediately to the virus metabolically, and in the process, unique gases are produced. These gases are a signature of the virus and a breath test would be able to capture that,” Majam, who previously worked on the evaluation of HIV self-tests for the World Health Organization in South Africa, tells The Scientist.
Super-potent human antibodies protect against COVID-19 in animal tests: Scientists isolate powerful coronavirus-neutralizing antibodies from COVID-19 patients and successfully test in animals
esearchers have discovered antibodies in the blood of recovered COVID-19 patients that provide powerful protection against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease, when tested in animals and human cell cultures.
Effectiveness of isolation, testing, contact tracing, and physical distancing on reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in different settings: a mathematical modelling study
Consistent with previous modelling studies and country-specific COVID-19 responses to date, our analysis estimated that a high proportion of cases would need to self-isolate and a high proportion of their contacts to be successfully traced to ensure an effective reproduction number lower than 1 in the absence of other measures. If combined with moderate physical distancing measures, self-isolation and contact tracing would be more likely to achieve control of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 transmission.
UK modelling study finds case isolation and contact tracing vital to COVID-19 epidemic control
In the absence of a vaccine or highly effective treatments for COVID-19, combining isolation and intensive contact tracing with physical distancing measures—such as limits on daily social or workplace contacts—might be the most effective and efficient way to achieve and maintain epidemic control, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.