"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 18th Jun 2020

Isolation Tips
Staying mentally healthy: the biggest challenge faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes’ survey shows - Olympic News
A survey conducted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in May revealed that managing mental health and sports careers, as well as nutrition and diet, were the biggest challenges faced by athletes during the unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was conducted among more than 4,000 athletes and entourage members from 135 countries and was available in eight languages. The results highlight that 50 per cent of athletes struggled with the complexity of conducting proper training as a consequence of the restrictions imposed in most countries to contain the virus. Managing mental health and sports careers (both 32 per cent) were identified as the two biggest challenges, followed by nutrition and diet (30 per cent).
Newton panel hosts talk on isolation, loneliness during pandemic
Newton panel hosts talk on isolation, loneliness during pandemic. By Inyeong Kim Boston University journalist
An unexpected upside to lockdown: men have discovered housework
With families under lockdown, men are doing more housework and childcare. Experts suggest this could lead to a lasting change in gender norms
Hygiene Helpers
How major airlines are ramping up safety precautions so you can travel again post-lockdown
Most airlines advertise their use of High Efficiency Particulate Air or HEPA filters, which eliminate approximately 99.9% of viral contaminants in recirculated air. Some have swapped cabin crew uniforms for PPEs; while others have introduced contactless check-in and boarding procedures. Passengers can expect adapted inflight food services, prolonged airport waiting times as well as the mandatory use of face masks from take-off until landing.
Spain will do PCR tests on all close contacts of Covid-19 cases
Spain’s Health Ministry and the regional governments have agreed to a stricter protocol for coronavirus testing. From now on, all close contacts of a positive case will undergo PCR testing, regardless of whether they show symptoms or not, healthcare sources told EL PAÍS. These sources said that the new document is being finalized and has been sent to the relevant health authorities: “It’s just a matter of days before it goes into effect.” Scientific groups have expressed satisfaction at the change. In recent days, several experts had voiced concerns about what they’d described as “an open crack” in the Covid-19 containment effort.
Covid-19: Transmission fears spark bicycle frenzy in post-lockdown Paris
While Paris has long yearned to become the world’s No. 1 biking capital, it wasn’t until the coronavirus prompted widespread fears of transmission on public transport that Parisians really started
German govt seeks ban on big events until October
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is seeking to ban big events until at least the end of October over fears of renewed transmission of the coronavirus, according to an official draft seen by AFP. Berlin also plans for schools to return to normal operations after the summer holidays. However, recommendations for social distancing and mask wearing in shops and on public transport will stay, according to the document to be discussed by Chancellor Merkel and premiers of Germany's 16 states later today.
Coronavirus: Berlin households in lockdown after positive tests
Authorities in Berlin have placed 369 households under quarantine after dozens of people tested positive for coronavirus. Officials in the southern district of Neukoelln said the outbreak involved homes in seven different locations and in some cases with 10 people living together. Berlin's top health official, Dilek Kalayci, urged those residing in the German capital to use a new government-backed contact tracing app, rolled out today, to help limit the spread of the virus.
New lockdown in Beijing after coronavirus outbreak spreads
Beijing has imposed lockdown rules on its 21 million residents and urged them not to travel outside the capital after a coronavirus outbreak spread to four other Chinese provinces. The city recorded 31 new cases overnight, bringing the total to 137 since the first new case was identified and linked to the huge Xinfadi food market last week. Authorities in Zhejiang province said that a man who runs a business at the market had returned home with symptoms and multiple cases linked to Xinfadi have been reported in Hebei, Liaoning and Sichuan. Several other provinces are now quarantining travellers from Beijing and residents wishing to travel outside the city must now have tested negative for the virus in the previous seven days.
Community Activities
More than 100,000 carers 'forced to use food banks in UK lockdown'
Elderly spouses caring for each other and parents caring for disabled children are twice as likely as the general public to have used a food bank since lockdown, research has shown. The report, which experts said should “shock the nation”, found that more than 100,000 people doing unpaid caring for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives had been forced to use food banks since start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The figures paint a worrying picture of carers, especially those aged between 17 and 30, being under intolerable pressure. Almost 229,000 told researchers they have had someone in their household go hungry during lockdown.
Working Remotely
Managing employees’ feelings of loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, individuals may have been experiencing their own feelings of loneliness, whether from shielding on their own, being alone in the house whilst others continue to work, or sadly they may have been separated with loved ones through illness and the requirement of medical attention. Similarly, employees may be struggling with the lack of contact with colleagues whilst working remotely or on furlough. When we think about loneliness, we often think about isolation from family and loved ones, but employees often spend more time with their colleagues than anyone else and as such, changes to the working environment can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of individuals.
End of the office: reinventing the workplace for a remote working
The sudden boom in remote working has raised a flurry of questions surrounding a return to “normal” working life and the purpose of the workplace as we know it
Ford offers 30,000 U.S. employees option to work from home until New Year's
An estimated 30,000 salaried employees at Ford Motor Co. learned at a virtual staff meeting early Wednesday that they may choose whether to work from home full-time, return to the office full-time or create a blended schedule that allows for both. The option to work from home will last until New Year's Eve, at least. Meanwhile, Ford is evaluating whether it needs so much building space in the future.
Working from Home While Black
Working from home poses unique authenticity challenges for the relatively small segment of Black people in the U.S. in this new work arrangement. Black employees, who are often numerically underrepresented in professional occupations, regularly grapple with how to counteract negative racial stereotypes that undermine their professional images in the office. In response, Black workers often strategically engage in code-switching — adjusting their speech, appearance, and behaviors to optimize the comfort of others with the hopes of receiving fair treatment, quality service, and opportunities. Studies show that Black employees who downplay their racial identities are perceived as more professional and are more likely to be hired than those who do not modify their self-presentation, for example
In International Physics Collaborations, Working Remotely Is Nothing New
Fabio Cerutti, a Berkeley Lab staff scientist and ATLAS group member, quickly transitioned to working from home after the COVID-19 pandemic led to a stoppage in most activities at the CERN site. Cerutti talks about his continuing work in this video
Many workers will never go back to the office post-coronavirus
Like just about every other office employer in Greater Boston, Lola switched into work-from-home mode in March as the COVID-19 pandemic struck......
Remote working: Are you ready for the new normal?
For those yet to jump on board with remote working, the pandemic will have prompted a quick acceleration in digital transformation plans. The crisis has even rewritten the job description for many IT leaders, who may not have been so prominent and visible in their respective businesses before. Now they are becoming integral to their company’s management of the crisis. One thing seems clear: the businesses that fully embrace remote working now will be the ones that benefit as we emerge into a new way of working.
Virtual Classrooms
We must walk tightrope between online and offline learning
If schools do not focus on adapting teaching materials that can reach the last child, then the consequence could be a generation of young illiterates. This will be detrimental for the society at large. The definition of what is meant by quality of education will have to be constantly revised because too much emphasis on technology could also exclude many children from education.
Virtual classroom options, social distancing: Here's what we know about Montgomery ISD bringing students back this fall
The state of Texas has not yet released its final requirements for schools opening for fall 2020-21 amidst the coronavirus pandemic, but Montgomery ISD has laid out a tentative plan for its district. The plan includes returning to traditional instruction with spaced-out desks as well as virtual classroom options. However, MISD is waiting on further clarification from the state on issues such as transportation. At this time, the district has opted to not change its traditional calendar, MISD interim Superintendent Ann Dixon said at June 16 board of trustees meeting. This means usual breaks such as summer and spring break are still scheduled.
HRD working on SOPs for online classes; to address issues of increased screen time, digital divide
The guidelines are being developed in view of complaints from parents about schools conducting online classes like regular school, which has increased children’s screen time
SD 51 prepares for hybrid online/in-class learning in September
Though in-class learning only resumed in School District 51 – Boundary two weeks ago, management is already looking at how education in the district may differ next September, assuming COVID-19 precautions continue to govern the number of students permitted in a classroom at a given time. At its monthly board meeting held June 9, the district’s board of directors approved funding to hire two additional full-time teachers who will specialize in distance education support. Since spring break ended in March, students and staff alike have taken to online platforms to convene in virtual classrooms.
Public Policies
England’s ‘World Beating’ System to Track Coronavirus Is Anything But
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain unveiled last month a “world beating” operation to track down people who had been exposed to the coronavirus, giving the country a chance to climb out of lockdown without losing sight of where infections were spreading. As with much of the government’s response to the pandemic, however, the results have fallen short of the promises, jeopardizing the reopening of Britain’s hobbled economy and risking a second wave of death in one of the countries most debilitated by the virus. In almost three weeks since the start of the system in England, called N.H.S. Test and Trace, some contact tracers have failed to reach a single person, filling their days instead with internet exercise classes and bookshelf organizing. Some call handlers, scattered in offices and homes far from the people they speak with, have mistakenly tried to send patients in England to testing sites across the sea in Northern Ireland
Don't blame public for Covid-19 spread, says UK scientist
Prof John Drury, a member of a subgroup to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said evidence shows that rather than mass panic or selfishness in times of emergency, people actually tend to show solidarity and cooperation. “All the government evidence shows widespread adherence to the public health measures [for Covid-19],” said the University of Sussex professor. Images of people crammed into underground trains was not down to psychological factors, Drury said, but because they had to go to work. The findings of surveys suggesting that adherence to lockdown measures in the UK is falling, particularly among younger adults, were unlikely to be down to selfishness, said Drury, noting the drop coincided with a decline in confidence in the government. Drury told the Guardian that public behaviour had often been misrepresented. “It is implicit in some politicians comments, but it was more often commentators, journalistic commentators, saying these kinds of things,” said Drury.
EU to Host Global COVID-19 Vaccine Summit
The European Union called on the international community Wednesday to ensure potential coronavirus vaccines are equally available to all nations. In a video statement, EU Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen called a global vaccine summit on June 27 at which the EU and its partners will solicit countries to pool their resources and reserve future vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.
Australia’s State Borders Slowly Begin to Reopen After COVID-19
South Australia has become the first state in the country to relax its border controls imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. From Wednesday, travellers from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania are allowed to enter South Australia without going into quarantine. Australia has had 7,300 confirmed coronavirus cases. 102 people have died. South Australia closed its borders to other parts of the country in March when the COVID-19 crisis was intensifying. It was an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.
‘It’s just way too much to take on’: School systems struggle with the politics of reopening
Governors promise to put kids back in class in a matter of weeks, but school officials are largely stuck navigating the messy details.
UK readers find the government's COVID-19 messages more misleading than actual fake news
Studies have suggested social media is rife with disinformation, with surveys showing a high proportion of people have been exposed to false or misleading claims about COVID-19, fueling dramatic headlines. But our six-week diary study of news audiences between April 16 and May 27 found that the vast majority of our panel of 200 participants could easily spot fake news. They found stories such as the conspiracy theory that 5G is responsible for the spread of COVID-19 or the quack remedy that gargling with saltwater cures coronavirus immediately suspect. So it wasn’t fake news being peddled on social media or conspiracy websites that was of most concern. When we asked them about what false or misleading information about COVID-19 they had encountered, many instead referenced examples of what they saw as government or media misinformation
Maintaining Services
10,000 COVID-19 positive cases cured in 24 hrs: Government issues tips to fight corona stigma
India has seen an alarming surge in COVID-19 positive cases. However, according to the Ministry of health, the country is faring well in the fight against the deadly contagion. Pointing out that as many as 10,215 coronavirus patients were cured in the last 24 hours to take the national total in this category to 1,80,012, the central government on Tuesday announced six tips to fight the stigma associated with the deadly disease.
India to 'reimagine' streets for walkers, cyclists after coronavirus
India will make its streets and markets more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists as it emerges from one of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns, a move urgently needed to curb pollution and improve liveability, urban experts said. An advisory issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs recommended the pedestrianisation of up to three markets in each city, and adding more bicycle lanes. City authorities must select the markets by June 30, and begin implementing short-term measures from Oct. 1, it said. “COVID-19 presents us with an opportunity to reimagine streets for people,” Durga Shanker Mishra, the ministry’s secretary, said in a statement last week.
Eiffel Tower to Reopen After Longest Closure Since World War Two
Workers are preparing the Eiffel Tower for reopening next week, after the coronavirus pandemic led to the iconic Paris landmark's longest closure since World War Two. France's tourism industry is opening back up, but the 324-meter tall wrought-iron tower won't immediately welcome visitors the way it did before the country went into lockdown in March. Only limited numbers of people will be allowed in when the Eiffel Tower opens again on June 25. Elevators to the top will be out of service, at least at first, and only the first and second floors will be accessible to the public.
'We saved your life Boris,' student nurses recruited to work Covid-19 front line angry as placements cut short
Thousands of student nurses recruited to work on the front line against Covid-19 have been told their placements will be cut short, plunging some of them into financial despair. Many nurses expressed their outrage at a decision from NHS England that their paid placements will now finish on 31 July instead of running until the end of September. But Health Education England (HEE) – which oversees training – said that it was "made clear to students who opted into paid placements" that the arrangements would need to come to an end at "an appropriate point". One nurse calling herself Becky Jane said nurses had been told by HEE that the NHS can no longer afford to keep the paid placements going until the end of September as originally promised. “Some of us left jobs for this. Many of us have children and families to care for," she wrote on a message on Facebook. She said nurses could graduate with around £30,000 debt already and had signed up for the six-month placements at the start of April despite being “terrified” of contracting Covid-19.
ITV News investigation finds majority of NHS Trusts have not completed full risk assessment on BAME staff
Back in April, the head of the NHS Sir Simon Stevens wrote to all hospital Trusts advising them to risk assess all their BAME staff. So far, so good. It's now mid-June, and we have discovered a tiny proportion of those Trusts have actually carried out all the assessments. In fact, only 14 of the 80 NHS Acute Hospital Trusts in England that replied to ITV News' inquiry have completed risk assessments of all BAME staff. And that's not all.
Syrian refugees profoundly hit by COVID-19 economic downturn
The number of vulnerable refugees who lack the basic resources to survive in exile has dramatically surged as a result of the public health emergency. The refugee hosting communities in countries in Syria’s neighbourhood experience similar hardships. Many refugees have lost what were already meager incomes, forcing them to cut down on the most basic needs, including food and medication. Refugee households are taking on additional debt and are not able to pay their rent anymore., Serious protection risks are growing, including risks of child labour, gender-based violence, early marriage and other forms of exploitation.
Healthcare Innovations
Covid-19 immunity may last just six months, study finds
Researchers from the University of Amsterdam found people who had been infected with seasonal coronaviruses enjoyed 'an alarmingly short duration of protective immunity'.
Coronavirus: 45% of asymptomatic patients may have lung damage
Researchers looked at studies from 16 different groups including prison inmates, cruise ship passengers and nursing home residents. About 45% of people infected with COVID-19 may never have traditional signs such as coughing, fever or shortness of breath. Among the cruise ship passengers, 54% of the 76 those who were asymptomatic had lung damage indicated on CT scans. Specifically that lad hazy, white clouds in their lungs, meaning the organs were full of fluid, bacteria or immune system cells
Mass testing is the safest way to reopen the economy and society and will cost much less than a hard lockdown, research reveals
Implementing a mass testing policy is the safest way to reopen the economy and society and has much less of a damaging impact on the economy than a hard lockdown, reveals new research from Durham University Business School. Billions of people globally have been called to stay at home. This has reduced the transmission of Covid-19 and saved lives, but brought economies to a standstill. Now countries must provide an exit roadmap that balances reopening the economy and controlling infection.