" Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 29th Jun 2020

Isolation Tips
Coronavirus Lockdown: 26 Graphic Design Resources to Engage Kids
If your kids’ school is providing them with online classes, that’s a few hours of respite during which you can take it easy but if no such system has been put in place by your child’s school, what can you do to keep them productively engaged while also getting some time for yourself (or your work)? In this article, we are going to share 26 of the most fantastic and productive graphic design resources that will keep the kids engaged when you can’t go out due the coronavirus pandemic (or otherwise). These will help them learn something new, and may enable them to develop a new hobby or think of a future career choice.
South Korea distributes 'pet plants' to fight COVID depression
Forget puppies, who need to be housebroken and sometimes chew your shoes. The government in South Korea, looking to help people fight the mental strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic, is turning to plants. It announced this month that it will offer a first batch of 2,000 “pet plant kits” to people living in self-quarantine to help them battle depression and other mental health conditions brought on, or exacerbated, by the pandemic. “We understand that the general public is suffering from feeling blue and fatigue because of drawn-out COVID-19 and some people are calling such state of mind 'COVID-19 Blue,'” said Yoon Tae Ho, the head quarantine official at South Korea’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters.
Healthcare worker from Manenberg shares her Covid-19 recovery story
A healthcare technician has shared her story of recovery after having tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this month. Zaakirah Watson, 26, from Manenberg, tested positive on June 6, and in less than three weeks had recovered and returned to work this week. “My symptoms started on June 4 after my lunch hour. All of a sudden I felt really weak and exhausted and I checked my blood pressure, and it was lower than usual because I do suffer from low blood pressure,” said Watson. She said before testing positive, she took every possible precautionary measure. “In my line of work I’ve literally seen this virus at its worst. I’ve seen people coming into hospital and leaving this world without seeing their loved ones for as long as they’ve been in hospital.
How teens can deal with COVID-19 anxiety in Charlotte NC
Being a teenager is by no means easy. Every day, teens are faced with the stress of classwork, friend drama and extracurricular activities — all of which contribute to a burdensome amount of confusing and sometimes overwhelming emotions. Throwing a global pandemic into the mix produces a whole new array of unimaginable challenges that teens must overcome. Some are missing their first high school sports seasons, their choral concerts, their last high school prom or even their graduation. No matter what each teen may be missing out on, they all seem to share the common feelings of disappointment, stress and isolation. Teens have been pulled away from the structured routine that a normal school day brings: with early wake-ups, hour-long classes in a room full of half-awake students, social interaction with peers and respected adults, sports practices, and hours of homework and studying. The absence of a systematic routine leaves students, especially teenagers, more likely to slip into a pool of bad habits.
Hygiene Helpers
Viruses do not take breaks. The world can learn from how the DRC is beating Ebola
The Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has ended. Thursday marked 42 days since the last person with Ebola was discharged from care, double the maximum length of time it takes for symptoms to appear. Nearly two years of hard work and leadership by the communities in DRC has paid off, with the end of the first Ebola outbreak in a conflict zone. It’s a time for celebration but not complacency. Viruses do not take breaks. DRC’s 10th Ebola outbreak may have come to a close but an 11th, in the north-west part of the country, was detected on 1 June. Cases are appearing 240km away from Mbandaka, the centre of this latest outbreak.
Coronavirus: More care urged for pregnant BAME patients
NHS England is asking doctors and midwives to provide more checks and support to black, Asian and ethnic-minority (BAME) pregnant women because of their greater risk from coronavirus. Black mums-to-be are eight times more likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid-19 than white pregnant women. Pregnant Asian women are four times as likely to end up in hospital. Maternity services remain open and mums-to-be are urged to keep in touch with their midwives to stay safe.
Australia's Victoria state mandates coronavirus testing for travellers
Australia's Victoria state will implement mandatory coronavirus tests for returning travellers after a sharp spike in infections over the past two weeks, the state's premier said on Sunday. The country's second-most populous state had 49 new cases on Sunday, its highest in more than two months and the 12th consecutive day of double-digit rises. The rest of Australia has seen almost no infections. "Much like a bushfire, putting this out is challenging," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told a press conference, alluding to wildfires at the end of last year that burnt through vast swaths of the country. "Containing it, though, is something that we can do, and test and trace is the most effective thing to do."
A Horrifying U.S. Covid Curve Has a Simple Explanation
Declaring victory too close to the top of the curve appears to be an excellent way to return to new heights. The gap with Europe argues for more restraint from fast-opening states going forward, and in fact, some governors are taking the cue. In Texas, where cases are rising at a dangerous rate, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has called a halt to business reopenings and ordered taverns closed. North Carolina has also frozen it reopening efforts, as have Utah and Nevada. And of course there is the example of New York and New Jersey, both of which waited until their steep curves were tamed before starting reopening efforts; now, even as activities resume in both states, new cases have slowed to a trickle.
Coronavirus: Does anyone have a working contact-tracing app?
The claim: No country in the world has a working contact-tracing app. Verdict: There are certainly countries in the world that would dispute that. Germany's app is up and running and India says its app has had 131 million downloads and traced 900,000 people to tell them to isolate.
Community Activities
Patient 91: How Vietnam saved a British pilot and kept a clean Covid-19 sheet
"If I'd been almost anywhere else on the planet, I'd be dead. They would have flicked the switch after 30 days," says Stephen Cameron from his hospital bed. The 43-year-old Scottish pilot spent 68 days on a ventilator, thought to be a longer stretch of time than any patient in the UK. He did so not in a hospital in his hometown of Motherwell, but in Vietnam's sprawling and hectic Ho Chi Minh City, with no close friends or family for thousands of miles. Cameron, the last Covid-19 patient in an intensive care unit in Vietnam, has been the sickest doctors have had to deal with during the outbreak. The country, home to 95 million people, has seen only a few hundred confirmed cases, single-digit ICU admissions and not a single recorded death. So rare was a case of Cameron's severity in Vietnam, every minute detail of his recovery was reported in national newspapers and on TV news bulletins. He's now known nationwide as Patient 91, the moniker given to him by public health officials when he fell ill in March.
Australia gets second wave of toilet paper hoarding - The Jakarta Post
Australia's supermarket chains on Friday reintroduced purchase limits on toilet paper and other household items as a spike in coronavirus cases in the state of Victoria set off a fresh round of panic-buying over fears of a new stay-at-home order. Woolworths Group Ltd and Coles Group Ltd, which together account for two-thirds of Australian grocery sales, said they were once again limiting purchases of toilet paper and paper towels to one or two packs per person after photos circulated on social media showing empty shelves in stores. The buying restrictions - and images of stripped shelves - are a reminder of Australia's initial response to the arrival of COVID-19 when shoppers stockpiled household goods in anticipation of a protracted shutdown.
Drones display a heart to pay tribute to honor the victims of COVID-19 and sanitary workers in Madrid, Spain, Friday, June 26
Drones display a heart to pay tribute to honor the victims of COVID-19 and sanitary workers in Madrid, Spain, Friday, June 26, 2020. Spain's cabinet will extend the furlough schemes adopted during the coronavirus lockdown that brought the economy to a standstill until the end of September.
Working Remotely
Remote work forever? 40% of managers considering staff home working 'beyond pandemic'
The study, from Hoxton Mix, indicates that attitude towards permanent remote work varies between industries. For example, more than 3 in 5 (64%) of respondents who work in the Sales, Media and Marketing industries agree that this would be a positive change, but only less than 1 in 5 (16% of workers in the Arts and Culture sector agree). Hoxton Mix surveyed over 1,000 Brits who are currently working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to reveal the perceptions on remote working in the future and how work-life balance has changed.
How AI can ensure your transition to remote work is equitable
We must move fast in the transition to the future of remote work. But not too fast, otherwise our journey to gender equity – and economic recovery – could take a turn for the worse. In the months leading up to COVID-19, women were driving a strong labour market. They held 50.04% of US jobs (excluding farm workers and the self-employed) and in a historic first, the number of highly-educated women in the workforce surpassed the number of highly-educated men – a milestone reflective of women’s overall rising educational attainment rates. With the onset of COVID-19, however, women’s participation in the paid labour market took a hit.
Coronavirus: Half of Brits say they are more productive working from home
Half of Brits have found themselves to be more productive working from home under lockdown measures. In a survey of 1,481 people by printing company Cartridge People, 50% admitted to getting more done since they made the switch to remote working to combat the spread of COVID-19. Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released in March 2020, of the 32.6 million in employment, around 1.7 million people reported working mainly from home. As the pandemic swept through the UK, lockdown measures meant almost everyone had to do so. Once these restrictions are fully lifted, a third (32%) of workers will look to work from home on a daily basis, the survey revealed. Only 18% of Brits now prefer the traditional office environment, which could mean a significant change for employers who may become inundated with requests to carry on homeworking.
Why the home-working boom could tumble London's skyscrapers
“We were planning to move offices. We’d given notice just before the lockdown came in,” says Mike Hampson, chief executive of Bishopsgate. “When we started working remotely, we realised we were working very effectively as we were.” So, after a discussion with his 65 staff, he decided to give up the firm’s head office in the capital’s Square Mile financial district. The move will save the company hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, slicing a quarter off its annual costs. Employees will also benefit financially – with some saving thousands of pounds each in annual commuting bills. Hampson himself has been spending more than £5,000 a year commuting from Tonbridge in Kent.
Teleworking Tips For Coping During COVID-19
If your office is closed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, you might be working from home for the first time. While teleworking can offer many benefits, teleworking during the pandemic poses unique challenges. Consider these tips for maintaining work-life balance and avoiding professional isolation while social distancing.
COVID has shown Australian broadband can handle working from home: Dept of Comms
The question waiting to be answered is how many of the habits developed in the past few months would endure. "There's no reason to believe that people will go back, will necessarily stop taking telehealth consultations and ... there will be an increase in people's ability to, and interest in being able to, work remotely." During the early days of the pandemic, departmental officials said NBN saw an increase in uptake rate in regional areas. Currently, the uptake is sitting around 50% on the fixed wireless network, and between 20% and 25% in areas served by satellite. Users in these areas are not forced onto the NBN and maintain the ability to connect via ADSL thanks to their copper lines remaining in place. Speaking on Thursday to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19, Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone said the spike in telehealth usage seen during the pandemic was a long time coming. "Telehealth -- it was clearly one of the great revelations of COVID-19. It did show that telehealth does have a place in Australia's modern 21st century health system," he said.
Virtual Classrooms
UC Students Must Ready For An Online, Socially Distanced Fall
So far eight of the nine undergraduate campuses of the University of California system have published their plans for fall term, with most estimating that only a small number of classes will be conducted in person. UCLA, for instance, predicts that just 15% to 20% of courses will take place fully in-class or in a hybrid format, and the rest will be taught remotely, while UC Merced expects 20% to 30% of classes to be in-person in the fall. Several campuses, including UC Merced and UC Berkeley, plan to end any in-person instruction on Thanksgiving and shift all learning online through the end of the fall term. The campus guidelines contrast with what UC President Janet Napolitano said in May, suggesting more classes will be conducted in-person with a hybrid model. Instead, the UC plans look more like what the larger California State University has been signaling since the spring: mostly online.
Some students will stay home in the fall. School districts have to figure out how to teach them.
Wearing face masks, taking temperatures, sitting six feet apart: So much of the talk about returning to school this fall has been dominated by what it will take to make learning in person physically safe. But many school districts are also beginning to plan for a whole other world of teaching and learning — the all-virtual experience that students who stay home for medical or other reasons will need, and that some share of parents say they want. That work is underway in Florida’s Hillsborough County, where nearly 53,000 parents responded to a survey about their preferences for the fall. Almost half said they’d feel uncomfortable with students returning to school buildings. Around 12,000 parents said they’d prefer a fully virtual option.
Coronavirus: 'Scenarios' planned for schools' September return
Education Minister Kirsty Williams would grab a full return for schools in September "with both hands" if scientific advice said it was safe. But she said the Welsh Government also has "to plan for a range of scenarios". Concern has been raised over a possible "blended learning" system with class work, online learning, and homework. The minister conceded that there had "been a huge variation" in the experience of online learning since the start of the outbreak. A survey by University College London (UCL) found only 1.9% of Welsh pupils had four or more daily online lessons, compared with the UK average of 7%. Asked on the BBC Politics Wales programme if online teaching had been good enough, Ms Williams said: "We were asking teachers to embrace a pedagogy that is not something that they do every day and as we've gone on we've seen increasing use of live lessons.
Coronavirus - Morocco: In the midst of coronavirus, USAID/Morocco supports distance learning for deaf and hard of hearing students
As these distance learning tools were rolled out, concerns were soon raised that deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students, representing over 2,000 schooled children and youth who count among the 10,000 Moroccan students with sensory impairments, were being left behind. There remained yet another challenge: the need to translate distance learning materials into Moroccan Sign Language (MSL). The Ministry was well prepared to rise to the challenge thanks to the USAID project Improving Deaf Children’s Reading through Technology activity (2015 – 2018) which, in partnership with the MOE, has increased recognition of MSL as a language by providing training to teachers and administrators on MSL. The project worked with deaf association-run schools across Morocco to provide teachers with an assistive technology—MSL Clip and Create software—allowing them to both create customized materials that provide MSL translations of written text and generate instructional activities incorporating both MSL and Modern Standard Arabic.
As coronavirus spreads, most South Carolina public schools could start the year online
South Carolina's Department of Education released guidance to schools on June 22 with several fall scenarios based on spread of the virus in communities. But, according to a new report from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, 29 counties in South Carolina have "high" virus spread, leaving districts in those counties to decide whether to go to full distance learning for all students, should conditions remain unchanged. For districts with a "low" spread of the virus, the education department is recommending schools follow a semi-traditional schedule. Under this option, the majority of students would be back in classrooms with a mostly regular schedule, but class sizes would likely need to be capped more than usual to allow for social distancing.
Coronavirus: What college and universities will look in the fall as cases surge across the US
In an ongoing survey of more than 800 schools, two-thirds said at the end of May that they were planning for in-person classes in the fall. This number could increase or decrease in the next month, as more states in the US report a surging of coronavirus cases while other states have so far curbed the spread of the novel virus.
Public Policies
Trump Administration Files Supreme Court Brief To End Obamacare Amid COVID-19 Crisis
The Trump administration filed a brief Thursday night calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act — which allows millions of Americans to get health insurance coverage — just as the nation smashed a record for new COVID-19 cases in a single day. Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued in a brief that because Congress in 2017 invalidated the law’s individual coverage mandate — by dropping a tax penalty for those without health insurance — the “entire ACA thus must fall.” The court is scheduled to hear arguments later this year, but a decision might not come until 2021. The move threatens health care coverage for more than 20 million Americans.
AP Interview: Delhi minister says city faces virus challenge
The acting health minister of India's capital said that New Delhi is facing a shortage of “trained and experienced” health care workers, providing a major challenge in a city that is the epicenter of the country's coronavirus outbreak. With over 77,000 cases, New Delhi has been hit harder than any other Indian city. Infections had been projected to rise to half a million by the end of July in Delhi, the territory that includes the capital. With the rate of infections slowing down, the number has been revised to 400,000, and Acting Health Minister Manish Sisodia said he was hopeful that it could be less. “But we can’t be under any illusions,” he told The Associated Press in an interview on Saturday, when India's total caseload passed half a million. “The availability of medical staff is a big challenge that (other) states need to address as well."
Leicester MP demands government initiate local lockdown
The Labour MP for Leicester feels that there needs to be a lockdown in the city to quell the coronavirus spread. Through the weekend Claudia Webbe, Labour MP for Leicester East called for the government to impose a local lockdown on her constituency. She branded the situation there "a perfect storm" and wanted the government to act.
UK considers locking down Leicester after COVID-19 spike - Sunday Times
The British government is considering imposing a lockdown in the city of Leicester after a surge of coronavirus cases there, the Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing senior government sources. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is examining a legislation required for the shutdown after it was disclosed that Leicester, a city of around 350,000 people in the East Midlands, has had over 650 COVID-19 cases in the fortnight to June 16, the newspaper reported. Hancock is considering "all options", including imposing a localised lockdown, according to the report
Costa Rica to accept tourists from countries with virus under control
Costa Rica will will open its international airports on Aug. 1 to tourists from countries that have “controlled transmission” of coronavirus, Health Minister Daniel Salas said on Friday. Starting this weekend, Costa Rica will also open more public spaces such as movie theaters, shopping centers and beaches in most of the country, Salas said.
IMF's Georgieva says virus crisis could ultimately test $1 trillion war chest
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Friday that the global economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus could ultimately test the Fund's $1 trillion in total resources,
E.U. Plans to Bar Most U.S. Travelers When Bloc Reopens
Europe will allow outsiders to begin entering again on July 1, but the U.S. and Russia are now among the nations considered too risky because they have not controlled the coronavirus outbreak.
Texas and Florida close bars after explosion of COVID-19 cases
The governors of Florida and Texas closed down the bars Friday to slow down the spread of the coronavirus that has been rampaging at record levels through their states. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the bar shutdown as the state health department reported 8,942 new COVID-19 cases, shattering the previous record of 5,508 set just two days ago. But DeSantis, who has been resisting calls to slow down the reopening of his state, left it to Halsey Beshears, the Secretary of Department of Business and Professional Regulation, to convey his message in a tweet
Amid coronavirus surge, Texas has a contact tracing problem: reporting cases by fax
Manual, archaic technology and people's mistrust of government agencies are blunting contact tracing efforts, even as the persistent rise in coronavirus cases forces several Western and Southern states to dial back their reopening plans. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, raised a question Friday as to whether contact tracing is even worth the endeavor. And in Texas, a health official in Austin revealed this week that information about hundreds of new cases is pouring in daily across the state via an archaic form of technology: the fax machine. That has made the confirmation of positive cases extremely time-consuming, the official said, which in turn has hindered contact tracing, a labor-intensive commitment that involves calling people who are confirmed ill with COVID-19, asking for their recent contacts and reaching out to those people to determine if they need testing and if they should self-isolate, all in the hopes of breaking the chains of infection. "The cases we receive come in by fax machine," Dr. Mark Escott, the interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health, told Travis County commissioners. "And sometimes those faxes are positives and sometimes they're negatives. Sometimes they have information like the person's phone number that was tested and sometimes they don't. So we have a whole team of people who have to sort through more than a thousand faxes a day to sort out the positives versus the negatives."
COVID-19 cases triple in Latin America in only a month
Number of cases in Latin America and Caribbean have risen from nearly 690,000 in late May to more than 2 million, says PAHO
Maintaining Services
South Africa to reopen casinos and cinemas despite COVID-19 spread
Tourism is an important revenue-earner and three months of lockdown has left many businesses fighting for survival. “We are continuing with the effort to reactivate the tourism sector so that we can save businesses and jobs in the sector,” Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said in a televised briefing, after warning last month that up to 600,000 jobs were at risk if the sector remained shut until September. Business travel has been allowed from June 1, but overnight leisure stays are still forbidden to try to contain the spread of the virus.
Ireland to keep its 14-day quarantine on British travellers: Sunday Times
Ireland will maintain a 14-day quarantine for travellers from the British mainland in July even as it plans to ease travel restrictions with some countries, the Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a memo. The memo with the Irish cabinet committee said it was "highly unlikely" that Britain would be included in Ireland's safe travel list, the report added. Ireland plans to lift from July 9 a 14-day quarantine for people arriving from countries that have also suppressed the coronavirus, the Irish government said on Thursday.
Government to introduce summer holiday ‘traffic-light’ quarantine system
With the start of the main July and August holiday season just four days away, the government has changed tack on easing its “no-holiday” policy. Relaxation of the UK’s quarantine rules and travel advice will not now come until the week after next, Downing Street signalled, as it announced a new traffic-light system that will open up routes to popular destinations like France and Spain. Critics of the blanket quarantine policy have accused the government of a U-turn and are asking why a targeted approach was not used from the start.
Today: China, S. Korea report new cases in double digits : The Asahi Shimbun
China has reported an uptick in new coronavirus cases, a day after the nation’s CDC said it expects an outbreak in Beijing to be brought under control soon. The National Health Commission said Saturday that 21 cases had been confirmed nationwide in the latest 24-hour period, including 17 in the nation’s capital. City officials have temporarily shut a huge wholesale food market where the virus spread widely, re-closed schools and locked down some neighborhoods. A report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that testing has found only a few infected people without a link to the market and that the steps taken mean the risk of further spread is low, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Anyone leaving Beijing is required to have a negative result from a nucleic acid test within the previous seven days. Many Chinese are traveling during a four-day holiday weekend that ends Sunday.
Corona and the Age of Ubuntu
Melinda Gates, speaking on CNN, predicted that the pandemic would devastate the developing world and that she would imagine bodies lying on the streets of African countries. This was when refrigerated trucks were carrying off the corpses of COVID-19 victims from US hospitals, and sports arenas were being repurposed as intensive care units in the US. It seemed inevitable that Africa, which has felt the brunt of virtually all epidemics to hit the world over the last 50 years, would become the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. If even the highly advanced medical teams and state-of-the-art equipment in Europe and the US could not halt its relentless march, what hope had Africa? Well, the hammer did not fall – or rather, it fell rather lightly, causing very little damage, relatively speaking. Let’s look at some comparative figures as at May 20:
COVID-19: France reports more than 1,500 new cases since end-May
France reported more than 1,500 new confirmed novel coronavirus cases on Friday (Jun 26), a spike unseen since May 30, while the number of additional fatalities linked to the virus rose by the highest amount in three days. French health authorities said in a statement the total of newly confirmed infections rose by 1,588, way above both the daily average of 498 seen over the last seven days and the 430 daily average since the beginning of June. The number of people who died from the disease increased by 26 to 29,778, compared to 21 on Thursday and 11 on Wednesday and an average of 19 over the past seven days.
Asia Today: India's cases spike again to near half-million
India neared half a million confirmed coronavirus cases Friday with its biggest 24-hour spike of 17,296 new infections, prompting a delay in resumption of regular train services of more than a month. The new cases took India’s total to 490,401. The Health Ministry also reported 407 more deaths in the previous 24 hours, taking its total fatalities to 15,301. The ministry said the recovery rate was continuing to improve at 57.43%. Also, deaths per 100,000 stood at 1.86 against the world average of 6.24 per 100,000, it said. The actual numbers of infections and deaths from COVID-19, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to a number of reasons including limited testing.
Record rise in virus cases as Ukraine warns of 'serious wave'
Ukraine on Friday reported a record daily increase in coronavirus cases as authorities warned lockdowns may have to be re-imposed if people continued to flout restrictions. Health authorities recorded 1,109 new coronavirus infections in the previous 24 hours, bringing Ukraine's total to more than 41,000. "People have ceased to comply with restrictions," Prime Minister Denys Shmygal wrote on his Telegram channel late Thursday. "If we want to preserve the economy and not quarantine the country, the only way is to adhere to restrictions together." Ukrainian officials have repeatedly complained that people are ignoring social distancing and other safety rules after anti-virus restrictions were eased last month.
Healthcare Innovations
Some COVID-19 patients aren't getting better. Major medical centers are trying to figure out how to help.
She was diagnosed with COVID-19 in April, about a month after her symptoms — cough, congestion and extreme fatigue — began. Now, those symptoms have evolved into weeks of low-grade fever and a burning sensation under her skin. Watson's illness was never severe enough to warrant hospitalization. Instead, her symptoms have lurked in the background, never fully resolving. Doctors have had few answers for her.
Coronavirus Or Flu? Scientists Are Developing A Sensor Which Tests For Both Simultaneously
In anticipation of these upcoming challenges, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin are developing a sensor which can differentiate between Covid-19 and the flu by testing a person for both simultaneously. The research is being funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation as a means to urgently roll out the project to benefit public health by the time flu season hits. The sensor, made of graphene, is tiny, about the dimensions of a micro-SD card. The researchers developed the sensor at this size so the results could be read out via laptop or cellphone.
Asymptomatic COVID-19 findings dim hopes for 'herd immunity' and 'immunity passports'
A closer look at people who tested positive for COVID-19 but never developed symptoms has found that such asymptomatic carriers have few to no detectable antibodies just weeks after infection, suggesting they may not develop lasting immunity. There's growing evidence that a significant proportion of people who test positive for COVID-19 never show symptoms, although it's not clear what percentage of people that is and what role they play in spreading the disease. A Chinese study published this week in Nature followed 37 people in Wanzhou District in China who did not show any outward signs of the disease, despite testing positive when their respiratory tracts were swabbed and being kept in hospital for observation.
INTERVIEW: What to know about COVID-19 strains in Nigeria - Molecular Biologist
In this interview with Chiamaka Okafor, Mr Happi, a molecular biologist and Director of the World Bank-funded African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) at the Redeemer’s University, Ede, in Nigeria’s Osun State, discusses the findings of a recent study from an advanced sequencing of the SARS-COV2 which shows that there are 3 lineages or strains of COVID-19 existing in Nigeria. This interview also explored the implications of these findings in containing the virus, as well as other speculations around the mutation of the virus.
Brazil signs deal to produce experimental virus vaccine
The Brazilian government announced on Saturday an agreement with Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to produce a promising coronavirus vaccine that is undergoing tests. Brazilian Health Ministry authorities said at a news conference that the country will pay $127 million and receive material to produce 30.4 million doses in two batches in December and January, which would allow it to quickly start inoculation efforts if the vaccine is certified to be safe and effective. They said the total deal is for 100 million vaccines for a country of about 210 million residents. It will be produced by local vaccine maker Fiocruz.
Brazil university in talks to test Italian coronavirus vaccine
“We are already in advanced discussions with Italy’s Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute,” Unifesp President Soraya Smaili said in an interview on Wednesday. “We expect to bring it here, the accord is already moving forward and we’ll be able to do a lot of studies with this vaccine.” The Italian researchers want to conduct midstage trials and final Phase III studies involving thousands of subjects in Brazil, Smaili said. Francesco Vaia, the chief medical officer at Lazzaro Spallanzani, said the institute had agreed to do Phase II and III trials in Sao Paulo, once it completes the first phase which is expected to start in Italy in the first half of July. The candidate vaccine is produced by Italy’s ReiThera, he said. Over the weekend, Unifesp began clinical trials of a vaccine developed by Oxford University with support from AstraZeneca Plc. Brazil’s government is nearing an agreement to eventually produce that vaccine.
Key U.S. Medical Group Adds Steroids to COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines
The group now suggests dexamethasone, or an equivalent steroid such as methylprednisolone or prednisone, for hospitalized COVID-19 patients who require supplemental oxygen, mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal mechanical oxygenation (ECMO). The IDSA does not recommend steroids for COVID-19 patients who do not require supplemental oxygen. In patients with severe COVID-19, the immune system can overreact, triggering a potentially harmful cascade. Steroids are an older class of drugs used to suppress that inflammatory response, but they can also make it easier for other infections to take hold - and doctors are leery of their use in a hospital setting, or in patients in earlier stages of the illness when they body's immune response needs to be on high alert.
South Korea Backs Remdesivir for COVID-19, Urges Caution With Dexamethasone
South Korea has added Gilead's anti-viral drug remdesivir to its coronavirus treatment guidelines in its first revision of recommendations since the outbreak began and urged caution in the use of the steroid therapy dexamethasone. South Korea, widely praised around the world for its handling of the pandemic without a full lockdown, has reported 12,602 coronavirus cases as of Thursday midnight, with 282 deaths. Remdesivir is designed to hinder certain viruses, including the new coronavirus, from making copies of themselves and potentially overwhelming the body's immune system. The drug previously failed trials as an Ebola treatment. South Korea's updated guidelines come after a study showed that the cheap and widely used dexamethasone reduced deaths in very sick COVID-19 patients. They advised doctors to take caution until a full study is published.
Coronavirus traces found in March 2019 sewage sample, Spanish study shows
Spanish virologists have found traces of the novel coronavirus in a sample of Barcelona waste water collected in March 2019, nine months before the COVID-19 disease was identified in China, the University of Barcelona said on Friday. The discovery of virus genome presence so early in Spain, if confirmed, would imply the disease may have appeared much earlier than the scientific community thought. The University of Barcelona team, who had been testing waste water since mid-April this year to identify potential new outbreaks, decided to also run tests on older samples. They first found the virus was present in Barcelona on Jan. 15, 2020, 41 days before the first case was officially reported there. Then they ran tests on samples taken between January 2018 and December 2019 and found the presence of the virus genome in one of them, collected on March 12, 2019.
Gilead's remdesivir endorsed as first COVID-19 treatment in Europe
Doctors in Europe will soon be able to treat COVID-19 patients with Gilead’s antiviral drug, remdesivir, after the healthcare regulator’s endorsement put it on track to become the first therapy for the disease on the continent
Astrazeneca, Moderna most advanced in COVID-19 vaccine race ...
Astrazeneca's COVID-19 vaccine candidate is probably the world's leading candidate and most advanced in terms of development, the World Health Organization's chief scientist said on Friday. Soumya Swaminathan said that Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine candidate was also "not far behind" Astrazeneca's, among more than 200 candidates, 15 of which have entered clinical trials. The WHO is in talks with multiple Chinese manufacturers, including Sinovac, on potential vaccines, she said. Swaminathan, speaking to a news briefing, called for considering collaborating on COVID-19 vaccine trials, similar to the WHO's ongoing Solidarity trial for drugs.
Scientists just beginning to understand the many health problems caused by COVID-19
Scientists are only starting to grasp the vast array of health problems caused by the novel coronavirus, some of which may have lingering effects on patients and health systems for years to come, according to doctors and infectious disease experts. Besides the respiratory issues that leave patients gasping for breath, the virus that causes COVID-19 attacks many organ systems, in some cases causing catastrophic damage. “We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that in the beginning,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California. In addition to respiratory distress, patients with COVID-19 can experience blood clotting disorders that can lead to strokes, and extreme inflammation that attacks multiple organ systems. The virus can also cause neurological complications that range from headache, dizziness and loss of taste or smell to seizures and confusion.
Coronarvirus testing bot probes nose with incredibly long stick
A robot could replace healthcare workers administrating coronavirus tests. The system is operated using a joystick, allowing staff to direct the machine. A long swab is attached to the end that is insert through the nose to the throat. A healthcare worker watches the procedure on a monitor in another room.
Severe COVID-19 can damage the brain, preliminary study ...
A preliminary study of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 has found the disease can damage the brain, causing complications such as stroke, inflammation, psychosis and dementia-like symptoms in some severe cases. The findings are the first detailed look at a range of neurological complications of COVID-19, the researchers said, and underline a need for larger studies to find the mechanisms behind them and assist the search for treatments. "This (is) an important snapshot of the brain-related complications of COVID-19 in hospitalised patients. It is critically important that we continue to collect this information to really understand this virus fully," said Sarah Pett, a University College London professor who co-led the work. The study, published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal on Thursday, looked in detail at 125 cases from across the UK. Co-lead researcher Benedict Michael, from Liverpool University, said it was important to note that it focused on severe cases.
Why strange and debilitating coronavirus symptoms can last for months
From extreme fatigue to weight loss, numbness, breathing difficulties and chest pain, some people’s covid-19 symptoms are proving very hard to shake