" Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 30th Jun 2020

Isolation Tips
COVID-19: Asian New Zealanders experienced high rates of anxiety, depression during lockdown - survey
According to new research the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has been tough on the mental wellbeing of Asian New Zealanders. The New Zealand Asian Mental Health and Well-being report, commissioned by charity Asian Family Services, found high levels of anxiety and nervousness, as well as racism. The research surveyed 580 Asian New Zealanders across the country and found almost 44 percent of them experienced some form of mental distress since level 4 lockdown. Nervousness and anxiety are the most widely experienced (57 percent), followed by little interest or pleasure in doing things (55.2 percent), uncontrollable worrying (47.4 percent) and feeling down and hopeless (44 percent).
The Covid-19 survivors who may have PTSD
Leading mental health experts are recommending that thousands of survivors of Covid-19, particularly those admitted to hospital, be screened for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is suggested that events in hospital, especially if the person required admission to a High Dependency or Intensive Care Unit (ICU), enforced separation from loved ones, and indeed the lack of a cure for coronavirus, provide the perfect storm for the development of the condition most of us recognise by its abbreviation, PTSD.
As coronavirus lockdown eases, U.K. domestic abuse charity sees huge surge in calls for help
The London-based domestic violence charity Solace says it saw a 200% rise in calls to its helpline during the first easing of Britain's coronavirus lockdown in May, and that it is preparing for a massive rise in demand for its services when restrictions relax even further on July 4. "As restriction ease, as partners go back physically to work or come off furlough, for example, then they will be able to, they will be trying to seek those means of escape," Fiona Dwyer, chief executive of Solace, told CBS News. Coronavirus lockdowns around the world sparked warnings about an increase in domestic abuse, as partners were trapped in close proximity to one another to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dwyer says the numbers of people fleeing abusive relationships is expected to increase as lockdown restrictions ease further and escape starts to feel like more of a possibility for some victims and survivors.
Hygiene Helpers
Virus re-emergence after lockdown ends
A new report in the journal Nature Human Behaviour in June 2020 reports predictions as to the effects of removing lockdown restrictions on the transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and suggests that individual responsibility concerning social distancing and other precautions could avoid the need for lockdowns. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is in different phases in different countries, waning in some former hotspots but rising rapidly in others. Since there are no antivirals to prevent or treat infections, the only preventative measure available is social distancing and lockdowns.
We Have a Cheap, Effective Way to Keep Ourselves Safer From COVID-19. Why Are We Fighting About It?
We have found a disease control tool that, when used properly, can dramatically reduce the person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Studies have shown that this tool could reduce transmission by somewhere between 50% and 85%. The tool is cheap and remarkably low-tech. You can even make one at home. It has no significant side effects. And with each passing day, the scientific research showing the tool’s effectiveness gets stronger and stronger. If this tool were a vaccine or medicine, we’d be high-fiving each other and popping the champagne, knowing we’d discovered a crucial means to help prevent the spread of the pandemic.
Has Covid Testing Gone Wrong?
Is the biggest mistake in the Covid-19 crisis about to happen? As the country comes out of lockdown, the UK needs a test and trace system that can stop the disease from spreading again. So is that system ready to keep us safe? Reporter Richard Bilton investigates the rapid expansion of our testing capacity and asks whether we have got the world-beating service the prime minister promised.
Coronavirus: What are social distancing and lockdown rules?
With social distancing guidance in England changing to "one metre plus" from 4 July, how can you invite friends and family into your home safely? Rules are different in each of the four UK nations. So who will I be able to have in my own home?
Police across UK braced to quell disorder as lockdown eased on ‘Super Saturday’
Police will mount operations all over the country this weekend to prevent new outbreaks of violence when lockdown rules are eased. Martin Hewitt, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said forces recognised “people have had frustrations” and would be ready to enjoy the “new freedom” that will come when pubs, restaurants, hotels and other businesses reopen on Saturday. But he said it remained vital that the public acted responsibly to prevent the risk of a second wave of Covid-19.
Alabama State University to reopen this fall as 'mask mandatory' campus, modified schedule
In a 29-page “working” guide issued on June 27, ASU announced it would implement a phased plan, including new, increased health and safety measures that would require all staff, students and visitors to wear face coverings on the university’s “mask mandatory” campus; including hallways, classrooms and public spaces across campus, large or small. Classroom desks and chairs will be arranged to meet the CDC recommended physical distance of 6 feet apart. The university will also require students and faculty to present their school IDs at various points of entry, and a checkpoint will be established at Councill Hall where employees will undergo temperature screenings before being admitted to campus.
University of Missouri to require face coverings in classrooms
The University of Missouri will require students and employees to wear a mask in classrooms in the fall as a way to fight the spread of COVID-19, the university said Monday. In a message to students and staff, MU administrators said the use of masks will be encouraged but not required in indoor open areas, as well. Workers in offices where 6 feet of distance between people is achievable will not be required to wear face coverings. Students and employees are expected to bring their own face coverings and sanitation supplies, according to the email. Staff will wear clear face shields in order to project, and for students who may need to read lips. The university will have a limited supply of masks for faculty or students who forget to bring one.
How long can the novel coronavirus survive on surfaces and in the air?
At a time when many people have taken to washing hands and sanitising the objects they hold dear—frequently—a pesky question has loomed. How long does the SARS-CoV-2 virus stick around? A new paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the first to examine the lifespan of the virus on common surfaces, offers some answers.
Community Activities
Cheers! Irish pubs reopen as end of lockdown nears
Irish pubs unlock their doors and begin pouring pints on Monday, ending a 15-week dry spell forced by the nation's coronavirus lockdown. Pubs serving food as well as restaurants and hotels are permitted to open as the republic enters the penultimate stage of its plan to lift stay-at-home restrictions. All domestic travel restrictions were also lifted, as churches, hairdressers, cinemas and museums opened and mass gatherings of 50 indoors or 200 outdoors were permitted.
New York's Broadway theatres to remain closed until at least end of 2020
New York's Broadway theatre district will remain closed until the end of the year, it was announced today, as venues said they would refund tickets up to January 3. The Broadway League, which represents the 41 theatres, said that it could not yet give a date when theatres would be ready to reopen. Theatres have been closed since March 12, which represents the longest shutdown in Broadway history.
Working Remotely
A snapshot of a new working-from-home economy | Stanford News
Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom discusses the societal impacts of a new “working-from-home economy” and the challenges posed by the massive transition to widespread remote work.
COVID-19 Presents An Opportunity To Redesign Your Job For Good
In May of this year Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, announced that up to half of the company’s employees could be working remotely in five to 10 years, while Jack Dorsey went a step farther, giving Twitter and Square employees the option to work from home indefinitely. While physical workplaces are unlikely to disappear from Silicon Valley all together, these announcements represent a major move to creating a permanent remote workforce.
Huge rise in jobseekers wanting to work remotely following lockdown
Survey of 1,100 professional workers found that women and younger people are most likely to want to work away from an office environment
The Long, Unhappy History of Working From Home
Three months after the coronavirus pandemic shut down offices, corporate America has concluded that working from home is working out. Many employees will be tethered to Zoom and Slack for the rest of their careers, their commute accomplished in seconds.
Coronavirus: Three surprising jobs you can do from home
Many people have had to switch suddenly to working from home during the coronavirus outbreak because of lockdown conditions. Dougal Shaw has spoken to three people with jobs where face-to-face contact is usually seen as essential, but who have found working remotely to be surprisingly successful.
Virtual Classrooms
U.S. Teens Envision Fall School Reopening During COVID-19 Pandemic
When U.S. schools begin the next academic year with the country still fighting the coronavirus pandemic, students should spend half their time in classrooms and half doing online activities that pinpoint their individual learning style such as videos or reading. That advice comes from Nimish Mathur, 17, and his team from DuPont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky. The "I'm So Confused Gang" team submitted its idea for re-opening school in the age of COVID-19 to a competition sponsored by Discover Your Genius (DYG), a nonprofit company that challenges young people to solve real-world business problems.
U.S. teens advise schools on fall reopening during COVID-19 pandemic
When U.S. schools begin the next academic year with the country still fighting the coronavirus pandemic, students should spend half their time in classrooms and half doing online activities that pinpoint their individual learning style such as videos or reading. That advice comes from Nimish Mathur, 17, and his team from DuPont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky. The "I'm So Confused Gang" team submitted its idea for re-opening school in the age of COVID-19 to a competition sponsored by Discover Your Genius (DYG), a nonprofit company that challenges young people to solve real-world business problems.
'This is hell': Parents and kids hate online learning, but they could face more of it
The stakes are high. If there is a spike in infections – a real possibility, as mounting cases in states such as Texas and Florida indicate – distance learning in affected regions likely will become universal again. And students can’t afford to lose more ground, as many did when classes went online this spring. Millions simply disappeared or logged on but didn't participate. Nationwide, only one in three districts expected teachers to provide remote instruction and monitor students' academic engagement this spring, according to a study that tracked 477 districts. "There wasn't a lot in the way of interventions for kids who were falling off," said Robin Lake, director of the Center for Reinventing Education, a nonpartisan research group in Washington state that conducted the study.
Public Policies
Thailand to ease nightlife lockdown, allow some entry to foreigners
Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha said the "most at-risk businesses" will be allowed to reopen from Wednesday, as there has been no local transmission of the virus for more than a month. "The most important thing we care about are the people who have no income for their families," he said. "Secondly we are confident that our health system is ready to handle (the situation)." Beginning July 1, bars, clubs and karaoke lounges can reopen, though they must adhere to a midnight closing time and have social distancing measures, said Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for COVDI-19 Situation Administration. Massage parlours and teahouses -- which sometimes act as fronts for brothels -- will also have to register customers using the government's tracking app. "Staff must be tested for COVID-19 from time to time and there should be no sex trade," said Taweesin.
Arizona governor closes bars, gyms and movie theaters for a month
-Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said bars, gyms, movie theaters, waterparks, and tubing rentals will shut down for 30 days, as coronavirus cases continue to soar in the state. The measure is meant to help ease the strain on the state's healthcare system.
UK city of Leicester could be the first to face local lockdown after virus surge
The central English city of Leicester could be the country's first to face a local lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus cases, the UK's Home Secretary Priti Patel said Sunday. The Midlands city recorded 658 new cases in the two weeks up to June 16, many linked to fresh outbreaks at food production plants. Patel told the BBC that there have been "flare-ups across the country in recent weeks, in just the last three or four weeks in particular". "For local outbreaks, it is appropriate to have local solutions in terms of infection control, social distancing, screening and many tools," she added.
Portugal, Italy, Spain: Several European countries reimpose local lockdowns
The number of coronavirus cases is starting to rise again in several countries, especially in the south of Europe. Portugal, for example has recently reimposed lockdown measures in some neighbourhoods around Lisbon.
Blow for holidaymakers as Greece extends UK flight ban to July 15 despite air bridge hopes
Athens has extended its prohibition on UK flights to the country from July 1 until July 15, despite plans for it to feature on the UK's list of countries eligible for quarantine-free travel.
Germany extends lockdown in district hit by COVID-19 in abattoir
Armin Laschet said restrictions keeping bars, museums, galleries, cinemas, sports halls, gyms and swimming pools shut would remain in place in the district of Guetersloh for now even though the outbreak was under control. A lockdown in the neighbouring district of Warendorf will be lifted on Tuesday because the number of positive tests there was lower than in Guetersloh.
Coronavirus: UK hardest hit by virus among leading G7 nations
The UK was the hardest hit of all the G7 major industrialised nations in the weeks leading up to early June, according to BBC analysis of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Analysis also showed that England fared the worst in Europe, just above Spain. The research compared 11-week periods for each nation as the virus hit its peak in each country. The analysis of Covid-19 deaths and excess deaths - which compared countries in three different ways - showed the UK worse off than the US, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, and Japan. A separate analysis of European nations, by Oxford University economists, has England just above Spain in terms of the proportion of deaths over and above what would be normal.
Covid 19 Lockdown Measures in France: Déconfinement
As of 22 June France is now in the 3rd phase of “déconfinement“, the relaxation of lockdown rules. Cinemas, holiday centres, sports halls for group sports, all crèches, schools, and collèges are fully open but with strict adherence to sanitary regimes. Earlier in June restrictions were lifted on restaurants, bars, travel distances, tourist accommodation, parks and more. The 2nd phase also saw the end of the 100km travel limit restriction so people are now free to travel without carrying documents proving their purpose of travel. Residents now no longer need to carry an attestation form to travel further than 100km from their home, and the limit has been dropped. Hotels, restaurants, gites, B&B’s, cafes, parks and gardens were also opened during the 2nd phase. France is still under an official ‘state of health emergency’ whereby government can fast track legislation and local authorities have the power to restrict movements, stop gatherings, festivals, concerts etc in their own departments if they deem these to be a health risk.
Spain Plans to Open Its Borders with Morocco Wednesday
Spain is planning to reopen its borders with Morocco on Wednesday after months of suspended international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schengen Visa Info quoted the President of the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, Eduardo de Castro, who said PM Pedro Sanchez informed him of Spain’s plans to resume international travel on July 1. The outlet added that the reopening of borders might be a “one-side action, as Spain expects that Morocco’s government will maintain its borders closed until winter.” Spanish outlet El Pais also reported that Spain will allow travelers from outside the Schengen area to visit the country starting July 1, “providing there is a reciprocal agreement on travel and taking into account the epidemiological situation in the country of origin.”
Hebei: China locks down 400,000 people after virus spike near Beijing
China has reinstated a strict lockdown near Beijing, affecting around 400,000 people, after a small surge in cases. The restrictions have come into force in Anxin county in Hebei province near the capital. After the pandemic emerged in China at the end of last year, the country has managed to get new infections to a consistently low level. To avoid a second wave, even small surges are taken very seriously by the country's health authorities.
Egypt eases restrictions despite surge in coronavirus infections
Egypt on Saturday lifted many restrictions put in place against the coronavirus pandemic, reopening cafes, clubs, gyms and theaters after more than three months of closure, despite a continued upward trend in new infections. Authorities also allowed the limited reopening of mosques and churches, and lifted the nighttime curfew. President Abdelfattah Al-Sisi's government has been keen to save the Egyptian economy that was hit hard by the virus outbreak. On Friday, the International Monetary Fund approved another $5.2 billion loan for Egypt, to be added to the $2.8 billion the fund had already promised to stave off the pandemic’s worst economic effects.
Maintaining Services
What Italy's Post-Lockdown Life Reveals About The New Normal
Italy, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, has been easing restrictions for two months. Here are the lessons now emerging.
Can I go clubbing? Yes – in New Zealand! Your guide to easing and the arts
Actors, dancers and comedians could find themselves experiencing a different kind of lockdown. Fancourt mentions film sets in the US, where entire casts and crews are agreeing to isolate for two weeks before a shoot. “We might have companies of people locking themselves away over a period,” she says. “Alternatively, if we’re able to exist in a state of semi-lockdown, with some social interaction permitted, theatres may be able to adapt their models. “Instead of having multiple different shows with different companies coming in and out, we might end up with scenarios like the Royal Shakespeare Company, where you have companies of actors who stay and do shows as a collective in one place. So the number of social interactions among the company is limited and it’s easier to track and trace if an infection does occur.”
First UK night out of lockdown – camping in Northern Ireland
In the same week Northern Ireland became the first part of the UK to allow camping, a new glampsite opened in the Sperrin mountains’ dark sky park
Dr Tom Frieden: 'Blaming CDC for US Covid failures is like blaming someone encased in concrete for failing to swim'
'Public health is sometimes seen as having failed in this response, but the truth is that leaders failed to follow public health advice'
High Street gets set to reopen as Scotland continues to emerge from lockdown
The first stage of Scotland's High Street recovery launched on Monday, with retailers opening their doors to customers for the first time in 14 weeks.
Spain maintains ban on cruise ships even as tourism sector reopens
Spain is to uphold a ban on cruise liners from docking at its ports to stop the spread of COVID-19, according to a ministerial order published on Saturday. Cruise liners carrying thousands of passengers regularly stop off at ports in the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Barcelona and Malaga, but were prohibited when Spain went into lockdown on March 14. With their crowds of often elderly passengers, cruise ships have been especially vulnerable to outbreaks of the virus and have been barred from disembarking in several countries. Spain's ban on the vessels will continue until the coronavirus epidemic is brought under control, according to the Official State Gazette, even as the country otherwise reopens to tourists in an effort to revive an industry hammered by the coronavirus lockdown.
With coronavirus surge, L.A. County may run out of ICU beds
Los Angeles County health officials issued a dire warning Monday that conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic are deteriorating rapidly and the highly contagious virus is spreading swiftly in the nation’s most populous county. They said they are now faced with one of their biggest fears: that the reopening of L.A. County would coincide with sudden jumps in disease transmission that have the potential to overwhelm public and private hospitals. L.A. County has long been the epicenter of the coronavirus in California — with nearly 98,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,300 deaths — but officials said Monday that the outbreak is worsening. Barbara Ferrer, the director of public health for L.A. County, said that new data show “alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalization.”
Austria lifts travel warning for German state of North Rhine-Westphalia
Austria has withdrawn a general travel warning for Germany's most populous state issued after a massive coronavirus outbreak at a meat processing plant. The country put the warning in place for people travelling from North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) following the outbreak at Tönnies meat plant in Gütersloh. Now it has been lifted – but the ban remains in place on the Gütershloh district of NRW. "As of today (Sunday) at midnight, the general travel warning for North Rhine-Westphalia will be lifted; it will only apply to the district of Gütersloh," said Elisabeth Köstinger, the Austrian minister responsible for tourism, during a live broadcast organised by German newspaper Bild. If people from Gütersloh want to visit neighbouring Austria, they have to present a negative coronavirus test that is less than 48 hours old. Those who can do this will "be able to start their vacation in Austria", said Köstinger.
Healthcare Innovations
WHO director: Pandemic 'speeding up' | TheHill
More than 10 million people across the globe have tested positive for the coronavirus, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday, nearly 180,000 of whom tested positive in the last 24 hours. Almost half a million people have died worldwide. "The reality is this is not close to being over," Tedros told reporters. "Globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up." About half the cases, and nearly half the deaths across the globe, have come in the Americas. The United States, which accounts for about 4 percent of the global population, has nearly a quarter of the total confirmed cases, 2.4 million.
Temasek-led investor group in $250 million vaccine bet on BioNTech
Singapore's state investor Temasek and other investors are injecting $250 million into German biotech company BioNTech , which is developing an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The investment, which BioNTech said was via a private placement, reflects heightened investor interest in the race to develop an agent that will stop the pandemic and sent shares in biotech firms such as Moderna and Novavax soaring this year. U.S.-listed shares in the German company jumped almost 15% to their highest since March 19 on the news. They have surged more than 80% so far this year against the Nasdaq biotech index's gain of 12%.
Gilead's coronavirus treatment remdesivir to cost $3,120 per U.S. patient with private insurance
Gilead Sciences announced its pricing plans in preparation for it to begin charging for the drug in July. The company has been donating doses to the U.S. government for distribution since it received emergency use authorization in May. The drugmaker said it will sell remdesivir for $390 per vial to governments “of developed countries” around the world, and the price for U.S. private insurance companies will stand at $520 per vial.
Mexico consulting with China, Oxford and AstraZeneca on coronavirus vaccine trials
Mexico is in talks with the Chinese government and private Chinese laboratories, as well as the University of Oxford and company AstraZeneca about running trials for experimental COVID-19 vaccines, a senior Mexican official said on Monday. More than 100 vaccines against the novel coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and ravaged the global economy, are now being developed and tested by various teams around the world. Martha Delgado, a Mexican deputy foreign minister, told Reuters the government was seeking to collaborate with different countries and laboratories that are working on experimental vaccines.
India's first COVID-19 vaccine candidate approved for human trials
Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for human trials, making it India’s first domestic candidate to get the green light from the government’s drug regulator as cases surge in a country with more than 1.3 billion people. The Drug Controller General of India has approved the company’s application to conduct a Phase I and II clinical trial of Covaxin, which was developed along with the Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Institute of Virology, the company said in a statement on Monday. Human clinical trials are scheduled to start across the country in July for the vaccine, which was developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech’s facility at Genome Valley in Hyderabad, India. India, which lags only the United States, Brazil and Russia in total cases, reported close to 20,000 new infections on Monday, according to data from the country’s federal Health Ministry.
CanSino's COVID-19 vaccine candidate approved for military use in China
China’s military has received the greenlight to use a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by its research unit and CanSino Biologics (6185.HK) after clinical trials proved it was safe and showed some efficacy, the company said on Monday. The Ad5-nCoV is one of China’s eight vaccine candidates approved for human trials at home and abroad for the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. The shot also won approval for human testing in Canada. China’s Central Military Commission approved the use of the vaccine by the military on June 25 for a period of one year, CanSino said in a filing. The vaccine candidate was developed jointly by CanSino and a research institute at the Academy of Military Science (AMS).