"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 24th Jul 2020

Isolation Tips
Women did majority of childcare in UK lockdown, study finds
Women did significantly more in terms of childcare during lockdown compared to men, new figures reveal. According to a study from the Office for National Statistics, women in households with children under 18 carried out an average of more than three hours a day of childcare compared to just two hours for men. The research also found that one in three women home-schooling their children in lockdown said their mental health had suffered as a result.
Coronavirus: Domestic abuse helpline sees lockdown surge
More than 40,000 calls and contacts were made to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline during the first three months of lockdown, most by women seeking help, new figures show. In June, calls and contacts were nearly 80% higher than usual, says the charity Refuge, which runs the helpline. And as restrictions ease, there is a surge in women seeking refuge places to escape their abusers, the charity says. The government says it prioritised help for domestic-abuse victims in lockdown.
Study finds lockdown having biggest impact on three specific patient groups
New research has found that women, young people, and those living with young children have experienced the greatest rise in mental distress.
Care home visitors lockdown ban ends as residents allowed to see one relative or friend
The blanket ban on care home visits has ended after four months as Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said that care residents can now begin to see relatives or friends once again. Most residents in England will be able to receive visits from just one specific person
Hygiene Helpers
CDC COVID-19 advice tells schools to wash hands, wear masks, don't touch. But not when to close
Parent check-list for back-to-school: Label your child's face mask with permanent marker. Have them practice putting on and taking off their mask without touching the cloth. Make a labeled, resealable plastic bag to store their mask during lunch time. Those are among the suggestions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has for school administrators and parents as families prepare for school to resume in the fall. Students should wear masks, wash their hands frequently and socially distance to protect against COVID-19 as schools reopen this fall, CDC urged in new guidance documents for administrators published Thursday.
Why do asymptomatic COVID-19 cases even happen?
Health officials are concerned about why some people who test positive for the coronavirus never feel sick. Could it be the luck of genetics? The blessings of youth? Or something else?
Can Widespread Mask Use Prevent Lockdowns Where The Virus Is Surging? : Shots - Health News
Now prominent scientists are proposing a radical — and hopeful — possibility: Even as coronavirus cases spiral upward across the United States to levels surpassing this spring's surge, these experts argue that if Americans start wearing masks en masse, the U.S. may yet avoid a return to lockdown measures. "Look, we've never tried to use masks as our primary strategy when outbreaks are this bad," says Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. "But I do believe that if we want to avoid a complete lockdown, we've got to at least give it a shot."
France dispatches free Covid-19 face masks to 7 million amid hardship concerns
Face masks are mandatory in France as of Monday in closed public spaces with offenders subject to a €135 fine. And while the fact of donning a mask to stymie the spread of coronavirus isn't the political issue in France that it has become in some countries, the new and sudden financial burden of stocking up on the basic protective equipment has come up for debate. As a result, 40 million masks are in the mail for seven million whom the state considers most in need. Consumer groups, anti-poverty associations and left-wing political parties alike sounded the alarm this week over the high cost of masking up in France as closed public spaces like shops became inaccessible to anyone unequipped. Emmanuel Macron addressed the matter on Tuesday, pledging the state would come to the aid of the poorest, but stopping short of footing the bill for everybody. "It is not up to the State — and the French taxpayer — to pay for masks... for everyone, all the time," the French president told TF1 on Tuesday. "So I think it should remain a social-aid policy," he added.
Coronavirus news – live: Face mask confusion in England as test and trace fails to contact 30,000 potential Covid-19 carriers
Face masks will have to be worn in shops and supermarkets in England from Friday under new government rules which have been criticised as “confusing”. The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed face coverings will be required in shops and takeaways, such as Pret A Manger, if people intend to take their food and coffee away – however customers will be allowed to remove them if sitting down to consume food or drink bought on site. Meanwhile Luton and Blackburn with Darwen were added to Public Health England’s coronavirus watchlist as “areas of intervention” due to high infection rates. It means further lockdown-easing measures such as the reopening of sports centres has been postponed in both areas.
Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Eight new cases of Covid-19 as Executive meets to discuss face coverings
Swimming pools, spas, bowling alleys and community centres in Northern Ireland are among the venues that will be allowed reopen from Friday in further moves agreed by ministers to ease lockdown. It comes as the Stormont Executive agreed it will give the Health Minister Robin Swann legal powers to make wearing face masks mandatory from August 20 if the level of compliance remains low after a publicity campaign. The number of people permitted to gather in a private home will also rise to 10, with the group allowed to consist of four different households. Overnight stays in other households will also be permitted. Spectators will also be allowed to attend outdoor sporting venues "where the operator can control access and ensure adherence to social distancing".
Is this life as we know it until a vaccine is found? Where Australia goes from here
With Victoria suffering its deadliest day and clusters now springing up across NSW, many Australians are wondering what daily life looks like until a vaccine is found. Nine.com.au spoke to two coronavirus experts to try and find out if strategic targeted lockdowns are now the new normal and if a vaccine will ever be developed. UNSW Professor Mary-Louise McLaws is an epidemiologist and a member of two World Health Organisation COVID-19 advisory panels. Former secretary of the federal health department Doctor Stephen Duckett is a health economist and key member of think-tank The Grattan Institute.
Covid-19 cases in Britain are still plateauing, data shows
King's College London 's COVID Symptom Tracker app monitors cases in the UK. Experts said the number of people being infected has hardly changing for weeks. Cases may be increasing in the North, but it's too early to say for definite Data also shows there are an estimated 28,048 people currently symptomatic
Coronavirus UK: Areas in England where infections are rising
Areas in the north and midlands have seen the biggest weekly jump in the number of coronavirus cases, according to fresh data which shows where the infection rate is rising and falling. The figures, for the seven days to July 19, are based on tests carried out in laboratories (pillar one of the government’s testing programme) and in the wider community (pillar two). The rate is expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 people. Wednesday’s update showed that in Blackburn with Darwen, in Lancashire, the rate has jumped from 48.3 cases per 100,000 people to 79.9, with 119 new cases recorded.
Flu deaths drop in Australia as coronavirus restrictions save hundreds of lives
That compares to 430 deaths in the same period for 2019. Ian Barr, deputy director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, said it was "great news" as influenza was very hard to combat. "I think if we could get this sort of effect every year, we'd be very happy," Professor Barr said.
Victoria Adds 403 Cases as Australian State Fights Second Wave
Australia’s Victoria state recorded 403 new coronavirus cases as it struggles to stem a second wave that has put the city of Melbourne into lockdown. The daily tally announced Thursday followed a record 484 new cases announced the previous day in Victoria. There were five additional fatalities, State Premier Daniel Andrews said at a press conference. The spike in Victoria has forced around 5 million people in Melbourne back into a six-week lockdown. The shutdown of the nation’s second-biggest city, which contributes about one-quarter of gross domestic product, could prolong the nation’s first recession in almost three decades. Andrews on Thursday announced plans for a A$300 ($214) payment to encourage those feeling unwell to get tested and self-isolate.
Victoria should have had full lockdown a week ago - Australian Medical Association president
Victoria should have gone into a New Zealand-style lockdown at least a week ago, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Professor Julian Rait says. Public health messages are not getting through to people in the state, and stricter messages need to be adopted before the virus gets out of control, Rait told Checkpoint. He wants masks to be compulsory throughout the state and construction sites and workplaces shut down except for essential workers.
Coronavirus map: Just 3 states meet criteria to reopen and stay safe
With these metrics, states can gauge if they have repressed the coronavirus while building the capacity to contain future outbreaks should they come. In other words, the benchmarks show how ready states are for the next phase of the fight. So far, most states are not there. As of July 22, just three states — Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York — met four or five of the goals, which demonstrates strong progress. Twenty-two states and Washington, DC, hit two or three of the benchmarks. The other 25 achieved zero or one. (South Dakota and Wyoming didn’t report ICU data, but it wouldn’t be enough to change their rankings.)
Paris Sewage Reveals COVID Still Not Flushed Away
Samples of wastewater from the Paris sewage system have been showing traces of COVID-19 again since the end of June, having vanished when France imposed a lockdown, according to the head of the laboratory leading the research. Infection rates in France are subsiding, but officials this week made the wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces compulsory after a series of localised flare-ups. To date COVID-19 has killed over 30,000 people in France. Early studies by scientists in The Netherlands, France, Australia and elsewhere suggest sewage sampling for signs of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus could help estimate the number of infections in a geographic area, without having to test every person. Laurent Moulin, who heads the research laboratory run by public water utility company Eau de Paris, cautioned the findings on their own did not mean a resurgence of the virus in the population since France eased its lockdown restrictions.
Community Activities
Armed with social media, Zimbabwean youth fight coronavirus 'infodemic'
While tech giants WhatsApp and Facebook have teamed up with African governments to tackle fake news through interactive bots, adverts and push notifications, VSO volunteers are leading the battle within their communities.
Coronavirus: 'We made a feature film in lockdown'
Like so many other industries, Covid-19 struck at the heart of the film industry shutting down production on big blockbusters, closing cinemas and even making the mighty James Bond franchise abandon its scheduled release of No Time To Die. Hundreds of millions of dollars had been spent on a global marketing push for an April release, which had to be abandoned. With Bond and and other blockbusters in retreat, some smaller independent film makers have taken lockdown and the pandemic as a creative point of departure.
Working Remotely
One third of UK workers 'reluctant to return' to offices post-lockdown
Employee research from e-days, the absence management company used by companies like ASOS and Monster Energy, has revealed that one third of employees are ‘reluctant to return’ to offices as lockdown eases in the UK. A survey of UK workers showed that 60% were reluctant or unsure about returning to the office on grounds of safety. Just over a third felt they were ready to go back to their offices.
Remote university teaching during COVID-19 can work — I can prove it
In the autumn, students across the world will be learning remotely as Coronavirus forces universities to close campuses. Journalist Chris Stokel-Walker has been teaching 80 students, holed up from Beijing to Illinois, since June. Working under pressure, he and his colleagues had to work out how they could deliver their informal, interactive teaching to people on opposite sides of the planet. Here's how they made it work.
The Economics of Remote Work
As the pandemic leads more companies to embrace remote workers, new jobs data explores how a farther-flung workforce expands opportunity.
Virtual Classrooms
More virtual classrooms? House OKs ‘Return to Learn’ bills in late-night session
One month out from the typical start of the school year, Michigan House Republicans passed “Return to Learn” legislation Wednesday night on partisan lines amid safety and district funding concerns from Democrats.
CPS students will get the option to do remote learning in the fall, schools CEO says, but opponents are still pushing for all-virtual classes
Outside the Chicago Board of Education’s Loop office Wednesday, teachers taped poster boards to the backs of chairs to represent what they worry classrooms could look like if schools open in the fall. One imaginary student had a coronavirus infection in the spring. Another didn’t have health insurance. A classmate was an asymptomatic carrier who had passed the temperature check. “We’ve got a student here who lost a family member to COVID,” narrated Gustav Roman, an English teacher at Kelly College Prep. “We’ve got … a student in a temporary living situation, who we’re supposed to be supporting.”
Distinctive tradition meets industry-leading innovation at Harrow School Online
Never has the school embodied that winning combination more convincingly than now, with the launch of a new fully online school: Harrow School Online. Though it has been in development for years, this industry-leading school is particularly appealing as the world embarks on a ‘new normal’ in the wake of COVID-19. With uncertainty surrounding what school life will look like in September, this online option provides the stability and security of receiving a first-class education at home – crucial when preparing for high-stakes examinations.
Here’s what virtual classes in Ann Arbor could look like for 2020-21 school year
Though Ann Arbor Public Schools students will tune into their classrooms from home using iPads and laptops to start the new school year, district officials promise they’ll still receive a rigorous, high-quality education. Each day will be structured with a block schedule with times when students will log on for classes, and curriculum will meet requirements for grade completion and graduation
COVID-19 & Remote Learning: How to Make It Work
Few schools in the United States will get through the 2020-21 academic year without some form of remote learning, for some portion of the student body, for some period of time. Until an effective vaccine for COVID-19 is widely available and distributed, the possibility of viral spread will pose an obstacle to many forms of in-person interaction, particularly in indoor spaces such as school buildings. Health officials’ recommendations for social distancing in classrooms will limit the number of students who have the option to head to school every weekday. And safety concerns from parents, teachers, and other staff members will keep many people at home even if school buildings are permitted to reopen in some capacity.
Public Policies
'We're out of the storm': Health minister says Italy is past the worst of the Covid-19 crisis
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Italy is now past the worst of the crisis, but stressed that caution is still needed. "I believe Italy has made it," Speranza said in a speech on Tuesday to the Coldiretti agricultural group's general assembly. "I'm not thinking of the government but of the country as a whole." "We were the first to be hit in the world after China, we didn't have an instruction manual. We had to learn about the virus," he added. Italy was the first European country to be hit by the Covid-19 outbreak, which has now claimed more than 35,000 lives in Italy according to government figures. "We're out of the storm," the minister added, "even if not yet in a safe port." "I think we need to be honest with each other: these have been the most difficult months in the history of the country since the Second World War".
Rome could face 2nd lockdown after COVID-19 cases spike
Authorities in the Lazio warned on Wednesday that restrictions to curb the spread of the virus may be reintroduced if cases continued to increase in the region, reports the Metro newspaper.
Chinese city of 6million imposes emergency quarantine measures after recording three COVID-19 cases
Officials urged its 6 million residents to not leave the city unless for emergency Authorities also ordered 190,000 people to receive testing for coronavirus Comes as China is grappled with local outbreaks in Xinjiang and Hong Kong
French President Macron discusses COVID-19 situation with Australian PM
French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the COVID-19 pandemic situation during a phone briefing on Thursday with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Macron’s office said, as leaders around the world prepare for a possible new wave of the virus. “The President of the Republic and the Prime Minister of Australia shared their analyses on the evolution of the COVID-19 epidemic in the world and on measures being taken to prevent its resurgence,” said a statement from the French Presidency. Australia’s second most populous state of Victoria reported on Thursday five deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours and the third-highest daily rise in coronavirus cases.
Covid-19 Test Shortages Prompt Health Authorities to Narrow Access
Some health authorities in the U.S. have started narrowing recommendations for who should undergo coronavirus testing due to short supplies of testing materials and delays getting results. Health departments such as California’s are once again trying to focus testing on hospitalized patients, people with Covid-19-like symptoms, close contacts and those at high risk, as surging cases and demand outpace test capacity. Some public-health authorities and doctors are now advising people who worry they might have been exposed on a plane or at a restaurant, for instance, or are simply curious to stay home as much as possible and seek testing if symptoms do develop.
The U.S. Is on the Verge of Lockdown 2.0
The key to restarting the recovery, therefore, is to suppress the virus. For cities and states where the epidemic has subsided, the best tools for preventing new outbreaks are universal mask usage, plentiful testing, prompt contact tracing and isolation of the infected. But President Donald Trump, apparently subscribing to the theory that ignoring the virus will make it go away, is attempting to block funding for testing and tracing. And for states such as Texas, Florida and Arizona that have been overwhelmed with new infections, this approach -- although still useful -- won’t be enough.
New Zealand beat Covid-19 by trusting leaders and following advice – study
The secrets to New Zealand’s success at eliminating coronavirus has been revealed by university researchers, who have found compliance with basic hygiene practices and trust in authorities was at nearly 100%. Researchers at Massey University interviewed more than 1,000 people post-lockdown, to investigate how New Zealanders responded to the pandemic. “We came together as a country, in part because we believed in our political and health experts to deliver and they did,” said Dr Jagadish Thaker, a senior lecturer at the school of communication, journalism & marketing at Massey University. “Simple, clear health messages, communicated with kindness and empathy, resonate with people, even when they are demanding tough changes.”
Covid-19 unmasks weaknesses of English public health agency
Matt Hancock is ready to reform Public Health England as criticism of its response to the coronavirus crisis mounts. Interviews with 15 people familiar with the workings of PHE reveal an array of issues: impulse to centralise, a wariness if engaging with industry, impact of a decade of fiscal austerity, agency's budget cut 40% since its inception
Tourist town in Spain is first to be closed in country due to coronavirus outbreak
Spain has closed off a town banning anybody from leaving or entering due to a coronavirus outbreak. The town of Totana in Murcia, southeastern Spain has been shut after 55 people tested positive. All 32,000 residents have been ordered not to leave the town and people are not allowed to enter. Care homes and health centres will be closed. This is while authorities test all 300 people that were at a bar at the time of the outbreak.
South Africa Shuts State Schools Amid Virus Concerns
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that state schools will close for four weeks after labor unions raised concerns that they lacked proper protocols and sufficient protective equipment to keep teachers and pupils safe in the face of a surge in coronavirus cases. He spoke Thursday in a televised address.
Russia's Coronavirus Cases Approach 800K Amid Lifted Lockdown
Russia confirmed 5,848 new coronavirus infections Thursday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 795,038. Over the past 24 hours 147 people have died, bringing the total toll to 12,892 — a rate considerably lower than in many other countries hit hard by the pandemic. A total of 8,277 people recovered over the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of recoveries to 580,330.
Ukraine extends lockdown until Aug. 31
Ukraine’s government on Wednesday extended a nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic until Aug. 31, but it will allow separate regions to ease the regime if warranted. Ukraine imposed strict restrictions in March and partially eased them in May to help an economic recovery. The government extends the lockdown monthly, requiring people to wear masks and adhere to strict norms in restaurants and public places. But there have been worryingly high levels of new infections in recent weeks, which authorities attribute to a reluctance to wear masks and observe social distancing.
Maintaining Services
Coronavirus UK: Luton is 'area of intervention' after case spike
Testing will ramp up in Luton after there is a spike in local cases of coronavirus Luton Council tells locals to 'stay at home as much as possible' to prevent spread Plans to reopen gyms, pools and leisure centres on Saturday are put on hold
Covid-19 threatens access to abortions and contraceptives, experts warn
Rates of unplanned pregnancies have fallen around the world, according to new data published by health research organisation the Guttmacher Institute and the UN Human Reproduction Programme (HRP) on Wednesday. Global rates of unintended pregnancies have fallen from 79 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 49 in 1990 to 64 in 2019, thanks in part to a concerted effort to increase access to contraceptives, but there are concerns that decades of progress in reducing the numbers risk being undone by Covid-19, as lockdown restrictions hamper health services. Zara Ahmed, a senior policy manager at Guttmacher, warned : “Covid-19 could reverse those declines due to challenges with the supply chain, diversion of providers to the response and lack of access to health facilities during lockdown.”
Victoria's aged care system on verge of collapse amid Covid-19 surge, doctors warn
Doctors are warning the aged care system in Victoria is on the verge of collapse – a situation that will be worsened by the federal government’s impending announcement that the state’s part-time and casual aged care workers will be banned from working across multiple facilities to help contain the spread of Covid-19 through the sector. The president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Julian Rait, said he had received numerous messages from health workers in aged care warning that with so many aged care workers furloughed due to virus exposure and with cooks, cleaners, health and administration staff fearful of going to work, there would soon not be enough staff to care for residents.
First COVID-19, now bugs: US states brace for illness outbreaks
"It's been a rough year," said David Garabedian, her father. "With any brain injury, it's hard to tell. The damage is there. How she works through it is anyone's guess." As the coronavirus pandemic subsides for now in the hard-hit northeast United States, public health officials in the region are warning about another potentially bad summer for EEE and other insect-borne illnesses. EEE saw an unexpected resurgence last summer across 10 states: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Tennessee. There were 38 human cases and 15 deaths from the virus, with many of the cases in Massachusetts and Michigan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most years, the country sees just half a dozen cases of the virus in humans, the agency said.
When the world stood still: Ground vibrations caused by traffic and industrial work HALVED during the coronavirus lockdown, study shows
Virus lockdown caused 50% global reduction in human-caused Earth vibrations March to May saw 'longest and most pronounced quiet period' of seismic noise Earth vibrations were so quiet that geologists could better record quake tremors
Disney postpones 'Mulan' indefinitely, delays 'Avatar' and 'Star Wars'
Walt Disney Co on Thursday postponed the debut of its movie “Mulan” indefinitely, dealing a new blow to theater operators that were counting on the live-action epic to help attract audiences during a pandemic. “Mulan” was scheduled to reach theaters in March but its release has been postponed several times as many cinemas remain closed. The film had most recently been set to debut on Aug. 21 and theater operators had hoped it would help spark a late-summer rebound for movie-going. Disney also said it had delayed the next film installments from two of its biggest franchises, “Avatar” and “Star Wars,” by one year as the novel coronavirus has disrupted production. The “Avatar” sequel is now set to debut in theaters in December 2022, and the next “Star Wars” movie in December 2023.
Healthcare Innovations
A coronavirus vaccine will NOT be available this year, World Health Organization warns in blow to hopes of a jab getting the pandemic under control
Mike Ryan, head of WHO's emergencies programme, said the first use of a Covid-19 vaccine cannot be expected until early 2021.
U.K. Plans Biggest Ever Flu Vaccine Program as Covid Buffer
The U.K. announced its biggest ever flu vaccination program for the coming winter as it seeks to protect the National Health Service from a possible second wave of coronavirus. Authorities aim to vaccinate more than 30 million people, almost twice the 15.3 million inoculated in England last season, the Department for Health and Social Care said in a statement on Friday. Free vaccines -- normally available to the over-65s, young schoolchildren, pregnant women and other at-risk groups -- will also made available to all people over the age of 50. The beefed-up program, together with an additional 3 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) of funding for hospitals recently announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, is designed to help hospitals weather an expected surge of coronavirus cases when temperatures drop. Typically, hospitals are under the most strain in winter as seasonal flu spreads.
Key Immune System Genes Identified to Explain High COVID Deaths and Spread in Northern Italy Versus Fewer Cases and Deaths in the South
“The identification of HLA alleles that are permissive or protective towards coronavirus infection could inform priorities in disease management and future vaccination campaigns in an easy, cost-effective manner,” says Prof. Luciano Mutti, MD, from the Sbarro Institute in Philadelphia, co-first author of the study. “Despite the intrinsic limits of the ecological approaches, such types of studies have the advantage of considering a large number of cases that are readily available through public datasets. Indeed, geographical studies are often the first to identify risk factors for a variety of diseases. Case-control studies will be then necessary to confirm these findings in Covid-19 patient cohorts,” says Giovanni Baglio, coauthor of the study, epidemiologist from the Ministry of Health. “We hope that this will be feasible in a reasonable timeframe because the research setting in Italy still presents many hurdles,” concludes Giordano.