Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Nov 2022

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Chinese Protests Spread Over Government's Covid Restrictions

Protests are erupting in major cities in China over President Xi Jinping’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19, an unusual show of defiance in the country as the economic and social costs from snap lockdowns and other strict restrictions escalate. Demonstrations occurred throughout the weekend in Beijing, Shanghai and the eastern city of Nanjing, according to witness accounts. Video footage and photos circulating on social media, which The Wall Street Journal wasn’t able to independently verify, suggest protests broke out in several other cities, including Wuhan, the original epicenter of the pandemic.  The protests followed demonstrations on Friday in Urumqi, capital of the remote region of Xinjiang, where a deadly fire enraged residents who had struggled with lockdowns of more than 100 days. Residents flooded social media with comments suggesting that Covid restrictions contributed to a delay in putting out the fire, in which officials said 10 people died.
27th Nov 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Videos Show How Covid Protests Are Spreading Across China

Since Friday, opposition against China’s zero-tolerance Covid policies has been gathering steam across the vast country. Protesters have taken to the streets in a public outpouring of anger and frustration, with some even calling for President Xi Jinping to step down, a level of national dissent unheard of since he took power a decade ago. Others have clashed with officials at residential compounds, defying orders to go into quarantine, while students have also been demonstrating at university campuses.
27th Nov 2022 - Bloomberg

Protests erupt in Xinjiang and Beijing after deadly fire

Public anger in China towards widening COVID-19 lockdowns across the country erupted into rare protests in China’s far western Xinjiang region and the country's capital of Beijing, as nationwide infections set another record. Crowds took to the streets on Friday night in Xinjiang's capital of Urumqi, chanting "End the lockdown!" and pumping their fists in the air, after a deadly fire on Thursday triggered anger over their prolonged COVID-19 lockdown according to videos circulated on Chinese social media on Friday night.
26th Nov 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Nov 2022

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Covid Lockdowns Spark Violent Protests in China's Guangzhou City

China’s ongoing Covid lockdowns are fueling increasing public anger, with some residents in Guangzhou, one of the country’s biggest cities, staging rare protests against the stringent rules. In videos circulating on social media, hundreds of people can be seen marching in the streets and pushing over police barriers in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district, which has been in lockdown since late last month. The demonstrations took place in several “urban villages,” mainly poorer neighborhoods where migrant workers live, Hong Kong Economic Journal reported. The local government sent multiple police vehicles to the protests, according to the report.
15th Nov 2022 - Bloomberg

China Reopening Stocks Rally; Street Cautiously Optimistic

Shares of Chinese firms tied to reopening rallied after China’s top leaders called for a more targeted approach, while reinforced the need to stick with the Covid Zero policy. Market watchers are cautiously optimistic that such policy fine-tuning could spur appetite for battered Chinese assets. The following is a selection of reactions from market participants and economists. 
13th Nov 2022 - Bloomberg

‘There’s no protection’: South Africa faces Covid legacy of sex for money

A couple of months into the Covid lockdown in South Africa, Dimakatso, 25, resorted to sleeping with an older, married man for 1,000 rand (£50). It was the first time she had had sex for money. She did it because she needed to feed her two children, aged five and eight; she was unemployed, and her mother, the sole earner in the household, had lost her job. “I was desperate and thought I was safe, even though it’s super risky,” says Dimakatso. “It was because of Covid. There were no jobs. If you didn’t do it, you would starve with your children.” Dimakatso is not alone. The latest UN Aids report, which surveyed 2,812 South African women who are either HIV positive or live in high-risk areas, found that since the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020, 15% more women reported using sex work or transactional sex – where money, gifts or services are given in exchange for sex – to sustain their livelihoods.
20th Nov 2022 - The Guardian

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Nov 2022

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Covid's Drag on the Workforce Proves Persistent. 'It Sets Us Back.'

Researchers say the virus is having a persistent effect, keeping millions out of work and reducing the productivity and hours of millions more, disrupting business operations and raising costs. In the average month this year, nearly 630,000 more workers missed at least a week of work because of illness than in the years before the pandemic, according to Labor Department data. That is a reduction in workers equal to about 0.4 percent of the labor force, a significant amount in a tight labor market. That share is up about 0.1 percentage point from the same period last year, the data show. “That may sound tiny, but having that persistent difference over a period of two-and-a-half years is a big deal,” said Jason Faberman, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
7th Nov 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

North Macedonia to pardon violators of pandemic measures

North Macedonia is planning to pardon more than 1,200 people who face prison sentences because they have failed to pay fines for violating restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Justice Minister Nikola Tupancheski said the criminal court in the capital of Skopje has proposed the amnesty, noting that there’s not enough room in jails for those people. “People who violated the COVID-19 measures were usually fined, as our criminal code stipulates. We are talking about more than 1,200 people for whom, if they do not pay the fine, in a short time the punishment will be transformed into a prison sentence,” Tupancheski said. He said the criminal court’s amnesty proposal has been passed on to North Macedonia’s parliament.
12th Nov 2022 - ABC News

NYC Public School Enrollment Drops as Pandemic Exodus Continues

New York City is continuing to bleed students in its public school system even as pandemic restrictions are lifted. Enrollment in the largest school district in the US is down 1.8% in 2022 from a year ago, representing 16,000 students in 3K through 12th grade, according to preliminary estimates released Monday by the city’s Department of Education. The drop marks the continuation of a years-long trend that rapidly accelerated during Covid lockdowns and remote schooling. The exodus has begun to slow, though, and this year’s dip is the smallest decline since the onset of the pandemic. Public schools have lost nearly 100,000 pupils, or about 10% of enrollment since the 2019-2020 school year, the data show. The data includes the 7,000 kids that officials have said enrolled in public schools amid an influx of migrants from Central and South America.
9th Nov 2022 - Bloomberg

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Nov 2022

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The Beijing Marathon Returns, With Some Covid-Zero Conditions

The Beijing marathon is back. Probably. No one will really be certain until the starting gun goes off on Nov. 6. The race, once one of the world’s top city marathons, has been on hiatus for two years, and with China sticking to its Covid-Zero policies, the marathon’s return has been marked with delays and uncertainty. Runners didn’t even know if they’d be competing until results of the entrance lottery were announced a week ago. “Even though there’s a short time to prepare, and my condition may not be as good as before, it’s good for it to be held,” said Tao Zhan, 49, an office worker who started running marathons six years ago and broke the three-hour mark in the 2019 Chicago Marathon. “This is very good news for runners.”
6th Nov 2022 - Bloomberg

China COVID curbs hit iPhone output, shut Shanghai Disney

China's COVID-19 curbs forced the temporary closure of Disney's Shanghai resort on Monday, while production of Apple Inc iPhones at a major contract manufacturing facility could drop by 30% in November due to coronavirus restrictions, a source told Reuters. In Zhengzhou, a Foxconn plant that makes iPhones and employs about 200,000 people has been rocked by discontent over stringent measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, with numerous staff fleeing the facility, prompting nearby cities to draw up plans to isolate migrant workers returning to their home towns.
1st Nov 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 31st Oct 2022

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Pfizer's (PFE) Paxlovid Given Less Often to Black, Hispanic People

Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid antiviral was prescribed to Black and Hispanic Covid-19 patients at much lower rates than those who were White, according to a study that calls into question efforts to bolster access to drugs that fight the coronavirus. From April to July, as Paxlovid’s use peaked, Black US patients received it about a third less often than White patients, according to the report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stark disparities were also seen among Hispanic patients, who were nearly 30% less likely to get Paxlovid than White patients. Asian people were prescribed the drug about 19% less frequently than White counterparts.
28th Oct 2022 - Bloomberg

China's Shanghai Migrant Worker Villages Blamed for Covid Face Demolition

Tens of thousands of migrant workers in Shanghai, who have long been living on the margins in one of China’s wealthiest cities, are facing renewed threats of eviction after their ramshackle villages were blamed for causing the Covid-19 outbreak that led to a monthslong lockdown. Like many other major Chinese cities, Shanghai has for years been razing and redeveloping the densely populated neighborhoods — known as “cheng zhong cun” or “villages within a city” — to make room for new residential and commercial complexes to drive growth in the world’s second-largest economy. This year, the demolition in Shanghai is gathering pace.
23rd Oct 2022 - Bloomberg

Possible RSV, Covid-19 and Flu Collision Has Doctors Worried. What to Know.

A possible convergence of flu, RSV and Covid-19 has doctors worried. Flu cases are rising earlier than usual, and pediatric hospitals are seeing surges of respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV. There are also signs that Covid-19 cases are increasing in parts of the country as Americans head into the cooler months. Covid-19 precautions earlier in the pandemic—and their near-disappearance lately—are a big part of the reason flu and RSV are staging a comeback, doctors say. Measures such as masking and social distancing suppressed rates of other viruses, too, leaving those of us who haven’t had a recent infection with lower levels of protection now. “It’s very clear that because people are relaxing Covid precautions that it’s very likely we will also see an increase in influenza at the same time,” says Jay Varma, director of the Cornell Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response in New York City and a physician and epidemiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine. All three viruses share similar symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, runny nose and fever, making it hard to tell what you have without a test. You can test for Covid-19 at home, and most health professionals can test for flu and RSV.
27th Oct 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

U.S. business sentiment in China hits record low as zero-COVID persists, survey shows

Optimism among U.S. businesses in China has hit record low levels, an annual survey showed on Friday, as competitive, economic, and regulatory challenges compound the stresses already imposed by Beijing's ongoing zero-COVID policies. Just 55% of 307 companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and consultancy PwC China described themselves as optimistic about the five-year business outlook. The reading is the lowest in the survey's 23-year history and worse than in 2020, when COVID-19 first surfaced, and during the trade standoff between Beijing and Washington in 2019.
28th Oct 2022 - Reuters

Math Scores Dropped in Every State During Pandemic, Report Card Shows

The nation’s schools recorded the largest drop in math scores ever this year, with fourth- and eighth-grade students in nearly every state showing significant declines, according to Education Department data released Monday. In the most sweeping analysis of test scores since the start of the pandemic, the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card, also revealed a nationwide plunge in reading that wiped out three decades of gains. Prepandemic declines in academic achievement intensified nationwide, and many longstanding gaps in student achievement grew.
25th Oct 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Fear of Catching Covid Has Cost US Economy $250 Billion This Year

Persistent worries about catching Covid kept about 3 million Americans out of the workforce, reducing the nation’s economic output by $250 billion in the first half of 2022, according to new research on a phenomenon dubbed “Long Social Distancing.” Close to 60% of respondents to a monthly survey of tens of thousands of adults said they wouldn’t completely return to pre-Covid activities like riding crowded subways and elevators, and were staying out of the labor force as a result. Those not working or looking for a job in part due to infection fears totaled about 2% of the labor force, which translated to the 3 million figure, the researchers found.
25th Oct 2022 - Bloomberg

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Oct 2022

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Hong Kong Covid News: City to Lift Public Gathering Limit to 12

Hong Kong will increase the number of people allowed to gather in public, with the substantial tweak to one of its most criticized Covid rules marking another gradual step toward reviving its reputation as a financial hub. As many as 12 people will be able to congregate together in public places starting Oct. 20, the government said in a statement late Tuesday. That’s up from the current limit of four people. The change brings the rule in line with the cap for groups at restaurants, gyms and theme parks. But the ongoing limits have been criticized by health professionals as lacking scientific support given as many as 240 people are allowed to attend an indoor banquet.
19th Oct 2022 - Bloomberg

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Oct 2022

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As China doubles down on ‘zero-COVID’, some have had enough

A few months ago, a box was left outside the door of 34-year-old Yu Ting Xu’s* apartment in Beijing. Inside, there was an electronic monitoring wristband and a demand that she wear the wristband at all times as part of the fight against COVID-19 in her residential area. While telling her story over a video call, Yu shuffles about in the background. When she returns to her screen, she is holding up the wristband, which looks like a smartwatch but has a plain white plastic surface instead of a display.
15th Oct 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Construction Contracts Unworkable; Defense Costs Blow-Out

Infrastructure construction contracts signed before the pandemic have become widely unworkable because of the surging cost of labor and materials, supply-chain blockages and difficulties in securing manpower, according to builder Webuild. The firm is wrestling with a 2019 agreement with the Australian government to construct the country’s largest hydroelectric power station for A$5.1 billion. The Snowy 2.0 project has come to highlight the challenges of completing large-scale projects on terms that were struck before Covid-19, and before Russia invaded Ukraine.
11th Oct 2022 - Bloomberg

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 10th Oct 2022

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What the COVID-19 pandemic revealed about intellectual property

An investigation into the development of the vaccines tells a different story. The work on mRNA vaccine technology dates back many decades and was almost entirely publicly funded. Even some of the critical elements of the Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, such as the lipid nanoparticle container5, were also publicly funded7. Both BioNTech and Moderna developed their own proprietary platforms — requiring considerable ingenuity, effort and cost — relying on both patents, trade secrets and regulatory exclusivity. Pfizer’s development of Paxlovid was conducted in-house. During the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, Pfizer developed an intravenous protease inhibitor to combat that coronavirus. Pfizer was able to do so as it had recently acquired Agouron Pharmaceuticals, a firm that had been working on a similar protease in rhinovirus.
8th Oct 2022 - Nature.com

American Express to End Covid Vaccine Requirement for Offices in November

American Express Co. is ending a requirement that employees need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter offices as virus cases decline globally. The decision, which takes effect Nov. 1, applies to offices across the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, according to an internal memo to staff seen by Bloomberg. Staffers also will no longer have to be vaccinated to attend company-sponsored in-person events.
8th Oct 2022 - Bloomberg

Analysis: As China party congress looms, signals sought on easing COVID policy

The mounting economic toll of China's zero-COVID policy is raising investor hopes that Beijing may finally begin laying the groundwork for the tricky epidemiological and political task of shifting course following this month's Communist Party congress. It is not clear whether the ruling party congress from Oct. 16 will shed any light on easing strict measures to extinguish all domestic COVID-19 outbreaks, rather than seek to live with the pandemic. Any change, economists and investors predict, would entail gradual steps for a reopening from the first half of 2023 at the earliest.
7th Oct 2022 - Reuters

Biden Vaccine Mandate for Health Workers Survives Supreme Court Appeal

The US Supreme Court turned away a renewed challenge by 10 states to the Biden administration’s Covid-19 vaccine requirement for workers in facilities that receive federal health-care funds. The rebuff of the Missouri-led group follows the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in January to let the requirement take effect. The rule, issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, requires shots for workers in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities that receive federal dollars. The requirement took effect April 15, covering about 10 million people. In its Jan. 13 decision, the court said Congress had authorized the agency to protect the health and safety of Medicaid and Medicare recipients.
5th Oct 2022 - Bloomberg

The Long Covid Plan for Ireland: Is it too little, too late?

The Mater hospital, where I work, started to study Long Covid in May of 2020. Scientific research is critical to devising strategies to deal with Long Covid. Science should win the day. We anticipated Long Covid would linger, just as it did in China, just as it did with Sars and MERS, and monitored patients over the following 12 months. The first strain of Covid-19, the Delta variant, and indeed a few of the following variants, caused severe illness and heart and lung damage, but one of our first studies reported that about a third of acute Covid patients had persistent neurological involvement, suggesting brain inflammation.
4th Oct 2022 - The Irish Times

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 3rd Oct 2022

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Bereaved families fear Covid inquiry cover-up after ban on testimony

Families of those who died from Covid-19 have been barred from submitting individual testimony to the official public inquiry about the standard of care received by their loved ones during the pandemic, the Observer can reveal. Instead, the inquiry chair, Lady Hallett, is proposing they submit “pen portraits” to a private research company as part of a parallel “Listening Project” that will not have the power to demand the disclosure of documents or investigate claims about their relatives’ care. “It would appear that Lady Hallett would rather outsource the grief of bereaved families to the Listening Project than engage with us constructively,” said John Sullivan, whose daughter, Susan, died in March 2020 at Barnet hospital after being denied access to an intensive therapy unit because of her Down’s syndrome and supposed cardiac comorbidities. “The inquiry is becoming a farce and an exercise in cover-up,” he said, ahead of the first hearing on Tuesday.
2nd Oct 2022 - The Guardian

China's Tibet COVID-19 lockdown causing 'extreme hardships': campaigners

A weeks-long COVID-19 lockdown in Tibet has brought an "expansion of already suffocating living conditions", a rights group has said, after a top regional official issued a rare apology this month over virus restrictions. Cities across Tibet have been under Covid curbs since the start of August, with authorities mandating mass testing and keeping locals at home as China sticks to its strict zero-Covid policy. Complaints of chaotic transfers to mass quarantine facilities, lack of supplies and poor quarantine conditions have surfaced on Chinese social media in recent weeks. The vice mayor of Tibet's capital Lhasa issued a public apology earlier this month admitting to problems with how Covid had been handled, pinning the blame on individual officials. But "no meaningful remedial measures have been implemented to ameliorate the harsh lockdown and quarantine conditions", the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said in a report Thursday.
2nd Oct 2022 - Mizzima News

Two thirds of U.S. adults don't plan on getting COVID boosters soon -poll

Around two-thirds of adults in the United States do not plan to get updated COVID-19 booster shots soon, according to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a health policy nonprofit organization. Only a third of adults polled said they either already received the updated shots or plan to get the booster as soon as possible, the poll found. The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Inc shots, updated to target more recently circulating Omicron subvariants of the coronavirus as well as the original strain, were authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late last month.
1st Oct 2022 - Reuters

Australia is now living with COVID-19, but in aged care, thousands are dying with it

They're known as the Silent Generation: Australia's elders often have a reputation for copping hard knocks on the chin without complaint – but they’re also among our most vulnerable. While the COVID death rate in aged care has significantly decreased in 2022, the number of total deaths has increased exponentially Advocates say not enough people are aware of the trauma still happening in aged care. Residents are torn between fearing the outside world and wanting to be a part of it. It's because of that vulnerability many of their lives have been slower to return to a pre-COVID 'normal'. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, Australians united to protect each other. During the first two years, the country was devastated to see almost 900 deaths from the illness in aged care. That figure made up about 40 per cent of the 2,220 deaths recorded during the same time frame. Floral tributes and homemade signs of hope were tied to fences of locked-down aged care facilities, where residents could only peer through the windows.
30th Sep 2022 - ABC News

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Sep 2022

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China's Anti-COVID Policies in Tibet Trigger Resentment, Rare Online Outcry

The harsh COVID-19 containment restrictions China is imposing across Tibet are leading to public resentment in the capital of Lhasa, where residents who have tested positive are being quarantined in empty stadiums, schools, warehouses and unfinished buildings. Beijing's actions in Tibet reflect the draconian "zero-covid" policy of President Xi Jinping that has caused discontent and even protests in major cities such as Shanghai and Chengdu. Social media videos from Lhasa show people waiting to be bused at night to an estimated 20 makeshift quarantine camps. For Lhasa residents the "midnight bus" represents their fears of what they may find once they arrive at crowded and locked quarantine sites.
25th Sep 2022 - Voice of America

Covid-19: China reopens borders to medical students, but problems remain

Medical students from India who have been studying in China have been heartened by the decision to allow them to return to resume their studies in person, although they admit that many obstacles remain including exorbitant air fares and “zero covid” policies. The Chinese government updated its visa policies for international students on 22 August, allowing them to return. China’s borders were sealed off to international travellers in January 2020, shortly after covid-19 struck. More than 23 000 Indian students and 28 000 Pakistani students are thought to be affected by pandemic quarantines and unable to return to China even after two years. The decision by the Chinese government to start issuing visas to international students comes after months of unrest for Indian medical students in particular.
25th Sep 2022 - The BMJ

Covid-19 Unemployment Fraud May Have Topped $45 Billion, Watchdog Estimates

Criminals potentially stole an estimated $45.6 billion by making fraudulent unemployment insurance claims meant for people laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic, a government watchdog said. The new tally is nearly three times last summer’s estimate of over $16 billion in fraudulent payments. More than half of the potential fraud identified between March 2020 and April 2022 stemmed from individuals filing for benefits in multiple states. Fraudsters also used the Social Security numbers of people who were dead or in prison, as well as suspicious email addresses, the Labor Department’s inspector general’s office said in a report released Thursday. More than 1,000 people have been charged with crimes involving unemployment insurance fraud since March 2020, the report said.
23rd Sep 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Goldman Sachs Will End Covid Vaccination Requirements in Its New York Office

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. will drop vaccination requirements for staff at its New York City office, as the waning pandemic prompts Wall Street banks eager for employees to return to their desks to scrap remaining restrictions. The bank will end the requirement beginning Tuesday Nov. 1, according to a memo to staff seen by Bloomberg News. It follows the announcement by New York City Mayor Eric Adams that the city will no longer mandate that private employers require all of their workers to be vaccinated for Covid-19. Goldman Sachs had previously removed vaccine requirements in other US locations
23rd Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

Zero-COVID policy has cost Hong Kong its aviation hub status - IATA

Hong Kong has lost its position as a global aviation hub due to China's zero-COVID policy, the head of airlines group IATA said on Wednesday, warning the industry's recovery from the pandemic would be slowed if Beijing continued its restrictions next year. Attending an International Air Transport Association (IATA) conference in the Qatari capital Doha, IATA Director General Willie Walsh said China's zero-COVID policy had "devastated" Hong Kong and hit airline Cathay Pacific hard.
23rd Sep 2022 - Reuters

What Good Leadership Looks Like Now vs. Pre-Covid

Just as in the first study, among the 20 traits that Korn Ferry tested, “tolerance of ambiguity” had the strongest positive correlation this time with the Drucker Institute’s best-scoring companies. “Trust,” “risk-taking” and adaptability” all remained in the top five, as well. Given how deep-seated traits tend to be, this isn’t surprising. “It’s not that leaders have changed their spots,” says Stephen Lams, the vice president of data and analytics at the Korn Ferry Institute.
19th Sep 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Sep 2022

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Jacinda Ardern's Feted Covid Response Could Yet Be Her Undoing

The pandemic response that swept Jacinda Ardern to a second term as New Zealand’s prime minister may end up costing her a third. Ardern this week scrapped what was left of the rules she deployed to battle Covid-19, bringing an end to two-and-a-half years of tough restrictions that initially served the country well. But their removal hasn’t come soon enough for some voters, who have grown tired of controls on daily life and are deserting Ardern’s Labour Party ahead of the 2023 general election. An economic slowdown also looms next year as the full impact of pandemic measures such as the closed border plays out.
18th Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

Australians believe life is improving after lockdowns and are more confident in government, survey finds

Australians believe their life is improving and are more confident in the government compared with last year, with much of this wellbeing boost being reported among young people, the results of a national survey suggest. The latest Covid Impact Monitoring survey of more than 3,510 adults, completed in August, found the 18 to 24 age group in particular are feeling more positive about their lives. This is despite being the age group to suffer some of the greatest psychological distress during the peak of the pandemic. “That does not mean that Australia has returned to pre-pandemic levels of wellbeing and mental health,” the results of the latest survey, published on Wednesday, found.
18th Sep 2022 - The Guardian

The Truth About Those Viral Tweets Questioning the Omicron Boosters' Safety

So far, enthusiasm for the Omicron-specific Covid boosters is just so-so. In a University of Michigan poll conducted last month among adults over age 50, just 61 percent of those surveyed said they were “very likely” to get the new booster this fall, and 23 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 said they were “not likely” to get it. There are likely many reasons for this tepid reception, including the fact that many people have recently recovered from Covid and are waiting a few months before getting boosted in order to optimize protection. But there’s another factor, too—one that we’ve seen before. Influential physicians who have opposed Covid protections since the beginning of the pandemic continue to downplay the effectiveness of vaccines.
17th Sep 2022 - Mother Jones

Gusher of pandemic aid averted global depression, but left a bad hangover

Economists around the world, from the most liberal free-spenders to fiscal conservative deficit hawks, largely agreed the coronavirus pandemic required a go-big, go-fast policy response to avoid an outright global depression.
12th Sep 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Sep 2022

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Long Covid Costs Australia Economy $3.6 Billion a Year: Report

Long Covid is costing the Australian economy the equivalent of $3.6 billion a year in lost output, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing an exclusive data analysis. Based on data from the country’s Treasury estimating some 31,000 workers called in sick because of the condition in June, the analysis by think tank Impact Economics and Policy found the economic cost came in at A$100 million ($68 million) a week, according to the AFR. That amounts to some A$5.2 billion on an annual basis.
10th Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

Bank of America Child-Care Spending Nears Pre-Covid Level as Parents Get Back to Work

The number of Bank of America Corp. customers making child-care payments neared pre-pandemic levels last month, an encouraging sign for the labor market as parents get back to work. Those making such payments now total about 94% of the level seen in January 2020, a noticeable jump from the prior month, the Bank of America Institute said in a report Friday. The dollar value of child-care spending per customer was up about 7% from a year ago when adjusting for inflation.
10th Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

State and Local Jobs May Take Until 2026 to Recoup Pandemic Losses

The sluggish recovery in US state and city employment has left payrolls hundreds of thousands of positions below pre-pandemic levels, a deficit that may take years to plug as the private sector lures away workers. State and local payrolls rose to about 19.4 million last month, the highest since March 2020, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday. However, that’s still roughly 650,000 less than the peak from right before Covid-19 struck, even after states and municipalities received hundreds of billions of dollars in federal stimulus to ease the pandemic’s blow.
9th Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 5th Sep 2022

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Ex-minister Liam Fox gets donation from Covid test firm he recommended

Tory MP Liam Fox received a £20,000 donation in June from a Covid testing firm on whose behalf he had contacted the then health secretary Matt Hancock. Mr Fox recommended SureScreen Diagnostics to Mr Hancock in 2020, an email seen by campaign group Good Law Project and the BBC shows. The company went on to win a £500m contract to provide tests without facing competition. A spokesperson for Mr Fox said the story was a "baseless smear". It was "concocted by the political activist Jolyon Maugham and the Good Law Project", the spokesman said, and Mr Fox would be making a complaint. "It is appalling that this should be propagated by the BBC," the statement issued after publication, added.
4th Sep 2022 - BBC News

Covid boosters: surge of dangerous vaccine misinformation emerges online ahead of new jab programme

Anti-vaxxers are ramping up up their campaigns of misinformation as medics prepare to launch the autumn booster jabs against covid. Pregnant women and the overall safety of two of the most common jabs have already been targeted in recent days and experts expect further misinformation to be posted on social media through the autumn. The authors of a paper published this week in the journal Vaccine claim that the risk of serious adverse events following a Pfizer or Moderna jab, compared to those in a placebo group, “points to the need for formal harm-benefit analyses”.
2nd Sep 2022 - iNews

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 2nd Sep 2022

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Nine million foreigners visited Spain in July, near pre-pandemic levels

More than twice as many tourists visited Spain in July than in the same month last year, a number only slightly below pre-pandemic levels, National Statistics Institute data showed on Thursday. The 9.1 million visitors in July spent close to 12 billion euros ($12 billion), more than twice as much as in 2021. Tourism earnings are a significant component of Spain's gross domestic product. Before COVID-19 put a halt to international travel in 2020, Spain received a record number of foreign tourists in 2019, with 9.9 million visiting in July of that year.
1st Sep 2022 - Reuters

U.S. plans to move COVID vaccines, treatments to private markets in 2023

The U.S. government expects its supply of COVID-19 vaccines and antiviral treatments to run out over the next year and is preparing for them to be sold via the commercial market, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday. President Joe Biden's administration expects to run out of federal funding for buying and distributing COVID-19 vaccines by January, although it has already bought over 170 million doses for a booster campaign later this year, according to a blog post written by Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O'Connell.
1st Sep 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Sep 2022

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Melbourne launches multimillion-dollar centre for pandemic treatments

Melbourne will bid to become a global centre for the development of new antiviral therapies to deal with future pandemics after receiving the largest donation in Australian medical history. Geoff Cumming, a Canadian who lives in the city, has pledged at least A$250mn ($172mn) towards creating The Cumming Global Centre for Pandemic Therapeutics based in Parkville, adjacent to the University of Melbourne.
31st Aug 2022 - Financial Times

COVID-19 vaccine opponents slapped with $214,000 in legal costs after failed lawsuit

In dismissing the case in June, Justice Debra Mortimer said it had many flaws. “Their case is a general attack on the government response across Australia to the COVID-19 pandemic through the use of a vaccination program,” she said. “In a likely complex and resource-intensive case such as this, the court must be able to identify the material facts pleaded to support the allegation, or some probative basis in the primary material for the contentions. “Counsel for the applicants did not even attempt to point the court towards one.”
31st Aug 2022 - 7NEWS

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‘American rebellion’: the lockdown protests that paved the way for the Capitol riots

It started in Michigan. On 15 April 2020, thousands of vehicles convoyed to Lansing and clogged the streets surrounding the state capitol for a protest that had been advertised as “Operation Gridlock”. Drivers leaned on their horns, men with guns got out and walked. Signs warned of revolt. Someone waved an upside-down American flag. Already – nine months before 6 January, seven months before the election, six weeks before a national uprising for police accountability and racial justice – there were a lot of them, and they were angry.
30th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

Why Some Americans Are Still Isolating From Covid-19

Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are in decline. People are traveling, socializing and returning to workplaces in greater numbers. But a group of people are still keeping mostly to themselves and taking other measures to minimize infection risks. Compromised immune systems and the risks of long Covid are among reasons they say they are maintaining caution. Two-and-a-half years into the pandemic, their relative isolation speaks to divides that remain over how to live with the virus. With imperfect insight into the risks of infection as the virus mutates and immunity shifts, people are setting their own boundaries for safe behavior. While about one-quarter of 1,243 people surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation recently said they had resumed all activities they were pursuing before the pandemic, 17% said they were doing very few of those things.
29th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

The growing evidence that Covid-19 is leaving people sicker

A Financial Times analysis of data from the UK’s NHS, one of the world’s richest health data sets, showed significant rises in deaths from heart disease since the start of the pandemic in all but the very oldest age groups. In the 40-64 age group, heart attack deaths increased 15 per cent in 2021 compared with 2019. In February, meanwhile, an analysis of more than 150,000 records from the national healthcare databases at the US Department of Veterans Affairs suggested that even some people who had not been seriously ill with Covid had an increased risk of cardiovascular problems for at least a year afterwards. Researchers found that rates of many conditions, such as heart failure and stroke, were substantially higher in people who had recovered from Covid than in similar people who had not been infected. A separate analysis of VA data, published in March, suggested that in the “post-acute phase” of the disease, people with Covid “exhibit increased risk and burden of diabetes”.
30th Aug 2022 - Financial Times

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At Jackson Hole, World’s Central Bankers Gauge Economic Risks in Covid’s Wake

The world’s central bankers returned to Grand Teton National Park after a three-year, pandemic-induced hiatus with angst over inflation that has been at the highest levels since the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City began hosting its annual summer symposium there in 1982. Policy makers and economists signaled growing unease with the trade-offs they could soon confront, particularly if the forces that helped central banks bring down inflation and keep it low over the past three decades are unraveling. “For the first time in four decades, central banks need to prove how determined they are to protect price stability,” said Isabel Schnabel, who sits on the European Central Bank’s six-member executive board, during a panel that concluded the conference Saturday afternoon.
28th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Pandemic's impact on U.S. productivity may be a wash, research shows

The coronavirus pandemic touched off a scramble among U.S. firms and households to adapt their work lives and business models, with work-from-home arrangements and teleconferencing tools boosting what some employees could do, and new technology helping even the smallest cafes do more with less. But the crisis also brought a wave of inefficiency in the form of snarled supply chains, time and money spent on cleaning and health management, and hiring difficulties that still keep some businesses below capacity.
27th Aug 2022 - Reuters

China drops some COVID rules for travellers but keeps quarantine

China still requires international passengers to take pre-departure COVID-19 tests and quarantine upon arrival, the country’s customs office has said, after dropping some reporting requirements for travellers clearing customs. China, which has shortened the quarantine period and removed some testing and self-isolation requirements for inbound international travellers, still has some of the world’s most stringent COVID-19 policies.
27th Aug 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Why Most Parents Aren’t Getting Their Toddlers Vaccinated Against Covid-19

Many don’t consider the virus a threat to their kids’ health or have concerns about the vaccines’ safety so they are not getting, or planning to get, their kids vaccinated against Covid.-19,
26th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

US Suspends 26 Flights by Chinese Airlines in Escalating Dispute Over Covid Policies

The US Department of Transportation is suspending 26 flights by Chinese airlines next month in a dispute over Beijing’s strict policies when travelers test positive for Covid-19. The retaliatory move follows the Chinese government’s decision to limit inbound flights by US carriers including United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. China’s actions are “adverse to the public interest” and warranted “additional proportionate remedial action by the Department,” the US regulator said in an order dated Thursday.
26th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

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Taxi and private-hire drivers surprised at change in mask-wearing rule, worried about Covid-19 transmission

In Singapore, in an advisory on its Facebook page, the Land Transport Authority encouraged drivers and passengers to continue wearing masks to protect one another. Ride-hailing operators Gojek and Grab echoed this call, saying drivers and passengers should mask up if they feel unwell. Grab also advised its drivers to wind down windows to improve ventilation if passengers are agreeable. However, drivers interviewed felt that many passengers will not heed this call.
25th Aug 2022 - The Straits Times

House panel: Trump sought to pressure FDA on covid vaccines, treatment

Trump officials repeatedly stalled the Food and Drug Administration’s plan to extend safety studies of coronavirus vaccines in fall 2020, as President Donald Trump pressed the agency for a faster timeline so the vaccines could be authorized before Election Day, according to emails, text messages and interviews by a congressional panel probing the pandemic response. White House officials such as trade adviser Peter Navarro and outside allies such as TV host and physician Mehmet Oz also pressed federal officials in 2020 to authorize the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment, with Navarro and a deputy working behind the scenes to have a hospital craft a request to the FDA for widespread access to the debunked therapy touted by Trump, the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis concluded in a report released Wednesday.
25th Aug 2022 - The Washington Post

China reopens to Japanese students after long COVID break

The Chinese government will soon start accepting Japanese international students after a two-and-a-half year pause caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Chinese embassy in Japan has made visas for long-term overseas study in China available for applications as of Tuesday. Prospective students are expected to be allowed to sit in university classes after undergoing 10 days of isolation and health observation upon entry. This change, which would encourage exchange among the younger generation, appears to be a move to ease bilateral tensions ahead of next month's 50th anniversary of the two countries normalizing diplomatic relations.
25th Aug 2022 - Nikkei Asia

Covid: Qantas says pandemic 'existential crisis' is over

The national carriers of Australia and New Zealand say that the worst of the coronavirus crisis is now behind them, even as they posted annual losses for a third year in a row. Qantas says it is seeing demand increase "with the existential crisis posed by the pandemic now over". Air New Zealand says it has also experienced "a very strong recovery in bookings and revenues" since March.
25th Aug 2022 - BBC News

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Pandemic sets back fight against poverty in Asia by at least 2 years

The Covid-19 pandemic has set back the fight against poverty in Asia and the Pacific by at least 2 years, and many in the region will likely find it harder than before to escape poverty, according to a report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The region's economic growth this year is expected to reduce extreme poverty—defined as living off less than $1.90 a day—to a level that would have been achieved in 2020 had the pandemic not happened, according to Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2022, released today. Data simulations also show that people in the region with lower pre-pandemic levels of social mobility—the ability to escape poverty—may experience longer-lasting setbacks.
25th Aug 2022 - The Daily Star

Black Workers Seeing Above-Average Wage Gains After Pandemic Hit

After taking a bigger hit to employment at the start of the pandemic, US Black workers are now seeing above-average wage gains and moving into better-paying roles at higher rates than other groups, according to new research by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers. Many Black Americans benefited as the US labor market bounced back from the worst of the Covid-19 crisis in early 2020, when millions of people lost their jobs in a matter of weeks. During the recovery, some workers gained the leverage needed to switch jobs and ask for better wages, the researchers found.
24th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID-19 pandemic fallout worse for women

Researchers from The University of Queensland have found the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia has had a greater financial and psychological impact on women than men. A study conducted by the UQ Business School shows women have experienced more significant impacts on their overall employment, hours of work, domestic labor and mental health and well-being.
24th Aug 2022 - Phys.org

Misinformation is a common thread between the COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS pandemics – with deadly consequences

Since health officials confirmed the first COVID-19 cases, misinformation has spread just as quickly as the virus. Social media may have made the amount, variety and speed of misinformation seem unprecedented, but COVID-19 isn’t the first pandemic where false and harmful information has set back public health. Misinformation altered how people trusted their governments and doctors during the 1918 influenza pandemic. It fueled the 19th century smallpox anti-vaccine movements through some of the same arguments as those currently used against the COVID-19 vaccine. What sets the COVID-19 pandemic apart, however, is the sheer magnitude of damaging disinformation put in circulation around the world. Data shows that regions and countries where disinformation thrived experienced more lethal pandemic waves despite vaccine availability.
24th Aug 2022 - The Conversation Indonesia

China's jobless turn to car boot sales as COVID-hit economy stalls

Once considered too low-status for many, peddling wares on the street has made a comeback as people who lost their jobs or closed down their businesses seek new ways to make a living and work around China's relentless anti-COVID policies. Hospitality, tourism and after-school tutoring have been particularly hard hit.
24th Aug 2022 - Reuters

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People less willing to comply with Covid-19 rules, or listen to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern according to Government survey

New Zealanders are complying less with Covid-19 rules as people's attention shifts to issues like the cost of living, according to research from the Government's own Covid survey. The survey shows a significant drop off in the willingness of people to trust the Prime Minister as the main source of truth about the pandemic. People remain confident in their ability to identify misinformation, and twice as many people use mainstream media for Covid information as use social media. At least every eight weeks, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet receives a survey of how New Zealanders feel about Covid-19. It looks at how much people are willing to comply with health rules and whether they trust health messaging on the virus, along with broader health messaging.
24th Aug 2022 - New Zealand Herald

Fauci on COVID conspiracy theories: ‘What we’re dealing with now is just a distortion of reality’

Anthony Fauci, who on Monday announced that he is leaving the Biden administration, pushed back on conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic hours later, calling the claims “a distortion of reality.” “What we’re dealing with now is just a distortion of reality, conspiracy theories which don’t make any sense at all pushing back on sound public health measures, making it look like trying to save lives is encroaching on people’s freedom,” Fauci said on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” False claims and criticisms, particularly about the origins of the COVID-19 virus, Fauci said, “impeded a proper response to a public health challenge” and continue to interfere with addressing public health issues.
23rd Aug 2022 - The Hill

WA police officer Ben Falconer loses legal challenge against COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Ben Falconer lost his legal case against WA's vaccine mandate. The judge found the measure was justified in a pandemic. He said the vaccine mandate was supported by experts
23rd Aug 2022 - ABC News

The Covid-19 Financial Crisis That Wasn't

The sudden realization in mid-March 2020 that Covid-19 was going to be a once-in-a-century pandemic created the kind of disruption that financial crises are made of. Pundits predicted an unprecedented triple shock: lockdowns would decimate demand, travel bans would devastate supply, and the “dash for cash” would freeze financial activity. Stock markets plunged and bond yields jumped. But despite the disastrous human toll and the inevitable economic downturn, the financial crisis didn’t happen. To understand what went right, our research team at the Yale Program on Financial Stability compiled a database of some 9,000 government actions in 180 countries. The lessons: Go big, go early, and prepare for next time.
23rd Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Anti-mandate protesters converge on New Zealand Parliament

About 2,000 protesters upset with the government’s pandemic response converged Tuesday on New Zealand’s Parliament — but there was no repeat of the occupation six months ago in which protesters camped on Parliament grounds for more than three weeks. Many of the protesters said they had no intention of trying to stay. And police ensured a repeat was unlikely by closing streets, erecting barricades and banning protesters from bringing structures onto Parliament’s grounds. The previous protest created significant disruptions in the capital and ended in chaos as retreating protesters set fire to tents and hurled rocks at police. This time there was also a counter-protest, with several hundred people gathering in front of Parliament as the main march entered the grounds. The two sides shouted insults but a line of police officers kept them physically separated.
23rd Aug 2022 - The Associated Press

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How Small Businesses Tapped Billions in Covid Relief

Policy changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, one of the largest in US history, redirected loans to the neediest communities. An analysis of 2020 and 2021 lending data shows what happened.
23rd Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Changi Terminal 5: Pandemic-Proof Airport Closer to Reality in Singapore

Singapore will start work on a fifth terminal at Changi Airport -- regularly voted among the world’s best -- with a revised design that allows it to adjust capacity during a pandemic. The move comes as the city-state works to cement its place as Asia’s primary aviation hub, with rival Hong Kong still imposing Covid quarantines and other border restrictions. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong detailed the plans in his National Day Rally address Sunday. “In the longer term, air travel will keep growing because of the fast expanding middle-class in our region,” Lee said.
23rd Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Neurological and psychotic disorders remain 2 years after infection with COVID-19

Both neurological and psychotic disorders have been found to persist in some patients 2 years after first becoming infected with COVID-19. The risk of some neurological and psychotic disorders remain elevated two years after infection with COVID-19 compared to other respiratory viruses according to the findings of a retrospective analysis by researchers from Oxford and Cambridge universities, UK. Whilst it has become widely recognised that infection with COVID-19 leads to substantial neurological and psychiatric morbidity in the 6 months after infection, it remains uncertain whether these risks decrease over time. Clearly, it is important to fulfil this evidence gap to provide reassurance to patients experiencing such adverse effects and to inform on future health policy service provision. It is also necessary to understand if there are differences in the risk profile among adults and children and finally if these risk profiles differ between COVID-19 variants.
22nd Aug 2022 - Hospital Healthcare Europe

Philippine children back in school as pandemic restrictions ease

Millions of Philippine students returned to classrooms for the first time in more than two years on Monday, after the country lifted most remaining COVID-19 curbs to try and reverse learning losses. Students, all wearing face masks, queued to enter their classrooms and attended flag raising ceremonies in their schoolyards across the Southeast Asian country as the government phases out remote learning.
22nd Aug 2022 - Reuters

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More than 20 Chinese universities postpone new semester to stop COVID-19

More than 20 colleges and universities across China have moved to postpone the starting dates of the new semester, in a move that public health experts say is necessary to stop the spread of the COVID-19, as many places across the country are combating sporadic outbreaks. Due to the serious and complex epidemic situation across the nation, some universities and colleges in municipalities and provinces, including Beijing, Northwest China's Shaanxi, East China's Fujian, South China's Hainan, Northeast China's Liaoning and Jilin provinces, have decided to put off the start of the new semester.
21st Aug 2022 - Global Times

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French fire service official tells of death threats over Covid vaccine stance

A French fire service official says he has received death threats and been harassed after calling for firefighters who have refused the Covid vaccine to remain suspended. France’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, condemned the alleged social media threats against Eric Brocardi, who has reported them to police. Cmdr Brocardi, who is spokesperson for France’s national federation of firefighters (FNSPF), came under attack after saying that in his view, full-time and voluntary firefighters suspended for refusing the vaccine should not be allowed to return to the service.
18th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

Attitudes toward mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in Germany

It has become obvious that sufficiently high immunity to COVID-19 cannot be achieved in Germany through voluntary vaccination alone. On this background, Thomas Rieger and Carsten Schröder from the German Institute for Economic Research, Berlin, together with Christoph Schmidt-Petri from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, investigated the acceptance of a policy of general mandatory vaccination against COVID-19. The scientists also investigated the questions of which population groups are supportive of such a measure, which ones are opposed, and what their reasons are, respectively.
18th Aug 2022 - Medical Xpress

Covid-19: The government's gaslighting has left vulnerable patients feeling forgotten

McLellan and Abbasi say that we must “face the fact that the nation’s attempt to ‘live with covid’ is the straw that is breaking the NHS’s back.”1 The government’s unwillingness to confront the current reality of covid is also directly impacting some of the most vulnerable patients.
18th Aug 2022 - The BMJ

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Australia, Israel share notes on pandemic

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant will lead a team of delegates to Israel next month for a high-level information exchange on managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifteen Australian public health experts and clinicians will meet with counterparts from Israel's health and foreign affairs ministries along with leading academics to discuss ongoing handling of the viral disease.
18th Aug 2022 - The Canberra Times

California appeals court rejects COVID-19 fines for church

A California church that defied safety regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic by holding large religious services won't have to pay about $200,000 in fines, a state appeals court ruled. Calvary Chapel San Jose and its pastors were held in contempt of court and fined in 2020 and 2021 for violating state and county limits on indoor public gatherings. The rules were aimed at preventing the spread through close contract of the virus, which has caused more than 10 million confirmed cases and more than 93,500 deaths since the pandemic began in mid-2020, according to state public health figures.
17th Aug 2022 - ABC News

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Carnival Cruise bookings soar after it eases COVID testing requirements

Carnival Cruise Line said booking activity nearly doubled pre-pandemic levels on Monday after it announced an ease in COVID-19 testing requirements for passengers, sending its shares more than 3% higher. The company's parent, Carnival Corp, said on Friday it would drop mandatory testing for guests vaccinated against COVID-19 and allow unvaccinated passengers to travel without an exemption in some cases, after a similar move by rival Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd
17th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Pandemic pushes 2.3 million Filipinos into poverty

Preliminary results of the family income and expenditure survey for 2021 released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Monday showed that the poverty rate had worsened to 18.8 per cent from 16.7 per cent in 2018.
16th Aug 2022 - Nation Thailand

Artificial intelligence can explain why each COVID-19 wave impacts our bodies differently

Researchers have identified what they believe to be robust metabolic markers of Covid, a discovery which could lead to better understanding and treatments for people that suffer from symptoms of the disease months after diagnosis. Scientists from the University of Surrey collected blood samples of hospital patients and found that Covid-19 changed people's metabolism. The team observed that the effects of Covid-19 changed over time, with the first wave disrupting metabolites differently from the second.
16th Aug 2022 - Science Daily

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China Surveillance in Xinjiang, Tibet Used to Prevent Shanghai-Like Covid Unrest

To combat fresh outbreaks of Covid-19 in outlying areas like Xinjiang and Tibet, Chinese authorities are drawing on a security apparatus previously used to quell dissent against authorities in Beijing. Broad surveillance measures used over the years against Tibetan Buddhists and mainly Muslim Uyghurs, both minority groups in China, are helping enforce lockdown rules among people long at risk of arbitrary detention. That has helped ensure there’s no public displays of anger like those seen earlier this year during the monthslong lockdown in the financial hub of Shanghai. “It’s ironic but very convenient for the CCP that it first constructed Uyghur ethno-national identity as a religious extremist ‘thought virus,’ took draconian steps to eradicate it, and then a real virus came along for which similar techniques were useful,” said James Millward, professor of history at Georgetown University, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.
15th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Superior protection with 'mix-and-match' COVID-19 booster strategy

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic was caused by the sudden global outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Since SARS-CoV-2 emerged at the end of 2019, scientists have worked relentlessly to develop several vaccines to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and protect individuals from severe COVID-19. Recently, a rapid decline in the level of antibodies elicited by vaccination with messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines has been observed. In a new Jama Network Open study, researchers discuss the durability and immunogenicity of homologous and heterologous booster regimens with the Johnson & Johnson Ad26.COV2.S and Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccines.
15th Aug 2022 - News-Medical.Net

Lancet study finds 40 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths were avoidable.

The report assailed Trump for his response to the pandemic, but emphasized that the disastrous response to the virus’s spread was the result of years of destructive public policy decisions on health that extended well beyond the Trump years. From the Lancet: Many of the cases and deaths were avoidable. Instead of galvanizing the U.S. populace to fight the pandemic, President Trump publicly dismissed its threat (despite privately acknowledging it), discouraged action as infection spread, and eschewed international cooperation. His refusal to develop a national strategy worsened shortages of personal protective equipment and diagnostic tests. President Trump politicized mask-wearing and school reopenings and convened indoor events attended by thousands, where masks were discouraged and physical distancing was impossible.
15th Aug 2022 - Slate

Japan travel sector calls for ‘hugely damaging’ Covid-19 entry curbs to end as economy rebounds

Japan’s economy grew at an annualised rate of 2.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2022, with private consumption up 1.1 per cent, official data shows. Travel sector says the government should remove entry curbs immediately so more tourists can visit Japan and help boost the economy, spending.
15th Aug 2022 - South China Morning Post

GDP falls 0.1% as Covid-19 vaccination programmes wind up

The UK’s economy shrank over the last three months as spending on test and trace and the Covid-19 vaccine programme subsided, figures show. Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.1% between April and June, the Office for National Statistics said. It is a big step down from the first quarter of the year, when GDP rose 0.8%. The data may not be the start of a recession – which is defined as two quarters of GDP decline – but experts are predicting the UK will slip into a recession later this year.
15th Aug 2022 - The Independent

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Creighton students' COVID vaccine mandate appeal dismissed

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by a handful of Creighton University students who sought to be exempt from the private Catholic school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate last year, arguing that getting the shots would violate their religious beliefs against abortion. The state’s high court said it didn’t have jurisdiction, citing its 150-year stance that people can’t appeal orders denying or granting temporary injunctions. In this case, a judge last year declined to issue a temporary injunction that would have blocked Creighton University’s requirement that all students get the COVID-19 vaccination.
13th Aug 2022 - The Associated Press

Hong Kong Population Drops by Record as People Flee Covid Curbs

Hong Kong’s population dropped by a record as people fled strict Covid-19 restrictions that have hobbled the city as most other regions move on from the pandemic. The city saw a decline of 121,500 residents in the year ended June 30, leaving the population at about 7.29 million, according to government data released Thursday. That means the population fell 1.6%, marking the third straight year of declines and the biggest drop in at least six decades. A wide-reaching national security law may have also been a contributing factor.
11th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Washington state COVID safety rule for farmworkers upheld by appeals court

A U.S. appeals court on Thursday rejected a flower nursery's claim that a 2020 Washington state rule requiring agricultural businesses to take various steps to protect workers from COVID-19 was invalid. A unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the state's rule, which required farms to provide face masks, conduct temperature checks and enforce social distancing, did not conflict with any federal regulations enforced by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (The rule was withdrawn last year.)
12th Aug 2022 - Reuters

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Covid-19 and Politics: Pandemic Deepened Countries' Divisions, Survey Says

The Covid-19 pandemic created deeper social divisions compared to the beginning of the outbreak, exposing weaknesses in political systems, according to findings of a survey conducted in 19 upper- and middle-income countries. Overall, 61% of respondents said their countries became more divided during the pandemic, according to the recent Pew Research Center survey. The perception of increased social friction was highest in the US, where 81% of those surveyed held that view, and two-thirds said the country’s pandemic response revealed political frailty.
11th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

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Commuting in, DIY out: UK’s new ‘new normal’ after end of Covid controls

Britain’s love for green fingers and blackened thumbs during the first Covid lockdown has since evaporated as people again find a “new normal” after the ending of restrictions, a survey suggests. The amount of time people spent gardening and doing DIY soared in March and April 2020, with people spending 40 minutes a day improving their homes and gardens compared with just 15 minutes in 2014-15. But it plummeted back to 20 minutes a day in March 2022, Office for National Statistics data shows. Lockdown lie-ins are also a thing of the past, with people sleeping 30 minutes less than they did in early 2020, while the amount of time people spend watching television and streaming is down by 34 minutes on average.
10th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

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Despite awareness of COVID-19 risks, many Americans say they’re back to ‘normal’

Many Americans know of the potential risks to themselves and their families from infection with Covid-19, but growing numbers say they have returned to living their “normal” pre-pandemic lives, according to July 2022 national survey data from the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC). Increasing numbers say they personally know someone who has died from Covid-19 and personally know someone who has suffered the lingering effects such as neurological problems and fatigue that are commonly known as “long Covid,” according to the APPC survey, which was conducted July 12-18, 2022. Despite awareness of the continuing risks of Covid-19, worries about its health effects have declined, the percentage of Americans who often or always wear masks indoors with people from outside their household has plummeted, and the number saying they have returned to living their “normal, pre-Covid-19 life” has more than doubled over the past six months.
9th Aug 2022 - EurekAlert!

People ‘still travelling less and exercising more than before Covid’

People are still travelling less and exercising more than they did before the pandemic, despite the scrapping of most Covid-19 restrictions earlier this year, new analysis suggests. Working habits appear to have undergone a permanent change – though the amount of time spent sleeping and resting has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The way people use their time has been studied since 2014/15 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with the latest figures capturing behaviour in March 2022, when almost all the UK’s coronavirus rules had been lifted. Adults spent an average of 52 minutes a day in March this year travelling, such as driving or walking, to places, the stats show. This is up from 32 minutes in March 2021, when many Covid-19 restrictions were still in place, but well below the figure of 84 minutes in 2014/15.
9th Aug 2022 - Evening Standard

How We Mourn Covid’s Victims

Piece by piece, the Covid-19 sanctuary was born on a hilltop in the town of Bedworth in central England. The process was meant to be a metaphor for a human life. Like bones fused over time, it grew taller as the memorial’s creators spent months joining intricate pieces of wood into a skeletal structure that finally stood on its own, 65 feet high. Then they burned it all down. There have always been monuments to commemorate the loss of life from calamitous events, such as the thousands of memorials dedicated to world wars, the Sept. 11 attacks, the Holocaust.
9th Aug 2022 - The New York Times

Analysis: More Chinese women delay or give up on having babies after zero-COVID ordeal

Seeing Chinese authorities exercise extraordinary powers during a stringent COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai earlier this year altered Claire Jiang's life plans: she no longer wants to have babies in China. During the April-May lockdown, the hashtag "we are the last generation" briefly went viral on Chinese social media before being censored. The phrase echoed the response of a man who was visited by authorities in hazmat suits threatening to punish his family for three generations for non-compliance with COVID rules.
9th Aug 2022 - Reuters

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Most Parents Are Saying No to Covid-19 Vaccines for Toddlers

Parents are having their say about the Covid-19 vaccines for children under 5, and for most, the answer so far is no. More than a month after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended shots for about 17.4 million children ages 6 months through 4 years, about 4% to 5% of them have received a shot, according to the most recent agency data and population estimates from the American Academy of Pediatrics. By contrast, the vaccination rate for children 5 to 11 years reached about 18% a month after the CDC first recommended shots last November. The rate now stands at about 38%. “The rates of uptake are just not what we would hope,” said Brannon Traxler, director of public health for the Department of Health and Environmental Control in South Carolina, where recent data show about 2% of the state’s babies and toddlers have received at least one dose. “This is a common theme across the country in many places.”
8th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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Australia cricketer wins in Commonwealth Games gold medal match after positive Covid test

Tahlia McGrath was allowed to play for Australia in their Commonwealth Games T20 cricket final against India despite testing positive for Covid-19. The all-rounder is the No1 ranked side’s hottest property and Aussie chiefs were desperate that she started the Edgbaston showpiece. Despite experiencing “mild” symptoms, and following consultation with health experts, team and match officials delaying the toss by 10 minutes, the International Cricket Council gave her the green light. Under Games Covid rules, affected players across all disciplines are assessed on a case-by-case basis. McGrath, who contributed 126 runs and eight wickets to Australia’s previous four matches, sat apart from her team-mates in the dressing room wearing a mask.
7th Aug 2022 - The Mirror

Prada Navigates Tricky COVID Curbs to Hold Beijing Show

Prada on Friday became the first major luxury house to host a show in China this year, navigating strict COVID curbs to send models down a catwalk in a historic Beijing mansion hotel, a move aimed at underscoring its commitment to the market. Livestreamed on multiple online platforms including Weibo, more than 400 celebrities and customers attended the event held by the Italian group in the Prince Jun’s Mansion Hotel, where it showcased its men and women's fall and winter collections. Shows in Chinese cities by global luxury giants, from Prada to LVMH's Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, used to be a familiar sight and continued even in 2020 and 2021 after China curbed the spread of the virus relatively quickly thanks to tough border curbs. But much has changed in 2022 with China's continued insistence on a "dynamic zero COVID" policy that uses harsh measures to cut any virus transmission chain, even as the rest of the world opens up in the face of infectious Omicron variants.
6th Aug 2022 - U.S. News & World Report

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Northern Ireland families who lost loved ones to Covid-19 mount legal bid for central role in UK inquiry into pandemic

Families who lost loved ones to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland are mounting a legal bid to secure a central role at the UK-wide inquiry into the pandemic. The tribunal has been set up to examine the response of government and impact of the public health emergency. Lawyers representing campaign group Northern Ireland Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice confirmed they are applying for core participant status at the hearings. A statement issued by the group said: “It is difficult to conceive of a group who have been more tragically affected by the pandemic. “Our key objectives are to secure answers and accountability for the deaths of our loved ones and to learn lessons to help save lives in the future and the most effective means of achieving this is by participating in the Covid-19 Public Inquiry.
4th Aug 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

Calls to rethink 'immoral' removal of Covid-19 sick pay policies

Nurses are among those urging governments across the UK to reinstate special Covid-19 sick pay policies for NHS staff and are appealing for support from the profession and the public via an online petition. The petition, which demands that special Covid-19 sick pay is reintroduced, has received more than 38,000 signatures in just under a month. It was launched by midwife Maria Esslinger-Raven on behalf of health professionals like herself who have long Covid.
4th Aug 2022 - Nursing Times

Austrian doctors speak out after suicide of GP following Covid threats

Austrian medical representatives have called for greater protection for doctors after a GP who faced months of violent threats from anti-vaccination activists and pandemic conspiracy theorists took her own life. Lisa-Maria Kellermayr was found dead in her practice in the lakeside resort of Seewalchen am Attersee on Friday. Prosecutors told the media they found three suicide notes and were not planning to carry out an autopsy. Her death prompted a wave of vigils and demonstrations. There have also been calls for laws against bullying and psychological warfare to be tightened, including making it easier to prosecute perpetrators in other EU countries, after at least two of the people believed to have targeted Kellermayr with death threats were identified as coming from Germany.
2nd Aug 2022 - The Guardian

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Japan learns to live with COVID-19 as locals flock to travel spots

Japan’s residents are flocking to tourism hot spots and snapping up normally hard-to-get restaurant reservations even as COVID-19 infections surge to a record, in a sign one of the slowest major economies to fully reopen is adjusting to life with the virus. Domestic travel is booming as people enjoy their first restriction-free summer since 2019 and as still-tight border rules keep away the hordes of foreign visitors that typically crowd popular attractions. Most residents are shaking off concerns about the current wave of virus cases, with travel agencies H.I.S. and JTB reporting no obvious rise in cancellations. Nippon Travel Agency Co. says any spots that become available are quickly booked.
3rd Aug 2022 - The Japan Times

Survey: A third of US kids had excessive screen time amid COVID

More than one third of US children used media addictively in fall 2020, a finding tied to family stressors but not a decrease in the number of screen-time rules implemented, finds a survey of US parents published today in Pediatrics. Investigators from Seattle Children's Research Institute surveyed 1,000 US parents who had at least one child aged 6 to 17 years to evaluate how COVID-19 pandemic-related family stressors and the number of screen-time rules affected their children's media use in October and November 2020. The sample included 500 parents each with children in the 6- to 10-year-old group and in the 11- to 17-year-old group. Parents completed the Patient Health Questionnaire-4 (PHQ-4) and the Problematic Media Use Scale and were asked about parental employment status, demographic characteristics, and whether their child attended school in person or remotely.
2nd Aug 2022 - CIDRAP

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If You Test Positive for Covid, Can You Still Cancel Flights, Hotels and Travel?

A recent rise in Covid-19 cases is making travel even tougher this summer. The Omicron subvariant BA.5 has been spreading just as people are taking long-awaited vacations. More than half of American travelers report having taken at least one trip in July, according to the most recent survey from Destination Analysts, a market-research firm. But travel hasn’t been easy. Travelers have faced flight delays, cancellations, long lines and lost luggage. Airlines and hotels laid off staff and have struggled to rehire them, which means there aren’t enough baggage handlers, pilots and housekeepers, among others. For those looking to hit the road or travel by plane, the wise move is to plan ahead. Read up on your airline or hotel’s cancellation policy before a trip, consider travel insurance and have a contingency plan in case you do test positive while traveling.
2nd Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Austria mourns suicide of doctor targeted by anti-COVID vaccine campaigners

Austrian leaders appealed for national unity after a doctor who faced death threats from anti-vaccination activists and coronavirus pandemic conspiracy theorists took her own life. "Let's put an end to this intimidation and fear mongering. Hate and intolerance have no place in our Austria," President Alexander Van der Bellen said, hailing Lisa-Maria Kellermayr as a doctor who stood for healing people, protecting them from disease and taking a cautious approach to the pandemic. "But some people have been enraged by this. And these people scared her, threatened her, first on the internet and then also in person, directly in her practice." The body of the doctor -- who had often given media interviews about fighting the coronavirus pandemic and promoting vaccinations -- was found in her office in Upper Austria on Friday.
2nd Aug 2022 - EU Reporter

Life expectancy drops for Native Americans due to COVID-19

Native Americans experienced disproportionately high rates of deaths from COVID-19 due to poverty, crowded housing, high rates of chronic disease, employment in frontline jobs, and limited access to quality health care. Less is known about the pandemic's effects on life expectancy for this population, which makes up 2% of the U.S. population. Noreen Goldman of Princeton University and Theresa Andrasfay, Ph.D. '20 of the University of Southern California investigated life expectancy at birth in 2020 and 2021 -- when COVID-19 rates were surging -- compared to 2019. Life expectancy is a metric of population-level mortality in a given year, and it is sensitive to deaths at younger ages.
2nd Aug 2022 - Science Daily

France Ends All Covid-19 Travel Restrictions And Tests

It was one of the last European countries to do so, but this month France has rescinded all its Covid-19 travel restrictions and testing requirements for any travelers entering the country. Crucially, France has come out of the State of Emergency that President Macron's government instigated at the outset of the pandemic, which means that the country requires less bureaucracy of its visitors. As of 1 August 2022, it is no longer necessary to show proof of having had Covid-19, any vaccinations or the results of any testing. Nor is it a requirement anymore to sign an attestation saying that you are devoid of Covid-19 symptoms (that had been necessary up until last week). For both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, it is not a legal requirement either for visitors to justify why they are traveling.
2nd Aug 2022 - Forbes

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COVID-19 Pandemic Dramatically Increased Childcare Stress Among Health Care Workers

A September 2021 poll revealed that 1 in 5 health care workers (HCWs) quit their job since March 2020. Pre-existing disparities and issues in the health care workforce and within the current childcare system were exacerbated because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the poll. Researchers found that childcare stress (CCS) was associated with anxiety, depression, burnout (occupational stress), intent to reduce (ITR), and intent to leave (ITL) for HCWs, which were experienced at disproportionate levels across different subgroups. The source of the study, called Coping with COVID, is a 14-item survey looking at several demographic items, such as race, ethnicity, gender, years in practice, outpatient vs inpatient practice environment, and work role between April-December 2020.
1st Aug 2022 - Pharmacy Times

Will anti-vaccine activism in the USA reverse global goals?

In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-vaccine activism in the USA accelerated, amplified and formed an alliance with political groups and even extremists. An organized, well-funded and empowered anti-science movement now threatens to spill over and threaten all childhood immunizations in the USA and globally. Many countries now face declining immunization rates as a result of anti-vaccine activism. In the case of the USA, an anti-vaccine movement that began with false assertions linking vaccines to autism accelerated roughly a decade ago in Texas (where I live and work) around a libertarian framework known as health freedom2. At present, many conservative elected leaders in the US House of Representatives actively promote this health freedom anti-vaccine agenda, as do several US senators, sitting governors and federal judges. Far-right extremist groups such as the Proud Boys march at anti-vaccine rallies.
1st Aug 2022 - Nature.com

How Some Parents Changed Their Politics in the Pandemic

They waved signs that read “Defeat the mandates” and “No vaccines.” They chanted “Protect our kids” and “Our kids, our choice.” Almost everyone in the crowd of more than three dozen was a parent. And as they protested on a recent Friday in the Bay Area suburb of Orinda, Calif., they had the same refrain: They were there for their children. Most had never been to a political rally before. But after seeing their children isolated and despondent early in the coronavirus pandemic, they despaired, they said. On Facebook, they found other worried parents who sympathized with them. They shared notes and online articles — many of them misleading — about the reopening of schools and the efficacy of vaccines and masks. Soon, those issues crowded out other concerns.
1st Aug 2022 - The New York Times

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How the Covid-19 Pandemic Changed Americans’ Health for the Worse

The ripple effects of the Covid-19 pandemic’s influence on nearly every aspect of health in America are becoming clear. Covid-19 has killed more than one million people in the U.S., a toll mounting by some 350 people a day. A range of other chronic diseases and acute threats to health also worsened during the pandemic, data show, as people missed screenings, abandoned routines and experienced loss and isolation. “In addition to just the terrible burden of a million Americans dying, there are other repercussions from the pandemic that we need to address,” said Chrissie Juliano, executive director of Big Cities Health Coalition, an organization of city health officials.
30th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Rise of Omicron subvariants sends UK staff absence soaring

“I visited the Butler’s Wharf Chop House earlier this week and when I asked about our general manager he was off with Covid,” said the D&D boss, who oversees 2,000 staff in outlets across the UK, France and US. For Gunewardena, the latest round of pandemic-induced shortages have compounded an already tough market. The number of people going off sick has “gone up considerably,” he said, “piling on the problems that our London restaurants have already faced from a 10% staff shortage, the heatwave during which we lost 30% of our business and the £1m we lost in the week of rail and tube strikes”. The rapid spread of Covid-19 infections in the past month has sent the number of workers taking sick leave soaring, according to official figures, making staff shortages even worse and forcing many employers to shut down parts of their business.
29th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Over Half of Brits Receive More in Benefits Than They Pay in Tax During Pandemic

More than half of Britons received more in welfare than they paid in tax last year as the government response to the pandemic drove a big reduction in inequality, according to the Office for National Statistics. A value-added-tax cut, increased spending on welfare and health, and a steep reduction in household consumption meant that 54.2% of individuals took more support from the state than they contributed in the first year of the pandemic to March 2021. The ONS said it was “both the greatest proportion and the largest annual increase” since records began in 1977. In 2020, 47.5% were net recipients. Income support programs, such as furlough, were not a benefit.
29th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid Leaves Some 5% of People With Faulty Sense of Smell, Taste

Losing the sense of smell and taste has become a hallmark of coronavirus infection. But a new study finds that the problem persists in some 5% of patients, disrupting their everyday lives and providing yet another set of symptoms to chalk up to long Covid. The scientists drew their conclusion after reviewing 18 studies involving more than 3,600 patients. The findings mean that as many as 15 million patients may be affected worldwide, they said in a paper published Thursday in the UK medical journal BMJ. Women were less likely to recover than men, the research found, as were patients whose symptoms were strongest or who had nasal congestion. Overall, most patients regained their sense of smell and taste within three months.
27th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

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Malaysia's Women Graduates Close Gender Jobless Gap Amid Virus

Malaysia’s female graduates have narrowed the unemployment rate gap with men for a third straight year, yet major differences remain for jobs requiring higher level degrees. The overall jobless rate for 2.476 million women graduates in the Southeast Asian nation declined to 4.3% in 2021, versus 4% for men. That’s a huge improvement from 2018, when female employment was a full percentage point lower than males. Still, much of the shrinkage has been based on lower level diploma jobs, according to data released by the Department of Statistics.
28th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Outrage in Brazil as Jair Bolsonaro avoids five charges related to Covid response

Brazilian senators are calling for an investigation into one of the country’s top prosecutors after she shelved several charges against the president, Jair Bolsonaro, over his mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic. A damning congressional inquiry had recommended that Bolsonaro be charged with nine offences, including crimes against humanity and charlatanism, for promoting false treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. The far-right president constantly downplayed the severity of the pandemic, initially calling it “a little flu” and telling Brazilians to man up because “we are all going to die anyway”.
28th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

In Rural America, Covid Hits Black and Hispanic People Hardest

At the peak of the Omicron wave, Covid killed Black Americans in rural areas at a rate roughly 34 percent higher than it did white people. The coronavirus pandemic walloped rural America last year, precipitating a surge of deaths among white residents as the virus inflamed longstanding health deficits there. But across the small towns and farmlands, new research has found, Covid killed Black and Hispanic people at considerably higher rates than it did their white neighbors. Even at the end of the pandemic’s second year, in February 2022, overstretched health systems, poverty, chronic illnesses and lower vaccination rates were forcing nonwhite people to bear the burden of the virus. Black and Hispanic people in rural areas suffered an exceptionally high toll, dying at far higher rates than in cities during that second year of the pandemic.
28th Jul 2022 - The New York Times

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MPs criticise government award of £777mn Covid contracts to medical group Randox

The UK government’s “woefully inadequate record-keeping” means it is “impossible to have confidence” that £777mn of contracts won by medical diagnostics company Randox as part of the country’s Covid-19 testing programme were awarded properly, according to a new report. The House of Commons public accounts committee on Wednesday accused the Department of Health and Social Care of failing to “show any evidence of taking any care” over potential conflicts of interest, despite officials being aware of contacts between former Conservative minister Owen Paterson, a paid consultant to Randox, and the then health secretary Matt Hancock.
27th Jul 2022 - Financial Times

Report: NBA will not have vaccination mandate in 2022-23

After some high-profile vaccine-related absences from games last season, the NBA will not have a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for players in 2022-23, Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday, citing a memo from the league office it had obtained. The league will "strongly suggest" team personnel stay up-to-date with vaccinations, per the report. Discussions between the league and the NBA Players Association remain ongoing about whether unvaccinated players will be subject to periodic COVID-19 testing during the upcoming season.
27th Jul 2022 - Reuters

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Rise in long Covid sufferers unable to work costs UK £1.5bn a year

Long Covid is costing the UK £1.5bn in lost earnings per year as the number of people off work with the condition rises to almost 2 million, according to new research. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank estimated that 110,000 people are absent from work at any time due to long Covid, with those who were on lower incomes before the pandemic more likely to be sufferers. One in 10 long Covid sufferers who were in employment stop work while they have the condition, the IFS said. The findings will heap further pressure on the government to tackle a problem which is expected to grow further as infections rise again.
27th Jul 2022 - The Independent

China continues to adapt border control to COVID-19 situation: authority

China's National Immigration Administration (NIA) will continue to adjust and improve entry-and-exit control measures in line with the changing COVID-19 situation to fully meet people's necessary need for cross-border travel, a spokesperson said Tuesday. The immigration administration work will also continue to facilitate enterprises' production and operation to promote the country's opening-up, as well as international exchanges and cooperation, said Zhang Ning, the spokesperson for NIA.
26th Jul 2022 - Xinhua

Pandemic Drinking Led to Thousands of UK Hospital Admissions, Deaths

Increased drinking fuelled by the pandemic could lead to thousands of extra hospital admissions, deaths and cases of disease over the next 20 years, experts have warned. A new study commissioned by NHS England from the University of Sheffield found that while lighter drinkers cut their consumption during the pandemic, heavier drinkers drank more and may never return to where they were. Experts found that 25 to 34-year-olds who were drinking at risky levels before the pandemic were the most likely to increase their drinking when Covid-19 hit.
26th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Schools Choose Cheaper Ventilation Options as BA.5 Subvariant Spreads

As the highly contagious Omicron BA.5 subvariant surges across the nation, weeks before schools reopen for fall, most U.S. districts are choosing fast, cheap ventilation solutions despite billions in federal aid, data show. A federal study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found nearly two-thirds of schools aren’t planning to replace or upgrade their heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. Instead, about 70% of schools in the CDC survey reported low-cost steps to increase student safety, including relocating activities outdoors, inspecting and validating existing HVAC systems, and opening doors and windows. About a third of schools were installing high-efficiency particulate air-filtration systems in high-risk areas, according to the study released in June. Some schools have cited supply-chain issues, tight deadlines or bureaucratic challenges as reasons for not upgrading.
26th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Calling In Sick or Going on Vacation, Workers Aren't Showing Up This Summer

A rise in Covid-19 absences in recent weeks amid the spread of the BA.5 subvariant, combined with planned time off, has left restaurants, hotel chains, manufacturers and other workplaces struggling to keep operations running this summer. At some companies, bosses say, staffing is harder now than at any previous stage in the pandemic. For the period from June 29 to July 11, 3.9 million Americans said they didn’t work because they were sick with Covid-19 or were caring for someone with it, according to Census Bureau data. In the comparable period last year, 1.8 million people missed work for those reasons. Many workers also are taking vacations that they put off over the previous two years. According to the Labor Department, 4.8 million workers took vacation or personal days during the week of the Census Bureau’s June household survey this year, compared with 3.7 million workers who were taking time off in the comparable period last year.
26th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Getting Around After the Pandemic Will Be a Shared Exercise

The report concludes that consumers’ mobility demands are evolving in seemingly contradictory ways. On one hand, people want inexpensive options, but on the other, the pandemic accelerated a shift away from mass transit, which is the cheapest service available. Ultimately, consumers want agile, on‑demand, and affordable transportation, which creates challenges that are difficult to reconcile. In that environment, new players will struggle to make money as they try to fulfill these demands.
26th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

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Covid 19 Omicron: School attendance rates plummet below 50 per cent

School attendance rates for term 1 plummeted below 50 per cent - the lowest in at least a decade, as the Omicron outbreak ripped through communities. Record low levels of school attendance hit Māori and Pasifika hardest with fewer than a third of those populations attending school regularly (attending more than 90 per cent of the time). The latest Ministry of Education data showed overall 46.1 per cent of all students were attending school regularly. This was down from 72.8 per cent in term 1 2019, pre-Covid, 50.5 per cent in 2020 and 66.8 per cent in 2021. In term 4 last year it was 65 per cent. The Ministry noted the Covid-19 Omicron outbreak resulted in "high levels of absences for both students and staff".
25th Jul 2022 - New Zealand Herald

Newmarch House COVID-19 inquest told residents went without food, oxygen during outbreak

During the outbreak, 37 of Newmarch House's 97 residents contracted COVID. The facility is owned and run by Anglicare Community Services. One witness said his mother’s breathing apparatus was not operating when he went to visit
25th Jul 2022 - ABC News

‘Exhaustion and burnout’: states look to boost volunteer numbers as demand increases

Unlike many others at the organisation, the pair are continuing their volunteer work well after lockdowns have ended. “It’s given me a purpose and the best thing is I met my nextdoor neighbours,” Bergman says. Hazels agrees that their friendship has been a “lovely” outcome of her volunteering experience. “We laugh, and we have fun, and we’re all doing a good thing,” she says. They were drawn to volunteering during Melbourne’s early Covid restrictions, as it was a permitted activity that allowed them to escape lockdowns.
25th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Xi's Covid Rules and Tech Crackdown Push Gen Z in China to 'Bailan'

The most educated generation in China’s history was supposed to blaze a trail towards a more innovative and technologically advanced economy. Instead, about 15 million young people are estimated to be jobless, and many are lowering their ambitions. A perfect storm of factors has propelled unemployment among 16- to 24-year-old urbanites to a record 19.3%, more than twice the comparable rate in the US. The government’s hardline coronavirus strategy has led to layoffs, while its regulatory crackdown on real estate and education companies has hit the private sector.
25th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

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Two symptoms that mean you should 'assume you have Covid', professor says

Article reports that a professor has warned people over two symptoms that probably mean they have Covid. With free tests stopped for the majority in April, it is harder for people to spot they have the virus. Omicron BA.5 is now the dominant Covid strain, accounting for approximately 79% of UK cases as of July 18. Professor Tim Spector, who heads up the ZOE Health Study, said people should assume they do have coronavirus if they wake up with a sore throat and fatigue, despite getting a good night's sleep, The Mirror reports. Professor Spector tweeted: "Twice as many covid cases as common colds currently- the ratio has never been so high. Symptoms much the same except generally more fatigue and sore throat - so best to assume it’s Covid!
23rd Jul 2022 - Birmingham Live

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Chinese tennis events for 2022 called off because of Covid-19 restrictions

The Shanghai Masters is one of four 2022 men's tennis tournaments cancelled in China as the country continues its strict Covid-19 restrictions. China hosted the Winter Olympics in February but most other international sporting events in the country have been cancelled or postponed in 2022. The women's tennis tour has no events scheduled in China this year as it seeks a resolution over Peng Shuai. Chinese authorities remain committed to a zero-Covid policy. As a result, men's tennis' governing body the ATP said events in China, typically held in September and October, would be cancelled for a third year. As well as the Shanghai Masters, the Chengdu Open, Zhuhai Championships and China Open will not take place, with six ATP 250 tournaments elsewhere filling the gap in the 2022 calendar.
21st Jul 2022 - BBC News

Californian sentenced for $27M phony COVID aid attempt

A Southern California man who tried to obtain $27 million in unemployment benefits by falsely claiming his business was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was sentenced Tuesday to more than 11 years in federal prison. Robert Benlevi, 53, of the Encino area of Los Angeles received a 135-month sentence following his March conviction for bank fraud, money laundering and making false statements to a financial institution, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. In 2020, Benlevi submitted 27 applications for forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, prosecutors said.
21st Jul 2022 - Associated Press

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Nurse Burnout Reaches New High as Latest Omicron Variant Surges

Many people may be moving on from Covid, but nurses certainly aren’t — and as the latest variant sweeps the US, the mental stresses on the profession have reached new highs. A survey of 2,500 nurses released Wednesday finds that 64% are looking to leave the health-care profession, a nearly 40% increase from a similar survey a year ago. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they’ve experienced burnout since the pandemic began and half said they had experienced feelings of trauma, extreme stress or PTSD. “Our nurses are the backbone of our health system,” said Dr. Dani Bowie the vice president of clinical strategy and transformation at Trusted Health, a healthcare advocacy group that released the survey. “So, if they're not operating out of their best state, it's very detrimental to the wellbeing of our community and our patients.”
20th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid. Vacation. Covid.

Public health officials warn that this is no time for complacency. In the United States, BA.5 has become the dominant strain and is driving a significant spike in cases -- more than 120,000 a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though experts say that number may be more like 1 million, given the underreporting of home test results. Europe, meanwhile, has seen a tripling of new Covid-19 infections over the past six weeks, with nearly 3 million reported last week, accounting for almost half of all new cases worldwide. Hospital admissions in Europe over the same period have doubled.
20th Jul 2022 - CNN

S.Africa arrests 13 police officers over lockdown violence

South Africa’s police watchdog said Tuesday it arrested 13 officers over the death of a man in custody, the first major breakthrough in several cases of alleged brutality during the Covid lockdown. The man, who has not been named, was held along with three others in April 2020 in a Johannesburg suburb for breaching lockdown rules, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) said in a statement. He was then allegedly assaulted by the police officers and members of a private security firm, before being taken to a police station, where he complained about stomach pains, it said. “An ambulance was called in, the paramedics declared the one civilian dead,” the police watchdog said in a statement, adding that a murder investigation was subsequently opened.
20th Jul 2022 - Macau Business

City of London Bankers Trigger Nearly 650 Covid Restrictions Breach Alerts

The City of London’s banks and asset managers notified the UK’s financial regulator of more than 700 incidents of non-financial misconduct by senior staff during the pandemic, including more than 600 breaches of Covid restrictions. The Financial Conduct Authority was notified of 194 incidents of non-financial misconduct by bankers belonging to its senior managers and certification regime, and another 552 by staff at fund managers from the start of 2020 to September 2021, according to a Freedom of Information request by Following the Rules, a financial regulation podcast. Those included 646 episodes tied to Covid breaches as well as 44 counts of bullying and 66 linked to racism. The FCA has disclosed it has opened five investigations into non-financial misconduct in 2019 and none in 2020.
19th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

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Column: The new economic normal - living with COVID

Central banks are jacking up interest rates to tackle the highest inflation in decades, economic growth is slowing, recession looms, and financial markets are in a deep funk. That's the bleak backdrop against which consumers, workers, and businesses are coming round to the realization that, despite successful global vaccination programs and 'V-shaped' recoveries across economies and markets, COVID-19 has not gone away.
16th Jul 2022 - Reuters

China's zero-COVID policy blamed as economy contracts by 2.6% in second quarter

China's zero-COVID policy is being blamed for a return to the red for its economy, with experts warning that recovery will be hampered by the darkening outlook for output globally. The authorities said the world's second-largest economy contracted by 2.6% between April and June compared to the previous three months. It meant that Chinese growth stood at just 0.4% on an annual basis. Both figures were far weaker than economists had expected, with those polled by the Reuters news agency having forecast a quarter on quarter decline of 1.5%.
15th Jul 2022 - Sky News

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Some Beijing travelers asked to wear COVID monitoring bracelets, sparking outcry

Some Beijing residents returning from domestic travel were asked by local authorities to wear COVID-19 monitoring bracelets, prompting widespread criticism on Chinese social media by users concerned about excessive government surveillance. According to posts published on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning on microblogging platform Weibo, some Beijing residents returning to the capital were asked by their neighbourhood committees to wear an electronic bracelet throughout the mandatory home quarantine period.
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters.com

Australia athletes barred from other Commonwealth Games venues over COVID risk

Australian athletes will be banned from supporting their team mates at other Commonwealth Games events at Birmingham due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission, team chef de mission Petria Thomas said. They will also have to wear face masks when not in their rooms or exercising at the July 28 - Aug. 8 Games as part of team health protocols.
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Colleges Serving Low-Income Students, HBCUs Get $198 Million in Covid-Relief Funds

In the US, the Education Department awarded nearly $198 million in Covid-19 relief funds to 244 colleges and universities serving large numbers of students who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Almost 90 percent of the money will go toward historically Black colleges and universities, universities with high rates of minority enrollment and institutions serving large populations of low-income students, including community colleges.
14th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid rise deepens Lake District staffing crisis

Tourism businesses in the Lake District say the rise in Covid infections is making their recruitment crisis even worse. More than 170,000 positions are thought to be unfilled in the UK. In May, for the first time ever, the number of vacancies across the UK was higher than the number of unemployed. It means businesses like The Lancrigg Hotel in Grasmere are trying to offer the same service with fewer staff. It is proving difficult for the manager, Paul Criscuolo-Wray.
14th Jul 2022 - ITV News

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Get COVID-19 booster now if eligible, ECDC boss urges

Countries should start boosting older people a second time with COVID-19 shots, the head of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday, stressing that waiting for new variant vaccines in the fall could be too late. “The risk for people is now,” said Andrea Ammon, director of the ECDC, referencing the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in the European Union driven by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 strains. “If I get offered this vaccine now, I will take it now,” she told members of the European Parliament's special committee on COVID-19. She underlined that the existing vaccines continue to offer protection against severe disease and death against these variants.
13th Jul 2022 - POLITICO Europe

Adapted, two-strain vaccines to lift COVID protection - EU official

Adapted versions of established mRNA COVID-19 vaccines that address two variants in one shot will soon offer people better protection than vaccines that are now available, a European health official said on Wednesday. Moderna and the BioNTech-Pfizer alliance are working on vaccines based on a combination of the original Wuhan virus and an Omicron subvariant. Referred to as bivalent shots, these are planned for use in the autumn vaccination campaign.
13th Jul 2022 - Reuters

NHS awarded George Cross for efforts shown during the COVID-19 pandemic

The NHS has been awarded the George Cross by Her Majesty The Queen in recognition of the dedicated service of healthcare workers that includes their ‘courage, compassion and dedication’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. The George Cross, which is given in recognition of ‘acts of the greatest heroism or of the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger’, has only been bestowed to a collective group of people twice before, most recently in 1999. May Parsons, the nurse who administered the first COVID-19 vaccination in the world, joined NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard to attend the presentation on 12 July – exactly one week after the NHS’s birthday. The pair were joined by Pritchard’s counterparts, Caroline Lamb from NHS Scotland and Judith Paget from NHS Wales, along with Peter May, permanent secretary at the Department of Health and chief executive of Health and Social Care Northern Ireland.
13th Jul 2022 - PMLiVE

Australia athletes barred from other Commonwealth Games venues over COVID risk

Australian athletes will be banned from supporting their team mates at other Commonwealth Games events at Birmingham due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission, team chef de mission Petria Thomas said. They will also have to wear face masks when not in their rooms or exercising at the July 28 - Aug. 8 Games as part of team health protocols. "Our primary focus is that we can get our athletes to the starting line and they are performance ready,” Thomas told News Corp media on Wednesday.
13th Jul 2022 - Reuters

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Covid-19: Ethnic minority staff felt “vulnerable” during pandemic, says senior leader

Healthcare workers from ethnic minority groups have felt “vulnerable” and uncared for during the covid pandemic, with some reporting that managers hid personal protective equipment from them and refused to carry out the required risk assessments, a senior nurse has said. Speaking at the NHS Race and Health Observatory conference at BMA House on 7 July, Felicia Kwaku, chair of the Chief Nursing Officers Black and Minority Ethnic Strategic Advisory Group, shared some findings from her discussions with thousands of ethnic minority staff since April 2020. “This is the stark reality of what some staff went through. Some died in their rooms on their own because of social distancing. Some couldn’t get to the phone because they were so hypoxic, so they died alone,” she said. “If you were a nurse or midwife who was new to the country, you didn’t have a lot of the networks, so it was very isolating.”
12th Jul 2022 - The BMJ

Covid rules as thousands told not to take tests even if they have symptoms

As Covid-19 infections continue to rise across the UK, millions of people are thought to currently be infected with the virus. New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that almost 4% of the English population had tested positive for coronavirus at the end of June, with higher figures (4.93%, 5.36%, and 5.94%) in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, respectively. The number of hospital admissions is also increasing amid new BA.4 and BA.5 covid variants. And there are no longer any restrictions around the virus in the UK, and as we learn to live with covid.
12th Jul 2022 - Liverpool Echo

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Hologic Announces Two New Respiratory Assays for the Detection of COVID-19, Flu A, Flu B and RSV

Hologic, Inc. announced that it is now offering its Panther Fusion ® SARS-CoV-2/Flu A/B/RSV assay and its Novodiag ® RESP-4 molecular diagnostic test for sale in the European Union in time for the northern hemisphere’s respiratory viral season. Both assays detect and differentiate four of the most prevalent respiratory viruses that can present with similar clinical symptoms: severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), influenza A (Flu A), influenza B (Flu B) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The Panther Fusion SARS-CoV-2/Flu A/B/RSV assay is a high-performance cartridge-based assay that runs on the fully automated high-throughput Panther Fusion system. The test uses nasopharyngeal swab samples.
11th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

Moderna announces its Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster is more effective against the now-dominant BA.5 variant than previous versions of the shot: Daily deaths from the virus ...

Moderna announced that its second formulation of a COVID-19 booster targeted at the Omicron variant is more effective against the BA.5 variant. The new strain is now dominant in the U.S. and its ability to evade protection from previous infection has health officials fearing it could cause another outbreak. Some experts have opposed the launching of new Omicron-specific booster - expected this fall - until more data on the shots is available. Covid deaths in America have creeped upwards to 430 per day over the past week - jumping 13% in seven days
11th Jul 2022 - Daily Mail

Large Chinese Bank Protest Put Down With Violence

Hundreds of bank customers demonstrating over frozen deposits were attacked by men in plainclothes in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, marking a violent end to one of China’s largest public protests in recent years. Images of the clash, which was widely videotaped, spread quickly enough on Chinese social media to outrun the country’s army of internet censors, sparking a wave of online criticism. Video footage verified by The Wall Street Journal with protesters who were present on Sunday showed large numbers of unidentified men, many of them dressed in white T-shirts, barreling into peaceful crowds demonstrating on the steps of the local branch of China’s central bank. The clash resulted in several injuries, according to the protesters, who said they were themselves beaten by the men in plainclothes.
11th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Workforce: the persistent victim of the covid-19 pandemic

In the past week, 11 000 people were admitted to hospitals in England with covid and the picture in the devolved nations is likely to be similar. High rates of hospital admissions, even if the patients aren’t very unwell, are disruptive for the running of hospitals. Most in the UK continue to use open bays, and this makes wards inefficient and vulnerable to outbreaks. The UK has fewer hospital beds than almost any other European comparator and we can ill afford any loss of hospital capacity. While covid has undoubtedly worsened performance, crowding in emergency departments was a problem before the pandemic. Hospitals are now full, and our “inadvertent natural experiment” has shown that occupancy rates over 92% are invariably associated with full emergency departments and delayed ambulance handovers.
11th Jul 2022 - The BMJ

China's Shanghai asks public to share 'heart-warming' COVID lockdown stories

The government of Shanghai has called on citizens to share "heart-warming" photographs, videos and stories about a punishing two-month lockdown imposed in April by the authorities to curb China's biggest COVID-19 outbreak. The government of China's most populous city has launched the propaganda campaign to "tell epidemic stories, spread volunteer culture and inherit the traditional values of solidarity, friendship and mutual help," local newspaper Wen Hui Bao said on Saturday.
11th Jul 2022 - Reuters

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China's Shanghai asks public to share 'heart-warming' COVID lockdown stories

The government of Shanghai has called on citizens to share "heart-warming" photographs, videos and stories about a punishing two-month lockdown imposed in April by the authorities to curb China's biggest COVID-19 outbreak. The government of China's most populous city has launched the propaganda campaign to "tell epidemic stories, spread volunteer culture and inherit the traditional values of solidarity, friendship and mutual help," local newspaper Wen Hui Bao said on Saturday.
10th Jul 2022 - Reuters

The pandemic has eroded Americans' trust in experts and elected leaders alike, a survey finds.

As the coronavirus pandemic entered its third year, the American public had lost much of its trust both in public health experts and in government leaders, and was less worried than before about Covid-19, according to a survey conducted in early May and released Thursday by the Pew Research Center. Confidence ratings for public health officials, like those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; for state and local elected officials; and for President Biden fell in a range from 43 percent to 54 percent in the survey — much lower than during the early stages of the pandemic.
8th Jul 2022 - The New York Times

Court: Health care workers in lawsuit must reveal identities

Nine health care workers who sued Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills over the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate have until Money to reveal their identities. The workers have so far remained anonymous, but on Thursday, a federal appeals court in Boston rejected a motion by the workers and gave them until Friday to file an amended complaint with their names, the Portland Press-Herald reported. The plaintiffs were later given an extension until Monday. Attorneys for Liberty Counsel, a law firm representing the health care workers, said in a court filing Friday that the one-day extension is needed to give lawyers time to speak with each plaintiff about whether they want to move forward with the lawsuit. The plaintiffs filed their complaint in federal court last August, before the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers at Maine care facilities went into effect on Oct. 20, 2021.
8th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

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Study finds growing Covid vaccine acceptance across world

Covid-19 vaccine acceptance across the world increased by about 4 per cent between 2020 and 2021, according to a new study whose findings could help improve the coverage of future immunisation drives. The research, published in Nature Communications, studied Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy globally in June 2021 in over 23,000 individuals across 23 countries. Researchers, including those from City University of New York in the US, found that more than three-quarters of respondents reported vaccine acceptance, up from 71.5 per cent the previous year.
7th Jul 2022 - The Independent

Norwegian Cruise scraps COVID testing for select voyages

Passengers boarding Norwegian Cruise Line ships won't have to take COVID-19 tests from next month unless required by local law, the U.S. cruise operator said on Wednesday as the crucial summer sailing season gathers steam. Cruises setting sail from the United States, Canada or Greece's Piraeus will still require pre-cruise COVID testing, and all of the company's guests aged 12 and above have to be fully vaccinated.
7th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Hong Kong Suspends Its Covid Flight Ban Policy

Hong Kong will stop banning routes for airlines that bring in too many passengers with Covid-19, suspending a policy that has been heavily criticized by businesses and travelers for snarling plans and leaving people stranded. The flight ban was one of many strict Covid-control policies that have left the Asian financial center more isolated from a world that is moving on from pandemic restrictions. Other travel-deterring controls including long hotel quarantines and tough testing requirements for boarding flights will remain in place, but the suspension of the flight ban beginning Thursday removes a hurdle.
7th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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Australia removes final Covid-19 travel restrictions

Two years, three months and 25 days since the World Health Organisation first declared Covid-19 a global pandemic, Australia is removing its final coronavirus-related travel restrictions. From Wednesday, visitors no longer need to show proof of vaccination when flying Down Under. The last of the Covid-19 restrictions for inbound visitors have been dropped following Australia's removal of other rules put in place during the pandemic, including PCR tests for holidaymakers and mandatory quarantine periods. “As more and more of us travel internationally and we get more confident in managing our risk of Covid, our airports are getting busier,” Clare O’Neil, Minister for Home Affairs, said.
6th Jul 2022 - The National

US Pandemic Checks Had No Lasting Impact on Poor, Study Shows

“These results suggest that the cash allowed participants to spend more money, improving objective financial outcomes for the few weeks immediately following the transfer and then dissipating thereafter,” wrote the researchers, led by Ania Jaroszewicz at Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences. The survey covered three groups: the first received a one-time payment of $500, the second got $2,000 and the third nothing.
6th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

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Oxford University Takes Aim at Future Pandemics After Covid Vaccine

The University of Oxford, one of the first to cross the finish line with a Covid-19 vaccine, is shifting its focus to health threats that could trigger the next pandemic. Oxford’s Pandemic Sciences Institute, launched Tuesday, aims to reduce the risks posed by infectious diseases by improving data collection, strengthening surveillance and helping to create vaccines and other countermeasures. Oxford said the organization will seek to learn from the response to Covid and take advantage of the university’s research and global partnerships. But it will have to bring in additional funds to carry out its mission.
5th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Moshe Feiglin: Those under 30 need to avoid COVID-19 vaccine like fire

Former MK Moshe Feiglin, who is currently running for the Likud primaries, told KAN Radio on Tuesday morning that anyone under 30 years old should avoid the coronavirus vaccine "like fire." "We are horrified by the shtuyot (nonsense) that were said by someone with no understanding or knowledge on the topic," the Health Ministry tweeted in response. "It's unfortunate that a man without any professional backing is handing out suggestions based on knee-jerk instincts or delusions while going directly against existing medical knowledge and international studies on the subject, not to mention the instructions of every international organization."
5th Jul 2022 - The Jerusalem Post

One million set to perform Hajj as COVID-19 restrictions ease

After a two-year absence, international pilgrims will perform the yearly Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia for the first time starting Wednesday, after previously being restricted amid the kingdom’s battle to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Some one million people are expected to be in attendance in the holy city of Mecca in Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) for the start of the five-day ritual – a large jump from last year when only 60,000 pilgrims were permitted. In 2020, during the height of the pandemic’s early waves and before vaccines were available, about 10,000 were selected.
5th Jul 2022 - Al Jazeera English

The Health Risks of Getting Covid-19 a Second (or Third) Time

Covid-19 reinfections can bring some new risks of serious medical problems, hospitalization and death, a new study has found. Protection provided by vaccines and prior infection has greatly improved Covid outcomes since the pandemic’s early days, and reinfections are typically less severe than initial ones. Yet each new infection carries a risk of medical problems, including hospitalization, death and long Covid, according to preliminary data from a study of patients in the Veterans Affairs health system. This is a timely finding, doctors say, as more-infectious Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 proliferate and are expected to make reinfections more common.
5th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

US seeks 250000 mentors, tutors to address pandemic learning loss

The Biden administration on Tuesday will launch a new effort to recruit 250,000 mentors and tutors to help students who have fallen back in their learning during the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said. The program, which will be led by AmeriCorps and the Department of Education along with other service organizations, will seek to get adults to fill the roles over the next three years. Students on average are two to four months behind in reading and math as a result of the pandemic, a White House official said. The program is intended to help address that deficit. "Research shows that high quality tutors and mentors positively impact student achievement, well-being, and overall success," the White House said in a statement.
5th Jul 2022 - Investing

Many won’t rely on virtual options after COVID: AP-NORC poll

Many Americans don’t expect to rely on the digital services that became commonplace during the pandemic after COVID-19 subsides, according to a new poll, even as many think it’s a good thing if those options remain available in the future. Close to half or more of U.S. adults say they are not likely to attend virtual activities, receive virtual health care, have groceries delivered or use curbside pickup after the coronavirus pandemic is over, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Less than 3 in 10 say they’re very likely to use any of those options at least some of the time. Still, close to half also say it would be a good thing if virtual options for health care, for community events and for activities like fitness classes or religious services continue after the pandemic.
5th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

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COVID-19 misinformation bolsters anti-vaccine movement

More parents are questioning the necessity of routine vaccinations for young children. Adults are skipping shots as well, even for vaccines with a long safety record. The trend comes amid a wave of misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines that helped to stem pandemic deaths. Politicization of the COVID-19 shots has bolstered the anti-vaccine movement, contributing to the decline in routine immunizations for measles, polio and other dangerous diseases. "They ask if these are truly necessary, or if we can give them at later times," said Jason Terk, a Texas pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
4th Jul 2022 - Medical Xpress

Australia entry rules explained: The latest Covid travel advice as vaccine requirement is dropped for tourists

Strict vaccination rules will be lifted on Wednesday, taking the hassle out of Australian holidays and family reunions. However, flag carrier Qantas is set to keep its vaccine mandate
4th Jul 2022 - iNews

Thailand ends almost all travel restrictions — but one key rule remains

Travellers wondering what it’s like to visit Thailand now may be interested to know the country is “allowing almost everything” again. That’s according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the governmental entity responsible for promoting tourism to the country. Masks are no longer required, and the country’s color-coded system — which placed limits that varied by province on dining activities, gatherings and travel — is also a thing of the past, according to TAT. It’s also far easier to get into Thailand now too.
4th Jul 2022 - CNBC

Hard-hit Kyoto is conflicted as Japan prepares to reopen to foreign tourists after COVID lockdown

Kyoto locals say they want some foreign tourists, but not too many. Japan is restricting the number of foreign tourists allowed in to a small number. The yen is at its weakest in two decades, acting as a boon for tourists
4th Jul 2022 - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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Muslim pilgrims flock to Mecca for first post-pandemic haj

Thousands of pilgrims started arriving in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Friday, among some one million Muslims expected to attend the 2022 haj pilgrimage season after two years of major disruption caused by the COVID pandemic. Wrapped in white robes, with some carrying umbrellas against the burning desert sun, hundreds performed the first ritual of the haj, which involves walking in a circle around the Kaaba, the sacred building at the centre of Mecca's Grand Mosque
1st Jul 2022 - Reuters

MorseLife, Florida nursing home, pays $1.7 million after giving donors early access to covid vaccines

The text message from the chief executive of MorseLife Health System, a luxury nursing home in West Palm Beach, Fla., was unambiguous. “Of course go after the billionaires first,” the CEO wrote to the facility’s fundraisers in December 2020, explaining who should get priority for scarce coronavirus vaccine shots intended for residents and staffers. He advised: “Do not be weak be strong you have the opportunity to take advantage of everyone who needs the shot and figure out what they have and what we can go after …” “I’ll go for the billions,” he promised. Eighteen months later, MorseLife has agreed to pay $1.75 million to settle claims that it defrauded a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program that sought to steer limited vaccine doses to the most vulnerable Americans in late 2020 and early 2021, according to the Justice Department, which released excerpts of the text messages.
1st Jul 2022 - The Washington Post

North Korea blames 'alien things' near border with South for COVID outbreak

North Korea claimed on Friday that the country's first COVID-19 outbreak began with patients touching "alien things" near the border with South Korea, apparently shifting blame to the neighbour for the wave of infections in the isolated country. Announcing results of an investigation, the North ordered people to "vigilantly deal with alien things coming by wind and other climate phenomena and balloons in the areas along the demarcation line and borders," the official KCNA news agency said. The agency did not directly mention South Korea, but North Korean defectors and activists have for decades flown balloons from the South across the heavily fortified border, carrying leaflets and humanitarian aid. South Korea's unification ministry, handling inter-Korean affairs, said there was "no possibility" of the virus entering the North through leaflets sent across the border. According to KCNA, an 18-year-old soldier and a five-year-old kindergartner who contacted the unidentified materials "in a hill around barracks and residential quarters" in the eastern county of Kumgang in early April showed symptoms and later tested positive for the coronavirus.
1st Jul 2022 - Reuters

U.S. Supreme Court nixes religious challenge to New York vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declined to hear a challenge to New York's mandate that healthcare sector workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 brought by a group of doctors, nurses and others who objected on religious grounds.
1st Jul 2022 - Reuters

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China summer railway travel expected to rebound as COVID curbs ease

As China loosens its months-long COVID-19 curbs, railway travel is expected to see an uptick in passengers just in time for the summer transport season, which starts on July 1. By Aug. 31, the number of passenger trips on China's railway network is expected to reach 520 million, and 10 million on peak days. The national railway is also opening new stations such as the Xiangwan section of the Zhengzhou-Chongqing high-speed railway, the Puzheng section of the Jizheng high-speed railway, the Heruo Railway, and the Beijing Fengtai Station.
1st Jul 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Disneyland theme park re-opens after three-month closure

More than a thousand visitors streamed in on Thursday as Walt Disney Co's Shanghai Disney Resort theme park opened after a closure of three months, with face masks and social distancing the order of the day. The park shut on March 21 as cases rose in the Chinese business hub, leading to a two-month-long citywide lockdown that eased on June 1. Just over a week later, the resort began opening some areas, with the theme park the last to re-open.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters

China's factory, service sectors shake off 3 months of lockdown pain

China's factory and service sectors snapped three months of activity decline in June, business surveys showed on Thursday, as authorities lifted a strict COVID lockdown in Shanghai, reviving output and consumer spending. The official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 50.2 in June from 49.6 in May, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said. That slightly missed the forecast for 50.5 in a Reuters poll but rose above the 50-point mark that separates contraction from growth for the first time since February.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters

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Norway Was a Pandemic Success. Then It Spent Two Years Studying Its Failures.

If you could have flown anywhere in the world in 2019 to ride out a hypothetical pandemic, you probably wouldn’t have picked Norway. In fact, when a group of distinguished health experts gathered that year to rank hundreds of countries based on their pandemic readiness, they put Norway in 16th place. They were quickly proven wrong. It turned out that few places outperformed expectations more than Norway. Not long ago, the World Health Organization published mortality stats from the past two years, which showed that nearly every country’s excess death count spiked during the pandemic. Norway’s barely moved. The Norwegians had pulled off the closest thing possible to an optimal response to the most vexing problems that Covid-19 presented. So how did they do it? As it happens, the Norwegians also wanted to know.
30th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Video: The Dance School Lifting Up Kenya's Lost Girls of Covid

On this episode of “The Pay Check,” Bloomberg Digital Originals explores how closed schools and economic hardship created a crisis for young women and girls in Kenya, and how an after-school program in Nairobi’s biggest informal settlement is creating a safe haven for some of them.
30th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

China's easing COVID curbs spark travel inquiry surge, and caution

Online searches for Chinese airline tickets on domestic and international routes surged on Wednesday, after Beijing said it would slash COVID-19 quarantine requirements and made changes to a state-mandated mobile app used for local travel. The unexpected moves mark a significant easing of rigid curbs that have severely curtailed travel and battered China's economy, although tough measures remain in place including a scarcity of international flights, and many social media users voiced caution.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Widespread relief for Shanghai's restaurant sector as dine-in resumes

Restaurants and eateries in China's largest city Shanghai begun reopening their doors to diners on Wednesday, bringing widespread relief to an industry that was badly hit by the city's two month COVID-19 lockdown. Large chains such as hot pot brand Haidilao, fine dining establishments and family owned eateries had started scrubbing tableware and getting uniforms laundered since Saturday when authorities announced the curbs were lifting, a month after the city's lockdown eased on June 1.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

COVID can't break South Africa's love affair with shopping malls

With two days to go until opening to the public, workers rush to put the finishing touches on the Kwena Square shopping complex, a shiny $13 million sign that South Africans are defying the global "retail apocalypse". Not even COVID-19 could separate them from their beloved malls. "I love going to the mall with my daughter and my grandkids," said 54-year-old Kowie Erasmus, who's eagerly awaiting Friday's grand opening of Johannesburg's Kwena Square, which broke ground at the height of the pandemic.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

The Best and Worst Places to Be as World Enters Next Covid Phase

Since November 2020, Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking has tracked the best and worst places to be during the pandemic, using a range of datapoints to capture a monthly snapshot of how the world’s biggest economies were handling this once-in-a-generation health crisis. Twenty editions in, the virus has become something most countries are living with. After nearly two years of fluctuation—during which the top and bottom of the Ranking shifted as the pandemic shape-changed—places have largely settled into their permanent positions, drawing the project to a natural close. June, 2022 will be our last update. In a reflection of how far we’ve come since the coronavirus first emerged in central China, this month’s top ranked are those most effectively putting the pandemic in the rearview mirror, with the fewest scars. They’ve been able to reopen their borders and economies without a substantial spike in deaths.
29th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Scores of Glastonbury revellers test positive for COVID as experts warn of fifth wave

A number of Glastonbury Festival revellers have reported testing positive for COVID-19 in the days after the music event. An estimated 200,000 music fans flocked to Worthy Farm in east Somerset for the 37th iteration of Glastonbury last week. Crowds gathered to watch headliners Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar along with scores of other artists for the world's biggest outdoor festival. Following three years of cancellations due to COVID restrictions, tens of thousands of music fans did not hold back as they soaked up their favourite artists, shoulder to shoulder with other fans. But the fun was soon over after many revellers took to Twitter to report bringing COVID-19 home with them.
29th Jun 2022 - Sky News

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Covid: 'Significantly' fewer primary pupils to be vaccinated

There has been a significant increase in the proportion of primary school parents who say they are “unlikely” to have their child vaccinated for Covid-19, a new survey has found. The figures have been published as experts warn the UK is experiencing a “fifth wave” of Covid, as infection rates climb, driven by new variants of Omicron. The latest data from the School Infection Survey (SIS) shows that the proportion of primary school pupils who were not vaccinated and whose parents said they were “unlikely” to agree to their child being vaccinated in future has risen from 24 per cent in December 2021 to 36 per cent in March 2022.
28th Jun 2022 - TES

In 1st year of pandemic, COVID vaccines saved 20M lives

Based on official data on COVID-19 deaths, the authors estimated that vaccinations prevented 14.4 million deaths in 185 countries and territories during the one-year study duration. Based on excess mortality estimates, they observed that vaccinations halved the potential global death toll and averted around 19.8 million deaths in a year. The latter represents the true extent of the first year of the pandemic, showing a global reduction of 63% in total deaths due to vaccination.
28th Jun 2022 - News-Medical.Net

Majority of secondary school children have Covid-19 antibodies, says new data

Nearly all secondary school-age children have Covid-19 antibodies, according to new data. Data from the School Infection Survey, which was released on Monday, revealed that numbers of primary school parents who would be "unlikely" to vaccinate their children has increased. The news comes as levels of Covid continue to rise in the UK, with new cases likely due to variants of the Omicron strain. In the last week, an estimated 1.7million people are reported to have had the virus, up 23% from 1.4 million the previous week.
28th Jun 2022 - Daily Record

Shanghai's Disneyland theme park to re-open on Thursday

The Walt Disney Co's Shanghai Disney Resort said on Tuesday it would reopen the Disneyland theme park on June 30, a month after the Chinese economic hub lifted a two month-long COVID-19 lockdown. The theme park has been shut since March 21, when the resort closed its doors amid an uptick of cases in Shanghai. The city lifted its lockdown on June 1 and the resort begun opening some areas just over a week later.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters.com

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Covid-19: UK makes first payments to compensate injury or death from vaccines

The first compensation payments in the UK have been made to families who have been bereaved, or to people who have been injured, as a result of a covid-19 vaccine. Vikki Spit from Cumbria is believed to be the first person to receive compensation, after her 48 year old partner, Zion, became ill eight days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Zion, a former rock singer, died at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle in May 2021. A handful of other people have received payments in the past few days under the government’s vaccine damage payment scheme (VDPS), which pays out up to a maximum of £120 000 (€140 000; $150 000). Sarah Moore, a partner at the Hausfeld law firm, which is representing people seeking compensation, told The BMJ it was an important moment. “While the VDPS payments are very modest in amount, and will do very little to alleviate the financial difficulties with which many families are now struggling as a consequence of injury or bereavement, the fact of payment for some will mark a moment of vindication in that it is the clearest statement yet, by the government, that in some rare instances the covid-19 vaccines have caused very significant injury or death.”
27th Jun 2022 - The BMJ

Bereaved may take legal action against Government over coronavirus inquiry delay

Bereaved families have warned they may take legal action against the Government over delays to starting the coronavirus public inquiry. The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group is considering bringing a judicial review over the failure to provide a setting up date for the inquiry into the Government's handling of the pandemic. They say this leaves the inquiry in "limbo", more than six months after Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Baroness Hallett to chair the probe in December 2021.
27th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Shanghai will gradually resume dining-in at restaurants from June 29

Shanghai will gradually resume dining-in at restaurants from June 29 in low-risk areas and areas without any community-level spread of COVID-19 during the previous week,a Shanghai government official said on Sunday. The Chinese econonic hub lifted a two month city-wide lockdown on June 1, but many establishments have remained unable to offer indoor dining since mid-March. Shanghai reported no new locally transmitted cases - either symptomatic or asymptomatic - for June 24 and June 25.
27th Jun 2022 - Reuters

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Bereaved May Take Legal Action Against UK Over Covid Inquiry Delay

Bereaved families have warned they may take legal action against the Government over delays to starting the coronavirus public inquiry. The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group is considering bringing a judicial review over the failure to provide a setting up date for the inquiry into the Government's handling of the pandemic. They say this leaves the inquiry in "limbo", more than six months after Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Baroness Hallett to chair the probe in December 2021. The PM has previously said the inquiry would start in spring 2022, but its terms of reference have not yet been published, nor a setting-up date specified. The group says the delay could cost lives, as it slows down how quickly lessons can be learned, and is worried key evidence could be tampered with or destroyed.
26th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

An NFT of a Covid-19 Vaccine Heads to Auction

A nonfungible token, or NFT, showcasing the molecular technology of the mRNA vaccine used to fight Covid-19, will be auctioned at Christie’s online next month to raise money for future medical research. The 3-D digital work is designed by the University of Pennsylvania and Drew Weissman, a doctor whose research helped create mRNA vaccines. The one-minute visual work also comes with a storyboard that explains how mRNA vaccines work to fight the Covid-19 virus; copies of original mRNA patent documents owned by the University of Pennsylvania; and an original letter from Weissman, director of Vaccine Research at The Perelman School of Medicine at the university. mRNA, short for messenger ribonucleic acid, is a single-stranded molecule of RNA that corresponds to the genetic sequence of a gene. Unlike traditional vaccines, which use a weakened or inactive germ to trigger an immune response, mRNA vaccines are designed to teach the body to create a protein that triggers the immune response.
26th Jun 2022 - Barron's

London's Prime Shopping Street Has a Case of Long Covid

Regent Street, London’s premier shopping thoroughfare, is struggling to shake off the lingering effects of Covid-19. Store vacancy levels, at a record 12%, are almost twice what they were at the end of 2019, while asking rents for the best space on the street have fallen by more than 30% during the pandemic, according to Savills Plc. Shoppers who stroll along the curving avenue, passing through Oxford Circus and Piccadilly in London’s West End, may notice the absence of familiar brands. J Crew, Brooks Brothers, Desigual and Zara Home all closed stores during the two years of on-again off-again lockdowns that battered brick-and-mortar retailers and accelerated a shift to online shopping.
26th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

China's Economy Improves in June From Lockdown-Induced Slump

China’s economy showed some improvement in June as Covid restrictions were gradually eased, although the recovery remains muted. That’s the outlook based on Bloomberg’s aggregate index of eight early indicators for this month. The overall gauge returned to the neutral level after deteriorating for two straight months.
26th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid-19 ‘magic mirror’ reflects widening fissures in Chinese society

“Covid-19 is a magic mirror that reveals the monster within” was a popular saying in China in the early days of the pandemic. It was used by the Chinese foreign ministry in reference to the United States to suggest that Covid-19 had uncovered America’s long-standing social problems. Whoever coined the saying was certainly very astute. But I wonder how many people in China at the time realised that one day the mirror could be turned on themselves. What would they see? What demons might be revealed? I have lived in China all my life. I am part of a generation that has seen outstanding improvements in this society. It seemed to us that things could only get better, and if there were any challenges along the way, there was nothing that we as a country could not get through by working together.
25th Jun 2022 - South China Morning Post

Latin America's kids slid into education black hole during pandemic

In Bolivia's highland city La Paz, Maribel Sanchez's children spent much of the last two years huddling over a small smartphone screen to attend online classes amid a lengthy lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The two boys, aged 11 and eight, frequently missed lessons when their timetables collided as the family had no computer. Bolivian school children only finally returned to in-person classes in March this year, many still not full time. The story is echoed around the region from Mexico to Brazil. Latin American has one of the worst records of school closures globally, according to a World Bank report, which shows children here faced almost 60 weeks of fully or partially closed schools between March 2020 and March this year. That's behind only South Asia and twice the level of Europe, Central and East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa or the Pacific. In North America there were long partial closures, but just seven weeks of full closures versus 29 in Latin America and the Caribbean.
24th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Jun 2022

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Video: How the Pandemic Has Accelerated Child Marriage in India

In a bid to combat child marriage, Archana Sahay started a 24-hour helpline based in the central Indian city of Bhopal. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, she was inundated with calls: Some were what she had come to expect from already-vulnerable girls and people concerned with their welfare. Others caught her by surprise. On this episode of “The Pay Check,” Bloomberg explores how another unforeseen consequence of Covid-19 in India has been a significant increase in child marriage—and how one woman is trying to fight it.
24th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Shanghai's fashion stores struggle to clear lockdown stock hangover

Almost a month since Shanghai lifted its strict COVID-19 lockdowns, fashion retailers are stuck with piles of unsold stock as cautious consumers stay away from the commercial hub's glitzy shopping districts. Curbs to stop the virus in Shanghai, China's fashion capital, ground the city of 25 million to a halt in April and May, leaving clothing and beauty product displays in stores untouched and containers of imported apparel stranded at port.
24th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd Jun 2022

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Covid-19: How has the pandemic differed across the four UK nations?

Although the overall course of the pandemic has been similar across the UK, there have been instances when the countries’ trajectory has diverged. In the first wave Northern Ireland had far fewer deaths and hospital admissions. Lockdown restrictions were similar across the UK at this time. One possible explanation for the divergence is that lockdown began at a slightly earlier stage in the pandemic in Northern Ireland, reducing the size of the peak there. In the second wave Scotland had relatively fewer cases, hospital admissions, and deaths than England and Wales. Scotland also had the most consistent set of restrictions in place between September and December 2020, which may have helped to delay the spread of the alpha variant (which was dominant in England by the beginning of December but not in Scotland until January 2021).34 Northern Ireland had a slightly later peak in cases in this wave, which may have contributed to lower mortality, as a result of the vaccination programme reducing severe disease. Northern Ireland’s younger population may also have been a factor in its lower cumulative mortality. From the middle of 2021 to February 2022 Northern Ireland had consistently higher rates of hospital admission for covid-19 than elsewhere in the UK, although case rates and mortality have been broadly similar. This suggests that hospital care for patients with covid-19 may have been organised differently in Northern Ireland, resulting in a higher admission rate. Another possibility is that hospital acquired covid-19, which has been a significant concern,5 may be a particular problem in hospitals in Northern Ireland. In February and March 2022 Scotland had the highest case rates and a rapid increase in hospital admissions, despite retaining restrictions longest in response to omicron.
22nd Jun 2022 - The BMJ

Women more likely to have long COVID, different symptom profile

Women are significantly more likely than men to experience long COVID, with symptoms that follow a distinct clinical pattern, researchers reported today. They said more efforts are needed to explore sex differences in outcomes, including greater risks of exposure for some jobs. The researchers from the Johnson & Johnson Office of the Chief Medical Officer reported their findings yesterday in Current Medical Research and Opinion, a peer-reviewed journal.
22nd Jun 2022 - CIDRAP

Nearly 1 in 5 adults who had COVID have lingering symptoms - U.S. study

Nearly 1 in 5 American adults who reported having COVID-19 in the past are still having symptoms of long COVID, according to survey data collected in the first two weeks of June, U.S. health officials said on Wednesday. Overall, 1 in 13 adults in the United States have long COVID symptoms lasting for three months or more after first contracting the disease, and which they did not have before the infection, the data showed.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Jun 2022

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COVID-19: Brits to have first access to vaccines and treatments when new science super-centre opens

US pharmaceutical firm Moderna is to establish a global clinical trials base in the UK, which it says will endorse the country as a science superpower - and future-proof it against emerging health threats.
22nd Jun 2022 - Sky News

RMI's COVID-19 vaccine partnership with Acacium proves a success

The joint aim of the companies was to provide vaccines to vulnerable communities Remote Medical International (RMI) – which specialises in protecting the health of workers in diverse areas across the world – partnered with healthcare solutions company Acacium Group to provide vaccinations in areas of notable need during 2021-22. Their joint aim was to deliver mobile vaccination and COVID-19 test processing units throughout the Midlands and South East of the UK during the pandemic. The companies delivered mobile-testing with a results turnaround time of less than three hours and, throughout the course of their deployment, processed in the excess of 200,000 tests
21st Jun 2022 - PharmaTimes

U.S. factories pop up to make medical gloves, spurred by pandemic

Rising from a muddy field on the outskirts of the small town of Fayette, Alabama is a bricks-and-mortar symbol of the global COVID pandemic: A new glove factory. When completed in 2024 the complex, owned by Japan’s SHOWA Glove Co will be able to produce about 3 billion medical-grade nitrile gloves a year from its dozen massive new, five-stories-tall, automated assembly lines. That may seem like a lot but is only a small slice of the over 100 billion consumed in the United States annually.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Twitter Accounts Hyped Company Seeking Covid Vaccine Trials

A network of Twitter accounts pushed messages to boost the share price of a biotech company as it sought approval to run a clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, according to research provided to Bloomberg News. The tweets promoted stock for Ocugen Inc., which is based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, at rates well above market value, according to research by Alethea Group, a startup that tracks disinformation. The company’s share price nearly doubled in a little more than a week. The findings suggest a coordinated social media effort to sway interest in an otherwise little known medical technology company, according to Lisa Kaplan, Alethea Group’s founder and chief executive officer.
21st Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Jun 2022

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Canada's latest travel restrictions as Covid-19 vaccine mandate lifted for domestic and outbound travel

Passengers boarding planes or trains in Canada will no longer be required to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus from June 20. The government in Ottawa has lifted the vaccine mandate for domestic and outbound travel as infection rates continue to fall. Rules about inbound travel remain unchanged and mean that non-Canadians must be vaccinated to enter freely. Those who are unvaccinated are required to take tests before and after arrival as well as self-isolate for two weeks. Face masks remain compulsory for all travellers, unless exempt, including in certain indoor public settings. Those travelling by air are expected to get an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) to enter the country.
20th Jun 2022 - Daily Record

Saudi lifts COVID-19 travel restrictions to Turkey, India, Ethiopia and Vietnam

Saudi Arabia lifted coronavirus travel restrictions on Monday on its citizens travelling to Turkey, India, Ethiopia and Vietnam, state news agency SPA reported. Earlier this month, the kingdom lifted measures imposed to prevent the spread of the virus, including a requirement to wears face masks indoors.
20th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Jun 2022

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Is there a new Covid wave? How many cases there are in the UK and why there are concerns over new variant

Covid infections have shot up by 47 per cent this month, prompting fears the UK is embarking on its third wave of the year. Daily symptomatic infections have increased by 53,943, from 114,030 on 1 June to 167,973 on Tuesday, according to the latest figures from the ZOE Covid study app. The four-day weekend of Platinum Jubilee celebrations kicked off on 2 June, so much of the rise has been put down to street parties and other events held across the country to mark the occasion. But the post-Jubilee increase was expected to peak at about 150,000 cases a day before dropping a bit and stabilising. Instead, numbers have carried on going up, with substantial daily increases in recent days. It is entirely possible that cases could soon peak and begin to fall, but there are growing fears we are in the early stages of a new wave driven by the new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
16th Jun 2022 - iNews

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Jun 2022

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The inside story of Recovery: how the world’s largest COVID-19 trial transformed treatment – and what it could do for other diseases

Two years ago this week, the Recovery trial transformed the care of COVID patients with its dexamethasone announcement. Within four hours, the steroid was included in NHS treatment recommendations. Almost overnight, treatment of COVID patients around the world changed completely. It has been estimated that dexamethasone may have saved a million lives in the first nine months following the announcement. Recovery, jointly led by Oxford Population Health and the Nuffield Department of Medicine, is a groundbreaking scientific machine which, from the outset, moved at unprecedented speed. Within 15 days, more than 1,000 participants around the UK had joined the trial; five weeks later, that number had risen to 10,000. In the first 100 days alone, the trial produced three groundbreaking results that would completely reshape COVID care.
15th Jun 2022 - The Conversation

Hong Kong police chief defends enforcement of Covid-19 rules

The head of the Hong Kong Police Force has defended officers’ enforcement of Covid-19 rules while attending a district council meeting on Tuesday. After the meeting, Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu told the press that the Force would reach “total mobilisation” for the 25 anniversary of the city’s handover to China, and that a new counter-terrorism reporting hotline had already received more than 1,000 calls. Siu attended the North District Council meeting to brief councillors on crime data in the district. He was also asked to explain the relationship between police enforcement actions and control of the disease and the effectiveness of anti-epidemic work in the North District, according to the meeting’s agenda.
15th Jun 2022 - Hong Kong Free Press

Long Covid Is Showing Up in the Employment Data

Given that you have to be unable to work for at least 12 months to qualify for Social Security disability and going on the program is a momentous step that effectively requires leaving the labor market, the still-new phenomenon that is Long Covid is probably not playing a big role (the Social Security Administration has said that only about 1% of recent claims mention Covid). Still, the turnaround in disability applications is at least not incompatible with a rise in long-term health problems related to the disease — and it turns out there are stronger signs of Long Covid in other employment-related data.
15th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Jun 2022

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South Africa Covid-19 Hospital Admissions Show Story of Inequality

The confluence between race and inequality in South Africa has been starkly illustrated through hospital admissions over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Black people living in the country were likely to be hospitalized at a younger age, less likely to have access to intensive care units and ventilators and had higher mortality from the disease than White residents, according to a study led by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Indian and mixed race South Africans, locally known as Colored, also fared worse. “Blacks, Indians and Coloreds were more likely to die,” Waasila Jassat, a researcher with the NICD and one of the authors of the study, said in an interview on Tuesday. The study shows “the interplay between race, age, sex and socio-economic status” and how different groups experienced Covid-19, she said.
14th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Canada to end COVID vaccine mandate for domestic travel -CBC News

The Canadian government on Tuesday will announce an end to COVID-19 vaccine mandates for domestic travel on planes and trains and outgoing international travel, CBC News reported on Monday, citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter. The government, which has faced criticism over ongoing pandemic restrictions, may bring back the vaccine mandate if a new variant of the virus is discovered, the report added.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Disney Resort to reopen Disneytown, hotel on June 16

Shanghai Disney Resort said on Tuesday it will reopen Disneytown and Shanghai Disneyland hotel on June 16 but the main Disneyland park will remain closed until further notice. Toy Story Hotel, one of its two resort hotels will also remain closed, the resort operator said in a statement. The Shanghai Disney Resort reopened some retail and park areas last week.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

China's '618' shopping festival to test COVID-hit shoppers' urge to splurge

China is set to get a picture of how the country's zero-COVID-19 policy and slowing economy have impacted shoppers' urge to splurge, as e-commerce platforms gear up to report takings from the mid-year "618" shopping festival this weekend. Held in the run-up to June 18, 618 is China's second-largest shopping event by sales after Nov. 11's Singles Day, with bargain-hunters holding off purchases in anticipation of discounts spanning a range of brands.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Congress examines fraud in pandemic aid for small businesses

The U.S. failed to take basic steps at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to prevent fraud in a federal aid program intended to help small businesses, depleting the funds and making people more vulnerable to identity theft, the chairman of a House panel examining the payouts said Tuesday. Democratic Rep. James Clyburn blamed the Trump administration for the problems in the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, overseen by the U.S. Small Business Administration, amid revelations that as much as 20% of the money — tens of billions of dollars — may have been awarded to fraudsters. Clyburn said the Biden administration has implemented measures to identify potential fraud and directed loan officers to address indications of fraud before approving loans, while Congress has invested in fraud prevention and accountability.
14th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Jun 2022

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Canada urged to support COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver

Advocates for vaccine equity are calling on the Canadian government to join the push for a patent waiver to help in the global fight against COVID-19, just as the World Trade Organization opens high-level talks on this and other issues.
13th Jun 2022 - CTV News

Coronavirus: More than 100 TfL workers died from Covid-19

More than 100 Transport for London (TfL) workers are known to have died from Covid-19, new figures show. Of those who died from the virus, 75 worked on London buses, while 23 worked on the Tube network. The majority were people belonging to ethnic minorities and only five were women, TfL said. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said TfL had "put in place a range of additional support for families and colleagues where there has been a bereavement". TfL said a permanent memorial would be completed later this year to "help pay tribute to the critical role transport workers played during the global pandemic".
13th Jun 2022 - BBC News

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th Jun 2022

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Covid Testing No Longer Need for Flying. Airlines May Not Be Ready

Airlines have been petitioning for months to ease a pandemic-era restriction on arrivals from abroad. Now that the White House has lifted mandatory Covid testing for inbound passengers, the industry may rue having its collective wish granted just ahead of the busiest time of year for travel. As of June 12, travelers by air will join those at land ports of entry in no longer needing to submit negative Covid test results. That rule has depressed traffic and delayed a recovery for long-haul international service, airline lobbyists and the U.S. Travel Association have told the Biden administration repeatedly. But no more mandatory tests may presage an upswell in demand the industry is ill-prepared to handle. The situation in Europe -- where mandatory testing was abandoned as early as January in the UK -- isn’t encouraging.
12th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID-19: How long-term smell loss can impact daily life

Recent studies show that 12-18 months after getting COVID-19, up to 46% of people are still experiencing a clinical reduction in their sense of smell. But what are the impacts of long-term smell loss on everyday life? Issues can include challenges with food safety, weight, relationships and mental health, according to a neuroscientist. Smell training can improve olfactory functions over time.
10th Jun 2022 - World Economic Forum

Preventing another Covid-19: Ugandan lab leads hunt for zoonotic diseases

On the shores of Lake Edward, near Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a renovated building houses a research laboratory capable of handling serious diseases such as anthrax. This building is the newest front in the hunt for zoonotic diseases and is at the forefront of a growing research movement that focuses on east Africa and other infection hotspots. The recent emergence of Covid-19 and monkeypox, both of which jumped from animals to humans, have been a reminder of the power that such diseases have to reshape our world, and the importance of early identification and genomic sequencing to help stop their spread.
10th Jun 2022 - Financial Times

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 10th Jun 2022

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China Markets Spring Back Into Action as Covid Lockdowns Ease

Financial markets across China are buzzing with activity as easing Covid lockdowns boost trading. Yuan-trading volumes in the onshore market bounced off two-year lows while stock turnover topped the key 1 trillion yuan ($149 billion) mark for two straight sessions this week. That’s after Shanghai officially reopened following a two-month lockdown and Beijing further loosened Covid curbs, spurring bets of an economic rebound and a return of foreign inflows into the country. “It appears that the re-pricing of China macro growth risk due to the lockdowns has run its course,” Ken Cheung, strategist at Mizuho Bank Ltd. said. A slew of pro-growth measures and the reopening in Shanghai and Beijing have helped stabilize expectations for China’s economy, he said.
10th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Explainer: Can we still avoid Covid-19 and is there any point trying?

With new Covid-19 case numbers down, many may be asking if there's any point keeping up precautions to avoid the virus, particularly those who haven't caught it yet. Is it still possible to protect ourselves from the illness? Surely we're all going to get it at some stage, and the 'milder' Omicron variants make it less of a threat to our health, so what's the big deal? Here's what you need to know. We are now more than two years into a pandemic that turned many people's lives upside-down.
9th Jun 2022 - RNZ

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 9th Jun 2022

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Vietnam’s health minister arrested over COVID test gouging

Vietnam’s health minister and the mayor of the capital Hanoi have been arrested as part of an expanding investigation into massive price gouging of COVID-19 tests, state media reported. Nguyen Thanh Long was dismissed from his ministry post and Chu Ngoc Anh, who previously was the science minister, was fired as Hanoi mayor, Tuoi Tre online news outlet reported Tuesday. They are being investigated for abuse of power, according to the Ministry of Public Security, and have been expelled from the ruling Communist Party. An investigation concluded earlier that mismanagement in the science and health ministries had allowed Viet A Technology Corporation to inflate prices for test kits supplied to hospitals and health centers in Vietnam.
8th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Jun 2022

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US has thrown out more than 82m Covid vaccine doses

The United States has thrown out 82.1m Covid vaccine doses from December 2020 to the middle of last month, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. That number of wasted vaccines accounts for more than 11 per cent of the doses distributed by the federal government during the pandemic, reports NBC News. Retail pharmacy chains CVS and Walmart were responsible for more than a quarter of the discarded doses in the US during the time period. This is a reflection of the volume of doses each company handled, said the report. The wasted vaccines were caused by a variety of factors, including doses that expired at pharmacies before they could be used, power cuts, broken freezer storage and open vials being thrown out at the end of business days unused. CVS wasted nearly 11.8m doses, or about 13 per cent of the 89.9m it received.
7th Jun 2022 - The Independent

Reasons behind COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and efficient strategies to address it

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Olivier Sibomana, an enthusiastic and highly committed medical student at University of Rwanda (UR), college of medicine and health sciences, department of general medicine and surgery. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.
7th Jun 2022 - The European Sting

China offers Covid vaccine insurance to win over jab sceptics

China has devised a new incentive to boost elderly vaccinations to levels that could finally allow the country to relax its zero-Covid strategy and revive the economy: insurance packages for people worried about jab-related side effects. Dozens of cities across the country have begun offering people aged 60 and older free insurance that pays out up to Rmb500,000 ($75,000) if they fall ill — or worse — because of Covid-19 vaccines. The packages also promise payouts to families if it can be proven that a loved one’s death was related to receiving a jab. In Beijing alone, about 60,000 seniors have signed up for the coverage since April.
7th Jun 2022 - Financial Times

Universal Beijing Resort to reopen on June 15 as COVID curbs ease

The Universal Beijing Resort said on Tuesday it will reopen on June 15 after being closed more than a month to comply with China's COVID-19 prevention measures, but it will cap the number of visitors at no more than 75% of capacity. The resort, which includes a retail district, two hotels and the Universal Studios theme park, was shut on May 1. After it reopens, all visitors must show a negative PCR test taken within the past 72 hours and wear masks at all times, in line with city-wide measures. The resort will also test its employees daily and carry out regular disinfection, it added.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.S. Treasury approves first state projects from $10 bln COVID broadband fund

The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday announced the first state awards from a $10 billion COVID-19 aid program aimed at boosting broadband internet access in underserved communities, funding $583 million worth of projects in Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana and New Hampshire. The Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, a relatively unheralded portion of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, provides money for broadband infrastructure and other projects that enable work, education and healthcare monitoring.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Jun 2022

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UK shoppers cut spending by most since COVID lockdown in 2021

British shoppers facing a surge in inflation cut their spending in May by the most since the country was in a coronavirus lockdown in early 2021, according to a survey published on Tuesday. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said total retail spending was 1.1% lower than a year earlier, the biggest fall since January last year and representing an acceleration from April's 0.3% decline.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Turkey removes all Covid-related restrictions for Indian travellers

Turkey has relaxed all the conditions for travellers entering the country and is expecting to welcome the highest-ever number of Indian tourists this year, Turkiye Tourism Board said on Monday. Earlier, Indian travellers were required to submit either a vaccination certificate or an RT-PCR test report to visit Turkey, according to a statement. Now, Indian travellers no longer have to show proof of vaccination against coronavirus or proof of recovery from the disease or a negative RT-PCR test result, it added. With both Indigo and Turkish Airlines resuming direct international flights to Turkiye, the country is expecting to welcome the highest-ever number of Indian tourists this year, it said.
6th Jun 2022 - The Financial Express on MSN.com

U.S. aims to ramp up international tourism hit hard by COVID

The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday will unveil a new strategy aimed at boosting international tourism hit hard by COVID-19 and government travel restrictions by streamlining the entry process and promoting more diverse destinations. The "National Travel and Tourism Strategy" sets a goal of 90 million international visitors by 2027 who will spend an estimated $279 billion annually, topping pre-pandemic levels, the department told Reuters.
6th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 6th Jun 2022

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Shanghai Residents Revel in Outdoor Walks, Haircuts and More of the Mundane

Residents gathered at the gates of some housing compounds in Shanghai late Tuesday to stage a countdown to midnight, when the city’s government lifted anti-Covid-19 restrictions that had kept them holed up inside their apartments—in many cases for more than two months. Shortly after the deadline passed, a convoy of cars emerged from the gates of one complex, sounding their horns and with national flags draped over their hoods, videos circulating on social media showed. Passengers could be seen standing with their heads out of sunroofs. Firecrackers sparkled in the night sky as a festive mood entered the city after weeks of chaos, frustration and mounting despair. From midnight, the Shanghai authorities said most of the city’s 25 million residents were free to leave their apartments and residential compounds to go to work, with all businesses cleared to resume normal operations. Officials are eager to get China’s most economically important city running again.
2nd Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Jun 2022

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Legal challenges to Queensland's COVID vaccine mandate get underway

The first of several civil cases, brought on by dozens of Queensland frontline workers who are challenging their COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including police officers and paramedics, begins in Brisbane.
31st May 2022 - ABC.Net.au

Hong Kong to distribute 240,000 RAT kits following sewage COVID-19 detection

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said Tuesday that it will distribute about 240,000 sets of COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RAT) kits to people in some areas of the city as part of a follow-up on recent detection of the COVID-19 virus in sewage samples. The test kits will be distributed to residents, cleaning workers, and property management staff working in the areas with positive sewage testing results showing relatively high viral loads, in order to help identify infected persons, it said. The HKSAR government also urged RAT kit users to report any positive results for COVID-19 via the government's online platform.
31st May 2022 - English News.cn

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 31st May 2022

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North Korea Calls Covid Vaccines "Immortal Potion Of Love" From Kim Jong Un: Report

As North Korea finally began its COVID-19 vaccination programme, the nation's supreme leader Kim Jong Un declared that the coronavirus jabs are an “immortal potion of love” gifted by him. According to Daily Star, the North Korean leader made the bizarre claims through loudspeakers playing through vehicles at vaccination sites. Responding to its recent Covid outbreak, North Korea started rolling out the vaccines. However, so far, the Covid jabs are only reserved for soldiers working on national construction projects.
30th May 2022 - NDTV

Tasmanian MP backs petition questioning COVID-19 masks and vaccinations

A Tasmanian government MP has come under fire for making a "concerning" decision to sponsor a petition to State Parliament containing vaccine-related misinformation. Liberal backbencher John Tucker has sponsored a petition to State Parliament that claims vaccine and mask mandates imposed by the government he is a member of "have not stopped the spread or mitigated the risks of contracting COVID-19 in Tasmania". It also argues that, "there is increasing public concern that vaccinations and masking are unsafe," and calls on the Tasmanian government to lift all vaccination mandates and end mask requirements in schools, medical clinics and transport.
30th May 2022 - ABC News

Queensland's frontline workers begin series of legal challenges to COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The first of several civil cases, brought on by dozens of Queensland frontline workers who are challenging their COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including police officers and paramedics, has begun in Brisbane. More than 70 Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) staff who have refused to comply with their employer's directives, are testing the legality of the policies in the Supreme Court, arguing they are unjust or an improper exercise of power. Some of the applicants, made up of three groups, have also claimed that similar directions made by the state's Chief Health Officer last year breached human rights laws, but that matter will be heard at a later date alongside other similar legal challenges.
30th May 2022 - ABC News

Why some Hongkongers are still shunning Covid-19 vaccines

May 31 vaccine pass deadline means only those with three jabs or suitable exemption will be allowed entry to most venues citywide. Firm belief in personal freedoms, fear of side effects remain key hurdles for inoculation drive.
30th May 2022 - South China Morning Post

Increase in depression and anxiety rates in the U.K. identified during COVID-19 lockdowns

Though many studies have been conducted over the last two years, both during and after coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) restrictions were implemented, the long-term effects of these events remain unclear. A new study published on the preprint server medRxiv* discusses changes in the prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and their association with individual and environmental factors.
30th May 2022 - News-Medical.Net

Wary of foreign 'bad manners', Japan cautiously eases borders to aid tourism

Japan's easing of a two-year ban on foreign tourists seeks to balance the enormous economic importance of tourism with concerns that travellers would trigger a COVID outbreak, insiders say. Under the decision, Japan will allow in a limited number of foreign tourists on package tours starting June 10. Last week a few "test tours", mainly of overseas travel agents, started to arrive. Relaxing some of the world's strictest pandemic border measures required months of pressure from travel and tourism executives, three insiders told Reuters, describing both the government's fears of public backlash if infections spiked and the industry's concerns of an economic wipeout.
30th May 2022 - Reuters

India to provide scholarships, counselling to those orphaned by COVID-19

India's federal government will provide educational scholarships, mental health counselling and health insurance to children who have been orphaned by the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday. "For those who have lost a loved one to coronavirus, the change it has brought to their lives is so difficult," Modi said during an online event as he announced government benefits for minor children who have lost both parents to COVID-19.
30th May 2022 - Reuters

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The Best and Worst Places to Be in a World Divided Over Covid

Most of the world is now living alongside Covid-19, with the omicron variant penetrating parts of the globe that avoided the worst of the early pandemic, triggering record waves in places like New Zealand and Taiwan. In Europe and North America, while life has largely normalized, there’s still a constant stream of Covid fatalities—especially in the US and UK. The ability to open up with low levels of death is why Norway retains the No. 1 position in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking for a third month. A 91% vaccination rate in adults has helped the Nordic country keep its fatality rate low, despite a consistently circulating virus. Ireland comes in second in May, while Denmark overtakes the United Arab Emirates for third as it emerges from an omicron-fueled wave.
27th May 2022 - Bloomberg

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Spain's Covid booster jab entry requirement for all holidaymakers explained

Brits holidaying in Spain could need Covid boosters to enter the sunny travel hotspot this summer. Jabbed travellers can bypass testing with the right proof of vaccination on hand. It comes as the country opened its doors to non-vaccinated travellers to the first time ever since the pandemic began. The changing rules is indicative of the times as countries relax some restrictions to boost travel while sometimes maintaining key rules on jabs. For example, tourists entering the UK don't need a vaccine certificate, but British citizens have been warned to meet Spanish authorities' validity period requirements. The Foreign Office has advised Brits exactly when they'll need a booster to enter Spain.
26th May 2022 - Daily Record

Latino and Indigenous Mexican farm-working communities face high risk of COVID-19

Although everyone has been affected by COVID-19 and the pandemic it spawned, not all populations have been affected equally. In the United States, for example, COVID-19 cases and death rates have been disproportionately high in Latino and Indigenous populations. To understand how determinants of health affect perceptions of the coronavirus, its spread, and decision making around COVID-19 testing and vaccination in vulnerable populations, a team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside, conducted a study in the Eastern Coachella Valley region of inland Southern California, home to Latino and Indigenous Mexican farm-working communities. Led by Ann Cheney, an associate professor of social medicine, population, and public health in the School of Medicine, the team reports in BMC Public Health that these immigrant populations are vulnerable to inequalities that increase their risk of COVID-19 exposure, morbidity, and mortality.
26th May 2022 - News-Medical.Net

COVID-19 boosters and building trust among UK minority ethnic communities

Ethnic disparities in COVID-19 persist, with increased rates of infection, severe disease, and death among people from minority ethnic groups.1, 2, 3, 4, 5 COVID-19 vaccination rates also remain lowest in these communities compared with white people in the UK. Among people older than 18 years, the proportion who have had three COVID-19 vaccinations in England in March, 2022, was lowest among Black Caribbean (38%), Black African (45%), and Pakistani (45%) ethnic groups.1 These disparities are likely to be attributed to the intersection of key social determinants, including socioeconomic factors such as deprivation, overcrowding, and working patterns and conditions, alongside discrimination and structural violence in the health-care system and society.
26th May 2022 - The Lancet

COVID-19: 55% of early pandemic survivors still symptomatic 2 years on

The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019Trusted Source. It has now been over two years since the beginning of the outbreak connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan. Since then, many COVID-19 survivors have reported lingering health issues or symptoms that suddenly appear months and even a year after the initial infection. It is important to note that these patients experienced COVID-19 before vaccines were developed against SARS-CoV-2. A recent study looked into the current conditions of COVID-19 patients from Wuhan two years later.
26th May 2022 - Medical News Today

South Africa COVID vaccine hesitancy due to side-effect fears- survey

Fears over the possible side effects and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines have been the main drivers of hesitancy among thousands of South Africans, a government-backed online survey showed on Thursday.
26th May 2022 - Moneyweb.co.za

Analysis: Britain's shrunken workforce hampers COVID recovery

Britain's economy regained its pre-COVID size late last year, but in one crucial way it has not recovered: there are 400,000 fewer workers than at the start of the pandemic. This stands in contrast to most other big, rich economies where the labour force has recovered more, and adds to the Bank of England's inflation worries after surging energy prices and other bottlenecks pushed it to a 40-year high. The central bank fears a tight labour market will limit the economy's growth potential and put fresh upward pressure on wages, making it harder to bring inflation back to its target.
26th May 2022 - Reuters

Unwanted, Teen Pregnancies Rose During Covid Pandemic

All day long, kids stream in and out of the Tiffany-blue front door at Project Elimu, the premier ballet school in Kibera, a vibrant, low-income community in Nairobi, Kenya. But not all of the school’s visitors are dancers. Some, like 18-year-old Esther, are in acute distress, facing abuse at home or struggling with early pregnancy and parenthood. Esther is one data point in a wave of girls who became pregnant during the pandemic. According to the UNFPA, the United Nation’s sexual and reproductive healthy agency, some 1.4 million women and girls became pregnant unintentionally as a result of contraception interruptions in the first year of the pandemic alone.
26th May 2022 - Bloomberg

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NGOs urge Biden to push for changes to WTO's COVID waiver text

Oxfam America, Partners in Health and other civil society groups urged U.S. President Joe Biden to press for changes in a draft agreement on waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, underscoring divisions over the current text.In a letter sent to Biden on Monday, and viewed by Reuters, the groups said an "outcome document" reached after months of discussions between the main parties - the United States, the European Union, India and South Africa - fell short of his "righteous goal" of removing IP barriers for COVID vaccines.
25th May 2022 - Reuters

Hemmed in by COVID curbs, Beijingers seek respite in urban outdoors

On a hot, sunny day, children and adults splashed in the cool run-off of the Yongding River in a park on the western outskirts of Beijing, a city under near-lockdown in China's head-on battle with COVID-19. While gatherings are discouraged and many parks in the sprawling city of 22 million are shut, Beijingers - like others across China with limited travel options - have taken up outdoor pursuits such as camping and picnicking after more than two years of strict and often claustrophobic pandemic curbs.
26th May 2022 - Reuters

Manhattan return-to-office plans face persistent headwinds over COVID, safety

Efforts by financial firms and others to bring workers back to Manhattan offices more than two years after the start of the coronavirus pandemic face persistent headwinds, consultants said, with commuters still worrying about COVID-19 as well as safety. New York has lagged others major markets in the percentage of employees regularly working in the office, in part because of high usage rates of public transportation and COVID concerns, said David Lewis, chief executive of HR consultant firm OperationsInc, which works with several firms in the financial sector.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

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Are UK coronavirus cases actually going down or are they just harder to count?

For almost two years we’ve been glued to a set of numbers: the grim trio of cases, hospitalisations and deaths that defined coronavirus in the UK. The daily figures led news reports for more than a year: people watched in horror as the height of the Omicron wave brought the highest ever daily caseload on Tuesday 4 January 2022 when 275,618 people tested positive. And they saw how many people died: a number that peaked on Tuesday 19 January 2021, when 1,366 people died, making it the the worst day of the pandemic*. Since March 2022 case numbers from the daily government dashboard have tumbled. A fall that has coincided with the government’s Living with Covid plan: as restrictions fell away in England, so did cases. The government ended restrictions including the legal requirement to self-isolate on 24 February and cut the provision of free tests on 1 April.
24th May 2022 - The Guardian

Manhattan return-to-office plans face persistent headwinds over COVID, safety

Efforts by financial firms and others to bring workers back to Manhattan offices more than two years after the start of the coronavirus pandemic face persistent headwinds, consultants said, with commuters still worrying about COVID-19 as well as safety. New York has lagged others major markets in the percentage of employees regularly working in the office, in part because of high usage rates of public transportation and COVID concerns, said David Lewis, chief executive of HR consultant firm OperationsInc, which works with several firms in the financial sector.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

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Shanghai reopens some public transport, still on high COVID alert

Shanghai reopened a small part of the world's longest subway system on Sunday after some lines had been closed for almost two months, as the city paves the way for a more complete lifting of its painful COVID-19 lockdown next week. With most residents not allowed to leave their homes and restrictions tightening in parts of China's most populous city, commuters early on Sunday needed strong reasons to travel.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

Tesla plans to ramp up to pre-lockdown output in Shanghai by Tuesday

Tesla Inc plans to restore production at its Shanghai plant to the level at which it had operated before the city's COVID-19 lockdown by Tuesday, a day later than its most recent recovery plan, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. Tesla will more than double its daily output to 2,600 electric vehicles at its Shanghai plant from Tuesday, according to the memo detailing the plan. That compares to around 1,000 EVs produced on Monday, according to the memo, and would bring Tesla's weekly output to nearly 16,000 units, the memo showed.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

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Coronavirus: Shanghai faces exodus of talent as lockdown dashes workers hopes for good jobs and a better life

Shanghai is facing an exodus of talent and labour as thousands of people leave the pandemic-hit city which has been in total lockdown since April 1, knocked by worries that local authorities will backtrack from plans to switch to normal virus control measures in June after achieving a societal zero-Covid goal. At the city's Hongqiao railway station, passengers have to queue up for two hours before they can even access the terminal. Those who plan on leaving need to show train tickets, approval letters from sub-district authorities and negative nucleic reports within 48 hours of their journey, before gaining permission to enter the terminal. A rapid antigen test is also required at the security checkpoints.
21st May 2022 - South China Morning Post on MSN.com

Taiwan export orders fall for first time in 2 years, hurt by China lockdowns, global weakness

Taiwan's export orders -- a bellwether for global technology demand -- fell for the first time in 25 months in April, taking a larger-than-expected hit from COVID lockdowns in China and broader global supply chain disruptions. Export orders unexpectedly fell 5.5% from a year earlier to $51.9 billion last month, data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs showed on Friday. The decline was the first in more than two years, since the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping the world in 2020, and up-ended analysts' forecasts for 8.3% growth.
20th May 2022 - Reuters

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African J&J COVID vaccine orders mark a 'financial failure'

Late last year, Johnson & Johnson’s COVID production partner Aspen Pharmacare touted the game-changing potential of its “monumental” licensing deal to make and sell J&J’s single-dose shot in Africa. Five months later, and two months after Aspen started production, the effort has encountered a problem currently familiar to all pandemic vaccine manufacturers. Owing to a lack of demand—even in Africa where just 15.9% of the continent’s 1.2 billion population has completed a coronavirus vaccination course—Aspen hasn’t received a single order for its branded version of the J&J shot, Bloomberg reports. “There were a lot of calls both from the West and from Africa that the best way to try and solve the problem was to establish our own local vaccine production capacity,” Stavros Nicolaou, Aspen’s head of strategic trade, told the news outlet. The subsequent dearth of business “sends an incredibly bad message,” he added.
19th May 2022 - FiercePharma

Taiwan firms resuming production in China as COVID curbs ease -minister

Roughly half of Taiwanese companies that had previously suspended work in China due to COVID-19 control measures have resumed production as curbs ease, the island's economy minister said on Thursday. Shanghai and neighbouring Kunshan, a hub for Taiwanese electronics makers including Apple supplier Quanta Computer, last month imposed stringent lockdowns to control the country's biggest COVID outbreak.
19th May 2022 - Reuters

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Inside the US communities where many are still unvaccinated

Holmes County in northeastern Ohio is a typical Midwestern community in the United States. Large red barns dot the rolling landscape. Trucks carrying freshly cut lumber boom through village streets. Woods and lakes dominate the landscape between villages named Berlin, Strasburg and Dresden. But in many ways, this is a place far from typical: At a time when approximately 77 percent of the wider United States population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, only about 19 percent of Holmes County residents have – one of the lowest county-level rates in the country. Approximately half of Holmes County’s 50,000 residents are members of the Amish community, a traditional Christian group that largely eschews modern technology and farms land in rural areas mainly in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
19th May 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Other People Are Working Through Covid. Do You Have To?

As the disease and corporate sick policies evolve, a number of factors have made it less clear-cut when workers can, or should, take a break to recover. Employers such as Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. have recently cut back the expanded sick leaves they introduced in the early days of the pandemic. The Omicron variant’s often milder symptoms are also prompting many employees with remote-work options to simply power through their illness from home. As cases rise in places with high vaccination rates, many say they feel the same pressure to minimize sick days as they did in prepandemic times. A survey of 3,600 hourly workers by The Shift Project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School this spring found that two-thirds of those who reported getting sick with Covid-19 or otherwise worked through their illness. People cited financial responsibilities as the top reason, followed by being afraid they would get in trouble for calling in sick and not being able to get their shifts covered.
19th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Shanghai lets financial firms resume work as COVID curb ease - sources

Shanghai authorities have granted approval to 864 of the city's financial institutions to resume work, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, as it gradually eases a city-wide lockdown that began seven weeks ago. The move is part of the financial hub's plan to reopen broadly and allow normal life to resume after the lockdown was enacted to curb China's worst outbreak since the coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan in late 2019 halted most economic activity.
18th May 2022 - Reuters

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Covid support schemes left ‘open goal’ to fraudsters, says watchdog

The business department’s handling of Covid support schemes left an “open goal” to fraudsters and embezzlers that has added “billions to taxpayer woes”, parliament’s spending watchdog has found. In its review of the annual report of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said it recognised that the government offered crucial support to businesses at the height of the pandemic. However, it said efforts to identify fraud and error had come too late, given that by the time they are confirmed the money will have been spent and “trails will have long ago gone cold”. “BEIS says it saw this risk coming but it’s really not clear where government was looking when it set up its initial Covid response,” said the PAC’s chair, the Labour MP Dame Meg Hillier.
18th May 2022 - The Guardian

CDC: Africa tourism favorite now at 'high' risk for Covid-19

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed a popular African destination in its "high" Covid-19 risk category for travelers.South Africa -- renowned for its stunning vistas, wildlife, wineries and culture -- is now at Level 3. In total, the CDC moved up four destinations to the "high" risk column on Monday:
17th May 2022 - CNN

Austria lifts COVID-19 entry requirements – EURACTIV.com

Entering Austria no longer requires proof of vaccination, recovery passes, or testing after all COVID-19-related entry requirements were dropped from Monday. Provided there is no extension or change, these measures, presented by the health ministry Friday evening (13 May), should remain lifted until the end of September. According to the ministry, the current epidemiological situation justified lifting the entry regulations.
17th May 2022 - Euractiv

Shanghai residents leverage Excel skills, management savvy to navigate lockdown

China's worst COVID-19 outbreak has frayed nerves and stirred resentment among many residents of Shanghai but some have thrived in the face of adversity, stepping up with bright ideas and commitment to help their communities through the crisis. Not surprisingly, many such people have used the skills they developed in their jobs to help others navigate the frightening new world of forced quarantine and lockdowns that no one dreamed of before COVID.
17th May 2022 - Reuters

Students protest, discontent grows over China’s COVID policy

Administrators at an elite Beijing university have backed down from plans to further tighten pandemic restrictions on students as part of China’s “zero-COVID” strategy after a weekend protest at the school, according to students Tuesday. Graduate students at Peking University staged the rare, but peaceful protest Sunday over the school’s decision to erect a sheet-metal wall to keep them further sequestered on campus, while allowing faculty to come and go freely. Discontent had already been simmering over regulations prohibiting them from ordering in food or having visitors, and daily COVID-19 testing.
17th May 2022 - Associated Press

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Children less active after Covid-19 restrictions eased, study finds

Activity levels among children fell below national guidelines after Covid-19 restrictions eased, a study finds. A university of Bristol study found by the end of 2021, less than a third were meeting the recommended guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity daily. The findings showed children in England aged between 10 and 11 were doing eight minutes less activity than before 2021. Researchers said it "highlights a greater need" to work with families, and schools to get children active.
16th May 2022 - BBC News

Long Covid Symptoms Often Include Crushing Fatigue. Here’s How to Cope.

New studies offer clues about who may be more susceptible to long Covid, a term for lingering Covid-19 symptoms. WSJ breaks down the science of long Covid and the state of treatment
16th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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COVID-19: Around 60,000 NHS workers living with PTS after battling the pandemic

An estimated 60,000 NHS workers are believed to be living with post-traumatic stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research. NHS Charities Together also found nine in 10 workers (90%) say it will take them years to recover. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters (73%) have expressed concerns about their colleagues leaving the workforce due to poor mental health. Neal Ashurst, an operating department practitioner, was redeployed during the pandemic, switching from anaesthetics to a critical care unit.
13th May 2022 - Sky News

'Not free from COVID': Thousands pray at Portuguese shrine despite fears of new wave

Last year, only 7,500 were allowed inside the sanctuary and people had to stand in circles to maintain social distancing. For many, it was a special moment to see the sanctuary finally opening doors to a big crowd after the vast majority of COVID-19 rules were lifted last month. But, as daily infections rise again, Teresa Maria decided to keep her mask on. "I always try to take precautions," she said as she waited for the farewell procession, one of the highlights of the event, to begin. "We are not free from it because cases are going up."
13th May 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Lays Out Covid-19 Reopening Plan as China Cancels 2023 Soccer Tournament

Shanghai officials outlined plans for a phased reopening of shopping malls, supermarkets and other businesses, even as many residents in China’s financial hub remained confined to their locked-down homes. Chen Tong, Shanghai’s deputy mayor, said Sunday that the city would begin allowing businesses to open on a limited basis starting Monday as daily Covid-19 infection cases continue to decline nearly two months into a hard lockdown of the city of 25 million people. Mr. Chen characterized the city’s approach to the pandemic as entering a new transition phase, “from emergency response to normalized prevention and control.” On Sunday, Shanghai health authorities reported roughly 1,200 new Covid cases for the previous day, from a high of more than 20,000 last month. Daily infection counts have been below 5,000 for nearly two weeks.
13th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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COVID-19: Around 60,000 NHS workers living with PTSD after battling the pandemic

An estimated 60,000 NHS workers are believed to be living with post-traumatic stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research. NHS Charities Together also found nine in 10 workers (90%) say it will take them years to recover. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters (73%) have expressed concerns about their colleagues leaving the workforce due to poor mental health. Neal Ashurst, an operating department practitioner, was redeployed during the pandemic, switching from anaesthetics to a critical care unit. He told Sky News he had felt "incredibly apprehensive" initially as it meant significant changes from his usual role which he found "very daunting"
13th May 2022 - Sky News

UK police recommend more than 100 fines for Downing Street lockdown breaches

British police said on Thursday they had now made more than 100 referrals for fines as part of their investigation into lockdown rule-breaking at gatherings held in Downing Street during the COVID-19 pandemic. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised for receiving a fine in April for breaking lockdown rules by attending a gathering in his office to celebrate his birthday, but has refused to resign over it.
12th May 2022 - Reuters UK

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New Zealand to Fully Reopen Its Border At The End of July

New Zealand will fully reopen its border two months early, allowing the arrival of tourists, students and migrants from non visa-waiver countries like China and India. The border will be accessible to all from 11:59 p.m. on July 31, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday. Previously, the government had said the final re-opening step would occur in October, though it signaled the date would likely be brought forward. The maritime border will also open for cruise ships on July 31. New Zealand has been progressively allowing foreign visitors to return this year, hoping to revive a decimated tourist industry and add workers to a labor market battling with skills shortages. Visitors from visa-waiver countries such as the US, UK, Canada and Germany were able to enter from May 2, while Australians could arrive from April 13.
11th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Johns Hopkins students ask for online exams after covid spike

A late-semester spike in coronavirus cases at Johns Hopkins University, spurred by recent social events, has some students pleading for the option to take exams online. After many months of strict health protocols at Hopkins, the campus in Baltimore has seen more than 500 cases in the past week and, according to its online dashboard, had filled all available isolation housing. The spike shocked some students because of the school’s international reputation in public health and its early and enduring warnings about the dangers of the pandemic.
11th May 2022 - The Washington Post

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For widows in Africa, COVID-19 stole husbands, homes, future

Across Africa, widowhood has long befallen great numbers of women — particularly in the continent's least developed countries where medical facilities are scarce. Many widows are young, having married men decades older. And in some countries, men frequently have more than one wife, leaving several widows behind when they die. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has created an even larger population of widows on the continent, with African men far more likely to die of the virus than women, and it has exacerbated the issues they face. Women say the pandemic has taken more than their husbands: In their widowhood, it’s cost them their extended families, their homes and their futures.
10th May 2022 - ABC News

Toyota to slash production plan, suspend some domestic operation due to COVID lockdown in China

Toyota said on Tuesday it would suspend operations on 14 lines at eight domestic factories for up to six days in May due to the COVID lockdown in China. The duration will be between May 16 and May 21, the company said, expanding the number of lines and factories affected by partial suspension to a total of 20 and 12, respectively. The partial suspension would affect output of about 30,000 vehicles.
10th May 2022 - Reuters

Tesla stutters under tighter Shanghai lockdown; Beijing keeps hunting COVID

Tesla operated its Shanghai plant well below capacity on Tuesday, showing the problems factories face trying to ramp up output under a tightening COVID-19 lockdown, while China's capital kept up its fight with a small but stubborn outbreak. Many of the hundreds of companies reopening factories in Shanghai in recent weeks have faced challenges getting production lines back up to speed while keeping workers on-site in a "closed loop" system.
10th May 2022 - Reuters

Cancun, Tulum Struggle as Covid Sparks Mexico Travel Boom

It’s 2 p.m. in the Mexican resort town of Tulum, and the beach club at the Ikal Hotel is heating up for its “ecstatic dance” session. Inside a thatch-roofed pavilion, a sweaty crowd bops to a “folktronica” track spun by a DJ whose next stop is Berlin. Down a set of wide stone steps, fit thirtysomethings smack volleyballs on a beach that smells of seaweed and sunscreen. A “treehouse” room will set you back $800 a night, and a bottle of Crémant de Bourgogne sparkling wine runs $110.
10th May 2022 - Bloomberg

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Covid: Learning to live with the virus in the UK

The latest survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a continued fall in Covid 19 infections from a recent peak in April in the UK. The arrival of summer means more people will congregate outdoors at lower risk to themselves. But the return of people from holidays to work and study after summer holidays, and the onset of cooler autumnal weather could create conditions for another uptick in infections. More immediately, new strains of the Omicron variant could cause problems. The BA.2 version has proved more transmissible than BA.1.
9th May 2022 - BBC News

Once a zero-Covid poster child, Taiwan learns to live with the virus

Once a poster child for the success of zero-Covid, Taiwan is now dealing with an “Omicron tsunami”. In response – and in stark contrast to regional neighbours – health authorities have decided zero-Covid is no match for the new variant and have flipped the switch to “living with the virus”. “It is the right decision, and it’s also the decision we had to make,” says Dr Chen Chien-jen, Taiwan’s former vice-president and professor of epidemiology. Taiwan closed itself off in early 2020, and employed a regime of stringent contact tracing, social restrictions and personal hygiene measures which it kept even as vaccines and antivirals were developed. It defeated an outbreak of the Alpha strain and another of Delta in 2021. But after the highly virulent Omicron began affecting countries in November and December, Chen says he and other scholars advised the government to start shifting towards living with the virus.
9th May 2022 - The Guardian

Laos reopens to tourists and other visitors from abroad

The landlocked Southeast Asian nation of Laos reopened to tourists and other visitors on Monday, more than two years after it imposed tight restrictions to fight the coronavirus. Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, head of the government’s agency for controlling COVID-19, announced on Saturday the reopening date, the last in a three-phase plan, state news agency KPL reported. She said vaccination certificates or virus tests will still be required for Lao citizens and foreigners entering the country.
9th May 2022 - Associated Press

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Coronavirus Forces Cancellations in Jazz Fest's 2nd Weekend

Willie Nelson is cancelling an upcoming performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival and postponing other shows after a positive case of the coronavirus in his band. The 89-year-old musician posted on his band's website on Friday that “due to a positive Covid case in the Willie Nelson Family Band” two upcoming shows scheduled to happen May 6 and May 7 would be postponed and that Nelson's Sunday performance at Jazz Fest would be cancelled. Nelson was slated to close the Gentilly Stage — the same stage where his son Lukas Nelson is performing earlier in the day with his band the Promise of the Real. No replacement for the elder Nelson has yet been announced.
7th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Jon Batiste 'So Disappointed' to Cancel Shows After Positive Covid Test

Jon Batiste said he was "so disappointed" as he cancelled several upcoming shows after testing positive for Covid-19. The Grammy-winning artist said he would be absent from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and have to postpone the premiere of his American Symphony at Carnegie Hall in New York - a show he had been working on for years. Batiste said the decision to cancel was to "keep my family, my friends and our loyal fans safe" and reassured them that he would be returning to the stage soon.
7th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Piers Corbyn fined over ‘murder’ claim at Covid vaccine clinic

Piers Corbyn has been fined £250 after accusing NHS staff at a London Covid-19 vaccination clinic of murdering people. The brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had arrived with a group of anti-vaxxers at Guy’s hospital in central London on 18 January with a “cease and desist” letter that they claimed was to prevent NHS staff from administering the Covid-19 vaccine. Corbyn told Chelsea Butcher, a nursing sister: “We are not leaving, you are murdering people here,” and another member of the group said, “This is a crime scene,” Westminster magistrates court heard. Iestyn Morgan, prosecuting, said Corbyn, 75, and David Burridge, 44, from Hounslow, west London, refused to leave the hospital’s atrium despite requests from NHS staff and police.
6th May 2022 - The Guardian

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China to fight comments, actions denying its COVID response policy -state media

China will fight any comments and actions that distort, doubt or deny the country's COVID-19 response policy, state television reported on Thursday, after a meeting of the country's highest decision-making body. Relaxing COVID controls will lead to large-scale infections, state television reported, following the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party's politburo, adding that China will step up research into and its defence against virus mutations, and will avoid one-size-fit-all policies.
5th May 2022 - Reuters

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China censors more economists after critical takes on zero-Covid

More outspoken economists and prominent investors are being silenced on social media in China as Beijing tightens its grip on online speech amid mounting economic pressure and growing controversies surrounding its zero-Covid policy. The public accounts of Hong Hao, who was head of research at Bank of Communications (Bocom) International Holdings were removed from both WeChat and the Twitter-like Weibo service on Saturday. Hong had more than 3 million followers on Weibo. It was unclear which red line the economist had crossed.
4th May 2022 - South China Morning Post

Fewer than 1 in 5 US parents say they'll get Covid-19 vaccines for kids under 5 as soon as they can, survey finds

US children under 5 are getting closer to authorized Covid-19 vaccines, but most parents may be reluctant to actually get them when they become available, a new survey found. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's Vaccine Monitor survey, published Wednesday, only 18% of parents of children under 5 said they would vaccinate their child against Covid-19 as soon as a vaccine was available.
4th May 2022 - MSN.com

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Pfizer accused of Covid profiteering as first-quarter sales hit $26bn

Pfizer has made nearly $26bn (£21bn) in revenues in the first three months of the year, the bulk from its Covid-19 vaccine and new pill to treat the virus, prompting fresh accusations of pandemic profiteering. Covid vaccines have saved many lives around the world and relieved the pressure on health systems, but Pfizer has faced criticism over its vaccine pricing and its refusal to waive patent protection to enable others to make the jab. Last week 35 campaigners from Global Justice Now, Act-Up London, Just Treatment and Stop Aids protested against what they call pandemic profiteering, and delivered wheelbarrows full of fake money to Pfizer’s UK headquarters in Surrey on the day of the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
3rd May 2022 - The Guardian

Some in Shanghai Come Out for Air as Beijing Resumes Mass COVID Tests

Some of Shanghai's 25 million people managed to get out on Tuesday for short walks and shopping after enduring more than a month under a COVID-19 lockdown, while China's capital, Beijing, focused on mass tests and said it would keep schools closed.
4th May 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19: Hong Kong to reopen beaches, pools on Thur, no masks for outdoor exercise; bars to reopen May 19

Hong Kong will reopen beaches and pools, masks will no longer be required during outdoor exercise, and restaurants will be allowed to sit eight people to a table from Thursday, as the city prepares to further ease Covid-related restrictions. Bars and clubs will also be allowed to reopen on May 19, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced during a press conference on Tuesday.
3rd May 2022 - Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong to further ease COVID curbs, bars to stay open until 2 a.m.

Hong Kong will further ease COVID-19 restrictions, allowing bars to open until 2 a.m. and raising the number of diners permitted at a table to eight from four, as cases in the global financial hub continue to ease, leader Carrie Lam said. Beaches and swimming pools would reopen from Thursday, when restaurants could also cater to four more people at each table, Lam said at a regular news briefing.
3rd May 2022 - Reuters

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The New Jet Set: How the COVID-driven boom in private jets is still flying high

Guy Stockbridge runs multiple businesses from his headquarters in central California, including landscape companies that ripple across his home state and a utility solar business with operations in 17 states. Flying is a way of life for Stockbridge and others at his company, Elite Team Offices, based in Clovis. For years they flew both privately and on commercial flights out of Fresno, roughly 10 miles from Clovis. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and private jet ownership became more and more attractive.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

Tears and chocolate as New Zealand opens its borders to 60 more countries

New Zealand welcomed thousands of travellers from around the globe on Monday as the country opened its borders to visitors from around 60 nations including the United States, Britain and Singapore for the first time since COVID-19 hit in early 2020. Maori cultural performers sang songs at the arrivals gate in Auckland and travellers were handed popular locally made chocolate bars as the first flights came in from Los Angeles and San Francisco.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters

Amazon ends COVID paid leave for U.S. workers

Amazon.com will end its paid time-off policy for employees with COVID-19 from May 2, the company told U.S.-based staff on Saturday. The change follows the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it said. The U.S.-based staff will now get five days of excused, unpaid leave following a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, Amazon told workers in a message it provided to Reuters.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters

Greece lifts COVID curbs for travellers ahead of key summer season

Greece lifted COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday for foreign and domestic flights, its civil aviation authority said, ahead of the summer tourism season that officials hope will see revenues bouncing back from the pandemic slump. To fly in or out of the country, travellers were previously required to show either a vaccination certificate, a certificate saying they had recovered from coronavirus or a negative test. From May 1, passengers and crew will need only to wear a face mask, the civil aviation authority said.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters

China, North Korea halt border rail crossing over COVID fears

China has suspended cross-border freight train services with North Korea following consultations after COVID-19 infections in its border city of Dandong, the foreign ministry said on Friday. The suspension came within four months after North Korea eased border lockdowns enforced early in 2020 against the coronavirus, measures global aid groups have blamed for its worsening economic woes and risks to food supplies for millions.
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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'These lives matter': Oxfam and partners urge J&J, Pfizer and Moderna investors to focus on vaccine equity efforts

As the world struggles with COVID-19 more than two years after the virus first broke out, vaccine disparities continue to undermine the global response in some regions. During the annual meetings for three major vaccine players, access advocates are asking investors to step in. While 65.1% of the world population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, only 15.2% of people in low-income countries can say the same, according to Our World In Data. Vaccine inequity could cost the global economy more than $2 trillion by 2025 and spur “bouts of social unrest,” according to a CNBC report last summer. Oxfam has a goal for “everyone, everywhere” to have access to COVID-19 vaccines. The group says three major vaccine players shoulder much of the blame for vaccine disparities. During their annual meetings, it's renewing calls more transparency and access.
28th Apr 2022 - Fierce Pharma

Tourist favourite Thailand's recovery lags on COVID rule changes

As regional peers have eased entry requirements, Thailand has clung to a cumbersome process. "Whichever (country) offers easy, smooth, less complicated procedures wins my heart," said Johansen. Tourism professionals say Thailand's complicated entry rules are now holding back recovery in an industry that contributed 12% of GDP before the pandemic. Forward bookings for 2022 show Thailand reaching 25% of pre-pandemic levels, behind levels of 72% and 65% each for Singapore and the Philippines.
29th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Outpouring of Resentment on Chinese Social Media Is Overwhelming Censors

In the early hours of April 14, the Chinese Communist Party’s social media strategy went off the rails. It began when state media accounts on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, promoted the hashtag “The U.S. is the country with the largest human-rights deficit.” Tens of thousands of Chinese internet users turned the accusation around onto Beijing. They criticized not only China’s Covid response of strict stay-at-home orders and minimal financial support for households but also wider social problems: long working hours, high property prices, violence against women, and censorship itself. “Our doors are locked down. Our pets are killed. Our medical resources are wasted so that people with acute illness can’t be treated,” wrote one poster. “The American government is so horrible, I’m so lucky to be born in China,” read a typically ironic post.
27th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Global COVID deaths drop to lowest since early pandemic months

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said cases and deaths continue to drop, with just over 15,000 deaths reported to the WHO last week, which he said is the lowest weekly total since March 2020. He said the welcome news comes with the caveat that countries are reducing their testing, and the WHO is receiving less information on transmission and evolution. "But this virus won't go away just because countries stop looking for it," Tedros said. "It's still spreading, it's still changing, and it's still killing." The threat of new variants is still very real, and scientists still don't understand the long-term consequences of infection, he said, repeating the WHO's call for countries to maintain their surveillance activities. In China, Beijing has completed its first round of mass testing, which targeted 20 million people and yielded 12 cases. Cases in the city have been slowly rising, prompting mass testing and fears that residents of the country's capital could face a lockdown, similar to Shanghai's—which has been in effect for about a month.
27th Apr 2022 - CIDRAP

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Covid Zero Criticism Is New Test for China Censorship

It began when state media accounts on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, promoted the hashtag “The U.S. is the country with the largest human-rights deficit.” Tens of thousands of Chinese internet users turned the accusation around onto Beijing. They criticized not only China’s Covid response of strict stay-at-home orders and minimal financial support for households but also wider social problems: long working hours, high property prices, violence against women, and censorship itself. “Our doors are locked down. Our pets are killed. Our medical resources are wasted so that people with acute illness can’t be treated,” wrote one poster. “The American government is so horrible, I’m so lucky to be born in China,” read a typically ironic post.
28th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Transparency urged to raise COVID-19 vaccine uptake

Issues around vaccine acceptance must be addressed alongside equity of access and logistics if the goal of vaccinating 70% of the world's population against COVID-19 is to be met, says a report by global health policy experts. Emerging causes of so-called "vaccine hesitancy," described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines," should be monitored continually in order to better understand the problem, according to the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP).
27th Apr 2022 - Medical Xpress

Dutch celebrate first King's Day holiday without COVID curbs since 2019

The city streets around the Netherlands streamed with festival-goers wearing orange on Wednesday in celebration of the national holiday King's Day in traditional fashion -- with music and open-air markets -- for the first time since 2019, without COVID-19 restrictions. King Willem-Alexander, who turns 55 on Wednesday and whom the holiday celebrates, was visiting the southern city of Maastricht with his family, keeping a promise that had been postponed for two years due to the pandemic. In Amsterdam, where Kings' Eve is a party comparable to New Year's Eve, the streets of the historic centre have been mobbed with tens of thousands of celebrants since late Tuesday.
27th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Which Countries Are Open to Unvaccinated Tourists?

The U.K. doing away with all coronavirus-related travel restrictions on March 18 was major news—that is, until six more European countries (and counting) followed suit since. Whether they’re vaccinated or not, travelers entering the region now have even more destinations in which they won’t have to take a pre- or post-arrival test, follow any quarantine rules, or fill out passenger-tracking forms. International travelers still need the requisite visas, of course, but there are now nations on every continent that have adopted a post-pandemic attitude toward travel—even internally with mask-free living and no-quarantine requirements for those who test positive. The loosening of restrictions is sparking optimism for wanderlust after two years of stay-home pandemic rules and border closings. It’s also, alternately, serving as a red flag for travelers still taking a more cautious approach.
26th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Confusion, fear behind reluctance to take Covid booster, says experts

With only 4.64 lakh people taking their third Covid jab since April 10, Indians could be grappling with vaccine fatigue, a reluctance to take a booster shot that experts attribute to a combination of fear, confusion and misinformation.As India's Covid graph inches upwards, not enough people are getting their booster shots. Among the reasons for the apparent lethargy are the fear of adverse effects, the view that Covid is now a mild infection and doubts over whether a precaution dose is indeed useful, said scientists, public health experts and industry insiders. According to virologist Dr T Jacob John, vaccine fatigue has set in, also because the "cacophony of new experts" has been confusing.
26th Apr 2022 - Business Standard

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Shanghai's Covid Experience May Affect How the Rest of China Sees the Pandemic

In recent days, the censorship machine within WeChat has come out. Last weekend, its biggest guns were aimed at a short six-minute clip called the “Voices of April.” It was a simple video showing the city skyline, with audio snippets of officials’ comments at press conferences and residents’ pleas for help. It seems to have touched on a sore subject: the overstretched Shanghai public health system. However, it was not something so sensational it deserved instantaneous censorship. When my friends tried to circumvent WeChat’s censor and share the video via various cloud services, their links were quickly blocked. By Saturday afternoon, people became so frustrated they started posting the song “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from the musical Les Miserables. That got censored, too. But the word was out. And it matters that it is out in Shanghai. The city is not Xian, or northeastern Jilin province where local governments could just bury discontent. Shanghai is China’s commercial and cultural hub; its 25 million residents include native Shanghainese and more than 10 million from all over China. These are constantly in touch with their hometowns.
25th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Eid al-Fitr events return to Birmingham after Covid-19 restrictions lifted

Large-scale celebrations at the end of Ramadan are returning to Birmingham after a two-year break caused by the pandemic. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and fasting. Before Covid-19 restrictions, an event in Birmingham's Small Heath park was among the largest in Europe, regularly attracting more than 60,000 people. It returns at the beginning of May, albeit with a reduced 20,000 capacity, with public health measures in place. Celebrations will also be held at Edgbaston Stadium for the first time. "Eid is a joyous occasion, where Muslims come together to celebrate, spend time with family and worship as a community," project manager Saleem Ahmed said.
25th Apr 2022 - BBC News

What science journalism can't tell us about Covid-19 deaths

In the first piece of science journalism I ever wrote, I compared deciphering the effects of climate change to baking a cake. I was a college sophomore. This was homework. We were to read a study and then find an analogy for it, transforming what we found dizzying and technical into something easily imaginable. In my hands, an existential threat became dessert. I don’t remember exactly why I thought that computer models showing possible futures for an ocean inlet were best conveyed through recipes and increments of butter. But I do remember what (I think) the professor wanted us to remember: When an idea is hard to grasp — too big, too small, too abstruse, too abstract — liken it to something else. It’s so fundamental it’s almost a cliché, so prevalent it’s almost unnoticeable. We describe genes as blueprints, receptors and viruses as locks and keys. We take the measure of galaxies in celestial football fields.
25th Apr 2022 - STAT News

Panic buying in Beijing as district starts mass COVID testing

Beijing residents snapped up food and other supplies as the city's biggest district began mass COVID-19 testing of all residents on Monday, prompting fears of a Shanghai-style lockdown after dozens of cases in the capital in recent days. Authorities in Chaoyang, home to 3.45 million people, late on Sunday ordered residents and those who work there to be tested three times this week as Beijing warned the virus had "stealthily" spread in the city for about a week before being detected.
25th Apr 2022 - Reuters

OCA confident Asian Games will go ahead in September - official

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has requested an update from Beijing on the COVID-19 situation in China but remains confident the Asian Games will go ahead in Hangzhou in September, a senior official at the body told Reuters on Monday. The 19th edition of the multi-sports Games, second in size only to the Summer Olympics, is scheduled to take place from Sept. 10-25 in the capital of Zhejiang province, some 175 kilometres southwest of Shanghai. A media report last week quoted the OCA's director-general as saying that there was a possibility the Games would have to be postponed because of the month-long COVID-19 lockdown in China's financial capital
25th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Shanghai, China Covid Lockdown: Residents Complain Online

Chinese internet users rallied to outwit government censors on a video documenting weeks of lockdown in Shanghai, flooding social media feeds as frustration continued to escalate over strict Covid Zero rules. The six-minute video titled “The Sound of April” was posted on Friday and soon got censored as it went viral. Chinese Wechat users then uploaded the film from different accounts and in various forms including upside-down and mirrored versions until late night, as newly-uploaded clips were also removed. The film, on a slowly-moving frame of overhead shots of the city in black-and-white, spliced in sound clips from government press briefings, voice call recordings seeking medical help and information transparency, hungry and frustrated residents chanting in unison for government rations, and chats between neighbors and ordinary people helping each other out.
24th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Rio's Carnival parade returns after long pandemic hiatus

Colorful floats and flamboyant dancers are delighting tens of thousands jammed into Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Sambadrome, putting on a delayed Carnival celebration after the pandemic halted the dazzling displays. Rio de Janeiro’s top samba schools began strutting their stuff late Friday, which was the first evening of the two-night spectacle. Ketula Melo, 38, a muse in the Imperatriz Leopoldinense school dressed as the Iemanja deity of Afro-Brazilian religions, was thrilled to be back at the Sambadrome. “These two years were horrible. Now we can be happy again,” Melo said as she was about to enter Friday night wearing a black and white costume made of shells that barely covered her body.
24th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Rise in Hong Kong suicides during Covid should spark action

In late February, the number of suicides in Hong Kong began to rise; at the peak on March 23, four people committed suicide every day on a seven-day rolling average basis. Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, director of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, noted that if the trend continued, the number of suicide cases this year could hit 1,400, exceeding the historical peak during the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic 19 years ago when 1,264 people, or 18.8 per 100,000 people, took their own lives. A government survey in 2010-13 estimated that one in seven Hongkongers aged 16 to 75 suffers from anxiety, depression or other mood disorders. Ageing can also have a negative impact on mental health.
23rd Apr 2022 - South China Morning Post

Judge who fired employee for not getting vaccinated did not abuse power - ruling

A bankruptcy judge who fired an employee who was denied a religious exemption from a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement did not engage in discrimination or an abuse of power, a federal appeals court judge ruled. Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Chagares in a newly released opinion dismissed a complaint the ex-employee filed with the Judicial Council of the 3rd Circuit in a rare judicial misconduct case over a federal court employee vaccine requirement. The decision is dated Feb. 22 but was only released this week. As is typical with cases filed under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act, the ruling did not identify the complainant, judge or even court to which it pertains.
23rd Apr 2022 - Reuters

Portugal becomes first EU country to give fast-track entry to Britons since Brexit in move that could spark a 'domino effect'

Is seen as bid to lure Britons away from rival destinations such as Spain and Italy British passports must now be checked manually, increasing waiting times But passport e-gate lanes were set up for Britons at Portugal airports this week
21st Apr 2022 - Daily Mail

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Air pollution increases risk of Covid infection among young adults, study suggests

Air pollution heightens the risk of Covid-19 infection among young adults, a new study suggests. Previous studies have shown that areas of poor air quality have more cases of Covid-19, pointing to a potential link between the virus and rates of infection. The researchers merged a population-based project which has followed more than 4,000 participants in Stockholm from birth with Sweden’s national communicable disease registry, SmiNet. They identified 425 people who had tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 between May 2020 and the end of March 2021. The average age of the participants was 26, and 54 per cent were women.
21st Apr 2022 - The Independent

Hong Kong Disney opens as COVID eases; Shanghai deaths rise

Hong Kong relaxed pandemic restrictions on Thursday, with Disneyland and museums reopening and nighttime restaurant dining resuming as the city’s worst COVID-19 outbreak appears to be fading. Enthusiastic visitors ran into Disneyland the moment the gates opened after a three-month closure. Popular theme parks were ordered to close in January as Hong Kong’s fifth wave of the coronavirus took hold. Nearly 1.2 million people in the city of 7.4 million were infected in less than four months, and nearly 9,000 have died.
21st Apr 2022 - Associated Press

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Moderna and Pfizer urged to share vaccine technology with developing world

Pressure is mounting on Moderna and Pfizer to share vaccine technology with the developing world after the two biggest proxy advisers lent support to shareholder resolutions. Institutional Shareholder Services has recommended that investors vote in favour of proposals by Oxfam America that would compel Moderna and Pfizer to commission third-party reports about transferring their vaccine technology. The drive to expand access to the well-performing mRNA vaccines comes as Moderna unveiled strong trial results for a new “bivalent” vaccine. Oxfam is lobbying to create a more equal distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, arguing that not sharing the IP and technical knowhow creates reputational risks and could slow the end of the pandemic.
20th Apr 2022 - Financial Times

US supreme court rules against air force officer who refused Covid vaccine

The supreme court has allowed the US Department of Defense to take disciplinary action against an air force lieutenant colonel who refuses to get a Covid-19 vaccine. In a brief, two-sentence ruling on Monday, a majority of the court sided with the Pentagon. Three justices in the conservative majority – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch – dissented. The ruling was merely the court’s latest on challenges to Covid-19 vaccine mandates. In January, the court blocked a Biden administration requirement that employees of large businesses be vaccinated and wear masks on the job.
20th Apr 2022 - The Guardian

For China investors, COVID lockdowns are the clear and present danger

Prolonged lockdowns in Shanghai, as China doubles down on its zero-COVID policy, have become the predominant risk to its economy and markets, forcing money managers to cut holdings or turn defensive on stocks. Global fund managers such as Pictet Wealth Management and Principal Global Investors and China-focused managers such as MegaTrust Investment and Water Wisdom Asset Management point to the worrying toll that weeks of tough anti-virus measures in many major cities have taken on people and businesses. "The city-wide lockdown in Shanghai is a big deal," said Qi Wang, chief executive officer of MegaTrust Investment (HK).
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Heads accuse Government of 'ignoring Covid' by ending publication of school coronavirus data

Headteachers have criticised the Government for its “deeply troubling and ill-advised” decision to stop publishing data on the number of school absences in England linked to Covid-19. The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said the move appeared to be part of an “ignoring Covid plan” for schools. The Department for Education (DfE) published its fortnightly absence statistics for state schools in England today. Figures for 7 April showed that in schools that had not broken up for Easter, attendance stood at 89.1 per cent, compared to 88.6 per cent on 31 March.
19th Apr 2022 - iNews

COVID-19 vaccines go to waste as rollout stalls

Australian medical professionals are speaking out about mass amounts of COVID-19 vaccine wastage, calling for more government direction in donating the vaccines to developing countries. It comes as GPs are reportedly throwing out thousands of expired vaccines due to dwindling demand. More than 95 per cent of Australians over the age of 16 have received two doses, and about 300,000 vaccines are administered nationally each week.
19th Apr 2022 - 9News.com.au

Hong Kong zero-COVID policies create mountains of plastic waste

Hong Kong arrivals meet plastic everywhere in quarantine hotels: Remote controls are wrapped in cellophane, pillows are encased in plastic bags, food comes with plastic cutlery. Hong Kong’s strict quarantine policies - intended to halt COVID-19 at the border and in the community - have been criticised for damaging the economy and mental health. Environmentalists say the policies are also hurting the environment by generating excess waste.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Latino Mortality Rate Spiked 48% in Los Angeles During Covid

The death rate of Latinos in Los Angeles rose dramatically more than any other ethnic group during the Covid-19 pandemic. Between 2019 and 2021, the percentage rate of deaths for any reason for Latinos spiked 48%, data from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health show. Just under half of the city’s population is of Hispanic or Latino descent, according to Census data. While all ethnic groups suffered more than usual deaths during the first year of the pandemic, only the Latino population saw the trend continue the following year. The overall two year mortality-rate for Black people increased 23% and 22% for Asian people, consistent with the broader county statistics. The overall mortality rate for White residents rose by 7% in the two-year span. Black residents in Los Angeles, who comprise just under 9% of the population, still have the highest death rate of any group.
14th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

WHO: COVID cases, deaths in Africa drop to lowest levels yet

The number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Africa have dropped to their lowest levels since the pandemic began, marking the longest decline yet seen in the disease, according to the World Health Organization. In a statement on Thursday, the U.N. health agency said COVID-19 infections due to the omicron surge had “tanked” from a peak of more than 308,000 weekly cases to fewer than 20,000 last week. Cases and deaths fell by 29% and 37% respectively in the last week; deaths decreased to 239 from the previous week. “This low level of infection has not been seen since April 2020 in the early stages of the pandemic in Africa,” WHO said, noting that no country in the region is currently seeing an increase of COVID-19 cases.
14th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

U.S. CDC lifts COVID 'Do Not Travel' recommendations on about 90 countries

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday it had dropped its "Do Not Travel" COVID-19 recommendations for about 90 international destinations. Last week, the CDC said it was revising its travel recommendations and said it would its reserve Level 4 travel health notices "for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts." The countries and other regions dropped to "Level 3: High," which still discourages travel by unvaccinated Americans, include the United Kingdom, France, Israel, Turkey, Australia, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Russia.
18th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Officials Adopt New Message on Covid-19 Behaviors: It’s Your Call

In the latest phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, federal and local officials are telling people to decide for themselves how best to protect against the virus. Health officials are leaving it up to people to assess if they need booster shots, whether to wear a mask and how long to isolate after a positive test. Businesses, schools and other entities are scaling back specific guidelines as they prepare for a return to normal. The question of when older adults should get a second vaccine booster is the latest example of the government shifting decisions from broad-based community outreach to personal choice.
18th Apr 2022 - Wall Street Journal

Guatemala: As COVID misinformation spreads, vaccine doses expire

On a recent afternoon, the COVID-19 vaccination centre in the heart of the Indigenous Mayan town of Santiago Atitlan was quiet. The health centre had a vaccine supply, but demand was low. The lack of coordination of a Guatemalan government-led campaign to overcome vaccine hesitancy has resulted in the expiration of millions of doses across the country this year, critics have said, as more than half of the population remains unvaccinated. According to Juan Manuel Ramirez, an evangelical preacher in Santiago Atitlan, some community members have taken the vaccine, knowing it helps to protect against severe disease. But others have subscribed to conspiracy theories about its potential dangers. “There are other people who also have other types of thoughts, such as that the vaccine comes with a chip,” he told Al Jazeera. “Because of that, there is uncertainty, and therefore they have not been vaccinated. Earlier this month, approximately 1.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States expired. In March, the same fate befell nearly three million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, worth more than $33m. And by the end of June, more than two million doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines will also expire.
14th Apr 2022 - AlJazeera English

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Delta Air Lines drops surcharge for unvaccinated employees

Delta Air Lines has dropped a $200 per month surcharge that it had been levying against unvaccinated employees who were on the company’s health plan. “We have dropped as of this month the additional insurance surcharge given the fact that we really do believe that the pandemic has moved to a seasonal virus,” CEO Ed Bastian said on a call Wednesday with analysts and reporters. “Any employees that haven’t been vaccinated will not be paying extra insurance costs going forward.” U.S. airlines tried different approaches to get employees vaccinated against COVID-19, including a mandate by United Airlines, which ended up dismissing about 200 employees. Delta was the only one to impose an insurance surcharge, and it credited the move with helping get more than 90% of its U.S.-based workers vaccinated.
13th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

COVID-19: Emotions released as New Zealand eases border restrictions for first time in two years

Border restrictions for New Zealand have eased, with residents, visa holders and Australians now able to enter quarantine-free after two years. Other travellers will be allowed easy access from next month.
13th Apr 2022 - Sky News

Covid Cancellations Hit Broadway as BA.2 Variant Spreads

Covid is wreaking havoc on stage, again. Broadway’s “Plaza Suite” has extended its run to allow for ticket rescheduling after stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick both tested positive. It was put on pause through April 13. “Americano” will resume April 18 and has set a new opening night for May 1. Performances of “At The Wedding” will resume April 18, with “Paradise Square” returning April 19. “A Strange Loop” pushed its opening to April 14. And “Heartland” canceled all remaining performances after Covid spread throughout its company.
13th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

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Shanghai Factory Closures Mount as Covid-19 Lockdowns Hit Supply Chains

More factories in and around Shanghai, including two run by an Apple Inc.supplier, are halting production because of extended Covid-19 lockdowns in the region, adding to pressure on the global supply chain. Analysts said Shanghai-area manufacturers were having more trouble getting parts delivered because China’s restrictions on movement are making it difficult for trucks to enter the region. That means some factories can’t operate normally even if they manage to keep workers on the job. Pegatron Corp., a major assembler of Apple products, said Tuesday it has temporarily suspended production at factories in Shanghai and nearby Jiangsu province in compliance with local government requirements.
12th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Chinese Stockpile Food as Covid-19 Concerns Ripple Out From Shanghai

As Shanghai battles the country’s worst Covid-19 outbreak in two years, people across the rest of China are stockpiling necessities as they brace for the prospect of similar lockdowns. In Beijing, where some residential districts have been closed in recent weeks as infections have been discovered, supermarket shelves in some parts of the city have been picked clean of toilet paper, canned foods, instant noodles and rice in recent days. In Suzhou, an industrial hub roughly two hours’ drive west of Shanghai, residents swarmed supermarkets to fill their grocery baskets with instant noodles and other food on Tuesday morning, hours after local officials said they would conduct districtwide testing in one section of the city.
12th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Shanghai patients crowdsource medical help during COVID lockdown

Shanghai residents have turned online for grassroots help on medical treatment as the city's tough COVID-19 curbs limit access to healthcare and fuel frustration and anxiety. While the city of 25 million has used lockdowns and extensive testing to fight the disease, those suffering from other medical conditions are posting requests for help in mutual-help platforms and social media chat groups. One woman said she sought help online as her worry grew over the risk of infection to her paralysed mother from a urinary catheter used for about a month.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Community Activities - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Apr 2022

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States of Covid Performance

More than two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time to draw some conclusions about government policy and results. The most comprehensive comparative study we’ve seen to date was published last week as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and it deserves wide attention. The authors are University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan and Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. They compare Covid outcomes in the 50 states and District of Columbia based on three variables: the economy, education and mortality. It’s a revealing study that belies much of the conventional medical and media wisdom during the pandemic, especially in its first year when severe lockdowns were described as the best, and the only moral, policy.
11th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

The BA.2 Variant Is Spreading. Do You Need to Worry?

You’re going to the movies and eating indoors. Your kid stopped wearing a mask to school; you no longer wear one to work. After two years of Covid precautions, you finally feel normal again. Well, mostly. BA.2—a subvariant of the Omicron variant that tore through the U.S. this winter—is spreading. It’s now the dominant variant throughout the country and has triggered recent surges in Europe. If you live somewhere where local statistics suggest cases are rising but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map still shades your county low-risk green, it can be tough to figure out what to do. So, do you need to worry? When? And how do you know what to look for?
11th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Thousands rally in LA to oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Thousands of people including truckers and firefighters from across the country gathered Sunday outside Los Angeles City Hall to protest vaccination mandates designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The crowd gathered at Grand Park to hear speakers and performers, while big-rig trucks from the “People’s Convoy” were parked on nearby streets. Members of the convoy jammed traffic during a Washington, D.C., protest earlier this year. The peaceful crowd gathered to hear speakers and singers and was similar to a rally held at the same spot last year and to others staged around the country. California battled a deadly winter coronavirus surge linked to the omicron variant but began easing masking and vaccination requirements this year as caseloads and hospitalization rates fell, which public health officials largely attributed to widespread vaccination and other safety measures.
10th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

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Shanghai jumps into group buying to stay fed during COVID lockdown

When Shanghai first went into full COVID-19 lockdown last week, Ping Mai wasn't expecting she'd become her housing compound's unofficial broker for its meat supply. With her and her neighbours stuck at home and struggling to buy food amid lockdown curbs that have shuttered stores and dramatically reduced the number of couriers, she is among millions that are trying to figure out how to buy fresh supplies on a daily basis. One popular solution has been community group-buying, which sees residents at the same address band together to bulk buy groceries or meals from suppliers or restaurants, placing single orders that could add up to thousands of dollars.
9th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Women in healthcare and life sciences: The ongoing stress of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a seismic shift in the workforce, with a specific impact on women. Millions of Americans have resigned from their jobs, and many have cited unmanageable workloads or a need to care for family as important factors in their decision. The healthcare sector is no exception. Our most recent analysis is based on the seventh annual Women in the Workplace data (for 2021), by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org. That research looks at drop-offs in female representation, promotion rates, and external hiring at the highest levels in healthcare; at the barriers to advancement for women of color and at threats to recent gains. In many cases, these outcomes are correlated with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including reports of increased responsibilities at home and higher levels of burnout.
9th Apr 2022 - McKinsey

Can US tenants cope with COVID eviction protections ending?

Housing rights campaigner Rob Robinson and Legal Aid’s Beth Mellen on the housing crisis in the United States. “Once the courts open up, we will see a rush to evict,” says housing rights campaigner Rob Robinson. America’s federal moratorium on evictions ended in August last year and, with COVID housing protections almost all gone, the expected wave of evictions will likely worsen the country’s homelessness crisis. Robinson himself was unhoused for two years and eventually “found his way out”. But he warns against the narrative that unhoused people should be able to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”.
9th Apr 2022 - Al Jazeera English

UK airport warns COVID-related delays could last months

A major British airport warned passengers on Friday to expect the delays plaguing travel to continue for months, as the U.K. aviation regulator told the country’s air industry to shape up after weeks of canceled flights and long airport queues. The head of Manchester Airport in northwest England said passengers could face waits of up to 90 minutes to get through security “over the next few months.” Travelers in Britain have suffered days of delays during the current Easter school holiday break, with British Airways and easyJet canceling hundreds of flights because of coronavirus-related staff absences, and long lines building at airport check-in, security and baggage points.
9th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

'Get used to it': Outbreaks give taste of living with virus

The U.S. is getting a first glimpse of what it’s like to experience COVID-19 outbreaks during this new phase of living with the virus, and the roster of the newly infected is studded with stars. Cabinet members, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Broadway actors and the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut have all tested positive. Outbreaks at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University are bringing back mask requirements to those campuses as officials seek out quarantine space. The known infections likely reveal only the tip of the iceberg — with actors and politicians regularly tested at work. Official case figures are certain to be vast undercounts of how widely the virus is circulating because of home testing and mildly sick not bothering to test at all.
9th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

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Japan arrests four of 'QAnon'-style group for Covid-19 vaccine protest: Media

Four members of a group said to be a Japanese version of QAnon, which has frequently protested against Covid-19 vaccinations, were arrested on Thursday (April 7) for intruding on a clinic where vaccinations were taking place, media reports said. Japan is conducting booster shots against the virus that causes Covid-19, with about 44 per cent of the population having received a third dose. About 80 per cent of the general public have had the first two shots. Four members of "YamatoQ," a version of the US QAnon group, were arrested on charges they intruded into a Tokyo clinic, police were quoted by media as saying. The group's website says vaccines are untested and "a number" of people have died after receiving them. It also lists anti-vaccine protests around Japan.
7th Apr 2022 - The Straits Times

As Queensland's COVID-19 vaccine mandates ease in social settings, they still apply to many workers

In Queensland, changes from 14 April will allow unvaccinated people to go to restaurants, clubs, museums, and stadiums. Vaccine mandates will remain for the health sector, prisons, schools and childcare centres. According to Acting Premier Cameron Dick there is not going to be any move made to get rid of vaccine mandates entirely at this stage. "We will take the advice of the Chief Health Officer and of course that's also the agreed position I understand it nationally," he said. Infectious diseases physician Dr Paul Griffin said easing the mandates in certain settings makes sense.
7th Apr 2022 - ABC.Net.au

Trump's endorsement of Covid-19 vaccines increased uptake in counties with low vaccination rates

Watching an ad in which former President Donald Trump promoted Covid-19 vaccines was linked to increased vaccinations in US counties with low immunization rates, according to a new study. The study was released Monday as a working paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research that has not yet been peer-reviewed. Researchers created a 27-second ad designed to serve as a public service announcement from Trump encouraging people to get vaccinated. Through a randomized control trial, the ad was featured on different YouTube channels across more than 1,000 counties with populations of less than 1 million and in which more than half of the population was still unvaccinated. When compared to counties that did not receive the ads, those that did receive the ads had more than 100 additional vaccinations on average. In total, treatment counties received an estimated 104,036 more vaccines than control counties. The analysis also found that for every 1,000 more ads presented, there were nearly nine additional vaccinations, on average, per county.
7th Apr 2022 - CNN

They got illicit Covid-19 vaccine doses -- and say they'd do it again in a heartbeat

Last July, Andrea Ogg stood outside a pharmacy in Castle Rock, Colorado, fully prepared to lie to get herself a Covid-19 vaccine. Her stomach knotted in anxiety, Ogg was ready to say she was getting her first shot when actually she was getting her third. At the time, government rules didn't allow for third shots, even for immune-compromised people like her who failed to develop antibodies after two doses. "I was very nervous, because I am typically an honest person, but I wasn't going to tell them the truth if they asked me. There was just no way," said Ogg, 55, who was born with a cardiac defect and takes medicine to suppress her immune system so she won't reject the heart transplant she received four years ago.
7th Apr 2022 - CNN

Shanghai Calls on China Communist Party Members to Fight Covid

China’s Communist Party issued a rare call imploring rank-and-file members to help contain the coronavirus in Shanghai, showing the strain the locked-down financial hub is under as its worst outbreak to date spreads. “We must dare to draw our swords and fight against all kinds of behaviors that interfere with and undermine the overall situation of the fight against the epidemic,” the top party branch in Shanghai wrote to members late Wednesday, the same day the number of new cases in the city rose to more than 19,900. “Wherever there is a need, there must be a Communist Party member,” it added in the open letter posted on an official government social media account.
7th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Naturopathic doctor admits selling fake COVID vaccine cards

A naturopathic doctor in Northern California on Wednesday pleaded guilty to selling fake COVID-19 immunization treatments and hundreds of fraudulent vaccination cards that made it seem like customers received Moderna vaccines, federal prosecutors said. Juli A. Mazi, 41, of Napa, plead guilty in federal court in San Francisco to one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. The case was the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to fraudulent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards for COVID-19, the department said. Mazi provided fake CDC vaccination cards for COVID-19 to at least 200 people with instructions on how to complete the cards to make them look like they had received a Moderna vaccine, federal prosecutors said.
6th Apr 2022 - The Asssociated Press

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Covid-19 Hits Broadway Once More, Leading to Cancellations, Changes

Covid is hitting Broadway again. Several highly anticipated shows have been affected by breakthrough cases of Covid-19, as Broadway looks to make up for pandemic losses with big names and longtime favorites lighting up the Great White Way. “Macbeth,” starring Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga and directed by Sam Gold, said Tuesday it was canceling shows through Saturday at 8 p.m. ET because of “a limited number of positive COVID test results within the company.” Mr. Craig, who is returning to the stage for the first time in six years, tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
6th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Shanghai says it will make some exceptions in COVID children separation policy

Guardians of children with special needs who are infected with COVID can apply to escort them, a Shanghai city official said on Wednesday, pointing to a relaxation of a child-separation policy that has triggered widespread public anger. The city has been separating COVID-positive children from their parents, citing epidemic prevention measures. China's elimination strategy against COVID sees it test, trace and centrally quarantine all cases. In the face of rising public criticism, the government said on Monday it would allow children to be accompanied by their parents if the parents were also infected, but that they would still separate them if they were not.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters

China's services sector activity hit hard by Omicron surge - Caixin PMI

Activity in China's services sector contracted at the sharpest pace in two years in March as a surge in coronavirus cases restricted mobility and weighed on demand, a private sector survey showed on Wednesday. The Caixin services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) dived to 42.0 in March from 50.2 in February, dropping below the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. The reading indicates the sharpest activity decline since the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020. The survey, which focuses more on small firms in coastal regions, tallied with an official survey, which also showed deterioration in the services sector
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Hit by staff shortages, airlines and airports struggle with travel recovery

Thousands of holidaymakers have seen their Easter getaways disrupted or cancelled because airlines and airports do not have enough staff to meet the recovery in demand as pandemic restrictions are eased in Europe. High rates of COVID-19 in Britain have caused staff absences for airlines and airports that were already struggling to recruit after workers deserted the industry during the pandemic. Low-cost carrier easyJet was one of the worst affected, saying it cancelled around 60 UK flights on Tuesday and expected to pull a similar number in the coming days.
5th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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EasyJet cancels 100 flights due to Covid absences

British travellers are facing Easter holiday disruption after airlines cancelled more than 120 flights and Eurotunnel warned of three hour delays. Easyjet and British Airways blamed staff absences from Covid for cancellations, while Eurotunnel said a broken down train caused delays. Some schools have broken up for Easter - the first holiday since the end of the pandemic travel restrictions. That's led to rising demand and frustration for holidaymakers. Flight cancellations were down to a combination of factors which had come together in "a perfect storm", Simon Calder, travel correspondent at The Independent, told the BBC. "We have got very high levels of Covid in the nation and that is affecting the transport industry. But there are also more underlying problems which go back to the start of Covid," he said.
4th Apr 2022 - BBC News

Covid-19: Vaccine passes gone by midnight – but businesses can keep using them

Four months after becoming the entry key to many events, bars and restaurants, gyms, hairdressers, sports and faith-based gatherings, vaccines passes will soon be optional for hosts. My Vaccine Pass – brought in as part of the Government's Covid-19 protection framework – will no longer be required from 11.59pm Monday, although businesses will still be able to use the system if they want. Those supplying basic needs, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations, public transport, schools and health services, were exempt, but were a legal requirement for many other close-proximity businesses. Also from 11.59pm Monday, some government vaccine mandates for workers will be removed. Those still covered include health and disability sector workers, including aged-care workers, along with prison staff and border and MIQ workers.
4th Apr 2022 - Stuff.co.nz

Covid Vaccines for Kids Are Dividing Divorced Parents

In late 2021, Adele Grote, a divorced mother of two in Minneapolis, took her children to a vaccination clinic at the Mall of America. But when her 13-year-old daughter called her father to let him know they were getting the shot, Ms. Grote knew they would have to leave without it. Just over a quarter of children between ages 5 and 11 in the United States are fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database; among older kids, ages 12 to 17, the rate is 59 percent. For parents who have yet to vaccinate their children, the reasons for hesitation vary.
4th Apr 2022 - The New York Times

Vaccine hesitancy: What causes it, what can change it? - study

In the time since the coronavirus vaccine has been made available to the public, there have been many instances of hesitancy, reluctance, and even refusal to be vaccinated. A new study published by the Israel Journal of Health Policy Research has examined this phenomenon and discovered that there are several distinct phases of vaccine hesitancy, all presenting in different ways. The peer-reviewed study entitled “Understanding the phases of vaccine hesitancy during the COVID-19 pandemic” examines the distinct categories under which vaccine-hesitant people fall and the way in which socio-economic background, circumstances, and the changing phases of the pandemic itself have affected the reluctance some show when it comes to the vaccine.
4th Apr 2022 - The Jerusalem Post

Hong Kong university entrance exams ‘to go ahead as scheduled’ as coronavirus infections continue to fall

Special centres will be set up at the Hong Kong government’s isolation facility at Penny’s Bay for university entrance exam candidates who are close contacts of Covid-19 patients or infected themselves, with the annual assessments scheduled to start from April 22. Education authorities on Monday said candidates who chose to sit the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams at the special centres would then have to remain at the facility for a full stint in quarantine, which lasts at least seven days, depending on their vaccination status
4th Apr 2022 - South China Morning Post

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Man in Germany Gets 90 Covid Shots to Sell Forged Passes

A 60-year-old man allegedly had himself vaccinated against COVID-19 dozens of times in Germany in order to sell forged vaccination cards with real vaccine batch numbers to people not wanting to get vaccinated themselves. The man from the eastern Germany city of Magdeburg, whose name was not released in line with German privacy rules, is said to have received up to 90 shots against COVID-19 at vaccination centers in the eastern state of Saxony for months until criminal police caught him this month, the German news agency dpa reported Sunday. The suspect was not detained but is under investigation for unauthorized issuance of vaccination cards and document forgery, dpa reported.
3rd Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Indonesia greets Ramadan with mass prayer as COVID curbs ease

The world's largest Muslim-majority nation of Indonesia welcomed the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan with a mass prayer at Jakarta's grand mosque on Saturday, with plateauing coronavirus cases allowing for eased restrictions this year. Thousands gathered after dusk at Istiqlal mosque in the Indonesian capital to join the Tarawih prayer, special prayers performed only during the month of Ramadan, donning masks and using check-in apps to take part in the event. For the past two years Indonesia has grappled with one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in Asia, but this Ramadan, traditionally a time of community, reflection and prayer, cases have eased enough to allow for mass gatherings.
3rd Apr 2022 - Reuters

Why We Are Covid Broke

Washington dysfunction is so comprehensive, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start. So there is usefulness in a recent White House missive to Congress—which in a few short pages neatly sums up the dishonesty and malpractice of today’s Beltway. “Dear Madame Speaker,” begins the March 15 letter, devoted to the topic of Covid poverty. “We are notifying you of the following actions necessitated by the lack of critical funding.” Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and White House Covid coordinator Jeffrey Zients explain that unless Congress supplies tens of billions more in taxpayer dollars, the federal government will no longer be able to “secure sufficient booster doses,” will end “the purchase of monoclonal antibody treatments,” will halt “critical testing,” and will scale back “preventive treatments for the immunocompromised.”
2nd Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Meta no longer requiring COVID booster shots for staff in U.S. offices

Facebook-owner Meta is no longer requiring employees to have COVID-19 boosters to enter its offices in the United States, a company spokesperson said on Friday. The social media company previously said that all workers returning to the office would have to present proof of their booster jabs, while the company monitored the Omicron variant situation. "We updated our requirements in early March to align with CDC guidance, and now COVID-19 boosters are no longer required for entry, though strongly recommended. The primary vaccination requirement (1- or 2-shot series) remains in place," said Meta spokesperson Tracy Clayton.
1st Apr 2022 - Reuters

U.S. to end COVID order blocking asylum seekers at border with Mexico

The United States will end a sweeping, pandemic-related expulsion policy that has effectively closed down the U.S. asylum system at the border with Mexico, U.S. health officials said on Friday, arguing it was no longer needed to protect public health. The Title 42 order will remain in effect until May 23 to allow border officials time to prepare for its termination and to ramp up COVID-19 vaccines for arriving migrants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a 30-page order.
1st Apr 2022 - Reuters

COVID weighing less and less on the U.S. job market

The coronavirus pandemic's grip on the U.S. job market notably loosened in March, two years after a state of emergency was declared, as the number of people homebound by COVID-19 concerns hit a new low and fewer people reported having to work remotely. In all, the government's benchmark monthly nonfarm payrolls report out Friday showed that by several metrics - including the total number of unemployed dropping below 6 million and a 3.6% unemployment rate - the U.S. job market had all but recovered from the devastating hit delivered in the first two months of the pandemic when 22 million people were thrown out of work
1st Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Groups urge Biden to reject potential WTO 'concept' on COVID-19 vaccine barriers

Doctors without Borders, Oxfam America, Amnesty International and other top civil society groups on Wednesday urged US President Joe Biden to reject a potential deal on COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property rights at the World Trade Organization. In a letter, the groups called the proposal a "rehash" of a European Union position that fell far short of the rights waiver Biden backed in May 2021 to speed vaccines to developing countries.
31st Mar 2022 - Reuters

COVID-19: How can I get lateral flow tests from Friday and how much do they cost?

In England, the majority of people who want to be tested for COVID-19 will have to pay for their own lateral flow tests from this Friday under new plans put forward by ministers. The government has announced who will be eligible for free tests when free universal testing in England comes to an end. People have been discouraged from ordering packs of lateral flow tests (LFTs) from the government website in a last-minute scramble to get hold of them by 1 April.
31st Mar 2022 - Sky News

U.S. CDC scraps COVID warning for cruise travel after 2 years

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday removed its COVID-19 notice against cruise travel, around two years after introducing a warning scale showing the level of coronavirus transmission risk on cruise ships. The move offers a shot of hope to major U.S. cruise operators such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise that have struggled to bring in revenue since the pandemic started.
31st Mar 2022 - Reuters

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'We demand an explanation!' Shanghai residents vent COVID lockdown irritation

Frustrated and locked down, residents of Shanghai have taken to social media to vent, questioning the practicality of persisting with China's zero-tolerance approach to COVID-19 in its most populous city. In the home to 26 million people, videos and images of crowded quarantine centres were shared as authorities extended lockdown from the east of the city to parts of the west, posting calls for help with medical treatment and purchasing food. One video widely shared on Chinese social media featured an angry exchange between a group of patients and hazmat suit-clad healthcare workers at the vast Shanghai World Expo Center - temporarily converted into a giant quarantine facility.
30th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 news: Just 64 per cent are self-isolating in England

Self-isolation rate dropped from 80 per cent to 64 per cent after the legal requirement changed to guidance. Fewer than two-thirds of people who test positive for covid-19 in England are choosing to self-isolate, according to an Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey. Using the NHS Test and Trace database, 1369 adults in England who tested positive for covid-19 before 24 February, when the legal requirement to self-isolate was dropped, were asked about their behaviour while infected. They were interviewed between 28 February and 8 March, when self-isolation was advised but not legally required. Fewer than two-thirds (64 per cent) said they fully self-isolated, compared with 80 per cent in a similar survey last month.
30th Mar 2022 - New Scientist

Boris should ‘hang his head in shame and quit’ relatives of Covid dead say

Bereaved relatives tearfully called on Boris Johnson to ‘hold his head in shame’ and resign over lockdown-breaking parties in Whitehall. They called for the Prime Minister to stand down as they led a silent procession to Downing Street for coronavirus victims. Hundreds of grief-stricken families gathered at the National Covid Memorial Wall in London on Tuesday to mark its first anniversary and pay tribute to those they lost during the pandemic. Those attending, joined by politicians including Labour MP Afzal Khan and shadow health minister Rosena Allin-Khan, then walked to No 10 to hand in a petition to make the mural permanent.
30th Mar 2022 - Metro on MSN.com

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COVID-19: Less than two-thirds of people self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus, figures show

The number of people self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus has fallen "significantly" since it stopped being a legal requirement - with less than two thirds of those who know they have the virus following government advice, figures show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) spoke to 1,369 people over 18 who tested positive for coronavirus up to two days before 24 February 2022, when the legal requirement to self isolate for at least five days was removed. The respondents were interviewed between 28 February and 8 March 2022 when self-isolation was advised but not legally required. The survey found 876 respondents (64%) were self-isolating after testing positive for COVID.
29th Mar 2022 - Sky News

‘A slow-moving glacier’: NIH’s sluggish and often opaque efforts to study long Covid draw patient, expert ire

The National Institutes of Health is fumbling its first efforts to study long Covid. Fifteen months ago, Congress showered the agency with a massive $1.2 billion to research the mysterious cases of patients who never fully recover from Covid-19 infections. But so far the NIH has brought in just 3% of the patients it plans to recruit. Critics charge that the NIH’s missteps are even bigger: that it is acting without urgency, that it is taking on vague, open-ended research questions rather than testing out therapies or treatments, and that it is not being fully transparent with patient advocates and researchers.
29th Mar 2022 - Scientific American

Academic on trial for spreading misinformation on Covid vaccines

A professor of clinical pharmacology and a vocal critic of coronavirus containment measures went on trial in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Tuesday for disseminating misinformation regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. Aristotle University’s Dimitris Kouvelas was put under investigation and indicted last year after making claims online indicating that a prominent government official’s health problems were a result of his being vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2. In these claims, Kouvelas said that former deputy civil protection minister – and one of the top government officials in the fight against the pandemic – Nikos Hardalias should take the National Organization for Medicines (EOF) to task for approving the coronavirus vaccine, which, he indicated, contributed to the heart attack he suffered in August 2021. The academic, who has gained widespread popularity among anti-vaxxers for his outspoken and often vulgar criticism of Covid restrictions and vaccine mandates, was indicted under new legislation aimed at stemming the dissemination of “fake news.”
29th Mar 2022 - Kathimerini English Edition

Premature deaths in elderly due to Covid in England and Wales among worst in the world

Elderly people in England and Wales had the highest rate of premature deaths to Covid-19 among 20 comparable countries, researchers have shown. The study by University of Manchester epidemiologists, published in the Journal of Global Health, reveals 5.78 per cent of the over-90s were lost to the disease. In Sweden the figure was 3.82 per cent, Italy 3.18 per cent, Germany 2.46 per cent and France 2.08 per cent. In the Netherlands, the figure for the over 95s was 3.87 per cent. The high mortality rate was largely due to the failure to stop the virus from sweeping through care homes as older patients were discharged from hospital without being tested. There was a substantial increase in deaths in care homes in England and Wales in the first three months of the pandemic – estimated by other researchers at 79 per cent.
29th Mar 2022 - iNews

Brazil health regulator says time to ease COVID travel restrictions

Brazilian health regulator Anvisa recommended that COVID-19 travel restrictions be eased due to a drop in cases and deaths, requiring only full vaccination and doing away with quarantine for unvaccinated travelers. People entering the country who have not been vaccinated will still need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, but quarantining will be eliminated immediately. Travelers' health declarations used for tracing COVID cases will no longer be required, with immediate effect, while testing for vaccinated travelers will be suspended from May 1, Anvisa said.
29th Mar 2022 - Reuters Canada

GM told workers to sleep in factory during China lockdown: report

General Motors is asking workers to sleep on the floors of its Shanghai factories to keep production going during the city's new COVID-19 lockdown, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. China, which has pursued a zero-COVID strategy throughout the pandemic, is battling several new outbreaks of COVID-19. The city of Shanghai said Sunday it was locking down half of the city from Monday to Friday while it launched a mass COVID-19 testing drive. The other half of the city is to be locked down for the same period starting April 1. While the lockdowns last, China has told companies based in the zone to enforce a "closed-loop" arrangements, whereby workers live and work in a bubble away from the public, Reuters said.
29th Mar 2022 - Business Insider

Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over for Black Americans, report warns

A searing report released Tuesday by the Black Coalition Against COVID details the immense toll the Covid-19 pandemic has taken — and continues to take — on Black communities, and calls for continued vigilance and action to prevent further losses even as the rest of the nation is eager to move on. The report’s authors — physicians and public health and policy experts — note with alarm that even as case rates began to fall sharply across the country earlier this year, the Covid-19 hospitalization rate for Black people was higher than it had been at any time during the pandemic for any racial or ethnic group. For the week ending Jan. 8, 2022, the hospitalization rate for Black Americans was 64 per 100,000 — more than twice the overall rate. Rates for all Americans have since fallen, though they remain much higher for Black people.
29th Mar 2022 - STAT News

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MIT Reinstates SAT, ACT Mandates Many Colleges Dropped During Covid

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is reinstating its standardized testing requirements, citing that most students are now able to access the exams safely. Vaccine availability and an increase in students taking tests at school have alleviated challenges that had made it especially difficult for high-schoolers to sit for the SAT and ACT during the pandemic, MIT said Monday in a statement. Many colleges across the U.S. have made the requirements optional amid ongoing Covid disruptions and concerns that the tests unfairly favor wealthier students. The math component of the exams are especially important in evaluating whether a prospective student will do well at MIT, the college said.
28th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

For red and blue America, a glaring divide in COVID-19 death rates persists 2 years later

Political polarization in the U.S. was evident and intensifying long before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, two years ago. Polling shows that the emergence of the novel coronavirus in 2020 exacerbated the rift, pushing Americans further apart on key pandemic response efforts. Surveys from Pew Research Center, last year, found that in the early months of the pandemic, about 6 in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents believed the virus was a major threat to the health of the U.S. population, compared to only a third of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. That 26-point gap would ultimately grow to approximately 40 points by the fall, researchers found.
28th Mar 2022 - ABC News

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Pfizer, Moderna and J&J Face Shareholder Pressure to Broaden Covid-19 Vaccine Access

Socially conscious investors and global-health activists are turning to shareholders to press Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson to make more of their shots available to people in poorer countries. Groups including the antipoverty organization Oxfam have succeeded in placing proposals on shareholder proxy ballots that ask drugmakers to do more to widen access to the Covid-19 vaccines, such as exploring the transfer of their technology to other manufacturers. The proxy battles are the latest effort seeking to push Covid-19 vaccine makers to share their technology in order to boost supplies at lower-income countries, after some of the countries asked the World Trade Organization to lift patent restrictions and activists urged the U.S. government to share companies’ vaccine technology with other countries.
27th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Uninsured Americans now to be charged up to $195 per COVID test by some providers: report | TheHill

Several testing providers will no longer provide COVID-19 tests for free to uninsured Americans, even if they are symptomatic, saying they will begin to charge between $100 and $195 dollars for PCR tests, ABC News reported. Quest Diagnostics, which is one of the country's largest COVID-19 testing providers, told ABC News that patients will now be billed $125 per PCR test if they are not on Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. Quest has started telling partners and clients that it will no longer be able to reimburse for uninsured claims due to a lack of congressional funding, ABC noted.
27th Mar 2022 - The Hill

Nearly half of foreign businesses in Hong Kong are planning to relocate

Foreign businesses have for decades reaped the benefits of setting up shop in Hong Kong, a historically stable, expat-friendly finance hub at the doorstep of mainland China. But lately, as Beijing has tightened its grip on the former British colony, those firms are increasingly eyeing the exits. Nearly half of all European businesses in Hong Kong are considering relocating in the next year, according to a new report. Companies cite the local government's extremely strict Covid-19 protocols that mirror those on the mainland. Among the firms planning to leave, 25% said they would fully relocate out of Hong Kong in the next 12 months, while 24% plan to relocate at least partially. Only 17% of the companies said they don't have any relocation plans for the next 12 months.
27th Mar 2022 - CNN

Harvard Economist Says Covid Hit Worse by Education Than Gender

While the pandemic disproportionately hurt women in the workforce more than men, the bigger divide was among education levels, according to a new paper by Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin. When restaurants, retailers and other service providers closed, those without college degrees were more likely to lose their jobs. Meantime, many college-educated Americans could continue to work from home. “The pandemic produced both a he- and a she-cession,” Goldin wrote in a report discussed at the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity conference Thursday. “Relative to previous recessions, women have been harder hit. But the largest differences in pandemic effects on employment are found between education groups rather than between genders within educational groups.”
25th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

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Majority of GPs think England Covid restrictions removed too soon

The majority of GPs in England think Covid restrictions should still apply, a Pulse survey has revealed. Speaking to Pulse, GPs said removing restrictions meant difficulties keeping vulnerable people safe, and they expressed particular concern with regards to the scrapping of free Covid testing. More than two-thirds of GPs are also concerned about their own health in light of the lifting of restrictions. Since the end of last month (24 February), fully-vaccinated people and children have not been required to isolate if they develop symptoms of Covid-19 and, from next week (1 April) free testing will be scrapped altogether except for the most vulnerable. However, asked in a Pulse survey to what extent they agreed with the Government’s decision to remove restrictions: Well over half (59%) of GPs said they disagreed and almost a quarter (24%) of GPs said they ‘strongly’ disagreed. Although another quarter (27%) of GPs did agree with scrapping restrictions, only 7.5% ‘strongly’ agreed. Of the respondents, more than two thirds (69%) felt concerned about their own health with the removal of restrictions – 23% of these felt very concerned. Just 31% felt unconcerned.
25th Mar 2022 - Pulse

U.S. airline CEOs urge Biden to lift COVID mask mandate -letter

The chief executives of American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and other carriers have urged U.S. President Joe Biden to end a federal mask mandate on airplanes and international pre-departure testing requirements. The airline executives, including the chairman of Southwest Airlines and JetBlue's CEO, said in a letter the restrictions "are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment."
24th Mar 2022 - Reuters

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Indonesia's annual holiday exodus to go ahead this year as COVID cases ease

Indonesia will lift a ban on domestic travel during the Muslim holiday season of Eid al-Fitr in early May, President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday, after banning the annual tradition for two years during the pandemic. The decision to allow the annual exodus after the holy month of Ramadan is the latest in a series of measures aimed at easing COVID-19 restrictions and reviving Southeast Asia's largest economy. Indonesia, a country of 270 million, banned the mass travel known locally as 'mudik' in early 2020 as it scrambled to contain the spread of coronavirus along with the rest of the world.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

New Zealand sports to welcome back crowds as COVID rules eased

New Zealand sports will welcome full-capacity crowds when COVID-19 rules ease this weekend after a bruising period for revenues. New Zealand capped crowds at 100 people for outdoor events while battling an outbreak of the Omicron variant, but will lift the curbs from Saturday, along with the need for fans to wear masks, the government said on Wednesday. "While Omicron is transmissible the natural ventilation of an outdoor seating reduces the risk," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

COVID vaccine maker Moderna flags Japan ambition with sumo sponsorship

Moderna Inc is sponsoring sumo flags in its first such promotion in Japan, as the COVID-19 vaccine maker seeks to wrestle market share from compatriot Pfizer Inc. The U.S. firm's introduction to the broader Japanese public was set back after some of its doses last year were found to be contaminated, although it has clawed back market share since with the help of a government-endorsed programme. Now, as the government plans a fourth-dose vaccination programme, Moderna is looking to sumo to boost its public appeal as it seeks to expand beyond COVID-19 shots.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters.com

Hong Kong hopes to 'resolve' COVID flight-ban rule as cases ease

Hong Kong is looking to resolve a problem over a ban on airlines which bring in COVID-positive passengers as it eases travel curbs that have sealed off the city for two years, its leader said on Wednesday. The government said this week a ban on flights from nine countries - Canada, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Britain, the United States, France, Australia and the Philippines - would be lifted on April 1 but it was not clear if airlines would face a two-week ban if they bring in infected people, as is currently the case.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

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'Refuse quarantine!': frustrations mount as China replays COVID controls

Article reports that in footage shared on social media last week, a crowd of people in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang bang against the windows of a clothing market as they shout in frustration at the announcement of yet another round of COVID-19 tests. Though the local government quickly urged people not to "spread rumours" about the incident, the response from netizens was immediate. "Refuse quarantine!" said one. "Many people have awoken to the truth," said another. "It's actually over," said a netizen posting on WeChat under the username "Jasmine Tea". "The common cold is more serious than this… The testing agencies want this to go on. The vaccine companies want to inoculate forever."
22nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

Covid’s Fifth Wave Shows Us How to Live With the Virus

Covid cases are on the rise in several European countries. Upticks are visible again in France, Italy and the U.K. Infection rates in both Austria and Germany eclipse previous waves of the virus (based on cases per million). China is grappling with new highs in terms of case counts. The U.S. may soon follow. This fifth wave of the virus is likely to be mercifully short-lived in many areas, but the picture varies around the world. This divergence gives us something of a report card on the efficacy of the Covid policies in place.
22nd Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

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Charities call for annual Covid-19 memorial day in recognition of pandemic death toll

In the UK, charities are calling for an annual memorial day ahead of the second anniversary of lockdown this week as Covid cases and hospitalisations continue to rise. Marie Curie is among the charities taking part in a National Day of Reflection on Wednesday to support the millions of people who are grieving, and remembering the family, friends, neighbours and colleagues lost to the virus over the last two years. People can join a minute’s silence at noon or visit a local centre to see a “wall of reflection”, the charity said.
21st Mar 2022 - iNews

Doctors finding hurdles to using pills to treat COVID-19

High-risk COVID-19 patients now have new treatments they can take at home to stay out of the hospital — if doctors get the pills to them fast enough. Health systems around the country are rushing out same-day prescription deliveries. Some clinics have started testing and treating patients in one visit, an initiative that President Joe Biden's administration recently touted. The goal is to get patients started on either Pfizer’s Paxlovid tablets or Merck’s molnupiravir capsules within five days of symptoms appearing. That can prevent people with big health risks from growing sicker and filling up hospitals if another surge develops. But the tight deadline has highlighted several challenges. Some patients are delaying testing, thinking they just had a cold. Others have been unwilling or unable to try the new drugs.
21st Mar 2022 - The Independent

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The Pandemic Is Two Years Old. Baseball’s Vaccination Problem is Just Beginning.

Major League Baseball players have been more reluctant to take the Covid-19 vaccine than their counterparts in any of the other American professional sports. Now that decision could have a significant impact on how the upcoming season unfolds. Because of Canadian border restrictions, unvaccinated players won’t be allowed to enter the country to play against the Toronto Blue Jays. They won’t be paid or receive service time for any games missed because of their vaccination status under the industry’s new labor contract, which the owners and players’ union agreed to last week. The rule will, for the first time, provide a clear glimpse into how many players have declined to take the shots, which have been found to be safe and effective by experts around the world. While the NFL, NBA, NHL and WNBA have all reported that nearly all of their players have been vaccinated, baseball is a different story.
20th Mar 2022 - Wall Street Journal

Parents up in arms against an Ontario school board's move to keep masks on

As students in Canada's most populous province return to mask-free classes after two years on Monday, one Ontario school board is facing backlash for defying the province's decision to drop masks, potentially setting the stage for a clash on a contentious pandemic issue. The mask mandate and other pandemic measures have become a lightning rod in Canada for an anti-government movement, sparking a three-week protest in capital Ottawa last month.
20th Mar 2022 - Reuters

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Doctors urge Boris Johnson to do better on global Covid-19 vaccine drive

More than 130 leading NHS clinicians and several medical bodies have called on the government to step up funding for the global Covid vaccine drive, saying Britain’s failure to do so is condemning poorer nations to an “ongoing pandemic”. In a letter to Boris Johnson, shared with The Independent, they say government must “play a bigger role in achieving the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 70 per cent global vaccination target by July 2022”. Key signatories include the presidents of the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of GPs.
17th Mar 2022 - The Independent

WHO says global rise in COVID cases is 'tip of the iceberg'

Figures showing a global rise in COVID-19 cases could herald a much bigger problem as some countries also report a drop in testing rates, the WHO said on Tuesday, warning nations to remain vigilant against the virus. After more than a month of decline, COVID cases started to increase around the world last week, the WHO said, with lockdowns in Asia and China's Jilin province battling to contain an outbreak. A combination of factors was causing the increases, including the highly transmissible Omicron variant and its BA.2 sublineage, and the lifting of public health and social measures, the WHO said.
17th Mar 2022 - Reuters

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Coronavirus: Hong Kong set to run out of coffins within days

Hong Kong is running out of coffins as it fights a devastating surge in coronavirus deaths. Kwok Hoi-bong, president of the Funeral Business Association, said that the city would use up its remaining 300 coffins in the next two to three days. Families would have to delay funeral services if the problem was not be addressed, he added.
16th Mar 2022 - The Times

COVID-19: Most people still taking voluntary precautions to prevent spread of COVID two years into pandemic, ONS survey shows

Two years on from the start of the pandemic, and despite the fact that almost all COVID restrictions have now been lifted, the majority of people are still taking voluntary precautions against infection. According to an ONS attitudes survey released today, most adults report taking at least one preventative measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. Around four-fifths, 81%, of people say they are still frequently washing or sanitising hands, 76% are still wearing face coverings and 57% are avoiding crowded places.
16th Mar 2022 - Sky News

Pets and COVID-19: Experts say vigilance needed but risks small

A pet sneezes, its nose is runny, and it seems sluggish. Could it be a normal pet illness like a cold – which can be caught by dogs and cats from human owners – or could it be COVID-19? It is a question that has sat uncomfortably on the minds of many pet owners throughout the pandemic and was resurrected again in January when authorities in Hong Kong culled hundreds of hamsters and other small animals following an outbreak of the Delta variant traced to a pet shop and warehouse.
16th Mar 2022 - Al Jazeera English

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China’s Covid-19 Surge Shuts Down Plants in Manufacturing Hubs Shenzhen and Changchun

A surge in Covid-19 cases led Chinese manufacturing hubs Shenzhen and Changchun to lock down in recent days, halting production at many electronics and auto factories in the latest threat to the world’s battered supply chain. A number of manufacturers including Foxconn, Technology Group, a major assembler of Apple Inc.’s iPhones, said they were halting operations in Shenzhen in compliance with the local government’s policy. The government placed the city into lockdown for at least a week and said everyone in the city would have to undergo three rounds of testing after 86 new cases of domestic Covid-19 infections were detected Sunday.
15th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

UK to end all COVID-19 travel rules ahead of Easter break

Britain’s government said Monday all remaining coronavirus measures for travelers, including passenger locator forms and the requirement that unvaccinated people be tested for COVID-19 before and after their arrivals, will end Friday to make going on holiday easier for the Easter school vacation. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes will mean people “can travel just like in the good old days.” The passenger locator forms require people to fill in travel details, their address in the U.K. and their vaccination status.
14th Mar 2022 - Associated Press

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War in Ukraine could make the Covid-19 pandemic worse, WHO says

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday it is concerned the war in Ukraine could worsen the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is trying to do more to limit the spread of infectious diseases. Cases in the region are down from the previous week, but there's significant risk there will be more severe disease and death due to low vaccination rates in Ukraine, as well as among the more than two million who've fled the country to surrounding areas, regions also with low vaccination rates. Ukraine's Covid-19 vaccination rate is around 34%, while neighboring Moldova's is around 29%, according to Our World In Data. There have been a total of 791,021 new cases of Covid-19 and 8,012 new deaths in Ukraine and in surrounding countries between March 3 and 9, a WHO situation report published Sunday said. "Unfortunately, this virus will take opportunities to continue to spread," said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead on Covid-19, during a Wednesday news briefing. "
14th Mar 2022 - CNN

Coronavirus Daily: A Rural-Urban Vaccine Divide in the US

In President Joe Biden’s National Covid-19 Preparedness Plan there’s a glaring omission: efforts to improve on high levels of vaccine hesitancy in rural parts of the U.S. First-dose vaccination coverage is about 59% for people in rural areas compared with 75% for those in urban areas, according to a recent government study, and that disparity has more than doubled since April 2021. Overall, more than 65% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. The divide is particularly stark among children and teenagers who need parental consent to get vaccinated. Only about 15% of children ages 5-11 have been vaccinated in rural areas, compared with 31% in urban areas.
14th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

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UK economy bounces back from Omicron as more people dine out

Britain’s economy bounced back from the effects of the Omicron Covid variant at a faster pace than expected during January, as consumers returned to eating and drinking out in pubs and restaurants. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said all sectors of the economy returned to growth, helping to lift gross domestic product by 0.8% in January from a month earlier, fuelled by a rise in consumer-facing services. GDP was estimated to be 0.8% above its pre-pandemic level, reflecting a weaker impact on the economy than expected after the emergence of the Omicron variant led to a sharp rise in coronavirus infections. City economists had forecast a slower growth rate of 0.2%.
12th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

Age groups being hardest hit by Covid in York revealed

As the Covid rate soars in York, the age groups being most affected by the coronavirus have been revealed. City of York Council's latest Covid data tracker report says people aged between 30 and 49 are currently experiencing the highest Covid infection rate. It says people aged 40 to 44 had the highest rate of new cases in the week to March 5, with a rate of 801 per 100,000 population. The next hardest hit groups were people aged 45-49, who had a rate of 655, people aged 35-39, with a rate of 561 and people aged 30-34, with a rate of 547. The rate for people aged 60+ was 392.7. The council ward with the highest rate was Wheldrake, with a rate of 695.8 per 100,000, and the lowest rate was 257.5 in Clifton.
12th Mar 2022 - York Press

Australia nears living with COVID like flu - PM Morrison

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the nation's political leaders want to move to a new phase of living with COVID-19 as though it were the flu, but would consult health experts. A day after meeting with the national cabinet of state and federal leaders, Morrison told reporters on Saturday morning they had discussed moving to "Phase D" of the national pandemic response plan. "Our airports are open again, international arrivals can come, there are waivers now on quarantine for people returning, so we are pretty much in Phase D," he said.
12th Mar 2022 - Reuters

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Covid Study Finds 18 Million Deaths, Three Times Official Tally

The pandemic’s death toll may be three times higher than official Covid-19 records suggest, according to a study that found stark differences across countries and regions. As many as 18.2 million people probably died from Covid in the first two years of the pandemic, researchers found in the first peer-reviewed global estimate of excess deaths. They pointed to a lack of testing and unreliable mortality data to explain the discrepancy with official estimates of roughly 5.9 million deaths. “At the global level, this is quite the biggest mortality shock since the Spanish flu,” said Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, where the study was conducted.
11th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

Seniors, freed from COVID isolation, sashay in New York dance class

Seniors sway hips and stomp feet as they salsa, cha-cha, merengue and bachata in a New York dance class to get moving again after two years of COVID-19 pandemic isolation. Despite stiff joints - or even the loss of a limb - the students stick it out in the free class taught by Walter Perez at the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood in upper Manhattan.
10th Mar 2022 - Reuters

'Lost generation' feared as COVID school closures fuel inequality

Around 1.6 billion children globally - more than 90% of all school students - have been affected by pandemic school closures, which threaten to widen wealth inequalities both within and between countries. "We're running the risk of a lost generation," U.N. education expert Robert Jenkins told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "It's a now-or-never moment to turn things around." Without urgent action, many countries could end up without the skilled workers they need for their future development, said Jenkins, head of education at UNICEF.
10th Mar 2022 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

Novavax, eyeing the COVID 'vaccine hesitant' and kids, unveils new education campaigns as Nuvaxovid nears US finish line

Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were quickest off the mark in getting COVID vaccines into American arms, but Novavax is hoping to add another pandemic vaccine to the U.S. mix soon—and it's pushing new campaigns to get the word out. The biopharma, which has approvals and authorizations in Europe and around the world, is now on the cusp of a potential green light in the U.S. And with a market comes the need for marketing. But because it still has no U.S. approval—and it cannot under law advertise to consumers in Europe—Novavax is launching two new global, unbranded vaccine education programs: "We Do Vaccines" and "Know Our Vax." They're designed to offer up vaccine information and "explain Novavax’ commitment to vaccine development and innovation,” the company told Fierce Pharma Marketing.
10th Mar 2022 - Fiercepharm

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Florida vaccine plan for children denounced as ‘irresponsible and reckless’

In a pronouncement which stunned experts on Monday, Florida’s controversial surgeon general Dr Joseph Ladapo said the state would be the first to “recommend against” Covid-19 vaccination for “healthy children”. The move followed two recent Covid-19 surges in which pediatric hospitalization was believed to be higher because of low vaccination rates among children. “It’s very generous to call it a recommendation, because recommendations come with supporting evidence and transparency,” said Saad B Omer, director of the Yale Institute of Global Health and professor of medicine in infectious diseases.
9th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

Having Covid-19 linked to risk of economic hardship, study suggests

People living in the UK’s most deprived areas are more likely to be infected with Covid-19, but research suggests this relationship is a two-way street: becoming infected also increases people’s risk of economic hardship, particularly if they develop long Covid. “We’ve shown that Covid has an impact on people’s ability to meet their basic household requirements – something that is only going to be exacerbated by the cost of living crisis which is happening at the same time,” said Adrian Martineau, a professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), who supervised the research. The findings have boosted calls for ministers to do more to support the growing number of working-age adults affected by the condition, which is also known as post-acute Covid syndrome (Pacs).
9th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

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Florida's top health official says healthy children should not get coronavirus vaccine

Florida’s governor and chief health official announced a new state policy that will recommend against giving a coronavirus vaccine to healthy children, regardless of their age — a policy that flies in the face of recommendations by every medical group in the nation. The announcement came at the conclusion of a 90-minute forum that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) hosted in West Palm Beach. “The Curtain Close on COVID Theater” was live-streamed from a studio with hundreds of participants appearing on a towering screen behind the panelists. Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo prefaced the change by deriding the school closures and mask and vaccine mandates issued by many states since the start of the pandemic as “terrible, harmful policies.”
8th Mar 2022 - The Washington Post

Trucker convoy laps Washington, DC, beltway to protest Covid-19 measures

A convoy of vehicles lapped the Washington, DC, beltway Sunday morning to demand an end to Covid-19 mandates and restrictions. The protests come at a time when many pandemic-related mandates and restrictions -- imposed by state and local governments rather than lawmakers in Washington -- have already begun being lifted in much of the country. The group planned to drive at least two loops around the beltway before returning to Hagerstown, Maryland, Maureen Steele, an organizer with the "People's Convoy" told CNN. Sunday's protest may mark the beginning of several days of disruptions, according to District of Columbia emergency management officials.
8th Mar 2022 - CNN

Japan's ANA lines up low-cost carrier in bet on post-COVID tourism boom

Japanese airline ANA Holdings Inc plans to launch a new international low-cost carrier in late 2023 or early 2024, joining its rival Japan Airlines Co in a bet on a revival in tourism as the impact of the COVID pandemic fades. ANA said on Tuesday the carrier, Air Japan, would fly mid-range international flights to Asia-Pacific destinations, without disclosing planned routes. ANA already has a separate low cost carrier (LCC), Peach Aviation, which flies domestic routes as well as to a handful of short-haul Asian destinations.
8th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Health groups press for more wildlife SARS-CoV-2 tracking

The statement on animal surveillance came from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO). They said though wildlife doesn't play a key transmission role in humans, SARS-CoV-2 spread in animal populations can affect their health and lead to the emergence of new variants. So far, farmed mink and pet hamsters have shown the capacity to infect humans, and scientists are reviewing a possible case of transmission between white-tailed deer and a human. And in the United States, large numbers of white-tail deer have been shown to carry the virus, underscoring concerns about establishment of an animal reservoir.
8th Mar 2022 - CIDRAP

COVID deaths vary by race, community, social factors

Social determinants of health (SDOH) tied to COVID-19 death rates varied by race and community type in the first year of the pandemic, suggests an observational spatial analysis involving 3,142 counties in all 50 US states and Washington, DC. The study was published late last week in JAMA Network Open. SDOH are nonmedical factors, such as where people live and work, that influence health outcomes such as COVID-19 infection and death. "Racial disparities in health largely emanate from the inequitable access to social, economic, and physical or built environmental conditions resulting from racism in the US," the researchers wrote. "Specifically, racism interacts with and exists within societal structures and systems to shape the major SDOH."
7th Mar 2022 - CIDRAP

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U.S. CDC urges Americans to avoid travel to Hong Kong, New Zealand

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday urged Americans to avoid travel to Hong Kong, New Zealand and Thailand over COVID-19 cases. The CDC elevated its travel recommendation to "Level Four: Very High" for the three destinations. In total, the CDC urges Americans to avoid travel to about 135 countries and territories. The CDC lists another 33 destinations as "Level 3: High" and recommends unvaccinated Americans avoid travel. It lowered six destinations on Monday to Level 3: Anguilla, Cape Verde, Fiji, Mexico, Philippines and United Arab Emirates.
8th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Moderna reaches preliminary agreement to build Covid vaccine manufacturing plant in Africa

Moderna plans to invest $500 million to produce messenger RNA, the technology underlying its Covid vaccines, at the facility in Kenya. It could fill Covid vaccine doses at the Kenya facility as early as 2023 subject to demand, according to the company. Moderna has faced criticism from groups such as Oxfam International and Doctors Without Borders for not sharing its vaccine technology with middle and lower income countries.
7th Mar 2022 - CNBC

Americans significantly less worried about contracting COVID-19: Gallup

A new Gallup poll shows that concerns about the pandemic have fallen, with just over a third of respondents saying they are now worried about contracting COVID-19. Americans questioned in the survey released Monday are more optimistic about the state of the pandemic than they have been since June, before the pandemic's delta and omicron variants contributed to a significant uptick in infections, according to the survey giant. For example, just 34 percent of people said they are worried about contracting COVID-19, compared to 50 percent in January.
7th Mar 2022 - Yahoo News

Convoy protesting COVID-19 mandates begins beltway circuit

A large group of truck drivers and their supporters who object to COVID-19 mandates began their mobile protest in the Washington, D.C., area Sunday, embarking on a drive designed to snarl traffic and make their objections known to lawmakers. The “People’s Convoy” follows similar demonstrations by truckers in Canada upset at vaccine requirements to cross the Canadian border. The Washington Post reported that convoy organizer Brian Brase intends for protesters to travel on the beltway every day during the upcoming week until its demands are met.
7th Mar 2022 - The Independent

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Trucks, RVs and cars flock to Washington area to protest COVID restrictions

More than a thousand large trucks, recreational vehicles and cars are gathering on the outskirts of Washington as part of a protest against COVID-19 restrictions that threatens to roll on the U.S. capital in the coming days. The so-called "People's Convoy," which originated in California and has drawn participants from around the country, is calling for an end to all pandemic-related restrictions. It was inspired by demonstrations last month that paralyzed Ottawa, Canada's capital city
6th Mar 2022 - Reuters

COVID and the Russian invasion: Ukraine’s dual crisis

Most of us could be forgiven for thinking there were glimmers of light at the end of a very long pandemic tunnel. We are not out of the pandemic yet, but with vaccines, advances in therapeutics and a wealth of knowledge on how the COVID-19 virus works and spreads, things have been improving. However, Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has opened up a dark chapter, one which will likely drive COVID infections up – not just in Ukraine but in surrounding countries. And history tells us warzones can provide the ideal conditions for infectious diseases to spread. Distracted government institutions, faltering health services, and the congregation of large numbers of vulnerable people, alongside environmental degradation, can create the perfect storm of conditions for an outbreak of a catastrophic infectious disease.
5th Mar 2022 - Al Jazeera English on MSN.com

Half of Insured Americans Owe Medical Debt, Boosted by Covid

More than half of Americans have medical debt -- whether they have health insurance or not. A recent survey of 1,250 U.S. adults found that 56% owe health-related debt and almost one in six people with medical bills aren’t currently paying it off. A large chunk of the debt came from Covid-19 treatment and testing, according to the poll conducted by Affordable Health Insurance.
5th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

Most EU women blame COVID pandemic for spike in gender violence -poll

Nearly three out of four European Union women think the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred an increase in physical and psychological violence against them, according to a Eurobarometer poll published on Friday. The poll, commissioned by the European Parliament ahead of Women's Day on March 8, shows 77% of women in the EU think the pandemic caused a rise in gender violence in their countries, with nine in 10 respondents in Greece and Portugal saying so.
4th Mar 2022 - Reuters

The evolving post-COVID U.S. job market in five charts

In the two years since the COVID-19 pandemic upended the U.S. economy, the labor market has rebounded far faster than most had predicted after roughly 22 million jobs were wiped out in the space of two months in the spring of 2020. As remarkable as the rebound has proven to be, the comeback from the low point in April 2020 has not been evenly spread across industries and demographic groups, with restaurant employment, for instance, still in a deep hole and the share of Black women with jobs trailing the recovery in other groups.
4th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Life in South Asia returns to normal as COVID cases decline

Shoppers buy produce at an open air market in Ahmedabad, India, Thursday, March 3, 2022. Slowly but steadily, life in South Asia is returning to normal, and people hope the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind them. Experts are optimistic that the omicron surge, which brought relatively low levels of death, has reinforced immunity from vaccines, which are widespread in the region. Slowly but steadily, life in South Asia is returning to normal, and people hope the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind them. Experts are optimistic that the omicron surge, which brought relatively low levels of death, has reinforced immunity from vaccines, which are widespread in the region. The markets are crowded again. Traffic is jamming the roads. Migrant workers have returned to the cities. And young people are back at schools and universities — many of them for the first time in years. It isn’t quite how things were before the COVID-19 pandemic — mask mandates still exist in some places — but with infections steadily declining, life in South Asia is returning to a sense of normalcy. The mental scars from last year’s delta-driven surge persist — especially in India, where health systems collapsed and millions likely died — but across the region high vaccination rates and hope that the highly contagious omicron variant has helped bolster immunity are giving people reasons to be optimistic.
4th Mar 2022 - The Associated Press

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Education Scotland partners with cybersecurity firm to help young learners stay safe online

Scotland’s national education agency is partnering with a leading cybersecurity firm to provide interactive learning and ‘demystify’ the subject for young people. Palo Alto Networks is working with Education Scotland to equip children with the right information to help them manage their online interactions safely and securely. Together, they are launching the Cyber Citizens programme, which will be available from 3 March, 2022, to coincide with CyberScotland Week. The lessons are designed so that they can be delivered by anyone, regardless of their prior knowledge, with modules catering for children from ages five to 15-years-old.
3rd Mar 2022 - FutureScot

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Partisan media exposure could inform COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy may be more attributed to partisan media exposure and an individual's pre-existing attitudes, rather than a lack of information about vaccine effectiveness, according to a Washington State University study. The study, published in Current Psychology, experimentally tested the intertwined relationships among message frames, partisan media use and attitudes on vaccine intention. In general, the findings show that those who consumed lower amounts of conservative media and held positive vaccine attitudes were higher on vaccine intention. Among people who consumed a higher amount of conservative media and held negative vaccine attitudes, the messages that talked about individual benefits of getting the vaccine resonated more.
2nd Mar 2022 - Medical Xpress

COVID-19: New Zealand police move to end three-week vaccine mandate protest

Protesters have fought police with fire extinguishers and pitchforks as officers moved to end an anti-vaccine mandate protest in New Zealand's capital three weeks after it began. The protesters had been outside Wellington's parliament buildings for 23 days when police in riot gear moved in early on Wednesday morning. Protesters used projectiles, shields, fire extinguishers, and pitchforks to fight police, as officers began dismantling protesters' tents and towing away up to 50 vehicles.
2nd Mar 2022 - Sky News

Covid-19 Has Orphaned 5.2 Million Children

An updated modeling study in The Lancet shows that number of children globally affected by COVID-19-associated orphanhood and caregiver death is estimated to have increased dramatically from approximately 2.7 million in April 2021 to a devastating 5.2 million in October 2021. To put those numbers into context, the researchers state that is the equivalent of one child every six seconds during the six-month period. With the pandemic far from over, we have both a moral and public health imperative to protect and support these children from direct and secondary harms. Children’s lives are permanently changed by the loss of a mother, father, grandparent, or other primary caregivers. The loss of a parent is an adverse childhood experience that is linked to a greater risk of dropping out of school, lower self-esteem, suicide, violence, sexual abuse, and developing anxiety, depression, and substance abuse problems. These impacts could be compounded further by the circumstances and additional stressors of the pandemic
2nd Mar 2022 - Forbes

Two years after world's biggest lockdown, India surges back to normal life

Almost two years after India went into the world's biggest lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19, students headed back to school in Maharashtra state on Wednesday, a sign of normal life resuming as infection rates fall. India's daily coronavirus infections rose by less than 10,000 for a third straight day on Wednesday, a level last seen in late December before the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, data from the health ministry showed.
2nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

COVID cases, deaths continue to fall globally, WHO reports

The number of new coronavirus cases reported globally dropped by 16% last week, marking a month-long decline in COVID-19 infections, according to figures from the World Health Organization. In its weekly report on the pandemic issued late Tuesday, the U.N. health agency also said that deaths fell by 10%, continuing a drop in fatalities first seen last week. WHO said there were more than 10 million new cases and about 60,000 deaths globally. The Western Pacific was the only region where COVID-19 increased, with about a third more infections than the previous week. Deaths rose by 22% in the Western Pacific and about 4% in the Middle East, while declining everywhere else.
2nd Mar 2022 - The Associated Press

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Dubai entry requirements: Travel restrictions ease in UAE with Covid tests scrapped for fully vaccinated

Fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to present a negative PCR test upon arrival in Dubai after the country eased its Covid entry rules over the weekend. Unvaccinated travellers will be able to enter either with a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours before arrival or with proof of recovery from Covid within the past month.
1st Mar 2022 - iNews

Italy entry requirements: Travel restrictions ease as Covid tests scrapped for fully vaccinated arrivals

Fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Italy will no longer need to provide proof of a negative Covid test from Tuesday. From 1 March, Italy is easing entry restrictions for all arrivals from non-EU countries, including the UK. The country will accept proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid test result for entry.
1st Mar 2022 - iNews

Tackling vaccine hesitancy by targeting 'fence-sitters'

A new study, published in the Journal of Community Health, emphasizes the importance of outreach to people who have mixed feelings about getting vaccinated. The study looked at the attitudes of participants aged 55 years and older about vaccines at different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers accessed data from the COVID-19 Coping Study to identify people in the United States who were either receptive, ambivalent, or against getting vaccinated against the disease.
1st Mar 2022 - Medical News Today

More than £600,000 in Covid-19 fines served to London’s businesses

More than £600,000 in Covid-19 fines have been dished to London’s businesses by local authorities wielding the emergency powers, an Evening Standard investigation has revealed. Police forces have faced the brunt of the scrutiny over coronavirus powers being used to break up illicit parties and enforce the lockdown rules, while Scotland Yard is currently deciding whether to hand out fines for the Partygate scandal at Downing Street. However little attention has been paid to how local authorities – also permitted to issue fines and bring prosecutions under the Covid laws – have used their powers. Freedom of Information requests reveal councils around the capital have handed out at least £600,000 in fines since the pandemic began, while a further £24,000 in fines have been imposed after full criminal prosecutions brought by six councils – Greenwich, Waltham Forest, Ealing, Haringey, Bexley, and Tower Hamlets.
1st Mar 2022 - Evening Standard

Hong Kong leader calls for calm, after supermarkets emptied ahead of mass COVID testing

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam called for calm on Tuesday after residents emptied supermarkets, stocking up on produce ahead of reports of compulsory mass COVID-19 testing and rumours of a city-wide lockdown. Local media reported compulsory COVID testing would start after March 17, sparking concerns many people will be forced to isolate and families with members testing positive would be separated. Lam appealed to the public "not to fall prey to rumours to avoid unnecessary fears being stirred," with the supply of food and goods remaining normal, according to a statement on Tuesday.
1st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Demand for Science Lab Buildings Soars During Covid-19 Pandemic

The rapid growth of life-science research during the pandemic is triggering a record boom in the development of new lab space and offices serving these companies. Development of buildings geared toward biotechnology, pharmaceutical and other laboratory firms was already on the rise before 2020. But demand for this space intensified as billions of dollars poured into research and development of a Covid-19 vaccine and other therapies for the virus. Life-science space has also been enjoying high occupancy rates because—unlike traditional office buildings—much of the lab work requires specialized equipment and building infrastructure that cannot be easily replicated at home.
1st Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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90% adolescents administered 1st Covid-19 vaccine dose in Delhi: Data

Ninety per cent of adolescents in the age group of 15 to 18 years in Delhi have been administered the first dose of vaccine against COVID-19 since the launch of the drive on January 3, according to official data. Up to February 24, 54 per cent of them had also received the second dose of the vaccine, the data presented during a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) earlier this week mentioned.
28th Feb 2022 - Business Standard

How Covid vaccine misinformation is still impacting inoculation rates in Lancashire

The Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has been subject to months of debate based on numerous health concerns primarily surrounding blood clots. And due to these concerns, some members of Lancashire’s Asian community have been reluctant to have the jab, over worries that it is safe. Certain medical studies and reports note that one of the most common reasons for hesitancy within the British-Asian community are concerns regarding side effects and long-term effects on health.
28th Feb 2022 - Lancs Live

Hong Kong domestic helpers abandoned as COVID takes toll

A rapid spread in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong has cast a spotlight on the plight of domestic helpers in the global financial hub after some were fired or made homeless by their employers when they tested positive for coronavirus. Hong Kong has around 340,000 domestic helpers, most hailing from either the Philippines or Indonesia. Many families in the city depend on live-in helpers for housekeeping and to look after the elderly and children, with the minimum wage set at HK$4,630 ($593) per month. Under Hong Kong law, migrant domestic workers must live with their employers, often residing in tiny rooms or sharing the bedrooms of the children they care for.
28th Feb 2022 - Reuters

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Community Workers Push to Get Covid-19 Tests to the Vulnerable

As the Biden administration distributes hundreds of millions of Covid-19 tests, some public-health workers are moving to deliver the kits a final mile to some of the people most vulnerable to the virus. In some places, including low-income areas, rural parts of the country and some communities of color, a more local effort from health providers and community organizations is needed to get tests into people’s hands, officials and providers said. That work echoes efforts to bring Covid-19 vaccines to people who struggled to reach vaccination sites or were hesitant to get a shot.
27th Feb 2022 - Wall Street Journal

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Google drops coronavirus vaccine requirement for US office workers

In a major update to Covid-19 protocols, Google will no longer mandate vaccines as a condition of employment for US workers. "Based on current conditions in the Bay Area, we're pleased that our employees who choose to come in now have the ability to access more onsite spaces and services to work and connect with colleagues," a Google spokesperson said in a statement to CNET. "We are giving employees who welcome the chance to come into the office the option to do that wherever we safely can, while allowing those who aren't ready to keep working from home."
24th Feb 2022 - Business Standard

Anti-Covid vaccine mandate protesters chase New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern outside school

A group of shouting protesters have chased the New Zealand prime minister’s van down a driveway as she visited a Christchurch primary school, amid tensions over increasingly volatile anti-vaccine mandate protests. Jacinda Ardern, who was visiting a primary school in Christchurch, was met by a crowd of people shouting “shame on you” and “traitor”. Some held signs saying that the prime minister would be “put on trial” and “held responsible”, and one man brandished a fabricated arrest warrant – references to conspiracy theories that a cohort of world leaders and powerful people are secretly using vaccines to commit a genocide, and would soon be put on trial and hanged for treason. Police officers formed a barrier to allow the prime minister to pass through.
24th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

US truckers planning pandemic protest to begin heading to DC

Modelled after recent trucker protests in Canada, truck drivers in the United States are planning on setting off on a massive cross-country drive towards Washington, DC to protest against coronavirus restrictions. Organisers of the “People’s Convoy” say they want to “jumpstart the economy” and reopen the country. Their 11-day trek that is estimated to be 4,000km (2,500 miles) long will approach the Beltway – which encircles the US capital – on March 5 “but will not be going into DC proper”, according to a statement. Separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums with names like the People’s Convoy and the American Truckers Freedom Fund – all with different starting points, departure dates and routes. Some are scheduled to arrive in time for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, though others may arrive afterwards.
23rd Feb 2022 - AlJazeera

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U.S. truckers plan pandemic protest, inspired by Canadian counterparts

Taking a cue from demonstrations that paralyzed Canada's capital city, Ottawa, for weeks, U.S. truckers on Wednesday plan to embark on a 2,500-mile (4,000-km) cross-country drive toward Washington to protest coronavirus restrictions. Organizers of the "People's Convoy" say they want to "jumpstart the economy" and reopen the country. Their 11-day trek will approach the Beltway around the U.S. capital on March 5, "but will not be going into D.C. proper," according to a statement. The Pentagon said on Tuesday it had approved 400 National Guard troops from the District of Columbia, who would not carry weapons, to help at traffic posts from Saturday through March 7.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Weary of promises, Bulgarians protest against COVID curbs, inflation

About 1,000 Bulgarian demonstrators gathered in downtown Sofia on Wednesday to protest against curbs imposed to combat COVID-19 and rampant inflation at a rally organised by the opposition ultra-nationalist Revival party. Holding banners reading "I want a normal life," and "COVID is a tyranny, not a pandemic" the demonstrators booed as Prime Minister Kiril Petkov addressed them. Bulgaria, where scepticism about vaccines and entrenched distrust of government institutions has meant fewer than one in three adults are inoculated against the coronavirus, has seen infections drop in recent weeks after they peaked at the end of January, prompting the government to start easing restrictions.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

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In Hong Kong's All-Out Fight Against Covid, Singapore Is Winning

In pursuit of a tough Covid Zero strategy to fight its worst ever coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong is ceding ground to Singapore, a rival Asian financial and transport hub that’s been easing pandemic-linked restrictions to get its economy back on track. Key data compiled by Bloomberg Economics economists Tamara Mast Henderson and Eric Zhu show that some businesses, weary of stringent quarantine rules and the inability to travel freely, have been shifting to Singapore. The analysts have cut their economic growth forecast for Hong Kong by 0.6 percentage point to 1.4% this year, and expect Singapore’s gross domestic product to grow 4.7%
22nd Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

Convoy Leader Denied Bail as Canadian Officials Warn of Unrest

Canadian banks froze about C$7.8 million ($6.1 million) in just over 200 accounts under emergency powers meant to end protests in Ottawa and at key border crossings, a government official said Tuesday. The new tally was revealed in testimony to lawmakers examining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to invoke the country’s Emergencies Act to end a three-week occupation of the nation’s capital. Trudeau and his ministers have said the measures announced last week are meant to cut off funding to protest leaders and to pressure trucking companies to prevent their semis from being used again in blockades. Ottawa’s downtown core was cleared out over the weekend, but dozens of trucks remain gathered at encampments outside the city.
22nd Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

Protester drives at New Zealand police as cordon tightens

One protester drove a car toward a New Zealand police line, narrowly avoiding officers, while other protesters sprayed officers with a stinging substance, police said Tuesday, as they tightened a cordon around a convoy that has been camped outside Parliament for two weeks. The clashes in the capital of Wellington came a day after police reported that some of the protesters had thrown human feces at them.
22nd Feb 2022 - ABC News

Canada's parliament approves Trudeau's emergency powers

Canada's parliament on Monday backed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to invoke rarely-used emergency powers to end pandemic-related protests that have blocked streets in the capital Ottawa for more than three weeks. The Emergencies Act was approved in parliament by 185 to 151, with the minority Liberal government getting support from left-leaning New Democrats. The special measures, announced by Trudeau a week ago, have been deemed unnecessary and an abuse of power by some opposition politicians.
22nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Bulgaria to ease coronavirus restrictions as cases drop

Bulgaria plans to lift the obligatory COVID-19 "green certificate" for entry to restaurants, shopping malls and other public venues from March 20 as coronavirus infections ease, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said. The health pass - a digital or paper certificate showing someone has been vaccinated, tested negative or recently recovered from the virus - was made obligatory for most indoor spaces in Bulgaria last October. Its introduction has prompted a series of protests in the European Union's least vaccinated member state, angering bar and restaurant owners and anti-vaccine activists.
22nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Ugandans would face fines, jail for refusing COVID jab under new law

Uganda plans to impose fines on people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who fail to pay could be sent to prison under a new public health law which lawmakers are scrutinising, parliament said on Tuesday. Although the East African country started administering COVID-19 jabs nearly a year ago, only about 16 million jabs have been administered in a population of 45 million, with officials blaming widespread reluctance for the low coverage. Parliament's house health committee has begun scrutinising Public Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 which seeks to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory.
22nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

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UK's Johnson scraps COVID restrictions in England

British Prime Minister Boris on Monday said he would end all coronavirus restrictions in England including mandatory self-isolation for people with COVID-19 and free testing, drawing scepticism from some scientists and political opponents. Johnson's "living with COVID" plan has sparked alarm that it is premature and will leave the country vulnerable to new viral variants, but the government says it has provided more testing than most other countries, and must now curb the cost. The plan to ditch the remaining legal restrictions is a priority for many of Johnson's Conservative Party lawmakers, whose discontent over his scandal-ridden leadership has threatened his grip on power. Some critics think the plan is also a bid to divert attention from those scandals.
21st Feb 2022 - Reuters UK

U.K. Unions Challenge Johnson’s Move to End Covid Rules

U.K. trade unions are challenging plans by Boris Johnson to end Covid-19 regulations in England, saying the prime minister should put public health first. The Trades Union Congress, an umbrella group for British unions representing more than 5.5 million people, said Monday that the government should first commit to improving sick pay and supporting people with weakened immune systems and long Covid. The group warned that introducing charges for Covid tests at a time of rising consumer prices would be “an act of madness.” Johnson is set to announce an end to England’s rules on Monday, a day after the U.K.’s 95-year-old monarch Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for the virus. The Cabinet is scheduled to meet Monday to sign off on the so-called Living with Covid plan ahead of a statement by the premier to Parliament.
21st Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID-19: Emotional reunions as Australia opens border to vaccinated tourists

Australia has reopened its borders to vaccinated travellers after almost two years of pandemic-related closures. Hundreds of people have been reunited with family and friends, with more than 50 international flights arriving in Australia through the day. "It is a very exciting day, one that I have been looking forward to for a long time, from the day that I first shut that border right at the start of the pandemic," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a visit to the island state of Tasmania, which relies heavily on tourism.
21st Feb 2022 - Sky News

Canada looks to end Covid-19 protests with tougher financial measures after another weekend of arrests

Another weekend of protests against Canada's Covid-19 mandates saw around 200 arrests in the nation's capital as authorities moved to end the weekslong demonstration, towing vehicles and going after protesters' pocketbooks with financial penalties. Police said they employed pepper spray and escalated tactics over the weekend to disperse crowds and make arrests with protesters gathered in front of the Parliament building. Some of those arrests included protesters who allegedly had smoke grenades and fireworks, and were wearing body armor, police said. Ontario's Special Investigation Unit is also reviewing an incident where a woman was reportedly seriously injured after an interaction with a police officer on a horse, and a second where an officer discharged a less-than-lethal firearm at protesters.
21st Feb 2022 - CNN

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Freedom Convoy Leaves Town and Quiet Returns to Ottawa

For the first time in over three weeks, downtown Ottawa on Sunday was largely deserted, with the heavy-duty trucks and thousands of protesters demanding an end to Covid-19 vaccine mandates replaced by police vehicles, officers, and crews trying to clean up after a 23-day demonstration. Officials in the capital and across Canada remained on high alert. While police in Ottawa cleared out Freedom Convoy protesters there, authorities in some of Canada’s biggest cities, such as Toronto and Vancouver, dealt Saturday with either the threat of a trucker-led demonstration or protesters that disrupted traffic. “It’s still clear that while police have made significant progress, the job is not yet done,” Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief and Canada’s emergency-preparedness minister, told CTV News on Sunday. “The threat, the risks, the reasons we had to invoke emergency powers, they still exist.”
20th Feb 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

'God Save The Queen': messages pour in after Elizabeth catches COVID

News that Britain's Queen Elizabeth had tested positive for COVID-19 drew shock, concern and messages of goodwill from across the country on Sunday, with politicians and the public willing the 95-year-old to recover. On a wet and blustery day, a few sightseers gathered at the gates of Windsor Castle where the queen is receiving medical treatment for mild symptoms. Others went online to express support and message boards in the London Underground urged the monarch to "take it easy".
20th Feb 2022 - Reuters

UK shoppers return to stores after Omicron knock

British shoppers began to return to stores last month after many stayed away during a wave of COVID-19 cases that peaked at the turn of the year, although fast-rising inflation is curbing their spending power. Retail sales volumes rose by 1.9% in January after a 4.0% decline in December, the Office for National Statistics said, the largest rise since lockdown rules for non-essential stores in England were relaxed in April 2021. The monthly increase was greater than the average 1.0% gain forecast in a Reuters poll, although December's drop in sales was slightly bigger than first estimated.
18th Feb 2022 - Reuters

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Hundreds of Aussie mining workers set to lose jobs over vaccine mandate

Hundreds of BHP workers across Australia are being forced to quit or lose their jobs after the mining giant won a legal challenge to enforce its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The company expects up to 700 employees, or 3 per cent of its staff, will choose not to be vaccinated, effectively leaving the business, The Australian reports. The rule came into place from January 31 after unions lost a legal challenge fighting the mandate. Under BHP workplace rules, anyone who does not show proof of vaccination will not be permitted on sites and their positions are currently under review. Unvaccinated contractors will also be unable to work with BHP. The mining giant has joined other major Australian companies, such as Bunnings, Qantas and Telstra to implement the measures.
17th Feb 2022 - 9News

US parents of under-fives clamor for off-label use over Covid vaccine delays

When providers sign an agreement to provide Covid-19 vaccine shots, they also agree not to give the vaccine off-label, or use it for purposes other than what it was approved to do. In this case, the Moderna vaccine is approved for adults aged 18 and up, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for those aged 16 and up. But the vaccines are still under emergency use authorizations for younger patients. Providers who give off-label vaccinations in the US may not be protected by legislation that keeps them from being held liable in the case of a rare adverse event.
17th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

The last of Canada's Covid-19 demonstrations may end soon as Ottawa police warn of consequences of staying

A nearly three-week protest in Ottawa over mandated Covid-19 precautions in Canada may be approaching its end as police tell demonstrators to either leave immediately or face legal consequences. "You must leave the area now," the Ottawa Police Service said in a statement to protesters Wednesday. "Anyone blocking streets or assisting others in the blocking (of) streets, are committing a criminal offence and you may be arrested." Many demonstrators have vowed to hold out for as long as necessary, and the federal government has moved to enact emergency powers to freeze financial support of the protests despite opposition in Parliament. Beginning with a group of truckers arriving in Ottawa in late January objecting to a vaccine mandate, the protest has morphed into a general airing of grievances against all Covid-19 safety protocols.
17th Feb 2022 - CNN

Fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates used by Australians to beat mandates and enter venues

Unvaccinated Australians are using fake certificates to gain entry to venues the government banned them from at the beginning of this month. The services were first identified late last year, but they are gaining prominence in online forums among people opposed to vaccine mandates in Australia. The ABC has seen one such website, hosted in Russia, that generates highly convincing fakes. It includes an animation that mimics the green tick and a moving Australian coat of arms, and a clock supposedly counting down the time from login.
17th Feb 2022 - ABC News

How to move: exercising after having Covid-19

The Omicron variant has caused an avalanche of Covid-19 cases in Australia in the past months. While most people who catch the disease experience mild symptoms, many report feeling short of breath and sluggish for weeks afterward. “It’s normal to feel tired after a viral infection, and everyone’s recovery is different,” says Janet Bondarenko, a senior respiratory physiotherapist at Alfred hospital in Melbourne. “But the severity of your Covid illness doesn’t necessarily predict whether you will have those lingering symptoms.” The coronavirus can damage various organs, causing ongoing fatigue, says Dr Robert Newton, professor of exercise medicine at Edith Cowan University. “The cardiorespiratory system can’t deliver oxygen to the working muscles efficiently. So what was a light to moderate intensity activity previously feels quite vigorous now.”
17th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

Covid Survivors Deal With Mental-Health Issues Months After Infection

Early Covid-19 survivors were at higher risk of anxiety, depression and a raft of other mental health problems up to a year after their infections, according to a large U.S. study that widens the scope of the pandemic’s economic and societal impact. Even patients who were never sick enough to be hospitalized for Covid were still 68% more likely than their non-infected counterparts to be diagnosed with a sleep disorder, 69% more likely to have an anxiety disorder, and 77% more likely to have a depressive disorder. The relative risk of developing the conditions was significantly higher still in patients hospitalized for Covid, and translates into dozens of additional mental health conditions for every 1,000 coronavirus cases.
17th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

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Canadian government wants to quickly clear COVID protest blockades in Ottawa

Police in the Canadian capital Ottawa on Wednesday started warning truck drivers blockading the downtown core that they should depart or face arrest, part of a promised crackdown to end a three-week-old protest over COVID restrictions. "You must leave the area now. Anyone blocking streets ... (is) committing a criminal offense and you may be arrested," read leaflets handed out by police to truckers. "You must immediately cease further unlawful activity." Police also started ticketing some of the hundreds of vehicles blocking the downtown core.
16th Feb 2022 - Reuters

New Zealand COVID vaccine protesters defy police ultimatum to leave parliament

An anti-vaccine mandate protest outside New Zealand's parliament swelled in numbers on Wednesday, with hundreds of people ignoring a warning from police that their vehicles would be towed away if they did not leave voluntarily. Inspired by truckers' demonstrations in Canada, protesters have blocked several roads around Wellington's 'Beehive' parliament for nine days with trucks, vans and motorcycles, and camped out on the lawns in front of the distinctive building. "There has been an influx of protesters at Parliament today, including children. However, the crowd had been orderly," Assistant Police Commissioner Richard Chambers told reporters, estimating there were about 450 vehicles blocking the site.
16th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 is not a marathon

A brief survey of pilot fatigue and workload-related issues indicates that the people who staff ICUs are under far more prolonged and intense stress than pilots, with fewer and more limited mitigation options. Given the stakes, shouldn’t health care and research workers have something like the load-management guidelines that air crews have? What do the coaches and managers of elite athletes know that health care leaders don’t know? Legendary coaches like John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, and Bill Bowerman kept practices short, paid attention to recovery, and were constantly asking what they could simplify and stop doing. They also saw themselves as teachers who turned the actual competition over to the athletes and did not micromanage from the sidelines.
16th Feb 2022 - STAT News

Companies revert to more normal operations as COVID wanes

For the first time in two years for many people, the American workplace is transforming into something that resembles pre-pandemic days. Tyson Foods said Tuesday it was ending mask requirements for its vaccinated workers in some facilities. Walmart and Amazon — the nation’s No. 1 and 2 largest private employers respectively — will no longer require fully vaccinated workers to don masks in stores or warehouses unless required under local or state laws. Tech companies like Microsoft and Facebook that had allowed employees to work fully remote are now setting mandatory dates to return to the office after a series of fits and starts. “There has been a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases across the country over the past weeks,” Amazon told workers in a memo.
16th Feb 2022 - The Associated Press

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Belgium permits four-day week to boost work flexibility post COVID

Belgian employees will be able to work a four-day week after the government on Tuesday agreed a new labour accord aimed at bringing flexibility to an otherwise rigid labour market. Speaking after his seven-party coalition federal government reached a deal overnight, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the coronavirus pandemic had forced people to work more flexibly and combine their private and working lives. "This has led to new ways of working," he told a press conference. Employees who request it will be able to work up to 10 hours per day if trade unions agree, instead of the maximum 8 now, in order to work one day less per week for the same pay.
16th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Finland entry requirements: New travel rules scrap Covid tests for fully vaccinated and recently infected

Finland is the latest country to scrap testing for fully vaccinated travellers from the UK. From Tuesday the requirement to present a PCR or antigen test upon arrival is to be dropped for those with either with proof of vaccination, proof of a recent infection or a combination of both.
15th Feb 2022 - iNews

Israelis mount their own COVID 'Freedom Convoy'

Hundreds of vehicles drove along the main highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday and converged on parliament to protest against COVID-19 curbs in a convoy inspired by demonstrations in Canada. Other protesters stood on overpasses and at junctions as the so-called "Freedom Convoy" passed by, withbanners and Israeli and Canadian flags flying from the vehicles. "Freedom doesn't look like this," read one sign, sh