"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 30th Sep 2020
Seven tips for managing stress during the pandemic
Our mental health is taking a beating. Here are several ways to regain control and feel better.
Should We Have Corona Lockdowns Just for the Old?
The mayor of Moscow just ordered all Muscovites older than 65 to stay at home. This idea of restrictions imposed on just one category of citizens — those most at risk of dying from Covid-19, which mainly means the elderly — will come up a lot more now that the second wave is here. To put it bluntly: Should we lock down the old, or is that like locking them up, and thus unethical? This isn’t meant to be a “modest proposal” in the tradition of Swiftian satire. We need to discuss our options, because going back into general lockdowns isn’t one. Renewed shutdowns wouldn’t be accepted by the population. They’d crush our traumatized economies and cause so much second-order suffering that an honest accounting against the relative harm from Covid-19 would become elusive.
EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m
The global death toll from the novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China late last year and has swept across the world, reached the one million mark on Monday (28 September) . The United States has the highest death toll with over 200,000 fatalities, followed by Brazil, India, Mexico and the UK - while Spain, France and Italy are also among the deadliest countries for Covid-19. However, the chief of emergencies at the World Health Organization, Michael Ryan, said last Friday that the global coronavirus death toll could hit two million - even with an effective vaccine in place. "Are we prepared collectively to do what it takes to avoid that number?" he said, calling on governments to do everything to halt the surge of Covid-19 infections worldwide. "Unless we do it all, the number [two million deaths] is not only imaginable but unfortunately and sadly, very likely," he added.
WTO should play role in COVID-19 medicine access: candidate
A key contender to head the World Trade Organization told Reuters on Tuesday she thinks the body should play a role in helping poorer countries access COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, and this topic should be part of negotiations if she wins. Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, seen by delegates as a top candidate to lead the WTO, currently chairs the GAVI vaccine alliance board and stressed her credentials among five remaining candidates “at the intersection between public health and trade”. “Trade can contribute to public health - seeing that connection, invoking those (WTO) rules, actively discussing COVID-19 issues and how WTO can help,” the former finance minister and World Bank managing-director said. “For me, that would be a priority.”
New York City to impose mask fines as COVID-19 cases climb
New York City will impose fines on people who refuse to wear a face-covering as the rate of positive tests for the novel coronavirus climbed above 3 percent for the first time in months, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said. Officials will first offer free masks to those caught not wearing one. If the person refuses, they will face an unspecified fine, de Blasio told reporters on Tuesday.
One million dead: How Covid-19 tore us apart
A Chinese doctor who tried to sound the alarm. A father of six who emigrated from Pakistan to the United States to give his family a better life. A 15-year-old boy who left his remote home in the Amazon to study. They all died from Covid-19. In eight months, more than 33 million people have been diagnosed with coronavirus, across nearly every country. The disease has taken lives on every continent except Antarctica -- and more than one million people have died. That’s four times as many people who died in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, 16 times as many people killed by the common flu in the US last winter, and more than 335 times the number of people who perished in the 9/11 attacks. But the tragedy of coronavirus isn’t just in the death toll. It’s also in the grim truths it has revealed about who we are and how we treat our most vulnerable. The pandemic has exposed shocking failures of governance, worsened deep-rooted inequalities in access to healthcare, and inflamed a long-waged war on facts preventing scientists from conveying information that could save lives. Almost every person in the world has been affected by the pandemic. But it hasn’t drawn us closer -- in many ways, it’s tearing us further apart.
Dating Tips During COVID-19
Online dating is the way of the world, and as much as I like to poke fun at the swipe, tap, stalk, text monotony of it all, I have to admit—it’s completely changed the way everyone dates today. However, unlike last year or the year before, a match made in heaven (or in reality, on your smartphone) doesn’t lead to drinks, dinner, or a midnight kiss. With COVID-19, quarantine, and the regulations that come from a worldwide epidemiology pandemic, relationships are now starting based solely on text conversations, phone calls, and Facetime or Zoom dates. Even though restrictions have lapsed and some are heading out to meet their suitors in bars and restaurants, most are keeping their distance when it comes to meeting new matches, which is completely changing the way so many people are dating.
Stretched to the limit, Spanish medics demand better conditions
Dressed in white lab coats, medical scrubs and face masks, hundreds of junior Spanish doctors took to the streets of Barcelona on Tuesday to demand better working conditions as they struggle against a second wave of coronavirus infections. “We’re working up to 80 hours a week and clocking shifts of 24 hours,” protester Clara Boter, a 28-year-old medical resident intern, told Reuters. “Our contract is for 40 hours a week and we’re on a basic salary.” Doctors in her position earn around 960 euros a month, she said. Between chants, the young doctors put down blankets around Barcelona’s busy Plaza de Espana roundabout to stage a sleep-in, highlighting the long hours they have to work. One protester lay next to a sign that read: “I haven’t slept in 24 hours. Can I take care of you?”
Japan's National Parks Have Installed Work Stations, to Make WFH Easier
Regardless of your job or the size of your home, there's definitely no denying that doing remote work for the last several months has been incredibly tedious. However, amid the ongoing pandemic, National Parks across Japan are now encouraging locals to do their remote work outside — immersed in nature — by implementing "work stations" in hotels and at campsites, to experience nature from 9 to 5, which have been deemed "workations."
Fall 2020 Virtual Farm Tours Available for Classroom and Remote Learning
American Dairy Association North East’s free Virtual Farm Tours will provide teachers and families the opportunity to bring an operating dairy farm into their classrooms or their homes in November. “Whether students are learning in school or from home – or a hybrid of both – our virtual farm tours offer a real-time look at a dairy farm using live video chat technology,” said ADA North East CEO Rick Naczi. “The tours show how dairy farmers care for their cows, the environment and their local communities in an engaging way.”
Frances Benge: Remote working during lockdown might prompt more permanent change
Inspiration Point director Jocelyn Bray spoke to a series of New Zealand non-profit leaders about their experience of lockdown. This week, it is Frances Benge, chief executive Cure Kids. 1. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given recently? Working remotely ensures we focus on the skill sets of colleagues and not their personalties. Personalities can be a distraction to productivity and remote working has provided greater collegiality and collaboration and respect for each other.
Stay Secure and Productive While Working Remotely
The COVID-19 outbreak has forced organisations to re-think their approach towards mobile and remote working overnight. In the past, organisations have used remote working as a perk to attract and retain talent. However, the pandemic’s onset changed remote working from optional to essential, creating new habits amongst teams and individuals. With lock-down lifting in most countries, we are now at a crossroads and CIOs must decide whether the five-month remote-working experiment is worth incorporating into the company’s long-term strategy. In this article, I’ll take a fresh new look into the two most significant remote working elements, namely people and technology, and discuss how enterprises can ensure their employees are safe and productive while working remotely.
Working Remotely From Now On
For some, working from home during the pandemic has been - and still expected to be - temporary. But for others, the move to remote work has become permanent, because employers - and employees - have decided it’s better that way.
Teambuilding Ideas For Newly Remote Workers
Before 2020, less than 4% of companies had remote workers. Now, one in three companies is offering remote work, and many are looking to make the shift permanent. This is a drastic change in a short period. Working remotely provides benefits that are uncommon in a traditional office, but it can also lead to a shift in team dynamics. How can you increase collaboration and build team spirit remotely, and why is connection important to productivity and success?
How Companies Are Supporting Employees in The Times of Remote Working
Before the Covid-19 pandemic isolated everyone into their homes, physical office spaces offered immense opportunities for team building. Earlier companies were able to focus on the personal as well as professional development of their employees by organising activities such as office parties, lunches, bonding exercises and office breaks. These activities play a key role in making employees feel they are contributing to something larger and increase the overall team spirit. In particular, office parties, activities and bonding sessions help employees to trust each other and increase their motivation to work as a team.
BusinessWise: Kids at home while you work? Some ways to cope
Question: I am working remotely, and my children are doing school online from home. Do you have any tips for staying productive while adjusting to working from home with my kids? A: The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way people across the country work. Many people moved to remote work early in the pandemic, and for those with children, working from home became a lot more challenging. With some child care facilities indefinitely shut down and many school districts transitioning to online learning this semester, remote workers have struggled to simultaneously work productively and actively parent. Some tips for working remotely with school-age children:
Utah wants to incentivize companies to work remotely
Remote work has been on UCAIR’s drawing board of potential clean air policies for some years. They just couldn’t figure out how to get the state’s politicians and businesses on board. “All our data before [the stay home directive] showed three major stumbling blocks. One was attitudes—executives, in particular, like to be around people,” Thom Carter, executive director of UCAIR says. Other concerns included a perception that productivity declines when workers work remotely and a belief that doing so would cost businesses more money by forcing them to provide laptops and other equipment for their employees. UCAIR tried convincing local businesses that remote work was good for the environment and for the local economy, but it was a hard sell. Then came the pandemic and the stay-home orders, and something remarkable happened—global concentrations of air pollution fell by as much as 60 percent, proving the potential environmental benefits were even greater than previously imagined. “Necessity is often the mother of invention, and people went home,” Carter says. As they did, local attitudes toward remote work began to rapidly shift.
Is Remote Working Here to Stay?
Work-from-home (WFH) has become a very controversial employment scheme. Although the benefits have been discussed, governments and companies were resistant to making it the norm. But the case against remote working was more about prejudices. Employers typically thought that a lack of direct contact would permit employees to shirk their duties, among other reservations. In recent years, we have seen a surge in remote working, with more companies adopting this type of work as a benefit included in their compensation packages. Remote working for one or two days per week became a common fixture in many sectors. But it was not until Covid-19 that we saw an exponential increase in WFH arrangements
State of Our Schools: Moms worried about balancing work, remote learning
Back to school has come with headaches for many parents who are struggling to balance work and remote learning, especially those whose kids require special-education services.
JPMorgan Says Most Consumer Staff to Work From Home Until 2021
JPMorgan Chase & Co. told thousands of office workers across its consumer unit they can plan to continue working remotely until next year, breaking with the firm’s Wall Street operations, which mandated that senior traders return to work. The directive, which was communicated to staff in several memos Monday, applies to most U.S.-based employees in the consumer unit who have been working remotely to help stem the spread of the coronavirus. It excludes branch workers and some in operations, according to a person briefed on the staffing plans. The consumer and community banking unit, which operates primarily in the U.S., has 122,089 employees, the most of any of the firm’s divisions.
‘Roadschooling’ 101: Families Make Remote Learning Work in an RV
Patricia Winters and her family decided to take advantage of her husband’s remote work arrangement, so they bought a camper. In June, they left their Annapolis, Md., home for a trip out West, with plans to be back in time for school. “At the end of July, our school district decided to go virtual, so I said, ‘I guess we can keep going,’ ” Ms. Winters said. The family of five has logged 11,000 miles visiting 16 states and 14 national parks. But they weren’t fully prepared for the realities of school on the road, or “roadschooling,” as some families call it.
EDITORIAL: Teaching methods are evolving in 2020
The large number of students who are learning remotely, at home, creates quite a barrier between student and teacher. But it’s also true that in-person learning in the classroom is hampered to some extent by masks and, in some cases, plastic barriers that have been installed to prevent or slow the spread of the Covid virus. But teachers are finding ways to adapt and communicate with their students and keep them as engaged as possible under the new conditions of this pandemic school year. Daniel Crispino, Meriden's director of School Leadership at the elementary level, has noticed that teachers do less lecturing and more back-and-forth engagement as both they and their students have already become more comfortable with the technology of remote learning. “Where we were in early September to where we are now, it's shocking,” he said.
Covid-19: End of term isolation will ensure students can go home for Christmas, Williamson announces
Two weeks of self-isolation at the end of term will allow university students to go home at Christmas, the education secretary has announced. Gavin Williamson told MPs that in-person classes could be cancelled at the end of term and replaced with online learning, so that students can carry out a two week quarantine before heading home. With thousands currently in self-isolation at education centres around the country, there have been huge concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could force some students to spend the festive period alone at their university residence. Mr Williamson, acknowledging "anxiety" about the impact of coronavirus restrictions on the Christmas holidays, said the government will work with universities to make sure all students are supported to return home if they choose to do so.
COVID-19: The Most Complicated Vaccine Campaign Ever
On the day that a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, a vast logistics operation will need to awaken. Millions of doses must travel hundreds of miles from manufacturers to hospitals, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies, which in turn must store, track, and eventually get the vaccines to people all across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with state and local health departments, coordinates this process. These agencies distributed flu vaccines during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic this way, and they manage childhood vaccines every day. But the COVID-19 vaccine will be a whole new challenge.
Ireland should prepare itself for subsequent waves of Covid-19, HSE chief warns
Ireland will be dealing with Covid-19 for a long time even if a vaccine is developed, the country’s health chief has said. Paul Reid warned that the country should plan for subsequent waves of the pandemic. “Even with a vaccine, the reality is that we will be dealing with Covid-19 for a long time yet,” he said. “We must all adapt our way of life through a combination of behavioural, societal, and healthcare delivery changes.” The chief executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE) made the comments as he appeared before the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response on Tuesday.
NYC warns several neighborhoods could be put on strict lockdown TODAY amid 'troubling' COVID surge
Eight neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens have been identified as potential targets for new lockdowns - The average positivity rate across all eight neighborhoods - which have large Orthodox Jewish communities - is 3.3 percent higher than the city's overall rate - Officials said they could announce new restrictions for specific zip codes as of early Tuesday morning - It comes as New York state recorded a positivity rate of 1.5 percent on Sunday - the highest since mid-July - Gov Andrew Cuomo on Monday said spikes in the Big Apple are a 'big contributor' in the state's climbing rate
Talk of a scientific rift is a dangerous distraction in the fight against Covid-19
The cardinal rule of coronavirus policy is that you must follow “the science”. Or, at the very least, you must say that you are. After the US’s disastrous response to the pandemic, Donald Trump still insists he is “guided by science”. In the UK, Boris Johnson and his ministers always claimed that our own bumbling response was either “led by the science” or “following the science”, even as Britain’s infection rate soared above other countries that were also, in their own words, following the science. Sometimes it is easy for us to separate out false claims about science from real ones. Early in the crisis, the majority of mainstream scientists, and institutions such as the World Health Organization, supported swift lockdown measures. Trump resisted this approach, instead putting his faith in quack cures that his closest scientific advisers clearly opposed. Johnson has tended to drag his heels, taking the right scientific advice too late, as with lockdown, or making a mess of the execution, as with testing and tracing. Their departures from the sanctified path of science are obvious.
Lockdown tightened in north-east England as Covid-19 infections rise
Nearly 2 million people in north-east England face being fined up to £6,400 if they mix with other households indoors in a significant extension of the government’s lockdown powers. For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, it will be illegal for people in parts of the UK to meet people they do not live with in pubs, bars or restaurants. The measure comes into force on Wednesday in Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland. Previously, people in these areas were only advised not to meet others indoors. Breaches of the new regulation, which is yet to be laid down in law, will result in a £200 fine for a first offence, doubling each time up to a maximum of £6,400.
Germany May Limit Gatherings to Fight Coronavirus Spread
Germany may join other European nations in limiting the number of people at private and public gatherings in areas with high coronavirus infection rates, as officials across the continent labor to reverse a recent uptick in cases. Chancellor Angela Merkel will recommend restricting private meetings to 25 people and public gatherings to 50 people when she holds talks with regional premiers via video conference on Tuesday, according to a draft proposal obtained by Bloomberg News. The rules would apply to areas with more than 35 infections per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days, according to the paper. While the infection rate since late July was initially fueled by returning vacationers, individuals disregarding distancing rules are now the main concern. “Given the dropping temperatures, the increased time spent indoors during the fall and winter, and the pending flu season, we must now be particularly careful,” the paper says.
Cases are rising in Ontario. Will another lockdown follow? Stay tuned to the Doug Ford plan
Ford acknowledged on Monday that the second wave of COVID-19 is here. But he said he isn’t ready to shut anything down. Not yet, anyway
Rule of six and other COVID-19 measures announced for Spain’s Andalucia
Andalucia has revealed a series of measures for the towns most affected by COVID-19. Only one town, Casariche, in Sevilla, will be closed down after registering a coronavirus incidence rate of 4,582.1 over the past two weeks.
Spain Ends Furlough Uncertainty With Last-Minute Extension
The Spanish government reached a last-minute deal to extend its furlough program after weeks of negotiations that left businesses and workers on edge in a country suffering one of Europe’s deepest economic shocks this year. The Spanish government reached a last-minute deal to extend its furlough program after weeks of negotiations that left businesses and workers on edge in a country suffering one of Europe’s deepest economic shocks this year. The program is extended until Jan. 31, Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz said on Tuesday.
Coronavirus lockdown in Spain's capital affects about a million people
About a million people in the Spanish capital of Madrid are under a coronavirus lockdown enforced by police checkpoints. The country's health minster said even stricter measures might be needed.
Millions in Chile capital emerge from lockdown
Chile on Monday lifted strict coronavirus lockdown measures for millions of people in the capital Santiago, a month ahead of a key referendum to amend the dictatorship-era constitution. Most of the capital's seven million population moved to phase three of a five-step deconfinement plan, allowing the reopening of bars and restaurants as well as regional transport links. However, fears are widespread that a new outbreak in infections could drive parts of the capital back into confinement.
Is Paris heading towards new lockdown? The figures say that it is
Surging coronavirus numbers in Paris are fuelling speculation the French capital may headed for “maximum alert” – following in the footsteps of Marseille and Aix-en-Provence with total bar and restaurant closures. Covid-19 infections in Paris are already two and a half times the national average and exceed the government’s own maximum alert threshold of more than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. While the incidence rate in the Île-de-France suburban region surrounding Paris as now 156.8 cases per 100,000, that number skyrockets to 254 cases once inside the Paris postcode. Covid-19 patients in Paris hospitals now account for more than 30 percent of intensive care beds – another threshold the government says qualifies an area for maximum alert.
Coronavirus: New rules in Netherlands to cope with virus surge
Many residents in the Netherlands will, for the first time, be advised to wear a face mask in shops as the country introduces a range of measures to control a second coronavirus wave. Compared to its neighbours, the Netherlands had largely avoided strict restrictions until now. This week nearly 3,000 infections daily are being recorded in the nation of 17 million people. The new measures will start on Tuesday and last for at least three weeks. "We are doing our best, but the virus is doing better," Health Minister Hugo de Jong admitted on Monday.
Coronavirus second wave: Will there be another lockdown in India
Several countries have allayed fears of a second wave of coronavirus. On Saturday, Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray expressed apprehensions of a "second wave" of coronavirus transmission as more people are moving out for work, and called for stricter compliance with norms. Speaking at a virtual meeting with ministers and officials of Marathwada and Nashik divisions on the COVID-19 situation, the CM expressed concerns over asymptomatic patients, allowed to remain at home, stepping out without proper precautions and infecting others.
Israel minister says ‘no way’ virus lockdown will end soon
Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Tuesday that there was “no way” the country’s second nationwide coronavirus lockdown would be lifted after three weeks as originally planned. “There’s no way that in 10 days we’ll be lifting all the restrictions and saying it’s all over, everything is fine,” he told public broadcaster Kan. Israel imposed its second lockdown on September 18 after the coronavirus infection rate soared. It was originally scheduled to end on October 10.
Philippines placing southern city in lockdown
One southern Philippine province and its war-battered capital will be placed under a mild lockdown next month and the rest of the country will be under more relaxed restrictions to boost the battered economy of the country counting the most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia. President Rodrigo Duterte announced the quarantine restrictions for October in televised remarks Monday night. Lanao del Sur province and its capital, Marawi city, will fall under a lockdown starting Thursday due to infection spikes in recent weeks.
UK eyes tougher COVID-19 restrictions for England as outbreak spreads
The British government is mulling tougher restrictions in England to tackle a swiftly accelerating second wave of the novel coronavirus outbreak, possibly outlawing more inter-household socialising, a junior health minister said on Monday. “We don’t want to bring on new restrictions but of course we keep a constant eye on what is going on with the COVID rate,” Junior Health Minister Helen Whately told Sky News. “We were looking at what we might be able to do.”
Canada expects to approve new COVID-19 tests soon, government official says
Canada’s federal authorities and its two biggest provinces on Tuesday promised new measures to combat a second COVID-19 wave that is notching up as many cases as during the pandemic’s peak in April. Canada reported new 2,176 infections on Monday, taking the total to 155,301. The death toll rose by 10 to 9,278. Government minister Dominic LeBlanc, who chairs the cabinet’s coronavirus committee, called the surge “very worrying”. Ontario, the most populous of the 10 provinces, said it would limit visitors to long-term care homes for the elderly in areas with high community spread. Most deaths in Canada have taken place in homes for seniors.
Scientist behind Sputnik V vaccine defends Russian strategy
Russia plans to share preliminary results of its COVID-19 vaccine trial based on the first six weeks of monitoring participants, raising the tempo in an already frenzied global race to end the pandemic. Alexander Gintsburg, head of the Gamaleya Institute that produced the Sputnik V vaccine, told Reuters that the pace of its development was necessary under the “wartime” conditions of a pandemic but no corners were being cut. Russia has pushed ahead with its potential COVID-19 vaccine at top speed, with mass public vaccinations alongside the main human trial, raising concerns among some observers that it was prioritising national prestige over solid science and safety. “People are dying just like during a war,” said Gintsburg, holding a crystal model of a coronavirus in his hand. “But this fast-tracked pace is not synonymous, as some media have suggested, with corners being cut. No way.” Sitting in his wood-panelled office at the institute in Moscow, Gintsburg said his team had been set a tight deadline to produce a vaccine but that all guidelines for testing Sputnik V’s safety and efficacy had been followed. The plan to publish interim results based on the first 42 days of monitoring volunteers means Russia has a high chance of becoming the first worldwide to announce any data from a final-stage, or phase-three, trial.
Children 'must be the priority' in Covid-19 planning
Children must be the priority at this stage of the Covid-19 crisis, says England's Children Commissioner. Anne Longfield calls for a recovery package to tackle a "rising tide of childhood vulnerability". She warns of an "inter-generational crisis", with the impact of the economic fall-out of the pandemic on parents determining the future prospects of their children. The government said the wellbeing of children was central to its response. Ms Longfield says the nation's efforts to "build back better" must begin with a focus on children, "sometimes sadly lacking during the pandemic".
Coronavirus: 'Unenforceable' rules to trigger hospitality sector collapse, lockdown city leaders warn
Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester face mass redundancies and "boarded-up high streets" amid a collapse of the hospitality sector unless coronavirus restrictions are reviewed, the cities' leaders have warned the government. A letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Business Secretary Alok Sharma from the leaders and chief executives of the three city councils said restrictions in place in the regions were threatening a "huge, disproportionate" economic impact. They said hotel occupancy was down to 30% and footfall had dropped by up to 70%.
One million lives lost: How have key nations fared during the coronavirus pandemic?
The coronavirus has now claimed one million lives, but as the crisis developed, countries’ paths have greatly diverged. Many countries worldwide imposed lockdowns, curfews and other previously unthinkable curbs on personal freedoms. Although on the surface the measures taken may have appeared broadly similar, minor tweaks and delays have proven to be the potential difference between tens of thousands of infections. Here we take a snapshot look at how key nations across the world have dealt with the pandemic so far, and the impact this has had upon the lives and health of their populaces.
First cruise ship to sail to Greek islands since coronavirus lockdown is forced to dock after 12 crew members test positive for Covid-19
The German-operated Mein Schiff 6 has docked with 1,588 passengers and crew Nobody can leave the ship in Piraeus as testers board the ship for screening 12 crew members tested positive although follow-up tests have been negative
Australia sends troops to help contain coronavirus on cargo ship
Australian soldiers are being deployed to Port Hedland, one of the world’s largest iron ore loading ports, to help contain a coronavirus outbreak on a bulk carrier that last changed crews in the seafaring city of Manila. Seventeen of the 21-crew members on the ship have tested positive for the virus, ship owner Oldendorff Carriers said in a statement.
Moscow extends school holiday over coronavirus
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Tuesday extended an upcoming school holiday by a week to limit the spread of the coronavirus, days after sources told Reuters that the capital’s hospitals had been told to free up hundreds of beds. COVID-19 infections have been rising across Europe in the weeks since the start of the new academic year and some other countries have also considered extending October school holidays to try to slow the spread. The Kremlin said last week it did not plan to impose severe lockdown restrictions despite a growing number of new cases of COVID-19, but Sobyanin advised anyone with chronic health problems or those older than 65 to stay home. On Tuesday, Sobyanin said students would be off school from Oct. 5-18, and urged parents to keep their children at home.
Dutch may restrict travel to Amsterdam, close bars early: NOS
The Dutch government on Monday announced a raft of new restrictions to slow a second wave of coronavirus infections, including earlier closing times for bars and restaurants and limited travel between major cities. The measures, which also include wider use of cloth masks for the public in Amsterdam and other big cities, came as daily new infection rates have passed their earlier peak in April. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the steps were unavoidable due to the speed of the virus’s spread.
Lonza confident of 2020 target for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine supply
Lonza is confident that U.S. and Swiss plants it is building to help make Moderna's MRNA.O COVID-19 vaccine candidate will be ready for commercial production this year, executives at the Swiss company said on Tuesday. New production lines at Lonza’s site in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, aim to start making vaccine ingredients in November, while three lines in Visp, deep in a valley in the Swiss Alps - to supply 300 million vaccine doses annually - should begin delivering by December. There is no approved COVID-19 vaccine yet, but several are in advanced trials, including from Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, whose candidate relies on technology never previously approved that enlists human cells to help trigger an immune response.
China's Kangtai gets approval for clinical trial of coronavirus vaccine candidate
China’s Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products said on Tuesday it planned to launch a clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine candidate as soon as possible after it had obtained regulatory approval from the Chinese medical products regulator. Kangtai’s candidate triggered antibodies when tested in mice and monkeys, and vaccinated monkeys tolerated high levels of the coronavirus, the company said in a filing. The firm also said the manufacturing facility to produce its vaccine candidate was complete, pending tests and regulatory certification.
Can the common cold help protect you from COVID-19?
Seasonal colds are by all accounts no fun, but new research suggests the colds you've had in the past may provide some protection from COVID-19. The study, authored by infectious disease experts at the University of Rochester Medical Center, also suggests that immunity to COVID-19 is likely to last a long time - maybe even a lifetime. The study, published in mBio, is the first to show that the COVID-19-causing virus, SARS-CoV-2, induces memory B cells, long-lived immune cells that detect pathogens, create antibodies to destroy them and remember them for the future. The next time that pathogen tries to enter the body, those memory B cells can hop into action even faster to clear the infection before it starts. Because memory B cells can survive for decades, they could protect COVID-19 survivors from subsequent infections for a long time, but further research will have to bear that out. The study is also the first to report cross-reactivity of memory B cells - meaning B cells that once attacked cold-causing coronaviruses appeared to also recognize SARS-CoV-2. Study authors believe this could mean that anyone who has been infected by a common coronavirus - which is nearly everyone - may have some degree of pre-existing immunity to COVID-19.
US teens are twice as likely to catch coronavirus as younger kids, CDC finds
More than 277,000 children have caught coronavirus since May, new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows - Older children - between 12 and 17 - are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 as younger kids, ages five to 11 - Rates of coronavirus are also about twice as high among Hispanic children compared to white kids - Children with one or more underlying health conditions are at greater risk of being hospitalized, admitted to ICUs or dying of coronavirus - Cases among children climbed between late May and mid-July, fell and plateaued through August and early September, but may now be rising -
Covid-19: Princeton University study dissects New Zealand's pandemic response
Social capital has been hailed as one of the reasons behind New Zealand's successful response to the Covid-19 pandemic, new Princeton University research suggests. Stuff reports were among the bodies of work drawn upon in the Innovations for Successful Societies research centre analysis which examined the response from March to June by Princeton researchers including New Zealand-born Blair Cameron. The research said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her response team “always acted quickly” throughout the pandemic, opting to make “pivotal decisions that sometimes were based on limited information”.
China firm claims faster COVID-19 tests, targets global sales
A Chinese company claims its coronavirus testing machine will return results faster than a lab and more reliably than at-home screening kits. The Flash 20 “is currently the fastest machine in the world for PCR tests for the new coronavirus,” Sabrina Li, founder of the company Coyote, said on Tuesday. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are the industry standard and a major weapon against a pandemic that has now killed more than a million people and eviscerated the global economy. As governments scramble to develop adequate response systems, Li is targeting global sales. Already used at hospitals and airports in China, the device can process four samples at a time and deliver results in half an hour, the company says. Coyote said its testing machine has been certified by the European Union and Australia, and it is seeking similar status from the United States and the World Health Organization.
Moderna COVID-19 vaccine appears safe, shows signs of working in older adults - study
Results from an early safety study of Moderna Inc's coronavirus vaccine candidate in older adults showed that it produced virus-neutralizing antibodies at levels similar to those seen in younger adults, with side effects roughly on par with high-dose flu shots, researchers said on Tuesday. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, offers a more complete picture of the vaccine's safety in older adults, a group at increased risk of severe complications from COVID-19. The findings are reassuring because immunity tends to weaken with age, Dr. Evan Anderson, one of the study's lead researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, said in a phone interview. The study was an extension of Moderna's Phase I safety trial, first conducted in individuals aged 18-55. It tested two doses of Moderna's vaccine - 25 micrograms and 100 micrograms - in 40 adults aged 56 to 70 and 71 and older.
CureVac to start global late-stage trial for COVID-19 vaccine in fourth quarter
Germany’s CureVac NV said on Tuesday it has started a mid-stage study testing its experimental coronavirus vaccine and plans to begin a much larger trial in the fourth quarter.
Regeneron says its COVID-19 treatment reduces viral levels, improves symptoms
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc on Tuesday said its experimental two-antibody cocktail reduced viral levels and improved symptoms in non-hospitalized patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. When asked whether the company would apply for emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company said it plans to “rapidly” discuss the early trial results with regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.