"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 5th Oct 2020

Isolation Tips
Could home coronavirus quarantine really get more Australians to come home from overseas?
In Australia, completing two weeks of quarantine in a small hotel room has been the norm for returning travellers for months, but home quarantine is apparently on the horizon. The announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that some international travellers may soon be able to quarantine at home has given hope to plenty of Australian expats and may encourage more to come home. But with only returning travellers from some "safe" countries set to be eligible, where does that leave the others? And what of interstate travellers?
Hygiene Helpers
Study reveals the most likely indicator of a Covid-19 infection
Four out of five people with sudden loss of smell or taste tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies, new research has suggested. The findings suggest an acute loss of smell or taste is a highly reliable virus indicator, scientists say. They add that loss of smell or taste should now be considered globally as a criterion for self-isolation, testing and contact tracing. Researchers at UCL and UCLH (University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) assessed health data from primary care centres in London.
Numbers show lockdowns are a 'no brainer'. Letting people die isn't
COVID-19 has killed 890 people in Australia, 802 of whom were over 70, 669 of whom were in government-supported aged care. Estimates vary on how many would have died had we not locked down. “It’s easier to estimate the negative effects of lockdown, because we don’t see [the positive effects],” says Flinders University health economist Professor Jonathan Karnon. Australians’ mental health has worsened and the number of children in hospital with anorexia has dramatically increased. But the number of suicides in Victoria has remained steady. How much of the mental health toll can be slated to lockdowns, versus the general anxiety of a once-in-a-generation pandemic? The virus does seem to pose long-term health risks to even the young and healthy, but we won’t truly know what those are for years. The same is true for lockdown's long-term damage to children’s education and the job prospects of university graduates looking for jobs amid a recession.
Kids And Superspreaders Are Driving COVID-19 Cases In India, Huge Study Finds
In the largest study ever of transmission patterns for COVID-19, researchers in India tested more than a half-million contacts of 85,000 cases to examine how and to whom the coronavirus is spreading. The first interesting finding: Children are spreading the virus amongst themselves and also to adults. Second: The greatest risk for infection among the people studied in the two southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is a long bus or train ride.
Covid-19: Test and trace app incompatibility angers cross-border residents
People living near England's border with Scotland say they are angry that Covid-19 test and trace apps for the two nations are incompatible. Users living in one nation and travelling to the other can only use one app at a time. Barrister Brian Payne, who commutes to Newcastle from the Scottish Borders, called it a "significant failing". The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was working on "a technical solution".
Face masks become mandatory in Rome as coronavirus cases rise
Face masks will have to be worn at all times out of doors in the Italian capital Rome and the surrounding Lazio region, local authorities ruled on Friday in an effort to counter rising coronavirus infections. Italy on Thursday registered more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time since the end of April. Lazio accounted for some 265 of those cases and has been increasingly concerned by the growing contagion. A number of other Italian regions, including Campania centred on Naples, have already made mask wearing obligatory outdoors.
Trump's White House event in focus over Covid spread
With Donald Trump now in hospital, there are growing questions about how he and his wife were exposed to coronavirus. A crowded Rose Garden event is coming under intense focus - last week's ceremony where Mr Trump formally announced his nomination of the conservative Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. City council member Brooke Pinto told the Washington Post it was "disappointing that the White House has flaunted not wearing masks and gathering large crowds".
UK tourists can visit just six countries without restrictions
With a second lockdown feeling imminent, if you are desperate for an overseas holiday a last-minute break could be your best bet. Yet, with Turkey and Poland being added to the UK’s quarantine list this week, our choices of where we can go (and not quarantine at either end) are quickly diminishing. Just six countries remain which UK visitors can enter without restrictions: Sweden, Italy, Greece, San Marino, Gibraltar and Germany (although the latter has restrictions for passengers from Wales and Northern Ireland).
Coronavirus vaccine head: Less than half of the UK population could get vaccinated
Less than half of the UK population could be vaccinated against the coronavirus, the head of the country's vaccine taskforce has said. Kate Bingham said officials hope to give the vaccine to around 30 million adults - less than half of the country's population of 67 million. The head of the immunisation programme told the Financial Times: "People keep talking about 'time to vaccinate the whole population' but that is misguided. "There is going to be no vaccination of people under 18. "It's an adult-only vaccine for people over 50 focusing on health workers and care home workers and the vulnerable."
Community Activities
5 charts on how COVID-19 is hitting Australia's young adults hard
The following five charts provide a snapshot of how COVID-19 is affecting Australians aged 18-24. Though the health impacts of the coronavirus fall most on the elderly, it is young adults that have been hit hardest by the economic and psychological costs of the pandemic response. The data for the charts comes from results gleaned from two major surveys run by the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne.
Myanmar volunteers under strain as coronavirus toll grows
As Myanmar’s coronavirus infections soar, the work never seems to stop for volunteers who have stepped in to help carry those suspected of symptoms to quarantine centres or hospitals. Fatalities hit a new record for one day on Sunday with 41 deaths, bringing the total to 412 from only seven a month ago. The toll is now the third highest in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia and the Philippines, and both deaths and case numbers are doubling faster than anywhere in the world according to Reuters figures.
Pfizer chief hits out at politicisation of Covid-19 vaccine
Pfizer’s chief executive has criticised the politicisation of a Covid-19 vaccine during the first presidential debate, as the head of the drugmaker in the lead to develop an inoculation said his company would move at the “speed of science”. Albert Bourla, who leads the company with the best chance of submitting a vaccine for authorisation before the US election, said he would not be pressured to move more quickly or slowly in what he described as a “hyper-partisan” year. In a memo to staff, seen by the Financial Times, he argued that the “amplified political rhetoric” around vaccine development and timing was “undercutting public confidence”.
Working Remotely
Indeed introduces new remote-working policy
Recruitment search engine Indeed is offering its 10,000 employees a new flexible working policy, following on from the change in working patterns that were put in place due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Dependent on their role within the organisation, employees will have the option to either work full-time in the office or at home, or split their time flexibly between both. The vast majority of employees at Indeed are currently working remotely until July 2021 but the organisation outlined the new policy and confirmed it has no plans to move to a permanent remote working solution once all of its offices are safe to be reopened.
Working from home in UK over winter ‘will add £100 to fuel bills’
Millions of employees preparing to work from home this winter will face a collective hike of almost £2bn on their energy bills, and tougher working conditions, with only a “pittance” in compensation from their employers. Half the UK’s workforce is likely to work primarily from home over the coming months as they help to contain the spread of the coronavirus, and may see their winter energy bills rise by a fifth as radiators and boilers are kept running through the day. The average household energy bill could climb by £107 this winter for those working from home five days a week, according to a study by Energy Helpline, which would mean a £1.9bn hike for the energy bills of working households between October and March.
Employees at the Starbucks Headquarters in Seattle Can Work from Home Until October 2021
On September 30, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson wrote a letter addressed to the company’s 4,000 corporate employees in Seattle detailing adjustments the coffee giant is making during the pandemic. Employees at the headquarters in SoDo can now work remotely until October 2021 (the remote working policy was originally set to expire in January). Starbucks HQ, known as the Seattle Support Center (SSC), will be restructured to allow for more work flexibility, which could include using virtual whiteboards, more online conferences, and less floor space. Johnson also mentioned possibly using mobile devices to order lunch from food trucks in the neighborhood. The time between now and when employees plan to return to the headquarters next fall will be taken to revamp the layout and other aspects of the building.
This Caribbean country is offering remote work visa to digital nomads; find out
In keeping with the current trend of providing people remote-work visas, Caribbean country Antigua and Barbuda has become the latest nation to open its doors for people looking for a change of scene. According to The Independent, the country is willing to welcome digital nomads amid the pandemic — which has made it clear that for many jobs, one does not need a designated office space, but instead they can work remotely from any part of the world and still get the work done.
Don’t let remote-working people on your team drift out of touch
As a leader, when did you last walk the floor, talk to a member of your team and ask them how they are, how their family are getting on, and how they are coping with today’s challenges? Has it been days, weeks or months? We’re human beings, and those connections are important. A simple “how are you?” from a senior manager can brighten someone’s day. But for many, remote working has taken that opportunity away.
Jennifer O’Connell: The dark side of the remote working revolution
There is a woman living in my part of the country who gets up early every day, puts on her work clothes, and leaves the house to commute to the office. This “commute” involves walking around the housing estate, looping back to her own front door, going inside and sitting at her desk until 6pm, when she repeats the whole process in reverse. Her neighbours might think she’s mad, but she swears her daily commute is the only thing keeping her sane. Not everyone is missing the office as much as her. About 42 per cent of full-time workers are now doing their jobs from home, according to a survey by Behaviours and Attitudes for RTÉ’s Prime Time. In 2018, just one in 20 Europeans worked from home regularly.
White House Faces Remote-Work, Security Challenges as Trump Treated for Covid-19
President Trump’s positive Covid-19 test has created perhaps the ultimate remote-work challenge. With Mr. Trump moved to the hospital Friday, and many White House aides sent home, the administration will rely more on the type of virtual teamwork that many companies have adopted during the coronavirus pandemic. The White House has beefed up its digital contingency plans in recent years to prepare for events that could disrupt normal work routines, former officials say. But the new reliance on remote-work tools comes as law-enforcement officials and cybersecurity experts warn of an uptick in hacking threats to government computer systems.
Virtual Classrooms
What South Africa's teachers brought to the virtual classroom during COVID-19
While celebrating this year’s World Teachers Day, we should recognise how the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the key role that teachers already play in South Africa’s schools. Before the pandemic, many teachers in the country had not received substantive formal technology training, either to support blended teaching and learning or to fully apply online learning. The decision by the Ministry of Basic Education to shut down schools in response to the pandemic forced teachers to adapt and innovate to ensure that learning continued despite the challenges faced. South African schools are clustered into quintiles ranging from one to five. This was done to ensure an equal and fair distribution of resources across schools. Schools in the lower quintiles are often based in under-served communities where resources are limited, while quintile five schools are well resourced.
Virtual classrooms present new learning curve for Saudi teachers
Saudi teachers have been facing their own learning curve after being forced to run lessons online in the wake of school closures due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Tutors from preschool to university level are having to come to terms with the new norm of remote learning but some have mixed feelings about the long-term prospects of virtual classroom teaching.
MBA Classroom of the Future: Hologram Professors
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced business schools to move classes online and limit campus interactions. While some b-schools initially announced plans to fully open campuses, many quickly revised those plans and, instead, decided to focus on virtual and hybrid learning models. One b-school, in particular, has come up with a rather creative solution for the virtual learning environment: Hologram professors. The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin recently announced plans to launch the classroom of the future with a new 3D immersive video solution that projects a professor into the classroom as a hologram. The b-school has partnered with Austin-based Contextual Content Group to create and implement the video solution.
Public Policies
After avoiding the worst in spring, Italy’s south sounds alarm over Covid
In a characteristically stern but satirical video message last week, Vincenzo De Luca, the president of Campania, warned citizens in the southern Italian region that if the coronavirus infection rate continued to rise there would be another lockdown. He struck a more serious tone on Saturday after Italy’s most densely populated region, and one of its poorest, registered the highest daily tally of new infections in the country. After showing images of a crowd without masks outside a college and revellers in a bar where there was an outbreak, he said: “We must return to the strict behaviour of February, March and April, otherwise we get sick.”
'Circuit-breaker' lockdown looms for Scotland as Covid cases rise
Four more coronavirus deaths were reported in Scotland, as the number of cases of the virus increased by 764. Figures released by the Scottish Government also show 191 people were in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, including 23 in intensive care. The 764 cases represent 12.4% of newly tested individuals and a fall of 11 on the previous day’s total. A warning was issued that a so-called “circuit breaker” lockdown remains a possibility for Scotland. Doctors’ leaders have said that the NHS is set to experience its most difficult winter since it was founded in 1948, due to the pressure caused by coronavirus.
Northern Ireland reports double previous daily record of COVID-19 cases
Northern Ireland reported 934 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, more than double the previous record daily total registered two days ago in the British-run region. Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer had earlier described the surge in cases in the last two weeks as extremely worrying and advised the public to prepare for a potential second, shorter lockdown. “This is an extremely and deeply worrying time, we’re seeing a rapidly deteriorating situation in terms of the number of new cases, but also the number of admissions to hospital and intensive care units,” Michael McBride told BBC radio.
China rolls out experimental Covid vaccine as it eyes global market
Beijing is set to expand a programme that administers experimental coronavirus vaccines as Chinese developers chart a risky path to dominating global supplies. In a surprise announcement last month, a representative from state-owned China National Biotec Group, or Sinopharm, revealed that hundreds of thousands of Chinese had already taken the company’s two leading experimental Covid-19 vaccines. The drugs were dispensed as part of a limited use programme that began with little fanfare by the Chinese government in July. The vaccines were administered even though final stage, or phase 3, trials designed to confirm overall effectiveness had not been completed. Details of the programme’s scope remain unclear, but government statements suggest use was originally restricted to frontline health workers and state employees travelling overseas to high-risk areas, including to work on projects along China’s Belt and Road infrastructure investment scheme.
In race for coronavirus vaccine, Russia ramps up rhetoric to defend Sputnik V
The investment fund’s head, Kirill Dmitriev, has taken aim at other labs seeking a vaccine using adenoviruses from monkeys or messenger RNA. After Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca resumed their coronavirus vaccine trial following a week-long pause because of an unexplained illness in a trial participant, Dmitriev issued a comment that he was “delighted” trials resumed. Unlike Sputnik V, their vaccine uses a cold virus from a monkey rather than a human. “At the same time, the suspension of trials clearly showed the fallacy of the approach, when entire countries exclusively rely on novel and untested platforms when choosing a vaccine for widespread use,” Dmitriev’s statement continued.
Here's what is known about President Trump's COVID-19 treatment
This afternoon, the White House announced that President Donald Trump received an experimental antibody treatment after a test revealed he's infected with SARS-CoV-2. He reportedly has mild COVID-19 symptoms, including fever and congestion, and he was transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Later, the president's medical team confirmed he had started a course of remdesivir, an antiviral drug shown to modestly help hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Germany makes people returning from Wales quarantine but not England
The German government has said that people travelling from Wales to Germany have to isolate for 14 days but travellers from England do not. In the advice given to travellers entering Germany, the German government said: "The United Kingdom has been strongly affected by Covid-19. In Wales and Northern Ireland there have been more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, which is why the German government has classified these regions as high risk areas. "Passengers travelling from Wales and Northern Ireland must therefore undergo a 14-day quarantine upon entering Germany. Those who can provide a negative Covid-19 test will not have to undergo quarantine."
Paris at risk of total lockdown as Europe cases rise
Paris is in danger of going back into lockdown next week after the French government said the coronavirus pandemic was worsening in the capital. "Since yesterday, in the last 24 hours, Paris has passed the threshold that would put it in the maximum alert category," French minister of Health Olivier Véran said Thursday evening. France's "maximum alert" threshold is reached when the incidence rate reaches 250 per 100,000 people, at least 30% of intensive care beds are occupied by coronavirus patients, and the rate among the elderly passes 100 per 100,000. The Paris region had already fulfilled the last two criteria.
Kerala, India’s ‘model state’ in COVID-19 fight, suffers setback
The southern Indian state of Kerala is set to ban gatherings of more than five people amid a recent surge in coronavirus cases, a setback for the state hailed by experts as a model in the fight against the pandemic. Indian media reports on Friday said the imposition of Section 144 of India’s penal code will be effective in Kerala for a month starting on Saturday, thereby banning any social or political gathering in the state. The measure was announced after Kerala reported 8,135 fresh cases on Thursday. It currently has more than 72,000 active COVID-19 cases, the third highest among Indian states, according to the reports.
Colombia's capital will see second, smaller coronavirus outbreak, mayor says
Bogota, the Colombian capital, will see a second outbreak of coronavirus cases, possibly between November and December, which will hopefully be less severe than the first wave, Bogota’s mayor, Claudia Lopez, said on Friday. “Most probably towards the end of the year, in November or December, we could have a second wave much smaller than the first,” Lopez said in a meeting with foreign press. The Andean country began more than five months of lockdown in March. It entered a much-looser “selective” quarantine phase - allowing dining at restaurants and international flights - at the start of September. On Monday the government extended the selective quarantine until the end of October.
Madrid regional authorities to lock down city in coming hours, source says
Madrid’s regional authorities will in the coming hours publish a decree to put the Spanish capital and nine nearby towns under partial lockdown, with immediate effect, a source from Madrid’s regional government told Reuters on Friday. By publishing the decree, the conservative-led regional government will reluctantly comply with an order from the central government to ban non-essential travel to and from the city to fight a steep surge in COVID-19 cases
COVID-19 still likely to be spreading exponentially, UK says
British government scientists said on Friday it was still likely that a resurgence in the COVID-19 epidemic was spreading exponentially despite survey data that suggested a small levelling off in a recent sharp rise of cases. The Office for National Statistics had said there was some evidence that the steep increases in new COVID-19 cases, seen in recent weeks in England, was slowing down. But government scientists urged caution as they published a reproduction “R” number that had risen slightly to 1.3-1.6 from 1.2-1.5, meaning that on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 13 and 16 other people.
UK seeks to avoid national lockdown to stop unemployment in millions, minister says
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is seeking to avoid a full national lockdown to prevent unemployment soaring into the millions, Environment Secretary George Eustice said. “I’ve not seen any projections of 4 million but certainly we know that there are some 700,000 extra people that are already unemployed as a result of this, and yes you know the projections are, that there are going to be economic impacts,” Eustice told Sky. “It’s for precisely that reason that we are trying to avoid full lockdown,” he said.
'The land that time forgot': months of lockdown grate in northern England
While much of England has enjoyed a return to some semblance of normality this summer, with the strictest coronavirus restrictions lifted, swathes of northern England have had just a few weeks’ respite from curbs. These northern boroughs and towns came out of lockdown with the rest of the country on 4 July, but just weeks later had local measures introduced preventing them from – to differing degrees – seeing family, opening businesses and visiting pubs or restaurants. There is an overwhelming feeling in these areas of having been forgotten, of “lockdown prejudice”, being left under restrictions when others have enjoyed the little freedom the country may experience this year.
Germany sees highest daily rise in coronavirus cases since April
Germany has once again reached a new record in the rise of coronavirus infections over a one-day period, as concerns grow that the country might lose its grip on the pandemic as the colder months approach. The Robert Koch Institute, the national agency for disease control, said 2,673 more cases had been confirmed on Friday, the highest daily rise seen since the second half of April. Eight more people died after catching the virus, bringing the death toll to 9,503.
Covid-19: What’s behind India’s coronavirus deaths?
India has confirmed more than 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus - a grim toll that ranks it third in the world behind only the US and Brazil. September was the nation's worst month on record: on average 1,100 Indians died every day from the virus. Regional anomalies continue as some states report far higher deaths than others - a sign, experts say, that the pandemic is still working its way through the country.
Another lockdown in Karnataka could be suicidal, say experts
In Karnataka, experts have frowned on medical education minister K Sudhakar’s warning that the government will have no choice but to enforce another lockdown if people fail to take precautions to check the spread of the pandemic and help curb rapidly rising Covid-19 infections in the state. Experts say a lockdown would be suicidal as the costs far outweigh limited gains since it will help reduce infections only temporarily.
'The beers are cold': Australia to open up to New Zealanders after COVID border shutdown
New Zealanders will soon be able to travel to Australia without having to self-quarantine as COVID-19 infections slow and Canberra seeks to revive its ailing economy, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Friday. New Zealand citizens and residents would be allowed to travel to Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales and its remote Northern Territory (NT) from Oct. 16, without having to undergo the two-week quarantine required of Australians returning from other nations, McCormack said.
Maintaining Services
Covid-19 Vaccines Should First Go to Health Workers, First Responders, Group Recommends
Certain health workers and first responders should be the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine when one becomes available, followed by people with health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease, a special U.S. committee recommended. As supplies of vaccines rise, the committee recommended vaccinating groups like teachers, child-care staffers and transit workers. Only later should other groups and finally remaining Americans get vaccinated, the committee said in a report released Friday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
Surge of Covid cases in London health workers sparks fear of spread on wards
Covid infection rates among doctors, nurses, and other hospital and care home staff have risen more than fivefold over the past month in London, scientists have discovered. The figures – provided by the Francis Crick Institute – have triggered considerable concern among scientists, who fear similar increases may be occurring in other regions of the UK. Increasing numbers of infected healthcare workers raise fears that the spread of Covid-19 into wards and care homes – which triggered tens of thousands of deaths last spring – could be repeated unless urgent action is taken.
‘Exhausted’ teachers warn they have no additional funding to handle Covid-19
In England, headteachers have warned they do not have enough funding from the government to meet the extra costs of the Covid-19 crisis, leaving school budgets “in the lap of the gods”. The new president of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), Ruth Davies, said schools are being expected to implement Covid safety arrangements “without any additional funding at all”, placing pressure on “exhausted” school leaders. She called on the government to provide money for items such as personal protective equipment, extra cleaning, more staff and the physical adaptations made to schools.
Coronavirus: The difficulty of policing Covid-19 restrictions
In Northern Ireland, the PSNI has handed out about 800 spot fines of £60 or more during the Covid-19 pandemic - but finds itself in a debate over claims of inaction on face coverings. Not a single penalty has been issued in respect of masks in shops or on public transport since they became mandatory. In England and Wales (a population of 60m), just 89 fines have been handed out, showing this law is being enforced with a light touch across the UK. By his own admission, it is not a space the Chief Constable Simon Byrne wants his officers to rush into.
Schools and mosques closed in Tehran as COVID-19 infections rise
Schools, libraries, mosques and other public institutions in Tehran were closed for a week on Saturday as part of measures to stem a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, state media cited authorities in the Iranian capital as saying. The closure plan, which will also affect universities, seminaries, libraries, museums, theatres, gyms, cafes and hair salons in the Iranian capital, came after Alireza Zali, head of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce, called for the shutdown to help control the epidemic.
Police set up traffic controls as Madrid heads back into lockdown
Police set up controls and stopped cars on major roads into and out of Madrid on Saturday as the city went back into lockdown due to surging coronavirus cases. Some 4.8 million people are barred from leaving the capital area, while restaurants and bars must shut early and reduce capacity by half. The new restrictions, which started on Friday evening, are not as strict as the previous lockdown in March, when people were barred from leaving their homes.
Military will be involved in distributing coronavirus vaccine, Matt Hancock says
The military will be involved in the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, Matt Hancock has said, as he confirmed the NHS Covid-19 app had been downloaded 15 million times. Speaking at the virtual Conservative Party conference, the Health Secretary said a Covid-19 vaccine was the "great hope". Reiterating Boris Johnson's comments about the "bumpy months ahead", Mr Hancock said the nation was "working as hard as we can to get a vaccine as fast as is safely possible".
India seeks up to 500 million coronavirus vaccine doses by July
India hopes to receive up to 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccine by July to inoculate about 250 million people, health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday, as infections in the world’s second-worst affected country continue to surge. India’s has recorded some 6.55 million infections, with 75,829 in the past 24 hours, while COVID-19-related deaths have totalled 101,782, health ministry data showed. “There is a high-level expert body going into all aspects of vaccines,” Vardhan wrote on Twitter. “Our rough estimate and the target would be to receive and utilise 400 to 500 million doses covering (200 million-250 million) people by July 2021.”
Nearly 20,000 Covid-19 cases among Amazon workers
Amazon said that more than 19,816 of its frontline workers in the US have contracted Covid-19 since March. The number equates to 1.44% of its 1.37 million workers across Amazon and its subsidiary Whole Foods. Amazon had faced criticism from employees, unions and elected officials, who have accused the company of putting employees' health at risk. But the online retailing giant said its infection rate is lower than expected. Amazon has kept its facilities open throughout the pandemic to meet a surge in demand from shoppers stuck at home.
As lockdown eases, Kenyan doctors warn Covid still lurking
Kenya is reporting a decline in coronavirus cases, and hospital admissions for Covid-19 have fallen sharply, but some frontline health workers say infections are going undetected and could even be rising. For several weeks, the health ministry has been recording between about 50 and 250 new infections every day, a sudden and considerable slump from highs approaching 900 in just late July. The government has responded by easing some of the strictest measures imposed to contain the pandemic.
Top Paris chefs in protest as restaurants face coronavirus lockdown
Paris's top restaurateurs vented their anger today as the French capital’s celebrated hospitality industry faced having to shut down to contain a surge in coronavirus infections. Health minister Olivier Veran has already ordered bars and restaurants in Marseille to shut for two weeks and last night warned that Paris could be placed on “maximum alert” from Monday, meaning similar measures there.
Healthcare Innovations
Scientists study whether immune response wards off or worsens Covid
British scientists have launched a major study aimed at uncovering the critical role that human antibodies and other immune defences play in the severity of Covid-19 cases. Results could support some scientists’ belief that antibodies triggered by common colds could be protecting children against the disease. Alternatively, the study could confirm other researchers’ fears that some immune responses to the virus may trigger deadly inflammatory reactions that could bedevil attempts to create anti-Covid vaccines.
Moderna Covid vaccine spurs ‘strong immune response, no serious side-effect’ in older adults
A phase 1 investigational trial has revealed that the Covid-19 vaccine developed by US-based pharmaceutical company Moderna elicited a strong immune response in older adults with no serious adverse effects, a study has claimed. The vaccine, called mRNA-1273, is being developed by Moderna in partnership with the US government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH). For the trial, 40 adults over the age of 56 were inoculated with the vaccine.
CDC identifies new Covid-19 syndrome in adults similar to MIS-C in kids
Adults can sometimes suffer from dangerous symptoms that resemble a coronavirus-linked syndrome in children, researchers with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. They're calling it multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults, or MIS-A, and say it's similar to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children or MIS-C. Like MIS-C, MIS-A is not obviously linked to coronavirus and sufferers may not show any other symptoms that would point to Covid-19 infection. But MIS-A has killed at least three patients and, similar to Covid-19, disproportionately hits racial and ethnic minorities, the CDC team said.