"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 16th Oct 2020
Ready, Set, Gold! Launches Enhanced Eight-Week Virtual Classroom Series featuring Top Olympians and Paralympians
Ready, Set, Gold! today announced the launch of a new, eight-week digital classroom series designed to help kids stay active while distance learning from home. The series will be made available for free online to all students through the support of The Foundation for Global Sports Development and Sidewinder Films and will also feature standout Olympians and Paralympians, including gold medalists John Naber and Rudy Garcia-Tolson.
For a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to work in the UK we need to be honest about what it’s for – buying time
The pressure is mounting on the Government to introduce a two-week national lockdown, or “circuit breaker”, to limit individuals’ contacts and thus suppress transmission of coronavirus. Such a lockdown will inevitably cause even more economic and social hardship to the country. But as unpalatable as it is, and as much as I hate the idea, I am reluctantly coming to the same conclusion.
Coronavirus UK: Student lockdown so they can go home for Christmas
Universities across the UK will reportedly be plunged into a two-week lockdown before Christmas to allow students to return home to their families. The lockdown will take place from December 8 to December 22 and will involve classes being taught online only. The plans are said to be in their ‘early stages’, reports the Guardian. Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said ‘plans are being put in place to allow students home safely for Christmas’ as many hundreds of students across the country have been forced to self-isolate due to soaring coronavirus cases.
Coronavirus: How China is testing 9,000,000 people in five days
China is currently in the process of testing an entire city of 9 million people for coronavirus in five days. The country, which appears to have largely brought the virus under control, is mass testing in Qingdao after 12 new cases broke out there linked to a hospital treating patients from abroad. Six had symptoms and six did not. As of today more than 4.2 million tests have been carried out in the northern port city, with no new cases of Covid-19 found among the almost 2 million sets of results received so far. China has adopted an impressive mass testing process which has been seen nowhere else in the world.
COVID-19 lockdowns averted tens of thousands of premature deaths related to air pollution
Lockdowns initiated to curb the spread of the coronavirus in China and Europe at the beginning of the pandemic improved air quality, averting tens of thousands of deaths in regions where air pollution has a significant impact on mortality, a new study shows. According to research published in The Lancet Planetary Health, scientists at the University of Notre Dame found that particulate matter concentrations in China dropped by an unprecedented 29.7 percent, and by 17.1 percent in parts of Europe, during lockdowns that took place between Feb. 1 and March 31 in China and Feb. 21 to May 17 in Europe. Particulate matter (PM2.5)—tiny airborne particles smaller than 1/10,000 of an inch in diameter—comes from various combustion-related sources including industrial emissions, transportation, wildfires and chemical reactions of pollutants in the atmosphere.
Fauci warns Americans to rethink Thanksgiving amid coronavirus surge
Anthony Fauci warned on Thursday that Americans should rethink their usual plans for traditional Thanksgiving gatherings, citing increased coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. Fauci, the most senior public health official on the White House coronavirus taskforce, told ABC News that given the rise in cases in almost three dozen US states, “we’ve really got to double down on fundamental public health measures that we talk about every day, because they can make a difference”.
Helen Salisbury: Older lives are not worth less
If you’re lucky, age brings wisdom and leisure, but for many it means illness, frustration, and failing bodies. “I’m sorry to be such a nuisance, doctor,” older patients often tell me. I reassure them that they’re not a nuisance and that, if they didn’t trouble me with their ailments, I’d be out of a job. While a few patients stockpile medication, others worry about “bankrupting the NHS” and try to avoid any treatment that’s not strictly necessary. I try to explain that they’ve already paid for the care and medicines they now need, through a lifetime of taxes.
Taoiseach: 'It is time to go back to remote working. We know it works'
Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said if more people work from home it will have an impact on the virus transmission rate. “It is time to go back to remote working. We know it works. It is possible, and it would have a very significant impact in reducing transmission rates in our view,” he said. The Cabinet this evening agreed that Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan will be put under Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions.
How Much Will Remote Work Continue After The Pandemic?
A new study of pandemic-induced remote workers and their employers suggests that at least 16 percent will remain at-home workers long after the COVID-19 crisis has receded. The survey of 1,800 people in both small and larger businesses also found: While overall levels of remote work are high, there is considerable variation across industries. Remote work is much more common in industries with better educated and better paid workers.
Dubai offers tourists one-year remote working visa
Overseas professionals can now apply for a one-year remote working visa to live in Dubai while remaining employed abroad. Dubai Tourism announced the new visa, which appeals to people who are due to be working virtually from home for the foreseeable future. The new programme promises that visa holders will have access to all required services, including telecoms, utilities, and schooling options. The initiative encourages applicants to bring their families, and enjoy everything that Dubai has to offer.
Remote working hubs to be funded by Government as part of State strategy
The Government plans to fund remote hubs in rural towns and villages over the next two years as part of the development of a State strategy on remote working. Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the strategy would be published by the end of the year and 522 submissions had been received in a public consultation process. But he also warned that “we have to look at the risks to the country as well of people who currently live in Ireland perhaps remote working from the Canaries, or Ibiza or Poland or India. That’s a real risk to us in terms of losing jobs”.
How to foster innovation in a remote working world
One of the core tenets of consumer-centric thinking is to dismantle silos—that game-changing innovation occurs when disparate members on the company org chart join forces to solve problems. But what happens when teams—and the individuals within them—can no longer brainstorm in the same room when we’re working remotely? And how do blue chip companies that have doubled down on their commitment to diversity put it into practice in such an environment? In this timely panel from the 2020 Fast Company Innovation Festival, senior executives from PepsiCo and other leading companies examined how to build a culture of experimentation with cross-functional teams during this unique, challenging time.
FT editor Roula Khalaf warns against long-term switch to remote working for journalists
Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf has warned that long-term remote working could be “problematic” for news companies as they “have to be able to share ideas”. Speaking at the FT’s Future of News event on Wednesday, Khalaf said she disliked working from home and wanted to see a return to the office – and that many “underestimate what we lose” from not being there. Almost all FT staff began working from home ten days before the UK went into full lockdown, similarly to many companies, which Khalaf said was initially tough before she realised the full potential of what could still be produced.
Coronavirus: Rise in office workers leaving city to ‘work from home’ abroad or by the coast
Office workers are adopting a “work from anywhere” approach by looking for temporary home offices on the coast or away from the cities, a study found. A survey of 2,000 “WFH” adults found six in 10 would consider working remotely from somewhere other than their primary residence. And the average office worker would like to pack up their PC and spend two-and-a-half weeks doing their job from a more exciting or exotic location.
How to Connect With Co-Workers When Working Remotely
According to a recent survey by the Morning Consult, 58 percent of remote workers feel like they are disconnected from their co-workers.
55% of staff willing to take pay cut to work remotely
Just under half (45%) of employees would be interested in taking a pay cut to continue working remotely long-term, according to research by Owl Labs. Its study of 2,000 UK employees found that 15% of staff would take a pay cut of 5% to continue working remotely, however, just under half of respondents (46%) would leave if their organisation chose to reduce their pay as a cost-cutting measure. A further 41% of staff would consider resigning if they were forced to return to the office. More than three-quarters (84%) of respondents will continue to work remotely for the rest of 2020, with 44% of employees planning to work from home five days a week and 55% planning to work a hybrid of home and office working with up to four days being office-based.
Q&A: Melissa Lim on Embracing Change and Tech During Distance Learning
When describing how her school district is handling remote learning, Melissa Lim uses a word some might find unusual: opportunities. It’s well documented that public schools across the country still are wrangling with challenges of remote learning — everything from securing devices to engaging students online. But despite those problems, some educators see opportunities to approach education in new ways. That’s one reason why EdTech chose Lim as one of our 2020 K–12 IT Influencers. Lim, a technology integration specialist at Portland Public Schools in Oregon, recently answered questions from EdTech about how she and other educators are finding opportunities for innovation during remote learning.
Finnish expert answers 7 questions about coronavirus vaccines
According to a survey by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) last spring, around 70 percent of respondents said they would take a vaccine if authorities recommended it. However, many still remember more than a decade ago the serious side effects of the H1N1 "swine flu" vaccine, Pandemrix, which was found to have multiplied the risk of narcolepsy, particularly among young people, a situation that damaged the public's confidence in vaccines as well as health authorities. The director of the Vaccine Research Center at Tampere University, Mika Rämet, said the centre advises decision makers about new vaccines, but does not participate in policy-making. He noted that the centre is not currently conducting its own coronavirus vaccine study.
Coronavirus: Boris Johnson losing grip on strategy as top medical adviser tells local leaders it will not work
Boris Johnson’s coronavirus strategy was unravelling after one of the prime minister’s top medical advisers told regional leaders it would not work and a national lockdown was needed. More than half of the population of England will soon be subjected to heightened restrictions under the prime minister’s three-tier regional system, after areas including London, Essex and York were told to move to “high” alert status from Saturday. But Mr Johnson was forced to back down on plans to put Greater Manchester and Lancashire into the toughest curbs alongside Merseyside after civic leaders demanded more financial support for the thousands of workers whose employers would be forced to shut down. And councils in the northeast united to say that they too would reject tier 3 status.
Fauci says letting Covid-19 spread to achieve herd immunity is 'ridiculous'
Dr Anthony Fauci made the comments on GMA on Thursday when asked about the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration that was published earlier this week. He made the comments on Thursday when asked about the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration that was published earlier this week. The declaration, which was written by experts at Oxford, Harvard and Stanford, calls for the protection of people most at risk of dying from Covid-19. It argues that the rest of the population should be able to return to life as normal. Fauci said the declaration hides that fact that 30% of the population have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to Covid-19. It comes as the United States reached its highest number of daily Covid-19 infections in two months with more than 59,000 cases reported on Wednesday. Deaths, however, continue to trend downward nationally with an average of more than 700 Americans dying per day
Ending Covid-19 via herd immunity is 'a dangerous fallacy'
The concept of ending the Covid pandemic through herd immunity is “a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence”, say 80 researchers in a warning letter published by a leading medical journal. The international signatories of the open letter in the Lancet say the interest in herd immunity comes from “widespread demoralisation and diminishing trust” as a result of restrictions being reimposed in many countries because of surging infections in a second wave. The suggestion that the way out is by protecting the vulnerable and allowing the virus to transmit among those less at risk is flawed, they say. “Uncontrolled transmission in younger people risks significant morbidity and mortality across the whole population. In addition to the human cost, this would impact the workforce as a whole and overwhelm the ability of healthcare systems to provide acute and routine care.”
Early approval of a COVID-19 vaccine could stymie the hunt for better ones
Success in the push to find a COVID-19 vaccine at record-breaking speed could hand the world a new problem. The first vaccine to cross the finish line might be only marginally effective, yet it could become the enemy of the good—or even the great—candidates in the wings by disrupting ongoing studies. In all likelihood, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other regulators will issue the first COVID-19 vaccine approval or emergency use authorization (EUA) for one vaccine while many other candidates have clinical trials still underway or in the planning. At that point, ongoing studies of any vaccine—including that first one—could become unethical because half the participants would get a placebo, at a time a vaccine with established efficacy will be available. “It’s a very vexing issue,” says Christine Grady, who heads the bioethics department at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, which organized a “grand rounds” webinar on the challenges last week.
Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected more than 35 million people globally, with more than 1 million deaths recorded by WHO as of Oct 12, 2020. As a second wave of COVID-19 affects Europe, and with winter approaching, we need clear communication about the risks posed by COVID-19 and effective strategies to combat them. Here, we share our view of the current evidence-based consensus on COVID-19.
Lockdown was not effective strategy against Covid-19 in South Africa, new evidence suggests
Given the age demographics in African countries, and the existing data on those the disease affects most (primarily the elderly), Africa’s population would be less susceptible to Covid-19 than its counterparts in Europe and the USA. A hard lockdown was ...
'Time is running out,' EU warns, urging measures to avoid new lockdowns
The European Commission urged member nations on Thursday to step up preparations against the new surge of coronavirus infections and recommended common measures to roll out vaccines should they become available. With new cases hitting about 100,000 daily, Europe has by a wide margin overtaken the United States, where an average of more than 51,000 COVID-19 infections is reported every day. “Time is running out,” said EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, urging greater coordination in tracing infections. “Everyone’s first priority should be to do what it takes to avoid the devastating consequences of generalised lockdowns.”
Germany announces tougher coronavirus restrictions
Germany late on Wednesday announced new restrictions on public life in an effort to combat a surge in coronavirus cases. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the premiers of the country's 16 federal states agreed on limiting private gatherings to 15 attendees and a curfew for bars and restaurants from 11 p.m. in areas with a weekly rate of more than 35 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Coronavirus: France declares state of emergency as night-time lockdown imposed on Paris and eight other cities
A state of emergency has been declared in France, and President Emmanuel Macron has announced a curfew between 9pm and 6am for the areas worst-affected by coronavirus. Ile-de-France and eight metropolitan areas - including Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint Etienne and Toulouse - will face the curfews for four weeks, starting on Saturday. During the curfew hours, people will not be allowed to go to restaurants or visit friends - but there will be no restrictions on public transport or on people travelling within regions.
Italy Posts Record Virus Cases as Europe Struggles With Pandemic
Italy is being removed from the UK’s travel corridor in a fresh blow to holidaymakers who will have to quarantine for a fortnight on their return from the country. In a move revealed earlier by the Guardian, Italy – which this week recorded its highest ever daily tally of Covid-19 cases – is being dropped from the dwindling list of locations that UK travellers can visit without facing quarantine when they come home. Italy last week imposed new requirements meaning visitors from the UK and some other nations must provide evidence of a negative Covid test taken 72 hours before travel – although some Italian airports have been providing tests on arrival.
Spanish Health Ministry reports nearly 12,000 new coronavirus infections, adds 209 victims to the death toll
A total of 11,970 new coronavirus cases were reported by the Spanish Health Ministry on Wednesday, toward the higher scale of the numbers seen over recent weeks. On Tuesday new infections came in at 7,118, a figure that may have been artificially low due to underreporting over the long weekend (Monday was a national holiday in Spain). In total, there have been 908,056 confirmed coronavirus infections in the country since the pandemic took hold.
Why complacency and lifting restrictions could be driving India's high COVID-19 numbers
On Tuesday, India added 55,342 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, bringing its total number of confirmed infections to 7.17 million, according to data from the country's Ministry of Health. These daily new infections may be off their recent peaks and were the lowest numbers in almost two months, but India is the second worst-affected country after the United States, and it is set to have the largest caseload in a matter of weeks. India's high number of new cases is being driven by the ongoing lifting of lockdown restrictions and complacency around following precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, epidemiologists say. Restrictions have been steadily eased in recent months in an effort to revive livelihoods, but they have yet to be completely lifted, and the economy remains sluggish.
Trump Overstates W.H.O. Position on Lockdowns
This week, President Trump exaggerated a position taken by the World Health Organization, saying that the agency had vindicated his derision of lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic. “The World Health Organization just admitted that I was right,” the president tweeted. “Lockdowns are killing countries all over the world. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.” Mr. Trump’s message was rapidly shared by thousands online, including the commentator Lou Dobbs and Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, who echoed the president’s rallying cry to “open up” and described the closings as “pseudoscientific” and “tyrannical.” Since the early days of the pandemic, the president has dismissed lockdowns as unnecessary and harmful, even while the virus continued to blaze across the nation.
'Things will get worse': London goes into stricter lockdown
London, the world’s international financial capital, will enter a tighter COVID-19 lockdown from midnight on Friday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks to tackle a swiftly accelerating second coronavirus wave. The respiratory pandemic, which emerged in China last year and has killed over a million people worldwide, is spreading in most parts of Britain, whose official death toll of 43,155 is the highest in Europe. Anger, though, is rising over the economic, social and health costs of the biggest curtailment of freedoms since World War Two. One former government adviser warned some people would have trouble clothing their children soon.
Coronavirus: New Zealand's 'go hard and go early' COVID-19 response 'unprecedented internationally' - study
On March 14, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand's strategy in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic would be to "go hard and go early". Despite claims from her opponents we didn't, new research has found not only that we did, but we went the hardest and earliest of anyone. "The speed and intensity of the national response to limit the epidemic is unprecedented internationally," a new study published this week in prestigious medical journal The Lancet said. "It is likely this early, intense response, which also enabled relatively rapid easing while maintaining strict border controls, prevented the burden of disease experienced in other high-income countries with slower lockdown implementation."
Northen Ireland imposes strictest UK lockdown, Irish border curbs follow
Northern Ireland announced the strictest COVID-19 restrictions seen in the United Kingdom since early summer on Wednesday, closing schools for two weeks, restaurants for four weeks and leading Ireland to respond by tightening curbs in bordering counties. The British-ruled region of Northern Ireland has become one of Europe’s biggest COVID-19 hotspots in recent weeks. Its health minister described the situation last Friday as becoming graver by the hour. The health department reported a record amount of daily cases on Wednesday with 1,217 new infections bringing the number of cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days to 356. Four more deaths were also announced.
Dutch hospitals ask for German help to cope with COVID-19 surge
Hospitals in the Netherlands on Thursday said they would ask their German counterparts to take patients after the number of those hospitalised with coronavirus doubled in the past week, to 1,526. “We are about to ask for the transfer of patients to hospitals in Germany again”, the head of the Dutch hospital association LNAZ told reporters.
South Africa puts public works, jobs at heart of COVID-19 recovery plan
South Africa will embark on a massive public works and job-creation drive in response to the coronavirus crisis, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday, unveiling a plan to return Africa’s most industrialised economy to growth. South Africa was in recession before it recorded its first coronavirus infection in March, with one of the world’s strictest lockdowns and a global drop in demand for its exports causing GDP to fall by more than 17% in annual terms in the April-June quarter, when over 2 million jobs were lost. Ramaphosa’s government has been in talks with business and labour leaders for months trying to plot a path to recovery.
French police search politicians' homes in coronavirus inquiry
French police have searched the homes and offices of French officials including the former prime minister as part of an investigation into the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Current and former ministers have been targeted by at least 90 formal legal complaints from civic groups and members of the public over their response to the health emergency. Investigators targeted the home of former PM Édouard Philippe on Thursday as well as the current health minister, Olivier Véran, the former health minister Agnès Buzyn, the former government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye and the head of France’s health authority, Jérôme Salomon. Salomon became known as Monsieur Covid for his daily health briefings at the height of the epidemic in March and April.
Japan mulls lowering international travel advisories issued over pandemic
Japan is considering lowering travel advisories that it issued for all countries and regions in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, government officials said Thursday. The ministry may lower the travel advisory to Level 1, asking citizens to exercise caution or lift it completely. As for more specific travel alerts for infectious diseases, 159 countries and regions are now placed at Level 3, warning against all travel. The ministry is expected to lower the alert by one level for Vietnam and some other countries that have a low number of infections, according to the officials.
Thousands of stranded Australians could get ticket home under new Darwin quarantine deal
A push to expand the intake of stranded Australians trying to get home is facing delays after Friday's scheduled National Cabinet meeting was postponed. Thousands of Australians stranded overseas could soon return home under a deal to allow people to quarantine near Darwin. The ABC reported on Thursday up to 1000 people a month would isolate at the NT's Howard Springs facility after returning home on commercial and charter flights.
Indian cinemas reopen amid fewest coronavirus deaths in 11 weeks
After seven months of total blackout, cinemas have reopened in several parts of India as the country reported its lowest daily increase in coronavirus deaths in 11 weeks. The reopening of movie theatres on Thursday came as India’s health ministry reported 680 deaths in the past 24 hours, the lowest number in nearly three months, raising the country’s death toll since the pandemic began to 111,266.
Covid-19: Scientists develop test for that can identify virus in five minutes
Scientists have developed a new rapid test for coronavirus that detects and identifies viruses in less than five minutes. The test, created by researchers from Oxford University’s department of physics, is able to differentiate Sars-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, from negative clinical samples. It is also able to tell it apart from other viruses such as flu and seasonal human coronaviruses, according to the study. Working directly on throat swabs from Covid-19 patients, without the need for genome extraction, purification or amplification of the viruses, the method starts with the rapid labelling of virus particles in the sample with short fluorescent DNA strands.
Did Lockdowns Lower Premature Births? A New Study Adds Evidence
Some public health researchers are seeing hints that the coronavirus pandemic might help solve a longstanding puzzle: What causes premature birth? Studies in Ireland and Denmark this summer showed that preterm births decreased in the spring during lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus in those countries. Anecdotally, doctors around the world reported similar drops. They speculated that reduced stress on mothers, cleaner air or better hygiene might have contributed. A large study from the Netherlands, published on Tuesday in The Lancet Public Health, has yielded even stronger evidence of an association between the lockdowns and a smaller number of early births.
People with blood type O may have lower risk of Covid-19 infection and severe illness, studies suggest
People with blood type O may be less vulnerable to Covid-19 and have a reduced likelihood of getting severely ill from the virus, according to two new studies. The two independent studies, carried out by researchers in Denmark and Canada and published in the journal Blood Advances, found that individuals with blood types A and AB are most vulnerable to the disease. The research provides further evidence that a person's blood type may play a role in their susceptibility to coronavirus and could shed further light on why the illness proves deadly for some but others only experience mild symptoms, or none at all.
WHO fears more tuberculosis deaths as COVID-19 pandemic continues
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a “dramatic increase” in tuberculosis (TB) deaths in the coming years, as a result of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a continuing shortage of funds in its annual report on global efforts to combat the disease. The WHO said there were “significant reductions” in the reporting and monitoring of new TB cases in the first half of 2020, as countries imposed lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19. Professor Achilles Kapanidis, from Oxford's Department of Physics, said the test would be "simple, extremely rapid, and cost-effective".
Safety and Immunogenicity of Two RNA-Based Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates
The safety and immunogenicity data from this U.S. phase 1 trial of two vaccine candidates in younger and older adults, added to earlier interim safety and immunogenicity data regarding BNT162b1 in younger adults from trials in Germany and the United States, support the selection of BNT162b2 for advancement to a pivotal phase 2–3 safety and efficacy evaluation.
Study shows nearly 90% of people are asymptomatic with COVID-19
The ‘silent transmission’ of COVID-19 is of huge concern as researchers have found nearly 90% of people with the condition do not have the symptoms. People who have a persistent cough, high temperature and lose their sense of smell or taste are being told to stay home to protect other people and stop the spread.