" Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 16th Nov 2020
New Zealand Study Reveals The Complex Psychological Toll of Pandemic Lockdowns
2020 has not been a good year for mental health. The emergence of a global pandemic has left many people fearing for their lives, stressing over their finances, panicking over the news, and yearning for their loved ones. While we're still not sure what the mental health toll will be, the World Health Organisation expects levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour to rise.
After COVID-19 Diagnosis, Nearly 1 In 5 Are Diagnosed With Mental Disorder
New research has found that nearly 1 person in 5 diagnosed with COVID-19 is diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder like anxiety, depression or insomnia within three months. The analysis was conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford, using electronic health records for 69.8 million patients in the U.S. — including more than 62,000 diagnosed with COVID-19. Compared with patients who had experienced certain other health events this year — such as influenza, kidney stones or a major bone fracture – those diagnosed with COVID-19 were more likely to have a subsequent psychiatric diagnosis in the following 14 to 90 days. "The incidence of any psychiatric diagnosis in the 14 to 90 days after COVID-19 diagnosis was 18.1%," the study found, including 5.8% that was a first diagnosis. The research was published Monday in Lancet Psychiatry.
Shock new figures fuel fears of more lockdown domestic abuse killings in UK
Calls to the UK’s largest domestic abuse helpline are rising “week on week” as new figures reveal that almost 50 suspected killings may have occurred during the first lockdown. The charity Refuge, which runs the National Domestic Abuse helpline, said it was “very concerned” by the continuing upward trend in demand for its services, with England a little over a week into its second lockdown. Separate data from Counting Dead Women, a project that records the killing of women by men in the UK, identified 35 murders, with another 12 strongly suspected cases between 23 March and the start of July, when Covid restrictions were largely lifted. The rate of killings, conspicuously steep in the opening period of the first lockdown, gradually lowers to levels similar to those recorded in previous years.
BioNTech vaccine scientist says jab could halve Covid transmission
The scientist behind the first potential Covid-19 vaccine to clear interim clinical trials says he is “very confident” the jab will reduce transmission of the disease, perhaps by 50%, resulting in a “dramatic” reduction in cases. The German company BioNTech and the US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer announced to worldwide acclaim last week that their jointly developed vaccine candidate appeared to be 90% effective in stopping people from falling ill. Uğur Şahin, the chief executive of BioNTech, said he expected that further analysis would show that the jab is also effective in stopping spread of the disease, but probably not by as much as 90%. Certainty around its impact will not come until next year, he added.
How Australia brought the coronavirus pandemic under control
Kim Laurie worked as a florist for a quarter of a century before opening her own shop in Melbourne in July, just before the city was engulfed by a second wave of Covid-19 cases. Within weeks, Australia’s second-biggest city was reporting 700 new cases a day and Victoria’s state government imposed a second lockdown. “It was really devastating as I had no choice but to close the doors of the business for several weeks,” said Ms Laurie. Her flower shop is one of thousands of businesses hit hard by home confinement and nightly curfews, which lasted 112-days and have become hallmarks of Australia’s hardline approach to combating the pandemic. Corporate leaders have criticised the measures as too strict and economically damaging. But the zero tolerance strategy worked: no new locally transmitted cases have been reported in Victoria since the lockdown was lifted two weeks ago.
COVID-19: Two new testing 'mega labs' planned for 2021
Two new "mega labs" to turnaround 600,000 coronavirus tests a day are planned for next year, as Boris Johnson tries to draw a line under losing two key advisers. The prime minister will make a "series of critical announcements", Number 10 said, following the sudden departure of aides Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain. And in a bid to shore up support from "red wall" Tory MPs, he will hold a meeting with the so-called Northern Research Group today to "listen to their ideas" and convey his commitment to "levelling up".
Controversial US data firm Palantir could manage UK’s ailing Test and Trace scheme
US data analysis company Palantir Technologies could be drafted in to manage the UK government’s troubled COVID-19 Test and Trace programme, according to press reports. Palantir has been linked with the project for several weeks and the Financial Times is the latest to suggest that the company could get involved with the troubled project. Palantir was founded in 2003 by a team including paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and the company’s billionaire CEO Alex Karp. Taking its name from the “seeing stones” in The Lord of the Rings, Palantir is known for counter-terrorism work and fraud investigation with agencies of the US federal government.
Asia Today: S. Korea begins fining people not wearing masks
South Korea has reported its biggest daily jump in COVID-19 cases in 70 days as the government began fining people who fail to wear masks in public. The 191 new cases Friday represented the sixth consecutive day above 100 and was the highest daily increase since Sept. 4, when authorities reported 198 new infections. More than 120 of the cases were from the Seoul metropolitan area, where the coronavirus has spread in hospitals, nursing homes, churches, schools, restaurants and offices. The continuing spread has alarmed government officials, who have eased social distancing measures to soften the pandemic’s shock on the economy.
Britain to pilot COVID-19 tests for care home visitors
Visitors to care homes in parts of England will be able to get tested for COVID-19 under a new pilot plan aimed at reducing onerous restrictions in time for Christmas, the health ministry said Saturday. With England under lockdown until December, care home visits can still go ahead in certain circumstances, but official guidance states that screens, windows or “visiting pods” should be used to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. “I know how heart-breaking restricting visits to care homes has been, not only for residents, many of whom will feel disoriented and confused by the situation, but also their loved ones who aren’t able to simply hug each other to support them in this difficult time,” health minister Matt Hancock said.
How Do I Clean And Maintain A Reusable COVID-19 Mask? : Goats and Soda
Does putting a reusable mask in the oven for 30 minutes at 165 degrees Fahrenheit kill the virus that causes COVID-19 and other pathogens? If not, how do I clean it? The good news: Yes, baking your cloth or synthetic mask would probably kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Several studies have shown that the virus dies when exposed to 158 degrees Fahrenheit for a length of time somewhere between 2 1/2 minutes and an hour. The bad news: It may also singe your mask.
Covid-19: Lockdowns Return and North Dakota Issues Mask Mandate as Records Fall
After months of resisting ordering the people of North Dakota to wear masks and limit the size of gatherings, the state’s Republican governor relented in an effort to stem a coronavirus surge that is among the worst in the U.S. and that threatens to overwhelm the state’s hospitals. Gov. Doug Burgum’s executive order Friday night came as a surprise and only hours before the state recorded new daily records for hospitalizations and infections. Throughout the pandemic, the former software executive had been leaving it to individuals to take personal responsibility for slowing the spread of the virus, beseeching the public during his weekly press briefings to wear masks but emphasizing a “light touch” by government.
Charleston schools launch learning pods for low-income students to aid virtual instruction
When Charleston County schools first reopened their doors in September after six long months of coronavirus-mandated online learning, parents were presented with a difficult choice. They could opt to send their children back to the classroom in person and risk them getting infected with a deadly virus, or they could attempt to minimize health and safety risks by having them start the school year from behind a computer screen, isolated from their peers and teachers. Around 27,500 students, or around 54 percent of the district’s total student population, ultimately decided to tune in to their first day of school virtually, a figure that far exceeded the district’s initial projections.
In Michigan, undocumented immigrants form learning pod so they won't lose their jobs
When public schools in Ann Arbor, Mich., closed last spring, Betty, an undocumented domestic worker, feared losing her job if she stayed home to help her children navigate virtual schooling. But even if she could stay home, she worried that she didn't have the English proficiency to support her daughter, a ninth-grader at a public high school in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Socially distanced Diwali celebrated in UK under lockdown
Britain’s Hindus, Jains and Sikhs are celebrating their first ever virtual Diwali on Saturday, as the Covid lockdown has forced the cancellation of almost all normal festivities. Despite the usual gatherings of friends and families being impossible because of the pandemic, numerous councils and temples across the UK have instead taken the celebrations online, hosting video streams for the faithful to tune in.
India fears annual Diwali festivities will cause coronavirus surge
India fears annual Diwali festivities will cause coronavirus surge - The crowds filling shopping areas ahead of the Diwali festival of lights on Saturday are raising hopes of India's distressed business community after months of lockdown losses but also spawning fears of a massive coronavirus upsurge. People who've restricted their purchases to essentials for months appear to be in a celebratory mood and traders are lapping it up, said Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders. "The past three days have seen a tremendous increase in customer footfall in shopping markets for festival purchases,” he said.
How to reinvent cities for the post-pandemic world
The once mighty financial capitals of the world have been reduced to ghost towns as they suffer the effects of COVID-19. For more than a century, cities have been magnets for millions of people seeking work opportunities and the promise of a better life. But the COVID-19 pandemic is rewriting the way we live and work. City centres have been turned into ghost towns as people work from home. It could potentially leave lasting scars with shops, restaurants and services that cater to commuters being decimated.
Communal worship ‘criminalised’ under lockdown, church leaders in England say
More than 100 Christian leaders have launched a legal challenge against the ban on communal worship in England under lockdown restrictions. They claim worship has been “criminalised” and the ban has “inflicted a terrible human cost” on congregations for whom collective worship is a core element of their religious life. The restrictions on public worship, they argue, breach article 9 of the European convention on human rights which protects the right to freedom of religion. The claim for judicial review by 122 church leaders from different traditions is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, an arm of the conservative evangelical organisation Christian Concern.
'Just hugging was amazing': joy and tears as Victorian families reunite after Melbourne lockdown
As Mel McNamara drove from the Victorian mainland over the Phillip Island bridge, her eyes filled with tears. “My daughter, she asked me why I was crying,” Mel says. “I had to tell her that these are happy tears – I was just so grateful to be by the sea and going to see my family.” It had been four months since Mel last saw her mother Julie and stepdad Damian, both residents on the island. Victoria’s “ring of steel” had kept them apart, with the threat of a $5,000 fine for any Melburnian who tried to escape the confines of the city. Mel burst into tears again when she finally saw her mum.
More than 300,000 New Yorkers have fled the Big Apple in the last eight months
More than 300,000 residents have reportedly fled New York City from between March and October, report says. 295,103 residents filed change of address forms with the U.S. Postal Service, but the number of movers likely rises when considering multi-person households. Many residents relocated to New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester. Wealthy residents on the city's Upper West Side made 9,076 mail forwarding requests - the largest chunk in the city. Key factors included economic stressors, crime surges, concerns over local schooling and the pandemic
Don’t Tax Working from Home
A proposal to tax working from home has gotten some attention this week. You can find a description of and case for it on pp. 32-34 of this DeutscheBank report. Here’s how it would work: [T]he tax will only apply outside the times when the government advises people to work from home (of course, the self-employed and those on low incomes can be excluded). The tax itself will be paid by the employer if it does not provide a worker with a permanent desk. If it does, and the staff member chooses to work from home, the employee will pay the tax out of their salary for each day they work from home. This can be audited by coordinating with company travel and technology systems.
What you should consider before working remotely from a vacation destination
Why work from home when you can do so from a resort? That’s what many managers of hotels, large and small, are hoping would-be travelers are thinking about these days as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stall the travel industry worldwide. Over the past few months, many top hotel chains have started offering remote working packages, spurring another new pandemic trend: the “workcation.” “The hotels and destinations that are offering ‘work from hotel’ packages are trying to attract all types of travelers. But I think these opportunities will definitely appeal to people traveling on their own or to families who have children who are attending school remotely,” says Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of The Points Guy.
Schoolcations Are All the Rage, Here's How to Take One
The pandemic has turned many parents into teachers, making remote learning challenging for the entire family. It’s especially tough for those who may still be going into their office and can’t be home to supervise, or if the homeschooling responsibility lies on the shoulders of one parent who may also be juggling working from home. The stress is tremendous. A new national poll of the U.S. workforce by Eagle Hill Research found that 65 percent of employees with children in remote learning situations are feeling burnout. Mom and dad need more than a “Calgon take me away” relaxing bath moment. Parents looking to exhale are finding relief with “schoolcations.” Families are loading up backpacks with school supplies, packing the laptop and hitting the road. Online learning can be done anywhere.
KT Debate: Are virtual classrooms better than campus ones?
Face-to-face learning or virtual one? This is a hotly debated topic among parents and educators. While the current situation demands the power to choose either of the two options, some stress the need to embrace the digital path as the new normal amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Some parents remain concerned about their children missing out on extra-curricular and physical activities and the impact on their mental health. Virtual classroom is definitely the new learning experience for the future, especially for the secondary and tertiary sector. The alpha generation will be more comfortable with the virtual education world. It will be difficult for parents and teachers to accept, but it is their future and who are we to control it. We need to embrace it and change ourselves for it. Virtual classrooms are not going to substitute school education. The walls between the classrooms will disappear but the community learning space for social and emotional skills will stay and transform the school education.
Rochester in Focus: Tech education Jedi helping teachers succeed in virtual classrooms
Teachers and students are spending a lot of time online these days, but transferring teaching skills from the classroom to virtual learning isn't easy for everyone. Some teachers are frustrated and think they are getting a failing grade. News10NBC's Lynette Adams spoke with a man who is referred to as a technology education Jedi. Jon O'Keefe works for Logical Operations in Brighton. He has studied the impact of technology on students and has designed curriculum and trained more than 3,500 adult educators who have become certified virtual educators.
Coronavirus: France to restart remote lessons after threat of strikes over safety
Sixth-form colleges in France were ordered to draw up plans for the reintroduction of remote learning yesterday as President Macron sought to head off a revolt by teachers and pupils. Hardline teachers’ unions are calling strikes over what they say are inadequate health protocols and sixth-formers are organising sporadic blockades of their lycées to protest against crowded classrooms. Some demonstrations turned violent, notably in poorer Paris suburbs.
Blue Valley sending older students back to online-only class after COVID-19 surge
The Blue Valley school district will transition older students back to online-only classes on Nov. 30 as the Kansas City region reports record COVID-19 cases. District officials announced Friday that middle and high schoolers will return to remote learning after Thanksgiving, from Nov. 30 through Dec. 22, the last day before winter break. Elementary school students will remain in in-person classes five days a week. The district will allow middle and high school winter sports and activities to begin on Nov. 16, with safety precautions.
Johnson & Johnson, U.S. government expand pact to support next phase of COVID-19 vaccine R&D
Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have expanded an agreement to support the next phase of COVID-19 vaccine candidate research and development, the company said on Saturday. Under the agreement the company will commit approximately $604 million and the HHS Department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will commit about $454 million to support the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial evaluating Janssen’s investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate as a single dose in up to 60,000 volunteers worldwide, the company said in a statement
Irish health chief concerned by unexpected rise in COVID-19 cases
An unexpected 10% rise in the five-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases in Ireland threatens to reverse a recent sharp drop in the incidence rate of the disease to the third-lowest level in Europe, the country’s chief medical officer said on Saturday. Ireland was among the first European countries to reimpose tough nationwide measures last month to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, with restrictions on travel and the closure of non-essential retail more than halving the 14-day infection rate to 130 cases per 100,000 people.
Dame Sally Davies: obesity scourge led to 50000 Covid death toll
Thousands of coronavirus deaths could have been avoided if ministers had tackled the obesity crisis, England’s former chief medical officer says today. Professor Dame Sally Davies blames the country’s high death toll on “a structural environment” that enabled junk food makers to encourage consumption. The UK has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world and the second highest in Europe, with nearly one in three adults obese. Obesity, defined as a body mass index greater than 30, raises the risk of dying of Covid-19 by 48%. Last week Britain became the first country in Europe to pass a grim milestone, reaching more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus on official figures.
Covid-19: politicisation, “corruption,” and suppression of science
Politicians and governments are suppressing science. They do so in the public interest, they say, to accelerate availability of diagnostics and treatments. They do so to support innovation, to bring products to market at unprecedented speed. Both of these reasons are partly plausible; the greatest deceptions are founded in a grain of truth. But the underlying behaviour is troubling. Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health.1 Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science. The UK’s pandemic response provides at least four examples of suppression of science or scientists. First, the membership, research, and deliberations of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) were initially secret until a press leak forced transparency.2 The leak revealed inappropriate involvement of government advisers in SAGE, while exposing under-representation from public health, clinical care, women, and ethnic minorities. Indeed, the government was also recently ordered to release a 2016 report on deficiencies in pandemic preparedness, Operation Cygnus, following a verdict from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Restrictions will be needed beyond lockdown and over Christmas to keep coronavirus at bay
England will need ongoing restrictions to normal life after lockdown, with measures likely to last into December and over Christmas in order to keep the coronavirus under control, government scientists have warned. In a new analysis released by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on Friday, scientists said the virus was now so widespread that without further controls lasting beyond the end of the current lockdown, infections would rise again to levels recorded at the start of the month.
Germany dampens hopes for swift end to winter lockdown
German government officials dampened hopes on Friday that an economically painful partial lockdown would be lifted promptly at the end of November, since infection rates were continuing to surge. The number of new daily coronavirus cases in Germany hit a record of 23,542 on Friday, around 1,700 more than on Thursday, bringing the total to 751,095, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases reported. “As things stand now we can’t expect any measures to be relaxed on Monday,” government spokesman Stefan Seibert told a regular news conference. National and regional leaders are due to meet on Monday to discuss whether November’s closure of all gyms and entertainment venues has slowed the disease’s spread.
Governors issue stringent new measures as US reports a staggering Covid-19 record of more than 184,000 daily cases
Coronavirus cases in the US will spike after Thanksgiving, further stressing health care systems and prompting new restrictions, an emergency physician said Saturday, as states continued to report soaring numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital, told CNN's Erica Hill he is "terrified" about what's going to happen this holiday season. "We're going to see an unprecedented surge of cases following Thanksgiving this year, and if people don't learn from Thanksgiving, we're going to see it after Christmas as well," Phillips said.
Italy extends partial lockdown as Naples hospitals struggle
Confirmed cases hit a daily pandemic high of nearly 41,000 and 550 people died of the virus in 24 hours, bringing the country's known death toll to 44,139. Italy has reported a total of more than 1.1. million virus cases.
Madrid Removes Lockdown For 10 Areas That Reduced Their COVID Rates by More Than Half
The Ministry of Health of the Community of Madrid has made the decision decided this Friday to lift the restrictions across 10 areas in which the epidemiological situation has improved considerably in recent weeks and a downward trend is observed. The lifting of mobility and activity limitations will be effective from 00:00 next Monday, ‘they will remain in effect throughout this weekend,’ said a spokesperson . The areas where the restrictions are lifted are: Brújula and Las Fronteras in Torrejón de Ardoz; El Espinillo, San Andrés and San Cristóbal, in Villaverde; Guadarrama, in the town of Guadarrama; Rafael Alberti and Peña Pietra, in Puente de Vallecas; San Blas, in Parla; and Vinateros-Torito, in the district of Moratalaz.
Jean Castex extends coronavirus lockdown in France till December
French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced that the nationwide stay-at-home regime will remain in effect amid still disturbing indicators of the COVID-19 virus' evolution in the country. "Together with the President of the Republic [Emmanuel Macron], we decided this morning in the Council of defense and national security to keep unchanged, at least for the next fifteen days, the rules of lockdown intended to fight against # COVID19," Castex tweeted late on Thursday.
South Korea reports 205 coronavirus cases, above 200 for first time since September
South Korea reported 205 new coronavirus cases as of Friday midnight, rising above 200 for the first time since September, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Saturday. Of the new cases, 166 were domestically transmitted and 39 imported. More than 65% of the locally transmitted cases were from Seoul and Gyeonggi province, a densely populated region near the capital.
Australia may see first week of no local COVID-19 transmissions
Australia’s three most populous states on Saturday recorded at least a week with no local transmissions of the new coronavirus, boding well for the country’s recovery from the pandemic after a flare-up marred an impressive early response. Victoria, the epicentre of the resurgence of the virus in recent months, recorded its 15th consecutive day of no new infections and no related deaths, two weeks after the state emerged from one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns. The second-most populous state’s deputy chief health officer, Allen Cheng, told a news conference that the run of zero cases was “about as good as it can get”.
Second wave, same strategy: Swedish COVID-19 czar defiant despite surge
Sweden remains steadfast in its strategy of voluntary measures and no lockdowns, the architect of its unorthodox COVID-19 response said on Friday, as the country battles a growing second wave of a disease that has now killed more than 6,000 Swedes. The Nordic nation of 10 million people, whose soft-touch approach to combating the virus has drawn worldwide attention - and harsh domestic criticism from some - has seen a surge in the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths in recent weeks. At 5,990, the number of new cases reported on Friday was the highest since the start of the pandemic. A further 42 deaths were also recorded, the most for around three months.
Austria announces strict lockdown as virus cases soar
Austria’s government has ordered one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, with chancellor Sebastian Kurz telling the public to “meet nobody” as the country battles a surge in coronavirus infections. “One contact is one contact too many,” Mr Kurz said on Saturday, as he unveiled a raft of restrictive measures that will put much of public and economic life in the alpine country on hold. An “around-the-clock” curfew will apply from Tuesday, with people only allowed to leave their homes to buy groceries, travel to essential work or provide urgent care.
Istanbul mayor wants lockdown to restrain second virus wave
Istanbul’s mayor called on Saturday for a lockdown of at least two weeks to contain an “out of control” rise in coronavirus cases, and said virus-related deaths in the city alone outstrip reported nationwide figures. Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, a leading politician in Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the country’s largest city must act fast and provide a clear picture of how the pandemic’s second wave is emerging. “This job is not like it was in the March-April-May period (during the first wave). The circle is getting narrower,” he said at the opening of a water treatment plant.
Biden coronavirus advisers nix national U.S. lockdown
The head of Democratic U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board said on Friday there was no plan to shut the country down and that the new administration’s approach will be targeted at specific areas. Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general tapped to lead the board, said doctors have learned a lot about how the virus spreads and what steps to reduce risk are effective. “We’re not in a place where we’re saying shut the whole country down. We got to be more targeted,” Murthy said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
New coronavirus cases drop sharply in France's second week of lockdown
New coronavirus infections and hospital admissions for COVID-19 dropped sharply at the end of the second week of a new nationwide confinement in France, health ministry data showed on Friday. The ministry reported 23,794 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down from 33,172 on Thursday and compared to 60,486 last Friday. The number of people going into hospital with the virus plunged to 24 from 737 on Thursday and the number of people going into intensive care dropped to just four from 96 on Thursday and more than 100 per day every weekday last week. The number of coronavirus deaths in hospitals increased slightly to 456 from 425 on Thursday. France also reported 476 deaths in retirement homes over the past three days, for a total of 932 deaths reported on Friday.
Ending lockdown in December hinges on next two weeks, Sage expert warns
The next fortnight will be “absolutely crucial” in ensuring England’s coronavirus lockdown ends as planned on December 2, a Government scientific adviser has warned. Professor Susan Michie, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), called on the public to resist breaking current rules if they want to spend the festive period with loved ones. The announcement of a potential Covid-19 vaccine could spark complacency over restrictions, she said, stressing that the jab will make “no difference” to the current wave. It comes after documents released by Sage on Friday warned that a return to the tiered system of coronavirus restrictions will see infections rise again.
As Covid cases shoot up, Greece braces for tougher lockdown
Greece comes under tougher lockdown restrictions on Friday, a day after the country’s health authorities reported its worst performance since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Starting on Friday, a curfew is being imposed nationwide from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next day in a bid to slow the virus’ transmission by preventing the public from engaging in non-essential activity outside the home, which has been much higher since the lockdown began last Saturday, compared to the spring.
Schools start closing — or delay reopening — as covid-19 cases jump across the country
Schools in some parts of the United States have started to close down and numerous districts are postponing plans to reopen in the face of skyrocketing community covid-19 cases, setting back efforts to try to reopen campuses closed since this past spring when the coronavirus pandemic began. Though the latest covid-19 surge is being blamed by health experts on social gatherings and not on schools, officials in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Topeka, San Diego, Sacramento, Minneapolis, D.C. and other districts have put off plans to soon reopen school buildings for the first time in the 2020-21 school year. Instead students will keep learning remotely at home, with no set date to return to school
Covid: Vaccine or no vaccine, we have to get through this first
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised the NHS will be ready to start rolling out the vaccine from 1 December if its passes its final regulatory hurdles. But that doesn't mean the epidemic will be brought to a sudden halt. There is a huge logistical exercise in vaccinating large numbers of people - the UK has bought enough for 20 million people. And don't forget, unlike the flu vaccine, this one requires two doses. Health and care workers along with older age groups will be prioritised. But given it takes a month from the first dose for an individual to get the full protection and the fact there are 12 million over 65s - nine in 10 deaths have been in this age group - winter is likely to be well gone by the time significant numbers are protected.
Coronavirus: Italy extends 'red zones' as infections soar
Italy has added more regions to its coronavirus high-risk "red zones" as cases across the country hit a new daily record. Campania and Tuscany will join other regions placed under the strictest lockdown measures from Sunday. Authorities in Campania, which includes Naples, have warned that the health system there is close to collapse. Friday's announcement came as Italy confirmed 40,902 new infections - its highest ever daily total. It passed the one million mark earlier this week and there have been more than 44,000 deaths. The government's coronavirus consultant, Walter Ricciardi, told reporters that the country has "two to three weeks to decide whether to impose a new national lockdown".
Melbourne's COVID-19 restrictions are easing, but hundreds of refugees still face indefinite lockdown
It's been a tough year for Melburnians, who are now experiencing their first taste of relative freedom after one of the world's longest and harshest COVID-19 lockdowns. But for hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees living in Melbourne, their perpetual lockdown remains in place with no end in sight. After living in detention in Nauru and Christmas Island for six years, Minah, an asylum seeker from Iran, was moved to Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) in Broadmeadows 13 months ago. "For no reason, for no crime, I have to stay in detention," Minah said. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
Iran blames U.S. sanctions for vaccine payment problems
U.S. sanctions are preventing Iran from making advance payment to the global COVAX facility set up to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries, the Iranian government said as the virus death toll kept climbing in the Middle East’s hardest-hit state. Battling a third wave of the coronavirus, Iran is considering imposing a two-week total lockdown in the capital, state media reported as the death toll rose by 461, close to a daily record, to 40,582 on Friday. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that Iran had identified 11,737 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the total number to 738,322.
Paris boulevards deserted as lockdown claims Christmas shopping trade
Boarded-up windows outside flagship branches of department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps bore testimony on Saturday to the impact of a COVID-19 lockdown in Paris. On what would usually be a busy weekend for Christmas shopping, only handfuls of people were out on Boulevard Haussmann, where the stores are located. “It’s sad. We are outside Galeries Lafayette and everything is closed,” said one would-be shopper, Emmanuelle Tiger. “They’ve put up (shop window) lights. That’s great, but we don’t feel the Christmas spirit at all.”
Vaccine is inexact bonus for freight and freezers
Every challenge is also a business opportunity. Rolling out a potential Covid-19 vaccine is no exception. The shots developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, which clinical trials have shown to be highly effective at preventing coronavirus, must be transported and stored at temperatures of minus-70 degrees Celsius or below. The daunting task for authorities eager to quickly deliver billions of doses across the world is a potential boon for those making freezers and handling freight.
Uneasy Under Coronavirus Lockdown, Pubs in England Count Days Till Christmas
At the Crooked Well, a neighborhood pub in south London that prides itself on its food, the Christmas menu is already decided. There will be venison and beef stews. But whether the stews will actually be served is another question. Under a new lockdown planned to last a month, pubs in England have closed again. From Nov. 5 to Dec. 2, restaurants, gyms and nonessential shops are being shuttered by the government’s efforts to suppress a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain’s first lockdown lasted more than three months, followed by an ever-changing array of restrictions since. No one knows how long this lockdown will really last.
Lockdown 2.0: Food companies overhauled production to put more toilet paper, pasta sauce in stores
When rumors first began to circulate that the UK would go back into lockdown, Leanne Barnes despaired as bread and toilet roll flew off the shelves again at her local supermarket. But to her surprise, shelves were back to being fully stocked within a few days. Barnes stocked her pantry last time around with a few additional comfort foods - macaroni cheese, ravioli, soup and spaghetti. But as of last week, she said she felt no urge to stockpile goods. So far, consumers haven’t returned to the sort of panic buying frenzy that sent packaged-food manufacturers scrambling earlier this year.
‘Lockdown fatigue’ behind Delhi’s third Covid wave, experts call for behavioural change
Standing under the shade of an umbrella, Vinod Kumar is rolling out one paratha after another for office-goers in Delhi’s central district, just as he has done for 31 years now. But a mask is missing on his face. He doesn’t plan on wearing one either. “This coronavirus is nothing. I don’t believe it will harm me or my family. If something happens, it’s up to God to save us,” he says.
'Breakthrough finding' reveals why certain Covid-19 patients die
In an international study in Science, 10 percent of nearly 1,000 Covid-19 patients who developed life-threatening pneumonia had antibodies that disable key immune system proteins called interferons. These antibodies — known as autoantibodies, because they attack the body itself — weren't found at all in 663 people with mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 infections. Only four of 1,227 healthy patients had the autoantibodies. The study was led by the Covid Human Genetic Effort, which includes 200 research centers in 40 countries. "This is one of the most important things we've learned about the immune system since the start of the pandemic," said Dr. Eric Topol, executive vice president for research at Scripps Research in San Diego, who wasn't involved in the new study. "This is a breakthrough finding."
Damage to multiple organs recorded in 'long Covid' cases
Young and previously healthy people with ongoing symptoms of Covid-19 are showing signs of damage to multiple organs four months after the initial infection, a study suggests. The findings are a step towards unpicking the physical underpinnings and developing treatments for some of the strange and extensive symptoms experienced by people with “long Covid”, which is thought to affect more than 60,000 people in the UK. Fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and pain are among the most frequently reported effects. On Sunday, the NHS announced it would launch a network of more than 40 long Covid specialist clinics where doctors, nurses and therapists will assess patients’ physical and psychological symptoms.
Recovering Covid-19 patients struggle to return to normal after hospital discharge, study finds
Surviving Covid-19 is hard enough for those who get severely ill from the disease, but returning to normal is a struggle, too, according to new research that found survivors were likely to face health and financial hardships even months later. A team of scientists led by Dr. Vineet Chopra of the University of Michigan Health System looked at 488 Covid-19 patients treated and released from hospitals in Michigan. They surveyed them about two months after their release, between March 16 and July 1.
Coronavirus Long Haulers Tell Us Their Symptoms and the Aftereffects of Disease
Eight months and more than 50 million documented cases into the pandemic, there’s still much we don’t understand about SARS-CoV-2. We do know that the majority of those infected with the novel coronavirus display no or mild symptoms. Worryingly, a not-insignificant portion of the 20 million people globally who’ve recovered suffer lingering effects, including lung, heart, and nervous system impairment.