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" Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 17th Nov 2020

Isolation Tips
'There's nothing to keep a lid on it': is lockdown making us eccentric?
“Not sure if it’s because of recent times of lockdown etc but Christ I talk to myself a lot these days.” So tweeted the actor and presenter Emily Atack – and she is not alone. Confined to our homes and freed from the judgments of others – perceived or otherwise – growing numbers of us are admitting to quirky behaviours, from talking to ourselves to singing more loudly in the shower or living out the fashion eccentricities we’d never have dreamed of in the office. Psychologists told the Guardian that people are likely to become more eccentric over lockdown, displaying new or accentuated behaviours ranging from unusual mannerisms and daily routines to discovering unconventional interests.
Teenage pregnancies rise in parts of Kenya as lockdown shuts schools
Jackline Bosibori wept when she found out she was pregnant. The 17-year-old’s mother, who is raising six kids alone, collapsed in their one-room home. They had been repeatedly threatened with eviction and couldn’t afford another mouth to feed. “If I was in school, this could have not happened,” said Bosibori, who wants to become a lawyer. With school closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and her mother out selling vegetables on the roadside, Bosibori got involved with a man in his twenties. When she told him she was pregnant, he stopped answering her calls.
Hygiene Helpers
St. Louis Is So Overwhelmed With Covid-19 It’s Asking People To Do Their Own Contact Tracing
As health officials across the country struggle with dwindling resources amid a third resurgence of the coronavirus, St. Louis said Monday the county is so overwhelmed with Covid-19 it no longer has enough capacity for contact tracing.
Using contact tracing app 'strongest form of defence' against another lockdown - Shaun Hendy
Speaking on TVNZ1's Breakfast the University of Auckland data modelling expert warned a potential two week period of new community cases of the coronavirus, which authorities can't get on top of, could put New Zealand into lockdown. Hendy said he believed Auckland particularly had become complacent before a woman who lives, studies and works in the central city was confirmed as having Covid-19 last week - a case of community transmission. The woman has been linked to the Defence Force cluster and one of her close contacts was confirmed as having contracted the virus yesterday.
Visitor Covid-19 testing launched in care homes under pilot
A pilot to provide Covid-19 tests to designated friends and family of those living in care homes has today been launched across Hampshire, Cornwall and Devon. The move, which aims to help facilitate indoor visits and even physical contact between care home residents and their patients
Covid-19: New 'mega labs' in early 2021 to speed up testing
Two new "mega labs" will open in early 2021 with the aim of doubling the UK's daily coronavirus testing capacity, the government has said. The sites - at Leamington Spa in the Midlands and another at an unconfirmed site in Scotland - will increase testing capacity by 600,000. The latest data shows current capacity is around 519,000 - although the number of tests actually processed is lower. Meanwhile, Labour is calling for a national plan to roll out the vaccine. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the vaccination programme will probably be the largest logistical operation since World War Two - and called for a plan setting out who will be eligible for a jab and when.
Tempus and Yale Announce Research Collaboration to Accelerate COVID-19 Test Development
Tempus, a leader in artificial intelligence and precision medicine, and the Yale School of Public Health announced a research collaboration to accelerate the development of COVID-19 diagnostic tests in the U.S. This partnership will leverage SalivaDirectTM, a saliva-based laboratory diagnostic test that has been developed by researchers at Yale. Tempus and Yale will further develop SalivaDirectTM to enable home sample collection and to combine COVID-19 and influenza testing of saliva samples. Simple and affordable at-home sample collection is seen as instrumental to providing Americans with more testing options to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Testing for both the novel coronavirus and influenza from the same sample has been described as a key priority to reduce the impact of both diseases during winter months.
South Korea to tighten social distancing, warns of new COVID-19 crisis
South Korea will impose stricter social distancing rules for the greater Seoul area a month after easing them, officials said on Tuesday, warning of an even bigger crisis if anti-COVID-19 efforts fail to dampen a spike in new cases. Starting Tuesday midnight, tighter curbs will ban public gatherings of 100 people or more, limit religious services and audiences at sporting events to 30% capacity, and require high-risk facilities including clubs and karaoke bars to broaden distance among guests. South Korea has been one of the world’s coronavirus mitigation success stories after tackling the first major COVID-19 epidemic outside China with aggressive tracing and testing, but continues to battle persistent rises in infections. The tougher restrictions came as the daily case tally hovered above 200 for a fourth consecutive day, with a series of cluster outbreaks emerging from offices, medical facilities and small gatherings in Seoul and surrounding regions where around half of the country’s 52 million population live.
Community Activities
Covid-19 contracts smell of cronyism – so I'm taking the government to court
There is an England of my mind. And in it those who have made their fortunes offer their time and talents in service of the public good, modelling self-sacrifice and respect for good governance to ensure the nation thrives. But that England is no longer this England. Take the story of Kate Bingham. She is wife to a Treasury minister and cousin by marriage to Boris Johnson’s sister. Despite having – by her own admission – no vaccines experience, she was appointed by the prime minister, as far as we know without competition, to head up the “vaccines taskforce”. With this role came responsibility for investing billions of pounds of public money, a task she performed while remaining managing director of a private equity firm specialising in health investments. While in post she gave, again apparently without competition, a £670,000 contract to a tiny PR firm, whose last accounts show net assets of less than a third of that sum. Its directors include Collingwood Cameron, a longstanding business associate of Humphry Wakefield (better known as Dominic Cummings’ father-in-law).
Many thousands suffering from long COVID, UK health minister says
Many thousands of people in Britain are suffering from “long COVID”, ongoing illness after contracting the coronavirus, health minister Matt Hancock said on Monday. “We’ve already seen the serious impact that long COVID can have on people’s quality of life, even the fit and the young, symptoms like fatigue and breathlessness, muscle pain and neurological problems, long after they first had the virus,” Hancock told a media conference. “And we know that long COVID affects thousands of people, many thousands of people,” he added, saying England would have a network of 40 clinics to deal with long COVID by the end of the month.
Anti-lockdown demonstrators clash with police in Italy and French Catholics demand right to worship
Protest organised by ultra-right Forza Nuova and the No Mask movement took place in Piazza Venezia, Rome. Demonstration saw protesters face off with riot police as they shouted and tried to barge through barricade. In France, several Catholic protests organised across country demanding the return of religious services
French Catholics protest for end to lockdown on Mass
With banners reading “Let us Pray” and “We Want Mass,” Catholic protesters held scattered demonstrations around France on Sunday to demand that authorities relax virus lockdown measures to allow religious services. In the western city of Nantes, hundreds gathered in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, some kneeling on the rain-soaked pavement, according to local broadcaster France Bleu. Similar gatherings were reported or planned in the eastern city of Strasbourg, Bordeaux in the southwest, and outside the Saint-Louis Cathedral in Versailles.
French authors offer to pay bookshops' Covid lockdown fines
A group of French authors has promised to pay fines imposed on the country’s bookshops that remain open in defiance of coronavirus lockdown rules. The pledge was made by the bestselling writer Alexandre Jardin, who said authors were getting together to support booksellers during the crisis. Under France’s lockdown rules, which are in force until at least 1 December, only essential shops and businesses can remain open. Bookshops are not deemed “essential”. Jardin, who lost a close relative to coronavirus last month, said he was not taking the health threat lightly, but feared for the future of independent bookshops. “We will not let our bookshops close,” he told BFMTV. “We can’t be having the cops descending on them.”
Spain's hard-pressed millennials move out of the city amid COVID
Thirty-one-year-old Ines Alcolea ditched the bustling life of Madrid in October for a village near the much quieter medieval town of Toledo, unable to face the prospect of more COVID-19 restrictions in her small flat in the Spanish capital. “At least here, if there’s another lockdown we’ll have more space, a garden. It’ll be lighter,” Alcolea said, sitting in her new home surrounded by boxes and her two cats. She is paying half the rent she used to for nearly twice the space, and has a rooftop terrace thrown in.
Packed crowds and euphoric leaders: Australia revels in Covid-free days
When the premier of Queensland held her regular Covid-19 update on Friday she couldn’t help letting a smile creep across her face. “Now, here’s a good one,” Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters. “I think all Queenslanders are going to be happy about it.” She went on to announce that Brisbane’s Suncorp stadium would host a capacity 52,500 crowd for the forthcoming State of Origin rugby league decider against New South Wales next week. “The cauldron can be filled to 100% capacity,” she said.
Working Remotely
Cumbrian businesses urged to back virtual work experience programme
Businesses of all sizes throughout Cumbria are being invited to support an ambitious work experience programme aimed at providing 3,000 placements for young people throughout the county. Cumbria Careers Hub has teamed up with the national charity Speakers for Schools, founded in 2010 by ITV’s Political Editor Robert Peston with a mission to help level the playing field for young people of all backgrounds. The two organisations are aiming to recruit up to 50 employers within Cumbria to take part in the programme by offering virtual work placements of between one and five days to a target of 3,000 young people, aged 14-19.
Half of remote workers are suffering from WFH fatigue
According to a survey carried out by Resilience First, more than half of remote workers are now suffering from working from home fatigue, a condition that can reflect many of these downsides. And this is likely to be a long term situation, with Europe entering a second lockdown and three quarters of the biggest employers now saying that remote working in some shape is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Some are beginning to question whether the traditional office is ‘obsolete’. Others have indicated that they will promote a ‘culture that values and supports remote working’ with a goal of having around a third of the workforce working from home or near home in the future. What is clear is that returning to the office is proving to be slower and more difficult than dispersal in the first instance.
Levelling up is easier in a world of remote work
Whether it is called “levelling up”, “rebalancing” or “regeneration”, politicians have been promising to fix regional inequality for as long as it’s been a problem. But they have often felt as if they were “pushing water uphill”, in the words of Clare Foges, who was a speech writer for former UK prime minister David Cameron. It’s true that powerful economic and technological forces have propelled the rise of cities and the decline of post-industrial areas. But Covid-19 has opened up a new possibility: that people could disperse from overcrowded and expensive metropolises into other areas, taking their good jobs with them. Politicians who want to reduce regional inequality have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help this trend along. They just need the imagination to seize it.
Digital nomads in Barbados share what it's like working in paradise - Insider
Earlier this year, Barbados launched a new visa for remote workers called the Welcome Stamp, which costs $2,000 and allows you to spend a year on the Caribbean island. About 2,800 people, mainly from the US, Canada, and the UK, have taken it up so far, but many more have arrived to do the same thing on tourist visas lasting up to six months. I went to Barbados to meet some of the people settling into Barbados' burgeoning community of digital nomads. They said Barbados appealed to them with its friendly atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and lower number of COVID-19 cases, though it's worth noting the coronavirus is still present in the country.
The long-term shift to working from home could result in more prejudice, UK study indicates
Survation polled 11,701 adults in England and Wales on behalf of the Woolf Institute. People who were “economically inactive” were 37% more likely than those in work to only have friends within their own ethic group. More than three quarters of people surveyed worked in places that were ethnically, nationally or religiously diverse.
Small Cities Are A Big Draw For Remote Workers During The Pandemic
Rising from the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, just south of the Canadian border, this distant city looks like a quaint throwback, with Victorian-era architecture, church steeples and a main shopping street laid with brick. But over the last few years, Burlington, Vt., has become home to an invisible economy of people who work remotely for the world's most cutting-edge technology businesses — and the pandemic has only increased the number decamping to this bucolic enclave. Exactly how many Burlington residents work remotely for companies such as Apple, Google, Twitter and IBM "is hard to gauge because we all are sort of like hermit crabs in our own little shells and under our own little rocks," said Tyler Littwin, art director at the marketing software developer HubSpot. Littwin moved to Vermont from HubSpot's headquarters outside Boston and started telecommuting in 2013.
New Research Says Remote Workers Want More Appreciation From Their Leaders Or Else
A SWNS research study found that remote workers say they aren’t feeling the love from higher-ups as they toil from home, especially with the struggles of 2020. The study of 2,000 Americans conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Motivosity revealed over half of employed respondents working from home said they haven't felt much gratitude from their job since they stopped commuting.
Virtual Classrooms
An 8-bit classroom? Professors try new methods of virtual engagement
Catherine Ott, senior in Engineering, sits at her desk working on her project while her professor walks around the classroom checking in with students and answering any questions they may have. However, like many other things this year, this classroom has moved online into a virtual meeting space that resembles an old 8-bit video game. “It’s pretty much like you’re in a classroom,” Ott said. “Just you have a little person on a computer.” Dr. Andre Schleife, professor in Engineering, teaches MSE 404: Laboratory Studies in Materials Science and Engineering MIC/MAC, a project-based course centered around students working individually under the guidance of their instructor.
Remote Students Prefer Active Learning and Communities: Study
A survey of more than 3,000 college and university students has found students continue to have reservations about their remote learning experiences as the fall semester progresses. Seven out of ten students feel that online learning is not as effective as in-person instruction. While more than half (57 percent) of students reported their opinion of their school remained the same or improved, 47 percent believe that it has gotten slightly or significantly worse. Additionally, students voice a strong preference for instructors who make active learning, as well as a sense of community and belonging, a top priority in the virtual classroom.
Virginia Beach schools return to all-virtual learning after coronavirus cases spike
Virginia Beach public schools are returning to all-virtual learning Tuesday after a sudden spike in coronavirus cases was reported Monday. It means all students will resume virtual learning five days a week. The district had just brought back the remaining five grades — 7th and 8th graders as well grades 10, 11 and 12 — last Thursday. The system’s reopening plan, one of the most aggressive in the region, has been guided by the status of two metrics throughout eastern Virginia: the number of new cases reported each day and percent of tests that come back positive.
Alabama schools go virtual: Rising COVID-19 cases prompt closures
A growing number of Alabama schools are transitioning back to virtual learning due to a rising number of coronavirus cases. In Birmingham, officials said the number of positive COVID-19 cases at Hudson K-9 prompted a shift to remote learning until after Thanksgiving break. A total of 6 positive cases were recorded among staff members last week and several others were quarantined. In-person classes will resume Nov. 30. Meals will be available for students with curbside pickup each school day from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
WVa education group seeks virtual learning until year's end
West Virginia's largest teacher organization called on the governor Monday to take public schools online-only through year's end because of the coronavirus pandemic. The plea comes after the state recorded a high of 4,404 confirmed virus cases over the past week from Nov. 9 through Sunday, a 63% increase from the previous week. The state health department reported 632 new cases and three more deaths on Monday, bringing West Virginia's total confirmed cases to more than 30,000 and the death toll to at least 562.
Some New Jersey Schools Reverting To Virtual Learning As Health Officials Express Concern About Possible COVID-19 Spike After Thanksgiving
With cases rising, some school districts in our region say they have no choice but to go back to all-virtual learning. Haddonfield is one of a few high schools in Camden County going all-virtual until after Thanksgiving because of a COVID outbreak. “Halloween was our ground zero, I think, here,” said Haddonfield Superintendent Chuck Klause.
Non-English speakers face challenges in virtual learning
As coronavirus cases surge in her new city, the refugee wants to help her sons learn virtually, but she can’t read the lessons. “I’m really worried for what my children are missing,” she said through a Swahili translator last week in her West Scranton apartment. “How can I explain to my children when I don’t know English?” As virtual learning continues in much of northeast Pennsylvania, including the Scranton School District, families struggle with technology issues and child care and worry about children falling behind. For the city’s refugee community and other families not fluent in English, the challenges are far greater.
Special needs students are falling behind. Can US parents manage more lockdowns?
For months, little Jordi thrived. Although Covid-19 had prompted shutdowns in Los Angeles this March, the five-year-old, who has severe autism, was able to receive behavioral therapy at home. Meanwhile, Jordi’s parents were working from home, so he was around them all day. In June, after safety protocols were in place, Jordi resumed speech and physical therapy at an early-intervention clinic. These therapies were through their private insurance. “I’d never seen this kid blossom so much,” his mother, Carla Suarez-Capdet, told the Guardian.
Public Policies
COVID-19 vaccine: UK orders five million doses of new Moderna jab by spring next year
Five million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine have been ordered by the UK, the health secretary has announced. Matt Hancock said preliminary trials showing it to be 94.5% effective were "excellent news" and that, if it proves safe, the jabs can start to be rolled out across the country by spring 2021. "We can see the candle of hope," he declared, but cautioned that people must keep following COVID-19 restrictions.
'More people may die,' Biden says, if Trump goes on blocking pandemic cooperation
President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday “more people may die” if outgoing President Donald Trump continues blocking a U.S. transition of power as the coronavirus pandemic worsens, and he urged Congress to pass new relief legislation. Biden said business and labor leaders had signaled willingness to work together to bolster the pandemic-battered U.S. economy but stressed COVID-19 first must be brought under control. The Democratic president-elect delivered a speech and took questions from reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, after consulting jointly with the CEOs of top U.S. companies and labor leaders on Monday. He welcomed further progress in COVID-19 vaccine development.
Covid-19: Boris Johnson and six Tory MPs self-isolating after No 10 meeting
Boris Johnson, six Tory MPs and two political aides are self-isolating after a breakfast meeting inside Downing Street last Thursday. One of the MPs, Lee Anderson, later tested positive for Covid-19, and on Sunday the prime minister was told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. In a video from No 10, Mr Johnson urged others to "follow the rules" if contacted by the system. The PM's official spokesman insisted that Downing Street is "Covid-secure". He said "social distancing did happen" but factors such as the length of the meeting were considered by Test and Trace. Mr Johnson, who was admitted to intensive care with coronavirus seven months ago, spent about 35 minutes with Mr Anderson - who lost his sense of taste the day after the meeting.
Coronavirus: US rules out lockdown as daily cases near 200000
America’s top infectious diseases experts have ruled out a national lockdown against the coronavirus even as the country heads for a record of 200,000 new cases a day. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that it would fall to local and regional leaders to instigate mitigation measures even after Joe Biden, the president-elect, assumes power, and called on President Trump to stop stonewalling efforts by the new administration to get a plan in place. “We’re not going to get a national lockdown. I think that’s very clear,” Dr Fauci said.
Covid: Michigan and Washington State clamp down as US cases pass 11 million mark
Michigan, Washington and California are the latest US states to bring in strict measures to try to curb the spread of Covid-19, as cases top 11 million. High schools and colleges are to halt on-site teaching while restaurants are prohibited from offering indoor dining in Michigan from Wednesday. Indoor restaurant dining is also banned in Washington State, and gyms, cinemas, theatres and museums will close. And much of California will return to its most severe restriction level. On average, more than 1,000 people a day are dying with the virus, and the overall death toll is close to 250,000. Hospital admissions have also reached record levels.
Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland's lockdown could get even TOUGHER to save Christmas as she warns coronavirus hot-spots they could be plunged into top Level 4 in a bid to rescue ...
She said areas where cases remain 'stubbornly high' could be placed in Level 4 Told press conference step would be a short, sharp hit to get cases decreasing The First Minister said her Cabinet will make decisions tomorrow morning
New restrictions less damaging to UK economy than spring lockdown, data show
The latest Covid-19 restrictions across the UK are affecting the economy less severely than the nationwide lockdown in the spring, unofficial data suggest. A new lockdown in England, firebreak restrictions in Wales and travel curbs in Scotland and Northern Ireland resulted in sharp contractions across many measures of consumer services activity in early November. However, so-called high-frequency indicators of the broader economy, including volumes of people travelling to workplaces and heavy goods vehicle traffic, remained largely unchanged compared with before the restrictions were imposed, reflecting that most factories and building sites remained open.
Coronavirus: ‘Too early’ to say if lockdown can be lifted in England on 2 December, says Matt Hancock
Current lockdown measures in England could continue beyond their planned end date of 2 December, health secretary Matt Hancock has suggested. Mr Hancock said it was “too early” to determine whether the restrictions, including the closure of pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops, can be lifted on the planned date. His comments were far more pessimistic than projections made by Boris Johnson, who has previously told MPs that he has “no doubt” that the restrictions will be eased after the planned four-week second lockdown
Germany postpones decision on further lockdown measures until next week
German federal and state leaders agreed to postpone until November 25 a decision on further lockdown measures to slow a second wave of coronavirus infections, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday. Merkel said a majority of state leaders did not want to see a tightening of restrictions before next week, but, she added: “I could have imagined imposing further contact restrictions today, but there was no majority for that.”
Sweden limits public gatherings to eight people amid Covid surge
Sweden has cut its limit on attendance at public gatherings to eight people, as its light-touch approach to the coronavirus pandemic continues to be tested by a surge in new infections and hospitalisations. Public gatherings have until now had to adhere to limits of between 50 and 300 people depending on the type of event. The prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said the stricter limit would come into force from 24 November. “This is the new norm for the entire society,” Lofven said, adding that Swedes were not observing coronavirus recommendations as well they had in the spring. “Don’t go to gyms, don’t go to libraries, don’t host dinners. Cancel,” he said.
Most Spaniards support a second home lockdown, according to new poll
The majority of Spaniards (six in 10) would support a second home lockdown if it was needed to contain the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to a survey by pollster 40dB commissioned by EL PAÍS. During the first wave of the pandemic, the Spanish government introduced one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, with residents confined to their homes and only allowed out for essential business. In the past few weeks, with infections rising in some territories, several regional authorities called on the central government to authorize home lockdowns in areas with dangerously high incidence rates of the virus
Covid figures suggest France has passed peak of second wave: health minister
With more tests being carried out and fewer people admitted to intensive care, French Health Minister Olivier Véran says there is every reason to believe the country has passed the peak of the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic. But the battle is a long way from over, the minister warned. Health Minister Véran said the epidemic is being brought under control. "Thanks to the lockdown, just as in March, the virus is spreading less quickly," Véran told journalists from a group of regional newspapers at the weekend.
Mongolia imposes national lockdown after first Covid case reported
The Mongolian government on Sunday extended a nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic by two weeks until December 1. Mongolia imposed a national lockdown effective from 6 a.m. on Thursday after the country confirmed its first Covid-19 case of local transmission, involving a woman who is the wife of a 29-year-old infected Mongolian transport driver, the Xinhua news agency reported. The driver returned home from Russia via Altanbulag border point and tested positive for the virus four days after he was released from the 21-day mandatory isolation on November 6. The extension is part of the efforts to identify all people who have had contact with cases of locally transmitted Covid-19 infection, Yangu Sodbaatar, the country’s deputy prime minister, said at a press conference.
"Delhi Has Crossed Peak Of Third Covid Wave, No Lockdown": Minister
Delhi will not be put under another lockdown in the wake of the third wave of COVID-19 since it has already peaked out, state Health Minister Satyendar Jain said today, dismissing all speculation. "There is no chance of a lockdown," Health Minister Satyendar Jain said today. "I can tell you today that the peak of Delhi's third wave is gone," Mr Jain said. When asked about markets being shut down, he said, "It has not even been considered. The festival is over, the crowds will get thinner now on." However, he said people ought to be cautious and wear masks. "The lockdown was a learning exercise...What we learnt was that the gains from a lockdown were the same as those from wearing masks." Delhi on Sunday recorded 3,235 new COVID-19 cases and 95 deaths due to coronavirus, state government data shows.
Japan looks to avert Covid-19 lockdowns and keep economy open
Japan can make it through the winter without lockdowns or mass screening for Covid-19 but the public will have to socialise — and drink — with care, according to the doctor leading the country’s response. Dr Shigeru Omi, chair of the government’s expert committee on the virus, told the Financial Times in an interview that Japan was determined to keep the economy open even as case numbers were rising. Japan has been relatively successful in living with the virus — rather than seeking near elimination as has been pursued in Australia, New Zealand, China and Taiwan — making it a potential model for Europe and the US.
Australia back on outbreak alert as state virus infections spike
South Australia reported 14 new coronavirus cases on Monday, a rapid spike in the state’s first outbreak since April, prompting officials to impose social distancing restrictions. The cluster also prompted some other Australian states to reimpose strict quarantine measures on anybody arriving from South Australia - just days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he expected all internal borders to be open by Christmas. South Australia authorities first reported three locally-acquired COVID-19 cases on Sunday, saying the outbreak was caused by a worker from a quarantine hotel infecting family members. By Monday, case numbers had jumped to 17.
Merkel, German states consider tougher pre-Christmas COVID curbs
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday leaders of the country’s 16 federal states were resisting her efforts to agree stricter measures to fight a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, two weeks into a partial nationwide lockdown. Merkel had pushed for tougher measures at a meeting in Berlin, but state leaders wanted to wait and see the effects of current restrictions, she told a news conference. “The majority of states declined to change legal measures roughly one week ahead of the next meeting... I could have imagined imposing further contact restrictions today,” she said.
France records 27,228 new COVID-19 cases, 302 more deaths
France has registered 27,228 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a further 302 deaths from the disease in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Sunday, although there were signs of a fall in the rate of new cases. France has now recorded 1,981,827 confirmed COVID-19 cases in all, while 44,548 people have died from the virus - the seventh-highest death toll in the world. Nevertheless, the data marked a slight decrease compared with the previous day’s COVID-19 figures in terms of new confirmed cases and deaths.
Israel economy strikes back in third-quarter after first lockdown lifted
Israel’s economy put on a blistering burst of growth in the third quarter, expanding an annualised 37.9% as consumer spending, exports and investment took off after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of the year. The preliminary gross domestic product (GDP) growth figure for July-September over the previous three months issued by the Central Bureau of Statistics was well above the 24% consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of economists. “The Israeli economy has been resilient due to strong hi-tech sectors and lack of flights, which pushed private spending up sharply,” said Leader Capital Markets Chief Economist Jonathan Katz, who expects a return to contraction in the fourth quarter.
Biden says he ‘wouldn’t hesitate’ to get Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccines
President-elect Joe Biden said he “wouldn’t hesitate to get the vaccine” during a press conference on Monday while demanding cooperation from President Donald Trump’s White House in coordinating Covid-19 recovery efforts. “I wouldn't hesitate to get the vaccine,” Mr Biden told reporters, saying: “If Fauci, Moderna and Pfizer conclude it's safe and able to be done.” He added: "The only reason people question the vaccine now is because of Donald Trump." The president-elect also said “it’s going to take a while … for the vaccine to get to people” while condemning the “irresponsible” behavior of the Trump administration not to comply with transitional recovery efforts.
UK plans temporary aid cut to pay for coronavirus crisis - The Times
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering a temporary cut to the aid spending to help the country's Covid-ravaged public finances, The Times reported. Ministers have drawn up plans to reduce the proportion of Britain's gross national income spent on aid from 0.7% to 0.5%, saving billions, the report published in the newspaper said. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak is pushing for the cut to be announced in next week's comprehensive spending review, the report said, adding Johnson insisted that the spending should return to the 0.7% total as soon as 2022. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab opposed the move amid concerns about the impact on Britain's global standing, according to the report.
Maintaining Services
Insurers cannot provide unlimited cover in pandemic - UK Supreme Court told
Major insurance companies told the UK Supreme Court on Monday that thousands of small companies battered by the coronavirus pandemic were not eligible for business interruption payouts and to suggest differently was “reverse engineering”. On the first day of a four-day appeal of a test case brought by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) against insurers, industry lawyers told top judges that businesses could not claim for losses stemming from nationwide lockdowns to curb the virus. Gavin Kealey, a lawyer for insurer MS Amlin, said that only business losses related to COVID-19 infections within a 25-mile radius of insured properties were covered.
COVID-19 forced at least 11 US patients to undergo DOUBLE lung transplants with 7 at one hospital
At least 11 double lung transplants have been performed across the country including in Florida, New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin. Seven of those 11 operations have been done at Northwestern Medicine in Illinois between June and October. The first-ever patient was Mayra Ramirez, a 28-year-old Chicago native who spent six weeks on a ventilator before receiving a new set of lungs. Other patients have included healthcare professionals such as Kari Wegg, a 48-year-old NICU nurse, from Indiana. Andrew Lawrence, 54, from Texas, contracted the virus in July while treating patients and was the fifth patient to undergo a transplant at Northwestern
Schools and parties in spotlight as Germany weighs new Covid rules
Angela Merkel has said she does not have backing among state leaders for new restrictions to give Germany’s “soft” lockdown a harder bite, postponing any decision until a further meeting between the chancellor and 16 state premiers next week. The chancellor had been in favour of people limiting social interactions in private to only one set second household, and forgo any kind of party until Christmas Eve, according to a draft proposal cited by several news outlets including Der Spiegel. The plans were also reported to include advising citizens to quarantine at home for up to seven days, even if they display only the symptoms of an ordinary cold, and tightening hygiene requirements at schools, with teachers and students of all year groups asked to wear face masks throughout lessons.
'There is no money left': southern Italy's poor pummelled by Covid
For the past 30 years, Grazia Santangelo has made a living selling books and jewellery from a stall at the Ballarò street market in Palermo. It is one of the oldest and liveliest markets in southern Italy — but now it is almost deserted. Because of the coronavirus crisis, 62-year-old Ms Santangelo has lost almost all of her clients and is struggling to pay for basic necessities such as food and medicine. Now that a second round of restrictions has come into force, she says she is lucky to earn €3 a day.
Morrison government looks at allowing extra flights home as Australians locked out due to COVID-19
Australians trying to flee coronavirus-riddled Europe struggling to secure flights Demand outstripping supply despite overseas arrival cap rising to 6,000 a week Government looking at more flights for citizens and then international students Education Minister Dan Tehan said country becoming 'victim of its own success' States and territories are asked to make a plan to allow in more overseas arrivals
UK shopper numbers plunge as English lockdown makes impact
Total shopper numbers across British retail destinations plummeted 57.7% in the week to Nov. 14 year-on-year, reflecting the impact of England’s second national lockdown, market researcher Springboard said on Monday. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland enacted new COVID-19 health restrictions last month and England began a one-month lockdown on Nov. 5 to curb a second wave of the pandemic that has left the United Kingdom with Europe’s highest death toll.
Healthcare Innovations
Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine boasts a nearly 95% effective rate
Moderna said Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine was proving to be highly effective in a major trial, a second dash of hope in the global race for a shot to tame a resurgent coronavirus that is now killing more than 8,000 people a day worldwide. Moderna said its vaccine appeared to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S. Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, welcomed the “really important milestone” and said that having similar results from two different companies was what was most reassuring.
'Truly striking': Covid-19 vaccine candidate 94.5 percent effective, Moderna says
Moderna said Monday that early analysis from its Phase 3 trial shows its Covid-19 vaccine is 94.5 percent effective at preventing the illness, offering hope of a second breakthrough in as many weeks. The news comes a week after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said early analysis showed its vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective.
Coronavirus: New UK vaccine trial starts crucial next stage
A global pharmaceutical company is set to begin clinical trials of its potential vaccine in the UK. Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, part of Johnson & Johnson, will start the next stage of its vaccine testing on Monday with 6,000 volunteers from across the country. Theirs is the third potential jab about to enter clinical trials in the UK, alongside US biotech company Novavax and the University of Oxford’s vaccine with AstraZeneca, whose trials are ongoing. The Janssen vaccine is jointly funded by the government’s vaccine taskforce. The latest trial is designed to test its safety and efficacy.
Arthritis drug 'cuts elderly Covid-19 deaths by two-thirds', say researchers
Daily drug reduces deaths by 71 per cent in those with moderate or severe illness Drug baricitinib, marketed as Olumiant, has only been available for three years Medics hope the arthritis drug could help save most vulnerable to coronavirus