"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 12th Jan 2021
Covid: Are lockdown rules changing? Public Health England answers your questions
As coronavirus cases continue to rise and strong restrictions continue across the UK, people are wondering how it will all end. Vaccinations centres have opened across the UK, but who will get the jabs, and when? Restrictions are being reviewed, but what if people don't follow them? We're watching very carefully, it is early days. We won't really know until next week, or maybe the week after whether these restrictions have had the effect that we very much hope for. Every single day these things are reviewed. It's a balance between the need for what human beings want to do with what they we need to do to keep people protected. It will be kept under review. Radio 1 Newsbeat put your questions to Professor Yvonne Doyle, who is Public Health England's medical director and director for health protect
Supermarkets told to limit customers over fears lockdown rules being broken
Shoppers could once again be faced with long queues outside supermarkets as part of a wider Government crackdown on compliance with the latest lockdown measures. Ministers are said to have agreed to toughen enforcement of the rules amid fears poor compliance could mean the nationwide restrictions fail to bring the soaring coronavirus infection rates under control. The crackdown will focus on the retail sector and the rules allowing people to leave their homes for daily exercise, according to The Times. A Government source told the newspaper: ‘We need to make sure supermarkets in particular are following the rules given this is one of the few places where you still see people from different households in the same indoor space.’
Which US demographics are more likely to refuse a COVID-19 vaccine?
A new survey indicates that over 31% of individuals queried had no intention of getting vaccinated against infection with SARS-CoV-2. According to the same source, the groups most likely to reject a COVID-19 vaccine are Black people, women, and those with conservative political leanings. The researchers who led the survey emphasize that policymakers must find better ways of communicating with and reassuring the public about the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
Largest UK student accomodation provider gives 50% off rent for lockdown
The UK’s largest student accommodation provider has offered a 50 per cent rent discount in light of the new lockdown. It comes after students were told to remain where they were - while many were still at family homes for the Christmas break - until at least mid-February,
In the first lockdown, England proved it could end homelessness. Why not now?
Halfway through a walk early last summer, I noticed a change around Peckham Rye train station in south-east London. Before the pandemic, there had been a semi-permanent cluster of men and women who would sleep by the entrance. Their makeshift shelters had become increasingly elaborate over the years. Mattresses, duvets and the occasional tent were common enough sights, a damning indictment of the UK’s spiralling homelessness crisis. But I couldn’t see any trace of them that afternoon. A few months had passed since the implementation in March of Everyone In, the scheme to temporarily house rough sleepers in self-contained accommodation during the first wave of the pandemic, including in newly deserted hotels and hostels. The homelessness charity Crisis called it extraordinary, while others lined up to congratulate the government on its unusually bold course of action to shelter thousands of society’s most vulnerable people.An article in the Lancet estimated that the measures prevented more than 21,000 infections and 266 deaths. Simply put, Everyone In saved lives.
COVID-19 pandemic puts Barcelona urban greening plan in the fast lane
One of Barcelona’s largest parks, named after Spanish painter Joan Miro, is just a stone’s throw from the busy crossroads between Consell de Cent and Rocafort streets, but here you could be mistaken for thinking nature is a million miles away. That could be about to change under an ambitious new 10-year plan, unveiled by Barcelona City Hall in November, aimed at drastically cutting traffic and expanding green spaces in the central district of Eixample. The 38 million-euro ($46.5-million) plan aims to turn one in three streets in the densely populated residential and commercial area into green zones. It responds to longstanding problems of air pollution and cramped living conditions in the Spanish region of Catalonia’s main city, brought to the fore by COVID-19, said Janet Sanz, Barcelona’s deputy mayor for ecology, urban planning and mobility. Lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 made urban residents realise how important nature is to them personally and to their wider communities, said Josep M. Pages, secretary general of the Belgium-based European Nurserystock Association
Lockdown protests erupt in Europe cities
The coronavirus is wreaking havoc across Europe but in some cities some people are fighting the stay-at-home message. Thousands turned out in central Prague on Sunday to protest against recently extended restrictions designed to contain the coronavirus. Footage of the demonstration in Prague showed many protesters not wearing masks and standing close to one other. A day earlier in Denmark, protesters became violent and lit fireworks as police arrested nine people in the capital Copenhagen and northern city Aarhus. The demonstrators, who call themselves 'Men in Black', gathered at the town hall square in Copenhagen and clashed with police in the wintry conditions. Denmark and Czech Republic are among the nations to extend lockdown measures in the fight against soaring COVID-19 infections and a new, more infectious variant.
Remote Work Eases Coming Out for Transgender Employees
For those who decide to come out as transgender, the workplace can be a big hurdle—using the bathrooms, keeping up a new appearance and dealing with reactions from co-workers. But with many offices going remote, more transgender employees are concluding they can come out while letting their work—not their gender identity—speak for them. River Bailey, 41-year-old software developer, says she doesn’t know if she would have come out as trans at work if not for her ability to work from her home in central Texas. “It gave me the freedom to just be able to exist,” she says
Healthcare workers with childcare issues permitted to work from home in certain cases
Healthcare workers will be permitted to work from home in certain circumstances if they have no childcare support available under new arrangements introduced by the HSE. In a circular issued to senior health service and hospital management, the HSE said there was no special paid leave available for those with care problems related to coronavirus restrictions but it set out a number of options open for staff facing difficulties, including flexible working arrangements.
These are the top 20 companies hiring for work-from-home jobs right now
The rise of flexible work has long been a trend workplace experts believed would take hold in the years to come, but few could have predicted just how much it would become a mainstay of the work experience in 2020. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, just 3.6% of the U.S. workforce worked primarily remotely. By April 2020, roughly half of office workers were working completely from home, according to Gallup, and the share of full-time teleworkers remained elevated at 33% as of September. Here are the top 20 companies hiring for remote jobs in 2021, according to FlexJobs, along with the full list of the top 100 companies
Coronavirus in Scotland: Remote working may mean the end of school uniforms
School uniforms have long polarised opinion. Supporters say they create a group identity, iron out differences between pupils and smarten up their wearers for the world of work. Critics say they are an expensive hangover from a rigidly enforced, mythical golden age of education. The latter camp is gaining ground. An academic is suggesting that it may be time to downgrade the importance of school uniforms as the pandemic has revealed they are no barrier to learning, or any sort of preparation for a rapidly changing workplace.
COVID-19 fuelling education's tech disruption, deepening digital divide
The COVID-19 pandemic deepened inequities in accessing and benefiting from education but the future of learning could be a more equal one, participants told Reuters Next panels on Monday. The pandemic hastened a rise in virtual learning and a disruption of the status quo already under way but probably won’t eliminate in-person instruction for good, they said. COVID-19 forced the University of Oxford and myriad other schools online amid COVID lockdowns. “We surprised even ourselves” in their ability to do it, Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson said. But in-person learning is not a thing of the past.
After Nearly A Year Of Remote Learning Parent’s Fears Grow About Physical Health
In an attempt to gather information about families realities and concerns when it comes to remote learning a joint venture between The Harris Poll and Nestlé Waters North America was created. The survey they conducted aimed to get a sense of how Covid-19 has influenced kids’ education and physical health over the past year. The results indicate the vast majority of parents in the U.S. are concerned about the toll remote learning is having on their children – both mentally and physically. For example, some children are more vulnerable to become anxious or depressed during this time, and children with pre-existing conditions like ADHD, anxiety or depression, are no longer getting the support or structure they typically would get in a classroom setting.
Lockdown Learning: BBC puts school materials on TV, iPlayer and online
The BBC is helping school children keep up with their studies amid the latest lockdown to control Covid-19 in the UK. Primary and secondary schools are closed to most pupils, and from Monday 11 January, lessons and programmes will start to be broadcast on TV - on BBC Two and CBBC - as well as on iPlayer, with additional content online. The curriculum-based TV programmes will run alongside the BBC Bitesize collection of educational resources, which will continue to provide online learning at home for pupils in Years 1 to 9, and those studying for GCSEs and Nationals. On TV, there will be three hours of primary school programming on CBBC, and two hours for secondary pupils on BBC Two.
Headteachers in England forced to ration on-site lockdown learning
Nearly half of England’s headteachers are being forced to prioritise class places among vulnerable students and the children of key workers because of a huge increase in demand, according to a survey of school leaders. The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), which carried out the survey, said the government’s “confused” messages to parents on school attendance risks defeating its aim of suppressing the virus. Thirty-four per cent of school leaders said they had 31% or more of their normal roll attend school in person on Thursday, and 48% said they had had to prioritise places in their school because of excess demand, suggesting heads are being forced to make difficult assessments of which parents and children have the greatest need.
Covid-19: The challenges of home-schooling
As England enters another lockdown that could last until the February half-term or beyond, the government wants even more online learning - with schools mandated to provide at least three hours per day and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson calling on parents to report schools who are not providing enough resources. It is estimated that 2.6 million schoolchildren live below the poverty line in England alone, and Ofcom estimates that about 9% of children in the UK - between 1.1 million and 1.8 million - do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home. More than 880,000 children live in a household with only a mobile internet connection.
Malaysia's king declares state of emergency to curb spread of COVID-19
Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah declared a state of emergency across the country on Tuesday to curb the spread of COVID-19, after consenting to a request from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is facing a leadership challenge. An emergency would give the prime minister and his cabinet extraordinary powers, including allowing the government to introduce laws without the approval of parliament. It was not immediately clear how the emergency would impact day to day activities, but the constitution allows for parliament to be suspended during that period - which could for now put an end to political uncertainties faced by Muhyiddin.
MEPs to view CureVac coronavirus vaccine contract on Tuesday
MEPs will be able to see the CureVac vaccine contract starting Tuesday, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides tweeted Monday. "Transparency & accountability are core EU values," she wrote, adding that she has been working with companies to make more information public: "More companies should follow this example." For months, the European Parliament has called for more transparency with the Commission's classified vaccine deals, while the Commission has countered it's up to the companies to release confidential information.
Coronavirus: Germany's stricter lockdown starts nationwide
Harder coronavirus lockdown restrictions came into force across all of Germany's 16 federal states on Monday. Ten states, including the most populous, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Baden Württemberg, introduced the new rules as of Monday. A number of restrictions were introduced on December 16 in a bid to curb a second COVID-19 infection wave. These were originally slated to remain in place until at least January 10 but have had only a moderate impact on caseloads. Some of the measures that were already in place have been extended, while other restrictions have been tightened. Health Minister Jens Spahn appealed to the public to stay the course. "I know that these are once again particular difficulties, hardships for many," Spahn said on ZDF television. "Also social hardships, but at the moment that is the arena in which the virus is spreading above all others."
Over half a million under lockdown as Beijing outbreak spreads
More than half a million people were placed under lockdown in Beijing on Monday as the government imposed strict measures to stamp out a handful of Covid-19 cases. China has largely brought the virus under control, but is tackling a number of local infections with lockdowns and mass testing. Authorities are keen to stem any outbreak in the capital -- home to over 20 million people -- particularly ahead of a week-long national holiday next month.
Sweden passes lockdown law to allow closures amid high death toll
Sweden has introduced a law that would allow the government to close restaurants, shops, and public transport to combat the spread of COVID-19. The new legislation signals a major shift away from the country's initial no-lockdown approach to the pandemic. A severe second wave of COVID-19 infections has prompted Sweden gradually to abandon the unique approach it first adopted towards the pandemic, when it relied on voluntary social distancing measures. Anders Tegnell, the architect of Sweden's initial no-lockdown response, said last week that the COVID-19 situation showed no signs of improvement in Sweden.
China's Efforts to Hide Covid Missteps in Wuhan
At a museum in Wuhan, China, a sprawling exhibition paints a stirring tale of how the city’s sacrifices in a brutal 76-day lockdown led to triumph over the coronavirus and, ultimately, rebirth. No costs appear to have been spared for the show, which features a hologram of medical staff members moving around a hospital room, heart-rending letters from frontline health workers and a replica of a mass quarantine site, complete with beds, miniature Chinese flags and toothbrush cups. But the exhibition is also striking for what is not included. There is no mention of the whistle-blowing role of Ai Fen, one of the first doctors to sound the alarm in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, or the decision by Zhang Yongzhen, a Shanghai doctor, to share its genome with the world against official orders.
UK on course for COVID-19 vaccination target as shots reach 200000 a day - Hancock
Britain is on course to have immunised its most vulnerable people against COVID-19 by mid-February and offering a shot to every adult by autumn, with some 2 million people having already received a first dose, its health secretary said on Sunday. “Over the last week we’ve vaccinated more people than in the entirety of December, so we’re accelerating the roll-out,” Matt Hancock told BBC TV. Britain is battling surging infections but is pinning its hopes on rapid immunisation to enable life to start returning to some degree of normality by the spring. Hancock said around 2 million people had already received a first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Malaysia to reimpose 2-week limited lockdown to stem virus spread
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday announced a fresh lockdown in the capital Kuala Lumpur and five states, as the Southeast Asian nation’s cumulative cases grew to over 135,000 as of Sunday. Muhyiddin said interstate travel will also be barred during the two-week lockdown, but assured that five essential sectors will be allowed to continue operating under strict regulations.
JPM: BioNTech hikes COVID-19 vaccine output to 2B doses in 2021—and plans a bigger label, too
With its Pfizer-partnered COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the U.S., Europe, the U.K. and a slate of other countries, German mRNA specialist BioNTech is wasting no time scaling up its 2021 pandemic ambitions—namely, 2 billion shots by year-end, plus a slate of new approvals and a temperature-stable formulation, too. BioNTech set its sights on producing 2 billion doses of its pandemic vaccine, now dubbed Comirnaty, this year, up from a previous estimate of 1.3 billion, CEO Uğur Şahin said at the virtual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. That production boost will rely on six global manufacturing sites tapped in Pfizer and BioNTech’s alliance, including a facility in Marburg, Germany, that's expected to go live by the end of February, the company said. Besides tapping that site, which will have a 75 million-dose capacity, the company plans to call on new suppliers and CMOs, Sahin said.
Japan emergency state to expand beyond Tokyo as COVID-19 cases climb: media
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a meeting of ruling party executives on Tuesday he would declare a state of emergency for the three western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo to stem the spread of COVID-19, Kyodo news reported. Responding to pressure from Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures in eastern Japan, Suga last week declared a one-month state of emergency for that region until Feb. 7. But the number of coronavirus cases has also climbed in the west, prompting the three prefectures to seek a state of emergency too. The government is finalising plans to declare an emergency there on Wednesday, and could also consider adding the central prefectures of Aichi - home to Toyota Motor Corp - and Gifu, Kyodo reported, citing government sources.
COVID-19: Teachers to be considered for next vaccination wave
Teachers could be next in line for the second wave of COVID-19 jabs, a member of the group advising on the vaccine rollout has suggested. Professor Adam Finn told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme that while no decisions had been taken on future prioritisation of the coronavirus injections, the "critical role" played by the profession would "figure in the discussions" of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol said committee members had been instructed to come up with a plan by the middle of February to determine the priority order of who should be vaccinated against COVID-19 next.
Covid vaccine: Wales has delivered 70,000 of 275,000 doses
Wales has received 275,000 doses of the two Covid-19 vaccines to deal with the pandemic. About 70,000 people received a first dose after the first month of the vaccine rollout. The Welsh Government confirmed it has had more than 250,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 25,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab. The health minister promised a "really significant step-up" in the roll-out after opponents criticised its speed. The Pfizer jabs were first administered in early December at seven sites across Wales as part of the UK-wide immunisation programme.
Two million receive Covid-19 vaccination as Boris Johnson urges ‘maximum vigilance’
Almost two million people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus but the epidemic has never been so dangerous, according to England’s chief medical officer. Professor Chris Whitty warned people that there was a “very high chance” that someone with whom they have had unnecessary contact had Covid-19, adding: “This is the most dangerous time.” Boris Johnson has begged people to follow rules, particularly in supermarkets and at takeaway venues as part of a drive to counter faltering compliance and lockdown fatigue.
Travel body rejects compulsory COVID-19 shots, experts say herd immunity distant
The head of a global travel organisation on Monday opposed making COVID-19 vaccinations a requirement for travellers in the fight against the pandemic, despite scepticism about reaching herd immunity this year.
COVID-19: Army to help ensure vaccines reach health authorities in Spain after worst snowfall in decades
Convoys containing food and the coronavirus vaccine are being sent by the Spanish government to reach areas cut off by record snowfall. Army emergency brigades have focused on clearing access to Madrid's main fresh food distribution centre and to hospitals as COVID-19 infections rise across Spain. Interior minister Fernando Grande-Markaska said the government will take extra steps to ensure that the country's weekly shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, arriving on Monday, can be distributed to regional health authorities via police-escorted convoys.
Covid-19: Birmingham mass vaccination centre opens
Health workers have been among the first to receive a Covid-19 jab at a mass vaccination centre. The site at Birmingham's Millennium Point is one of seven across England and will offer about 2,500 vaccinations a day when it is fully operational. It comes as England's chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty warns the coming weeks will be "the most dangerous time" of the pandemic. One of the first patients said she had been "so excited" to get the vaccine. Olga Leach-Walters is an endoscopy nurse at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Third of over 80s vaccinated as government to unveil COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC on Sunday that around 2m doses of vaccine had now been delivered and that around a third of over 80s had received at least one dose. His comments came as the government prepared to set out its full COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan on 11 January, which Mr Hancock said would be the 'keystone of our exit out of the pandemic'. The government has already said it hopes to deliver 13.9m doses of COVID-19 vaccine UK-wide by mid February, covering the first four priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Chicago Is Reopening Schools Against Fierce Resistance From Teachers
Across the country, many big cities like New York have struggled to resume even limited in-person instruction, while a number, including Los Angeles, have simply given up on the idea, choosing to stick with all-remote education into the spring. Few places have seen as much acrimony over the issue as Chicago, whose public school system is the nation’s third-largest. Now, with 6,000 prekindergarten and special education students preparing to return to the city’s public school buildings on Monday for the first time since March, a question looms: How many of their teachers will be there to greet them?
French resorts ask: will COVID write off whole ski season?
Business owners at France's Chamonix ski resort, their earnings slashed because of the COVID-19 lockdown, are worried they might not be able to welcome back skiers at all before the snows melt and the season ends. French ski resorts were prevented from opening their cable cars and ski lifts at the start of the season, driving away the large portion of their visitors who come for downhill skiing. The French government had discussed the possibility of re-opening the ski lifts of Jan. 7, but last week it said that with virus cases still high, that would be premature. A decision is now due on Jan. 20, leaving little time before the season ends. "If we have to close to the end of season, that's going to cost us several billion euros," said Mathieu Dechavanne, Chairman and CEO of Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, which operates cable cars in the region. "The economic impact will be catastrophic."
Moderna says COVID-19 vaccine immunity to stay at least a year
Immunity from Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine should last at least a year, the company said on Monday at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference. The drugmaker said it was confident that the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology it used was well suited to deploy a vaccine based on the new variant of the coronavirus which has emerged in a handful of countries. The company’s vaccine, mRNA-1273, uses synthetic mRNA to mimic the surface of the coronavirus and teach the immune system to recognize and neutralize it. Moderna said in December it would run tests to confirm the vaccine's activity against any strain.
Vaccine makers prepare for game of Covid cat and mouse
Vaccine makers and medicine regulators are sketching out plans in case the mutating coronavirus turns vaccine development into a game of cat and mouse. Just weeks after leading manufacturers secured the first regulatory approvals, mutations in the virus have forced scientists to re-test their Covid-19 vaccines and prepare to tweak their formula should the shots prove less effective. At the same time, regulators are considering how they could fast-track new approvals and whether they could use the seasonal flu jab as a model to authorise revised versions without requiring long trials.
Covid research: Convalescent plasma trial paused as results poor
Scientists running REMAP-CAP trial have stopped enrolling Covid ICU patients Found 'no evidence' convalescent plasma therapy boosted their survival chance Will continue to test the antibody-rich plasma on people with moderate illness