"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 22nd Feb 2021
Hold my hand: English care home visits allowed from March 8
Care home residents in England will be allowed one regular visitor from March 8, the government said, as it starts to ease COVID-19 lockdown measures, underpinned by the rollout of vaccines to older and clinically vulnerable people. Older people living in care homes have been offered the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as part of a programme that has seen almost 17 million shots given to date.
Mental anguish in COVID-19 survivors, young US adults
A research letter by Italian investigators published yesterday in JAMA Psychiatry details a study of 381 patients in Rome who had sought emergency care for COVID-19 and were given a psychiatric assessment 1 to 4 months after recovery, from Apr 21 to Oct 15, 2020. One-hundred-fifteen of 381 patients (30.2%) were diagnosed as having PTSD, while 17.3% had depression, 7.0% had generalized anxiety disorder, 0.7% were hypomanic, and 0.2% were psychotic. Women made up 55.7% of the PTSD diagnoses, and patients with PTSD reported higher rates of a history of psychiatric disorders (34.8%) and delirium or agitation when ill (16.5%) and the persistence of more than three coronavirus-related symptoms after recovery from infection (62.6%).
Green Pass: Israel's Covid-19 vaccination certificate opens fast track to normal life
People with the so-called "Green Pass" will get access to gyms, hotels and theatres, as more than 46 percent of its 9 million population get vaccinated.
Here are the four steps needed to safely end the UK's Covid lockdown
Our first collective aim should be reducing transmission to as low a level as possible – and keeping it low. Secondly, it will be crucial that we continue to monitor transmission and quickly identify any new variants. The third important aspect of this roadmap should be a highly effective test, trace, isolate and support system. As cases fall and people begin to mix again, keeping the virus under control will depend upon the effectiveness of this system. Councils and communities must work together to ensure those who are least likely to take up the offer of a vaccination are engaged and supported, whether through targeted, culturally aware communication campaigns or enlisting community representatives to encourage uptake. Local community leaders, businesses, faith groups, libraries, schools, sports clubs and local media will all be central to these efforts.
What's safe after COVID-19 vaccination? Don't shed masks yet
It’s great if the vaccine means someone who otherwise would have been hospitalized instead just has the sniffles, or even no symptoms. But “the looming question,” Fauci said during a White House coronavirus response briefing last week, is whether a person infected despite vaccination can still, unwittingly, infect someone else. Studies are underway to find out, and hints are starting to emerge. Fauci pointed to recent research from Spain showing the more coronavirus an infected person harbors — what’s called the viral load — the more infectious they are. That’s not surprising, as it’s true with other illnesses.
Britain to offer all adults a COVID-19 vaccine by end of July
All adults in Britain will be offered a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday ahead of a planned announcement on the cautious reopening of the economy from lockdown. Johnson will set out a roadmap to ease England’s third national lockdown on Monday, having met a target to vaccinate 15 million Britons from higher-risk categories by mid-February. Britain now aims to give a first dose to all over-50s by April 15, the government said, having previously indicated it wished them to receive the shot by May.
Gen V: The Young Vaccine Heroes Convincing Their Elders To Get The Covid Jab
Neesie has recruited 20 young people aged between 18 and 25 who are from Black, Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi backgrounds, and teamed up with Bradford’s university and hospital to teach them about Covid and arm them with facts about the vaccine. The plan was for the young people to go out into their communities to spread awareness – but, due to the lockdown, they are speaking to community groups through online platforms to eradicate myths and misconceptions. Someone who looks like you and speaks the same language and has the same cultural or faith background as you is often better at relaying the message and being trusted
COVID-19: Sadiq Khan urges BAME communities to get vaccine after he receives jab
Sadiq Khan has received his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and urged members of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to follow suit, declaring: "I wouldn't be taking the jab if I didn't think it was safe." The London mayor received a COVID-19 jab on Friday morning at a vaccine centre located inside a church in southwest London.
Escaping lockdown: when will life return to normal?
Governments and societies will have to learn how to manage a complex series of risks, both in the short term while only part of the population has been vaccinated, and in the long term as the disease lingers even after most people have received the jab. International travel could face restrictions for some time to come. Some scientists describe a long drawn-out battle with an endemic virus that constantly evolves — with new vaccines and treatments being deployed in a way that they hope will allow much but not all of normal life to return. “The challenge is to find a way to live with it without keeping huge restrictions in place,” says Azra Ghani, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London.
Feature: Remote work gains ground in Cuba amid COVID-19 pandemic
As February has become the worst month regarding COVID-19 infections since the onset of the pandemic in Cuba in March last year, the Cuban government has encouraged working remotely to reduce the movement of people throughout the country. Meanwhile, measures have been taken for essential workers to meet physical distancing guidelines and COVID-19 protocols at the "new normal" offices and workplaces. Since January, some 42,590 people have engaged in remote work in the country's capital, the epicenter of the pandemic on the island, Ivet Moya Pupo, head of Labor and Social Security in Havana, told local media.
Why Calling in Sick While Working from Home Can Be Stressful
When you’re not feeling well, the last thing you need is to stress about taking a sick day from work. But the pandemic has gotten people in the United States worried sick about calling in. According to a survey of 2,000 workers in the United States, 42 percent of employees were more stressed or anxious about taking a sick day in 2020 than in years past. Working from home adds more stress to the matter as sick day stress was found to be higher among people working remotely than those working in-person. Additionally, 60 percent of remote workers reported their boss or employer expects them to work in some way when taking a sick day.
How virtual field trips are bringing animals, art, music and more directly to students
The coronavirus pandemic has stopped many classes from venturing out on trips and halted groups making in-school visits, but some Canadian cultural institutions are revamping their educational programming to offer virtual field trips that reach students in nearby neighbourhoods, across the country and beyond. Among her childhood artistic inspirations, spoken word artist and singer I.M.F. recalls visitors at her school assemblies. Seeing performers and spoken word artists at a young age boosted her confidence to pursue that path; she's hoping to come full circle with virtual field trip experiences she's taken part in this month with the Art Gallery of Ontario.
More teachers are asked to double up, instructing kids at school and at home simultaneously
Simultaneous teaching — also called simulcast or concurrent — is what many districts across the U.S. have settled on in an attempt to solve the logistical jigsaw puzzle involved in bringing back some students for in-person instruction while others continue learning from home. And it’s about to get ramped up in dramatic fashion. Under pressure from President Biden and governors, and facing mounting evidence that schools can reopen if safety measures are followed, districts in the Washington region and nationwide are embarking on the difficult mission of returning hundreds of thousands of children to classrooms that have been shuttered for nearly a year
Remain Virtual or Move to Hybrid Learning? Parents Face Tough Choices
The debate on when to send students back to school has been heated for almost a year now. With many Northern Virginia school districts set to expand hybrid learning to more students, parents are making tough choices about what to do with their kids. What's best for one school district might not be best for another. In fact, what's best for one student might not what's be best for their own sibling. "I am parenting two extremely different human beings, and their needs are different," said Arlington County parent Lara Daly-Sims, "and that's why you'll see that I have a different decision for each of them."
Learning as avatars may become new school norm in Japan
Virtual reality (VR) classrooms may become the new normal for schools of the future, given that some universities have already begun experimenting with classes using student avatars in school buildings created in virtual spaces. With online learning becoming more widespread amid the prolonged novel coronavirus crisis, the virtual classroom paradigm is attracting attention as it is easier to raise students’ sense of participation than with videoconferencing or watching videos. The system makes it possible to switch between spaces. The class experienced a series of 360-degree worlds based on actual images, including the laboratory, the campus, and the shopping street in front of the university.
South Korea to begin using Pfizer coronavirus vaccines on Feb. 27, PM says
South Korea will begin administering the first of 117,000 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Feb. 27, a day after the country begins its first vaccinations with AstraZeneca’s products, the prime minister announced on Sunday. Plans call for about 10 million high-risk people, including health care workers and staffers and some residents of assisted care facilities and nursing homes, to be inoculated by July. The first AstraZeneca vaccines are scheduled to be administered on Friday, with Pfizer’s shots being deployed the next day, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said
Covid-19 vaccinations begin in Australia with Scott Morrison among first group
The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has received the Pfizer vaccine, as he joined a small first group to be vaccinated against Covid-19 on Sunday – a step the government says is intended to build public confidence in the safety of the vaccines. Morrison – the 12th member of the group to receive the vaccine at a televised event in Sydney – described it as a “curtain raiser” for the formal start of the vaccine rollout on Monday. He said the initial jabs were designed to show “that it’s safe, that it’s important, and we need to start with those who are most vulnerable and on the front line”.
Tanzania’s president admits country has COVID-19 problem
Tanzania’s president is finally acknowledging that his country has a coronavirus problem after claiming for months that the disease had been defeated by prayer. Populist President John Magufuli on Sunday urged citizens of the East African country to take precautions and even wear face masks — but only locally made ones. Over the course of the pandemic he has expressed wariness about foreign-made goods, including COVID-19 vaccines. The president’s comments came days after the country of some 60 million people mourned the death of one of its highest-profile politicians, the vice president of the semi-autonomous island region of Zanzibar, whose political party had earlier said he had COVID-19. The president’s chief secretary also died in recent days, though the cause was not revealed.
How is Sweden coping with Covid-19? The hands-off strategy hasn't changed, officials insist
Now, in the short, gloomy days of February, Sweden’s laissez-faire approach has changed. The government has overruled the public health agency, which has primacy in deciding how to tackle the pandemic, in a number of areas. Commuters are advised to wear masks at rush hour, and bars stop serving alcohol at 10pm. Gatherings of more than eight people are banned. While the restrictions are still not as tight as in the UK, perhaps the biggest change is in the public’s perception of the pandemic. Trust in the authorities has dipped: according to a poll published last month only half of Swedes think that the public health agency is doing a good job, compared with 70 per cent last spring. Other agencies have fared far worse — with trust plunging to record lows. A year after the pandemic came to Sweden, more than 12,500 people have died of Covid-19 in a country of 10.2 million. In Norway, Denmark and Finland — which have a total population of 16.5 million — there have been 3,600 deaths.
U.K. to ‘Cautiously’ Ease Lockdown Despite Vaccine Push: Hancock
The U.K. government will take a “cautious” approach to easing lockdown, with restrictions lifted every few weeks to judge the impact, despite a significant acceleration of its Covid-19 vaccination program, a senior minister said. Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to keep following the rules even when vaccinated, after the government announced that all adults will be offered a shot by the end of July and everyone over 50 by mid-April. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a meeting with his senior ministers on Sunday to sign off on plans for how to ease England’s lockdown, ahead of a statement to Parliament on Monday
Mayor of French city of Nice calls for weekend coronavirus lockdown
The mayor of the French Mediterranean city of Nice called on Sunday for a weekend lockdown in the area to stop the flow of visitors and curb a sharp spike in coronavirus infections. “We need a strong measures that go beyond the nationwide 6 p.m. curfew, either a tighter curfew, or a partial and time-specific lockdown. A weekend lockdown would make sense ...that would stop the inflow of visitors,” Mayor Christian Estrosi said on franceinfo radio.
Covid vaccines: Boris Johnson pledges surplus to poorer countries at G7
Boris Johnson is pledging to donate most of the UK's surplus vaccine supply to poorer countries in a speech to a virtual G7 meeting on Friday. He urged rich countries to back a 100-day target for the developing new vaccines for future emerging diseases. The UK has ordered more than 400 million doses of various vaccines, so many will be left over once all adults are vaccinated. But anti-poverty campaigners say the UK is not doing enough. Decisions on when and how much of the surplus will be distributed will be made later this year, with ministers taking into account the supply chain and whether booster shots are needed in the autumn.
Russia approves 3rd coronavirus vaccine before late-stage trials begin, PM says
Russia on Saturday approved a third coronavirus vaccine for domestic use, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on state TV, though large-scale clinical trials of the shot, labeled CoviVac and produced by the Chumakov Centre, have yet to begin. Russia has already approved two COVID-19 vaccines, including the Sputnik V shot, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, following a similar approach of granting approval before seeing any late-stage trial results.
UK Government needs to donate surplus Covid-19 vaccines now, warns WTO
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has urged the UK Government to start donating Covid-19 vaccines across the world now. The head of the WTO said there should be no delay in sending the surplus coronavirus vaccines to developing countries. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala urged the Government to act now as it is “in the interest” of rich countries as well as poor countries to have “equitable access”. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to donate the majority of the UK’s surplus vaccines to poorer nations in the lead-up to Friday’s virtual G7 meeting
Covid-19: California’s Governor Reserves Vaccines for Teachers
Under pressure to reopen classrooms in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Friday that, starting March 1, the state will reserve 10 percent of its first doses of Covid-19 vaccines for teachers and school employees. Noting that the federal government has been steadily increasing the state’s vaccine allotment, the governor said he would set aside 75,000 doses each week for teachers and staff planning to return to public school campuses in person. Although California prioritizes teachers for the vaccine, supply has been an issue. Only about three dozen of the state’s 58 counties have had enough doses on hand to immunize those who work at public schools.
G-7 vows 'equitable' world vaccine access, but details scant
Leaders of the Group of Seven economic powers promised Friday to immunize the world’s neediest people against the coronavirus by giving money, and precious vaccine doses, to a U.N.-backed vaccine distribution effort. But the leaders, under pressure over their vaccination campaigns at home, were unwilling to say exactly how much vaccine they were willing to share with the developing world, or when. Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the G-7 leaders held a virtual meeting that fair distribution of vaccines was “an elementary question of fairness.” But she added, “No vaccination appointment in Germany is going to be endangered.”
Iraq sees record Covid-19 cases as new lockdown begins
New lockdown measures came into effect in Iraq on Friday as it recorded its highest new coronavirus caseload in 2021 -- double the daily figures from less than a week ago. Earlier this week, health authorities announced new overnight curfews would begin on February 18th, from 8:00 pm until 5:00 am, as well as full lockdowns on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On its first full lockdown day on Friday, Baghdad's main roads were clear of the usual traffic and security forces had set up new checkpoints to stop violators.
Toronto's lockdown extended until at least March 8
A lockdown and stay at home order is being extended in Canada's largest city until at least March 8. The shutdown in Toronto began on Nov 23 after a second novel coronavirus wave hit the province. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said it was a difficult but necessary decision. Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, asked the provincial government this week to extend the lockdown, saying she has never been more worried about the future because of new coronavirus variants.
Zimbabwean president urges all Zimbabweans to be vaccinated against COVID-19, thanking China for its generosity
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday urged all Zimbabweans to be vaccinated against COVID-19, saying that this was the only way to conquer the pandemic. Addressing mourners at the burial of national hero Moses Mpofu at the National Heroes Acre, Mnangagwa said the vaccines which Zimbabwe had received from China earlier during the week were safe and an effective antidote against COVID-19. Vaccinations, however, remain voluntary.
After snap lockdown, New Zealand begins vaccine programme
A few days after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ended the snap lockdown in Auckland, New Zealand has launched its first COVID-19 vaccination programme. The country is using Pfizer-BioNtech's vaccine against the deadly coronavirus. On Saturday, a small group of medical professionals were injected with the approved vaccine in Auckland. Following this, border staff and so-called Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) workers will initiate a bigger and wider rollout of the vaccine.
Continent’s medics boycott Oxford jab as Europe talks down efficacy
Europe’s faltering immunisation programme has been hit by a boycott of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by medical staff concerned about its side effects and doubtful of its efficacy against new variants of Covid-19. Health workers in France and elsewhere in the EU are declining the Anglo-Swedish vaccine, increasingly portrayed in European media as a cheap and inferior alternative to the mRNA jabs made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
Covid-19: Health chiefs say NI vaccine programme on target
Northern Ireland's Covid-19 vaccine programme is "ahead of schedule," health officials have said, after Boris Johnson announced new UK-wide targets. Earlier, the prime minister said all UK adults should be offered a first dose of vaccine by the end of July. The previous target was September for first dose completion, but the PM has now said it should "go further and faster" to help ease lockdown rules. Stormont's Department of Health said its plans were dependent on supply.
Over 200 million coronavirus vaccines administered worldwide
Thus far, 92% of doses have been administered in high-income countries or the wealthiest of countries placed by the World Bank in the medium-development bracket. Together, they account for a mere 53% of the world’s population. Among the 29 least developed countries, only Guinea and Rwanda have begun to vaccinate their people.
How To Register For The Coronavirus Vaccine In Your State
The process to sign up for COVID-19 vaccines varies by place so NPR created a tool to help you understand how things work in your state and connect you with local resources.
Biden’s First Month of Covid-19 Response Marked by Larger Federal Role
In his first month in office, President Biden has positioned the federal government squarely at the front of the battle against Covid-19, tapping the military to staff mass-vaccination centers, joining with state and local officials to accelerate the pace of vaccinations, and requiring masks on buses, planes and federal property. But Mr. Biden’s efforts to use his bully pulpit to pressure states to take actions the federal government doesn’t control—such as keeping mask mandates in place—have had mixed results, and many school districts across the country are still grappling with how and when to return to in-person instruction.
Covid-19: Number of coronavirus-related deaths falls for third week
The weekly number of Covid-19 related deaths registered in Northern Ireland has fallen for a third week. The NI Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) said the virus was mentioned on the death certificates of 99 people, in the week to Friday 12 February. That is 27 fewer than the previous week, bringing the agency's total to 2,673. The Department of Health's total for the same date, based on a positive test result being recorded, was 1,985.
COVID-19: More than 17 million people have received first jab - as deaths surpass 120,000
More than 17 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while the number of deaths has surpassed 120,000. Another 445 people have died within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, according to the latest government figures, taking the total to 120,365. The deaths included a 16-year-old with no known underlying health conditions. Where patients were aged 16 to 100, all except four - aged between 16 and 68 - were known to have had underlying health conditions.
COVID: Schools and outdoor mixing could be first areas where lockdown will be eased
The prime minister is still aiming to reopen all schools in England next month despite concerns from teachers and scientists. Ahead of an announcement about easing coronavirus lockdown on Monday, Downing Street refused to be drawn on specific reports that more extensive outdoor socialising could be allowed by Easter, including suggestions that two households will be allowed to meet outside. Schools and outdoor mixing are likely to be the first areas where rules will be relaxed.
Coronavirus: Infections in Germany stagnate at high level
Amid repeated calls for the government to lift the lockdown, Spahn urged the public to remain cautious, adding that the coronavirus "doesn't just give up." "There are rising demands to end the lockdown and this is possible, but we need to be careful in order not to jeopardize our achievements," Spahn said on Friday. The RKI reported on Friday a slight drop in COVID-19 infections over seven days, with 56.8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 57.1 the day before, according to the German Press Agency (DPA). Germany's federal government aims for a level of infections below 50. States cas move towards easing the lockdown when the level remains under 35.
Australia's travel bubble with New Zealand to restart as Victoria records no new Covid cases
Australia’s coronavirus travel bubble with New Zealand will recommence on Sunday, the Department of Health has announced. In a statement issued on Saturday afternoon, the department said “green zone” flights from New Zealand could resume at 12.01am on Sunday, subject to some conditions. “The AHPPC monitors the situation in many locations and will continue to advise on a range of decisions in the interest of the health of all Australians,” said the chief medical officer, Prof Paul Kelly. “These decisions are not easy and we do not take them lightly – and all AHPPC members appreciate the ongoing patience and flexibility of Australians and New Zealanders, including those in the tourism and travel industry."
Covid-19: Which countries in Africa are administering vaccines?
Africa has now recorded more than 100,000 deaths from coronavirus, and there's been concern over the delay in rolling out Covid-19 vaccinations there. There has been global competition to get hold of vaccines, and African countries have generally not been as successful as richer countries in securing supplies. "It is deeply unjust that the most vulnerable Africans are forced to wait for vaccines while lower-risk groups in rich countries are made safe," says Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization regional director for Africa. France President Emmanuel Macron has proposed that rich countries in Europe and the US share their vaccines with Africa.
COVID sickness dropped 95.8% after both Pfizer shots: Israeli Health Ministry
The risk of illness from COVID-19 dropped 95.8% among people who received both shots of Pfizer’s vaccine, Israel’s Health Ministry said. The vaccine was also 98% effective in preventing fever or breathing problems and 98.9% effective in preventing hospitalizations and death, the ministry said. The findings were based on data collected nationally through Feb. 13 from Israelis who had received their second shot at least two weeks previously. Previous reports from individual health care providers also showed positive results, spurring Israel to remove restrictions on the economy after weeks of lockdown. On Sunday, schools and many stores will be allowed to reopen.
The ticket to a return of clubs, gigs and football matches? Five-minute coronavirus test made in the UK is touted as 'game-changer' in unlocking live events
Yorkshire firm Avacta have developed a new super-fast lateral flow Covid test Understood to be in last test stage at Government top-secret Porton Down lab The test's developers say it is more accurate and faster than the US devices It is hoped that 5-minute rapid testing will be used on admission to large events
Pfizer and BioNTech Coronavirus Vaccine Effective After 1 Dose, Can Last 2 Weeks in Standard Freezer, Separate Research Shows
On Friday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they have submitted new data about their BNT162b2 vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration. With this submission, the two companies hope that the FDA will update the emergency use authorization (EUA) it has granted the vaccine. The new data indicates that Pfizer and BioNTech's BNT162b2 can be kept for as long as two weeks at temperatures common to pharmaceutical freezers and refrigerators, as opposed to the constant ultra-low temperature storage it initially seemed to necessitate.
How Google search data can predict COVID-19 outbreaks
New research finds that online searches can accurately predict regional increases and decreases in COVID-19 cases. Certain types of searches reveal the activities in which people plan to engage. The search volume for outside-the-home vs. stay-at-home activities forecasts the number of COVID-19 diagnoses 10–14 days later.
Association between mental illness and COVID-19 in South Korea
In their nationwide cohort study, Seung Won Lee and colleagues suggest that patients with a severe mental illness had a slightly higher risk for severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19.1 Although the authors classified region of residence into urban and rural categories to adjust for potential confounding, the high number of COVID-19 cases in Daegu (the fourth most populous city in South Korea) indicates that bias could remain due to uncontrolled confounding as a result of regional differences.
Elon Musk Got 4,000 SpaceX Workers to Join a Covid-19 Study. Here’s What He Learned.
To monitor the prevalence of the virus among SpaceX workers nationwide, Mr. Musk and the rocket company’s top medical executive worked with doctors and academic researchers to build an antibody-testing program. More than 4,000 SpaceX workers volunteered for monthly blood tests. This week the group published its findings, which suggest that a certain threshold of antibodies might provide people lasting protection against the virus. Mr. Musk is listed as a co-author of the peer-reviewed study, which appears in the journal Nature Communications. “People can have antibodies, but it doesn’t mean they are going to be immune” to Covid-19, said Galit Alter, a co-author of the study who is a member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard. Individuals who experienced fewer, milder Covid-19 symptoms generated fewer antibodies and were therefore less likely to meet the threshold for longer-term immunity, the study found.