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"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 15th Mar 2021

Isolation Tips
8 tips to try to maintain health while working from home
Working from home can be beneficial in many ways, but it can also present several physical, mental, and social challenges. Health tips for those working from home include wellness fundamentals, such as eating a nutritious diet and getting regular exercise. However, it is also important to address the psychological and social challenges of remote working, such as loneliness and blurred lines between a person’s job and home life. In this article, we explore how to maintain optimal wellness while working from home.
Half of COVID survivors note lingering signs of depression
More than half of a sample of US COVID-19 survivors reported symptoms of major depressive disorder months after recovery, a research letter today in JAMA Network Open reports. A team led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University analyzed internet-based nonprobability survey and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) responses from 82,319 adult coronavirus survivors delivered in eight waves from June 2020 to January 2021. The PHQ-9 is a nine-question depression screening tool with 0 to 27 possible points; 10 or more points indicate moderate depression.
Hygiene Helpers
What You Can and Can’t Do if You’ve Been Vaccinated: Travel, Gatherings, Risk Factors, What You Need to Know
Many people hope that getting a Covid-19 vaccine will mark an immediate return to normal: no more masks, no more distancing, safe indoor dinner parties and big hugs with friends. The reality is more complicated. For now, people who have gotten their shots must navigate decision-making in a world where the vaccinated and unvaccinated will coexist for months, even within the same household. Fully vaccinated people can gather indoors with others who are also fully vaccinated without taking extra precautions, the CDC said. And vaccinated people may gather with one other unvaccinated family without masks and distancing as long as the unvaccinated members are healthy and aren’t at risk for developing a more serious case of Covid-19. But the CDC urged fully vaccinated people to continue taking precautions in public, and in medium or large private gatherings.
British Airways calls for vaccinated people to travel without restrictions
British Airways’s new boss said vaccinated people should be allowed to travel without restriction and non-vaccinated people with a negative COVID-19 test, as he set out his ideas for a travel restart a month before the UK government finalises its plans. Holidays will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest, the government has said, but before that, on April 12, Britain will announce how and when non-essential travel into and out of the country can resume. Sean Doyle, appointed BA’s chief executive last October, called on Britain to work with other governments to allow vaccines and health apps to open up travel, after a year when minimal flying has left many airlines on life support.
What role could vaccine passports play in the pandemic?
After months of costly shutdowns, closed borders and curtailed personal freedoms, the concept of vaccine passports is gaining traction with governments eager to plot their path through the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of countries, including China and Israel, have already rolled out their own forms of certification ostensibly intended to ease future international travel or revive activity in hard-hit sectors of economies, such as hospitality.
Community Activities
With Trump gone, QAnon groups focus fury on attacking coronavirus vaccines
Within the alternative universe of the “Q NEWS OFFICIAL TV” group on Telegram, coronavirus vaccines aren’t saving lives and bending the pandemic toward its eventual end. Rather, they are bioweapons concocted by an evil cabal of corrupt government officials and drug companies. Their goal? Depopulation. Social control. Altering the very genetic structure of our species. Such unhinged conspiracy theories once ran rampant on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But months of purging accounts that trafficked heavily in the baseless QAnon ideology — especially after it helped fuel the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol — have reduced those voices on leading social media sites.
Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Jews get COVID vaccine but still face resentment
Outside the synagogue in Jerusalem’s Ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood Har Nof, a poster bears the name of Osnat Ben Sheetrit, a pregnant mother of four who died of COVID-19, and the words: “For the ascension of her soul, get vaccinated.”
COVID-19: Misinformation wars on WhatsApp sees faith groups take on fake news
Faith groups are leading the fight against vaccine misinformation on what one called the "lawless wasteland" of WhatsApp. Messages spreading fake COVID-19 information are widely shared on the private messaging app. This is often through a simple "forwarding" feature that copies messages to other contacts. But the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and other groups have been pushing back on that disinformation. Sky News has been collecting and analysing messages to monitor what type of misinformation is shared on WhatsApp, while also speaking to groups which are tackling the problem head on.
Nurses fight conspiracy theories along with coronavirus
Los Angeles emergency room nurse Sandra Younan spent the last year juggling long hours as she watched many patients struggle with the coronavirus and some die. Then there were the patients who claimed the virus was fake or coughed in her face, ignoring mask rules. One man stormed out of the hospital after a positive COVID-19 test, refusing to believe it was accurate. “You have patients that are literally dying, and then you have patients that are denying the disease,” she said. “You try to educate and you try to educate, but then you just hit a wall.” Bogus claims about the virus, masks and vaccines have exploded since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic a year ago. Journalists, public health officials and tech companies have tried to push back against the falsehoods, but much of the job of correcting misinformation has fallen to the world’s front-line medical workers.
The path to the post-Covid city
The basic exchange that’s required is obvious: cities need to take space from cars, offices and shops and give it to affordable housing, community and nature. The city of the future may look a lot like the city of the past, just cleaner: bicycles, farms and 18th-century-style homeworking rather than flying cars. I’ve tried to distil the best ideas for the post-Covid city, focusing on rich-country megapolises such as London, New York and Paris. Developing-world cities have different problems, but much of what follows applies to them, too.
A tantalising glimpse of a post-vaccine world
The big threat to the “dream” scenario of governments being able to ease restrictions almost entirely as inoculation programmes end is the emergence of new variants that resist existing vaccines or cause worse symptoms and higher hospitalisations even among the young and healthy. Later rounds of jabs — booster shots against mutated strains — seem inevitable. Testing programmes may be needed for some time to hunt down new variants, and as an alternative to “vaccine passports” for those who cannot or choose not to be jabbed. Little by little, however, outlines of the post-pandemic normal are becoming discernible. Rich-world governments that are making good progress with vaccinations now need to prepare to donate their surplus doses to the developing world — to ensure they are not the only ones that can enjoy that brighter future.
Working Remotely
Is the 9-to-5 office routine dead? Here’s what workers want
What has a year of living through a pandemic and WFH taught us about where we are headed? To get a sense of how people’s attitudes towards work have changed, Future Forum, a consortium backed by Slack, gave Fortune Analytics exclusive access to their survey of more than 8,500 knowledge workers or skilled office workers from around the world. The data was used to build the Future Forum Remote Employee Experience Index. Taken together, these survey questions help paint a picture of how workers have evolved—and how the workplace must evolve, too.
From Remote Work to Hybrid Work: The Tech You’ll Need to Link Home and Office
Hope your magic Mary Poppins, go-back-to-the-office bag is ready. Let’s see, you’re going to need your laptop, your laptop’s power adapter, your headphones, your headphones’ power adapter, your ring light, your ring light’s power adapter… Prepare to do this two to three times a week, as you split time between your home-office and your office-office for the next, well, forever. Welcome to the exciting new world of hybrid work. “Somewhere in the vicinity of 60% of the workforce are choosing the hybrid option,” said Gartner analyst Suzanne Adnams, “which means their ideal is working at home and coming into the office three days a week.”
Virtual Classrooms
Coronavirus pandemic restrictions can help or hinder schoolchildren with anxiety disorders
Parents fear children stuck at home for almost a year during the coronavirus pandemic, will lose critical social skills. And children with selective mutism, a severe form of anxiety, will lose even more. As schools reopen, everyone will wear masks, students will sit far apart and teachers may stay behind plastic barriers. In many schools, students will eat at their desks. Forget about normal recess. And parents are concerned about how their children will manage. Virtual learning has helped some children with selective mutism. Students can use chat boxes to communicate. Some upload recordings of themselves, avoiding the anxiety of live participation. For children who’ve adjusted positively to the new learning environment, parents are choosing home school or distance learning over in-person school.
'It's exhausting.' A year of distance learning wears thin
At first, many schools announced it would last only a couple weeks. A year later, the unplanned experiment with distance learning continues for thousands of students who have yet to set foot back in classrooms. Comfortable homes and private tutors have made it easier for those with access. Expectations are higher at some schools than others. And growing numbers of students are being offered in-person instruction at least part time. But students of all backgrounds have faced struggles with technology, the distractions of home life, and social isolation. The Associated Press followed four students on a typical day to find out how they’re coping a year into the coronavirus pandemic.
'Big burden' for schools trying to give kids internet access
When the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools, educators had to figure out how to get kids online. Fast. In a patchwork approach born of desperation, they scrounged wireless hot spots, struck deals with cable companies and even created networks of their own. With federal relief money and assistance from state governments and philanthropists, they have helped millions of students get online for distance learning. Still, a year into the pandemic, millions of others remain without internet because of financial hurdles and logistical difficulties in getting students what they need. There will soon be more money for schools to provide internet, as well as programs that aim to make internet more affordable.
Hamline Anthropology Professor Teaches Virtual Classes In ‘Minecraft’
The pandemic and social distancing have put some separation between us and the rest of the world. That’s especially true at college campuses where many classrooms have been replaced by Zoom. But a professor at Hamline University has found a way for his students to get together that doesn’t involve being in-person, in the classroom or on Zoom. Using the game “Minecraft” to teach anthropology students is a bit of a social experiment, and it took some getting used to. Instead of gathering at the Old Main or Drew Science Center for class, student-avatars gather at the virtual versions of those buildings — buildings that they helped make.
Public Policies
Draghi announces new Italian lockdown and fresh support for economy
Mario Draghi said his Italian government would launch a new economic package to support the country during fresh Covid-19 lockdown measures coming into force from next week amid a surge in cases. The prime minister said he would boost support for struggling workers and businesses, as well as tripling the number of vaccines being administered daily during a new lockdown that will last until the first week of April. “More than a year after the beginning of the health emergency, we are unfortunately facing a new wave of contagions,” Draghi said. “The memory of what happened last spring is alive, and we will do everything to prevent it from happening again.”
Australia joins US, India and Japan in 'unprecedented' deal for coronavirus vaccines after historic Quad meeting
Scott Morrison has joined the first leaders' summit of Joe Biden's US presidency, forging a new strategic partnership and vaccination alliance with four of the Indo-Pacific region's most-powerful democracies. The US President hosted the video link-up from the State Dining Room of the White House with the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan. It was the first time the four-member regional grouping known as the Quad had ever convened with heads of government at the table. The partnership has had a faltering history and is usually viewed as a bloc to counter China. But in its latest incarnation, Quad members have given it a new, broader purpose to cooperate on what Mr Biden calls "practical solutions and concrete results" to global problems, including COVID-19, climate change and cyber security.
Coronavirus: Chile becomes Latin America's COVID-19 vaccination champion
After being among the world's hardest-hit nations with COVID-19, Chile is now near the top among countries at vaccinating its population against the virus. With more than 25% of its people having received at least one shot, the country of 19 million on South America's Pacific coast is the champion of Latin America, and globally it is just behind Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. That's a far cry from the beginning of the pandemic, when Chile was criticized over its inability to trace and isolate infected people.
COVID-19: Ireland suspends AstraZeneca vaccine over clotting concerns
Ireland has temporarily halted its use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after some reports of blood clots. The move came after a review from the Norwegian Medicines Agency showed four new cases of "serious blood clotting in adults" had occurred after the jab, despite the World Health Organisation having sought to downplay concerns and urge countries to keep using it. The vaccine will continue to be administered in Northern Ireland, however, after the country's health body sought advice from the UK's medicine regulator.
Cyprus pulls back on wider easing of COVID-19 restrictions
Cyprus has put the brakes on a wider loosening of COVID-19 restrictions by keeping middle school students at home for two more weeks as the infection rate remains high partly because of how widespread the U.K. variant has become
All coronavirus restrictions lifted from New Zealand's largest city
All remaining restrictions in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland have been lifted after no locally transmitted cases of coronavirus were reported for two weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday. Ardern imposed a seven-day lockdown on the city of 1.7 million after a cluster of cases were detected domestically. The lockdown was eased earlier this month but some restrictions were retained, including limits on large public gatherings under an alert level 2 setting.
Tunisia starts vaccination campaign with Sputnik V shots
Tunisia launched its vaccination campaign on Saturday, four days after receiving the first 30,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines. First up for a shot in the arm in the North African country were health care workers, soldiers and security officers, plus people over 65 and people with chronic health problems. The opening round of vaccinations was held in a field hospital set up in a sports complex in the El Mensah district of Tunis, the capital. Mehrzia El Hammami, a 54-year-old nursing supervisor at Bardo Hospital, was the first person to be inoculated.
US surpasses 100 million COVID vaccinations
More than 100 million people in the United States have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine jab, the national public health agency reported, as the Biden administration works to speed up vaccinations countrywide. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said more than 101 million jabs had been administered since the country’s inoculation programme began late last year.
Covid-19 pandemic: Italy to shut shops and schools amid infection spike
Shops, restaurants and schools will be closed across most of Italy on Monday, with PM Mario Draghi warning of a "new wave" of the coronavirus outbreak. For three days over Easter, 3-5 April, there will be a total shutdown. Italy, which one year ago imposed one of the first national lockdowns, is once again struggling to contain the rapid spread of infections. The country has reported more than 100,000 Covid-related deaths, Europe's second-highest tally after the UK.
Trudeau: Every Canadian will be able to get vaccine by September
Every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated will be able to do so by the end of September Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday, committing to a timeline he made late last year. In a news conference, Trudeau said drugmaker Pfizer will begin delivering one million COVID-19 vaccine doses every week starting on March 22, until May 10. “That’s gonna make a big difference,” Trudeau said. “Every dose makes a difference.” “Everyone who wants a vaccine in Canada will be able to get one by the end of September,” he said. The move doubles the current supply from Pfizer, officials said. Trudeau also announced that drugmaker AstraZeneca will be delivering 20 million doses by the end of the year.
Biden says all adults in US will be eligible for coronavirus vaccine by May 1
Joe Biden said every US adult would be eligible for a coronavirus vaccination by May 1, as he touted “some real progress” in America’s fight against the pandemic and set the July 4 Independence Day holiday as a target for a return to some normality. The goals were announced by the president during his first televised primetime address to the nation, which combined a more optimistic assessment of America’s ability to tame the virus with an emotional appeal for the country to keep its guard up against the disease. “I need you, I need every American to do their part,” Biden said. “That will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but begin to mark our independence from this virus.”
WHO lists J&J COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use
The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that it has listed the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, which adds a more agile option for immunizing people in developing countries. In another vaccine development, the WHO said its safety committee is reviewing reports of blood clots in people who have received doses from certain batches of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, but emphasized that the vaccine can be used while the probe is underway.
Two months into COVID-19 lockdown, Portugal to gradually lift rules
Nearly two months into a lockdown imposed in mid-January to tackle what was then the world’s worst coronavirus surge, Portugal’s government announced on Thursday it would start to gradually ease its strict rules from next week.
Maintaining Services
Police blitz targets parties driving Brazil's deadly COVID-19 surge
Police broke up an illegal party with nearly 600 people in a windowless Sao Paulo nightclub in the early hours of Saturday, highlighting defiance of social distancing rules that has made the country’s outbreak the world’s deadliest at the moment. COVID-19 killed 12,000 Brazilians over the past week, more than any other country. With 275,000 lives lost in total, Brazil’s death toll lags only the United States, where the epidemic is slowing dramatically.
UK could give 1 million Covid vaccine doses a day ‘within next few weeks’
Coronavirus vaccine stocks in the UK are expected to more than double, allowing for up to 1 million doses a day in the next few weeks, according to reports. All over-40s should have been offered their first vaccine by Easter, The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday, citing government sources. The paper said a “bumper boost” to supplies will allow the vaccine rollout to expand rapidly next week.
CVS expands its COVID-19 vaccine program to 29 states as more doses become available
It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Starting Saturday, eligible residents in another 12 states can begin booking COVID-19 vaccinations at CVS pharmacy. This week, the vaccines rolled out to CVS locations in Colorado ...
Buy one ticket, get a Covid jab free! Russian club Zenit St Petersburg launch extraordinary Covid-19 vaccination drive as they offer ALL supporters the chance to be inoculated ...
Zenit St Petersburg have made the Sputnik V vaccine available from Saturday Reigning Russian Premier League champions host Akhmat Grozny at home Fans can receive the Covid-19 jab at vaccination stations at the Gazprom Arena
COVID-19: Nearly 50,000 businesses sign up to offer rapid coronavirus testing for their employees
Nearly 50,000 businesses have signed up for the government's free workplace COVID tests, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced. The government claims this is a vital step towards restoring normal life after the pandemic. Tests can give a result within 30 minutes - and NHS Test and Trace analysis suggests they have a specificity of at least 99.9%. Mr Hancock said: "We have built a huge asymptomatic testing system from scratch, which is an essential part of our plan to reopen cautiously.
Rooting for the home team: British journalist weighs in on U.K. vs. U.S. vaccine response
In the international race for Covid-19 vaccinations, the U.K. was first to a key milestone. It was the first country to authorize a fully tested Covid-19 vaccine, the one from the partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech. And the country has also embraced a strategy of spacing out vaccine doses to begin immunizing as many people as quickly as possible. The U.K. has now given 34% of its population at least one dose, and about 2% have been fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. The U.S. has given 18% of its population at least one shot, and less than 10% are fully vaccinated. To discuss who does it better, STAT spoke with Natasha Loder, health policy editor of The Economist and host of The Economist’s new podcast, The Jab.
COVID-19 vaccine teams to go to 'maximum capacity' and double jab rate
Front line COVID-19 vaccination staff are on standby to go to "maximum capacity" and inoculate twice as many people from next week. The move to ramp up the rollout comes as supplies of coronavirus doses are due to "substantially increase". The rapid expansion will raise hopes the target to vaccinate all adults by the end of July could be brought forward.
GPs to choose vaccination role in under 50s as COVID-19 jab supply to exceed 4m per week
GP practices in England have one week to choose whether to remain part of the COVID-19 vaccination programme beyond the first nine priority cohorts - as NHS England confirmed an acceleration in vaccine supply had been brought forward.
Healthcare Innovations
UAE Trials Show Russian Sputnik V Coronavirus Vaccine Has 91.6% Efficacy
Trials of Russia’s adenovirus-based vaccine in the United Arab Emirates have completed the inoculation phase, the Abu Dhabi government said. Testing will move into the scientific data collection phase after 1,000 volunteers in the UAE received a second dose and the next step involves monitoring volunteers’ immune response over 180 days. UAE results will be combined with existing findings elsewhere. Interim results will be released in April.
AstraZeneca finds no evidence showing increased risk of blood clots with COVID-19 vaccine
AstraZeneca Plc on Sunday said it had conducted a review of people vaccinated with its COVID-19 vaccine which has shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots. The review covered more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and United Kingdom. "A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and UK with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country," the statement said.
COVID-19: Ireland suspends AstraZeneca vaccine over clotting concerns
Ireland has temporarily halted its use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after some reports of blood clots. The move came after a review from the Norwegian Medicines Agency showed four new cases of "serious blood clotting in adults" had occurred after the jab, despite the World Health Organisation having sought to downplay concerns and urge countries to keep using it. The vaccine will continue to be administered in Northern Ireland, however, after the country's health body sought advice from the UK's medicine regulator.
Risk of allergic reaction to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines 'extremely low'
Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are a new technology at the forefront of the vaccine response to COVID-19. Anxiety about possible allergic reactions may lead to vaccine hesitancy. Researchers behind a study that included more than 50,000 people who had received this type of vaccine found allergic reaction rates to be “extremely low.” In a new study, researchers have found that the incidence of allergic reactions in people who had received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is “extremely low.” The study, published as a research letter in the journal JAMA, provides further evidence of the overall safety of mRNA vaccines.
R rate drops as low as 0.6 days after lockdown starts to lift
The R Rate in the UK has fallen to as low as 0.6 days after lockdown restrictions were eased by the Government. New figures from Government scientists Sage show the crucial number is now between 0.6 and 0.
Philippines reports first Brazil COVID variant as new cases surge
The Philippines has detected its first case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil, the health department said, as the number of infections surges to the highest level in six months. A Filipino returning from Brazil tested positive for the P.1 variant after 752 samples were sequenced at the genome centre, the department said in a statement on Saturday.
COVID-19: Two doses of Pfizer or Oxford vaccine reduce risk of transmission by more than half, study shows
Two doses of the Pfizer or Oxford vaccine reduces the risk of passing on COVID by more than half, a new study shows. Researchers in Scotland found that people living with health workers who had been given one dose of a coronavirus vaccine were 30% less likely to get it themselves. The same study found that households of health workers who had received both doses were 54% less likely to contract the virus. The findings are the first in the UK to provide direct evidence that COVID-19 vaccines not only prevent severe disease and death - but also transmission.
Sanofi starts human trials on second coronavirus vaccine
French pharmaceutical company Sanofi has started human trials for a second coronavirus vaccine, it announced on Friday. Sanofi and US company Translate Bio announced “the start of the Phase 1/2 clinical trial for MRT5500, an mRNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19,” adding that “the companies expect interim results from this trial in the third quarter of 2021.”