"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 21st Jun 2021

Isolation Tips
Vaccinated people set to be exempt from self-isolation rules if they take Covid-19 test every day instead
People who have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine could become exempt from self-isolation rules later this year, one of the Government’s leading scientific advisers has confirmed. Susan Hopkins of Public Health England said 15,000 people were already enrolled in a trial under which they take daily coronavirus tests after coming into contact with a Covid-19 patient or returning to the UK from abroad. The health service is hoping to recruit another 25,000 volunteers to gather evidence on whether the testing regime can remove the need to quarantine, without creating an unacceptably high risk of spreading new infections.
English councils refuse six in 10 requests for Covid self-isolation pay
Almost two-thirds of workers in England seeking grants to help them self-isolate are being refused help, sparking warnings from trade unions that a key policy to limit Covid-19 is “failing” in the face of rising infections. Councils are continuing to refuse more than six out of 10 applications despite the government increasing funding for the vital anti-Covid system in March to £20m a month, freedom of information requests by the Trades Union Congress found. One council, Hackney in east London, said it had rejected 91% of requests for the £500 payments. saying that the government’s criteria were “extremely tight”. It had to reject some requests because they did not produce the right paperwork even though it acknowledged it can be difficult if families are ill or self-isolating.
Hygiene Helpers
California gives residents digital access to their COVID-19 vaccine record
The state of California has launched a tool designed to give residents easy access to a digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccine information. Unlike New York's Excelsior Pass, it's not an app people have to install on their phones. It's a simple website where residents will have to enter their name, date of birth and the phone number or email they used when they got their vaccine. They also have to create a 4-digital PIN, which they'll have to remember to be able to open the digital copy of their vaccine record.
Why one in eight under-30s is concerned about getting the Covid vaccine, according to experts
All over-18s in England can book their coronavirus vaccine today as the roll-out opens to all remaining young adults. Last week, thousands of over-25s queued online to bag an appointment when they became eligible, with a million doses booked in one day. But not all young people feel positively towards the vaccine, with rates of hesitancy in those under 30 higher than any other age group. i asked the experts why young people are more likely to refuse the jab than their parents or grandparents.
‘It’s such a relief’: how Europe’s Covid vaccine rollout is catching up with UK
On Friday morning, Leyla Çelik woke up with butterflies in her stomach. For weeks, the 22-year-old student at Berlin’s Freie Universität had tried in vain to get an appointment for her first Covid-19 vaccine shot so she could volunteer as a polling station administrator at federal elections in September. “I’d basically given up hope.” But last week her university had suddenly got in touch via email, offering her a chance to get a first dose of Moderna vaccine on campus, and within a few days. By 9am on Friday, the anxiety has turned into euphoria: “It’s such a relief,” said the native Berliner, nursing her achey shoulder at Freie’s biology institute, converted into a vaccine delivery point as of this week. “At last I can catch a train or a bus without feeling anxious.”
Amid hesitancy, VP Harris urges Black Americans to get COVID jabs
Vice President Kamala Harris travelled to Atlanta on Friday to urge Americans who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 to go ahead and get jabs as the United States government strives to overcome disparities in vaccine delivery among the country’s Black and Hispanic populations. “There are a few people that are saying, ‘I will not under any circumstances get vaccinated,'” Harris said in remarks at Clark Atlanta University, a historically Black college. “But there are some people, a lot of people might say, ‘I haven’t been vaccinated yet because I’m just not sure,'” Harris said, standing in front of a sign that read “vaccines.gov” with the slogan “We can do this”. It is OK to have questions, Harris said, and she urged Atlantans to tell their friends and neighbours: “We can say with confidence the vaccines are safe, they are free and they are effective.”
Community Activities
Nudge, nudge: the secret behind our Covid vaccine success
The Polish government organised a million zloty (£189,000) lottery, New Jersey in the US is offering a “shot and a beer” and vaccinated people in Moscow can win a car. No such eye-catching incentives are needed here: Britain boasts one of the highest vaccine take-up rates in the world. More than 64 per cent of the population have had one dose, meaning the UK should overtake Israel for first doses per person next week. More than 96 per cent of all adults aged 50 and over have been vaccinated. There is no sign of that slowing. When bookings opened to adults aged 18-20 on Friday, more than 721,000 people signed up in a single day in what officials described as a “Glastonbury-style rush”.
South Holland groups helped through Covid-19 pandemic thanks to grants from Lincolnshire fund
A new report has demonstrated the positive impact a community group has had in helping our area cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 300 companies have been helped by financial grants from the Lincolnshire Covid-19 Crisis Fund. This cash has targeted areas such as mental health and wellbeing, ill health, food supplies, digital inclusion and loneliness. The Lincolnshire Community Foundation also used ‘social value’ calculations to determine that every £1 they have invested has brought about a ‘social return’ of £12.
Three-day COVID travel ban in force in Lisbon as Delta variant spreads
As a three-day coronavirus travel ban came into force around Lisbon on Friday afternoon, drivers stopped by police asking them their reason for travelling said they felt concerned about the worrying rise in infections . People living in the 18 municipalities of Lisbon's metropolitan area will be banned from leaving from 3 p.m. on Friday until 6 a.m on Monday. Those living outside the area will not be allowed in.
Delta Variant: What to Know For Summer Travel
With vaccinations on the rise and mortality rates related to Covid-19 going down in Europe and other parts of the world, many people are making plans to travel this summer and beyond. But experts say the quickly circulating Delta variant is a new concern for travelers, particularly those who are unvaccinated. The European Union said on June 18 that the United States would be added to its “safe list” of countries, a decision that should allow even unvaccinated visitors from the U.S. (who can provide proof of a negative coronavirus test) to enter its 27 member states for nonessential travel. These countries, however, can impose their own restrictions and requirements for entry.
UN: Nearly 3 million fled homes in 2020 despite COVID-19 pandemic
Nearly 3 million people fled their homes in 2020 despite the global pandemic that closed many borders over the past year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. The Global Trends report Friday showed the total number of refugees has increased to 82.4 million people, making 1 percent of the world displaced. "People were forced to flee their homes throughout the year despite an urgent appeal from the U.N. Secretary-General on 23 March 2020 calling for a global ceasefire to enable a concerted response to the pandemic," the report reads. "UNHCR data shows that arrivals of new refugees and asylum-seekers were sharply down in most regions – about 1.5 million fewer people than would have been expected in non-COVID circumstances, and reflecting how many of those seeking international protection in 2020 became stranded."
In COVID hit Asia, mixed messages on refugee vaccinations
“The refugees were vaccinated in conjunction with the local government,” Nasruddin, the humanitarian coordinator of Geutanyoe Foundation, an NGO which provides education and psychosocial support to refugees in Indonesia and Malaysia, told Al Jazeera. “When we found them, they were in a crisis situation on the island with no food, water or electricity, so local residents brought them food and we also brought them 50 tanks of water,” he added. “The feeling on the ground was that we needed to share our vaccines with the refugees in order to protect them as well. No one complained that the vaccines were being given to refugees.” Aceh Province has been widely praised by humanitarian groups, NGOs and the general public for vaccinating Rohingya refugees, but elsewhere in Southeast Asia, asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers have not been so lucky.
Tokyo cancels public viewing sites for summer Olympics
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has cancelled all public viewing sites for the summer Olympics, diverting some venues to be COVID-19 vaccinations centres instead. Foreign spectators are banned from attending the Games, delayed by a year due to the pandemic, but the government and Tokyo 2020 organisers have for months held off on deciding whether to allow Japanese spectators into the stadiums.
Fans who had AstraZeneca vaccine won’t be allowed into Bruce Springsteen’s New York concerts
Anyone who has had the AstraZeneca vaccine will be barred from attending Bruce Springsteen’s comeback shows in New York next week. The intimate five-night run at the St James theatre will be the first Broadway show to reopen since last March and will require attendees to show proof of vaccination, reports The Telegraph. However, the list will be limited only to jabs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration - Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson. Any potential concert-goers who received their Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine overseas will be left with the prospect of being turned away at the door should they book tickets.
Canada: Pfizer, Moderna preferred 2nd dose after AstraZeneca
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization said Thursday people who got the AstraZeneca vaccine as their first dose should get Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna for their second shot. On June 1, committee had said AstraZeneca recipients “could” get Pfizer or Moderna for their second shot if they wanted, but Thursday went further to say an mRNA vaccine was the ”preferred” choice. Since the advisory committee “first looked at mixed vaccine schedules, new evidence is starting to emerge suggesting immune responses are better when a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is followed by an mRNA vaccine as a second dose,″ said its vice-chair Dr. Shelley Deeks, in the new guidance documents.
Community pharmacy COVID-19 test distribution service extended
The government has extended its free Pharmacy Collect service, which provides COVID-19 lateral flow tests to patients through community pharmacies in England, until the end of July 2021. In a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) added that it was “considering” extending its contracts with wholesalers, beyond their June 2021 expiry, to continue providing tests to pharmacies at no cost. The service, also known as the ‘Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device Distribution’ service, launched on 29 March 2021 as an advanced service and was due to be reviewed at the end of June 2021.
Working Remotely
Hawaii’s Remote Workers Discover Challenges and Rewards
For many professionals, Hawaii seems a dream spot for remote work. But pulling off remote work in the Aloha state takes more than a plane ticket and a laptop. As it is elsewhere, reliable Wi-Fi is the litmus test for many. Some areas of the Hawaiian islands, especially rural regions, lack robust broadband or cellular infrastructure. Tomasz Janczuk, a 45-year-old based in the Seattle area who owns and operates a software-development firm, chose the three Big Island hotels that he and his family lived in for a month based on Wi-Fi strength. Some workers find that Hawaii’s spectacular surroundings—which drew them in the first place—can be a distraction.
The New Trend Of Wanderlust, Work-From-Anywhere Digital Nomads
One of the most exciting things to come out of the pandemic is that companies accepted the fact that they need to listen to their employees and cater to their needs, especially as there’s a war for talent happening. The hybrid work model looks like it will be the new standard. Workers will be in the office two to three days a week and work remotely the rest of the time. There are now other new, different, fun and exciting ways to work. During the outbreak, there’s been a fast-emerging trend of workers taking residence in other countries, as a digital nomad. People have taken to doing their jobs at the beach or near ski slopes. Some decided to relocate to lower-cost locations within the United States to save money—while still receiving the same pay. Adventurous types traveled to other countries.
Renault agrees deal with unions on remote working
Carmaker Renault has signed an agreement with French trades unions that will allow thousands of its staff to work from home for up to three days a week, the company said on Friday. The new workplace arrangements will be rolled out in several stages, starting in September 2021, Renault said, adding it would offer support and training on how best to work remotely. The hybrid system will be voluntary and based on two days of working from home per week, with an additional day at the manager's discretion, Renault added.
As offices shut down for Covid, workers bought vans and hit the road -- and some don't want to return
Many workers with jobs that let them work remotely during the pandemic left behind their sedentary housing situations and moved full-time into vans. These remote workers drive from location to location in their homes, working from internet hotspots in their vans and spending their free time in nature and exploring new places. As vaccines roll out and states start to open up, some workers are returning to their offices. But many workers who’ve adopted the van life don’t want to give it up. “It’s become a lifestyle,” said Smriti Bhadauria, who lives in her van with her husband Kartik Vasan and their dog Everest. Bhadauria and Vasan have been traveling in their 1977 Dodge B200 Tradesman since leaving Toronto in August 2020.
Office, hybrid or home? Businesses ponder future of work
The government could announce an end to its work from home guidance in England next month, leaving companies with three broad choices: bring everyone back to the office; introduce a flexible working regime; or allow people to work from their home office, kitchen table or garden shed permanently. Here we look at the pros and cons of each option.
Virtual Classrooms
‘Blended learning has the potential to meet the challenges in nurse education’
The current challenges in nurse education are to make programmes convenient, accessible and attractive to a wider and more versatile cohort of students. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has enhanced this need even more so and has demonstrated that, on many levels, blended learning does have the potential to meet this challenge. Online can offer a very rich virtual workspace in which interactions can occur among students in real time or through discussion boards. Students have reported appreciating the flexibility and convenience of being able to work in their own time and location, and fitting this around the demands of, for example, childcare.
From Virtual Spectator to Participant: Engaging Students in Synchronous Online Learning Activities
Students have different experiences for each course they complete in an online environment. We should not assume that students will know what we expect regarding their performance in our courses. Forbes suggests a simple strategy to promote student success is to clearly identify for the student what it will take to succeed in your course (Forbes 2018). This means we should routinely communicate with students what is expected of them for completing all course related learning activities. Explaining expectations will help prevent students from taking on the role of a spectator when they should be prepared to be a participant.
New online syllabus to save teachers hours of ‘opening multiple web pages’
The NSW government will commit $196 million in next week’s state budget to develop a new school syllabus, and that will include money for an online system that will allow teachers - as well as parents and students - to find what they need in seconds. The aim is a syllabus that serves teachers, rather than the other way around. It will let them call up exactly what they need across multiple subjects, as well as provide resources such as sample assessments, advice on lesson planning, and examples of different standards of student work. “The platform will save teachers countless hours of time opening multiple web pages and documents within web pages to access the information they need to teach our children the curriculum,” said NESA chief executive Paul Martin.
Public Policies
Uganda imposes new anti-coronavirus measures to stem raging pandemic
Uganda's president Yowreri Museveni on Friday introduced sweeping new anti-coronavirus measures including a ban on all vehicular movement except for essential workers to help curb a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the nation. The east African country, like most other African peers had been left relatively unscathed by the first wave. It suddenly started experiencing a steep surge in COVID-19 infections last month after authorities confirmed they had detected presence of the Indian coronavirus variant
Philippines seals biggest COVID-19 vaccine order yet, for 40 mln Pfizer doses
The Philippine government has signed a supply agreement for 40 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, in its biggest coronavirus vaccine deal to date. Deliveries of the vaccine will begin in late September, Carlito Galvez, head of the government's COVID-19 vaccine procurement, said on Sunday. It "will significantly boost our national immunisation programme and will enable us to realise our goal of achieving herd immunity by year-end," he said.
Vietnam receives 500000 Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine doses donation from China
Vietnam has received a shipment of 500,000 Sinopharm vaccine doses donated by China, the health ministry said on Sunday, as the country is ramping up inoculations to battle against a more widespread outbreak. The Southeast Asian nation approved China's Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use against COVID-19 in early June. The vaccines will be used for three groups: Chinese citizens in Vietnam, Vietnamese who have plan to work or study in China and people who live near the borders with China, the health ministry said in a statement. Vietnam's domestic inoculation programme, which started in March, has so far relied heavily on around 4 million shots of AstraZeneca's vaccine.
US sending Taiwan 2.5 million vaccine doses, tripling pledge
The U.S. is sending 2.5 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan, tripling an earlier pledge in a donation with both public health and geopolitical meaning. The shipment was due to arrive by plane later Sunday, the de facto U.S. embassy said. “The donation reflects our commitment to Taiwan as a trusted friend, and a member of the international family of democracies,” the American Institute in Taiwan wrote on its Facebook page. Taiwan, which had been relatively unscathed by the virus, has been caught off-guard by a surge in new cases since May and is now scrambling to get COVID-19 vaccines. It has ordered 5.05 million doses directly from Moderna but so far received only 390,000, including a second shipment that arrived Friday.
Oman to reimpose nightly curfew following spike in COVID-19 cases
Oman will reimpose a curfew and suspend all commercial activities from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. following a spike in COVID-19 cases, the country's Supreme Committee for Combating Coronavirus said on Saturday. The curfew, which will start on Sunday, will restrict the movement of people and vehicles, with an exception for home delivery services, the committee statement said. Cases in Oman have trended upwards since January, with a pronounced surge since a dip in early May. The Gulf state has had the region's slowest vaccine rollout due to procurement difficulties.
Mexico to donate 154100 doses of AstraZeneza vaccine to Honduras
The Mexican government announced on Friday it is donating to Honduras 154,100 doses of the AstraZeneca (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine. The donation is the first from the Mexican government to the small Central American nation, which has confirmed 251,149 cases of coronavirus and 6,719 deaths. About 400,000 Hondurans have received at least one vaccine shot, out of a population of 9.5 million.
AstraZeneca and EU both claim victory in vaccine battle
A Belgian court ruled on Friday that coronavirus vaccine maker AstraZeneca had committed a “serious breach” of its contract with the European Union amid a major legal battle over delivery obligations that has tarnished the company’s image. The court ordered AstraZeneca to deliver a total of 80.2 million doses to the EU from the time the contract was agreed up until September 27. The ruling said the company did not appear to have made a “best reasonable effort” to meet the delivery schedule because it had not used its United Kingdom production sites.
Maintaining Services
S.Korea to mix-and-match COVID-19 vaccine doses for 760000 people
Some 760,000 South Koreans who have received a first dose of AstraZeneca Plc's COVID-19 vaccine will be offered Pfizer Inc's vaccine as a second shot due to shipment delays by global vaccine sharing scheme COVAX, the government said. Several countries, including Canada and Spain, have already approved such dose-mixing mainly due to concerns about rare and potentially fatal blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Argentine lab makes first half million doses of Russian COVID-19 vaccine
Argentine laboratory Richmond said on Friday that it had produced almost half a million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus, the first made in the country. The vaccines await approval from the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT) and Russia's Gamaleya Institute for their release, Richmond said in a tweet. "We appreciate the hard work it took our staff to achieve this first objective, and continue with our commitment to have local vaccine production," it said.
Afghanistan running out of oxygen as COVID surge worsens
Afghanistan’s is racing to ramp up supplies of oxygen as a deadly third surge of COVID-19 worsens, a senior health official told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday. The government is installing oxygen supply plants in 10 provinces where up to 65% of those tested in some areas are COVID positive, health ministry spokesman Ghulam Dastigir Nazari said. By WHO recommendations, anything higher than 5% shows officials aren’t testing widely enough, allowing the virus to spread unchecked. Afghanistan carries out barely 4,000 tests a day and often much less. Afghanistan’s 24-hour infection count has also continued its upward climb from 1,500 at the end of May when the health ministry was already calling the surge “a crisis,” to more than 2,300 this week. Since the pandemic outbreak, Afghanistan is reporting 101,906 positive cases and 4,122 deaths. But those figures are likely a massive undercount, registering only deaths in hospitals — not the far greater numbers who die at home.
Palestinian Authority calls off vaccine exchange with Israel
The Palestinian Authority announced it has cancelled an agreement with Israeli regarding the exchange of Pfizer vaccines, saying the doses are set to expire soon. Palestinian officials had come under heavy criticism on social media after the agreement was announced, with many accusing them of accepting subpar vaccines and suggesting they might not be effective.
South Africa deploys army medics to COVID-hit Gauteng province
South Africa is deploying army medical personnel to its commercial hub and most populous province to help health workers battle a surge in coronavirus, the government said on Friday. South Africa, the worst-hit country in the continent, has entered a third COVID wave, with new daily cases doubling over the past two weeks.
In 2nd school outbreak, 44 kids catch COVID — apparently the Delta variant
At least 44 kids at a middle school in northern Israel have tested positive for coronavirus, local authorities announced Saturday, in the second such outbreak at an Israeli school this week. The town of Binyamina-Giv’at Ada’s said the vast majority of those infected were in seventh and eighth grade.According to Kan news, initial tests indicate the outbreaks there and in Modiin earlier in the week were all of the Delta variant first identified in India, which is more contagious than other variants and may be better able to bypass vaccines. The report said several adults who were infected in the school outbreaks were vaccinated.
Poorer US counties have lower COVID-19 vaccine uptake
A study yesterday in Vaccine reveals socioeconomic disparities in county-level COVID-19 vaccine uptake, with a 32% lower vaccination rate in the most disadvantaged areas. In the study, researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock used the COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI) and seven theme scores to identify links between socioeconomic vulnerability and adult vaccination rates in 2,415 counties up to May 25, 2021. To track vaccination rates, they used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker. Two age-groups were considered: 18 years and older and 65 and older.
Healthcare Innovations
You can catch covid-19 twice, but the second bout is likely to be mild
Back in August 2020, a worrying report came in from Reno, Nevada. A 25-year-old man who had recovered from covid-19 in April had fallen ill with it again, and this time his symptoms were worse. He had tested negative for the virus in between bouts, so had been infected twice. Other reports of reinfection were also circulating at the time, raising fears that infections don’t lead to long-lasting immunity. Nine months on, however, those fears have receded...
Cuba encouraged by early efficacy results of homegrown COVID-19 vaccine
Cuba's Soberana 2 vaccine candidate has shown 62% efficacy with just two of its three doses, state-run biopharmaceutical corporation BioCubaFarma said on Saturday, citing preliminary data from late phase trials. Cuba, whose biotech sector has exported vaccines for decades, has five vaccine candidates in clinical trials, of which two - Soberana 2 and Abdala - are in late phase trials.
Delta Covid variant becoming globally dominant – WHO official
The Delta variant of Covid-19, first identified in India, is becoming the globally dominant variant of the disease, the World Health Organisation’s chief scientist said yesterday. Britain has reported a steep rise in infections with the Delta variant, while Germany’s top public health official predicted it would rapidly become the dominant variant there despite rising vaccination rates. The Kremlin blamed a surge in Covid-19 cases on reluctance to have vaccinations and “nihilism” after record new infections in Moscow, mostly with the new Delta variant, fanned fears of a third wave