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"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 8th Jul 2021

Isolation Tips
What are the Covid-19 symptoms for people who are fully vaccinated?
People who have received two doses of a Covid vaccine are less likely to be fall seriously ill or die from the virus, but they may still feel unwell if they become infected. The symptoms commonly associated with coronavirus are a high temperature,
Hygiene Helpers
‘No quarantine’ for vaccinated amber list arrivals in England
Ministers are likely to announce that vaccinated people travelling to England from amber list countries will no longer have to quarantine from later this month, in a significant boost for the travel industry, it is understood. A date of 19 July to change the rules is among options that will be considered by the Covid operations committee, chaired by the Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, which is due to meet on Thursday morning. Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, is then expected to make a formal announcement of the decision on Thursday afternoon. It would apply to England, but Covid travel rules have tended to be unified across the UK.
COVID-19: Do face masks work? Here is what scientific studies say
Wearing a face mask is soon set to become a personal choice rather than something required of people inside buildings and on public transport. Although the government has repeatedly stressed that it would be guided by the science, a rift in approach is showing between groups such as the British Medical Association and health minister Helen Whately. So - what do peer-reviewed scientific studies say when it comes to how effective face masks are?
Covid-19 passports dropped over fears certificates would place strain on testing system
Ministers have dropped plans to introduce Covid-19 passports – in spite of the certificates offering a possible public health benefit – amid concerns they would place a burden on the testing system. The official review into the use of Covid Status Certificates also raised fears that the introduction of the scheme would encourage people to take more risks, believing they were “Covid free”.
Turkmenistan makes COVID-19 vaccination mandatory
Turkmenistan's healthcare ministry said on Wednesday it was making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all residents aged 18 and over as the former Soviet region of Central Asia reported a fresh spike in new cases. Turkmenistan has reported no COVID-19 cases but introduced a number of restrictions such as setting out requirements for wearing facemasks. Neighbouring Kazakhstan made vaccinations mandatory for a wide range of public and private sector employees last month, following the example of Russia.
Community Activities
Animals at Wisconsin zoos to receive COVID-19 vaccine
Some animals at the zoos in Madison and Milwaukee will receive an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Animals susceptible to the respiratory disease are expected to be inoculated with the vaccine authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture by late July. No COVID-19 infections have been found in animals at the Milwaukee County Zoo or the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, but some of the big cats at the Bronx Zoo became sick when the pandemic was peaking in New York City.
Fiji police deliver groceries, toilet paper amid COVID-19 spike
Fiji on Wednesday began distributing groceries to some households as it urges people to stay at home amid rising infections of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the novel coronavirus. Authorities posted pictures on social media of bags of supermarket supplies - including packaged food and toilet paper - being delivered to homes around the capital, Suva, as they reinforced calls for people to obey social distancing rules and get vaccinated.
Covid-19 Pushed 22 Million Out of Job Market in Major Economies
Labor markets in developed nations have recovered only half of the loss of employment they suffered in the pandemic, with the young and low-skilled hurt most. That’s the conclusion of a 400-page study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which found that about 22 million jobs disappeared by the end of 2020 in industrial nations. The Paris-based institution said a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels of employment won’t come until the end of next year.
Trump Country Rejects Vaccines Despite Growing Delta Threat
Larry Krauck awoke in a strange hospital, the date written on a dry-erase board in his room: Dec. 12, 2020. That can’t be right, he thought. He remembered being treated for Covid-19 at a different hospital in Springfield, Missouri, on Nov. 1. Could the last six weeks really be blank? He told a nurse her board was wrong. She slipped out of the room and returned with a summary of his procedures, scrawled on a sticky note, including thirty-three days on a blood oxygenation machine called an ECMO. One day, Krauck had flat-lined and was resuscitated. Krauck, 50 at the time, caught the coronavirus and nearly died well before vaccines were available. Since his ordeal, he’s become an advocate for the shots — the type of local, trusted messenger that health officials hope can woo the skeptical.
Working Remotely
Remote workers drive up UK productivity
Workers in industries that were able to rapidly pivot to remote working after the onset of the pandemic have driven up productivity levels in the UK, according to new figures released today. Estimates from the ONS show output per job, excluding furloughed workers, was 9.2 per cent higher on average in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, before Covid struck. “This indicates that furloughed workers were more likely to work in lower productivity industries, with higher productivity individuals and industries still working to a greater degree, pushing up aggregate productivity” the ONS said.
Exclusive: Workplace guru Ken Corish on how to create a positive work environment remotely
City A.M. reported last week that around two out of five people living and working in inner London could continue their roles remotely after the pandemic, despite the UK heading for Freedom Day on 19 July. London risks losing more than 835,000 jobs as the pandemic sparks a permanent shift to more flexible working patterns, and city dwellers are able to move out of the capital to other locations across the UK or even abroad. But are CEOs and business leaders prepared to let their staff work from home? And how do you maintain a positive and productive work culture remotely?
Is your boss ending remote work? As a CEO, let me tell you why they are wrong
Dan Price is CEO of Gravity Payments. In 2015, he cut his salary by $1m to enact a $70,000 minimum wage at the company. He writes about the shift to remote work: "Instead of making a top-down decision as a CEO, I asked our staff how they want to work. Just 7% wanted to go back to the office full time, while 31% wanted an office-remote hybrid and the remaining 62% wanted to work from home all the time. So I told them: sounds great. Do whatever you want. This stuff isn’t hard. Employees know how to do their jobs better than any CEO ever could. The shift to remote work can be life-changing for employees."
Companies navigate tensions over office reopening plans
Last year, companies around the U.S. scrambled to figure out how to shut down their offices and set up their employees for remote work as the COVID-19 virus suddenly bore down on the world. Now, in a mirror image, they are scrambling to figure out how to bring many of those employees back. Most companies are proceeding cautiously, trying to navigate declining COVID-19 infections against a potential backlash by workers who are not ready to return. Tensions have spilled into the public at a few companies where some staff have organized petitions or even walkouts to protest being recalled to the office.
Virtual Classrooms
Student nurses complete work placements on virtual wards
A Midlands HE institution has been helping remotely train nurses unable to complete work placements because of the pandemic. Coventry University’s simulation team accelerated the provision of virtual simulated placements (VSPs) for students at its School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, allowing recreations of hospital wards and patients’ homes, as well as scenarios they might expect to face. In some ways, say the people behind the initiative, the virtual alternative is a more useful learning aid than the real thing. “VSPs allow us to provide complex decision-making training that we cannot guarantee our students would get on an actual placement,” said Dr Natasha Taylor, curriculum lead and associate professor for simulation.
Public Policies
New Zealand approves use of J&J coronavirus vaccine
New Zealand medical regulators have approved use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, after earlier in the year approving the Pfizer vaccine. But New Zealand’s government intends to stick with its plan of primarily using the Pfizer vaccine to inoculate the population of 5 million. The provisional approval for the J&J vaccine by regulator Medsafe applies to adults aged 18 and over and will need to be signed-off on by the Cabinet, which will likely happen next month. New Zealand has an agreement to buy 2 million doses of the J&J vaccine.
Japan set to declare another COVID-19 state of emergency in Tokyo
The Japanese government is slated to declare another state of emergency over COVID-19 in Tokyo as infections rebounded in the capital, where the Olympic Games are scheduled to open about two weeks later. The Tokyo metropolitan government reported 920 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, logging the highest number since mid-May at the peak of Japan's fourth wave of infections. The Japanese capital reported 1,010 new COVID-19 cases on May 13. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he will make a final decision Thursday regarding the 10 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka after a quasi-state of emergency expires Sunday.
UK to track COVID-19 variants with genomic sequencing across the world
Britain said on Wednesday it would provide genomic sequencing support to Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan to help identify, assess and track new variants of the novel coronavirus. The novel coronavirus, which has killed 4 million people globally since it emerged in China in late 2019, mutates around once every few weeks, slower than influenza or HIV, but enough to require tweaks to vaccines. Public Health England will extend support to Britain's partners through the New Variant Assessment Platform Programme which tracks changes in the virus.
World reacts cautiously to Boris Johnson’s ‘reckless’ Covid plans
Boris Johnson’s plan to scrap most of England’s Covid-19 restrictions has prompted alarm, wariness and perhaps even a hint of envy around the world. Politicians in the north and south of Ireland, which stands to be most affected by its neighbour’s experiment, expressed concern about its consequences being exported across the Irish Sea. Authorities in other parts of Europe and in New Zealand gave a more mixed response but none said they planned to follow England’s lead.
COVID-19: Department of Health and Social Care investigated over ministers' use of private emails
The Department of Health and Social Care is being formally investigated over the use of private email addresses by ministers during the coronavirus crisis. The Information Commissioner's Office has launched a probe into "the use of private correspondence channels" by the department and is seeking the handover of evidence. It follows a Sunday Times report last month that both former health secretary Matt Hancock - who quit the role after being caught breaching COVID rules by kissing an aide - and under-pressure health minister Lord Bethell routinely used private inboxes.
When will lockdown end? How Covid restrictions are easing in England on 19 July – and what happens next
England is set to lift the final remaining lockdown restrictions which were put in place to combat an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases at the beginning of this year. The rules were announced by Boris Johnson on Monday 4 January and have been gradually lifting since early in March under a four-stage roadmap. The final easing of restrictions is now set for Monday 19 July, with the Prime Minister indicating “freedom day” would go ahead despite cases continuing to rise – here’s how England’s lockdown will end, and what could come next.
Panic-buying as Vietnam announces broad COVID-19 curbs in biggest city
Vietnam will impose tight movement restrictions in its commercial hub Ho Chi Minh city from the end of the week to tackle a coronavirus outbreak, its health ministry said on Wednesday, in some of its strictest curbs yet. The measures effective for 15 days from Friday include a stay-home order, a ban on more than two people gathering and a closure of public transport services, the ministry said. "Fighting the pandemic is fighting the enemy," the city chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong said in a health ministry statement.
New Zealand not willing to risk UK-style ‘live with Covid’ policy, says Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand has dismissed suggestions it should follow in Britain’s footsteps to “live with” Covid-19, saying the level of death proposed by Boris Johnson would be “unacceptable”. If cases in Britain explode as a result of the lifted regulations, New Zealand may also consider putting the country on a no-fly list. On Monday, Johnson announced plans to scrap regulations including on face masks and social distancing by 19 July, saying that Britain must “learn to live with” the virus. He said Covid cases would likely reach 50,000 a day within a fortnight, and “we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid”.
Maintaining Services
COVID infections imperil Indonesia's vaccinated health workers, and hospitals
Indonesian pulmonologist Erlina Burhan is exasperated after another long shift in a jam-packed hospital missing 200 staff infected by the coronavirus despite being vaccinated just months ago. "It's crazy, really crazy," she tells Reuters. "More patients but less staff. This is ridiculous." About 95% health workers have been fully vaccinated, overwhelmingly with China's Sinovac, said the Indonesian Hospitals Association (IHA).
COVID-19: PM heading for showdown with MPs amid predictions millions of Britons could get coronavirus this summer
Boris Johnson is heading for a COVID showdown with MPs amid a backlash over a six-week wait for the ending of self-isolation rules. Conservative MPs and business leaders have reacted furiously after Health Secretary Sajid Javid said children and fully vaccinated adults will have to follow current self-isolation rules until 16 August. This means they will have to stay at home for 10 days if they come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
Germany Renews Vaccine Plea as Europe Struggles to Contain Delta
Germany’s health minister stepped up his plea for as many people as possible to get a Covid-19 shot amid signs the vaccination drive across Europe is losing steam. Jens Spahn made the call on Wednesday as the spread of the delta variant threatens to spark a new wave of virus infections throughout the European Union. There are signs that other countries, including France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria, are also struggling to maintain the pace of shots. The slowdown suggests a growing risk that developed countries, including the U.S., could fall short of the vaccination rates needed to achieve herd immunity. The situation is being made worse because the delta strain is more transmissable than previous versions of the coronavirus.
Singapore omits Sinovac shots from COVID-19 vaccination tally
People who received Sinovac Biotech shots are excluded from Singapore's count of total vaccinations against COVID-19, officials in the city state said, citing inadequate efficacy data for the Chinese-made vaccine, especially against the contagious Delta variant. "We don't really have a medical or scientific basis or have the data now to establish how effective Sinovac is in terms of infection and severe illnesses on Delta," health minister Ong Ye Kung said
Desperate Indonesians search for oxygen as virus cases soar
With his aunt gasping for breath at home from her COVID-19 infection, 17-year-old Ridho Milhasan took matters into his own hands Wednesday and went to find her some oxygen. After his uncle scrounged an empty tank from a friend, Milhasan found an oxygen filling station in southern Jakarta, waited in the long line of others also in desperate need, and emerged triumphantly after three hours with the supply he needed. “My aunt badly needed this oxygen,” he said before strapping the oxygen container to his small scooter. “This pandemic is getting dire.”
Bangladesh hits record COVID cases amid fears of oxygen crisis
The country reports 11,525 cases, the highest in a day since the pandemic started, as authorities fear a shortage of medical oxygen could worsen the crisis.
Healthcare Innovations
UK to track COVID-19 variants with genomic sequencing across the world
Britain said on Wednesday it would provide genomic sequencing support to Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan to help identify, assess and track new variants of the novel coronavirus. The novel coronavirus, which has killed 4 million people globally since it emerged in China in late 2019, mutates around once every few weeks, slower than influenza or HIV, but enough to require tweaks to vaccines. Public Health England will extend support to Britain's partners through the New Variant Assessment Platform Programme which tracks changes in the virus.
mRNA vaccines slash risk of COVID-19 infection by 91% in fully vaccinated people
People who receive mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are up to 91 percent less likely to develop the disease than those who are unvaccinated, according to a new nationwide study of eight sites, including Salt Lake City. For those few vaccinated people who do still get an infection, or “breakthrough” cases, the study suggests that vaccines reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and shorten its duration. Researchers say these results are among the first to show that mRNA vaccination benefits even those individuals who experience breakthrough infections. “One of the unique things about this study is that it measured the secondary benefits of the vaccine,” says Sarang Yoon, D.O., a study co-author, assistant professor at the University of Utah Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (RMCOEH), and principal investigator of the RECOVER (Research on the Epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in Essential Response Personnel) study in Utah. The study, published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, builds on preliminary data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in March. The study was designed to measure the risks and rates of infection among those on the front lines of the pandemic.
Oxford scientists said 'no corners were cut' when creating the Covid vaccine despite the speed
The scientists behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus jab have insisted that no corners were cut while creating it, and explained that they’d been preparing the vaccine technology before the pandemic hit. Professor Sarah Gilbert said she had been preparing for the emergence of a new, unknown disease “for some time”, known as ‘Disease X’. With her team at Oxford University, Prof Gilbert was preparing to create a vaccine technology which could be adapted and used against Disease X if it ever appeared. “We’ve been working for some time on a way of making vaccines which means we can respond very quickly when there’s a new disease which is identified,” said Prof Gilbert, who received a standing ovation at Wimbledon for her role in the vaccine roll-out.
Covid-19 Vaccine-Related Blood Clots Linked to Amino Acids in New Study
Canadian researchers say they have pinpointed a handful of amino acids targeted by key antibodies in the blood of some people who received AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine, offering fresh clues to what causes rare blood clots associated with the shot. The peer-reviewed findings, by a team of researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, were published online Wednesday by the science journal Nature. They could help doctors rapidly test for and treat the unusual clotting, arising from an immune-driven mix of coagulation and loss of platelets that stop bleeding.
COVID-19 affects men and women differently. So why don't clinical trials report gender data?
COVID-19 doesn’t strike the sexes equally. Globally, for every 10 COVID-19 intensive care unit admissions among women, there are 18 for men; for every 10 women who die of COVID-19, 15 men die. In the United States, a gender gap is emerging in vaccination rates, with women ahead of men by 6 percentage points, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And rare adverse effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine appear to strike women more frequently, whereas those from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines more often affect young men.
COVID-19: Around nine in 10 adults in most parts of UK likely to have virus antibodies, ONS data says
Around nine in 10 adults in most parts of the UK are likely to have COVID-19 antibodies, latest data shows. Latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 89.8% of adults in England are likely to have the antibodies, with the highest percentage of adults testing positive for them estimated to be the age groups 60 to 64, 70 to 74 and 75 to 79 (all 96.8%). The lowest percentage was for 16 to 24-year-olds at around 59.7%.
Brazil authorizes Butanvac vaccine for volunteers in clinical trial
Brazilian health regulator Anvisa on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the Butanvac COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sao Paulo's Butantan Institute biomedical center to be used on volunteers in clinical trials. Anvisa in a statement said the vaccine will be applied in two doses, 28 days apart. Phase I of Butanvac's clinical trial will involve 400 volunteers, and the first two phases are expected to involve 6,000 volunteers in total.
WHO adds ‘lifesaving’ drugs for severely ill COVID-19 patients
WHO added Interleukin-6 receptor blockers join corticosteroids on list of effective treatments for severe coronavirus.