"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 31st Aug 2021

Isolation Tips
Australia’s Melbourne to extend sixth COVID-lockdown
Lockdown in Melbourne was due to end on Thursday, but authorities say this is no longer possible due to rising cases.
Hygiene Helpers
Virgin Australia moves to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for all staff
Virgin Australia is moving to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for all staff from November 15. The airline will begin a consultation process between employees and unions, arguing the vaccine is "necessary" to keep workers, customers and "the wider Australian community safe". It follows a decision by Qantas to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for staff, also by November 15.
Lancaster firm announces global launch of PPE which 'kills Covid on contact'
Lancaster-based ViraCoat Limited has announced the global launch of a new range of antiviral and antimicrobial personal protective equipment (PPE) masks which begin to kill the Covid-19 virus SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses on contact.
Covid-19 vaccine pass plan for Hong Kong ‘could backfire’
Any policy perceived as making inoculations mandatory could leave some residents more suspicious of shots, health and economic experts say. Patrick Nip, the minister in charge of city’s inoculation programme, raised the idea on Sunday
Even Xbox is telling you to get the Covid-19 vaccine
Microsoft is using the Xbox social media accounts to promote getting vaccinated and dispelling myths surrounding it. There are already plenty of people urging others to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, be they doctors, celebrities, or those who unfortunately caught it. And now even Microsoft is pushing it through the Xbox social media channels. Recently, the official Xbox Twitter account posted ‘The power of play makes us heroes in new worlds every day. You can be a hero in real life too by getting vaccinated against Covid-19, protecting yourself & the people around you.
Brazil Overtakes U.S. in First-Dose Count After Vaccine Drive
About 63% of Brazilians have now received at least one dose, versus 62% of people in the U.S., according to Bloomberg’s Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker. Countries including Germany, France and the U.K. have vaccinated at least 65% of the population with one shot, the data show. While Brazil was late to start administering vaccines, deploying the first shots in mid-January and often struggling with shortages, the campaign has gained momentum. Relying on a de-centralized public health-care system that’s known for excelling in mass immunizations, the country has regularly deployed more than 2 million jabs a day this month, according to the 10-day moving average compiled by Bloomberg.
Community Activities
Croatia thrilled at summer season success despite COVID-19
Beaches along Croatia's Adriatic Sea coastline are swarming with people. Guided tours are fully booked, restaurants are packed and sailboats were chartered well in advance. Summer tourism has exceeded even the most optimistic expectations in Croatia this year. Once fearful that the coronavirus pandemic would discourage people from traveling, Croatia’s tourism industry was caught by surprise. “It's much better — it’s almost like 2020 never happened,” said Josip Crncevic, a tour guide in Dubrovnik, a southern city known for its Old Town and nightlife that is Croatia's most popular destination.
Budapest mural pays tribute to Katalin Kariko, Hungarian-born pioneer behind COVID-19 vaccine
Katalin Kariko, the Hungarian-born scientist who laid the groundwork for the mRNA vaccines fighting COVID-19, has been recognised in her homeland in the form of a huge mural in central Budapest. The city's urban designers created the portrait of Kariko, senior vice president at German company BioNTech which with Pfizer developed one of the most effective coronavirus jabs, to pay tribute to her scientific endeavours.
Lagging in COVID-19 vaccinations, Brussels takes vaccination campaign to shops
Health authorities in Brussels began offering COVID-19 jabs in supermarkets and shopping centres on Monday to increase vaccination rates in the Belgian capital that have not kept up with Belgium's rapid inoculation roll-out. Host to the European Union and NATO, Brussels has only given vaccinations to about 65% of its population, much lower than the surrounding Belgian regions, mainly because people did not respond to requests to go to vaccination centres.
McDonald's, others consider closing indoor seating amid Delta surge in U.S.
Some U.S. fast-food restaurants are closing indoor seating areas or limiting hours of operation because of the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, according to franchisees. McDonald's had temporarily closed indoor dining at nearly all U.S. locations in early 2020, but it reopened 70% by last month. The global burger chain said on July 28 that it was on track to open nearly 100% by Labor Day - barring any COVID-19 resurgence. But last week, McDonald's instructed its franchisees on steps they should take to re-close their dining rooms in areas where the Delta variant is rapidly spreading
Anti-vaxxers spread fake news about vaccine deaths during bizarre bridge protest on Hayling Island
Stood in a social-distanced line, the ‘anti-vaxxers’ repeated unfounded claims the coronavirus vaccine had been responsible for ‘1,600 UK vax deaths’ and ‘rising’. Holding yellow placards, the protester’s cards read: ‘Can we trust the media? Or push agendas? Do they provide fairness? And hide information? Because here’s the thing… The Covid vaccine is seriously harming people and killing them. Heart damage in teens, long-term health risks are completely unknown. UK vax deaths at 1,600 and rising. Please think about it.
Greek police fire tear gas as 7000 protest coronavirus vaccine rules
Around 7,000 people protested in Athens on Sunday (Aug 29) against a new rule obliging health workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19, said police who fired teargas to quell violence among the demonstrators. The rule change, which came into effect on Wednesday requires that all personnel working in hospitals be vaccinated. The demonstrators waved Greek flags and brandished placards declaring: "We are not against vaccines, but against fascism" and "Long live democracy".
Working Remotely
Home truths about cutting pay for remote workers
In the UK, a survey found that more than two-thirds of 150 medium and large-sized employers are considering cutting the pay of remote workers. This even though 53% reported cost savings under the work-from-home model. The UK Government has also been championing a return to the office in a bid to revive flagging city centres, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak extolling the virtues of communal working. And in a media report earlier this month, an unnamed UK cabinet minister suggested that civil servants who don’t return to the office should receive a pay cut on the basis that they no longer incur the cost of commuting. The majority of those who want to continue working remotely will have valid reasons for doing so, be it caring responsibilities, disabilities or other health concerns.
Lockdowns & remote work have hurt women's careers. Here's why we need to stop the negative trend
A recent report by the Grattan Institute revealed Australian women have suffered a “triple whammy” of job insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic which will compound women’s lifetime economic disadvantage. Not only did women lose more work than men – almost 8 per cent at the peak of the crisis, compared to 4 per cent for men – but they took on more unpaid work and were less likely to receive government support. The new hybrid working culture that is likely to emerge may offer some advantages in flexibility, but also brings new types of potential discrimination. The most obvious it is working from home can easily result in a lack of visibility in the office
Virtual Classrooms
Remote learning helped parents and teachers relate to each other, study suggests
The COVID-19 pandemic caused major upheaval, sending students home to remote learning and leaving teachers and parents scrambling to adapt. But it also created the opportunity for a deeper appreciation of their respective roles and challenges, according to a study led by a University of Alberta researcher. Whether it was teachers witnessing parents deal with pandemic-caused stresses like job loss, or parents struggling to help their children with at-home lessons, the situations people found themselves in gave everyone a chance to empathize
How Teachers Are Taking Lessons Learned From Virtual School Back to the Classroom
In the past 18 months, educators across the U.S. learned how to adjust their instruction to online learning environments; many had to completely rethink how they would approach their content to meet the needs of all learners. Digital Promise recently spoke with educators from Lone Star Middle School in Nampa, Idaho, an HP Spotlight School. Thanks to district-provided HP Laptops and digital hotspots, learning never stopped at Lone Star throughout the pandemic. Now, teachers are preparing to take the lessons learned during virtual learning back into the classroom.
Texas House works to fund limited virtual learning to prevent Delta Variants from returning to normal at school
Texas legislators have been struggling for months with the expansion of virtual learning, as pandemics have proven to be a threat to families who are still worried about sending their children back to the classroom. Texas House has now approved Senate Bill 15 with 115-3 votes. The first approval of the bill will give parents some peace of mind that there may be more virtual learning options as the pandemic again weighs on state resources.
Public Policies
Indonesia schools start cautious reopening after devastating virus wave
Indonesia's capital Jakarta reopened 600 of its schools on Monday as coronavirus restrictions eased, though a teacher federation urged caution and warned of clusters in classrooms caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant. Jakarta's infection rate has dropped, authorities said, from a peak last month that saw Indonesia become Asia's coronavirus epicentre, with more than 4 million cases and 131,000 fatalities overall.
Czechs to offer booster vaccine shot to all after eight months
The Czech government will offer a booster COVID-19 vaccine shot from Sept. 20 to any previously vaccinated person, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Monday.
EU countries drop U.S. from safe travel list
European Union governments agreed on Monday to remove the United States from the EU's safe travel list, meaning U.S. visitors and those from five other countries are likely to face tighter controls, such as COVID-19 tests and quarantines. Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and North Macedonia have also been taken off. The list seeks to unify travel rules across the bloc, although it does not bind individual EU nations, which are free to determine their own border policies.
COVID-19: Third coronavirus vaccines aren't 'luxury boosters' taken from people without their first, WHO Europe boss says
Third coronavirus vaccines are not "luxury boosters" making vaccine inequity worse but a means of keeping the vulnerable safe, WHO's Europe director has said. Hans Kluge appeared to contradict his World Health Organisation (WHO) colleagues at a news briefing on Monday, saying third COVID-19 jabs are an important way of protecting the most clinically vulnerable. Earlier this month, WHO senior officials criticised countries such as the US and Israel for rolling out a booster vaccine programme, when many people across the world have had no jabs at all.
France to donate 10 million coronavirus vaccines to Africa
France will donate 10 million coronavirus vaccine doses to the African Union member states as part of the European country’s commitment to give at least 60 million shots before the end of 2021. AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine doses will be delivered in the next three months, the Elysee Palace said in a statement Monday. The step comes within the framework of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) initiative launched by the AU and COVAX, the global scheme that enables the supply of donor-funded vaccines to low and middle-income countries.
More Covid-19 Pfizer jabs head to Australia as Scott Morrison finalises deal
Scott Morrison bought 1m doses of Pfizer vaccine from Poland two weeks ago. He is expected to announce another international purchase deal this week. It has not been announced which countries Mr Morrison is negotiating with. The doses are expected to be shared between states on a per capita basis
Israel doubles down on booster shots as daily Covid cases set new record
Israeli lawmakers are keen to avoid another lockdown after overseeing one of the world’s fastest vaccination drives. New daily coronavirus infections, however, have just climbed to record levels. Covid-19 transmission in Israel declined sharply as the country vaccinated more than half of its population in around two months.
India's COVID vaccine supply jumps, raising export hopes
India's rising output of COVID-19 vaccines and the inoculation of more than half its adult population with at least one dose are raising hopes the country will return as an exporter within months, ramping up from early next year. After donating or selling 66 million doses to nearly 100 countries, India barred exports in the middle of April to focus on domestic immunisation as infections exploded, upsetting the inoculation plans of many African and South Asian countries.
Maintaining Services
Government says parents responsible for preventing new Covid wave when schools reopen
Parents have a responsibility to help prevent schools from closing when they reopen next week by regularly testing their children for Covid-19, Gavin Williamson has said. “School communities still need to follow Covid precautions, especially regular testing for pupils, families and staff. But it is not just a matter for schools,” the education secretary wrote in an article for the Daily Mail newspaper. “Parents too have a responsibility to make sure that their children are tested regularly.
Ensure children have regular Covid-19 tests as schools return, parents urged
Parents should make sure their children are tested regularly for coronavirus, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said as he warned youngsters not to get “carried away” when schools return. The Government is trying to persuade parents, secondary school pupils and college students to take part in voluntary asymptomatic Covid-19 testing amid concerns that the return to classes in England in September could drive a new wave of infections.
Saudi students return to school with masks and checks
Pupils have to keep their distance during the day - the children sit far apart on blue tables. But the return was still something to celebrate, Waleed and his friends said. "At least now we can understand what our teacher is saying. We could barely follow our lessons remotely," said Fahd al-Fares, 13.
Healthcare Innovations
South Africa detects new coronavirus variant, still studying its mutations
C.1.2 contains mutations present in WHO variants of concern. Scientists running lab tests to understand more about variant. Still appears to account for small share of South Africa's cases
Over two-thirds population has Covid-19 antibodies, seroprevalence study shows
Over two-thirds of the country’s population has developed antibodies to the coronavirus, according to a new study carried out by the Health Ministry. According to a statement issued by the ministry, the seroprevalence study was conducted on 13,161 people, chosen randomly between July 5 and August 14. The samples were tested at the National Public Health Laboratory. The preliminary report says antibodies have been seen in 68.6 percent of the samples collected from across the cou
Pfizer 'variant hunters' race to stay ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic
Hundreds of millions of doses have been injected worldwide, but at the Pearl River research center where the vaccine was created, the pace has not let up. A team of “variant hunters,” as they call themselves, race to track changes in the fast-mutating SARS-CoV-2. A “virus farmer” grows the latest variants so researchers can test how they fare against the vaccine. And a colleague known as the “graphing unicorn” converts the data into intelligible results overnight. The scientist leading all this work, Phil Dormitzer, was among the first to open the email bearing results of tests on how well Pfizer’s shot worked against Delta. For a heart-stopping moment, he thought the vaccine was indeed less protective against this wildfire of a variant. Then he looked again
Two Experts Weigh In on Delta
We asked two of our favorite regular Sunday Covid Q&A experts — Monica Gandhi of University of California, San Francisco, and Bertha Hidalgo of the University of Alabama at Birmingham — to answer questions about the variant during a live Q&A for Bloomberg Terminal subscribers last week. Today, we’re giving our newsletter readers a peek at what our experts had to say. Here are some excerpts: