"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 1st Sep 2021

Isolation Tips
New Zealand COVID-19 cases drop for second day in a row
New Zealand reported 49 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, dropping for a second day in a row since the latest outbreak forced the country into a tight lockdown this month. The total number of cases in the outbreak is 612, with 597 in Auckland and 15 in Wellington.
Hygiene Helpers
No 10 to press on with plans for Covid vaccine passports in England
Downing Street has said the government will press ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs and other crowded indoor venues in England from the end of next month. Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson was asked on Tuesday about reports suggesting ministers could back away from the proposal in the face of objections from Conservative MPs, but said there was no change to the policy. “We set out broadly our intention to require vaccination for nightclubs and some other settings. We will be coming forward in the coming weeks with detail for that,” he said
Perspective | Coronavirus vaccines work. But this statistical illusion makes people think they don't.
In real-life Israel, as of Aug. 15 — using Morris’s summary of official data — 301 fully vaccinated people had an illness severe enough to require hospitalization. They represented just 53 out of every million fully vaccinated Israelis. At the same time, 214 hospitalized people were not vaccinated. Those people made up a much bigger fraction of the smaller population of unvaccinated people: 164 out of every million. So an unvaccinated Israeli is about three times as likely to end up in the hospital as their vaccinated compatriot.
Community Activities
Australian imports of ivermectin increase tenfold, prompting warning from TGA
A national shortage and tenfold increase in Australians importing ivermectin in August has sparked a warning from the Therapeutic Goods Administration against the use of the medicine, which is typically used to deworm livestock, as a treatment for Covid-19. Amid growing reports in the United States in recent weeks of people calling poison information hotlines over self-medicating with ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19, a spokesperson for the TGA told Guardian Australia there had been a massive increase in people bringing the drug into Australia.
Ex-CIA officer turned Q-Anon conspiracy theorist dies of COVID-19 while on anti-vax tour of Florida
Robert David Steele was a former CIA officer who became a big supporter of conspiracy theories. He had become a devotee of QAnon and was in the midst of a tour decrying coronavirus vaccines when he was hospitalized with the virus He has since died, his friend Mark Tassi announced on Instagram on Sunday Steele bragged that he was the first person to call the coronavirus a hoax He had also claimed that child slaves were being sent to Mars, forcing NASA to issue a denial, and said 5G was a weapons system designed to kill humans
Mormon vaccine push ratchets up, dividing faith’s members
After more than a year of attending church virtually, Monique Allen has struggled to explain to her asthmatic daughter why people from their congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t wear masks. Allen said she’s taught her daughter that wearing a mask is Christlike, but now she worries her child feels like an outcast. Church leaders recently issued their strongest statement yet urging people to “limit the spread” by getting COVID-19 vaccines and wearing masks, but Allen said she fears it’s still not enough to convince the many families in her congregation who refuse to wear masks and have succumbed to anti-vaccine misinformation.
Working Remotely
Remote work risks exploiting workers in low-income countries
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated transition to remote work comes with profound positives for employers and employees. One report found that employers are saving as much as $22,000 per full-time remote employee, by shedding office-related costs. For workers in low-income countries—especially those in the rapidly growing professional class in sub-Saharan Africa—the unmooring of skilled jobs from physical locations offers unfettered access to previously unavailable opportunities. But it also accentuates their disadvantages relative to their peers in high-income countries, chiefly around compensation and labor protections.
The Winners of Remote Work
Some employees and freelancers who can work remotely will have vastly expanded opportunities and the possibility of significant increases in pay, but remote workers in general figure to face more competition and have a higher dependence on luck.
Remote And Hybrid Work Is Here To Stay, And That’s Why Quality Of Worklife Matters
As we emerge on the other side of the Covid crisis, one thing is clear: remote work is here to stay. Employers were finally awakened to the advantages of enabling work-from-anywhere for knowledge workers, which includes access to a global talent pool without the hassles of relocation; the flexibility afforded employees that directly translates to productivity and job satisfaction; and the reduced need for corporate real estate. At the same time, full-time work-from-anywhere is not right for everyone — there’s a need to bond, have access to mentors, form friendships, and share in a workplace experience — especially if the office is a fun and collegial place to work. In short, we need hybrid workplaces, and companies need to support this new way of working.
Spanish companies divided over employees’ return to the workplace
Spain’s biggest companies had marked September 1 as the day when their employees would return in large numbers to the workplace after nearly a year and a half of remote work. But it was not to be. The intensity of the fifth wave of the coronavirus has forced many employers to remain prudent and keep their existing protocols in place. While some companies have decided that staff will return to their posts in early September, in many other cases employers have yet to draft their roadmap for the return to normality
Virtual Classrooms
National Museums Liverpool expands series of 'Virtual Classrooms' for schools
Created for schools for the new academic year, National Museums Liverpool’s interactive curriculum-linked workshops – led by museum experts – bring learning to life and inspire the imaginations of pupils by engaging them in activities based on real artefacts. Mummification, Greek gods and transatlantic slavery are some of the subject’s school children can learn about in the comfort of their classrooms, thanks to virtual workshops developed by National Museums Liverpool.  
Public Policies
Mauritius Reaches 60% Vaccination Goal a Month Ahead of Schedule
Mauritius vaccinated 60% of its population a month ahead of target and now plans to halve the number of days tourists will need to isolate on the island nation after arrival. The “milestone comes ahead of two major steps to reduce restrictions on inbound international travel,” the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority said in an emailed statement Tuesday. Inoculated tourists will have to spend seven days in a a so-called resort bubble hotel from Wednesday, down from 14 days now, before they can travel freely. From Oct. 1, they will be free to explore the Indian Ocean Island nation without restrictions. That’s provided they submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival, the agency said.
France aims to give third COVID-19 vaccine shot to 18 million by early 2022
France aims to have administered a third shot of a COVID-19 vaccine to some 18 million people by early 2022, a health ministry official said on Tuesday. Last week, France's top health advisory body (HAS) recommended a booster shot for those aged 65 and over and for those with existing medical conditions that put them at risk. "Those eligible for a booster shot have been able to make appointments since Monday this week. We see this as a genuine health requirement to extend protection, as some studies demonstrate," the official said.
Another 1M Moderna coronavirus vaccine doses halted in Japan as officials probe 2 deaths
Manufacturing issues and safety concerns have unraveled the best-laid plans for COVID-19 vaccine makers AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Now, it’s Moderna facing serious questions about its vaccine after two people in Japan died after receiving the shot from a contaminated batch. No link between the vaccine and the fatalities has been established, Moderna said in a joint statement with its Japanese COVID-19 vaccine distribution partner Takeda. But over the weekend, another one million doses of the vaccine were suspended over concerns of possible contamination found in two additional vaccine lots.
Thai prime minister faces no-confidence debate over Covid-19 handling
Thai legislators have commenced a no-confidence debate targeting prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and five of his cabinet members, as the opposition claims the government bungled its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The debate is scheduled to last four days, with voting by the lower house set for Saturday. Organisers of ongoing anti-government street protests have vowed to step up their own separate efforts during the debate to force Mr Prayuth out of office
Covid-19: Economy minister calls for plans to end restrictions
The Stormont executive must now "set out a path" for ending Covid-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland, the economy minister has said. First Minister Paul Givan previously said he wanted all regulations lifted by the end of September. Gordon Lyons, Mr Givan's DUP colleague, "absolutely" supports that view. BBC News NI understands Wednesday's Executive meeting to discuss restrictions has been cancelled after Michelle O'Neill contracted Covid-19.
Australia in vaccine swap pact with Singapore as COVID-19 cases surge
Australia will receive 500,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from Singapore this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday, after Canberra agreed a swap deal in a bid to curtail surging coronavirus infections. The agreement, which will see Australia return the same amount of Pfizer vaccine doses to Singapore in December, will allow Canberra to accelerate its vaccination programme as daily cases near record levels for the country.
Maintaining Services
'Threat of Long Covid means this is the most worrying start to a new school year'
Polly Hudson questions the decision to send children back to school without all the safety measures we had in place before as we still wait to see if vaccines for kids will be approved
Covid-19 Australia: Sydney ICU nurse says the virus is 'ripping families apart'
ICU nurse Michelle Dowd has detailed scenes at Liverpool Hospital Covid ward Covid-19 patients coming into her ward are some of the sickest they've seen Parents who need to be on ventilators in ICU are left separated from their kids ICU nurses have been left to provide emotional support for dying Covid patients Ms Dowd urged the community to get vaccinated to assist frontline workers
These 5 states have less than 10% of ICU beds left as Covid-19 overwhelms hospitals
As Covid-19 cases surge across the US, particularly among unvaccinated Americans, hospitals have been pushed to their limits treating the influx of patients -- and five states are nearly out of ICU beds. Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Florida and Arkansas have less than 10% left of their ICU bed capacity, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. In Georgia, the CEO of Northeast Georgia Health Systems said it had 287 Covid patients Monday morning, which is more than the hospital has had since January.
Philippines: Nurses threaten mass resignation amid COVID surge
Saying they are overworked and underpaid, health care workers across the Philippines are threatening to walk off the job unless they receive benefits promised by the government. The Philippines is currently experiencing record-high COVID caseloads driven by the highly transmissible delta variant. As hospitals fill up, overworked nurses have staged protests and are threatening mass resignations if government benefits are not paid by September 1.
Covid outbreak on cruise ship docked in Liverpool
A cruise ship docked in Liverpool was hit by a coronavirus outbreak as staff members were told to self-isolate. Three crew members onboard the Celebrity Silhouette cruise liner had to leave the ship after testing positive for the virus. The cruise liner, which has the capacity to carry 2,902 passengers, arrived in Liverpool on Monday and is making its way over to Southampton, where it's due to arrive on Saturday, September 4.
Healthcare Innovations
Covid-19 Booster Shots Get Support From Expert Panel
Health experts advising the U.S. government on vaccines expressed initial support for giving booster shots to people vaccinated against Covid-19, starting with healthcare workers, nursing-home residents and others immunized earliest. Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, on Monday indicated their agreement with the Biden administration’s plans to offer the extra doses. Yet they said the priority should remain increasing vaccinations of unvaccinated people, and that boosters shouldn’t distract or impede from doing that.
Moderna Creates Twice as Many Antibodies as Pfizer, Study Shows
Moderna Inc.’s Covid vaccine generated more than double the antibodies of a similar shot made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE in research that compared immune responses evoked by the two inoculations. The study is one of the first to compare levels of antibodies produced by the two vaccines, which are thought to be one of the important components of the immune response. It didn’t examine whether the antibody differences led to a difference in efficacy over time between the two shots, which both were more than 90% effective in final-stage clinical trials.
GSK and SK Bioscience start late-stage trial of Covid-19 vaccine
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and South Korean pharmaceutical firm SK Bioscience have started a Phase 3 trial of their Covid-19 vaccine combination. GSK told the stock market on Tuesday that the advance follows “positive” interim results in the Phase 1 and 2 studies.
WHO says C.1.2. COVID-19 variant does not seem to be spreading
A new coronavirus variant that was first detected in South Africa in May does not appear to be spreading, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday, adding it was monitoring the variant as the virus evolves.
Side effects feared from vaccine are more common in COVID cases — Israeli study
Research on 2 million Israelis fails to find high incidence of any serious side effect post-inoculation; coronavirus patient 4 times more likely to get myocarditis than vaccinee
What is C.1.2, the new Covid variant in South Africa, and should we be worried?
The C.1.2 strain has scientists’ attention because it possesses mutations within the genome similar to those seen in variants of interest, like Delta. On Monday the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa issued an alert about the “C.1.2 lineage”, saying it had been detected in all provinces in the country, but at a relatively low rate. C.1.2 was first detected in May, the alert said, but Delta is still the dominant variant spreading in South Africa and the world. A pre-print, non peer-reviewed paper published about the variant said C.1.2 “has since been detected across the majority of the provinces in South Africa and in seven other countries spanning Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania”.