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"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 21st Apr 2022

Isolation Tips
Close contacts of COVID-19 cases in NSW no longer required to isolate at home for seven days
The NSW government has scrapped the requirement for close contacts of COVID-19 cases to isolate at home for seven days. Those deemed a close contact of a positive case will have to undertake a daily rapid antigen test and wear a face mask in indoor settings. Close contacts are urged to work from home where possible and will have to notify their employer that they are a close contact and stay away from hospitals and aged care settings.
Sharp fall in people fully self-isolating since Covid-19 rules scrapped
The proportion of people who fully self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 has fallen sharply since the rules were scrapped in England at the end of February, a new survey suggests. Just over half (53%) of people questioned said they had followed the full advice for self-isolating, down from four in five (80%) in February when isolation was a legal requirement. The survey was carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) between March 17 and 26, nearly a month since the Government removed all rules for self-isolation in England on February 24.
Shanghai hopes COVID tide turning, with fewer cases outside quarantine areas
China's commercial capital of Shanghai reported no new COVID-19 infections outside quarantine areas in two districts on Wednesday, fanning hopes that the tide is turning in its pandemic battle, as some factories began to return to work. State media trumpeted the resumption of production by electric car company Tesla Inc at its Shanghai plant, after a halt of more than three weeks. The U.S. carmaker was on a list of 666 firms the Chinese government said last week would get priority to reopen, or keep operations running, in Shanghai.
Hygiene Helpers
Should I still wear a mask on a plane?
The abrupt end of the federal mask mandate for public transportation and an uptick in coronavirus cases across the country have left some Americans wondering: Should I still wear a mask in certain situations or places? The confusion comes after a federal judge struck down the transportation mandate, prompting airlines and transportation agencies to lift their mask rules just as cases are starting to tick up again. Most states and cities that still had indoor mask mandates lifted them weeks ago. President Biden said Tuesday that people should decide for themselves if they want to wear masks or not. Here’s what we know about the science of masking to help you make decisions about if, when and where to cover your face.
COVID-19: Social distancing requirement scrapped in hospital and GP waiting rooms in England
Social distancing rules in the NHS have been scrapped, according to new guidance issued by the health service. Patients in England will no longer need to be distanced from one another in GP and hospital waiting rooms. NHS organisations have been told to return to "pre-pandemic physical distancing in all areas", but people will still be encouraged to wear face coverings. The new guidance covers "all areas" including emergency departments and other hospital settings, ambulances, patient transport services and GP surgeries.
Delhi makes masks mandatory again after COVID cases rise
New Delhi authorities on Wednesday made the wearing of masks compulsory again after COVID-19 infections rose in the Indian capital in recent days. "In view of the rise in COVID positive cases recently and as advised by the experts, it was decided to enhance testing, focus on vaccination coverage of targeted population and ensure strict enforcement of COVID appropriate behaviour," Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said on Twitter.
Uber, Lyft and Disney end mask mandates as COVID cases fall
Uber and Lyft have scrapped face mask mandates for their riders and drivers in the United States, the ride-hailing companies said on Tuesday, as COVID cases have fallen sharply from their January peak. Walt Disney also said that wearing masks would be optional for fully vaccinated visitors at its indoor and outdoor locations and transport facilities. It recommended guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings at all indoor locations and enclosed transportation
U.S. Justice Department appeals transportation mask ruling
The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday appealed a judge's ruling ending a mask mandate on public transportation and airplanes, a spokesman said, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the measure was still needed. A U.S. district judge ruled on Monday that the mandates, which apply to planes, trains and other public transportation, were unlawful. The Justice Department said it would appeal the ruling if the CDC determined the 14-month-old mandate was still needed.
Community Activities
Moderna and Pfizer urged to share vaccine technology with developing world
Pressure is mounting on Moderna and Pfizer to share vaccine technology with the developing world after the two biggest proxy advisers lent support to shareholder resolutions. Institutional Shareholder Services has recommended that investors vote in favour of proposals by Oxfam America that would compel Moderna and Pfizer to commission third-party reports about transferring their vaccine technology. The drive to expand access to the well-performing mRNA vaccines comes as Moderna unveiled strong trial results for a new “bivalent” vaccine. Oxfam is lobbying to create a more equal distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, arguing that not sharing the IP and technical knowhow creates reputational risks and could slow the end of the pandemic.
US supreme court rules against air force officer who refused Covid vaccine
The supreme court has allowed the US Department of Defense to take disciplinary action against an air force lieutenant colonel who refuses to get a Covid-19 vaccine. In a brief, two-sentence ruling on Monday, a majority of the court sided with the Pentagon. Three justices in the conservative majority – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch – dissented. The ruling was merely the court’s latest on challenges to Covid-19 vaccine mandates. In January, the court blocked a Biden administration requirement that employees of large businesses be vaccinated and wear masks on the job.
For China investors, COVID lockdowns are the clear and present danger
Prolonged lockdowns in Shanghai, as China doubles down on its zero-COVID policy, have become the predominant risk to its economy and markets, forcing money managers to cut holdings or turn defensive on stocks. Global fund managers such as Pictet Wealth Management and Principal Global Investors and China-focused managers such as MegaTrust Investment and Water Wisdom Asset Management point to the worrying toll that weeks of tough anti-virus measures in many major cities have taken on people and businesses. "The city-wide lockdown in Shanghai is a big deal," said Qi Wang, chief executive officer of MegaTrust Investment (HK).
Working Remotely
Working from home, Japan's corporate warriors rethink their priorities
Japan is in the midst of en masse hiring season, when a wave of college graduates join companies in formal ceremonies after sweating through the job-interview gantlet. While this year’s ritual has a different look, with COVID-19 forcing many companies to scale back or go online, the goal has long been the same: to kick off what was often a lifetime devoted to one company. But this model that undergirded Japan’s economic rise is slowly eroding. Working from home, people have had more time to rethink their careers and lives. Many want a change.
Best Tips To Be More Productive When Working Remotely
Working remotely for the first time in your life requires a lot of flexibility. Having the right mindset and the right home office are two of the most important things experienced remote workers rely on to do their job. Here are seven tips to help you get started.
Virtual Classrooms
Meta funds virtual classrooms at 7 universities complete with VR headsets
College students at schools from Georgia to Oregon will have a new back-to-school supply this fall: virtual reality headsets. Seven universities and colleges are opening digital twins of their campuses to offer an alternative to class via video call. Each school will roll out a digital twin of campus for students to attend either on campus or remotely. Each student will receive a Meta Quest 2 virtual reality headset for use during the course. Courses will be synchronous as if they were attending class on a physical campus.
Mixed-reality virtual learning platform secures £150k seed funding
Focus MRS, a mixed-reality virtual learning platform, has secured a £150,000 seed investment from Jenson Funding Partners . The technology is designed to enhance the teaching of practical subjects, such as construction, barbering, and personal training, with educators able to pre-record or stream 360-degree videos for students who can then watch them on their smartphone with the aid of a “low-cost” headset and VR viewer. Educators are provided with a 360-degree camera to capture the lesson, which they can then upload to the Focus MRS platform. Students can log in, review their lesson timetable, select the lecture, and put on their viewer.
Public Policies
Fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot possible for some in Mexico, official says
Certain groups of people in Mexico may be able to receive a fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot, a senior government official said on Tuesday. Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell told reporters at a regular news conference that while the government does not currently have plans to roll out a second booster shot nationally, certain people may be eligible to receive one.
Norway offers 4th COVID vaccine dose to those aged 80 and over
Norway will offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to those aged 80 and over, the country's Institute of Public Health said on Wednesday.
Israel scraps indoor COVID-19 mask order for second time
Israel told its citizens on Wednesday they could stop wearing COVID-19 masks indoors, its second such revision after the measure was briefly dropped and then restored last year in response to a rise in cases. The scrapping of mandatory masks in closed public venues will go into force on Saturday, subject to approval by a parliament oversight committee, a government statement said.
Maintaining Services
Brazil meat exporters face hurdles shipping product via COVID-hit Shanghai -lobby group
Brazil's ABPA, a lobby group representing large pork and chicken processors like JBS SA and BRF SA, said on Wednesday its member companies are facing difficulties shipping products through the Port of Shanghai. The statement, sent in response to a question from Reuters about the effects of the COVID lockdown in the Chinese city, said cargoes are being redirected to other ports, such as Yantian. "There are no reports of suspension of sales," the statement said, referring to rumors about potential contract cancellations.
Awash in Covid Vaccines, Romania Faces Storage Headache
Romania is struggling to find storage for millions of Covid vaccine doses it hasn’t used, even as more are slated to arrive this year. More than two years into the pandemic, the country remains one of the European Union’s least vaccinated. Now the government is asking the EU for help and trying to sell or donate doses from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. to resolve a storage headache that’s set to worsen while avoiding wasting the shots. About 6.5 million doses delivered in January and February have been sold to Germany and Hungary, but another 39 million are scheduled to arrive this year and next, according to Health Minister Alexandru Rafila. One country was offered 1.1 million doses for free and has “yet to show interest in picking them up.”
Hong Kong launches new platform for recovered Covid-19 patients
From April 19, people who've recovered from Covid-19 can now download a QR code issued by the government via the Covid-19 Electronic Vaccination and Testing Record System and use the electronic record when entering designated premises like restaurants, shopping malls, and supermarkets instead of the vaccine pass. The QR code is valid within six months from the date of recovery. Downloading the recovery record QR code will require recovered Covid-19 patients to provide the number and date of issue of their Hong Kong identity card, discharge date from the hospital, or positive test result for identification. The recovery QR code may also be downloaded using the iAM Smart app and the latest version of the eHealth app. Those who received isolation orders issued by the Department of Health (DH) will instantly get the recovery record QR code. The QR code may be saved in the LeaveHomeSafe mobile application to facilitate scanning when entering a Vaccine Pass premises.
North Wales company to stop producing Covid-19 Vaccine
A pharmaceutical company that has helped in the production of the Covid-19 vaccine will 'right size' business as the wide-scale rollout comes to an end. Wockhardt, based on the Wrexham Industrial Estate, is a global pharmaceutical and biotechnology organisation that had a contract with the UK Government to help produce Covid- 19 vaccines during the mass roll-out. Now, the rollout is coming to an end, and the company will be scaling back the work, leading to job losses. A spokesperson for the company said: “Wockhardt is incredibly proud to have played a vital role in mitigating the global impact of COVID-19.
Taiwan firms in China hub make uneven restart from COVID curbs
Taiwan firms making chip and electronic components reported a mixed picture on Wednesday on work resumption in the eastern Chinese city of Kunshan after COVID-19 curbs, with some warning deliveries would be postponed until next month. China has put Shanghai under a tight lockdown since late March and neighbouring Kunshan has also tightened curbs to control the country's biggest COVID-19 outbreak since the coronavirus was discovered in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan
In Shanghai lockdown, Carrefour staff sleeps at store to keep residents supplied
To prepare the 3,000-plus orders of vegetables, meat and essentials her Carrefour supermarket sends out every day to locked-in Shanghai residents, manager Zhang Wei wakes at 5 a.m. after a night in a sleeping bag on her office floor. Zhang and 43 colleagues have been hunkered down inside the store in Shanghai's western Xujing suburb since April 1, isolated from the outside world while working long days to fill online orders from neighbouring housing compounds. Her Carrefour branch is one of more than 1,000 grocery stores open during Shanghai's lockdown, albeit under stringent requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The city government is trying to increase the number of stores open.
IMF's Georgieva says China should stimulate consumption as lockdowns mount
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday that China should use fiscal space to stimulate consumption as it faces an economic slowdown prompted by renewed COVID-19 lockdowns. Georgieva said that China had ample fiscal and monetary policy space to counteract this, but it would be better to stimulate consumption. "What we see in China is that consumption is falling short, it is not recovering as strongly as necessary," Georgieva told a news conference at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings.
Healthcare Innovations
The impact of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and resistance on the population of England
The study findings highlight that hesitancy to COVID-19 vaccination can significantly increase the rate of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths in England. Importantly, the study predicts that the observed severity of COVID-19 could be reduced significantly if the majority of unvaccinated people, who are resistant to COVID-19 vaccination, agree to receive full vaccination.
Nearly every adult in Scotland has Covid-19 antibodies, Office for National Statistics estimates say
Nearly every adult in Scotland would have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies, official estimates have found. At the end of March, 99% of those over 15 years old are estimated to have developed the infection-fighting molecules, the Office for National Statistics said. This is higher than in both England and Wales. The measurement shows the impact of coronavirus infections and the vaccine programme.