"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 30th Jun 2022

Isolation Tips
China Quarantine Cut Just First Step in Ending Global Isolation
China cut in half the length of time inbound travelers must spend in quarantine, making it easier for citizens to return and foreign companies to tend to business in the world’s second-largest economy after two-and-a-half years of isolation. Experts on topics from economics to health to business welcomed the move, though they said the reduction to 10 days of quarantine, from as long as three weeks previously, was just a first step toward reintegrating with the world. Health leaders in China said it wasn’t a major policy change, but a subtle adjustment as the virus itself continues to mutate.
Searches for overseas flights surge after China shortens quarantine
Online searches for air tickets on international routes with China surged after Beijing unexpectedly said it would slash COVID-19 quarantine norms, travel platforms said on Wednesday, a sign of pent-up demand after two years of tough curbs.
China removes indication of travel through COVID-hit cities on mobile app
A state-mandated Chinese mobile app that shows whether or not an individual has travelled in a city with COVID-affected areas will no longer specify such travel history, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Wednesday. The asterisk mark indicating an individual has travelled in a city with COVID-19 cases will no longer appear on the app as part of efforts to make domestic travel more convenient, the ministry said.
Hygiene Helpers
Which COVID-19 Vaccine Should Your Young Kid Get? That Depends, Doctors Say
COVID-19 vaccines for some of the youngest children in the U.S. are now rolling out, and parents are faced with a new question: Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech? Both of the mRNA shots—which are now authorized for kids ages 6 months and up—are effective at preventing severe illness, and they both help prevent symptomatic infections. They offer vital protection in this age group, even for kids who have already recovered from COVID-19. The vaccines “provide protection against a broader variety of variants than [a previous] infection, which generally provides protection mostly against the variant that you had,” says Dr. Alissa Kahn, a pediatric hematologist and oncologist in Paterson, N.J.
Doctors treat first UK patient in Covid ‘super donor’ blood trial
Doctors have treated the first UK patient in a reopened clinical trial that will explore whether blood plasma from “super donors” can help fight Covid in those with weakened immune systems. Super donors produce exceptionally high levels of antibodies after infection and vaccination, and there are hopes that transfusions of their blood plasma can wipe out the virus in people whose own immune systems are compromised. While two landmark trials known as Recovery and Remap-Cap found that convalescent plasma from people who recovered from Covid did not benefit other patients, a closer look at the Remap-Cap data showed that plasma with the highest levels of antibodies might help the immunosuppressed. The findings prompted doctors to reopen the plasma arm of the Remap-Cap trial to investigate specifically whether donated plasma with extremely high levels of antibodies can save the lives of people with weakened immune systems and reduce the amount of time they spend in intensive care.
Covid: Face masks brought back at Nottinghamshire hospital sites
Face masks have been reintroduced at some Nottinghamshire hospitals just two weeks after they were dropped. Mask policy had been relaxed in all but high-risk areas of Sherwood Forest Hospitals' three sites as part of a phased return to pre-pandemic policies. But a rise in covid cases among staff and patients at King's Mill, Newark and Mansfield Community hospitals has led to the decision being reversed. Bosses said they would keep face mask and visiting requirements under review.
Community Activities
Norway Was a Pandemic Success. Then It Spent Two Years Studying Its Failures.
If you could have flown anywhere in the world in 2019 to ride out a hypothetical pandemic, you probably wouldn’t have picked Norway. In fact, when a group of distinguished health experts gathered that year to rank hundreds of countries based on their pandemic readiness, they put Norway in 16th place. They were quickly proven wrong. It turned out that few places outperformed expectations more than Norway. Not long ago, the World Health Organization published mortality stats from the past two years, which showed that nearly every country’s excess death count spiked during the pandemic. Norway’s barely moved. The Norwegians had pulled off the closest thing possible to an optimal response to the most vexing problems that Covid-19 presented. So how did they do it? As it happens, the Norwegians also wanted to know.
Video: The Dance School Lifting Up Kenya's Lost Girls of Covid
On this episode of “The Pay Check,” Bloomberg Digital Originals explores how closed schools and economic hardship created a crisis for young women and girls in Kenya, and how an after-school program in Nairobi’s biggest informal settlement is creating a safe haven for some of them.
China's easing COVID curbs spark travel inquiry surge, and caution
Online searches for Chinese airline tickets on domestic and international routes surged on Wednesday, after Beijing said it would slash COVID-19 quarantine requirements and made changes to a state-mandated mobile app used for local travel. The unexpected moves mark a significant easing of rigid curbs that have severely curtailed travel and battered China's economy, although tough measures remain in place including a scarcity of international flights, and many social media users voiced caution.
Widespread relief for Shanghai's restaurant sector as dine-in resumes
Restaurants and eateries in China's largest city Shanghai begun reopening their doors to diners on Wednesday, bringing widespread relief to an industry that was badly hit by the city's two month COVID-19 lockdown. Large chains such as hot pot brand Haidilao, fine dining establishments and family owned eateries had started scrubbing tableware and getting uniforms laundered since Saturday when authorities announced the curbs were lifting, a month after the city's lockdown eased on June 1.
COVID can't break South Africa's love affair with shopping malls
With two days to go until opening to the public, workers rush to put the finishing touches on the Kwena Square shopping complex, a shiny $13 million sign that South Africans are defying the global "retail apocalypse". Not even COVID-19 could separate them from their beloved malls. "I love going to the mall with my daughter and my grandkids," said 54-year-old Kowie Erasmus, who's eagerly awaiting Friday's grand opening of Johannesburg's Kwena Square, which broke ground at the height of the pandemic.
The Best and Worst Places to Be as World Enters Next Covid Phase
Since November 2020, Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking has tracked the best and worst places to be during the pandemic, using a range of datapoints to capture a monthly snapshot of how the world’s biggest economies were handling this once-in-a-generation health crisis. Twenty editions in, the virus has become something most countries are living with. After nearly two years of fluctuation—during which the top and bottom of the Ranking shifted as the pandemic shape-changed—places have largely settled into their permanent positions, drawing the project to a natural close. June, 2022 will be our last update. In a reflection of how far we’ve come since the coronavirus first emerged in central China, this month’s top ranked are those most effectively putting the pandemic in the rearview mirror, with the fewest scars. They’ve been able to reopen their borders and economies without a substantial spike in deaths.
Scores of Glastonbury revellers test positive for COVID as experts warn of fifth wave
A number of Glastonbury Festival revellers have reported testing positive for COVID-19 in the days after the music event. An estimated 200,000 music fans flocked to Worthy Farm in east Somerset for the 37th iteration of Glastonbury last week. Crowds gathered to watch headliners Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar along with scores of other artists for the world's biggest outdoor festival. Following three years of cancellations due to COVID restrictions, tens of thousands of music fans did not hold back as they soaked up their favourite artists, shoulder to shoulder with other fans. But the fun was soon over after many revellers took to Twitter to report bringing COVID-19 home with them.
Working Remotely
As the return-to-the-office debate rages in the U.S. and Europe, the matter is already settled in Asia
Many employers in the U.S. and Europe are desperate for employees to return to the office to boost productivity and collaboration, but many of the bribes and threats they’ve introduced so far have failed. Employees who’ve spent the better part of two years logging on from home are reluctant to forfeit the flexibility, comfort, and convenience of remote work. But in other pockets of the world, employers won that tug of war without breaking a sweat. After spurts of working from home, white-collar employees in the finance hubs of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo mostly are back at their desks.
Employers need to embrace new tech for new ways of working
A new study about employee morale and motivation post-pandemic found that while 97% of business leaders think hybrid work environments will not damage corporate culture long-term, there are negative consequences to having so many people working remotely. Genpact’s Tech for Progress 360: Engage employees, strengthen company culture study found that 76% of respondents from organizations who adopted new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics during the pandemic strongly agreed that their company can maintain its culture in a hybrid working environment.
87% Of Workers Spend An Average Of Three Days Working Remotely
A new survey from McKinsey shows that 58% of US workers currently can work wherever they want at least once a week. The report suggests what experts have been predicting for years: flexibility is the future of work. For 35% of respondents, this means being able to work remotely up to five days a week as companies accept the role that workplace agility can play in productivity, recruitment, and retention.
Virtual Classrooms
Class Technologies CEO: 'The education landscape has forever changed'
Michael Chasen, CEO of Class Technologies, tells Education Technology about the company’s recent acquisition of Blackboard Collaborate and why his predictions for virtual learning have changed since the pandemic.
University rankings failing to account for online learning changes
University rankings have failed to take into account the increased weight of remote learning in the wake of the pandemic, according to two online HE institutions. Despite the fact that the vast majority of universities now offer at least some courses that are entirely digital, there is still no online dimension in how institutions are rated and ranked, say researchers from the Open University in the UK and the Barcelona-based Open University of Catalonia (UOC). Consequently, the pair have been working with Italy’s Institute for Educational Technology to examine the criteria and indicators on which rankings are based, along with identifying new ones to enable online learning to be measured specifically.
Public Policies
U.S. Agrees to Pay $3.2 Billion for More Pfizer Covid Vaccines
The Biden administration has agreed to pay $3.2 billion for 105 million doses of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine. The deal would provide supplies for the federal government’s planned fall booster campaign, which administration officials are devising to blunt a potential wave in cases, possibly driven by variants of the Omicron strain now spreading across the U.S. Under the deal, the federal government would have the option to buy 195 million additional doses, the Health and Human Services Department said Wednesday. Pfizer, which developed and makes the vaccine with partner BioNTech SE, would make whatever type of vaccine federal health regulators decide should be featured in the fall campaign.
Coronavirus vaccines should be updated for fall, FDA advisers say
It’s time to update coronavirus vaccines to better match the variants currently driving the pandemic, outside experts told the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday. The independent scientists and physicians endorsed an updated omicron vaccine by a 19-2 vote. Despite the overwhelming agreement that it is time to change the vaccine, many experts said they felt frustrated and hamstrung by the need to make a decision quickly to prepare for fall with limited data.
Delayed public inquiry into UK’s Covid-19 response opens
The delayed public inquiry into the UK’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has been launched after Boris Johnson accepted calls to widen the terms of reference to consider its unequal impact on minority-ethnic people, on children and on mental health. The inquiry chair, Heather Hallett, and her team of 12 QCs have begun work under the terms of the Inquiries Act, which makes it an offence to destroy or tamper with evidence. She will be joined by two panellists to be appointed by Johnson, although she had argued for presiding alone. The launch of what is expected to be one of the largest public inquiries conducted in the UK comes days after campaigners for the bereaved threatened legal action against the government over the delay to the prime minister’s commitment to set the inquiry up in spring 2022.
China's Xi says COVID strategy is 'correct and effective'
Chinese president Xi Jinping said the ruling Communist Party's strategy to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic was "correct and effective" and should be firmly adhered to, the official news agency, Xinhua, said on Wednesday. China, with its large population, would have suffered "unimaginable consequences" had it adopted a strategy of "lying flat", the agency quoted Xi as saying during a visit on Tuesday to the central city of Wuhan where the virus was first reported.
Taiwan to receive first doses of Novavax COVID vaccine this week
Taiwan will take delivery of its first doses of the Novavax Inc COVID-19 vaccine this week, received under the COVAX sharing scheme, the government said on Wednesday. Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre said the 504,000 doses would arrive on Thursday at Taipei's main international airport. Taiwan is scheduled to receive 2.268 million doses of the Novavax vaccine in batches this year through the COVAX mechanism, it added.
S.Korea approves first domestically developed COVID vaccine
South Korea approved its first domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by SK bioscience Co Ltd, for general public use following positive clinical data, authorities said on Wednesday. The SKYCovione vaccine was authorised for a two-dose regimen on people aged 18 or older, with shots given four weeks apart, according to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. In a phase III clinical trial of 4,037 adults, SKYCovione induced neutralizing antibody responses against the SARS-CoV-2 parental strain, SK bioscience said in a statement.
Norway recommends booster COVID shot to those aged 75 and older
Norway recommends a booster COVID-19 vaccine dose to those who are 75 years and older in response to a rising number of cases, the government said on Wedneday. Local municipalities should also plan to be able to offer a booster jab, which for most people would mean a fourth shot, to citizens from 65 years and up and to people with an underlying disease, from Sept, 1, it added.
Maintaining Services
Eli Lilly to supply additional doses of COVID antibody drug to U.S.
Eli Lilly and Co said on Wednesday it will supply additional doses of its COVID-19 antibody drug to the U.S. government in order to meet demand through late August. As per the modified supply agreement with the government, Lilly will provide an additional 150,000 doses of bebtelovimab for about $275 million. The drug has also shown effectiveness against the Omicron variant. The FDA authorized the drug earlier this year for emergency use in patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of progression to severe disease, including hospitalization or death.
Ireland puts army on standby to help at Dublin airport amid COVID surge
Ireland agreed on Tuesday to put the army on standby to help with security at Dublin airport should staffing be hit by a resurgence of COVID-19 during the rest of the busy summer travel period. Ireland's main airport is one of many around Europe that has struggled to hire staff fast enough to deal with a sharp rebound in travel, although it has had relatively few issues since more than 1,000 passengers missed their flights in a single day last month
Kids' vaccines are 'a game changer,' experts say—here's what else needs to happen to end the Covid pandemic
For months, the country has been waiting on a pandemic turning point — and it might be here, in the form of kids under age 5 becoming eligible for Covid vaccines. Just don’t expect it to make Covid disappear overnight, experts say. Covid vaccines for small children are “absolutely a game changer for some families,” Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of population health and disease prevention at the University of California, Irvine, tells CNBC Make It. ”[But] this isn’t the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle, unfortunately.”
Defectors in Seoul send balloons carrying medicine to COVID-19-struck North Korea
A North Korean defector group in Seoul claimed on Tuesday to have launched air balloons carrying medical supplies near the inter-Korean border. The Fighters for Free North Korea, an activist group of North Korean defectors who send anti-propaganda leaflets across the border, said they flew 20 air balloons carrying 50,000 pain relief pills, 30,000 vitamin C and 20,000 N-95 masks. Dispatching unauthorized materials at the border is against the law in South Korea.
Healthcare Innovations
BioNTech, Pfizer to start testing universal vaccine for coronaviruses
Germany's BioNTech, Pfizer's partner in COVID-19 vaccines, said the two companies would start tests on humans of next-generation shots that protect against a wide variety of coronaviruses in the second half of the year. Their experimental work on shots that go beyond the current approach include T-cell-enhancing shots, designed to primarily protect against severe disease if the virus becomes more dangerous, and pan-coronavirus shots that protect against the broader family of viruses and its mutations.