"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 29th Jul 2022

Isolation Tips
Covid: China places one million under lockdown in city of Wuhan
Nearly one million people in a suburb of Wuhan — China’s central city where the coronavirus was first recorded — have been placed under lockdown following four new infections. Wuhan’s district of Jiangxia, with over 900,000 residents, said its main urban areas must enter a three-day restriction from Wednesday, during which it has banned many large group events and dining at restaurants; closed various public entertainment venues, agricultural product marketplaces and small clinics,; and suspended bus and subway services.
China Covid Zero Success in Chongqing Shows Why Xi Keeps Lockdowns
Chongqing has logged just 165 cases of Covid since February 2021, the fourth-lowest of any province -- the manufacturing hub twice the size of Switzerland counts as its own municipality, as do only Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. The city hasn’t seen a major lockdown since early 2020, even as Beijing and Shanghai stay on high alert and more than 28 million people are living under citywide restrictions as of Monday, according to Bloomberg’s Lockdown Tracker. Thus, tourists continue to flock to Chongqing, to soak in its shimmering skyline, spicy hot pot and history as China’s capital during World War Two. And the city isn’t unique. Across China, many cities are business as usual, as the ruling Communist Party’s border curbs, mass testing drives and lockdowns stop the virus from a cross-country spread -- the nation of almost 1.4 billion reported 521 local cases for Wednesday.
Hygiene Helpers
EMA task force begins review of Veru's sabizabulin for Covid-19
The Emergency Task Force (ETF) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has commenced the review of Veru’s sabizabulin to treat hospitalised Covid-19 patients at increased acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) risk. The review will facilitate the use of the therapy for emergency usage in countries in the EU. Under this process, the ETF will analyse all available data, including findings from a trial in moderate-to-severe Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital with increased ARDS and mortality risk. According to the study findings, treatment with sabizabulin lowered the number of deaths in these subjects versus placebo.
COVID-19 vaccine bookings open for young children under age of five in Ontario
Ontario parents can book COVID-19 vaccine appointments for their babies and preschoolers starting today. The province’s booking portal opened for pediatric vaccine appointments for children aged six months to under five years at 8 a.m. Families can also make appointments through health units using their own booking systems as well as some primary care providers and pharmacies.
4 mn Indonesian medical workers to get 4th dose of Covid-19 vaccine
Four million medical workers will receive a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine amid increasing transmissions triggered by the virus' sub-variants in Indonesia, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said. Sadikin told local media on Wednesday that administering of the third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine started in August 2021 and now it is the time for a new immunity shot, Xinhua news agency reported.
Covid-19: Everyone over age of 50 in Northern Ireland to be offered booster jab and flu vaccine this autumn
Everyone over the age of 50 in Northern Ireland will be offered a flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster jab this autumn. Health Minister Robin Swann said the measure was precautionary given the likely increase in infection as we enter the winter months. On Wednesday, the minister revealed lateral flow testing for those with Covid-19 symptoms in Northern Ireland is to continue into August, citing the rising level of cases of the virus both in NI and the UK as a whole.
Vaccinating children aged under 5 years against covid-19
The United States has joined a handful of countries recommending that children aged 6 months to 5 years should receive covid-19 vaccines, but it is uncertain if other countries will follow. What is the evidence behind the US’s recommendation, and how does the case for vaccinating children under 5 years differ from offering covid-19 vaccines to older children? Two vaccines have been authorised for under 5s in the US, based on data supplied by manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna.
UK scientists take ‘promising’ step towards single Covid and cold vaccine
Scientists have made a “promising” advance towards developing a universal coronavirus vaccine to tackle Covid-19 and the common cold. Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London have discovered that a specific area of the spike protein of Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – is a good target for a pan-coronavirus jab that could offer protection against all the Covid-19 variants and common colds. Developing a vaccine that protects against a number of different coronaviruses is a huge challenge, they said, because this family of viruses have many key differences, frequently mutate and generally induce incomplete protection against reinfection. That is why people can repeatedly catch common colds, and why it is possible to be infected multiple times with different variants of Sars-CoV-2.
Community Activities
Malaysia's Women Graduates Close Gender Jobless Gap Amid Virus
Malaysia’s female graduates have narrowed the unemployment rate gap with men for a third straight year, yet major differences remain for jobs requiring higher level degrees. The overall jobless rate for 2.476 million women graduates in the Southeast Asian nation declined to 4.3% in 2021, versus 4% for men. That’s a huge improvement from 2018, when female employment was a full percentage point lower than males. Still, much of the shrinkage has been based on lower level diploma jobs, according to data released by the Department of Statistics.
Outrage in Brazil as Jair Bolsonaro avoids five charges related to Covid response
Brazilian senators are calling for an investigation into one of the country’s top prosecutors after she shelved several charges against the president, Jair Bolsonaro, over his mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic. A damning congressional inquiry had recommended that Bolsonaro be charged with nine offences, including crimes against humanity and charlatanism, for promoting false treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. The far-right president constantly downplayed the severity of the pandemic, initially calling it “a little flu” and telling Brazilians to man up because “we are all going to die anyway”.
In Rural America, Covid Hits Black and Hispanic People Hardest
At the peak of the Omicron wave, Covid killed Black Americans in rural areas at a rate roughly 34 percent higher than it did white people. The coronavirus pandemic walloped rural America last year, precipitating a surge of deaths among white residents as the virus inflamed longstanding health deficits there. But across the small towns and farmlands, new research has found, Covid killed Black and Hispanic people at considerably higher rates than it did their white neighbors. Even at the end of the pandemic’s second year, in February 2022, overstretched health systems, poverty, chronic illnesses and lower vaccination rates were forcing nonwhite people to bear the burden of the virus. Black and Hispanic people in rural areas suffered an exceptionally high toll, dying at far higher rates than in cities during that second year of the pandemic.
Working Remotely
Working from home debates must include what 'home' actually is
In lockdowns, those who were able to work from a dedicated office in their large home or a converted shed in the garden had a very different experience from those in crowded flats. Now that the world is opening up again, employees’ decisions to move further away from work are causing tensions. Some employers have stepped in to help with housing costs. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a professional organisation, says most assistance is geared towards subsidised rental deposits or moving-in allowances.
Why Remote Work Shouldn't Be Up for Debate
In the immediate aftermath of Covid-19 lockdowns, many companies found their wings as newly minted remote work operations. While this was a move made out of necessity, more than a few decided to make the shift permanent. The reality is, that working in an office is how things were done for generations. Many who are now in positions of leadership have worked their way up through this system and understand it, find comfort in it, and may assume it is the only way that anything meaningful can be achieved on a wide scale.
Virtual Classrooms
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to launch virtual reality class
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has announced the launch of a virtual reality classroom as part of a bigger plan to create a campus in the metaverse to promote immersive learning. An academic at the institution on Thursday said the mixed reality classroom would host the opening of the new HKUST Guangzhou campus on September 1. “A lot of guests might be overseas and can’t attend [the opening], so we will host it in the metaverse,” said Pan Hui, chair professor of computational media and arts at the Guangzhou campus.
How EdTech Firms Are Bringing Higher Education To The Metaverse
Remote learning might’ve gotten a bad rap during the pandemic, but education is about to move into the metaverse. And, experts say, it will be better than in-person instruction. The costs of higher education have been growing, racking up more debt for students, and the post-college economic returns have been flattening. But learning has never been more important, especially in an era of rapid technological and growing automation.
Public Policies
After Biden COVID recovery, admin launches new booster push
President Joe Biden’s administration is launching a renewed push for COVID-19 booster shots for those eligible, pointing to the enhanced protections they offer against severe illness as the highly transmissible BA.5 variant spreads across the country. The initiatives include direct outreach to high-risk groups, especially seniors, encouraging them to get “up to date” on their vaccinations, with phone calls, emails and new public service announcements. All Americans age 5 and over should get a booster five months after their initial primary series, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also says those age 50 and over — or those who are immunocompromised — should get a second booster four months after their first. According to CDC, tens of millions of eligible Americans haven’t received their first booster, and of those over 50 who got their first booster, only about 30% have received their second.
When will Covid really be over? Three things that will mark the end of the pandemic
Analysing past epidemics shows us that actual endings are long, drawn-out and contested. Societies must grapple not just with the medical realities of the disease, harms and treatments, but the political and economic fallout from emergency measures, and disputes over who has the authority to declare an end and what should be measured to guide this process. This is why there is so much uncertainty about the current state of Covid-19: different groups have vastly different experiences of the medical, political and social aspects of the epidemic, and different ideas of what an ending may look like.
Covid-19: “Impossible” to be confident that government awarded Randox contracts properly, say MPs
The UK government’s failure to follow basic rules in awarding £777m of contracts for covid-19 testing to the diagnostics company Randox Laboratories make it “impossible to have confidence” that the contracts were awarded properly, says the parliamentary watchdog on public spending. In a highly critical report, the Commons Public Account Committee accuses the Department of Health and Social Care of “woefully inadequate record keeping” and failing to meet basic requirements to publicly report ministers’ external meetings or deal with potential conflicts of interest when awarding testing contracts to the company.
Maintaining Services
CityU researchers invents accurate rapid COVID-19 antibody level test
Vaccines have become the most important weapon in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but antibody levels after vaccination decay quickly over time. Therefore, an accurate and affordable antibody rapid test is urgently needed to adjust the revaccination strategy. A research team led by City University of Hong Kong (CityU) recently invented an accurate rapid-testing device that can quantify and display the antibody level as a length of a visual bar, like a mercury thermometer, in as few as 20 minutes, enabling convenient mass screening or individual monitoring of immune protection against COVID-19.
Healthcare Innovations
Millions still without sense of smell or taste after Covid-19
Still struggling with your sense of smell after a bout with Covid-19? You’re far from alone. About 5% of patients with confirmed cases of Covid-19 — some 27 million people worldwide — are estimated to have suffered a long-lasting loss of smell or taste, a new analysis suggests. In the analysis published Wednesday in The BMJ (the peer-reviewed medical journal of the British Medical Association), researchers evaluated 18 previous studies of smell and taste loss across several continents and in varying demographic groups. About three quarters of those affected by loss of taste or smell regained those senses within 30 days. Rates of recovery improved over time, but about 5% of people reported “persistent dysfunction” six months after their infection with Covid-19.
Persistent brain fog, hair loss highlighted in long-COVID studies
The first study, by University of Oslo researchers in Norway, was published yesterday in Open Forum Infectious Diseases. The team used four computer-based cognitive tests from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery to assess 75 adult COVID-19 patients' cognitive function 13 months after release from a single hospital. Included patients were, on average, 55.7 years old and were admitted to the hospital up to June 2020. The four tests were delayed matching to sample (DMS) (testing short-term memory, visuospatial processing, learning, and attention), the One-touch Stockings of Cambridge (OTS) test (executive function), rapid visual-information processing (RVP) (sustained attention), and spatial working memory and strategy (SWM).
COVID-19: People living in poverty more likely to get long COVID, study suggests
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), people with coronavirus symptoms lasting more than four weeks are more likely to have been living in social housing or claiming benefits before they got ill. Previous studies have shown that long COVID patients are more likely to be women, middle-aged and have an underlying health condition.