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"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 16th Jun 2020

Isolation Tips
Partner Insights: Impacts of COVID-19 on mental health
Before the pandemic we were helping to provide support to our customers and their families particularly in situations where both parents were having to commit professionally to work longer hours causing greater pressure on the family as a unit. There is currently a high demand for accessible community support systems and treatment options for children and adolescents suffering with mental ill health, which could potentially increase post COVID-19 lockdown.
Social bubble: 'Pure joy' for families reuniting after lockdown
This is the moment a brother is reunited with his sister after living apart for weeks. The Ashby family, like thousands across the country, have been separated during lockdown but reunited over the weekend. David Sheriff, who has Down's Syndrome and autism, and sister Elizabeth Ashby were reunited over a Sunday lunch in Stourbridge, West Midlands. Mum Helen Ashby said the day had brought "pure joy" for the whole family. Ms Ashby said David, 31, had found lockdown and being separated from his sister "very difficult".
Woman who spent 14 months in Antarctica shares tips for reentering society
Rachael Robertson is one of very few people who have spent a continuous year in Antarctica — Cool Antarctica, a travel and information website, estimates that just 1,000 people do so each year. From November 2004 to January 2006, Robertson served as the expedition leader of Davis Station, one of three Australian research bases in Antarctica. During the winter, she and her team experienced months of near-total darkness and had no way of leaving the continent. Robertson, now an international keynote speaker and author, sees parallels between her experience in Antarctica and the experience of self-isolating at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lockdown anxiety levels in the UK fall as restrictions ease but remain higher than usual
As restrictions continue to ease across the UK, fewer Britons are suffering increased anxiety levels compared to the start of lockdown, new figures show. But average anxiety scores are still higher than last year, with an estimated 19 million adults in Britain suffering high levels of anxiety. At the beginning of lockdown, there was a “marked” increase of anxiety, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Between March 20-30, almost half (49.6%) of people reported high anxiety. This reduced to 37% between April 30 and May 10. Older people were twice as likely as younger adults to report high levels of anxiety while one in five said they had found working from home had affected their mental health.
How to Cope with Mental Health Concerns Related to COVID-19
The current pandemic is negatively affecting our mental health on multiple levels: Social isolation is extreme and prolonged, with no definite end yet in sight. Anxiety, worry and fear of exposure to an unseen threat is constant. Millions have lost their jobs and source of income. Large-scale societal systems are impacted, affecting education, health care, religion, financial markets, commerce, and travel. Access to critical health care resources is scarce in some areas. The barrage of troubling information and accounts in the media is unceasing. Grief and loss from the ever-increasing death toll is mounting.
Why mental health issues require more than online advice
Research shows that learning about mental health from a reliable source, which is called psycho-education, can be a powerful way to help understand ourselves. It is empowering when we can access support and remove the stigma surrounding our own mental health issues. This is especially important when many of us have spent long periods in isolation, experienced difficulties adjusting to the changes to our routine and suffered job loss or the loss of loved ones. It is promising to see an openness emerging around mental health difficulties online and well meant discussions of this kind.
New Zealand did 'support bubbles' first. Here's what England can learn from them
First, support bubbles made a huge difference. Whether it was having grandchildren stay over, reconnecting with a partner, or simply being able to cook and clean for a loved one, bubbles allowed people to provide and receive much-needed forms of support. As they did so, they rediscovered their sense of value and purpose....
Hygiene Helpers
NKU: Face coverings required for anyone on campus at start of fall semester
Facial coverings will be required for students, faculty, staff and visitors once the fall semester begins at Northern Kentucky University. The school says facial coverings will be a requirement while anyone is on campus until health guidelines from the CDC and state decide otherwise. On days you plan to be on campus, NKU says you will also have to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms using the Healthy@NKU app. With these requirements, students and staff will begin the fall semester as scheduled at NKU through a variety of in-person and virtual classes, the school announced on Monday.
Tips on visiting care home residents as lockdown eases
The impact social isolation can have on people’s mental health is a concern for many and while the wider public has been able to see friends and family out in the open, care homes have been closed to all but essential visits and end of life care visits, since the lockdown began. In Scotland, guidelines say care homes should allow visits to residents living with dementia who are distressed.
How the coronavirus pandemic will change travel as we know it
Masks, distance, dividers and price hikes: Industry insiders predict what the lingering impact of the coronavirus could be on the way we travel.
Germany and Japan to launch decentralised Covid-19 apps
The German and Japanese governments are expected to launch their Covid-19 contact-tracing apps this week. Both of these apps are based on a privacy-focused API developed by Apple and Google. Covid-19 contact tracing involves identifying and notifying the contacts of an infected person, such that those who have been exposed can take action to prevent further transmission. Many countries consider contact tracing a necessary accompaniment to easing economically damaging lockdown measures while preventing a second wave of infections, along with social distancing, mass testing, and enhanced hygiene. The German Health Minister Jens Spahn has told ARD television that the German contact-tracing app is “coming this week”, although he did not confirm reports that it would be launched on Tuesday. The launch of the app follows some delays to ensure that the Bluetooth technology used to detect nearby users works at the appropriate distance. The app is intended as a supplement for a manual contact-tracing scheme.
Germany says coronavirus tracing app ready to go, as Italian privacy fears ease
Germany’s smartphone app to trace coronavirus infections is ready to be launched this week, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Sunday (14 June). After delays to ensure the bluetooth technology would work at the correct distance, the government says the app will be a vital tool to help avoid a second wave of infections. “It’s coming this week,” Spahn told ARD television, but he declined to confirm German media reports that the app would be launched on Tuesday. The app uses bluetooth short-range radio to detect and contact people at risk of infection by coronavirus and does not rely on a centralised database. Deutsche Telekom and software company SAP are involved. Spahn urged people wishing to go on holiday after European border controls are eased on Monday to be careful and ask themselves whether their trip was necessary.
Coronavirus: Asia not yet ready to work from home
Many companies in Asia are slowly sending their employees back to the office as the world reopens. But with the coronavirus infections soaring past seven million and growing, working remotely will continue to be a facet in the region. Most firms are resorting to flexible work schedules so that at least half the staff can continue working from home, while the rest can return to the office. The goal is to avoid densely packed work spaces that facilitate viral spread. Staff will certainly return to the office once the pandemic eases.
'Three weeks of hell': the peak of Covid-19 at hard-hit UK care home
ears flowed at Melbury Court in Durham as the Covid-19 death toll ticked up toward 26, the worst known outbreak in a UK care home. Only 20 of its 82 residents, many of them with dementia, escaped infection.
Community Activities
Public space a 'lifeline' for post-lockdown cities
Public and outdoor space has been at a premium during the coronavirus pandemic: bike sales have leapt, park use is way up, and even pavement chalk drawing appears to be having a moment. Now as many cities start to reopen, some are looking at their sidewalks, squares, parking lots and even streets as a hidden asset in boosting their economies. “The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our relationship with our streets, open public spaces and public facilities,” said Laura Petrella, chief of planning, finance and economy at UN-Habitat. “Public space has emerged as a critical lifeline for cities and their residents,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The city of Braga in northern Portugal has opened public squares, sidewalks, parks and more throughout the city to restaurants and local businesses seeking to reopen to customers while maintaining social distancing.
Working Remotely
Slack introduces permanent remote working policy
Business communications platform Slack will introduce a permanent flexible working policy for the majority of its 1,664 employees, following on from the changes made during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The organisation has made the decision to not reopen its offices until at least 1 September 2020, and when the offices do open, it their roles permits, employees will have the option to work flexibly, permanently. Additionally, Slack are also looking at recruiting employees who solely work remotely.
Nine in 10 Mena professionals see work-from-home trend growing after Covid-19
Nine in 10 professionals in the Mena region expect remote working to increase over the next few years, according to a new survey that analysed the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on work culture. About three quarters of respondents in Bayt.com’s Remote Work in Mena survey said they would prefer a job that allows them to work from home while 87 per cent said they have all the resources required to carry out their job remotely. Only 5 per cent said they do not believe the trend will not gain further traction. “The recent shift towards remote work has radically changed the way most Mena businesses operate,” Ola Haddad, director of human resources at Bayt.com, said.
Australia's regional workers likely winners from remote working arrangements
The nature of work will never be the same after coronavirus. The pandemic has shown remote working not only widely possible, but often beneficial for both employers and employees. No longer does a job have to mean sacrificing lifestyle for location - and regional Australia is likely to reap the rewards of the shift in working habits.
Virtual Classrooms
Virtual classroom enables interactive training
In collaboration with its partners Barco and Kinly, CTouch has built a unique virtual training room at its Eindhoven office. With this state-of-the-art facility, the touchscreen solutions provider makes it possible for companies and institutes to organize real-time, interactive trainings and classes with co-workers, students or partners from all over the world. The virtual training room will also be used by the company to provide collaboration sessions and technical product trainings to its network of resellers and touchscreen users.
Preparing for the post-Covid-19 classroom
The good news is that teachers in Ireland are able to upskill through a range of information and courses that provide training in areas such as blended learning, remote teaching apps, the impact of trauma on learning and other skills that will be vital from next September. We’ve compiled a collection of some of the best courses and webinars for teachers and principals seeking to prepare for the return to a very changed school environment.
Coronavirus: A third of pupils 'not engaging with work'
The report by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) says head teachers believe around a third of pupils are not engaging with set work. Limited or no access to technology was a problem for around a quarter (23%) of pupils, school leaders told the NFER. The government says it has committed over £100m to help home learning. The NFER report is based on findings from a survey of 1,233 school leaders and 1,821 teachers in England's state schools, carried out between 7 and 17 May. It raises particular concern about the impact of school closures, due to Covid 19, on the learning of pupils from the most disadvantaged areas, saying pupil engagement is lower in schools with the highest levels of deprivation.
With some remote learning likely for the fall, schools agonize over how much Zoom time to impose
The global pandemic upended life as we know it, shutting down school campuses across the country, but Zahriana Newson’s schedule at Roxbury Prep charter school barely changed. But now there's a new problem....
Public Policies
Coronavirus: Contact-tracing apps face further hitches
Norway's health authority has had to delete all data gathered via its Covid-19 contact-tracing app and suspend further use of the tool. The Norwegian Data Protection Authority ruled the Smittestopp app represented a disproportionate intrusion into users' privacy. A switch to a rival design backed by Apple and Google is being considered. Elsewhere, researchers say a bug in the latest version of Australia's app means many iPhones fail to log matches. In mid-April, Norway became one of the first places to introduce a contact-tracing app, when the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and software company Simula rolled out their tool to three of the country's municipalities.
Covid 19 coronavirus: More calls for New Zealand to include Cook Islands in 'bubble'
The Aotearoa Society of the Cook Islands has joined the call for New Zealand to open up its borders to allow travel with south Pacific nations that are free of Covid-19. Spokesman Derek Fox said, in the Cook Islands' case, the economy is almost totally reliant on tourism, but this had stopped dead, despite there having been no coronavirus in the country.
New lockdown rules explained: What’s changed in the UK today, from non-essential shops opening to face masks on public transport
From today, Monday 15 June, thousands of non-essential shops across England are reopening their doors to customers for the first time in almost three months, with many retailers eager to get back to business. Business secretary Alok Sharma said the move would allow the High Street to “spring back to life”, but shops must follow social distancing guidelines and retailers will have to complete a coronavirus risk assessment. Shoppers will have to employ their patience as they join queues at stores due to limits on the numbers of people who can enter at any one time. Boris Johnson has urged the public to “shop with confidence” and said he did not know whether to expect “a flood or a trickle” when the shops reopened but that he hoped people would return in “sensible” numbers.
Coronavirus: WHO warns against further lifting of lockdown in England
“We know that early lockdowns saved lives and bought some time for the health system to be ready,” Kluge said when asked about the British government’s record. “But I would rather than instead of looking to the past, jump to the future and say that the question of lifting the lockdown is as important as going to the lockdown. The key words here are to do it gradually. Do it carefully.
Finance minister says Britain to urgently review distancing rule
Britain is reviewing its two-metre social distancing rule ahead of the next stage of lockdown easing planned for July 4, when bars, restaurants and hairdressers could reopen in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday. Progress in tackling the coronavirus pandemic had created “room for manoeuvre” on the rule, which many employers have said will make it harder to get back up to speed, Johnson said at an east London shopping centre preparing to reopen next week.
The Great British COVID-19 Procurement Scandal – Byline Times
Bernie Spofforth reveals how small businesses with little experience and expertise were awarded major contracts for personal protective equipment
Emmanuel Macron lifts lockdown in Paris as borders and restaurants reopen
Restaurants and cafés were reopening fully in Paris today after President Macron announced he was accelerating the lifting of lockdown in France. It coincided with borders opening across Europe after three months of closures due to the coronavirus.
Germans off to sunny Spain as Europe loosens border lockdown
European nations eased border controls on Monday as coronavirus cases declined after three months of lockdown, with German tourists heading for Mallorca and French bargain-hunters streaming into Belgium to buy cheap cigarettes. Greece allowed more international flights as it sought to salvage the summer season, German tourists flocking to neighbouring Denmark caused an 8 km (5 mile) queue and Italians popped into France to buy lottery scratch cards. Spain is initially allowing in about 1,500 visitors from Germany as part of a pilot project to begin opening up the Spanish tourism market in the coming weeks. Hundreds of German tourists, the first to visit Spain since borders were closed in March, arrived in Mallorca on Monday on a flight from Düsseldorf.
Australia's largest states further ease coronavirus curbs
Australia's two largest states will further ease public coronavirus restrictions at libraries, community centres and nightclubs, officials said on Sunday, despite recording increases in new infections. New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state, said that from July 1, a 50 person limit on indoor venues such as restaurants and churches would be scrapped, so long as the venues observed a one person per four square metre rule. Nightclubs and music festivals would also be allowed to operate from August if new cases remain low, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. The state on Saturday reported the first locally transmitted COVID-19 case in weeks, and state officials on Sunday said there had been nine new infections since late Friday. In neighboring Victoria, where pubs and other venues are currently limited to 20 people, indoor businesses will be allowed to have up to 50 seated patrons from June 22, said state premier Daniel Andrews.
Swiss Covid-19 second wave response plan excludes national lockdown
The Swiss government is against imposing nationwide lockdown restrictions if a second wave of Covid-19 strikes the Alpine nation, according to the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper. The weekend press also took stock of how Switzerland has handled the pandemic overall.
Maintaining Services
Primark pulls the crowds as stores reopen in England after lockdown
Long queues of shoppers snaked around stores in England on Monday, with discount fashion retailer Primark proving a particular draw as shops reopened their doors after 83 days of lockdown. Queues formed from early morning outside several branches of Primark, which does not sell online so has not made a penny in the UK for months. The chain reopened some of its stores early, including its biggest in Birmingham, to avoid overcrowding as hundreds of people lined up outside. At its Leeds store, the estimated afternoon wait time to get in was up to an hour. There was also a big queue outside the Nike Town store on London’s Oxford Street, the capital’s busiest shopping street, with many shoppers ignoring social distancing rules.
Shoppers rush to the High Street as England stores reopen
Demand across England's High Streets, retail parks and shopping centres surged on Monday as some shops reopened after a three-month lockdown. Research firm Springboard said that by 17:00, footfall was 38.8% higher than last week, as pent-up demand led to reports of long queues. However, shopper numbers were generally far below the same time last year. But at Bicester Village, near Oxford, crowding was so great that 3,000 people signed a petition to close it. All shops in England are now allowed to open, but with strict safety measures.
Germany and France reopen borders as Europe emerges from lockdown
France and Germany became the latest European countries to reopen their borders as the continent emerges from its three-month Covid-19 lockdown. Speaking on Sunday evening, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, said the country’s Schengen borders would be open from Monday and its non-EU borders from 1 July. He said that while France could be proud of its response to the pandemic, it needed to reflect on the crisis.
Greece welcomes foreign visitors, restarts summer tourism
Tourism employs about 700,000 people and accounts for some 20% of Greece’s economic output, so how the sector fares is significant for the country’s recovery. Greece emerged from a decade-long debt crisis two years ago. About 33 million tourists visited the Mediterranean nation last year, generating revenues of 19 billion euros. Passengers arriving from airports deemed high-risk by the European Union’s aviation safety agency will be tested for the coronavirus and quarantined up to 14 days, depending on the test result. Restrictions remain for passengers from Britain and Turkey. Arrivals from other airports will be randomly tested. Restrictions on movement imposed in March helped Greece contain the spread of COVID-19 infections to just above 3,000 cases, a relatively low number compared with other EU countries. But it brought the economy to a standstill.
From crowded tubes to pedal power, London's COVID transport challenge
The crowded daily commute in London has long been a source of misery for millions. But getting to work will be even more of a challenge following Britain’s coronavirus lockdown. Capacity on the transport network in one of the world’s biggest financial hubs has been reduced by 85% to comply with social-distancing rules, protecting commuters by preventing them cramming into trains, the London Underground and buses. Everyone using public transport must also now wear a face covering. As the lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, many now face the quandary of how to reach the City of London, Canary Wharf and other business areas both quickly and safely.
German tourists arrive in Spain's Mallorca after lockdown
A select group of German tourists arrived in Spain's island Mallorca on Monday (June 15) as part of a pilot project which will bring 10,000 holidaymakers to the Balearic Islands to find out how mass tourism can work in a time of coronavirus.
Paris restaurants reopen fully, still wary about post-lockdown
Parisian restaurants cautiously reopened their indoor dining halls on Monday as the government relaxed one of the last major coronavirus constraints, but with virtually no tourists and many French people still working from home, the mood was cautious. President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that restaurants and cafes in Paris could reopen fully from Monday, the same day France lifted border restrictions for European Union travellers, bringing much needed relief for the hospitality industry.
End of lockdown could trigger ‘extreme’ congestion and worse air quality as commuters swap public transport for cars
Studies warn of surge in road users amid fear of coronavirus spreading on buses and trains. As lockdown measures have eased, authorities in cities around the world have warned against people crowding onto public transport where they could inadvertently cause another wave of coronavirus infections. The result is that commuters who may usually have opted for public transport may use personal cars more, experts have suggested.
Healthcare Innovations
Coronavirus vaccine: Chinese biotech says jab produced antibodies in more than 90 per cent of people
Some 743 healthy adults were recruited to two randomised control trials – 600 took part in phase II and 143 in phase I. The larger trial showed that the vaccine induced neutralising antibodies in more than 90 per cent of volunteers, who were tested 14 days after receiving two injections, two weeks apart. There were no adverse events reported in the trials. Weidong Yin, chief executive of Sinovac, said: “Our phase I/II study shows CoronaVac is safe and can induce immune response. Concluding our phase I/II clinical studies with these encouraging results is another significant milestone we have achieved in the fight against Covid-19.” He added that the company, which has developed similar inactivated virus vaccines against hepatitis A and B as well as seasonal and pandemic influenza, has already begun to invest in manufacturing facilities.
Coronavirus vaccine hope as potentially 'game-changing' government-backed candidate enters human trials
Ministers have also pledged millions of pounds to a separate candidate being developed by Oxford University, with Mr Sharma claiming in May that around half of the UK population could have access to that vaccine by September if trials are successful. The Imperial vaccine will be trialled in 300 healthy volunteers aged between 18 to 70, the Department for Business said, with “rigorous pre-clinical safety tests” showing “encouraging signs of an effective immune response in animal studies”.
Sinovac claims progress with early coronavirus vaccine study
Sinovac, a Beijing-based drugmaker, said on Saturday a vaccine it's developing for the new coronavirus spurred immune responses in healthy adults given the shot in an early-stage study, a hint that the experimental candidate could be working as intended. The company offered little supporting data for its claim, indicating only that neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 were found in more than 90% of study participants tested two weeks after inoculation. Importantly, no serious side effects occurred among the more than 700 volunteers enrolled in the trial, according to Sinovac. Results from the Phase 1/2 study, which Sinovac conducted in the Jiangsu province of China, will be published in a medical journal, the company said. So far, only one company — China's CanSino Biologics — has detailed coronavirus vaccine study data in an academic publication
US revokes emergency use of drugs touted by Trump vs. virus
The Food and Drug Administration said the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are unlikely to be effective in treating the coronavirus. Citing reports of heart complications, the FDA said the drugs’ unproven benefits “do not outweigh the known and potential risks.” In a separate announcement, the FDA also warned doctors against prescribing the drugs in combination with remdesivir, the lone drug currently shown to help patients with COVID-19. The FDA said the anti-malaria drugs can reduce the effectiveness of remdesivir, which FDA cleared for emergency use in May.
AstraZeneca to supply Europe with up to 400 million doses of Oxford University's vaccine at no profit
AstraZeneca has reached an agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, to supply up to 400 million doses of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine, with deliveries starting by the end of 2020. AstraZeneca continues to build a number of supply chains in parallel across the world, including for Europe. The Company is seeking to expand manufacturing capacity further and is open to collaborating with other companies in order to meet its commitment to support access to the vaccine at no profit during the pandemic. Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, said: “This agreement will ensure that hundreds of millions of Europeans have access to Oxford University’s vaccine following approval. With our European supply chain due to begin production soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and rapidly. I would like to thank the governments of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands for their commitment and swift response.”
Coronavirus: Imperial College to begin human trials for COVID-19 vaccine
A total of 300 healthy people will be given two doses of the vaccine, which has been found during animal testing to cause higher levels of antibodies to COVID-19 than normally produced in those who have the illness. If it appears to be safe in humans, the trial could be widened to 6,000 people later in the year. The trial, backed by £41 million of government funding and £5 million in philanthropic donations, is the second British vaccine candidate to reach human trials after Oxford University. Rather than using the virus itself, Imperial's vaccine injects synthetic strands of genetic material into muscle, which prompts the body to create copies of a coronavirus protein that triggers immune system protection
Covid-19 can damage lungs of victims beyond recognition, expert says
In findings that he said showed the potential for “real problems” after survival, he told the Lords science and technology committee that he had studied the autopsies of patients who died in Italy after 30 to 40 days in intensive care and discovered large amounts of the virus persisting in lungs as well as highly unusual fused cells. “What you find in the lungs of people who have stayed with the disease for more than a month before dying is something completely different from normal pneumonia, influenza or the Sars virus,” he said. “You see massive thrombosis. There is a complete disruption of the lung architecture – in some lights you can’t even distinguish that it used to be a lung.