|

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 8th Jul 2020

Isolation Tips
Coronavirus shielders: 'We're a bit forgotten'
She says it can feel like pub-goers "think that disabled people should just stay inside and look after themselves - when I think it needs to be a community effort". She did go out to an electrical shop at the weekend to return something she'd bought online. But she won't do it again in a hurry. "It was kind of stressful," she says. "They weren't limiting the number of people going in. "None of them had face coverings and I think I was the only one who did."
Psychologist explains why the youth fear social isolation more than coronavirus -
In recent weeks, the percentage of cases in people between 20 and 39 years old has been increasing compared to other age groups. Currently, they represent about 50% of the cases being reported. San Diego County Health Officer Wilma Wooten said, “the surge in cases is occurring in these age groups because they are less likely to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance.” The younger population is more likely to be hanging out with friends, participating in the protests, and visiting public places and businesses because the risk to them is extremely small. They would rather enjoy their life, than stay in for months because a disease that rarely impacts them is spreading.
Tough self-isolation mode unlikely to be happening during COVID-19 second wave - expert
The emergence of the second wave of coronavirus infection in Russia is inevitable, Deputy Director of Research at the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology at the Federal Service on Surveillance for Consumer rights protection Alexander Gorelov said
Parkinson's Patients in UK Survey Detail Struggles With COVID-19...
Many Parkinson’s disease patients in the U.K. feel challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions it has placed on social interaction, reporting problems ranging from canceled appointments and limited exercise to worsening symptoms, according to a survey conducted by Parkinson’s UK and Lancaster University. “Unfortunately this report shows just how hard the Parkinson’s community has been hit by the coronavirus crisis, both physically and emotionally,” Katherine Crawford, director of services at Parkinson’s UK, said in a press release. The survey, done between April and May 2020, was completed by 1,491 people with Parkinson’s (mean age, 67) across the U.K., and by 275 of their caregivers. Respondents were asked a variety of questions about their experiences related to the pandemic and lockdown in the context of this disease.
Study from Uni.lu: Luxembourgers satisfied despite lockdown
A study whose results were published by the University of Luxembourg analysed the impact of the confinement on several countries. The results were surprisingly positive in Luxembourg. The study investigated the impact of the lockdown (or similar measures) in Luxembourg, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Sweden. Individuals in Luxembourg increased time spent for children’s care and for household chores. According to the report, "Luxembourg experienced the highest increase of 2.65 hours on average in childcare."
How many children at risk? UK health visitors count the cost of lockdown
Since lockdown, many services in England have had to stop or severely restrict face-to-face appointments in homes as health visitors have been redeployed to other healthcare roles. This has led to concerns about being able to pick up on vital clues about people’s mental health, particularly new mothers; children’s development; and domestic violence. “We expect children are having a difficult life in households with domestic abuse,” says Jacky Syme, a service development manager at Bedfordshire community health services. “The level has gone up, we’ve seen it on the ground.” Calls to the UK’s national domestic abuse helpline have reportedly risen by 66% during lockdown and visits to its website increased by 950%. Demand for beds in refuges has also rocketed. “There is a lot of concern around vulnerable children behind closed doors,” says Cheryll Adams, chief executive of the Institute of Health Visiting.
No distance learning for 12.7% of students in lockdown
Italy's communications regulator AGCOM said Tuesday that 12.7% of Italian students did not have access to distance learning during the coronavirus lockdown. It said this figure was "unacceptable for an advanced democracy". The authority said the pandemic has exacerbated "pre-existing social and digital inequalities" and risked "compromising the slow process of digitalization" in Italy. It said the problem was especially serious in Italy's less wealthy southern regions. The authority said Italian families' "inadequate" technological resources were "a significant obstacle and an unacceptable condition in the case of access to essential services such as education
Coronavirus in Switzerland: 280 forced into isolation after venue 'attended by partying superspreader'
Party organisers are considering taking legal action after a person knowingly infected with the coronavirus attended a private party, forcing almost 300 people into quarantine. The management of the Parktheater in Solothurn said it was considering suing the attendee who reportedly attended a private party at the venue in late June despite knowingly being infected with the coronavirus. After the incident, 280 people were forced to quarantine - including members of the club’s staff. Swiss tabloid Blick reported late on Monday that all who attended the party in late June were forced into a ten-day quarantine.
Hygiene Helpers
How Japan Beat Coronavirus Without Lockdowns
A focus on contact tracing and ‘cluster busting’ has allowed us to avoid harmful economic restrictions.
Where do I have to wear a face mask? The mandatory places to have face coverings
Face coverings now mandatory for those travelling by public transport in England and Scotland as efforts to restart the UK economy ramp up
School openings across globe suggest ways to keep coronavirus at bay, despite outbreaks
Continued closures risk “scarring the life chances of a generation of young people,” according to an open letter published this month and signed by more than 1500 members of the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). Virtual education is often a pale shadow of the real thing and left many parents juggling jobs and childcare. Lower-income children who depend on school meals were going hungry. And there were hints that children were suffering increased abuse, now that school staff could no longer spot and report early signs of it. It was time, a growing chorus said, to bring children back to school. By early June, more than 20 countries had done just that. (Some others, including Taiwan, Nicaragua, and Sweden, never closed their schools.) It was a vast, uncontrolled experiment. Some schools imposed strict limits on contact between children, while others let them play freely. Some required masks, while others made them optional. Some closed temporarily if just one student was diagnosed with COVID-19; others stayed open even when multiple children or staff were affected, sending only ill people and direct contacts into quarantine.
Any Texas student may learn online in fall. Masks, symptom checks required for campus
While schools must provide daily on-campus attendance for students, parents may request their children be offered virtual instruction from any district offering it. However, they may be asked to commit to remote instruction for at least a full grading period, and parents who choose to switch from a virtual to classroom setting may be limited to transitioning at the end of grading periods.
Matt Hancock praises pubs for closing down after drinkers test positive for coronavirus
Matt Hancock has praised three pubs for closing down again after drinkers tested positive for coronavirus. Speaking in the House of Commons, the Health Secretary said that the closures, just days after pubs were allowed to reopen on Saturday, showed that the UK's contact tracing system was working. The Fox and Hounds in Batley, West Yorkshire, the Lighthouse in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, and the Village Home in Gosport, Hampshire, reopened on July 4, but have since decided to close again after finding out about customers testing positive for Covid-19.
Brits now required by law to wear face masks on beach in Spain
Sunbathers can ditch their facemasks once they are on the sand in most regions of Spain but following a surge of new Covid-19 cases, La Marina north of Lugo in Galicia has been put on lockdown and people must wear face masks all the time
Community Activities
Devon woman sews 100 transparent face masks for deaf people
Claire Cross, 45 and from Devon, said her masks are 'vital' for deaf people. Nearly all people with hearing loss use lip reading to help communicate. Charities say they are at risk of 'months of misery' due to face masks
Free ambulance helps save mothers and babies in Kenya lockdown
As soon as Kenya introduced a coronavirus curfew, Dr. Jemimah Kariuki, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Nairobi's Kenyatta Hospital, started seeing more death and complications. "Every time I went to the hospital it was fewer numbers but more complications...and when women died alone in childbirth, I was like 'in 2020?' You are dying? Alone?," she said. Mothers in labour and their babies die more frequently during disease outbreaks in Africa. Women are either too afraid of infection to give birth in hospitals, or drivers are too afraid to take them if police are enforcing movement restrictions. That means disruptions to health systems caused by COVID-19 could result in an additional 1.1 million additional child deaths and 56,700 maternal deaths in low and middle-income countries, a study by Johns Hopkins researchers showed.
Drive-in cinema: Dates, time and tickets for all of London's film screenings
With a format perfect for social distancing, insiders think they could become a major part of the industry, with Luna Cinema founder George Wood recently telling us they could be as popular and commonplace as regular open air screenings in the future. While traditional cinemas have opened up now, there are still plenty of people who feel more comfortable in their own cars, and big screens seem set to only get bigger, with drive-in comedy, music and even drag events coming to London too.
Working Remotely
A new wave of remote workers could bring lasting change to pricey rental markets
When the coronavirus spread around the world this spring, government-issued stay-at-home orders essentially forced a global social experiment on remote work. Perhaps not surprisingly, people who are able to work from home generally like doing so. A recent survey from iOmetrics and Global Workplace Analytics on the work-from-home experience found that 68% of the 2,865 responses said they were “very successful working from home”, 76% want to continue working from home at least one day a week, and 16% don’t want to return to the office at all.
COVID-19 pivot: Lessons learned at Bloomberg
Six questions with Stig Sorensen, Head of Telemetry at Bloomberg - Q: Which pre-existing processes were in place to ensure that Bloomberg was prepared for near 100 percent work-from-home requirements?
Virtual Classrooms
International students could lose their visas unless schools have some in-person courses
"In our program, mechanical engineering, all of the courses were supposed to be online for next semester. Yesterday when we heard this news we were totally shocked because we have no chance. We had no other options," said Sina Tayebati, a Graduate Student at NIU. In Illinois alone, there are an estimated 53,000 international students representing a significant portion of college campuses overall population- up to 20-25% in some cases. The University of Illinois system has over 15,000 international students, making it one of the largest concentrations nationwide. At UIC they're now scrambling to figure out how to ensure there are enough in-person classes being offered next fall to at the very least protect their continuing students.
Fairfax County Parents Have Two Options For Reopening Schools—And A Week Left To Decide
Amid concerns about a lack of clarity in reopening plans, Fairfax County Public Schools will extend the deadline for families and staff to decide between the district’s two options for the coming school year. FCPS is offering a choice between all-virtual learning or a hybrid model where kids would have some amount of in-person learning mixed with online work. The deadline to choose between one or the other has been extended from July 10 to July 15, Superintendent Scott Braband announced Monday night during a virtual town hall. “We’ve heard overwhelmingly from our parents and community that you want more time to make these decisions,” Brabrand said.
CMS family considers virtual learning options to minimize risk of exposure for child with disability
With just over a month away until North Carolina schools are set to reopen on August 17, families are trying to prepare as best as they can. “I will do what needs to be done to keep my kids safe... anybody would,” says Charlotte-Mecklenburg School mom Stacy Staggs. Staggs’ daughter, Emma, is no stranger to remote learning. For the past two years she’s been learning from home. Emma’s breathing disability means two trained nurses must be with her in the classroom while at school. Staggs says that CMS recently signed off on providing her the care she needs so she could safely get back to learning in the classroom this fall. But that goal was before the COVID-19 pandemic.“There’s no way Emma can step foot into a classroom at this point, she is very high risk for severity if she were to contract the infection,” says Staggs. Staggs says it’s not just Emma that likely wont be going back - if there is in-person instruction come fall.
Public Policies
Trump administration sends letter withdrawing U.S. from World Health Organization over coronavirus response
The Trump administration has begun the process of withdrawing the United States from the World Health Organization, a move that could hurt the U.N. agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and reshape public health diplomacy. The notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, was sent Monday to United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. Under the terms of a joint resolution passed by Congress in 1948, the United States must give a year’s notice and pay its debts to the agency to leave. Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for Guterres, said the secretary general was “verifying with the World Health Organization whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met.” It is not clear whether the president can pull the United States out of the organization and withdraw funding without Congress. When Trump first threatened to withdraw, Democratic lawmakers argued that doing so would be illegal and vowed to push back.
Covid-19: Assams Jorhat to go under total lockdown from July 9-15
In order to contain the spread of Covid-19 in Assam, 'total lockdown' to be imposed in areas under the Jorhat Municipal Board from 7 pm of July 9 to July 15. According to the order of the District Magistrate and Chairperson, DDMA, Jorhat, all the weekly huts/markets will remain closed in the entire district by this order. As many as 786 new coronavirus cases were reported in Assam on Monday, with 598 cases from Guwahati city, State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. The total number of cases has risen to 12,522 including 7,882 discharged cases, 4,623 active cases and 14 deaths.
Italy could ‘section’ people who refuse treatment for Covid-19
Italy’s health minister has proposed “sectioning” people who refuse hospital treatment for Covid-19 and has suspended flights from Bangladesh as the southern European country grapples with several new coronavirus outbreaks. The potential move towards forced hospitalisations came after a cluster of infections arose in the northern Veneto region, triggered by a man who developed coronavirus symptoms on the day he returned from a business trip to Serbia and initially resisted treatment in hospital.
Ryan says Government considering targeted Covid-19 testing at airports
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said that the Government will look at targeted Covid-19 testing at airports. The Minister acknowledged that temperature tests do not always catch the virus, but he felt that mandatory quarantine would not be feasible. Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney show, the Green Party leader said that the current system of self-isolation was working and it had managed to flatten the curve. "We have to keep monitoring and we have to keep vigilant as numbers flying continue to increase.”
A snapshot of new coronavirus outbreaks in Spain: Two ‘comarcas’ confined and two buildings in quarantine
Several areas in Spain have been forced to reintroduce lockdown measures due to new coronavirus outbreaks. In the two weeks since the state of alarm came to an end, nearly 300,000 residents in Lleida province in Catalonia and Lugo province in Galicia have been confined to their comarcas following a spike in infections; another 80,000 people in the northwestern region of Aragón have been moved back to Phase 2 of the government’s coronavirus deescalation plan; two buildings – one in Santander and another in Albacete – have been placed under quarantine; and around 50 coronavirus outbreaks are being monitored across the country. Of Spain’s 17 regions, only Asturias and La Rioja have not reported a coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus: Gütersloh lockdown lifted after German court ruling
A German court has ended a lockdown imposed to tackle a coronavirus outbreak at a meat packing facility. While a lockdown was "not unreasonable" at first, the court ruled that authorities should have replaced it with more focused measures. Officials in North Rhine-Westphalia brought back a lockdown around Gütersloh in June after more than 1,500 Tönnies plant workers tested positive. It was due to end on Wednesday, albeit with the option to extend it again. But the state's Higher Administrative Court overturned the measures with immediate effect on Monday, calling them disproportionate. Restaurants, bars and gyms can now reopen in Gütersloh district, and up to 10 people can meet outside - in line with national restrictions. Kindergartens will reopen on Wednesday, officials said.
Coronavirus UK: Leicester's infection rate falls, lockdown stays
Health Secretary said there is no set benchmark at which lockdown will be lifted. Leicester went into England's first local lockdown last week in spike of Covid-19 Mr Hancock said officials want to see 14 days of data before evaluating rules
Coronavirus: What guidance did care homes get from the government?
Boris Johnson says "too many care homes didn't really follow the procedures", so what was the coronavirus guidance given to them?
Russian court fines coronavirus-denying rebel monk
A Russian court on Tuesday fined a coronavirus-denying monk who has challenged Kremlin lockdown orders for spreading false information about the pandemic. The court in the Ural Mountains region ordered Father Sergiy to pay 90,000 rubles ($1,250). The 65-year-old monk, who has attracted nationwide attention by urging followers to disobey church leadership and ignore church closures during the pandemic, didn’t attend the court hearing. On Friday, a Russian Orthodox Church panel in Yekaterinburg ruled to defrock Father Sergiy for breaking monastic rules. He didn’t show up at the session and dismissed the verdict, urging his backers to come to defend the Sredneuralsk women’s monastery where he has holed up since last month.
Madagascar reimposes lockdown in capital as coronavirus cases surge
Madagascar has reimposed a lockdown in its central region, which includes its capital Antananarivo, in an effort to tackle an increase in coronavirus cases in the city, according to the country's government. Schools and universities in the city have been closed and nonessential travel within the region is prohibited until July 20. Authorities say churches will be shut, and public gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned. The government said troops have been deployed to affected districts to ensure residents comply with containment measures, including a curfew in the capital city, the government said.
Serbia reintroduces lockdown after highest daily Covid-19 death toll
Serbia’s president announced the reintroduction of a lockdown after the Balkan country reported its highest single-day death toll from coronavirus. President Aleksandar Vucic called the virus situation in the Serbian capital of Belgrade “alarming” and “critical” as the city’s hospitals neared their capacity limits.
Fleeing coronavirus outbreaks overseas: New Zealand restricts entry for Kiwis escaping coronavirus
New Zealand began restricting the return of its own nationals Tuesday as the country faces an accelerating influx of citizens fleeing coronavirus outbreaks overseas and limited quarantine facilities. National carrier Air New Zealand put a three-week freeze on new bookings and the government is in talks with other airlines to limit capacity, officials said. New Zealand has gone 67 days without any cases of coronavirus in the community and its 22 active cases are all in managed quarantine facilities for New Zealanders flocking home from worsening epidemics elsewhere.
Global report: South Africa cases pass 200,000 as Kenya plans 'phased reopening'
South Africa’s coronavirus cases have passed 200,000, the highest total in Africa, as Kenya’s leadership announced that it was pressing on with plans to ease the country’s lockdown despite a steep increase in cases. There are currently 205,721 cases and 3,310 deaths in South Africa, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, which relies on official government data, making it the 15th worst-affected country worldwide. South Africa’s Times newspaper reported that the country’s cases have increased by almost 160,000 in the last month alone.
Maintaining Services
Quarantine: could a coronavirus test at Heathrow replace self-isolation?
Passengers arriving at Heathrow may soon be able to take a coronavirus test to avoid quarantine. The government has exempted travellers arriving from 60 nations from the need to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days. But the rule remains in place for more than 100 countries – including, controversially, Portugal and every nation in Africa. Even though the blanket quarantine policy is now eased, the need to self-isolate is dampening enthusiasm for business and leisure journeys.
Shops and bars reopen in São Paulo as Brazil reels from world's second-worst coronavirus outbreak
In Brazil’s largest city São Paulo, shops and bars started to reopen on July 6, 2020, after the city spent over three months in lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses that reopen are being allowed to operate for six hours a day at 40 per cent capacity. But Covid-19 continues to spread across the country, which reported 1,603,055 cases and 64,867 deaths as of July 6. Brazil’s outbreak is the world's second-largest following the US.
New lockdown rules for the reopening of cinemas and sport in South Africa
Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has published a new directive outlining the new reopening rules for cinemas, sports, and libraries. The directive, which comes into immediate effect, forms part of the country’s ‘advanced level 3 lockdown’ which saw a number of business sectors reopen to the public. While the amended level 3 directive sets out a number of core regulations which all business must follow, the latest directive from Mthethwa also introduces specific guidelines for the arts and sports sectors. The changes are outlined in more detail below.
As Melbourne goes into coronavirus lockdown, it's a sign it could happen anywhere in Australia
For many Victorians, this will feel frustratingly like a reset; back to square one. For the rest of Australia, it's disquieting news — a reminder this situation could occur at any time in any other state or territory. None of us can be complacent. It's hard, but this is just how vigilant we have to be until a vaccine is found. We're all keen to go back to "life as normal" but the reality is, life as normal doesn't exist for 2020.
Beijing proves a 2nd coronavirus wave doesn’t have to mean a 2nd lockdown
Beijing reported zero new coronavirus cases for the first time in 26 days, a sign the resurgence that ignited fears of a second wave in China looks to have been brought under control for now. The city of more than 20 million people appears to have quelled a flare-up that infected 335 people, with infections down from 36 a day at their peak in mid-June. Authorities took a different approach to the virus when it reappeared in China’s political and economic hub after nearly two months of no locally transmitted cases than they did in Wuhan, the central city where the pathogen first emerged.
Healthcare Innovations
Warning of serious brain disorders in people with mild Covid symptoms
Doctors may be missing signs of serious and potentially fatal brain disorders triggered by coronavirus, as they emerge in mildly affected or recovering patients, scientists have warned. Neurologists are on Wednesday publishing details of more than 40 UK Covid-19 patients whose complications ranged from brain inflammation and delirium to nerve damage and stroke. In some cases, the neurological problem was the patient’s first and main symptom. The cases, published in the journal Brain, revealed a rise in a life-threatening condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (Adem), as the first wave of infections swept through Britain. At UCL’s Institute of Neurology, Adem cases rose from one a month before the pandemic to two or three per week in April and May. One woman, who was 59, died of the complication.
WHO acknowledges 'emerging evidence' of airborne spread of COVID-19
The World Health Organization on Tuesday acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus, after a group of scientists urged the global body to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease passes between people. “We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19,” Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO, told a news briefing. The WHO has previously said the virus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease spreads primarily through small droplets expelled from the nose and mouth of an infected person that quickly sink to the ground.
Coronavirus: Majority testing positive have no symptoms
Only 22% of people testing positive for coronavirus reported having symptoms on the day of their test, according to the Office for National Statistics. This hammers home the role of people who aren't aware they're carrying the virus in spreading it onwards. Health and social care staff appeared to be more likely to test positive. This comes as deaths from all causes in the UK fell to below the average for the second week in a row.
Research shows isolation of asymptomatic cases key to reduce COVID-19
A new modeling analysis of COVID-19 transmission data attributed to “silent” infections has suggests that even isolation of all symptomatic individuals may be insufficient to suppress outbreaks. According to the study, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, at least one-third of asymptomatic cases would need to be detected and isolated in order to reduce the attack rate below one percent. “Silent” infections refer to people who either are in the presymptomatic stage or have asymptomatic infections. In the absence of population-wide restrictions, isolation of infected individuals is key to curtailing transmission. However, the effectiveness of symptom-based isolation in preventing a resurgence depends on the extent of presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission, said the study.
Lack of COVID-19 Lockdown Increased Deaths in Sweden, Analysis Concludes
Sweden’s controversial decision not to lock down during COVID-19 produced more deaths and greater health care demand than seen in countries with earlier, more stringent interventions, a new analysis finds. But Sweden fared better than would be expected from its public health mandates alone, roughly similar to France, Italy and Spain – countries that imposed more stringent measures, but adopted them after the pandemic took hold there. Sweden’s unusual approach also saw fewer patients admitted to intensive-care units than expected. But the country has seen a higher percentage of deaths in older patients outside ICUs than other countries when ICU beds were not limited. That suggests Swedish health authorities have considered patients’ chances of recovery in deciding who receives access to intensive care, the researchers say.
Coronavirus: Spanish study casts doubt on herd immunity feasibility
A Spanish study has cast doubt on the feasibility of herd immunity as a way of tackling the coronavirus pandemic. The study of more than 60,000 people estimates that around just 5% of the Spanish population has developed antibodies, the medical journal the Lancet reported. Herd immunity is achieved when enough people become immune to a virus to stop its spread. Around 70% to 90% of a population needs to be immune to protect the uninfected. The prevalence of Covid-19 antibodies was below 3% in coastal regions, but higher in areas of Spain with widespread outbreaks, the report said.
Sub-saharan Africa 'just at the start' of its coronavirus outbreak, UK aid department warns
"We're expecting the rate of increase to keep going in the next few months and particularly as a lot of countries lift their lockdown measures because of the economic pressures and sustaining those." Dr Watts said estimated by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Imperial College London supported by the department estimated that Covid-19 infections would peak in the next two to three months in parts of Africa.
Blood Test at COVID-19 Diagnosis Can Predict Disease Severity, Study Finds
Doctors can examine COVID-19 patients’ blood to identify those at greatest risk of severe illness and to pinpoint those most likely to need a ventilator, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests. The discovery could lead to new treatments to prevent deadly “cytokine storms” seen in severe cases of COVID-19. It also may help explain why diabetes contributes to worse outcomes in patients with the coronavirus. The UVA scientists found that the levels of a particular cytokine in the blood upon diagnosis could be used to predict later outcomes. Cytokines – proteins produced by immune cells – are responsible for severe overreactions by the immune system, known as cytokine storms, associated with COVID-19 and other serious illnesses.