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"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 16th Mar 2021

Isolation Tips
Mitigating Covid’s unequal impact on the workforce’s mental health
When the Covid crisis hit in March 2020, many claimed the virus didn’t discriminate but, as the pandemic has swept over the nation, it’s clear the impact is being felt differently. Nuffield Health’s recent white paper, for example, discusses how several societal groups are at greater risk of experiencing mental ill-health in the wake of Covid. However, the situation marks an opportunity to bring about permanent positive change. So how can businesses make sure their mental health support offering is relevant and accessible to address the challenges now and in the future?
Mid and East Antrim network’s new tackling loneliness campaign
In Northern Ireland, a new seven-week awareness campaign to help combat isolation in the community has been launched by the Mid and East Antrim (MEA) Loneliness Network. The network is a collaboration of organisations committed to addressing vulnerabilities in people of all ages and from all walks of life. The initiative comes when the impact of loneliness has been more widely felt right across society during the Covid-19 crisis with the British Red Cross recently calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to develop a cross-departmental strategy to tackle the problem.
Campaign to tackle loneliness in Staffordshire launches
The new ‘Let’s Beat Loneliness Together’ campaign by Staffordshire County Council will help raise awareness of the issue and promote the services available to those affected by it. The campaign will also support those individuals or volunteers who want to do something themselves to help reduce loneliness in their local community. A residents survey carried out by the county council in January 2021 about the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted that loneliness over the past twelve months and the restrictions was a concern for many. 80% of those questioned said that not seeing wider family and friends was an issue and 55% said they felt concerned about vulnerable family and friends.
Covid singles are supposedly lonely and miserable. But some of us are thriving instead
Bella DePaulo is the author of “Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After”. She writes: "I’m single. I always have been. I also live alone. Because of the pandemic, I have not stepped foot in a restaurant or even a grocery store for nearly a year. Apparently, I am supposed to be suffering." "I fully acknowledge that for some single people, the pandemic has been a miserable experience (as it also has for many couples and families). But I am not one of them. Sure, I miss meeting my friends at restaurants and movie theaters and meandering through crowded farmers markets, and I would love to go get my own damned groceries. I have also lost a substantial chunk of income. But in other ways, I am doing fine, and nothing about the pandemic, not even after all this time, has made me yearn to be coupled or to even live with other humans."
Hygiene Helpers
For the first time in decades, vaccines are having a moment. Will it last?
Rupali Limaye got her first dose of Covid-19 vaccine a couple of weeks ago. “I bawled,” she admitted without the slightest hint of embarrassment. It so happens that Limaye is a staunch proponent of vaccination; she works at the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University. But her reaction is not uncommon. Talk to anyone working in or volunteering at Covid vaccination clinics, and you’ll hear tales about the joy, the relief, the shedding of the cloak of dread that has weighed people down during our difficult period of pandemic isolation. “I don’t think many people felt grateful for vaccines before Covid,” Ruth Karron, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Immunization Research, told STAT. “I think it is a reset.”
Covid-19 pandemic: Trump urged to encourage supporters to get jabs
The top US infectious disease expert says it would be "a game-changer" if ex-President Donald Trump encouraged Republicans to get the Covid vaccine. "It will make all the difference in the world," Dr Anthony Fauci told Fox News Sunday. "He's a very widely popular person among Republicans." A recent US opinion poll showed as many as 49% of Republican male supporters did not want to get vaccinated. Mr Trump last month said "everybody, go get your shot" at a conservative forum. It was the first time he publicly encouraged Americans to do so. He has not commented on the issue since then.
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine faced EMA manufacturing concerns ahead of emergency nod: report
About a month before Pfizer and BioNTech won an emergency nod for their COVID-19 vaccine in Europe, regulators raised flags about lower-than-expected levels of intact mRNA in commercial batches, the BMJ reports. The European Medicines Agency outlined “a significant difference" in the RNA in clinical batches and the proposed commercial batches, according to information leaked from an EMA cyberattack in December, which the BMJ subsequently reviewed. While the production issue has since been resolved—and Pfizer's vaccine has since won approval in Europe—the leaks show the “complexities of quality assurance” for mRNA vaccines, especially with regards to RNA instability, the BMJ said. It’s an issue that affects all mRNA developers, including Moderna and CureVac. That instability is the reason for the shots’ frigid cold chain requirements and the need to encapsulate mRNA in lipid nanoparticles, BMJ said.
How TikTok is helping demystify the science around Covid-19
The researcher has become a sensation on our platform with more than 212,500 followers; her videos have amassed nearly three million likes. In them, Dr Blakney shows how the vaccines are actually made and tested in the lab, she demystifies the science around the coronavirus and debunks myths about the vaccine’s risks and effectiveness – sometimes involving a dance challenge simultaneously, and often with addictively catchy soundtracks that make learning about vaccines a seat-dancing experience.
Czech Republic: What’s behind world’s worst COVID infection rate?
With a population of 10.7 million and about 1.4 million COVID cases to date, the Czech Republic has the highest per capita infection rate in the world. Its death toll – a grim 22,000 people – is also concerning. On March 1, Prime Minister Andrej Babis introduced the strictest lockdown so far. People are banned from travelling within the country, between districts, and cannot visit one another. All retailers, except essential shops such as supermarkets, are closed. The surge in cases comes as the so-called Kent-variant, a highly infectious strain first discovered in the UK, makes it way through the country, pushing Czech hospitals and the economy to the brink of collapse. Leading expert in viral sequencing, Jan Pačes from the Academy of Sciences, talks to Al Jazeera about the severity of the pandemic and calls on the government to take stricter precautions.
Community Activities
To help people find Covid-19 vaccines, Facebook debuts new features
Facebook is rolling out a handful of new tools on its platforms to help people get vaccinated against Covid-19. The tech giant, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp, announced on Monday that it will use its platforms to help assist users in learning more about Covid-19 vaccines, including where and when they can get vaccinated. "Now that many countries are moving towards vaccinations for all adults, we're working on tools to make it easier for everyone to get vaccinated as well," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in prepared remarks posted to the social media platform on Monday.
Hungarian far-right party protests lockdown
Demonstrators in Hungary’s capital broke a ban on public gatherings on Monday to demand an end to the country’s lockdown restrictions, even as a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations sweeps the country. The demonstration was organized by a far-right party, Mi Hazank Mozgalom (Our Homeland Movement), and joined by some 1,000 people. The group broke through a police cordon and marched to Hungary’s parliament in central Budapest. They demanded an end to pandemic restrictions that have been in effect for more than four months and have placed a heavy burden on the country’s economy.
Facebook to label vaccine posts to combat COVID-19 misinfo
Facebook is adding informational labels to posts about vaccines as it expands efforts to counter COVID-19-related misinformation flourishing on its platforms. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post Monday that labels will contain “credible information” about the vaccines from the World Health Organization. They will be in English and five other languages, with more languages added in coming weeks. “For example, we’re adding a label on posts that discuss the safety of COVID-19 vaccines that notes COVID-19 vaccines go through tests for safety and effectiveness before they’re approved,” Zuckerberg said.
Community projects to help Lewisham recover from Covid-19
Community projects that will help Lewisham recover from the Covid-19 pandemic will be able to bid for community infrastructure levy (CIL) funding from May this year. Councils can apply a levy to developments in the borough – the money is to mitigate their impact and goes towards improving local infrastructure. An open call for projects is set to be launched in mid to late May of this year and will run for eight to ten weeks.
Exclusive: Regular booster vaccines are the future in battle with COVID-19 virus, top genome expert says
Regular booster vaccines against the novel coronavirus will be needed because of mutations that make it more transmissible and better able to evade human immunity, the head of Britain’s effort to sequence the virus’s genomes told Reuters. Sharon Peacock, who heads COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) which has sequenced nearly half of all the novel coronavirus genomes so far mapped globally, said international cooperation was needed in the “cat and mouse” battle with the virus. “We have to appreciate that we were always going to have to have booster doses; immunity to coronavirus doesn’t last forever,” Peacock told Reuters at the non-profit Wellcome Sanger Institute’s 55-acre campus outside Cambridge.
Addiction and behavioral health care workers should have access to Covid-19 testing and vaccines
At the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. government and private organizations rushed to support health care workers — and rightfully so — with massive ramp-ups in making available personal protective equipment and testing supplies to ensure that frontline workers had the resources they needed to keep themselves, their patients, and their families as safe as possible. These providers have been now been given priority to get the Covid-19 vaccines that are being rolled out across the country. But one group of health care workers has been excluded from these efforts: those who work in behavioral health and addiction treatment centers.
Working Remotely
Government policy on remote working could hurt flexibility and deter investment
Melanie Crowley is head of employment law at Mason, Hayes & Curran. She comments: "Balancing employment rights with international competitiveness is a key task of any government. That balance seems badly askew in the Government’s National Remote Work Strategy published recently. There are two key cornerstones to the Government’s strategy – the intention to legislate for the right to request remote working and the intention to issue a code of practice around the right to disconnect."
'I don't have to choose between lifestyle and career.' How remote work changed these people's lives
It's been a year since companies across the globe sent employees home to work as the pandemic spread. While many businesses were forced to shut down permanently, remote work enabled others to survive, and even thrive in some cases. As a result, many employers have decided to offer more flexibility when it comes to where and when their employees work. Andrew Hewitt, a senior analyst at market research firm Forrester, expects about 60% of companies to offer a hybrid work model, while 10% will be fully remote. And while working from home comes with its fair share of challenges, it's also provided some workers the opportunity to make some life-changing decisions.
Virtual Classrooms
How the pandemic is reshaping education
The coronavirus pandemic upended almost every aspect of school at once. It was not just the move from classrooms to computer screens. It tested basic ideas about instruction, attendance, testing, funding, the role of technology and the human connections that hold it all together. A year later, a rethinking is underway, with a growing sense that some changes may last. “There may be an opportunity to reimagine what schools will look like,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told The Washington Post. “It’s always important we continue to think about how to evolve schooling so the kids get the most out of it.” Others in education see a similar opening. The pandemic pointed anew to glaring inequities of race, disability and income. Learning loss is getting new attention. Schools with poor ventilation systems are being slotted for upgrades. Teachers who made it through a crash course in teaching virtually are finding lessons that endure.
What does educational innovation look like in the post-Covid world?
There is a growing sense that education is on the cusp of significant change. Anthony Seldon’s book, The Fourth Education Revolution, offers a compelling vision for the ways in which artificial intelligence will transform our schools and universities, enabling a more personalised digital experience that will free up teacher time to focus on the emotional, social and physical development of our students. Seldon’s book was published in 2018, in that heady pre-Covid era in which Zoom and Teams were barely in our peripheral vision. Over the last decade, most schools have come a very long way to build capacity and develop expertise in digital learning; however, it has been the more recent and pressing necessities of Covid that will have a lasting and significant impact on education.
The Cost Of COVID: One Year In The Virtual Classroom
Teachers across Connecticut have started to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. And while vaccination brings a sense of hope, it doesn’t erase the traumas they and their students have experienced over the last year of teaching -- a time when many educators had to reinvent what it meant to be in school. “This is really one of the few professions where we’ve really turned around what we’ve done,” said Claudia Tenaglia, a middle school social studies teacher in Hartford. Tenaglia is one of the many educators across the world who were thrown into disarray when teaching went virtual. In Connecticut, the shift happened on March 15, 2020, when Gov. Ned Lamont ordered all schools around the state to shut down as the coronavirus threat grew. At that time, the shutdown was expected to last only two weeks. But it turned out to be just the start to a yearlong journey.
Public Policies
Exclusive: Mexico focuses vaccine loan request on U.S. stockpile of AstraZeneca doses
Portugal extended a ban on flights to and from Britain and Brazil by another two weeks on Monday to March 31, with only humanitarian and repatriation flights allowed, the interior ministry said in a statement. Direct commercial or private flights to and from the countries have been banned since January to limit the spread of novel coronavirus variants. As of March 7, passengers flying indirectly to Portugal from Britain or Brazil have also had to present a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before departure and quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
Germany, Italy, France suspend AstraZeneca shots amid safety fears, disrupting EU vaccinations
Portugal extended a ban on flights to and from Britain and Brazil by another two weeks on Monday to March 31, with only humanitarian and repatriation flights allowed, the interior ministry said in a statement. Direct commercial or private flights to and from the countries have been banned since January to limit the spread of novel coronavirus variants. As of March 7, passengers flying indirectly to Portugal from Britain or Brazil have also had to present a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before departure and quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
Most of Italy to shut down to tackle rising Covid-19 cases
The entire country will be put on lockdown for three days over the Easter weekend says Italy's leaders.
Covid-19: Government's failure to share data and face scrutiny have undermined response, say MPs
The UK government’s failure to share the data behind its decisions during the covid pandemic it likely to have undermined its response and placed a “needless strain on public confidence,” MPs have said in a damning report. The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee emphasised the importance of publishing the data used to justify policy decisions and accused the government of wilfully evading scrutiny. Looking to the next few months, the committee said the government must now provide “absolute clarity” on the data underpinning the easing of restrictions to “live up to the prime minister’s commitment to ‘data, not dates.’” The government must also stop “moving the goalposts” when it comes to lockdown and tiering decisions and should outline, in its response to this report, the range of data and information it would use to lift current and future lockdowns, the committee said.
Norway's capital introduces tightest restrictions of pandemic
Norway's capital will close all middle and high schools and limit visitors in private homes to two people until early April to fight the spread of the coronavirus, the Governing Mayor of Oslo said on Monday.
Brazil signs Pfizer deal for 100 million vaccine doses: source
Brazil has signed a deal with Pfizer Inc to purchase 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on Monday. Brazilian officials have flagged their interest in a deal since President Jair Bolsonaro joined Pfizer executives on a video call last week, burying the hatchet after months of recriminations about stalled negotiations.
Thailand clears AstraZeneca use as potential side-effects divide Europe
Thailand will start using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday after a brief delay over safety concerns, officials said, with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and cabinet members due to be first in line to get shots. Thailand was on Friday the first country outside of Europe to suspend use of the AstraZeneca shot, on which its mass vaccination campaign is heavily reliant. Authorities in Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands have halted their use of the vaccine over blood clotting issues, while Indonesia has decided to hold off until a World Health Organization review. Thailand has much riding on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and the country will from June be one of its regional manufacturers. Thailand has reserved the first 61 million doses for its population.
Maintaining Services
US Prison Guards Refusing Vaccine Despite COVID-19 Outbreaks
In Massachusetts, more than half the people employed by the Department of Correction declined to be immunized. A statewide survey in California showed that half of all correction employees will wait to be vaccinated. In Rhode Island, prison staff have refused the vaccine at higher rates than the incarcerated, according to medical director Dr. Justin Berk. And in Iowa, early polling among employees showed a little more than half the staff said they’d get vaccinated. As states have begun COVID-19 inoculations at prisons across the country, corrections employees are refusing vaccines at alarming rates, causing some public health experts to worry about the prospect of controlling the pandemic both inside and outside. Infection rates in prisons are more than three times as high as in the general public. Prison staff helped accelerate outbreaks by refusing to wear masks, downplaying people’s symptoms, and haphazardly enforcing social distancing and hygiene protocols in confined, poorly ventilated spaces ripe for viral spread.
Montreal pharmacies to begin booking coronavirus vaccine appointments
Quebecers in the Montreal area should be able to book vaccine appointments at local pharmacies starting Monday as the province continues to expand its COVID-19 immunization campaign. Health Minister Christian Dubé announced earlier this month that some 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments through the province’s vaccine booking portal Monday, with shots to begin March 22. He said the program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious COVID-19 variants, such as the B.1.1.7 variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom.
France raises prospect of mandatory Covid-19 jabs for healthcare staff
The French government is making a last push to convince healthcare workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19, before deciding whether to make the jab mandatory to improve uptake. Olivier Veran, health minister, has written an open letter to healthcare workers urging them to get vaccinated “quickly” to protect “our collective security and the capacity of our health system”. Alain Fischer, an immunologist who advises the French government on the vaccine rollout, told the Senate last week that if the pace did not roughly double “in the next 15 days”, the state would have to discuss making the jab mandatory for workers in the sector.
First Participants Dosed in Phase 1 Study Evaluating mRNA-1283, Moderna’s Next Generation COVID-19 Vaccine
Moderna a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, today announced that the first participants have been dosed in the Phase 1 study of mRNA-1283, the Company’s next generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate. "We are pleased to begin this Phase 1 study of our next generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1283," said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna. "Our investments in our mRNA platform have enabled us to develop this next generation vaccine candidate, which is a potential refrigerator-stable vaccine that could facilitate easier distribution and administration in a wider range of settings, including potentially for developing countries.
Coming week will see trickle of COVID-19 vaccine doses before ramp-up
The Public Health Agency of Canada is expecting a smaller-than-normal shipment of COVID-19 vaccines this week, with fewer than 445,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech shots scheduled for delivery over the next seven days. Yet that seeming trickle is set to explode into a full-blown flood starting the week of March 22 as the companies dramatically ramp up their deliveries and other pharmaceutical firms start making good on their own promised shipments. The Public Health Agency says this coming week will be the last in which Canada will receive fewer than 1 million doses over a seven-day period. Pfizer and BioNTech alone are on tap to deliver more than that each week for the foreseeable future.
People aged 50 and over can book Covid-19 vaccinations
Those aged 50 and above can book their Covid-19 vaccination in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said. People have the choice of being contacted by their GPs and receiving a jab, or booking themselves in at one of the seven regional centres, if they have not already been invited to receive the vaccine by their doctor. Vaccination centres are being migrated to AstraZeneca for first doses, to maximise use of available Covid-19 vaccine supplies
Healthcare Innovations
Covid-19: Evidence does not suggest AstraZeneca jab linked to clots, MHRA says
People should still get their Covid vaccine despite several EU countries pausing use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab amid concern about blood clots, the UK medicines regulator has said. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said evidence "does not suggest" the jab causes clots. The Netherlands has become the latest country to suspend use of the jab following reports of serious clotting. But the World Health Organization says there is no reason to stop using it. Dutch officials said the move was precautionary following reports from Denmark and Norway about side effects including blood clots. Manufacturer AstraZeneca has said there is no evidence of a link between the two.
B117 deadlier than other COVID-19 strains, more data affirm
The B117 COVID-19 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom in October 2020, may pose a 61% higher risk of 28-day mortality, according to a study published today in Nature. The finding is in line with last week's BMJ study that reported B117 had a 64% higher 28-day risk of death among people older than 30, although both studies note absolute 28-day mortality risk remains low for most populations. "Crucially, our study is limited to individuals tested in the community," the researchers write. "However, this restricted focus allows us to capture the combined effect of an altered risk of hospitalisation given a positive test and an altered risk of death given hospitalisation, while only the latter would be measurable in a study of hospitalised patients only."
Moderna begins testing next-generation coronavirus vaccine
Moderna Inc said on Monday it had dosed the first participant in an early-stage study of a new COVID-19 vaccine candidate that could potentially be stored and shipped in refrigerators instead of freezers. The company said its new candidate could make it easier for distribution, especially in developing countries where supply chain issues could hamper vaccination drives.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 17th Mar 2020

Community Activities
BBC halts plans to charge over-75s for licence fee due to coronavirus Millions of pensioners have begun receiving letters telling them that they must pay the £157.50 fee from June, but this is now on hold
BBC halts plans to charge over-75s for licence fee due to coronavirus Millions of pensioners have begun receiving letters telling them that they must pay the £157.50 fee from June, but this is now on hold
UK hotels could be turned into hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak
Rob Paterson, chief executive officer of Best Western Great Britain, said: "We are in unprecedented territory so we would be willing to take unprecedented steps to support the national effort. "If the NHS wants additional bed space, and we can partner with other companies to provide the right medical equipment and supplies, and we can do it safely, then we would be willing to start having those conversations immediately. "Whatever we can do to help."The move would create additional bed space for the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supermarkets to introduce shopping hours for elderly
Lidl and Tesco are to introduce dedicated shopping hours for older and vulnerable customers. The German discount retailer will prioritise elderly customers from 9am to 11am each day starting tomorrow. There will be prioritised queuing and additional assistance in-store for customers. Lidl says the measure is to help protect more vulnerable shoppers due to increased demand and has asked all customers to respect the dedicated shopping hours each morning. A run of coronavirus panic-buying has gripped several countries, emptying shelves of basic goods despite pleas by authorities to stop.
For millions of low-income seniors, coronavirus is a food-security issue
For older people with sufficient resources, the message is clear: stay home, stock up on food and supplies, and avoid group activities. However, these recommendations fail to address the struggle of millions of low-income older adults who lack access to healthy food and adequate nutrition on a daily basis. And although social distancing is necessary to help limit the spread of the virus, anything that deters people from accessing group meals at senior centers or food banks puts low-income seniors in danger of malnutrition and hunger. Millions of them also typically cannot afford to stock up on food or supplies, and if they can, many need transportation assistance to and from grocery stores. In light of this, federal, state, and local responders need to consider targeted solutions to ensure that food-insecure and socially isolated older adults (as well as other populations with barriers to food access) can stay fed and healthy during the crisis.
How to survive coronavirus lockdown as a parent, especially moms who carry the burden
Whether children are in or out of school, the threat of the coronavirus has made managing family life a much bigger job. Odd are, moms are taking on more of this emotional and domestic labor. On top of this, women are more likely to do what experts call "worry work," An expert explained. Moms are more likely than dads to anticipate the needs of the family and plan ahead for worst case scenarios. (Listen closely, and you can hear the hum of "what's next?" on a constant loop in most moms' heads.) Start tag teaming -- splitting work days and house management as much as possible, and it is making life much better. If there is a silver lining in all this, or at least a lesson that we might want to impart to our kids, it's this. In our cities, our workplaces, our classrooms, and our homes, we are being forced to realize that life works better when we can depend on one another. Parents: When you tell your children to wash their hands, don't just say they need to do it in order keep themselves or the family healthy. Tell them they need to wash their hands in order to keep everyone healthy, and explain why. Then maybe leave a note for an elderly neighbor asking if they could use any help.
Coronavirus: PM says everyone should avoid office, pubs and travelling
The key new government measures are: a) Everyone should avoid gatherings and crowded places, such as pubs, clubs and theatres b) Everyone should work from home if they can c) All "unnecessary" visits to friends and relatives in care homes should cease d) People should only use the NHS "where we really need to" - and can reduce the burden on workers by getting advice on the NHS website where possible f) By next weekend, those with the most serious health conditions must be "largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks" g) The UK is now "three weeks" behind Italy - the worst-hit country in Europe h) If one person in any household has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days i) Those people should, if possible, avoid leaving the house "even to buy food or essentials" - but they may leave the house "for exercise and, in that case, at a safe distance from others" j) Schools will not be closed for the moment
Amazon ramps hiring, opening 100,000 new roles to support people relying on Amazon’s service in this stressful time
Company will invest over $350 million globally to increase pay by $2/hour in the U.S., £2/hr in the UK, and approximately €2/hr in many EU countries for employees and partners who are in fulfillment centers, transportation operations, stores or those making deliveries so that others can remain at home.
What it's like to have coronavirus: A first-hand account from CBS News' Seth Doane
"I coughed a little bit, just enough to worry the people I was with here. We were out working covering this story. I started to have a little bit of a cough that worried me. For the most part, I feel okay. As we know, this is a deadly virus. It can be incredibly serious, a major respiratory illness. So far I've been lucky. I've had a chest pressure almost like you feel like you've done a big chest workout. I've had a little bit of a cough. I had a relatively mild fever. I've had kind of weird aches and pains in places I'm not used to. But honestly, I feel like I've had colds and flus worse than this. I've never been totally out for the whole day in bed. I've been up, able to talk with people. So for me, luckily, it's been quite mild.
Working Remotely
Hit the precaution button not the panic button
1) Restrict handshakes and practice ‘hello’ from a great distance. 2) Ask your employees to practice sneezing and coughing etiquette 3) Clean your workplace desk or workstation often 4) Promote hygienic washroom practice 6) Disseminating tissues, dustbin and pocket sanitizers to the employees 7) Hygienic office canteen 8) Basics First - Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Coronavirus: Stuck At Home? Here’s The Tech To Get You Through It
If you find you suddenly have some unexpected time at home, there are technological solutions to help you make the most of it. This applies for keeping in touch, video-conferencing that meeting with your colleagues, or FaceTime calls to friends and family, especially if they’re overseas. But the right gadgets can make your sudden enforced solitude more pleasant, too, from using your iPad to watch Netflix if the TV in your bedroom isn’t up to snuff to installing a video doorbell so you don’t need direct contact with the guy at the door.
Coronavirus: 8 ways to look after your mental health
1 - Seek accurate info from legitimate sources 2 - Set limits on news about COVID-19 3 - Look after yourselves 4 - Reach out to others and support those around you 5 - Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking 6 - Acknowledge your feelings 7 - Take time to talk to the children about COID-19 8 - Ask for professional support if and whenever you need it
What Can Be Learned From 'Virtual' Firms as Coronavirus Necessitates Remote Work? | The American Lawyer
Brick-and-mortar firms weren't built with remote work in mind, say the leaders of distributed firms, so they face obstacles both physical and cultural as more attorneys log in from home to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Virtual Classrooms
Coronavirus: Simple tips for better online teaching
1. Record your lectures - don't stream them - 2. Show your face during the teaching session 3. - Keep videos short 4 - Test out slides 5. - Using exisiting resources 6. Make sure they are open access 7. Give specific instructions 8. Provide interactive activities 9. Set reasonable expections 10. Use auto-checking to measure attendence 10. - Use group communication carefully 11. - Let students take control 12 - Don't hide your feelings & Repeat
Middle East discovers value of the virtual classroom amid coronavirus threat
In the UAE, where more than 80 coronavirus cases have been reported so far, the Ministry of Education ordered the closure of all schools and universities for a period of four weeks starting from March 8. Soon afterwards, Saudi Arabia’s education ministry announced the closure of all educational institutions, including public and private schools as well as technical and vocational training institutes. Many institutions in the Kingdom intend to ensure uninterrupted education through digital learning methods in tandem with other measures to reduce the spread of the virus through movement and public interaction.
All students could soon be learning in 'virtual classrooms'. Here's how they work
The virtual school uses Adobe Connect to web conference, Office 365 and G-Suite for cloud-based document sharing and classwork. Teachers issue and mark homework using OneNote, where they can supervise student progress with tasks in real time. Students can break out into smaller online discussion groups and teachers can mute the class to communicate one-on-one with a student who needs help. Each teacher works with a headset, laptop, desktop computer, webcam and a document camera - which functions like a digital projector - but principal Chris Robertson said they could carry out most tasks with a laptop alone. Students also have access to Oliver, a fully digitised school library whose librarian works on the NSW South Coast, and the school can reach thousands of students at a time with live streams. Last year it reached over 25,000 primary school students during two live online presentations on eSafety, and streamed HSC workshops to 11,000 senior school students via 654 simultaneous online connections.
NYC Plans To Feed All Students, Deliver Laptops For Remote Learning
The grab-and-go program is one of the main tenets of Mayor Bill de Blasio's schools shutdown plan. As pressure mounted over the past week to close schools during the novel coronavirus outbreak in the city, de Blasio repeatedly emphasized that one major obstacle was the fact that hundreds of thousands of public school students depend on the free breakfasts and lunches offered at school. On Sunday de Blasio announced that schools are closed through the end of Spring Break on April 20th, and they may remain shuttered for the rest of the school year. Remote learning is to begin March 23rd for the system's 1.1 million students. Meanwhile, the grab-and-go program rolled out Monday morning and is available every weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to any child under 18, no matter what school they actually attend, be it charter, private or public, Carranza said. The city is also running the program at every school site for this week, and students don't need to go to their actual home institution but can pick up the food at whatever school is convenient. The plan is to then switch to centralized hubs for food service as the city does during summer breaks.
How a top Chinese university is responding to coronavirus
Although online teaching is no longer a novelty, we are aware that not all faculty members are equally adept at harnessing related technology and managing virtual classrooms. As part of the quality assurance process, ZJU organized a series of training sessions in mid-February for 3,670 faculty members. An instructor of one of our most popular MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) courses was invited to demonstrate how he adapted pedagogy to online tuition and forged a strong sense of community. Student success is what online teaching efforts are all about. It is, therefore, crucial to ensure no one is left out. Seeking to bridge the digital divide, since January ZJU has funded access to online learning for more than 1,000 disadvantaged students. The university has also negotiated deals with several network providers to subsidize the data plans of its faculty and students. For students without access to live streaming or grappling with shaky internet connections, ZJU provides them with lecture playbacks and courseware packages.
COVID-19 pushes universities to switch to online classes—but are they ready?
While the work to transition face-to-face instruction to online environments would mean an initial massive increase in working hours, the results for some educators and some students so far are promising. In the emerging and ever-changing COVID-19 context, New York University Shanghai and Duke Kunshan University offer examples of successful adaptation and rapid deployment of educational technology products, like the video-conferencing platform Zoom and online course provider Coursera. Significantly, these universities had existing experience with these technologies that they were able to expand; they weren't starting from scratch with new and untested tech solutions.
Healthcare Innovations
COVID-19 Vaccine Test Begins With US Volunteer
“We’re team coronavirus now,” Kaiser Permanente study leader Dr. Lisa Jackson said on the eve of the experiment. “Everyone wants to do what they can in this emergency.” The Associated Press observed as the study’s first participant, an operations manager at a small tech company, received the injection inside an exam room. Several others were next in line for a test that will ultimately give 45 volunteers two doses, a month apart. “We all feel so helpless. This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something,” said Jennifer Haller, 43, of Seattle. She’s the mother of two teenagers and “they think it’s cool” that she’s taking part in the study.
'Healthcare on brink of collapsing': Doctors share stories from inside the Italy coronavirus quarantine
I'm just back from Italy and "enjoying" my first day of self-isolation. Getting a real picture of how bad the situation is, especially in Lombardy and the north, has been really difficult for TV news because movement is so restricted, access to the overwhelmed hospitals impossible and the danger of infection so great. But it's really important people understand just how bad things are, not least because it is where we may be headed. So I will continue to write here about conversations, emails or recordings with those who are still under quarantine in Italy. Some will be Britons who have stayed on, some Italians, some doctors. I start with a voice recording of two Milanese doctors speaking on WhatsApp about the situation at their hospitals.
They’ve Contained the Coronavirus. Here’s How.
Since identifying the first infections (all imported) on their territories — on Jan. 21 in Taiwan and on Jan. 23 in both Hong Kong and Singapore — all three governments have implemented some combination of measures to (1) reduce the arrival of new cases into the community (travel restrictions), (2) specifically prevent possible transmission between known cases and the local population (quarantines) and (3) generally suppress silent transmission in the community by reducing contact between individuals (self-isolation, social distancing, heightened hygiene). But each has had a different approach.
Wuhan-style hospital could be built from scratch in Milan as area runs short of facilities amid coronavirus outbreak
A 500-bed Wuhan-style hospital could be built from scratch in Milan to resuscitate coronavirus patients as northern Italy runs out of facilities to keep the most seriously ill alive. As the region grapples with a wave of critical cases that shows no sign of slowing down, Lombardy governor Attilio Fontana said the new hospital would be “fundamental” for the region’s capacity to treat urgent patients. “The progression [of the contagion] continues, so it’s clear we have to prepare ourselves to create many new resuscitation beds,” he said last night. Lombardy is at the epicentre of Europe’s biggest Covid-19 outbreak, with Italy the second worst-hit country after China, seeing 24,747 cases and 1,809 deaths by yesterday.
Imperial College Modelling Paper - Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand
Two fundamental strategies are possible: (a) mitigation, which focuses on slowing but not necessarily stopping epidemic spread – reducing peak healthcare demand while protecting those most at risk of severe disease from infection, and (b) suppression, which aims to reverse epidemic growth, reducing case numbers to low levels and maintaining that situation indefinitely. Each policy has major challenges. We find that that optimal mitigation policies (combining home isolation of suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect cases, and social distancing of the elderly and others at most risk of severe disease) might reduce peak healthcare demand by 2/3 and deaths by half. However, the resulting mitigated epidemic would still likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over. For countries able to achieve it, this leaves suppression as the preferred policy option.
Ten-Minute Coronavirus Test for $1 Could Be Game Changer for Africa
Using technology from home pregnancy and malaria tests, its saliva and finger-prick kit could be ready for sale by June for less than $1 apiece. In Africa, they will be manufactured in Senegal by diaTropix, a newly built diagnostics manufacturing facility run by the director of the Pasteur Institute, Amadou Alpha Sall, who has led training around the continent for coronavirus testing. “We are ensuring that these tests are made accessible at the cost of manufacture,” said Joe Fitchett, medical director of Mologic, which received a $1.2 million grant from the U.K. government to develop the test.
Ventilator Maker: We Can Ramp Up Production Five-Fold
“We could increase production five-fold in a 90- to 120-day period,” says Chris Kiple, chief executive of Ventec Life Systems, a Bothell, Wash. firm that makes ventilators used in hospitals, homes and ambulances. He’d have to tool up production lines, train assemblers and testers and get parts. Accelerating the parts delivery might be the toughest task, he says. The ventilator industry is getting a burst of desperate orders from China and Italy. The U.S. hasn’t seen that yet, although manufacturers are bracing for it. “The time for action by the government is now,” says Kiple. “[Covid] is most likely to get worse next fall.”
Coronavirus Treatment Beings Human Trials in China
China has kick-started a clinical trial to speedily test a drug for the novel coronavirus infection as the nation rushes therapies for those afflicted and scours for vaccines to protect the rest. Remdesivir, a new antiviral drug by Gilead Sciences Inc. aimed at infectious diseases such Ebola and SARS, will be tested by a medical team from Beijing-based China-Japan Friendship Hospital for efficacy in treating the deadly new strain of coronavirus, a hospital spokeswoman told Bloomberg News Monday. Trial for the drug will be conducted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan — ground zero of the viral outbreak that has so far killed more than 360 people, sickened over 17,000 in China and spread to more than a dozen nations. As many as 270 patients with mild and moderate pneumonia caused by the virus will be recruited in a randomized, double-blinded and placebo-controlled study, Chinese news outlet The Paper reported on Sunday.
Isolation Tips
Hong Kong to quarantine arrivals from all foreign countries
Travellers arriving in Hong Kong from any foreign country from Thursday will be put under home quarantine, the city’s leader has said, as she extended a red travel alert to cover all overseas nations. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor noted on Tuesday that the coronavirus outbreak had become a pandemic , and the total number of infections abroad had exceeded the total in China. She said that in the previous two weeks, Hong Kong had recorded 57 new infections, 50 of them imported. “If we exclude these imported cases, we only have seven local cases in the past week,” she said.
Covid-19: Everything you need to know about social distancing
For those of us not in self-isolation, social distancing is one of the ways we can stop the spread of Covid-19. This is a step by step guide explaining how to do it.
Coronavirus latest: UK told to stop non-essential contact and avoid public spaces
Key points from the Prime Minister's announcement were: a) Anyone living with someone who has a cough or a fever should also stay at home for 14 days b) All people should work from home if they can and avoid unnecessary travel c) The Government will no longer support mass gatherings with emergency workers d) People should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other social gatherings e) Those classed as 'vulnerable' will be asked to remain at home for 12 weeks f) Schools are not being closed yet
Social distancing prevents infections, but it can have unintended consequences
What effects, if any, might be caused by social distancing in response to the coronavirus is an open question. “I have a couple competing hypotheses,” Holt-Lunstad says. “On the one hand, I am concerned that this will not only exacerbate things for those who are already isolated and lonely, but also might be a triggering point for others to now get into habits of connecting less.” A more optimistic possibility, she says, is that heightened awareness of these issues will prompt people to stay connected and take positive action. “We’d love to be collecting data on that,” she says.
How to Prevent Loneliness in a Time of Social Distancing
Recent research by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health paints a more nuanced picture: how you use such platforms seems to matter more than how much you do so. We can all benefit from developing digital habits that support meaningful human connections—especially now that it may be our only option until the outbreak calms. Whether you are quarantined, working remotely or just being cautious, now is the perfect time to practice using technology in socially healthy ways.
Hygiene Helpers
Coronavirus elderly advice: How can I look after my older relatives?
Age UK says it is also important to think of "practical" ways to help, such as running errands on relatives' behalf or picking up supplies such as food and medication. Simon Hewett-Avison, from charity Independent Age, also says families need to make sure elderly people have the supplies they need but urges a "balanced approach" rather than panicked stockpiling. Both the government and supermarkets have urged people not to stockpile goods. Carers UK says those who cannot visit elderly relatives should think of other ways of spending time together - setting up a family group chat, for example, or playing games online. "If online communication isn't possible, never underestimate the value of a regular simple phone call to offer social contact and support," it says.
European distillers turn to making sanitisers to tackle shortage (paywall)
Spirits makers from France’s Pernod Ricard to small craft gin distilleries in the UK are joining efforts to boost production of hand sanitisers to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. The move comes as the UK government prepares regulatory changes to aid a switch in production, and as healthcare systems, businesses and customers in Europe struggle to secure to procure sanitisers, as well as other medical supplies, as infection rates rise. Stocks of isopropyl alcohol, a vital ingredient for hand gels and alcohol wipes, is also in short supply in Europe, with prices for the chemical jumping sharply.
Coronavirus guidance
If you have paid care workers, cleaners or other helpers coming into the home of the person you care for: Ensure that they are following stringent hygiene and infection control measures as set out by the NHS. If they are employed through an agency and you have any doubts, contact the agency to ask them about what protective measures they are taking. Talk to the person you care for about the hygiene and infection control measures they should expect someone coming into their home to follow. They should not be afraid to insist that these are followed. If possible, ensure soap is made readily available and towels are frequently changed.
Reducing the spread of coronavirus starts with basic hygiene
Turns out Mom was right. Health experts say the best, simplest ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 3,200 people and affected more than 100,000 around the world, follow the tried and true cold-season admonishments given out for generations. Wash your hands. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your face. Stay home if you are sick. But some of the advice has gotten a little more specific. COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets, which typically travel about three to six feet and settle on surfaces, where they can live for a few hours up to several days, according to the World Health Organization. There is a risk of catching the disease by inhaling those particles, but there is a more significant risk of getting it by touching surfaces, such as desks, handrails, or doorknobs, where those droplets may have settled. “The disease transmission goes from a cough or sneeze to a surface to your hand to your face, and that’s how people get infected,” said Paul Biddinger, director of the Emergency Preparedness Research, Evaluation, and Practice Program, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Good hand washing really matters. If people cough or sneeze into their elbow, that limits the spread of respiratory secretions. What all of us can do together is follow basic hygiene measures that will actually slow the spread of disease in communities.”
Social enterprises help out with coronavirus across Asia
After teaming up with a local partner and activating a network of volunteers, Soap Cycling now provide hygiene kits and masks to about 3,000 of the city’s 21,000 street cleaners. Other businesses for good are tackling education.This week, Hong Kong prolonged its suspension of schools until April but with an artificial intelligence )AI) learning platform that can be accessed from tablets or phones at home, more than 12,000 students in China, Hong Kong and Vietnam are continuing to learn. “When serious disruption occurs, from natural disasters to outbreaks of disease, education has traditionally suffered drastically,” said Priya Lakhani, founder of London-based Century Tech, which offered its product for free to affected students.
Public Policies
Is the government moving fast enough on coronavirus? – podcast
Britain has changed its approach to the coronavirus outbreak after coming under intense pressure as surrounding countries raise their response levels, close schools, shut borders and put in place measures for social distancing. Britain had moved more slowly, with medical experts preparing for the long haul and recommending a more gradual scaling up of policy responses. But yesterday it stepped up its response with a series of new guidelines. The Guardian’s health editor Sarah Boseley has been talking to scientists who defend both approaches and tells Anushka Asthana that a definitive answer is simply not possible, but the pressure is now mounting on the UK to show its modelling data and explain why it is diverging.
Romney proposes sending $1,000 checks to every American to ease coronavirus economic pain
GOP Sen. Mitt Romney proposed on Monday sending every American adult $1,000 to ease the financial pain of the coronavirus pandemic that has tanked global markets and threatens to grind U.S. economic activity to a halt. “While expansions of paid leave, unemployment insurance, and SNAP benefits are crucial, the check will help fill the gaps for Americans that may not quickly navigate different government options,” Romney said in a statement. In an opinion article in The Wall Street Journal published earlier this month, Harvard University economist Jason Furman proposed sending $1,000 to every taxpaying resident or citizen, and $500 to every child.
COVID-19: unravelling the host immune response
Using next-generation sequencing tools, scientists are exploring how SARS-CoV-2 interacts with the immune system to better understand the disease, identify those at higher risk, and minimize its impact.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 17th Mar 2021

Isolation Tips
Can Nextdoor Cure Loneliness?
Loneliness and other pandemic-related factors have catalyzed a mental health crisis across the U.S., contributing to depression and substance abuse. As we do everything the CDC advises to keep our bodies safe, we must remember to protect our mental health as well. This includes combatting loneliness, an underlying issue that could have devastating consequences. Nextdoor is trying to do just that, and its growing popularity is a testament its urgent relevance. The hyper-local social networking app connects people in the same community (common conversation themes include lost cats and restaurant recommendations) and saw massive growth as everyone sequestered in their homes and maybe for the first time realized that... yes, they have neighbors. The platform became a hub for community news and local entertainment during the pandemic, a virtual way to feel intimate connection with those down the block.
Hygiene Helpers
Skin rashes are the ONLY symptoms for one in five Covid-19 patients
21% of people who have Covid develop a rash as their only symptom of infection 17% get a rash first and then get other symptoms later on as disease progresses Rashes show as hives, bumps or swelling and occur across the whole body
Community Activities
Student volunteers team up with council to fight loneliness in York
York students are helping to combat loneliness in the city in a pioneering new initiative. YUSU Nightsafe has teamed up with City of York Council for a project called Door Natters, to help combat isolation during the Covid-19 Pandemic. From the University of York Students’ Union, Nightsafe normally sees volunteers help their fellow students during on nights out. Door Natters sees Nightsafe volunteers pop postcards through people’s doors across York, explaining the scheme. The volunteers then return to look out for postcards placed in windows, telling them if the person living there is vulnerable or lonely and would like a casual chat with a volunteer.
Aston Villa's Neil Taylor encourages BAME community to get coronavirus vaccine
Neil Taylor is urging BAME communities to ignore misinformation about the Covid vaccination program. Speaking in support of a campaign run by the British Red Cross to combat mistrust, the Aston Villa full back, who is of mixed Welsh and Indian descent, said he understood concerns but that the skepticism does not make sense. “We are the ones most at risk, ethnic minorities are more likely to die from this virus than anyone else so for us to be skeptical does not add up. We were all thinking; how on earth have they come up with a vaccine so quickly but it has become clear now it is working. It’s the right thing to do.”
COVID-19: Facebook to label all posts about vaccines with WHO information
Facebook will add labels to all posts about COVID-19 vaccines to show additional information from the World Health Organisation. The move comes amid concerns that misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines may be driving hesitancy in people receiving the jab, potentially putting themselves at risk and prolonging the coronavirus pandemic. In an announcement on Monday, the social media giant said it was working closely with the NHS and global health authorities "to deliver important public health messages quickly, helping people access credible information and get vaccinated."
Raising the curtain again: London theatres prepare to re-open a year on
In an empty London theatre, producer Nica Burns sits among the once buzzing stalls hoping audiences will soon be back for good to watch live performances. A year ago, Burns shut the doors to her six theatres, where shows like “Harry Potter And The Cursed Child” and “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” played to crowds in London’s West End, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Twelve months on, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown for England, she is cautiously preparing to re-open them from mid-May.
Working Remotely
Work from home: Here's what remote workers should consider before relocating
Where we work usually plays a major role in where we live. That could mean choosing a house near public transportation or packing up to another state because it’s a hotbed for hiring in your field. But COVID-19 lockdowns have transformed the way we think about work and living. A third of Americans are now working remotely full time, according to a Gallup poll. Compare that to five years ago when just 5% of Americans worked remotely full-time. Maybe you’re considering making a move out of state now that you aren't tethered from a physical office space. Perhaps that’s because you want to save money, live closer to family, or move into a bigger space. Whatever the reason, here are some of the factors you should consider before relocating to another state
5 ways remote work is changing the economy for the better
More than two-thirds of professionals were working remotely during the peak of the pandemic, according to a new report by work marketplace Upwork, and over the next five years, 20% to 25% of professionals will likely be working remotely. Remote working has caused employees to rethink and better accommodate their priorities in life and employers to rethink operations regarding how they can best work with professionals and create teams, the report stated. But it also hasn't been without some downsides, such as blurring the lines between work-life balance and causing increased stress.
Virtual Classrooms
Families of students with disabilities face new challenges in the era of distance learning
This past year has brought massive change for Oregon and Washington students. For students with both intellectual and developmental disabilities, learning at home brings added difficulties for families, as they’re forced to recreate school environments at home, with unfamiliar tools and without receiving services they’re accustomed to. And as schools are ramping up in-person instruction for students, families are concerned that some children have fallen behind and may not get the support to catch back up. OPB stayed in touch with a few families through the difficulties of the last year to learn more about their recent school experience and the decisions they’ll make going forward.
The teens who clean homes during Zoom classes: juggling work and school in the pandemic
In the U.S., for many teens, a year of the coronavirus has meant not only the loss of in-person learning and time with friends, but added shifts at convenience stores and retail shops to help keep their families afloat during the recession. As kids adapt, many of their teachers and schools are improvising as well, extending deadlines and creating new ways to stay in touch. The huge workload is leaving many students stressed out, and some teachers worry they’re in danger of becoming a statistic: the estimated one out of 20 teens who drop out of high school each year, according to federal data. Jay Novelo, a dean at Tyee high school, near Seattle, was hired to handle student discipline. But with schools closed, his main job is keeping tabs on students and encouraging them to not give up on school.
Psychologist Says Virtual Learning Has Left Many Kids Anixous, Overwhelmed
A year into the coronavirus pandemic, doctors say they are seeing an increase in students who are struggling with mental health. Dr. Erica Lee is a psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Kids aren’t really sure how to adapt to remote learning. They can’t pay attention,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of frustration, anxiety, and overwhelmed kids.” Since the pandemic began, the need for mental, behavioral health services has skyrocketed, Lee said, and parents should look for warning signs and some cases seek help.
Public Policies
China approves another COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use
China has approved a new COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, one that was developed by the head of its Center for Disease Control, adding a fifth shot to its arsenal. Gao Fu, the head of China's CDC, led the development of a protein subunit vaccine that was approved by regulators last week for emergency use, the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Microbiology said. It is the fifth coronavirus vaccine approved in China and the fourth to be given emergency use approval. The latest vaccine was developed jointly by Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Belgium will continue using AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, task force says
AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, of which other countries have temporarily halted the use due to health risks, will still be administered in Belgium, the Vaccination Task Force confirmed. Earlier in the afternoon, the Superior Health Council had made this decision, based on scientific advice from European and Belgian experts, with which the interministerial conference on public health later agreed. “It would be irresponsible to suspend vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine right now,” said Minister of Public Health, Frank Vandenbroucke.
Canada changes tack, recommends use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in people over 65
Canada’s vaccine advisory panel on Tuesday backed the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 65 and older after initially recommending against it, saying that three recent real-world studies showed the shot to be safe and effective for older adults. Canada has not followed several European countries that suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of serious blood clots following vaccination. A Health Canada official said clots look to be less common, not more common, among people who have been vaccinated.
Boris Johnson faces explosive claims of Covid-19 complacency which led to 'more deaths'
The Prime Minister reportedly suggested the best way to deal with Coronavirus would be to "ignore it" - and there was allegedly talk of encouraging "chicken pox parties" in order to let the virus burn through healthy Brits, creating "herd immunity"
Venezuela won’t authorise AstraZeneca vaccine due to safety fears
Venezuela has announced that it will not authorise AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after several European countries suspended their rollouts of the jab due to possible side effects. “Venezuela will not authorise the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the process of immunising our population due to complications” in vaccinated patients, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on public television on Monday. Venezuela – which began its coronavirus vaccination campaign in February with Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm jabs – had reserved between 1.4 and 2.4 million AstraZeneca doses through the COVAX plan
Thai PM gets AstraZeneca jab, 1 Asian country suspends
Thailand’s prime minister received a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca on Tuesday, as much of Asia shrugged off concerns about reports of blood clots in some recipients in Europe, saying that so far there is no evidence to link the two. Many countries using the vaccine also said the benefits from inoculation far outweighed possible risks, even as parts of Europe suspended it pending investigation of potential side effects. AstraZeneca has developed a manufacturing base in Asia, and the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, has been contracted by the company to produce a billion doses of the vaccine for developing nations. Hundreds of millions more are to be manufactured this year in Australia, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.
Maintaining Services
NHS staff who refuse Covid vaccine could be redeployed away from ‘exposure-prone’ settings
NHS hospitals in England could redeploy staff who refuse to get a coronavirus vaccine away from “exposure prone” settings, a new document suggests. The document published by NHS England on Friday, first reported by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), sets out how employers can ensure staff who have declined vaccination are safe at work. It explains that where staff have refused vaccination, effort should be taken to ensure they have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and that they have had a mask fitting.
Further Covid-19 positives in GB team highlight concerns over Olympic travel
The Great Britain athletics team has been hit by nine positive Covid-19 tests, a week after being forced to isolate on their return from the European Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland because a staff member contracted the virus. With more athletes and staff due to be tested today, the situation is causing deep concern among the country’s athletics stars about the potential risks involved in travelling as a team to Tokyo this summer for the Olympic Games. With athletes due to be regularly tested upon arrival at the Olympic Village, another such outbreak could deny athletes the opportunity to compete.
Over-50s set to get call-up for Covid-19 vaccine as supply surge means half of adults will soon be jabbed
All remaining over-50s are set to be offered a Covid-19 vaccine in the coming days with a surge in supply meaning half of all adults will have had a jab by the end of the week. The number of doses being administered across the UK has begun to accelerate rapidly with as many as five million jabs likely to be given out this week – more than twice the rate seen in March so far. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We are expecting that, taking first and second doses together, there will be around 400,000 vaccinations done over the course of this week.” If the other nations of the UK accelerate their own programmes in line with Scotland’s, nearly five million jabs will be given out this week – taking the country past the symbolic milestone of giving a dose to half all those aged 18 or older.
Schools weighing whether to seat students closer together
New evidence that it may be safe for schools to seat students 3 feet apart — half of the previous recommended distance — could offer a way to return more of the nation’s children to classrooms with limited space. Even as more teachers receive vaccinations against COVID-19, social distancing guidelines have remained a major hurdle for districts across the U.S. Debate around the issue flared last week when a study suggested that masked students can be seated as close as 3 feet apart with no increased risk to them or teachers. Published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the research looked at schools in Massachusetts, which has backed the 3-foot guideline for months. Illinois and Indiana are also allowing 3 feet of distance, and other states such as Oregon are considering doing the same. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now exploring the idea too.
Canada lags in vaccinations but expects to catch up quickly
Canada once was hailed as a success story in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, faring much better than the United States in deaths and infections because of how it approached lockdowns. But the trade-dependent nation has lagged on vaccinating its population because it lacks the ability to manufacture the vaccine and has had to rely on the global supply chain for the lifesaving shots, like many other countries. With no domestic supply, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government bet on seven different vaccines manufactured elsewhere and secured advance purchase agreements. Regulators have approved the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. While acquiring them has proven difficult, that gamble appears to be about to pay off.
Emergent, amid gung-ho COVID-19 production push, eyes upgrade to Canadian vaccine plant: report
Emergent BioSolutions quickly positioned itself as one of the manufacturers to beat in the U.S. fight against COVID-19. Now, the company's laying out plans to upgrade a vaccine facility in Winnipeg—with the help of the Canadian government. Emergent is in talks with Ottawa to fund an expansion of that plant, The Globe and Mail reports. The facility, which employs around 350, is equipped to handle the final manufacturing stages for mRNA, mammalian and microbial drugs—including mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines like those sold by Pfizer and Moderna. The CDMO's Winnipeg plant performs product formulation and fill-finish services, though it doesn't produce drug substance, the news outlet said. Emergent has already pledged current formulation and fill-finish capacity at the plant to local drugmaker Providence Therapeutics, plugging away on an mRNA-based vaccine.
Healthcare Innovations
AstraZeneca vaccine doesn't prevent B1351 COVID in early trial
Two doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine were ineffective against mild-to-moderate infections with the B1351 variant first identified in South Africa, according to a phase 1b-2 clinical trial published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The double-blind multicenter study, led by scientists at the South African Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, studied the safety and the efficacy of the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine in HIV-negative adults aged 18 to 64 who received either two standard doses of the vaccine or a placebo in a 1:1 ratio 21 to 35 days apart from Jun 24 to Nov 9, 2020. Median follow-up after the second dose was 121 days.
GlaxoSmithKline starts phase III coronavirus vaccine trial with Medicago
GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK) has started Phase 3 clinical testing of a plant-derived COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Canadian partner Medicago. Takashi Nagao, Medicago’s chief executive, said: "This brings us one step closer to delivering an important new COVID-19 vaccine and contributing to the global fight against the pandemic along with our partner GSK.” Canada-based Medicago said its candidate uses Coronavirus-Like-Particle (CoVLP) technology co-administered with GSK's pandemic adjuvant. Two doses of 3.75μg of CoVLP are administered 21 days apart.
AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine’s Benefits Outweigh Risks, Says EU
The European Union’s top drug regulator said it is still firmly convinced that the benefits of AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the risks, after a string of nations in the bloc temporarily halted use of the shot over blood-clot concerns. The European Medicines Agency so far sees no indication that the vaccine caused a small number of blood-clotting incidents reported across the region, Executive Director Emer Cooke said in a briefing Tuesday. The regulator is currently reviewing those incidents to determine whether they represent a broader risk. Ms. Cooke said the results of the review would be presented Thursday.
mRNA vaccines spur lymph nodes for longer-term protection; COVID-19 test accuracy may vary by time of day
Along with inducing antibodies for immediate defense, mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 also stimulate the lymph nodes to generate immune cells that provide protection over the long term, a new study confirms. The early wave of antibodies are generated by B cells called plasmablasts. In healthy volunteers, blood tests showed that two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine induced "a strong plasmablast response," said coauthor Ali Ellebedy of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The immune cells that will produce antibodies upon exposure to the virus in years to come - called memory B cells - are generated by germinal center B cells found only in lymph nodes near vaccine injection sites, his team explained in a paper currently undergoing peer review for possible publication in a Nature journal.
North-east researchers develop 'highly accurate' Covid-19 antibody test
Scientists at the university collaborated with NHS Grampian and the firm Vertebrate Antibodies Ltd to develop the prototype. They describe the new test as “highly accurate, affordable, suitable for mass rollout” – while it also does not require specialised laboratories. Covid-19 antibody – sometimes called serology – tests confirm whether a person has previously had coronavirus. They can be used to manage the pandemic by monitoring how many people have had the virus and how it is spreading. The tests can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of vaccines, population immunity and the impact of new strains of the disease.
Moderna Starts Covid-19 Vaccine Trial In Kids Younger Than 12 Years Old
Biotech company Moderna announced today that it has given the first doses of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine to young children as part of a new study to test how effective the vaccine is in kids.
FDA orders COVID antibody makers Regeneron, Eli Lilly to track virus variants
Emerging coronavirus variants could pose threats to existing monoclonal antibodies and vaccines, and the FDA’s taken note, revising its emergency use authorizations to Eli Lilly’s and Regeneron’s drugs. In edited letters of authorization re-issued in late February and early March, the FDA’s asking the two companies to monitor new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus behind COVID-19 and potentially conduct additional tests of their authorized antibody drugs against variants. The update came as evidence points to increased resistance of emerging coronavirus variants, especially the B.1.351 version first identified in South Africa, to antibody therapies. The letters, first reported by Endpoints, were for existing EUAs for Lilly’s bamlanivimab (PDF) and its combo (PDF) with etesevimab, and Regeneron’s cocktail (PDF) of casirivimab and imdevimab, in mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients with high risk of disease progression in the outpatient setting.
Long Covid more common in women and children and lasts for months, warns latest review
Lasting effects of infection from coronavirus are more common in women and children than expected, with at least 10 per cent of people infected suffering persistent symptoms for months, a new review has found. Experts at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) examined more than 300 separate scientific studies for the analysis. It found many patients reported struggling to access testing and help from the NHS to treat their symptoms, which varied between patients, suggesting long Covid is a group of four possible syndromes affecting patients differently. The report said: “Long Covid appears to be more frequent in women and in young people (including children) than might have been expected,” adding other sufferers could be experiencing an active disease, impacting on their organs and causing debilitating symptoms that would need ongoing treatment. In some patients, the effects included neurological changes in their brains while others showed signs of blood clotting and inflammation. Other patients reported anxiety, fatigue and damage to their lungs and heart.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 18th Mar 2020

COVID19 News Highlights

  • The head of the Australian Medical Students' Assocation suggested integrating the country's medical students into the fight against coronavirus
  • T-Mobile says it plans to ramp up bandwidth and speeds for customers as the coronavirus forces them to work remotely from home
  • In Argentina, teaching educational software company GOSchool is offering its virtual classroom services to schools across the country for free
  • Nature Medicine says researchers have found the novel SARS-CoV2 virus, commonly referred to as CVID19, is a product of natural evolutionary selection and is not a laboratory construct or purposefully manipulated
  • In Italy, an experiment in aggressive testing for coronavirus of all 3,300 inhabitants of the town of Vo, near Venice, regardless of symptoms, has helped completely stop the spread of the illness
  • CBS News reported that the Executive Director of the U.S. National Nurses United, Bonnie Castillo, said that 'nurses are being asked to reuse masks due to shortages'
  • Israeli scientists at the IIBR believe they've completed the initial phase of a vaccine for COVID-19, though, a number of trials still have to be conducted before it could be deemed as safe
  • A combination of two anti-HIV drugs have proved successful in coronavirus positive cases in Rajasthan
  • An academic study indicates that over the counter anti-malaria med Chloroquine may be highly effective at treating the coronavirus
  • Dutch scientists say they have found an antibody against COVID19 at Erasmus MC and Utrecht University
  • UK doctors are criticising the government for not letting the NHS test staff
  • U.S. Treasury Secretary said that the U.S. could see a global unemployment rate of 20% as coronavirus plunges the economy into a recession
  • In Italy, there are the first signs of a slowing down in the rate of spread in the coronavirus
Community Action
'A potential solution': Training doctors ready to join fight
Australia’s 17,000 medical students are ready to join the coronavirus fight, the head of the Medical Students’ Association says, but must be integrated carefully to avoid long-term damage to patients and the health system.As Australia prepares for a worst-case scenario of 15 million coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday announced 20,000 student nurses would enter the workforce immediately.
To Track Virus, Governments Weigh Surveillance Tools That Push Privacy Limits
As the country scrambles to control the rapidly spreading coronavirus, government agencies are putting in place or considering a range of tracking and surveillance technologies that test the limits of personal privacy. The technologies include everything from geolocation tracking that can monitor the locations of people through their phones to facial-recognition systems that can analyze photos to determine who might have come into contact with individuals who later tested positive for the virus, according to people familiar with the matter. Data-mining firm Palantir Inc., which was credited with helping to find Osama bin Laden, is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to model the virus outbreak. Other companies that scrape public social-media data have contracts in place with the agency and the National Institutes of Health, documents show.
Giant Stores In Maryland Modify Hours, Add Time For Older Adults
The grocery store chain with 91 stores in Maryland is changing some of its operations due to the new coronavirus - with time set aside to allow the elderly and most vulnerable the chance to shop first thing
What’s the Risk of Coronavirus to Pregnant Women? Gynaecs Explain
Dr Priya Jayachandran, who works in Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital in Chennai, however, tells The Quint that while studies are yet to be conducted on this, expectant mothers are generally at a higher risk of contracting respiratory diseases. “Pregnant women sometimes have low immunity and need more oxygen than women who are not pregnant. This makes them susceptible to respiratory infections like flu. While there is no need to panic, expecting mothers should take precautions.”
Working Remotely
Chinese students flock home as coronavirus shuts Western campuses
Packed onto a plane full of fellow Chinese students heading home from the United States, 20-year-old Harvard University undergraduate Roger Zhang wore goggles to ward off the coronavirus for hours until they became just too uncomfortable. Zhang is among tens of thousands of overseas Chinese students making the journey back to China, where the coronavirus emerged late last year, as fears of it grip Western countries and schools and campuses shut their gates. "I can't predict the future, but it has seemed relatively more under control in China," the Shenzhen native told Reuters.
T-Mobile has a plan to temporarily hike the speed of its 4G LTE and 5G networks during the crisis
With the coronavirus forcing adults to work from home and students to stream virtual lessons, T-Mobile expects demand for its network capacity to rise sharply causing traffic bottlenecks and slower data speeds. To prevent excess traffic from slowing its 4G LTE data speeds, T-Mobile is borrowing 600MHz spectrum to increase capacity. By renting the additional 600MHz spectrum, T-Mobile will increase its 4G LTE capacity allowing those working or studying from home to experience faster data speeds than they might have otherwise had to deal with. And with T-Mobile possibly using the borrowed 600MHz holdings for both 4G LTE and 5G, the additional airwaves are very much welcome especially in markets where it can be quickly put to use. The companies loaning the spectrum to T-Mobile include Bluewater; Channel 51; Comcast; Dish; Grain Management affiliate NewLevel, LLC; LB Holdings and Omega Wireless, LLC. This list includes half of the 10 largest holders of 600MHz spectrum in the U.S. The spectrum will be borrowed by T-Mobile for a period of 60 days.
Coronavirus, what are the necessary protocols to follow for work? What are the best recommendations for businesses, what rules must employees follow
Il Fatto Quotidiano lists and explains the 13-point worker protocol backed by the government, unions and business - which details safety best practices for employees during the current coronacrisis
Virtual Classrooms
Faced with the suspension of teaching educational software company GoSchool offers its virtual classroom services for free to schools across the country
With the measures being implemented by the national government in the face of the advance of the Covid-19 coronavirus, leading to the suspension of classes at different educational levels throughout Argentina, many now realise they need to turn to virtual classrooms and teaching. Although there are free resources, the platforms have a certain complexity for those who are not accustomed to their use, which generates a predisposition on paid services. In this framework, a Mendoza-based company, GoSchool, dedicated to improving and streamlining academic management, has decided to offer its virtual classroom software at no cost to schools and teachers across the country to face quarantine.
Coronavirus in Argentina: virtual classrooms, apps and social networks so that the children are up to date while there are no classes
Coronavirus in Argentina: virtual classrooms, apps and social networks so that the children are up to date while there are no classes. Some schools are already sending content and activities online, but in many others the implementation of virtual classrooms has been delayed. As another prevention measure against the advance of the coronavirus , which in Argentina has already caused two deaths and more than 50 infections, the national government announced several prevention measures on Sunday night, including the suspension of classes until 31 of March.
In Uruguay, ANEP and Ceibal have created a virtual classroom to cover classes for two weeks
The National Administration of Public Education ( ANEP ) reported that during the two-week suspension of classes, by government decision to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, the educational centers will remain open with four-hour shifts in administrative, management, service or teacher support. Meanwhile, the 1,026 rural schools across the country will remain closed. For this reason, ANEP together with Ceibal have created a virtual classroom so that the children can take advantage of the time on these days and talking to a teacher is encouraged. It will be switched on from this Tuesday; and although there is no obligation to enter the website, families are encouraged to get their children to use it during the suspension of classes.
Healthcare Innovations
Researchers say COVID-19 product of ‘natural evolution’ not a ‘laboratory construct’
According to the journal Nature Medicine, researchers have found that the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus, also commonly referred to as COVID-19, is a product of natural evolutionary selection and is not a “laboratory construct or purposefully manipulated” coronavirus. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. The new research into the origins of the virus comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than 190,000 people globally, killing more than 7,500 around the world. Cases of the virus have been confirmed in all 50 states in the U.S.
Lessons From Italy’s Hospital Meltdown. ‘Every Day You Lose, the Contagion Gets Worse.’
The coronavirus is pushing a wealthy region with high-tech health care toward a humanitarian disaster. The coronavirus is devastating Bergamo and pushing a wealthy region with high-tech health care toward a humanitarian disaster, a warning for the U.S. and other developed countries. The city’s experience shows how even advanced economies and state-of-the-art hospitals must change social behaviors and prepare defenses ahead of a pandemic that is upending the rules.
Medical company threatens to sue volunteers that 3D-printed valves for life-saving coronavirus treatments
A medical device manufacturer has threatened to sue a group of volunteers in Italy that 3D printed a valve used for life-saving coronavirus treatments. The valve typically costs about $11,000 from the medical device manufacturer, but the volunteers were able to print replicas for about $1. A hospital in Italy was in need of the valves after running out while treating patients for COVID-19. The hospital’s usual supplier said they could not make the valves in time to treat the patients, according to Metro. That launched a search for a way to 3D print a replica part, and Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Ramaioli, who work at Italian startup Isinnova, offered their company’s printer for the job
Aggressive testing helps Italian town cut new coronavirus cases to zero
An infection control experiment that was rolled out in a small Italian community at the start of Europe’s coronavirus crisis has stopped all new infections in the town that was at the centre of the country’s outbreak. Through testing and retesting of all 3,300 inhabitants of the town of Vò, near Venice, regardless of whether they were exhibiting symptoms, and rigorous quarantining of their contacts once infection was confirmed, health authorities have been able to completely stop the spread of the illness there.
MetroHealth Medical Center can now test COVID-19 samples, results available in 2 hours
MetroHealth Medical Center becomes the first hospital in the state that can now test COVID-19 samples at its laboratory with results available after just two hours. MetroHealth President Akram Boutros said supplies are limited and the hospital is working with its vendors to obtain the supplies needed to expand testing.
Coronavirus cases have dropped sharply in South Korea. What’s the secret to its success?
South Korea has emerged as a sign of hope and a model to emulate. The country of 50 million appears to have greatly slowed its epidemic; it reported only 74 new cases today, down from 909 at its peak on 29 February. And it has done so without locking down entire cities or taking some of the other authoritarian measures that helped China bring its epidemic under control. Behind its success so far has been the most expansive and well-organized testing program in the world, combined with extensive efforts to isolate infected people and trace and quarantine their contacts. South Korea has tested more than 270,000 people, which amounts to more than 5200 tests per million inhabitants—more than any other country except tiny Bahrain, according to the Worldometer website. The United States has so far carried out 74 tests per 1 million inhabitants, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.
Coronavirus pandemic straining medical supplies, forcing nurses to reuse masks with "no protection"
As hospitals across the U.S. brace for a surge in patients, health care workers say the protective measures taken over the next few weeks will be critical, according to CBS News' Carter Evans. Some government leaders worry the coronavirus pandemic could stretch hospitals to their breaking point while medical equipment shortages threaten to put doctors, nurses and patients at risk. "Nurses are being asked to actually reuse masks, including surgical masks, which provide no protection," Executive Director of National Nurses United Bonnie Castillo said. She told CBS News that one of the group's main concerns is a shortage of N-95 masks, which filter out 95% of airborne particles. Last week, the CDC posted new guidelines saying health care workers could use looser-fitting surgical masks as "an acceptable alternative."
How U.S. coronavirus testing stalled: Flawed tests, red tape and resistance to using the millions of tests produced by the WHO
When Olfert Landt heard about the novel coronavirus, he got busy. Founder of a small Berlin-based company, the ponytailed 54-year-old first raced to help German researchers come up with a diagnostic test and then spurred his company to produce and ship more than 1.4 million tests by the end of February for the World Health Organization. “My wife and I have been working 16 hours a day, seven days a week, ever since,” Landt said by phone about 1 a.m. Friday, Berlin time. “Our days are full.” By contrast, over the same critical period, U.S. efforts to distribute tests ground nearly to a halt, and the country’s inability to produce them left public health officials with limited means to determine where and how fast the virus was spreading. From mid-January until Feb. 28, fewer than 4,000 tests from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were used out of more 160,000 produced.
Israeli Scientists to Announce Development of Coronavirus Vaccine
Over 50 experienced PhD scientists from the Israel Institute for Biological research (IIBR; Ness-Ziona, Israel) are working to produce a vaccine and antibody for the novel coronavirus. ccording to reports, scientists at IIBR have had a significant breakthrough in understanding the biological mechanism and qualities of the coronavirus and are expected to announce the completion of the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. However, a number of pre-clinical and clinical trials will have to be conducted for months before the vaccination can be deemed as effective or safe to use. Nevertheless, in view of the global emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, the trials could be accelerated to vaccinate a majority of the people who are at the highest risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Combination of two anti-HIV drugs proved crucial in Coronavirus treatment, Rajasthan official
A combination of two anti-HIV drugs has proved crucial in the treatment of coronavirus positive cases, a senior official of the Rajasthan government said. Additional Chief Secretary (Medical and Health) Rohit Kumar Singh said the patients' condition improved after they were administered the anti-HIV drugs. Three of the four patients in the state have now been declared coronavirus-free. Singh said the first two patients tested positive for the virus were an Italian couple "Their symptoms were flu-like so they were initially given anti-malaria and anti-swine flu drugs," he said. "All this while, our doctors were in touch with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Drug Controller General of India. Since the structure of coronavirus is similar to that of HIV to some extent, so they tried a combination of the two anti-HIV drugs," he added.
New academic study reveals over-the-counter anti-malaria med Chloroquine may be highly effective at treating coronavirus
There is good news today that an existing anti-viral medication may be effective at treating the COVID-19. According to a new academic study presented by Thomas R. Broker, (Stanford PhD), James M. Todaro (Columbia MD), and Gregory J. Rigano, Esq., in consultation with Stanford University School of Medicine, UAB School of Medicine, and National Academy of Sciences researchers, shows that over the counter anti-malaria pills Chloroquine may be highly effective at treating coronavirus COVID-19.
Unique discovery in Erasmus MC: antibody against corona
A world premiere from Erasmus MC and Utrecht University: they found an antibody against COVID-19. The scientific publication of the group of ten scientists is ready for assessment by the leading journal Nature. In the summary, the scientists describe an antibody to SARS2, the coronavirus causing the current pandemic (COVID-19). The antibody can help detect and prevent this type of corona infection. It is a world’s first. Disclaimer: The antibody still has to be tested on humans (and this will take months) and the article is under peer review before Nature will publish it. But Grosveld is hopeful: “We expect an email any moment”, says the Spinoza Prize winner in his lab on the tenth floor.
People with Type A blood are significantly more likely to catch coronavirus according to Chinese outbreak study
People with Type A blood are significantly more likely to catch coronavirus than those with Type O, Chinese academics have found. The study in Wuhan - the epicentre of the disease - also found those with Type A blood are more likely to die from COVID-19. In the general population Type O blood (34%) is more common than A (32%). However, among COVID-19 patients, people with Type O accounted for just 25%, whereas Type A made up 41%. People with Type O blood made up a quarter (25 per cent) of deaths in the research. Normally, Type O people make up 32 per cent of people in Wuhan. The controversial correlation has yet to be scrutinised by other academics in peer review and the researchers are unable to explain why infection varies by blood type.
Dutch researchers find antibody which may lead to anti-corona medicine
Researchers from the University of Utrecht and the Erasmus medical centre have developed a human antibody which, they say ‘offers potential for prevention and treatment of COVID-19’. It is important not to give false hope but the discovery is promising, research leader Berend-Jan Bosch says on the UU website. ‘But it is still too soon to speculate about its eventual working on people.’ The research is currently awaiting peer review before it can be published in the prestigious science journal Nature. The researchers are now trying to get a pharmaceutical company on board that can produce the antibody on a large scale as a medicine.
Doctors push for treatment of coronavirus with blood from recovered patients
In the absence of vaccines or antiviral drugs, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore say the key to slowing and treating the coronavirus might be hidden in the blood of those who’ve already recovered from the disease. The method of using “convalescent serum” — essentially harvesting virus-fighting antibodies from the blood of previously infected patients — dates back more than a century, but has not been used widely in the United States in decades. During the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, scientists reported that transfusions of blood products obtained from survivors led to a 50 percent drop in deaths among severely ill patients. A similar strategy was used to treat and slow the spread of polio and measles outbreaks decades ago, but the technique fell out of favor in the 1950s with the innovation of modern vaccine science and antiviral drugs, said Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chair of the molecular microbiology and immunology department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
China closes makeshift hospitals as virus cases plunge
China has closed most of the makeshift hospitals opened to receive coronavirus patients in the epidemic's epicentre as the number of new infections in the country hit a record low. There were 40 new cases nationwide, the National Health Commission said Monday, the lowest number of fresh cases since it started reporting the data in January. Most of the new cases, as well as 22 new deaths, were in Hubei, the central province at the epicentre of the outbreak. The deaths -- which were all in Hubei except one -- bring the country's toll to 3,119.
Isolation Tips
Household isolation, social distancing and shielding – who should do what and for how long?
Household isolation - If anyone is symptomatic – with a high temperature or a continuous cough – the whole household should stay at home for 14 days to avoid the spread of infection. Who needs to undertake “social distancing” measures? Everyone has been asked to undertake social distancing measures to delay the spread of the virus. People who live alone should isolate themselves for seven days.
Coronavirus emergency kit: Social distancing to flatten the curve
According to the WHO, the most common symptoms are fever, fatigue and a dry cough. Some patients may experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. Current estimates of the incubation period - the amount of time between infection and the onset of symptoms - range from one to 14 days. Most infected people show symptoms within five to six days. However, infected patients can also be asymptomatic, not displaying symptoms despite having the virus in their system. The elderly, and those with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
Coronavirus empties out Berlin's public spaces
The coronavirus pandemic is throttling social and cultural life in Germany's public spaces. Chancellor Angela Merkel's message to the nation to reduce travel, stay at home and keep social distance is also being heeded in Berlin.
Coronavirus: "Social distancing" visualizations on the Internet
For some people, especially children, it is difficult to understand why we suddenly have to isolate ourselves socially in times of Corona. Animations in social networks explain why this is so important.
Hygiene Helpers
How do I know if I have coronavirus?
People who are showing particular symptoms are being told to self-isolate in order to stop the coronavirus from spreading further. If you have a fever or a persistant cough, you and the rest of your household have to remain at home for 14 days and have food and medicine delivered to you. But how do you know if you’re just ill, feeling a bit ropey or if you have the symptoms of coronavirus? What do the symptoms of coronavirus feel like? BBC News’ Health and Science Reporter, Laura Foster, takes a look.
‘There is a policy of surrender’: doctor on UK’s Covid-19 failures
Mark Gallagher, a consultant cardiologist, is at home with a temperature of 38 and is pretty certain he has Covid-19. But the NHS will not test him for it. Instead, he has paid for a test kit from a private UK clinic and a colleague in China is sending him another. Gallagher has been in and out of his London hospital every day for the last 28 in a row. In the past couple of weeks he saw maybe 70 people in outpatients, he said. He cannot understand why the NHS will not test him or other healthcare workers who are put at risk by their work and risk infecting other vulnerable patients in turn, as well as their families. “The policy is that I don’t need to be tested and even the people who have been in contact with me aren’t going to be tested,” he said.
Public Policies
Global recession begins: A FIFTH of US workers have already lost wages due to coronavirus
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has reportedly warned that the US could see an unemployment rate of 20 per cent as the coronavirus plunges the economy into a recession. On Tuesday, it was revealed that a global recession has already begun due to the spread of COVID-19 as major companies begin laying off employees worldwide and a fifth of US workers say that they have already lost wages due to the crisis.
Museums Association Urges UK to Launch Emergency Fund with $145M Earmarked for Brexit Festival
“We are calling for an emergency fund to be created to support museums through this difficult period,” Sharon Heal, director of MA, told the Art Newspaper. “The government had earmarked £120m for a ‘festival of Britain’ in 2022; we believe this should now be made available to support museums at risk of permanent closure as a result of the coronavirus epidemic.” The organization is also asking for clarity regarding the safety measures the government is implementing—specifically whether institutions are being asked to close or ordered to close—and demanding that the UK do more to protect culture workers whose livelihoods are at risk following the shuttering of arts museums and businesses for what could be weeks or months. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a speech on Monday, March 16, informing the public that stricter public health measures need to be taken including the limiting of social contact and mass gatherings. The speech presumably led major UK institutions—including the British Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Tate galleries—to begin closing their doors.
In Italy, first signs of a slowdown in the spread of the coronavirus
Italian civil protection data show a decrease in the increase, even more marked in the first regions placed in containment. This is the first - relatively - good news in the terrible health crisis that Italy has been facing for the past three weeks: according to statistics, the progression curve of Covid-19 finally seems to be slowing down, revealing the positive effects of the choice of containment of the population, gradually since March 8. The trend has been detected for two days by observers of the epidemic, but no one has yet dared to come forward to announce it publicly, preferring to wait until the figures were looking more solid.
Rutte can no longer laugh at the facts
I called Prof. Jaap Goudsmit, one of the top epidemiologists in the world, professor at Harvard, known for his work to combat Sars and HIV, among others. A swift testing of the population is what is needed he told me.Jaap Goudsmit is a cordial man who generously shares his knowledge. He explained that immediately a broad population test is needed; at least one hundred thousand people, preferably one million. They should be diagnosed as to whether they have been infected with coronavirus and see if they have recovered, so we know how many serious cases have occurred, and how the different age groups have responded to the infection. It takes huge numbers of test kits, and if not, they need to be made by industry with the utmost urgency, regardless of cost. Regional GGD laboratories can analyze the samples, and the data can then be interpreted by experts such as Jaap Goudsmit. As long as we do not know exactly how many have been infected, as I understood from Prof. Goudsmit, how far the infection has spread, especially in children and young adults, we cannot sensible remedial measures because we do not know the hard figures for each age group.
Chaos in Manila as Philippines launches coronavirus quarantine measures
A rise in patient numbers across the region – where nations had initially recorded relatively few cases – follows a ramping up of testing efforts. The increases have cast doubt on suggestions that warmer weather may stop the virus, and prompted a growing number of governments to introduce curbs on movement.
What Will It Take to Stop Coronavirus?
Efforts are underway to find a vaccine, but even the most optimistic timelines suggest several months of scientific development before human clinical trials can begin. With no vaccine or treatment, the most effective way to stop 2019-nCoV’s spread is to limit transmission by identifying infected individuals as quickly as possible and isolating them for treatment before they can infect others. This strategy worked against the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in 2003. Global and national health authorities are implementing the approaches used during the SARS crisis, but, other measures also need to be taken because 2019-nCov is already widespread in China.
French lockdown comes into force in bid to curtail spread of deadly virus
France entered a 15-day lockdown at midday on Tuesday that will require people to remain at home except for essential outings in a bid to curtail the coronavirus outbreak. The French government has said tens of thousands of police will be patrolling streets and issuing fines of 38 to 135 euros for people without a written declaration justifying their reasons for being out.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 18th Mar 2021

Isolation Tips
Loneliness may be the biggest threat to productivity right now
As companies prepare for the logistics of returning to work, the mental-health crisis of their employees looms large. Surveys show anxiety and stress affect productivity and retention; TELUS International says 80% of workers would consider leaving their current employer for one that focuses more heavily on mental health. How can workers and managers solve for burnout and loneliness as a part of our transition to the workplace of the future? The twin pandemics are hitting workers hard, but also represent an opportunity to rethink and reconnect dynamics among teams. That’s the message of two new books on the subject.
Don’t lose sight of senior loneliness now that some restrictions are lifted
With social activities and events consistently delayed or canceled for almost a full year, seniors have become increasingly vulnerable to feelings of depression and isolation. Many already struggled with isolation from others, but it only increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For those with access to technological tools like Zoom, FaceTime or Skype, video communication has helped to ease (if not completely alleviate) the pain of separation from family. But for seniors in skilled nursing facilities who may not have ready access to computers or technical assistance, continued estrangement and isolation during ongoing or sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks will cause secondary concerns that care providers must keep front of mind as the pandemic continues. Providers must be nimble and remain ready to again rely on technology options and other tools they’ve used to engage and serve residents since last March.
How to protect your physical and mental health while staying home during the pandemic
While it may be necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic for a person to stay home to protect themselves and others, there are ways to lessen the potential adverse mental and physical health effects. In this article, we discuss why staying home all the time during quarantine or lockdown can prove difficult. In particular, we focus on how to treat or lessen the mental and physical health impacts of staying home.
Coronavirus shielding advice to end on 1 April - Hancock
More than 3.7 million vulnerable people in England will no longer have to shield from the coronavirus from 1 April. It comes as the numbers of Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions have declined for the past couple of weeks. Letters will be sent out to this group in the next two weeks. In them, people will still be advised to keep social contacts at low levels, work from home where possible and stay at a distance from other people. Since 5 January, they have been asked to stay at home as much as possible to reduce their risk of being exposed to the virus. But at a Downing Street press conference, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed shielding guidance, which had been extended to 31 March for all those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, would end on 1 April.
Hygiene Helpers
EU sets out virus pass plan to allow free travel by summer
The European Union’s executive body proposed Wednesday issuing certificates that would allow EU residents to travel freely across the 27-nation bloc by the summer as long as they have been vaccinated, tested negative for COVID-19 or recovered from the disease. With summer looming and tourism-reliant countries anxiously waiting for the return of visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission foresees the creation of certificates aimed at facilitating travel between EU member nations. The plan is set to be discussed during a summit of EU leaders next week.
Community Activities
Hundreds more laptops ensure students in Lancashire are fully equipped to work remotely
Lancashire County Council has secured a further 1,000 laptops for schools to ensure that all students have the technology they need to be able to work remotely. An extra £650k for the new hardware brings the council's investment in laptops for schools to £1.47m. In total the council has secured 3,350 laptops for schools with this funding. Lancashire schools welcomed back all students earlier this month, with measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus. However schools must be able to support remote learning in cases where students are asked to self-isolate due to a confirmed case in their bubble.
Google blocked nearly 100 million harmful Covid-19 ads in 2020
Google blocked or removed nearly 100 million adverts linked to the Covid-19 pandemic last year, new figures show. The company's Ads Safety Report revealed these formed a significant proportion of the 3.1 billion adverts it banned in total for violating its policies in 2020. Among the blocked Covid-19 adverts were many spreading misleading claims about fake vaccine doses and miracle cures. Others were seen to be profiteering from in-demand products such as face masks during supply shortages. Google said the figures are the result of increased investment in its automated detection technology and a major revamp of its advertising policies.
'You might be the only person they’ve seen all week': how two charities are tackling isolation during Covid
Social isolation has affected us all this past year, following Covid-19 into our lives like a grey shadow. The webs of restrictions and worries catch differently for each household, matter in different ways to each person, but we have all felt the effects of seeing fewer people. During the first lockdown, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast found up to 70% of people reported feeling “isolated, left out, or lacking companionship some of the time or often”. Other studies show loneliness has an impact on both physical and mental health, linking a lack of connection with others to increased risk of earlier death, heart disease, depression and dementia. Doctors have called for “urgent action” to make sure the benefits of shielding from coronavirus are not outweighed by the problems caused by being alone.
Working Remotely
Will work from home outlast virus? Ford's move suggests yes
It’s a question occupying the minds of millions of employees who have worked from home the past year: Will they still be allowed to work remotely — at least some days — once the pandemic has faded? On Wednesday, one of America s corporate titans, Ford Motor Co., supplied its own answer: It told about 30,000 of its employees worldwide who have worked from home that they can continue to do so indefinitely, with flexible hours approved by their managers. Their schedules will become a work-office “hybrid”: They'll commute to work mainly for group meetings and projects best-suited for face-to-face interaction. Ford's announcement sent one of the clearest signals to date that the pandemic has hastened a cultural shift in Americans' work lives by erasing any stigma around remote work and encouraging the adoption of technology that enables it. Broader evidence about the post-pandemic workplace suggests that what was long called tele-commuting will remain far more common than it was a year ago.
What does a future of remote work look like for Massachusetts?
As COVID-19 vaccines make possible the potential for a return to everyday life as we once knew it, the impacts of living over a year amidst a global pandemic may very well continue to linger on long after the coronavirus crisis enters history books. With a workforce now intimately familiar with the benefits of working outside the office, Massachusetts officials are now trying to suss out exactly how the trend will carry on even when more employers re-open brick-and-mortar offices in the months ahead. Michael Kennealy, the state’s secretary of housing and economic development, said recently his office is wrestling with questions about how an increase in remote work might impact everything from employers and employees, commercial real estate, and economic investments in cities and towns to internet broadband accessibility and transportation policy.
Virtual Classrooms
Will Classroom Social Distancing Rules Change?
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that the agency might revise its guidance calling for at least six feet of distancing between students in schools in areas with high coronavirus transmission. But one major stakeholder, the American Federation of Teachers, is staunchly opposed to changing the guidance now and plans to try to persuade the agency not to do so.
How Business School Students Network During Covid: Virtual Hangouts
A key selling point of business schools is their ability to bring together students of various nationalities and backgrounds, who forge friendships in the hallways and lounges that pay dividends decades later. “The network is a close second, if not as important as the academic experience,” says Minya Nance, assistant dean for student experience strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. But in an era of online learning, MBA students are struggling to make such connections—spurring schools around the world to develop new avenues to those crucial relationships via virtual campuses, Slack channels, and Zoom roadshows.
Virtual Learning Might Be the Best Thing to Happen to Schools
Our tenuous experiment with virtual schooling could have a silver lining: Some children may end up being more resilient on the other side of the pandemic. Innovating on the fly, navigating uncertainty, maintaining hope for the future, communicating effectively, and relying on networks of people and community resources to overcome challenges are just some of the skills kids are developing during this time. These types of competencies—ones that children of color have typically brought to the classroom with little acknowledgment—are part of what Tara Yosso, an education professor at UC Riverside, calls “community cultural wealth.” The pandemic could usher in an increased appreciation for what students who have faced significant hardships have had to master throughout their life: developing strengths from dealing with an untenable set of challenges. For many students, learning from home can also be healthier than in-person schooling. Deepening one’s bond with parents, for instance, sets foundations for trust and empathy, bolsters cognitive development, and even increases one’s life expectancy.
Public Policies
Covid US: White House to send surge shipments of vaccines to emerging hotspots
The White House is currently making plans to send massive shipments of COVID-19 vaccines to emerging hotspots in the U.S. Two senior administration officials told CNN the Biden administration is very worried that the number of Americans traveling over Spring Break will lead to a fourth surge of the coronavirus. Members of the federal government's COVID-19 response team have been scouring data to project where outbreaks of the virus might pop up and plotting different potential scenarios. In an attempt to avoid this, officials plan to speed up the vaccine rollout and inoculate Americans who are at the highest risk.
Australia gives COVID-19 shots to virus-hit Papua New Guinea
Australia will send COVID-19 vaccines from its own supply to its near-neighbor Papua New Guinea and will ask AstraZeneca to send more to try to contain a concerning wave of infections, Australia's prime minister said Wednesday. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 8,000 doses would be sent next week for Papua New Guinea's front-line health workers and he and his Papua New Guinea counterpart James Marape would ask AstraZeneca to send another 1 million doses as soon as possible. The European Union this month blocked a shipment of more than 250,000 doses to Australia because the need for them was not considered great enough in a country largely successful in containing the coronavirus.
India backs AstraZeneca shot as COVID-19 cases hit three-month high
India said on Wednesday its coronavirus immunisation campaign would continue with “full rigour” despite some concerns in Europe about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine it relies heavily upon as infections hit a three month high. The European Medicines Agency is investigating reports of 30 cases of unusual blood disorders out of 5 million recipients of the vaccine in the region. Since starting the drive in mid-January, India has administered 36 million vaccine doses, which are mostly the AstraZeneca shots developed with Oxford University and locally known as Covishield.
Germany extends border control with Czech Republic, Tyrol
Germany has extended border control with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol region, Interior Minster Horst Seehofer said on Wednesday, citing the current number of new coronavirus infections and more virus variant cases. “We decided today to extend border controls in mutation areas in the Czech Republic and Austria,” Seehofer said. The control was reinstated on Feb. 14, following the introduction of a stricter lockdown in the Czech Republic.
Poland announces nationwide lockdown amid COVID-19 surge
Poland’s health minister announced a nationwide lockdown on Wednesday, as the country battles a surge in coronavirus cases. Theatres, shopping malls, hotels and cinemas will be closed starting on Saturday, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told a news conference. Poland reported 25,052 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to health ministry data, the highest daily number so far this year
UAE offers third shot of Chinese vaccine in some cases
The United Arab Emirates is offering people who have shown weak immunity after two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine a third shot of the Chinese jab as booster. Healthcare authorities have told anyone who fears they are not immune after taking an antibody test after their second dose to return to the centre where they were vaccinated. “The vast majority of people have taken Sinopharm and it shows a good response,” said a doctor working at a government hospital. “The booster is only needed if you don’t mount an immune response after two jabs.”
After vaccine freeze, European countries seek a quick thaw
First, France abruptly halted AstraZeneca vaccinations. Now, the French prime minister wants to get one as soon as he can. With the virus rebounding from Paris to Budapest and beyond, European governments that rushed to suspend use of AstraZeneca vaccines after reports of blood clots are realizing the far-reaching impact of the move. And they suddenly seem eager for any signal — or fig leaf — that allows them to resume the shots. That could come as soon as Thursday, when the European Medicines Agency releases initial results of its investigations into whether there is a connection between the vaccine and the blood clots. So far, the EMA and World Health Organization have said there’s no evidence the vaccine is to blame.
Palestinians get 60,000 vaccine doses through WHO program
The Palestinian Authority said Wednesday it will receive just over 60,000 coronavirus vaccine doses over the next 48 hours, the first shipment provided by a World Health Organization partnership aimed at helping poor countries. That’s only enough doses to vaccinate 31,000 people out of a population of nearly 5 million Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza. Israel, which has faced criticism for not sharing more of its supplies with the Palestinians, has already vaccinated 5 million people — more than half of its population — and has largely reopened its economy.
Syria launches COVID vaccine drive as Israel questions swirl
The Syrian government finally kicked off its vaccination campaign against the novel coronavirus in the war-torn country last week. Al Jazeera learned through reliable sources that Bashar al-Assad’s government received 5,000 doses from a country it refused to name and simply described as “friendly”. The first jabs were given to front-line health workers spread across several main hospitals in the country. But many in government-controlled and rebel-held areas are worried they might be left out of the vaccination drive if it is carried out without any international oversight. Moreover, while the government is being furtive about which vaccine it received and who has footed the bill, many in Syria say it is an open secret it is Russia’s Sputnik V that was bought by Israel – reportedly under a prisoner exchange deal.
Manila Orders Anyone Below 18 to Stay Indoors as Virus Cases Surge
The Philippine capital Manila will widen a ban on minors leaving their residences to include youths of up to 18 years old for two weeks starting on Wednesday, tightening coronavirus restrictions in a bid to tackle a new surge of infections. Only those aged 18-65 years old will be allowed out of their homes, the Metro Manila Development Authority said in a statement, citing an agreement among mayors. The Philippines late last year started easing one of the world's longest and strictest lockdowns though a rule that anyone under 15 must stay indoors in Manila remained in place. The Southeast Asian country has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases this month, recording the largest daily increase since mid-August on Monday with 5,404 new infections. Nighttime curfews have been reimposed since Monday for two weeks in Metropolitan Manila, the country's coronavirus hotspot that is home to more than 12 million people.
Maintaining Services
All over-50s can now book coronavirus vaccine, says NHS
Everyone over the age of 50 can now book a coronavirus vaccination as the NHS widens eligibility amid an expected surge in supply of vaccine from this week. NHS England changed the eligibility on its main vaccination booking website on Wednesday morning, reducing the eligibility from 55 to anyone aged 50 or over. It means anyone over the age of 50 can go online and book themselves a vaccination, they do not need to wait to be contacted by their GP.
Chile's red-hot inoculation drive reaches frozen continent of Antarctica
Chile’s blazing fast vaccination program has reached the icy shores of Antarctica, officials and researchers told Reuters on Wednesday, bringing a sense of relief to one of the most isolated and vulnerable outposts on Earth. The pandemic hit Antarctica in December, making it the last of the world’s continents to report an outbreak of COVID-19. Chilean health and army officials scrambled to clear out staff from a remote region with limited medical facilities. Marcela Andrade, an official with the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH), told Reuters by phone that air force personnel, followed by staff at the Profesor Julio Escudero research base, were inoculated on Sunday with vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Covid vaccines for England's under-50s delayed due to major shortage
People under the age of 50 may have to wait up to a month longer than planned for their Covid vaccination because of a major shortage of vaccines, NHS leaders have said. The unexpected delay was revealed in a letter to health service chiefs, who have been ordered to stop booking first-dose appointments for anyone under 50 for all of April. The letter from NHS England explained that the move was necessary because there would be a “significant reduction in weekly supply available from manufacturers beginning in the week commencing 29 March”.
Healthcare Innovations
AstraZeneca's COVID-19 Vaccine Has No Efficacy Against South African Virus Strain, Study Shows
According to a Phase 1b-2 trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University / AstraZeneca Plc (NASDAQ: AZN) was ineffective against mild-to-moderate infections caused due to mutated virus strain in South Africa,
US refuses to delay time between coronavirus vaccine doses
The UK's controversial decision to increase the time between covid-19 vaccine doses has been thrust back under the spotlight after the US hasn’t followed suit, amid warnings that the strategy may backfire. However, the UK is no longer alone in its decision, with Canada and Germany both choosing to follow a similar plan. In December, the UK made the surprise decision to lengthen the interval between doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines from the recommended three or four weeks to 12 weeks.
Actual Covid-19 infection rate in the US may be more than double official CDC figures, study says
The actual number of coronavirus infections throughout the United States could be twice as high as the daily tracking figures reported ahead of the deadly holiday surge late last year, according to a new study published on Tuesday. Researchers at the Clinical Reference Laboratory in Kansas surveyed blood samples from nearly 62,000 life insurance applicants, finding higher rates of Covid-19 antibodies in the pool of applicants compared to nationally reported estimates. According to the study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, nearly 16 million Covid-19 cases went undiagnosed or patients were otherwise asymptomatic ahead of the holiday season, when the country saw an unprecedented surge in the rate of infections and deaths nationwide, compared to CDC figures were estimated a total of nearly 7.2 million cases.
Scots university's pioneering Covid-19 antibody test is 'more accurate' than those currently available
A new Covid-19 antibody test that’s better than those currently available has been developed by researchers at a Scots university. Serology tests detect if a person has previously had the virus and are important tools in tracing its spread. However, some existing antibody tests are not suited to rapid mass deployment as they can be inaccurate and also detect other coronaviruses including some versions of the common cold. In response to the Chief Scientist Office’s rapid research funding, Aberdeen University, in collaboration with Vertebrate Antibodies and NHS Grampian, has developed a test that has shown high levels of ­accuracy in smaller trials. The next step is to start a trial on a larger cohort.
CDC IDs new COVID-19 variants of concern, as hot spots reemerge
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said two coronavirus variants first detected in California, B.1427 and B.1429, are now considered as variants of concern. The CDC said the variants may be 20% more transmissible. In comparison, the variant B117, first identified in the United Kingdom, is considered 50% more transmissible than the original wild type COVID-19 virus. Neither of the new variants of concern are thought to escape the effectiveness of currently approved vaccines, but therapeutics, including monoclonal antibody treatments, may be slightly less effective. Currently, the CDC's variant tracker shows 4,686 B117 cases in 50 states, 142 B1351 cases in 25 states, and 27 P1 cases in 12 states.
UK nursing homes saw spikes in B117 COVID variant in early winter
The proportion of COVID-19 cases caused by the SARS-CoV-2 B117 variant in UK nursing homes rose from 12.0% on Nov 16 to 60.4% on Dec 13, mirroring the variant’s spread in the community, according to a research letter published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers from University College London examined a sample of 4,442 positive COVID-19 tests from nursing home residents and staff from Oct 5 to Dec 17 to determine the proportion of cases caused by B117, the variant first discovered in the United Kingdom. UK nursing home staff are tested weekly, and residents are tested monthly. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increased rapidly in southeast England in November and December, despite lockdowns. More than half of the cases were attributed to B117, which studies have suggested is more deadly and spreads 40% to 70% more easily than previous strains, and was behind the rise of infections in England in early winter.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 19th Mar 2020

News Highlights

  • Top UK COVID-19 expert self-isolates after developing symptoms
  • NHS Trusts gave staff wrong advice on self-isolation
  • Shortage of face masks, swabs and basic supplies threatening challenge for U.S.coronavirus testing
  • Bergamo laments a generation lost to the coronavirus
  • UN FAO working on tasks at hand, but since Tuesday, all remotely
  • Liechtenstein school lessons moving online
  • Darmstadt taking advantage of new online platform from start-up founder
  • UK - evictions of renters falling behind with landlords will be suspended during crisis
  • Russia's 'silence' on coronavirus outbreak starting to cause increasing concern
  • As China's new virus cases reach zero, experts look to second wave from 'imported cases'
  • UK faces massive shortage of ventilators - says Swiss manufacturer
  • Danish supermarket invents new way of stopping people hoarding goods
  • Chinese say Avigan effective in treating coronavirus patients
  • Confusion over where to take Ibuprofen or not for COVID-19 symptoms
  • Italian tests on the effectiveness of Tolicizumab for 33 coronavirus patients to start
  • Europe is repeating errors made in Wuhan, say Chinese medics
  • Top 60 coronavirus treatments under development
  • Everyone in Iceland to be tested for the coronavirus
  • 99% of those killed by the coronavirus in Italy had other underlying pathologies says study
  • Spain worried that it does not have enough virus diagnostic kits and protective medical equipment
Isolation Tips
Top UK Covid-19 expert self-isolates after developing symptoms
One of the government’s top coronavirus experts has had to self-isolate after developing coronavirus symptoms and revealed he was probably infectious when he attended a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday. Prof Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, tweeted that he has a persistent cough and high fever, and had been forced to self-isolate in his central London flat for seven days. Ferguson, head of the modelling programme at Imperial’s MRC centre for global infectious disease analysis, who has been working round the clock with a team of experts advising the government, tweeted: “Sigh. Developed a slight dry but persistent cough yesterday and self-isolated even though I felt fine. Then developed high fever at 4am today. There is a lot of Covid-19 in Westminster.”
Coronavirus: NHS trusts gave staff the wrong advice on self-isolation
Staff at several NHS hospitals were wrongly told to go to work when they should have been self-isolating, it has emerged. Doctors and nurses were advised they could work even if someone else in their home had symptoms of coronavirus – despite official guidance being that their household should self-isolate for 14 days if anyone shows signs of the symptoms. On Monday night, after the advice to the public had changed, the Worcestershire Acute Hospital, in the West Midlands, sent out a briefing to staff saying: “We have been told that this guidance will not apply to healthcare workers.”
Le Monde answers questions about the new laws governing confinement in your home in France
With so many French people unsure and uncertain about what to do in this new situation they find themselves in, le Monde tackled the most common questions that readers are asking explaining how things will work in the coming weeks
Coronavirus. Conditions for going out to play sports - what must you do
You need to apply for certificate or permit to leave the home, it does enable you to go jogging or cycling but you must stay within the close proximity to your home
Hygiene Helpers
Morning!! Working on a "red zone" ward today, with my amazing FY1 Rebecca. This is a ward for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID19.
Morning!! Working on a "red zone" ward today, with my amazing FY1 Rebecca. This is a ward for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID19. We're keeping a big smile on our faces and have @BBCRadio2 on in the doctor's room. Dizzy symbol Send us some love!
Shortages of face masks, swabs and basic supplies pose a new challenge to coronavirus testing
CDC tells health-care workers to use bandannas if they don’t have face masks. As the federal government scrambles to rapidly boost the nation’s capacity to test for the novel coronavirus, cutting red tape and leaning on the speed and technology of the private sector, new delays are developing because of a shortage of raw materials and vital items: chemical solutions, swabs and even face masks for health-care workers. From coast to coast, local and state officials complain that shortages of everyday supplies are disrupting efforts to sharply ramp up testing, which is key to identifying the spread of disease. The scarcity is hampering both the ability of health-care workers in hospitals to draw samples to send to laboratories and the ability of those laboratories to confirm infection.
Community Activities
Want To Avoid Spreading Coronavirus Misinformation? Think Like A Science Journalist
No one wants to spread bad information—but for non-scientists, it can be hard to distinguish facts from rumors. I asked a couple of experts in the ethics of science journalism on how best to use social media responsibly in the age of coronavirus. Here are a few guidelines they shared:
Panic buying forces British supermarkets to ration food
Britain’s biggest supermarkets, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, limited purchases of all food products on Wednesday after frantic shoppers stripped shelves to prepare for possible isolation during the coronavirus outbreak.
The picture that shames selfish Britain:
Stooping to check his shopping list, this elderly man is faced with a shocking reality – most of the stock has been stripped from the supermarket shelves by selfish customers. The gentleman is therefore left to wonder where exactly he will be able to pick up his essentials as shops suffer from a surge in stockpiling by uncaring shoppers. The picture was taken in a Sainsbury's store in Epsom, Surrey, but the increase in panic buying has hit all major supermarkets.
Coronavirus: Cheltenham staff had symptoms while working at racing festival
Cheltenham Festival punters and staff have been struck down by symptoms consistent with coronavirus, sparking fresh fears that hundreds of racegoers could be infected and spreading the illness. Housemates Andrew Maclean, 24 and Scott Saunders, 25, have quarantined themselves inside their home after coming down with a fever, cough and shortness of breath. Mr Maclean and Mr Saunders, from Cheltenham, developed symptoms when they were working at a restaurant and bar, respectively, at the festival - at first thinking they only had colds - and now fear they passed their infection on to others. The pair have questioned why Cheltenham went ahead despite the worsening crisis and the calls for it to be cancelled to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
'A generation has died': Italian province struggles to bury its coronavirus dead
Coffins awaiting burial are lining up in churches and the corpses of those who died at home are being kept in sealed-off rooms for days as funeral services struggle to cope in Bergamo, the Italian province hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. As of Wednesday, Covid-19 had killed 2,978 across Italy, all buried or cremated without ceremony. Those who die in hospital do so alone, with their belongings left in bags beside coffins before being collected by funeral workers. In Bergamo, a province of 1.2 million people in the Lombardy region, where 1,640 of the total deaths in the country have taken place, 3,993 people had contracted the virus by Tuesday. The death toll across the province is unclear, but CFB, the area’s largest funeral director, has carried out almost 600 burials or cremations since 1 March. “In a normal month we would do about 120,” said Antonio Ricciardi, the president of CFB. “A generation has died in just over two weeks. We’ve never seen anything like this and it just makes you cry.”
Working Remotely
Italy COVID-19 lockdown does not halt work of UN agriculture agency
Italy has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, with nearly 28,000 confirmed cases of the disease and 2,503 deaths, according to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO). While a national quarantine has the country in lockdown, it has not halted the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), based in the capital, Rome. Most staff have been working remotely since last Tuesday, although a skeleton team remains at the building to ensure critical business continuity. It too will be reduced this week as FAO moves to complete telecommuting. The new arrangements mean new ways of working. Teams are using technology not only to get the job done but also to keep in touch. FAO has provided staff with licenses for Zoom, the remote conferencing service, thus facilitating virtual meetings and collaboration. Colleagues are calling each other, instead of emailing, to discuss work matters but also to maintain human contact. Daily check-ins, weekly meetings, and WhatsApp groups are also helping to foster team spirit.
The ins and outs of working from home in the age of COVID-19
As the marketing director for Ignite Northwest, a company that supports entrepreneurs, Cyndi Donahue said most if not all of the people she works with regularly work from home, with one glaring exception: Donahue herself. But with officials advising to “hunker down” to curtail the spread of COVID-19, Donahue is doing just that. Luckily for her, her husband is an old pro and helped her get situated in their home’s guest room. He’s helped her set up the technology, and they’re putting their children on a schedule for structure, but the thing Donahue is struggling with is missing people.
Virtual Classrooms
Homework now comes via WhatsApp
On Monday, school lessons in Liechtenstein were moved home. The Liechtenstein schools have found different solutions to provide the pupils with tasks. These measures have been taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Classes should therefore take place by distance learning until the Easter holidays - or longer depending on the how the health crisis evolves. Students are currently sent homework and weekly plans with instructions to be solved via WhatsApp and email. The time window required for this is tailored to each individual as is the form of the task and its size.
Darmstadt: virtual classroom on online platform
The free online platform schulforum.info is based on tingtool, which the start-up founder Peter Fischer developed in Darmstadt. According to its press statements this Internet application, which is free of charge for schools and teachers in Darmstadt, enables virtual classrooms to be set up within ten minutes without the need for software to be preinstalled on the home computer. Tingtool is a cloud-based tool for meetings and discussions in virtual space and, according to the information, was specially developed by Darmstadt to force the digital networking of actors from the school and education sector. Around three months ago, the interactive platform schulforum.info was already given to the Darmstadt City Parents' Advisory Board by the digital city of Darmstadt, for its own use
Public Policies
Scientists have been sounding the alarm on coronavirus for months. Why did Britain fail to act?
In January The Lancet published a report from China. 'The Chinese scientists pulled no punches. “The number of deaths is rising quickly,” they wrote. The provision of personal protective equipment for health workers was strongly recommended. Testing for the virus should be done immediately a diagnosis was suspected. They concluded that the mortality rate was high. And they urged careful surveillance of this new virus in view of its “pandemic potential”. That was in January. Why did it take the UK government eight weeks to recognise the seriousness of what we now call Covid-19?'
Coronavirus: New evictions banned to help renters during crisis
The government is promising emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or rented accommodation for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. Under urgent new laws, landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least three months, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Ministers have also confirmed the three-month mortgage holiday announced on Tuesday will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing difficulties due to coronavirus.
Coronavirus protest in Brazil sees millions bang pots from balconies
People in Brazil have expressed anger at President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the coronavirus pandemic by banging pots and pans together on balconies. Millions of protesters in the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro appeared at windows on Wednesday evening calling for the president to step down. It was the biggest protest against Mr Bolsonaro's government to date. There are over 500 cases of the virus in Brazil, including two government ministers. Four people have died. Mr Bolsonaro, who has previously dismissed precautions taken against the novel coronavirus as "hysteria" and "fantasy", has been criticised for his response to the deadly outbreak. The president has been tested for the virus twice, but said on both occasions the results were negative. However 14 people who travelled with him to Florida to meet President Trump have tested positive for the virus.
Uncounted among coronavirus victims, deaths sweep through Italy's nursing homes
As the official death toll from Italy’s coronavirus outbreak passes 2,500, a silent surge in fatalities in nursing homes, where dozens of patients a day are dying untested for the virus, suggests the real total may be higher. Official data show that nearly 30,000 people have been confirmed as positive for the coronavirus in Italy, the highest number outside China where the virus first emerged. But strict testing rules mean only patients hospitalized with severe symptoms are normally being swab tested. While no detailed data is available, officials, nurses and relatives say there has been a spike in nursing home deaths in the worst affected regions of northern Italy since the virus emerged, and they are not showing up in coronavirus statistics. “There are significant numbers of people who have died but whose death hasn’t been attributed to the coronavirus because they died at home or in a nursing home and so they weren’t swabbed,” said Giorgio Gori, mayor of the town of Bergamo.
Russia's coronavirus count under scrutiny as Putin government denies hiding cases
Even the president of Belarus, often seen as Russia's closest neighbour, has questioned the low numbers, suggesting that Russia is "ablaze" with coronavirus. Senior Russian officials, including Putin, the country's prime minister and the mayor of Moscow, all insist the Russian figures are accurate. The official TASS news agency quoted Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova as suggesting the situation was a result of "restrictive and prohibitive measures" adopted by Russia, including an early closure of the border with China and other restrictions on people entering Russia from Asia. But several doctors and health-care workers contacted by CBC News believe the real caseload is far higher and that Russia could be hiding hundreds of coronavirus deaths by labelling them as something else.
Trudeau unveils $82B COVID-19 emergency response package for Canadians, businesses
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a massive $82-billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses cope with the global COVID-19 pandemic, including income supports, wage subsidies and tax deferrals. The package includes $27 billion in direct supports and another $55 billion to help business liquidity through tax deferrals. Combined, the package represents more than three per cent of Canada's GDP. Trudeau said the deep spending and delayed federal revenue will not drive the country into recession, insisting "prudent" decisions made over the last five years have put Canada on a strong economic footing to weather the crisis.
As China’s Virus Cases Reach Zero, Experts Warn of Second Wave
China has no new infections of the coronavirus domestically for the first time since the start of a crisis that has sickened over 80,000 Chinese people. But what could be a sign the country has defeated the fatal pathogen is likely to just be a temporary reprieve. While the outbreak’s epicenter has shifted to Europe, where there are now more cases being reported daily than at the height of China’s crisis, epidemiologists warn that the Asian giant could face subsequent waves of infections, based on patterns seen in other pandemics.
China uses soft power to position itself as a leader in tackling coronavirus
In the last few weeks, China has donated coronavirus testing kits to Cambodia, sent planeloads of ventilators, masks and medics to Italy and France, pledged to help the Philippines, Spain and other countries, and deployed medics to Iran and Iraq. The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has offered comforting words, telling the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, that “sunshine comes after the storm”, and adding that the two countries should step up cooperation and exchanges after the outbreak. As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and countries struggle to respond, China has positioned itself as a leader and benefactor in public health, building the kind of soft power Beijing needs at a time of intensifying US-China rivalry and scrutiny of Chinese influence around the world.
A chilling scientific paper helped upend U.S. and U.K. coronavirus strategies
Immediately after Boris Johnson completed his Monday evening news conference, which saw a somber prime minister encourage his fellow citizens to avoid "all nonessential contact with others," his aides hustled reporters into a second, off-camera briefing. That session presented jaw-dropping numbers from some of Britain’s top modelers of infectious disease, who predicted the deadly course of the coronavirus could quickly kill hundreds of thousands in both the United Kingdom and the United States, as surges of sick and dying patients overwhelmed hospitals and critical care units. The new forecasts, by Neil Ferguson and his colleagues at the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, were quickly endorsed by Johnson’s government to design new and more extreme measures to suppress the spread of the virus.
How many people could die from the coronavirus - scientists answer the question
The database used in the scientists' research is maintained and updated by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The data is divided into cases of infection, remission and fatalities. The database is updated frequently and contains details such as dates and geographic distribution. From these parameters, the rates that entered the model were calculated. The components of the model applied to the coronavirus epidemic result in very rapid contagion. Data from Italy show that an infected person passes the virus to, on average, between 3 and 4 people before they recover or die from the infection, thereby doubling the number of cases every 4 days. Professor Lyra explains that there are only two ways to end this epidemic. “The first is when many people have been infected and have developed immunity in healing. When this happens, there are no more susceptible people and, therefore, according to rule (A) of the model, there are no new possible infections. Obviously this case is terrible, practically the entire population would have to be infected at some point during the epidemic and the death toll from this would be frightening,” warns Lyra.
UK faces 'massive shortage' of ventilators - Swiss manufacturer
Britain faces a “massive shortage” of ventilators that will be needed to treat critically ill patients suffering from coronavirus, after it failed to invest enough in intensive care equipment, a leading ventilator manufacturer said on Wednesday. “England is very poorly equipped,” said Andreas Wieland, chief executive of Hamilton Medical in Switzerland, which says it is the world’s largest ventilator maker. “They’re going to have a massive shortage, once the virus really arrives there,” he told Reuters in an interview. Ventilators, running in the thousands of dollars per unit, are used to help people with respiratory difficulties to breathe. They are high-tech versions of the “iron lungs” that kept people alive into the 1950s during fierce polio epidemics.
Coronavirus cases soar in Brazil: there are 428 infected and 4 dead It is the largest daily jump in the number of cases in that country. Most of the infections are concentrated in Sao Paolo
The Brazilian Ministry of Health reported that 428 have been infected with coronaviruses in that country, including four people who have died. Most of the cases are concentrated in Sao Paulo, where 240 infections have already been registered. The São Paulo State Health Secretariat reported that three of the four dead had problems with hypertension and other chronic diseases
Maintaining Services
Australia has given the elderly an hour in the mornings to do their shopping so they can avoid panic buying caused by the #coronavirus
"Even though it was just for 1 hour, it gave us a chance to slowly do our shop." Australia has given the elderly an hour in the mornings to do their shopping so they can avoid panic buying caused by the #coronavirus
10,000 extra troops to join British army's Covid support force
The Ministry of Defence is to double the size of the military’s civil contingency unit to create a 20,000-strong Covid support force, the defence secretary has announced. An additional 10,000 troops will be added to the 10,000 routinely held at higher readiness in case of a civil emergency, and reservists could also be called up, Ben Wallace said on Wednesday. There are fears about the ability of the police and NHS, which are both already at full stretch, to deal with the scale of the crisis. While the government has been reluctant to highlight such a bleak prospect, the armed forces need to be prepared for the threat of a breakdown in civil order given that troops have been deployed in other countries to enforce lockdowns and prevent looting of shops.
Coronavirus in London: Why is the outbreak worse in the capital?
Many streets and pubs are eerily quiet as London records more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than anywhere else in the country. London has been hit the worst by the coronavirus outbreak - with 953 of the UK's 2,626 confirmed cases and at least 35 of its 104 deaths. The spread of COVID-19 has all but emptied streets that are normally packed, monuments appear eerily deserted and tourist attractions, museums and theatres continue to close.
Sainsbury’s to close its meat, fish and pizza service counters to free up staff
Sainsbury’s to close its meat, fish and pizza service counters to free up staff. The supermarket is aiming to bolster its delivery network to cope with unprecedented demand
A supermarket in Denmark got tired of people hoarding hand sanitizer, so came up with their own way of stopping it.
A supermarket in Denmark got tired of people hoarding hand sanitizer, so came up with their own way of stopping it. 1 bottle kr40 (€5.50) 2 bottles kr1000 (€134.00) each bottle. Hoarding stopped! #COVID19 #coronavirus #Hoarding
Coronavirus: Water firms issue blockage warning as people use toilet paper 'alternatives'
Drains and sewers are in danger of becoming blocked as people use wet wipes, paper towels - and possibly even newspaper - because they can't find loo roll at the supermarket. Water companies in the UK and Australia have warned against using alternatives which are unflushable. They say if there is no other option, wipes and kitchen roll should be disposed of in the bin. Social media campaigns are urging people to stick to toilet roll as some people panic-buy and strip shelves bare during the coronavirus outbreak.
HealthCare Innovations
Coronavirus: Japanese anti-viral drug effective in treating patients, Chinese official says
A Japanese anti-viral drug appears to be effective in treating coronavirus patients, Chinese medical officials have found. Favipiravir, also known as Avigan, was approved for use in Japan in 2014 and is active against a range of illnesses, including influenza strains, yellow fever, Ebola and foot-and-mouth disease. Now it has shown encouraging results in treating patients with Covid-19 in clinical trials involving 320 people in Shenzhen and Wuhan. “It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment,” Zhang Xinmin, an official at China’s science and technology ministry, told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday. The 35 patients who received the drug in Shenzhen appeared to test negative for coronavirus in a median of four days, compared to 11 days for the 45 who did not receive it.
WHO Now Officially Recommends to Avoid Taking Ibuprofen For COVID-19 Symptoms
The World Health Organization recommended Tuesday that people suffering COVID-19 symptoms avoid taking ibuprofen, after French officials warned that anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen effects of the virus. The warning by French Health Minister Olivier Veran followed a recent study in The Lancet medical journal that hypothesised that an enzyme boosted by anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen could facilitate and worsen COVID-19 infections. Asked about the study, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva the UN health agency's experts were "looking into this to give further guidance." "In the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol, and do not use ibuprofen as a self-medication. That's important," he said.
AIFA will start starting testing the effectiveness of Tolicizumab on 33 coronavirus patients on Thursday
The agency plans to launch a test on 330 patients with coronavirus. This Phase 2 testing will be to assess how effective the drug Tolicizumab is and if it works in these coronoavirus cases.
Europe’s Doctors Repeat Errors Made in Wuhan, China Medics Say
Key among them is inadequate protection for medical workers, leading to a high infection rate among doctors and nurses. In Wuhan, a lack of understanding of the disease and a shortage of protective equipment in the early weeks of the outbreak in January led to thousands of health-care workers being infected while treating patients. At least 46 have died. “Our European colleagues are contracting the disease in their daily practice, and the proportion is quite similar to the earlier situation in Wuhan,” said Wu Dong, a gastro-enterology professor at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital. Wu spoke from Wuhan with journalists in Beijing on Monday, alongside three other top Chinese doctors. “We need to protect our medical staff.”
New analysis breaks down age-group risk for coronavirus — and shows millennials are not invincible
In general, the U.S. experience largely mimics China’s, with the risk for serious disease and death from Covid-19 rising with age. But in an important qualification, an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Wednesday underlines a message that infectious disease experts have been emphasizing: Millennials are not invincible. The new data show that up to one-fifth of infected people ages 20-44 have been hospitalized, including 2%-4% who required treatment in an intensive care unit. Still, the most severe cases, and the highest rates of death, are among the elderly. Although 17% of the U.S. population is 65 or older, 31% of cases were in that age group, CDC experts concluded in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. While it is possible that the elderly have more chances to be infected than younger people, such as by living in nursing homes, that is considered unlikely, since younger adults encounter many others at work and school.
"Respiratory viruses often see a reduction in transmission power in warmer weather, but for this pandemic that won't be true"
Mauricio Rodríguez Álvarez, professor of Virology at UNAM, analyzes some of the facts and fiction surrounding the coronavirus. The virus has already crossed over different latitudes around the world with varying temperatures and the infection process remains very little changed. Some places (like Mexico) have several flu peaks now and the infections continue throughout
Coronavirus: Scientists reveal how the body fights back against infection
Scientists in Australia say they have for the first time mapped how the body's immune system responds to coronavirus, an important step in the possible creation of an effective vaccine. Researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne were able to test blood samples at four different time points in an otherwise healthy woman in her 40s, who presented with COVID-19 and had mild-to-moderate symptoms.
China sends masks, gloves to help France fight virus - French minister
China is sending 1 million surgical masks and gloves to France to help it fight the coronavirus, the French foreign minister said on Wednesday. A first plane arrived via Belgium earlier on Wednesday and a second will arrive on Thursday, Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview with BFM TV. France, which has a shortage of masks and gloves, provided China with some 17 tonnes of equipment after the virus broke out in China’s Wuhan province.
Catching Up to Coronavirus: Top 60 Treatments in Development
More than two dozen of the 60 COVID-19 treatments in development are therapies that have emerged or made public just in the two weeks since GEN published its original A-List summarizing COVID-19 therapies in the works.
Everyone In Iceland Can Get Tested For The Coronavirus. Here's How The Results Could Help All Of Us.
As countries around the world scramble to fight back the spread of the coronavirus, Iceland is doing things a little differently from the rest — and the approach could have a much larger impact on our understanding of the virus. The small island nation of 364,000 is carrying out large-scale testing among its general population, making it the latest country to put aggressive testing at the heart of its fight against the pandemic. But — crucially — the testing also includes people who show no symptoms of the disease. Iceland’s government said it has so far tested a higher proportion of its citizens than anywhere else in the world. The number of individuals tested by the country’s health authorities and the biotechnology firm deCode Genetics — 3,787 — roughly translates to 10,405 per million, which compares to about 5,203 in South Korea, 2478 in Italy, and 764 in the UK. "Iceland’s population puts it in the unique position of having very high testing capabilities with help from the Icelandic medical research company deCode Genetics, who are offering to perform large scale testing," Thorolfur Guðnason, Iceland’s chief epidemiologist, told BuzzFeed News. "This effort is intended to gather insight into the actual prevalence of the virus in the community, as most countries are most exclusively testing symptomatic individuals at this time." Of 3,787 individuals tested in the country, a total of 218 positive cases have been identified so far. "At least half of those infected contracted the virus while travelling abroad, mostly in high-risk areas in the European Alps (at least 90)," the government said on Monday. Those numbers include the first results of the voluntary tests on people with no symptoms, which started last Friday. The first batch of 1,800 tests produced 19 positive cases, or about 1% of the sample. "Early results from deCode Genetics indicate that a low proportion of the general population has contracted the virus and that about half of those who tested positive are non-symptomatic,” said Guðnason. “The other half displays very moderate cold-like symptoms." “This data can also become a valuable resource for scientific studies of the virus in the future,” he added.
Scientists say mass tests in Italian town have halted Covid-19 there
The small town of Vò, in northern Italy, where the first coronavirus death occurred in the country, has become a case study that demonstrates how scientists might neutralise the spread of Covid-19. A scientific study, rolled out by the University of Padua, with the help of the Veneto Region and the Red Cross, consisted of testing all 3,300 inhabitants of the town, including asymptomatic people. The goal was to study the natural history of the virus, the transmission dynamics and the categories at risk. The researchers explained they had tested the inhabitants twice and that the study led to the discovery of the decisive role in the spread of the coronavirus epidemic of asymptomatic people. When the study began, on 6 March, there were at least 90 infected in Vò. For days now, there have been no new cases.
More than 99% of those killed by the coronavirus in Italy had other pathologies
More than 99% of coronavirus deaths in Italy were from people with previous medical conditions , according to a study by the country's national health authority. After deaths from the virus reached more than 2,500, with a 150% jump in the past week, health authorities have been analyzing the data to extract useful information to combat the spread of the disease. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's government is considering extending national confinement beyond the beginning of April, newspaper La Stampa reported on Wednesday. Italy has more than 31,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The coronavirus epidemic hits Spain which does not have enough virus diagnostic testing kits
The problem is serious, warn the experts consulted, although it is mitigated by social distancing which has already been decreed throughout Spain by the government. Carrying out as many tests as possible has been shown to be the key tool in slowing down the virus in countries such as Germany or South Korea . Distancing reduces the circulation of the virus, but knowing who is infected remains key. Each diagnosis means investigators can see is a chain of infections and can act to ensure that they no longer reach an old folks home, avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and, ultimately, reduce the number of deaths”, explains a person responsible for microbiology at a large Madrid-based public hospital.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 19th Mar 2021

Isolation Tips
COVID-19: Isolation increases risk of immunological disorders, immunologist says
As Canada continues to weather the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have been concerned with the potential impact that extended isolation could be having on the mental wellness of our youth as continued lockdowns, distanced learning and gathering limits leave children with significantly less time interacting with others and their typical environments. One viral immunologist is aiming to bring attention to what he calls the “underappreciated effect” our pandemic is having on the physical health of children, as time spent in isolation has been amplifying an already present epidemic of allergies, asthma and even auto-immune diseases in the country.
Elderly with hearing difficulties experienced memory loss, loneliness during Covid-19 lockdown
People aged over 70 years with hearing difficulties experienced heightened depression, loneliness and memory problems during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to an online survey conducted by UK health experts. "The impact of social isolation has been massive on the elderly population, but our survey shows that people with hearing impairment have been more substantially affected," said Professor Annalena Venneri from the University of Sheffield's Neuroscience Institute. Venneri, who is also the co-author of the study, said measures put in place to help limit the spread of the virus —such as face coverings and social distancing — have limited the social interaction of the elderly people to a greater extent.
GPs in England should prescribe art and gardening to combat Covid issues - study
Thousands more people should be prescribed art classes, group gardening projects and nature walks on the NHS in a bid to improve physical and mental health, it has been claimed. A report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of Occupational Therapists says patients are missing out on “social prescribing”, even though it could help combat the mental health fallout from the pandemic. Social prescribing can include activities such as attending a new skills workshop, playing football in a local team, taking some form of education or training, or helping local elderly residents with their gardening. It can be used to help deal with loneliness and improve physical and mental conditions.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19 testing will become 'permanent feature of life', documents reveal
Covid-19 testing is likely to become a “permanent feature” of life in Scotland, government documents reveal. A new strategy sets out plans to keep testing people with symptoms beyond the threat of the pandemic. A £13 million genomic sequencing centre is being set up to help swiftly identify variants which may cause fresh outbreaks or beat vaccines. Nicola Sturgeon announced details of the laboratory, saying it would be able to sequence up to 1,000 samples a day. Scotland presently has to send some samples to England to find out details of the viral strain.
Covid-19 rapid tests could be offered to younger NI pupils
In Northern Ireland, pupils younger than those in years 12 to 14 could be included in Covid-19 testing for schools "at a later stage". That is according to guidance on testing in schools published by the Department of Education (DE). All post-primary staff and year 12 to 14 pupils are to be offered twice-weekly lateral flow tests from 22 March when they return to school. After the Easter holidays, all staff in primary and pre-schools will also be offered regular testing.
Community Activities
Google removed more than 99 million malicious Covid-19 ads in 2020, figures show
Google blocked or removed more than three billion adverts for violating its policies in 2020, including more than 99 million linked to the coronavirus pandemic, the company has revealed. The internet company’s annual Ads Safety Report showed it suspended 1.7 million advertiser accounts for breaking Google rules. It said a major revamp of its advertising policies, including the addition or updating of more than 40 rules for both advertisers and publishers had meant a drastic increase in the number of ads removed over the last 12 months. Among the 3.1 billion adverts removed were over 99 million related to Covid-19, many for misleading claims such as miracle cures or fake vaccine doses, but also ads for N95 masks during supply shortages
Drive to help Wirral BAME communities feel safe about Covid jab
A Wirral woman is championing a campaign to ensure ethnic communities across the borough feel safe about having the Covid-19 vaccine. Carol Haque is encouraging others in the Bangladeshi community to take up the vaccine as the safest, most effective way to tackle the virus in a campaign launched by Cheshire and Merseyside NHS. Using insight from local research, representatives from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic will address questions about the vaccine in a series of radio adverts, posters and social media adverts.
Working Remotely
Couple reveal how they gave up full time work to live in a van
A couple who swapped their busy office jobs for life in van, trading their hectic nine to five schedules for working just two days a week remotely have revealed they're still saving the same amount as before despite a 60 per cent salary cut. Charlie Low, 25, an insight manager, and Dale Comley, 29, an engineer, from Bristol, decided to leave their jobs after finding themselves constantly counting down to the days to the weekend every week. Tired of the rat race, they invested £8,800 in a bright yellow LWB Mercedes Sprinter van - previously used by delivery company DHL - and converted it in their spare time after choosing to commit to a new life on the road. Over the next year, the couple spent £6,700 converting the van but are still able to save the same amount now as when they were working full time as their ills are so tiny.
Remote working locations confirmed across Wales
Locations across Wales are being made available for remote working, giving people an alternative to working from home or working in a traditional office environment. The Welsh Government is encouraging an increase in remote working and has set a long-term ambition for 30% of the Welsh workforce to work away from a traditional office, to be achieved by giving people more options and choice on their workplace. This ambition is intended to help town centres, reduce congestion and cut carbon emissions.
Why remote work has eroded trust among colleagues
When the pandemic triggered mass workplace closures last spring, many companies were unprepared for what turned into an open-ended remote-work arrangement. For some, the extraordinary situation initially prompted a heightened sense of goodwill as workers juggled the demands of family and fine-tuned home-office setups. Yet as we now pass the one-year mark of virtual work, the shaky foundation of many company cultures is cracking to reveal a lack of trust among remote managers and employees. The dearth of trust isn’t something that will be magically fixed once the pandemic subsides, especially as businesses are considering adopting new models, from hybrid systems to a different kind of work week. The consequences of a culture of distrust are significant – including diminished productivity, innovation and motivation. But there are steps we can take to effectively build and repair trust, even from afar.
Covid-19 remote working and newsroom productivity
More than a third of media professionals believe they have exceeded newsroom productivity while working from home during the coronavirus pandemic – however some shared concerns that the quality of their work had dipped. The absence of face-to-face contact was a problem raised by journalists who feel they have suffered from not being able to meet interviewees or interact with colleagues amid the buzz of the newsroom. This was a common theme: “It’s more productive but you miss that time interacting with people. The talking and chats that might make you ‘less productive’ but have a human side.”
Virtual Classrooms
US schools prepare summer of learning to help kids catch up
After a dreary year spent largely at home in front of the computer, many U.S. children could be looking at summer school — and that's just what many parents want. Although the last place most kids want to spend summer is in a classroom, experts say that after a year of interrupted study, it’s crucial to do at least some sort of learning over the break, even if it’s not in school and is incorporated into traditional camp offerings. Several governors, including in California Kansas and Virginia are pushing for more summer learning. And some states are considering extending their 2021-22 academic year or starting the fall semester early
Remote Schooling Strains Parents and Their Children, CDC Survey Suggests
In the U.S., parents whose children received virtual instruction were more likely to report poorer well-being for themselves and their kids, a federal government survey found. The parents were more likely to report that they were emotionally distressed, concerned about job stability and struggling to balance work and child care if their children were learning virtually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released Thursday. Some of the parents also reported the mental and emotional health of their children had worsened, while their physical activity had decreased.
Public Policies
Biden set to hit goal of 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in first 100 days over a month ahead of schedule
President Joe Biden is poised to hit a top goal he set for his first 100 days in the White House - 100 million vaccine shots in the arms of Americans - as early as Thursday, NBC News White House correspondent Geoff Bennett reported. Before he was inaugurated, Biden underscored the importance of ramping up the pace of vaccination in the US. In early December, he unveiled a three-part plan to crush COVID-19 in his first 100 days - including complete 100 million vaccine shots. Biden's 100th day in office will be April 30, which means he's set to hit this goal over a month ahead of schedule.
Ukraine's COVID-19 cases jump, capital Kyiv imposes tough restrictions
New coronavirus infections spiked to their highest level in Ukraine since November on Thursday, prompting the capital Kyiv to impose a tight lockdown for three weeks starting on Saturday. Kyiv’s lockdown echoes similar measures to be introduced by Lviv, the largest city in the west of the country, on Friday including closures of cafes, restaurants, non-food stores and a ban on public events. “We need to gain time and do everything to prevent the collapse of the medical system,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
‘Safe and effective’: EU drug regulator backs AstraZeneca vaccine
The European Union drug regulator has said it has come to a “clear scientific conclusion” that the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is “safe and effective” after several, mostly European, countries suspended its use following reports of blood clots among some recipients. Speaking during a news briefing on Thursday, Emer Cooke, head of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), said the AstraZeneca vaccine “is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events or blood clots,” stressing once again that the jab’s benefits outweigh possible risks.
Pakistan receives second batch of 500,000 vaccines from China
Pakistan has received a Chinese donation of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine, bringing the country’s total supply to one million shots, Health Minister Dr Faisal Sultan said. The South Asian nation of 220 million people launched COVID-19 vaccinations for the public on March 10, starting with older people. Health workers started receiving shots in early February.
India sticks to AstraZeneca vaccine ‘with full vigour’
India is not worried about some European Union countries suspending use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and will continue to roll out the shot in its huge immunisation programme “with full vigour”, a senior official said. The AstraZeneca shots are produced by India’s Serum Institute and known in the country as Covishield. The vaccine accounts for most of the 35 million coronavirus jabs administered in the country so far.
Paris goes into lockdown as COVID-19 variant rampages
France imposed a month-long lockdown on Paris and parts of the north after a faltering vaccine rollout and spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants forced President Emmanuel Macron to shift course. Since late January, when he defied the calls of scientists and some in his government to lock the country down, Macron has said he would do whatever it took to keep the euro zone’s second largest economy as open as possible. However, this week he ran out of options just as France and other European countries briefly suspended use of the AstraZenca vaccine. His prime minister, Jean Castex, said France was in the grip of a third wave, with the virulent variant first detected in Britain now accounting for some 75% of cases. Intensive care wards are under severe strain, notably in Paris where the incidence rate surpasses 400 infections in every 100,000 inhabitants.
Maintaining Services
India coronavirus: Concerns mount over high levels of vaccine wastage
More than two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have gone to waste during India’s national inoculation drive, leading some officials to call on the public to cherish the “elixir-like, precious commodity”. On Wednesday, Indian health officials highlighted that about 6.5 per cent of all doses delivered to the front line have been wasted. Concerns are such that prime minister Narendra Modi spoke out over the issue, demanding immediate steps to tackle the problem and stating that “we are denying somebody’s rights because of this wastage”.
More dying of Covid-19 now in Europe than in first wave as UK variant takes hold
More people are dying of Covid-19 now in Europe than during March 2020, the World Health Organization has warned. The WHO's emergencies lead in Europe, Dr Catherine Smallwood, said she was "particularly worried" about the situation in the Balkans, the Baltic States and Central Europe, where hospitalisations and deaths are among the highest in the world. The numbers of new cases per million people are also rising so fast that in some countries - notably Estonia, Bosnia, Hungary and Poland - the graphs tracking the virus point almost vertically upwards. Experts said that the combination of the spread of the more transmissible UK variant coupled with slow government reactions, as well as a lack of vaccinations in some countries, could all be contributing to the spiking numbers and Europe's looming third wave.
U.S. to share 4 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine with Mexico, Canada
The United States plans to send roughly 4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine that it is not using to Mexico and Canada in loan deals with the two countries, yielding to requests to share vaccines with allies. Mexico will receive 2.5 million doses of the vaccine and Canada is to receive 1.5 million doses, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “It is not fully finalized yet but it is our aim,” Psaki told a daily briefing. “Ensuring our neighbors can contain the virus is ... mission critical to ending the pandemic.” The Biden administration has come under pressure from countries around the world to share vaccines, particularly its stock of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is authorized for use elsewhere but not yet in the United States.
Brazil struggles with lack of ICU doctors as pandemic worsens
As Brazil’s coronavirus outbreak spirals out of control, the country is facing a dangerous new shortage, threatening to drive fatalities even higher: a lack of staff in intensive care units. ome medical professionals are burned out after months of grueling, soul-sapping work. Others are simply unable to keep up with the endless flow of critical COVID-19 patients pushing the country’s healthcare system to the brink. “Intensive care doctors are a commodity in short supply,” César Eduardo Fernandes, the president of the Brazilian Medical Association (AMB) told Reuters on Wednesday. “There’s no way to meet this brutal, catastrophic demand.”
Taiwan clears AstraZeneca vaccine, shots might start on Monday
Taiwan has given regulatory approval to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and might start giving the first inoculations as early as Monday, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said. Taiwan’s first vaccines – 117,000 doses of the AstraZeneca shot – arrived on the island earlier this month.
Healthcare Innovations
GPs ‘at least 30% less likely’ to pass Covid-19 on to others after one vaccine dose
Chances of healthcare workers passing Covid onto others reduced by at least 30% after one vaccine dose, according to the first UK study into the transmission of coronavirus following vaccination. Quoting the research in yesterday’s coronavirus briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock said ‘it shows that the vaccines are saving lives’. The study, which included 300,000 people, saw researchers assess the health records of people who lived with vaccinated and unvaccinated healthcare workers between 8 December and 3 March to find how many tested positive for Covid-19 or were hospitalised. The yet-to-be-peer-reviewed study, carried out by Public Health Scotland and the University of Glasgow, suggested that after one vaccine dose healthcare workers are at least 30% less likely to pass Covid onto others, with this rising to 54% less likely after a second dose. The researchers said this is a low estimate of the ‘true’ impact of the vaccines, given that household members of healthcare workers could also be infected through people they do not live with.
Skin swabbing could be useful in detecting Covid-19, research suggests
Simple skin swabbing could be useful in helping to help detect Covid-19, new research suggests. Chemists at the University of Surrey found that people infected with the virus appear to have lower lipid levels in the natural oils that coat the surface of their skin.
Covid-19 reinfections are rare, unless you are over 65
Coronavirus reinfections are rare, but it's more common for people 65 and older to get infected more than once, according to a study published Wednesday in the Lancet medical journal. The study, which looked at reinfection rates among 4 million people in Denmark, found that most people who have had Covid-19 seemed to have protection from reinfection for more than six months. In a follow-up after six months, the study found no evidence that protection was waning. But a check of the demographics of who was getting infected again showed it was mostly people 65 and older, Jen Christensen reports.
J&J developing several next-generation COVID-19 vaccines, says CEO
Johnson & Johnson is developing several next generation COVID-19 vaccines against the emerging variants of the coronavirus, Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky said on Thursday. The drugmaker, which won the U.S. emergency use authorization of a one-shot vaccine last month, had previously said it was developing a second-generation vaccine that would target the variant first identified in South Africa. J&J is also working on a two-dose version of its vaccine. "We could be in a situation where you could either need a booster to maintain the durability (of protection against the virus) or you might need to have a next derivative of the current vaccine to address these variants as they develop", Gorsky said at a webinar by the Economic Club of New York.
Half of hospital COVID survivors note symptoms 4 months on
Half of French COVID-19 survivors who were hospitalized (51.0%) had at least one COVID-related symptom at least 4 months later, according to a study published yesterday in JAMA. The most commonly noted symptoms were fatigue (31.1%), cognitive conditions (20.7%), and shortness of breath (16.3%). Further clinical tests in a subset of 177 patients showed that 63.2% had abnormalities on lung computed tomography (CT) scan, but the researchers note that severe pulmonary after-effects were not common. "Along with funding for research to better understand and treat long COVID, simultaneous investment in clinical infrastructure will be needed to support patients as they recover from this challenging disease," writes Hallie Prescott, MD, MSc, of the University of Michigan, in an invited editorial.
Trending Clinical Topic: PASC
At a recent White House briefing, Anthony Fauci, MD, introduced a new acronym for what had been called "long COVID." PASC is the new term used to describe long-lingering effects of COVID-19 (see Infographic below) and is this week's top trending clinical topic. At the briefing, Fauci stressed that even patients with moderate cases of COVID-19 can develop PASC. "New symptoms sometimes arise well after the time of infection, or they evolve over time and persist for months," he explained. "They can range from mild or annoying to actually quite incapacitating." Fauci noted that the National Institutes of Health recently launched an initiative to further study the phenomenon.
Existing COVID vaccines may protect against Brazil strain: Study
Existing vaccines may protect against the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus, according to a University of Oxford study which also highlighted how a variant first found in South Africa poses the biggest headache for vaccine makers. Coronavirus variants with specific mutations to the spike protein are of concern because scientists worry they will reduce the efficacy of vaccines, as well as immunity gained from prior infection.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 20th Mar 2020

Isolation Tips
Please help us (#nhsworkers) to help you... by staying at home
Please help us (#nhsworkers) to help you... by staying at home and avoiding other people you are preventing spread of Covid-19, reducing #NHS work, and saving the lives of vulnerable fellow humans! @Suffolk_PC @SuffolkGPFed @WestSuffolkNHS @NHSWSCCG @IESCCG
Simple Food Swaps For When You Run Out Of Ingredients
Has a coronavirus quarantine emptied your kitchen? These are the best substitutes for butter, eggs, milk, onions, lemon, sugar, flour, broth and more.
When it’s all too much, here’s how to quell coronavirus anxiety, according to experts
There are so many sources of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic (pandemic!), it’s normal to feel some anxiety when a global infectious disease is impacts every realm of your life. Here are some ways to cope with stress and anxiety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
I'm an Italian mom under coronavirus lockdown. Here's what I wish I had done differently before things got bad
Italy has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak that's rapidly spreading worldwide.The country is on lockdown, its 60 million citizens have been instructed to remain indoors, and all public gatherings have been canceled. Katherine Wilson, a mother of two who lives in Rome, said she wished that she and other Italians had listened to warnings about the coronavirus. She warned Americans not to make "similar misguided choices."
Coronavirus: How to help the elderly and other vulnerable people during the outbreak
‘There are some simple steps we can all take that will make a huge difference,’ says Caroline Abrahams at AGE UK...
It's Totally Normal To Feel Weird, Anxious Or Scared Right Now. We're In A Period Of Grief
Therapists explain us how we can maintain some form of control – no matter how big or small – in our lives.
Hygiene Helpers
How long can the novel coronavirus survive on surfaces and in the air?
A new study shows that SARS-CoV-2 can linger in the air for hours and on some materials for days
Covid-19: Clon Distillery to produce sanitiser – and free for local charities
CEO Mr Scully said ‘We are adhering to HSE specifications, creating sanitisers with an alcohol content of 63% ABV. Fortunately, we already have suitable 500 ml PET bottles and equipment in place, which means that we are ready to go into production immediately. We expect to have our first batch of 5,000 bottles ready within the next week.’
Denmark to send out coronavirus self-test kits to homes
Denmark will start offering take-home kits to collect samples to test for the new coronavirus, in order to get a better view of its spread, health authorities said on Wednesday.
Community Activities
Concert pays homage to health workers.
Concert pays homage to health workers. Musicians and singers living in a building in the Barbès district of Paris improvise a concert from their windows, in homage to the medical staff on the front line against the #coronavirus epidemic
Ok this was sweet - Israelis on their balconies clapping and cheering for the doctors and nurses
Ok this was sweet - Israelis on their balconies clapping and cheering for the doctors and nurses fighting the Coronavirus pandemic
Coronavirus: A million people demand NHS workers get priority testing
More than a million people have signed a petition calling for NHS staff to be prioritised for coronavirus testing so they can continue to work. NHS staff with a cough are facing the dilemma of being unable to work for a week or infecting patients with COVID-19.
Retailers who inflate prices because of Coronavirus could be prosecuted, CMA warns
The watchdog added that it would consider asking the Government to introduce price controls if needed as products, including hand sanitiser, sell out at hundreds of supermarkets nationwide
Coronavirus: Bangladesh mass prayer event prompts alarm
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Bangladesh for a mass prayer session on Wednesday, despite fears it posed a risk of spreading the new coronavirus. Local police chief Tota Miah told AFP news agency that 10,000 Muslims had gathered in Raipur town to pray "healing verses" from the Koran. But some eyewitnesses told the BBC the figure was closer to 30,000. A similar religious event in Malaysia in February has been confirmed as the source of more than 500 infections.
Facebook has a coronavirus problem. It's WhatsApp.
The platform is being used to spread messages that often contain a mixture of accurate and misleading claims that have been debunked by medical experts. The problem is now so acute that world leaders are urging people to stop sharing unverified information using the app. "I am urging everyone to please stop sharing unverified info on WhatsApp groups," Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Monday on Twitter. "These messages are scaring and confusing people and causing real damage. Please get your info from official, trusted sources."
Twitter to remove harmful fake news about coronavirus
Twitter will remove tweets that run the risk of causing harm by spreading dangerous misinformation about Covid-19, the company has said, after weeks of criticism that its policies on misinformation were too lax.
Coronavirus: The med students who want to help
With the NHS under pressure because of coronavirus, medical students at the University of Liverpool are hoping to use their skills to volunteer at hospitals during the crisis.
Working Remotely
Virtual Classrooms
Coronavirus homeschooling? Five ways to keep your kids learning, happy and healthy
Tom Rose and Jack Pannett are qualified teachers and sports coaches and run an activity business that helps children learn. They also broadcast their own podcast. Here, they set out their five top tips on how to keep your kids engaged, learning, healthy and happy while schools are closed because of coronavirus...
Are you a parent trying to find activities for kids home from school?
Are you a parent trying to find activities for kids home from school? Or someone stuck at home looking for fun distractions? Here are some fun, free science and nature resources you can use at home. I’ll be adding to this list over time.
Public Policies
The coronavirus pandemic began in China. Today, it reported no new local infections for the first time
China has reported no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the first time since the pandemic began, marking a major turning point in the global battle to contain Covid-19. At a news conference on Thursday morning, officials from China's National Health Commission announced there had been just 34 new cases in the past 24 hours -- all imported from overseas -- and eight new deaths, all in Hubei, the province where the virus was first identified. There were there no new reported cases in Hubei at all on Wednesday.
Coronavirus: "The way the epidemic was managed in South Korea should serve as an example"
In a country, where shops and transport have not been closed, the epidemic has been brought under control thanks, in particular, to the civic spirit of the population, in contrast to the atmosphere of panic in the West, observed, Christophe Gaudin, a French academic based in Seoul.
Coronavirus: NHS staff 'at risk' over lack of protective gear
NHS staff say they are being put at risk during the coronavirus outbreak because of a lack of protective gear. One doctor told the BBC that frontline healthcare workers felt like "cannon fodder" as they do not have access to equipment such as face masks. Health workers also expressed concerns that not enough of them were being tested for the virus.
Coronavirus: UK urged to pay for workers' wages
The government has been urged to step in immediately to pay firm's wage bills to prevent mass unemployment. MPs across all parties are warning that small and medium sized businesses are facing a "catastrophic" loss of revenue because of anti-virus measures.
Coronavirus: Government 'looking at' £151-a-week benefit to stop workers facing destitution
Extra support is expected to be announced for workers either on Friday or Saturday - and ministers today said the radical £151-a-week idea is one of those under consideration
Federal government wants to provide 40 billion euros in emergency aid for small businesses
The self-employed and small businesses are hard hit by the consequences of the corona crisis. According to SPIEGEL sources, the state is now putting together an aid package for them.
Ecuador Mayor orders cars to park on airport runway to stop planes arriving in panic over coronavirus
Referring to an Iberia plane which had no passengers, she said: "There were no fewer than 11 crew members arriving from Madrid, who were going to stay in a hotel in Guayaquil until they could take off on Friday. How is it possible that the plane was going to be allowed to land today so that they could stay in our city coming from theirs with a high number of coronavirus cases?"
China ramps up coronavirus help to Europe (paywall)
Brussels has thanked China for offering to provide more than 2m medical masks and 50,000 coronavirus testing kits, as Beijing escalates its help to European countries grappling with the growing pandemic.
Social distancing working in Italy but epidemic could be determined by population demographics
The effects of the lockdown in Lodi — near Milan in northern Italy — enacted in late February shows a flattening of the curve of the epidemic, says researchers at the University of Oxford. "While cases in the province of Bergamo began to increase from Feb 24th - in contrast to Lodi - no shutdowns or restrictions were imposed," the Oxford sociologists note in a study on how demographics can affect the epidemic. The entire province of Lombardy, which includes Lodi and Bergamo, was instead shut down roughly two weeks later on March 8. Cases in Bergamo have surpassed those in Lodi.
Maintaining Services
A Superstar Epidemiologist's Plan to Fight Coronavirus
The only way we’re really going to flatten the curve is: a) a massive at-home testing effort b) using cell phone location data to tell people who may have been exposed to self-isolate c) allowing people who have known immunity (from having had it) back into the workforce once we know via blood test that they can’t get it or spread it anymore. That way, they can keep everything running while others fall sick.
London paramedics rationed to one face mask between two
Paramedics attending people who could be infected with the coronavirus were told only one person in each team of two could wear a face mask, with the other instructed to stand two metres away from the patient if “clinically appropriate”.
How can we protect healthcare workers?
How can we protect healthcare workers? Evidence suggests risks of #COVID19 to providers grow when healthcare systems get overwhelmed. In Italy 9% of all infections are among medical personnel. In Lombardy alone, 20% of providers were infected.
Healthcare Innovations
King’s Critical Care –Evidence SummaryClinical Management of COVID-19
This is a summary of the evidence available internationally on the management of COVID-19 disease which clinicians may find useful.
Coronavirus: The detectives racing to contain the virus in Singapore
Contact-tracing isn't new - it's been used for decades to track patients who may have passed their illness to others during their stay. But Singapore's use of the system during this crisis was praised by Harvard epidemiologists in early February, who described it as a "gold standard of near-perfect detection". The World Health Organization has also praised Singapore for being proactive even before the first case was detected. Singapore, unlike the US and much of Europe, started contact tracing early to stay ahead of community spread.
China's coronavirus lockdown strategy: brutal but effective
Nearly two months on, Beijing’s lockdown approach for the coronavirus appears vindicated. China has reported its first day with no domestic transmissions of the disease; all newly identified cases had been imported from abroad, health authorities say. Countries with their own exponentially-growing outbreaks are imposing similar measures, from Italy and Spain to Germany and California, though none are as strict as Wuhan’s
Coronavirus looks different in kids than in adults
A paper released this week in the journal Pediatrics, based on 2,143 young people in China, provides the most extensive evidence on the spread of the virus in children, and there is bad news and good news. The study provides confirmation that coronavirus infections are in fact generally less severe in kids, with more than 90 percent having mild to moderate disease or even being asymptomatic. But it contains worrisome information about one subset — infants — and suggests that children may be a critical factor in the disease’s rapid spread.
COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic has a natural origin
An analysis of public genome sequence data from SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses found no evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise engineered.
Chloroquine: is a 70-year-old treatment for malaria the key to beating coronavirus?
Doctors in France offer glimmer of hope as they reveal a positive result from treatment.
Yes, Young People Are Falling Seriously Ill From Covid-19
In the U.S., 705 of first 2,500 cases range in age from 20 to 44. Despite initial data from China that showed elderly people and those with other health conditions were most vulnerable, young people — from twenty-somethings to those in their early forties — are falling seriously ill. Many require intensive care, according to reports from Italy and France. The risk is particularly dire for those with ailments that haven’t yet been diagnosed.
Scots scientist says one million coronavirus vaccines will be available by end of the year
The Scottish scientist developing a lifesaving vaccine for coronavirus says one million doses will be available for distribution by the end of the year with first responders, medical staff and those with underlying medical conditions given priority.
A Potential COVID-19 Vaccine Begins Clinical Trial
NPR's Mary Louise Kelly speaks with Moderna Therepeutics' Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tal Zaks about the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial, which started on Monday in Seattle.
Trials to begin on Covid-19 vaccine in UK next month
Researchers hope to conduct animal tests next week and safety trials as early as next month
Nearly 40 Percent of U.S. Hospitalized Coronavirus Patients Are Age 20 to 54
Data released Wednesday night by the CDC shows that of the 508 patients known to have been hospitalized in the U.S. for COVID-19, about 20% of those were ages 20 to 44 and another 18% were between the ages of 45 and 54. However, COVID-19 is still significantly more dangerous in older patients, as 80% of deaths associated with coronavirus are adults over the age of 65.
Coronavirus: Australian scientists map how immune system fights virus
Scientists in Australia say they have identified how the body's immune system fights the Covid-19 virus. Their research, published in Nature Medicine journal on Tuesday, shows people are recovering from the new virus like they would from the flu. Determining which immune cells are appearing should also help with vaccine development, experts say.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 22nd Mar 2021

Isolation Tips
A year of Covid-19 has made us lonelier – now’s the time for connection
According to a survey of UK adults, taking place nine months into Covid-19 restrictions, one in four adults in the UK said they experienced feelings of loneliness. The levels of loneliness, according to the Mental Health Foundation, ‘were higher in young people, people who are unemployed, full time students and single parents’. If you are feeling lonely, psychologist Andrew Bridgewater adds that right now, the best thing someone can do to seek support during these times — realistically — is to talk about how you’re feeling with someone who will listen and not judge.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid: Masks and social distancing 'could last years'
People may need to wear face coverings and socially distance for several years until we return to normality, a leading epidemiologist has predicted. Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at Public Health England, said basic measures could be in place until other countries successfully roll out jabs. She also said a return of big spectator events required careful monitoring and clear instructions about staying safe. The defence secretary has not ruled out the foreign holiday ban being extended. Ben Wallace told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show that booking a break abroad now would be "premature" and "potentially risky".
Qantas boss: Governments 'to insist' on vaccines for flying
The boss of Australian airline Qantas has told the BBC that "governments are going to insist" on vaccines for international travellers. Coronavirus vaccines are seen as crucial to reviving an industry that saw worldwide passenger numbers fall 75.6% last year. Chief executive Alan Joyce said that many governments are talking about vaccination as "a condition of entry". Even if they weren't, he thinks the airline should enforce its own policy. "We have a duty of care to our passengers and to our crew, to say that everybody in that aircraft needs to be safe," Mr Joyce said. He believes that would justify changing the terms and conditions on which tickets are booked.
Covid-19: Mumbai to rollout random testing in crowded places
The Indian city of Mumbai is to roll out mandatory coronavirus tests in crowded places as the country grapples with a rise in infections. The local government said rapid tests would be done randomly in areas such as shopping centres and train stations. A refusal to be tested will "amount to an offence", it said. India recorded 40,953 new Covid cases on Saturday, the biggest daily jump for nearly four months. A total 159,000 people have died with the disease. It has seen more than 11.5 million cases of coronavirus infections so far - and the number has been steadily climbing for weeks as the country scrambles to vaccinate its population and identify highly contagious variants of the disease.
Community Activities
Scuffles and arrests as anti-lockdown protesters march through London
Scuffles broke out as anti-lockdown protesters marched through central London on Saturday, defying police warnings for them to stay away due to coronavirus restrictions. Police said they had made 33 arrests, most for COVID regulation breaches, after up to 10,000 people gathered holding banners with slogans such as “Stop Destroying Our Kids’ Lives” and “Fake Pandemic”. Crowded close to one another, protesters also set off flares. Under England’s coronavirus rules it is unlawful for groups to gather for the purpose of protest, but opposition to such measures has grown this week, not specifically related to anti-lockdown demonstrations.
Police use water cannon as German lockdown protest turns violent
Police deployed water cannon and pepper spray after a gathering of some 20,000 protesters against lockdown and other coronavirus rules in central Germany turned violent, with some demonstrators throwing bottles at police. Protesters from all over Germany converged on the central city of Kassel for the march, which was organised by the “Querdenker” - “Lateral Thinkers” - online conspiracy movement. “Bottles were thrown and there were attempts to break through barriers,” police said on Twitter.
Chillicothe business, school developed virtual reality classrooms in response to COVID-19
A new partnership between a local school and a small business is helping students stay connected to their class even when learning remotely. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Bishop Flaget School and Objective Reality Games — a virtual reality arcade and game studio — collaborated to provide a new educational opportunity. By using an Oculus headset, students can visit a VR classroom, participate in lectures, complete assignments and engage with their peers all from home.
Covid-19 leaflets: How pandemic disinformation went offline
A newspaper dropped through Mark Langford's letterbox. It was called The Light. "The first thing you saw was the main headline: 'Covid jabs kill and injure hundreds.' I was horrified." Mr Langford confronted the woman who had delivered it. She told him she was a nurse, that the pandemic was a hoax and that no-one had died from coronavirus. He said he didn't believe a nurse would say that but didn't challenge her credentials at the time. The paper itself contained an article listing people who had allegedly died after receiving the vaccine, but provided no evidence that any of these deaths had been caused by the jab. Another section of the paper claimed face masks were responsible for "thousands" of deaths from bacterial pneumonia. There is no evidence whatsoever for this claim.
Community champions sought to support those most at risk from Covid-19
Telford & Wrekin Council is looking to recruit community champions to support those most at risk of Covid-19. The council is launching a community champions project to reach residents most at risk from coronavirus, after securing £50,000 funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Borough residents are urged to volunteer to help make a difference in the communities they are living in. In particular, volunteers from 'seldom heard groups' are being asked to come forward, from groups who might be struggling to access council services (such as people from ethnic minority backgrounds or from disability communities) but applications from other communities across the borough are also welcomed.
Working Remotely
Covid: Welsh firms looking at flexi-working 'permanently'
Some of Wales' major employers say they are considering a permanent shift to flexible working after the pandemic. The Welsh government, Cardiff University and Admiral Group say they are all consulting with staff about a hybrid of home and office working. However, experts say there will always be a place for office working - especially for those starting careers. They say many major organisations will instead have smaller offices and allow more flexible working.
Our research shows working from home works, in moderation
If the Covid-19 crisis subsides and economies can largely reopen, the experiences of so many people working from home over the past year will surely shape what happens next. For many of us, this could emerge as a return to the office for three days a week. Patterns will obviously vary, but a common thread would be something like Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in the office and Wednesday and Friday at home. This coming shift will largely be driven by employers making a calculation between two different, equally important forces. One is what companies see as the need for in-person creativity and connections, which will spur their desire to bring people back into offices. At home, however, we tend to be more efficient in the daily tasks that make up much of working life. This is the competing force that may keep many of us out of the office, even after Covid
Remote Work Visas Are Transforming The Future Of Work And Travel
One of the biggest perks of having a remote job is the massive perk of living and working wherever you want. The remote work environment has advanced extremely fast due to the state of the world pandemic. Millions of workers now have the flexibility to work from anywhere they desire. With millions of people working from home already, remote work is the present, and flexible working is the actual future of work.
How CEOs And Workers Feel About Working Remotely Or Returning To The Office
CEOs are wrestling with what to do about bringing back people to the office. The prevailing corporate consensus is consolidating around a flexible hybrid system, which has been championed by Google CEO Sundar Pichai. This entails offering employees an option or a combination of remote and in-office work. There are other alternatives being offered too. There are real risks inherent with the leading return-to-work hybrid system. Companies will have to ensure that their employees don’t take advantage of the system by collectively deciding to work remotely on Mondays and Fridays, to the disadvantage of other co-workers. It can become a logistical nightmare for managers to have impromptu meetings, as everyone is operating on a different schedule and in varied time zones. A supervisor needs to keep in mind who is working where and when they are available.
Virtual Classrooms
Learning from Lockdown: During COVID, a few education changes were for the better
The closing of schools across the U.S. has been a disaster for most students, families and teachers. But in some places, educators are making things work, and even finding ideas that could outlast the pandemic and transform schooling for the better. Earlier this year, The Seattle Times reported on how a strategy called acceleration is moving all children ahead in the Highline School District, and took a look at a learning center created by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Port Angeles School District. Today, as part of the collaboration, we are printing a story by The Hechinger Report — a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education — that looks at how schooling may change forever even after the pandemic ends.
A year after COVID shut schools, students and teachers share what shook them — and what strengthened them
From grade school to graduate school, developing young minds in close physical proximity halted abruptly in mid-March 2020. What happened next to schools and families was devastating and electrifying, thought-provoking and quieting, unifying and isolating. Homes became entire worlds. Working parents juggled daytime teaching. College students studied from childhood bedrooms. Millions of kindergarteners started school in a format previously unfathomable: on Zoom. Teachers shifted to nurturing and encouraging through screens — with little training. Many hunted down students in person to ensure they were safe, fed and outfitted with resources to learn
As U.S. schools shuttered, student mental health cratered, Reuters survey finds
As public school closures stretched into a full year, students across the United States many times encountered short-term or lasting mental health harm. Teachers were affected, too, Reuters found in a national survey of school districts. Nearly 90% of responding districts cited higher rates of absenteeism or disengagement, metrics commonly used to gauge student emotional health. The lack of in person education was a driver of these warning signs of trouble, more than half of districts said. The stresses didn’t affect only students: 57% of responding districts reported an increase in teachers and support staff seeking assistance.
Covid closures: how teachers adapted to working remotely
During the first lockdown, teachers had to pull remote learning solutions out of a hat, says Mark Enser. But, while it’s clear that no amount of digital wizardry can replicate the magic of the classroom, tools such as Zoom have transformed the way we think about pedagogy for good
Parents with kids in virtual school are more stressed, some use drugs and alcohol to cope, CDC study shows
Parents with kids stuck home during the pandemic will tell you how stressed they are, but now the CDC has scientific evidence that virtual schooling is taking a real physical and emotional toll — driving some parents to drugs and alcohol to help cope. The findings, published Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggest that virtual learning “might present more risks than in-person instruction related to child and parental mental and emotional health and some health-supporting behaviors.”
Public Policies
EU export ban would delay UK Covid vaccine drive by two months
Britain’s Covid vaccine programme faces a two-month delay in the event of an EU export ban, derailing the government’s plans to reopen the economy this summer, an analysis for the Guardian reveals. A ban, due to be debated by leaders of the 27 EU member states on Thursday, would badly stall the UK vaccination effort, and would be likely to force the government to extend restrictions on people’s lives. It would not, however, provide a significant boost to EU member states’ troubled programmes, according to a report by the data analytics company Airfinity. The comparatively small number of doses that would be kept within the bloc would speed up the full vaccination of every adult in the EU by “just over a week”, the research suggests.
India sees largest increase in coronavirus cases since 2020
India reported the largest increase in coronavirus cases it has seen since 2020 as multiple states bring back some restrictions on public gatherings. As the Associated Press reports, India’s Health Ministry recorded 43,846 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, marking the worst single-day increase since November of last year. More than half of the new infections are found in the central state of Maharashtra, where India's financial capital of Mumbai is situated. Maharashtra has imposed new lockdown measures until the end of March, the AP reports and Mumbai authorities have announced that they will begin administering random required coronavirus tests in crowded spaces.
Covid: Rich states 'block' vaccine plans for developing nations
Wealthy countries - including the UK - are blocking proposals to help developing nations increase their vaccine manufacturing capabilities, documents leaked to BBC Newsnight show. Several poorer countries have asked the World Health Organization to help them. But richer nations are pushing back on provisions in international law that would enable them to achieve this. This is according to a leaked copy of the negotiating text of a WHO resolution on the issue. Among those richer nations are the UK, the US, as well as the European Union.
EU rebuffs UK calls to ship AstraZeneca COVID vaccines from Europe
The European Union is rebuffing British government calls to ship AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines produced in a factory in the Netherlands, an EU official said on Sunday. Former EU member Britain has so far administered many more vaccines than EU countries in proportion to the population. “The Brits are insisting that the Halix plant in the Netherlands must deliver the drug substance produced there to them. That doesn’t work,” the official told Reuters. The Leiden-based plant which is run by sub-contractor Halix is listed as a supplier of vaccines in both the contracts that AstraZeneca has signed with Britain and with the European Union. “What is produced in Halix has to go to the EU,” the official added.
Egypt gets more doses of Chinese coronavirus vaccine
Egypt received another 300,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) in the early hours of Saturday, the health ministry said in a statement. The third shipment from China of the Sinopharm vaccine brings the total doses delivered to Egypt to 650,000 since December.‮ ‬Some 600,000 of those were a gift from Beijing and the rest were sent by the UAE. The North African country also got 50,000 doses of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in February.‮ ‬
Greece lifts some COVID-19 restrictions to relieve lockdown fatigue
Greece will lift some COVID-19 lockdown restrictions next week as part of a plan to gradually reopen the economy and relieve national fatigue even as its hospitals remain under severe pressure from stubbornly high infections, authorities said on Friday. Hair and beauty salons and archaeological sites will open from Monday, Akis Skertsos, deputy minister to the prime minister, told a weekly news briefing. “It is imperative to provide some breaths of freedom, some depressurisation valves, so that the remaining measures can be complied with,” Skertsos said, adding that the government plans to provide free rapid tests to all citizens.
Parts of France enter lockdown amid confusion and frustration
Nearly a third of French people entered a month-long lockdown on Saturday with many expressing fatigue and confusion over the latest set of restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus. The government announced the new measures on Thursday after a jump in COVID-19 cases in Paris and parts of northern France. The new restrictions are less severe than those in place during the lockdowns of spring and November 2020, raising concerns that they may not be effective. “I hope it’s going to end quite quickly, although I have questions on how efficient the measures are,” Kasia Gluc, 57, a graphic editor said on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris. There was frustration among so-called non-essential shop owners forced to close down.
France restart using AstraZeneca vaccines but only for over 55s
France and almost a dozen other countries have resumed their rollout of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, after temporarily suspending it following reports of it causing blood clots. The move comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed on Thursday that the jab was “safe and effective”. While insisting that its benefits far exceeded its risk, the EU’s medical regulator added that it could not “definitively” rule out a link between rare blood clots and the Anglo-Swedish company’s vaccine. As a result, the National Authority for Health (NAH), the French regulator, has decided to only administer AstraZeneca doses to the over-55s.
Indonesia resumes use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine
Indonesia on Friday cleared the AstraZeneca vaccine for use again after the European Union s drug regulator said the vaccine didn't increase the overall incidence of blood clots. Southeast Asia’s biggest economy delayed the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine after more than a dozen countries in Europe suspended the vaccine due to concerns of some people who received the vaccine developing blood clots. “The benefits of using the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca outweigh the possible risks, so that we can start to use it,” Indonesia’s Food and Drug Authority said in its announcement.
WHO panel gives nod to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, has 'tremendous potential'
The World Health Organization (WHO) exhorted the world to keep administering AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shots on Friday, adding its endorsement to that of European and British regulators after concerns over blood clotting. "We urge countries to continue using this important COVID-19 vaccine," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva. He was speaking after the global health body's vaccine safety panel said available data about the AstraZeneca shot did not point to any overall increase in clotting conditions. European and British regulators also said this week that the benefits of AstraZeneca's shot outweighed the risks, prompting various nations to lift their suspensions.
Bosnian capital tightens rules as COVID-19 deaths spike
Bosnia's capital is tightening measures against the new coronavirus as authorities struggle to cope with rising infections and a spike in deaths caused by COVID-19. Sarajevo has mourned dozens of victims this month, as daily new cases in Bosnia rose from just a few hundred to more than 1,700 this week. Twenty-one new deaths were reported in the capital on Friday alone. “This is a war without weapons,” said an elderly resident who identified himself only by his first name, Hajrudin.
Denmark raises limit on public gatherings to 10 people
Denmark’s government on Thursday agreed with Parliament to raise the limit on public gatherings to 10 persons, while more schools and upper secondary educations will be allowed to resume from March 22, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
Maintaining Services
Coronavirus vaccine rollout tipped to meet targets despite flooding, international supply issues
Federal health authorities say they are confident the next phase of Australia's COVID-19 vaccination program will meet its targets, despite international supply issues and weather-related delivery delays. Phase 1B of the program is due to start on Monday, with about 6 million Australians eligible to receive their first doses. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said the medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, expected to complete the approvals process for locally produced doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine "in the coming days"
Coronavirus: The Indian factory making 6,000 syringes a minute
Rajiv Nath, who heads India's largest syringe factory, says he is turning down as many as 40 requests for syringes from across the world. Mr Nath's Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices (HMD) is in huge demand now as countries try to ramp up vaccination against Covid-19. The factory is currently producing some four million syringes a day but Mr Nath says that's still not enough given that the world needs 10 billion syringes to vaccinate just 60% of its population. He hopes that better coordination between the WHO, governments and syringe makers will smooth the way going forward.
Ontario COVID-19 vaccines expand to people 75 and older, 60 and older to begin at pharmacies with AstraZeneca
Ontario is expanding its booking system to make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine to people who are 75 and older across the province, effective Monday, March 22. "The progress we are making on our Vaccine Distribution Plan demonstrates what can be done when we unleash the full potential of Team Ontario," a statement from Ontario Premier Doug Ford reads. "Thanks to the efforts of an army of frontline health care heroes and volunteers, we are getting needles in arms even faster than we had imagined. All we need now is a steady and reliable supply of vaccines from the Federal government to ensure anyone who wants one, gets one as soon as possible so we can all stay safe."
US coronavirus vaccine rollout becomes 'less messy'
In December, then President-elect Joe Biden set a goal of getting 100 million people vaccinated against Covid-19 in the first 100 days of his presidency. At this rate, it looks like US will hit that mark on Friday, which is day 58. "These milestones are significant accomplishments, but we have much more to do," Biden said Thursday. "That's just the floor. We will not stop until we beat this pandemic." The country still has a long way to go, but the vaccine rollout is looking a lot less chaotic. As of Thursday, about 12.3% of people are fully vaccinated in the US. That's a long way from herd immunity, where enough people have been vaccinated or had the disease to have immunity, if herd immunity is even achievable.
Many health-care workers have not gotten a coronavirus vaccine
Health-care workers were the first group in the United States to be offered coronavirus vaccinations. But three months into the effort, many remain unconvinced, unreached and unprotected. The lingering obstacles to vaccinating health-care workers foreshadow the challenge the United States will face as it expands the pool of people eligible and attempts to get the vast majority of the U.S. population vaccinated. According to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, barely half of front-line health-care workers (52 percent) said they had received at least their first vaccine dose at the time they were surveyed. More than 1 in 3 said they were not confident vaccines were sufficiently tested for safety and effectiveness.
Healthcare Innovations
A rapid COVID-19 vaccine rollout backfired in some US states
A surprising new analysis found that states such as South Carolina, Florida and Missouri that raced ahead of others to offer the vaccine to ever-larger groups of people have vaccinated smaller shares of their population than those that moved more slowly and methodically, such as Hawaii and Connecticut. The explanation, as experts see it, is that the rapid expansion of eligibility caused a surge in demand too big for some states to handle and led to serious disarray. Vaccine supplies proved insufficient or unpredictable, websites crashed and phone lines became jammed, spreading confusion, frustration and resignation among many people. “The infrastructure just wasn’t ready. It kind of backfired,” said Dr. Rebecca Wurtz, an infectious disease physician and health data specialist at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. She added: “In the rush to satisfy everyone, governors satisfied few and frustrated many.”
Skin swabs could be the next COVID-19 test
Researchers have developed a new method for testing COVID-19 that uses a skin swab. The new test is less invasive compared to current testing methods. The skin swab test analyzes sebum, which is an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands. Researchers from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom led the study.
Covid vaccine priority list should include heart failure patients, experts say
Experts are calling for an urgent review of the vaccine priority list to include heart failure patients, as studies show more than half of this group who contract Covid-19 subsequently die. Younger people living with severe heart failure are not deemed at very high risk under the national immunisation programme. The data, from the Irish Heart Foundation and the Health Service Executive, has prompted the HSE’s national heart programme to call for under-70s, along with inpatients awaiting cardiac surgery, to be moved from level seven to level four of the priority list.
COVID-19 deaths: CDC may underestimate risk for people of color
The way in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report COVID-19 deaths may lead to an underestimation of racial and ethnic disparities, according to a new study. The authors say that the CDC use a statistical method called “weighting” that discounts the impact of the uneven geographical distribution of COVID-19 deaths in the United States among various racial and ethnic groups. They argue that this approach fails to take into account the range of factors that influence where people live and work. This is important because these factors may also influence the risk of COVID-19.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 23rd Mar 2021

Isolation Tips
UK less anxious but more lonely than a year ago, a study into the emotional impact of lockdown reveals
The UK will emerge from lockdown a less anxious but more lonely nation according to a landmark study which paints a mixed picture of the pandemic’s deep emotional impact on adults. Anxiety about the pandemic has become less common, falling from 62 per cent of those surveyed in March 2020 to 42 per cent in February 2021. However, loneliness has become much more common, increasing from 10 per cent of those surveyed in March last year to 26 per cent last month. Feelings of loneliness have not returned to their pre-lockdown levels at any point over the past year, including when most restrictions were lifted over the summer.
Scots report rise in loneliness levels rise as Covid anxiety decreases
Feelings of loneliness and hopelessness have increased among Scottish adults in the past year, new research has found. There was also a rise in the number of people who thought about suicide, according to the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health in the Pandemic study. Researchers found that feelings of loneliness have become much more common over the past year, increasing from 11% of those surveyed in March last year to 29% in February this year. However anxiety about the pandemic has fallen, from 64% in March last year to 44% last month.
Hygiene Helpers
Data will drive the recovery from covid-19
While the current focus on the NHS is rightly on its heroic efforts in the fight against covid-19, we’re also witnessing dramatic progress made in its use of data. In the past year, the NHS has built advanced epidemiological models in days, generated new data to track new cohorts of patients within weeks, and rapidly produced daily reports on progress that have been used by thousands of staff to make daily decisions in response to the pandemic. By quickly acting on the insight from this data, from redirecting staff to building new capacity, acute demand has been managed and real differences made to the quality of care delivered. This shows that the health service can be an agile data-led organisation, able to apply insight to make informed decisions for patients and staff. Even amid the current storm, data has made a difference. Progress that would previously have taken years has been achieved in weeks, and obstacles to collecting and sharing information that have plagued the system for years have been overcome. The task now is to build on those successes and make sure the NHS has the tools to meet the new challenges ahead.
Community Activities
COVID long-haulers speak about living with brain fog, rancid smells and crushing fatigue
In February, the NIH announced a four-year, $1.15 billion dollar initiative to study what causes long COVID, but even before the initiative was put forth, clinics were springing up around the country to research and treat the growing number of long-haul patients. Health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have also drawn connections between long COVID and myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, which is characterized by symptoms like fatigue and brain fog and can be triggered by infectious diseases like mononucleosis, Lyme disease and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Dr. Sara Martin is working to get one such initiative off the ground. The Adult Post-Acute COVID clinic at Vanderbilt University, which launched this week, brings together specialists from internal medicine, infectious disease, pulmonology, cardiology, ophthalmology, psychology, physical medicine, ear, nose and throat, speech pathology and neurology.
Lessons from a year of lockdown: UK regional leaders on how their communities have tackled the Covid pandemic
Wales has forged its own route through the coronavirus crisis following its first case in Swansea on 28 February last year and its first case of community transmission in Caerphilly less than a fortnight later. A poll last month found that people in Wales overwhelmingly think the First Minister Mark Drakeford and the Welsh Government, which has imposed an unprecedented series of “made in Wales” measures, has handled the crisis better than Boris Johnson and the UK Government. While the death rate in both countries was similar at the peak in January this year, it was at its biggest gap in February between the two nations since March 2020 at 272.2 deaths per 100,000 in Wales compared with 393.2 in England.
COVID-19: The patriarchal pandemic
From Argentina to Malaysia and Sudan to the United Kingdom to the United States, there has been a surge in reports of violence against women. To be sure, there are more opportunities for domestic violence when people are confined to domestic space. And yet the pandemic has disproportionately affected women in other ways, as well. In numerous countries, females are overly represented in industries, such as hospitality and food services, that have suffered high job losses.
Covid One Year On: Charities 'blessed' with community spirit
Throughout North Somerset, community-led initiatives have been launched during the pandemic, each with the goal of supporting people. Nailsea Community Group, formerly Nailsea Covid Support Group, has evolved from a band of neighbours helping each other with their shopping to close to 200 volunteers. Vice-chairman Jules Richardson estimates that more than 11,000 people combined have used the groups delivery service. Clevedon Foodbank experienced a rapid rise in the number of residents reliant on its services during 2020 compared to previous years which eventually led to the creation of Yatton Foodbank. Trustee, Alison Kember, told the Times: "Usually we help around 2,000 to 3,000 people but the number surpassed 5,000 last year.
Working Remotely
Major employers scrap plans to cut back on offices - KPMG
Most major global companies no longer plan to reduce their use of office space after the coronavirus pandemic, though few expect business to return to normal this year, a survey by accountants KPMG showed on Tuesday.
Hybrid remote and office working could revive local economies
A hybrid model of remote and office working is here to stay and policymakers should harness it to turbocharge plans for regeneration and regional growth, according to a report. Researchers at Legal & General and Demos said that the upheaval in working practices caused by the pandemic had created a new emphasis on the areas around people’s homes, where workers will be spending more time and money in future. This has created opportunities for parts of the country, particularly rural areas, which have traditionally struggled to attract businesses and workers. However, it also has the potential to create new inequalities between those areas that attract homeworkers and those that do not. City centres, once a magnet for office workers, also face new challenges.
House bound: NI firms considering remote working model beyond Covid
It is now a year since office-based businesses began working from home just before the first national lockdown, bringing a huge lifestyle change for us all virtually overnight. Employees and companies are now asking how long will this continue, and is there any going back to the way we were. It seems not, with one business leader adamant that things will never be the same again. Liberty Insurance and its subsidiary Hughes Insurance have said that its 400 staff in Northern Ireland will be working remotely from now on, and outsourcing giant Capita — which has 1,500 staff here — has said the same about workers in their call centres.
UAE: How remote work visas will help expats, employers
Expatriate business leaders in the UAE have called the cabinet ruling a breath of fresh air for corporations. The Federal Cabinet has approved a new system allowing professionals to reside in the country while working remotely for employers abroad, a scheme Dubai launched by itself in October.
Holyrood could keep some remote working after Covid, says Presiding Officer
Remote working procedures brought in to help Holyrood adapt to Covid-19 could remain in place after the pandemic has come to an end, even though they are “suboptimal” to normal sittings, the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer has said. Ken Macintosh said he had been “pleased and relieved” by how the parliament had adapted its working practices after the virus struck. Those changes have seen some business, including committee meetings and questions to ministers, take place entirely remotely, with MSPs appearing from their living rooms, studies and kitchens.
Report recommends manager training to ensure women working remotely aren't ignored
The growing number of vaccinated Americans has propelled discussions of returning to the office. But a recent report warns women’s careers could suffer further damage unless managers prepare to support those interested in hybrid arrangements. Compared to six months ago, 48% of women have become less interested in returning to the physical workplace full-time, according to Perceptyx’s report, which polled more than 1,000 U.S. workers.
Virtual Classrooms
'This is the future': 16 new virtual public schools approved in past year to operate in Iowa; pandemic speeds growth
Since March of last year, the Iowa Department of Education has approved 14 new virtual public schools. But many say the pandemic only accelerated a trend toward online school that has been growing for decades. This school year may have unearthed a new understanding of virtual learning for many Iowa families that hadn't tried it before — and the possibility that more students will learn online next fall in one of the 16 virtual schools that have received state approval in the past 12 months.
Students, teachers and parents climb the virtual learning curve
A year after schools statewide were forced to close their doors by a rampant virus, teachers and students alike have learned a ton about how to do online learning. Yet while studies have shown substantial learning loss during the pandemic, especially for students of color, local leaders expect some virtual learning will be with us for a while even as the vaccine reduces the toll of COVID-19 and more students return to classrooms. Rockford Superintendent Michael Shibler recently emailed parents that the district will continue to offer Rockford Virtual next school year, citing “very positive” feedback from parents.
Public Policies
US trials find AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine safe and effective
The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca was 79 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic illness in a large trial in the United States, Chile and Peru, the company said on Monday, paving the way for it to apply for US approval. The vaccine was 100 per cent effective against severe or critical disease and hospitalisation and was safe, the drugmaker said on Monday, releasing results of the late-stage human trial study of more than 32,000 volunteers across all age groups. The data will give credence to the British shot after results from earlier, separate late-stage studies raised questions about the robustness of the data.
Mauritius approves Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine - Russian RDIF fund
Mauritius has approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for use against COVID-19, becoming the 55th country to do so, Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund said on Monday.
Greece orders private doctors to join COVID-19 battle
Greece’s health minister is requisitioning the services of private sector doctors from certain specialties in the wider Athens region to help fight a renewed surge in coronavirus infections that is straining hospitals to their limits
Covid-19: Miami Beach imposes curfew for spring break
Huge crowds gather as Florida's governor says state is open, despite local authorities imposing restrictions
Hungary approves new Chinese vaccine, and CoviShield for emergency use
Hungary is the first European Union (EU) country to approve for emergency use China’s CanSino Biologics coronavirus vaccine and CoviShield, the Indian version of the AstraZeneca shot, the Hungarian surgeon general said on Monday. New infections are surging in Hungary in a third wave of the pandemic, even as vaccine import and usage rates are among the highest in the EU with the country using Chinese and Russian vaccines as well as Western ones. If both new vaccines are also approved for mass use by the National Health Centre, Hungary will have seven sources to procure vaccines from. It was unclear when and in what quantity Hungary planned to deploy the newly authorised vaccines, or how it planned to buy them.
Doctors in Hungary urge volunteers to join overwhelmed COVID-19 wards
An appeal went out on Monday for volunteers to join hospital staff treating coronavirus patients in northwestern Hungary, as doctors said COVID-19 wards were overwhelmed, with the pressure only set to mount during the next few weeks. New infections are surging in Hungary, hard-hit by the third wave of the pandemic, despite vaccination rates at the top of European Union nations, as a proportion of population. Hungary was the first nation in the bloc to buy and use Chinese or Russian vaccines, as it said shipments from Western suppliers lagged.
Switzerland approves J&J COVID vaccine
Swiss regulators on Monday gave the green light to Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, after already authorising the jabs made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The Swissmedic regulatory authority said in a statement that it had authorised the use of the vaccine, which has the advantages of being a single-shot jab that can be stored with regular refrigeration rather than at ultra-cold temperatures. "Following a careful review of all the submitted documentation, Swissmedic has granted the 'COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen' temporary authorisation," it said.
Venezuela announces ‘radical quarantine’ amid coronavirus surge
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced two weeks of what he referred to as “radical quarantine”, leaving Holy Week celebrations suspended. “I announce that Holy Week this year will be again in radical quarantine. So we are going to have fourteen days, two weeks of radical quarantine,” he said on Sunday, referring to a period that will encompass the Christian holiday of Easter. About 88 percent of Venezuela’s 28.5 million people are Christian, the vast majority of whom are Catholic.
‘Grotesque’: Producers urged to overcome vaccine inequity
More producers of COVID-19 vaccines should follow AstraZeneca’s lead and license technology to other manufacturers, the World Health Organization chief said on Monday, as he described continuing vaccine inequity as “grotesque”. AstraZeneca’s shot, which new US data showed was safe and effective despite some countries suspending inoculations over health concerns, is being produced in various locations including South Korea’s SKBioScience and the Serum Institute in India.
WHO: Global coronavirus deaths rise for 1st time in 6 weeks
A top World Health Organization expert on the coronavirus pandemic said Monday the weekly global count of deaths from COVID-19 is rising again, a "worrying sign" after about six weeks of declines. Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on COVID-19 at the U.N. health agency, said the growth followed a fifth straight week of confirmed cases increasing worldwide. She said the number of reported cases went up up in four of the WHO's six regions, though there were significant variations within each region. "In the last week, cases have increased by 8% percent," Van Kerkhove told reporters. "In Europe, that is 12%—and that's driven by several countries." The increase is due in part to the spread of a variant that first emerged in Britain and is now circulating in many other places, including eastern Europe, she said.
Maintaining Services
Covid-19: Primary pupils and years 12-14 return to school
In Northern Ireland, all primary school pupils and those in years 12 to 14 of post-primary returned to school on Monday. That follows a decision taken by the executive at its meeting on 16 March. Primary pupils in P4 to P7 join those in P1 to P3 who returned to school on 8 March. Pupils returning on Monday have not been in school since before Christmas, their second prolonged absence from the classroom in a year. They will attend school for at least a week before many schools begin Easter holidays.
German tourist industry warns of job losses from tighter pandemic lockdowns
The German tourist industry has warned of layoffs and bankruptices if authorities further tighten lockdowns meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus including by enforcing quarantine for those returning from holidays abroad. National and regional leaders meeting on Monday evening to decide the next round of measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic are mulling requiring quarantine for all returning travellers, not just those who were in high-risk areas.
New York lowers coronavirus vaccine eligibility age to 50
New York will join a handful of U.S. states that have lowered their eligibility age for coronavirus vaccines to 50, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday. The state, the country’s fourth most populous, had restricted eligibility to residents who are at least 60 years old, have pre-existing health conditions or are essential workers, especially those who come in contact with the public. “We are dropping the age and vaccinating more people,” Cuomo said at a church in Mount Vernon, New York, where he launched a campaign to encourage houses of worship to make themselves available as vaccination sites.
Taiwan kicks off COVID vaccination campaign with AstraZeneca jab
Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot on Monday, having volunteered to be first in line to underscore government confidence in the vaccine’s safety as the island began its inoculation campaign. “I have just finished getting the injection, there is no pain at the injection site, and there is no soreness of the body,” Su told reporters at National Taiwan University Hospital in central Taipei
Healthcare Innovations
The world’s first oral Covid-19 vaccine is being prepared for clinical trials - here's how it works
The world’s first oral Covid-19 vaccine is being prepared to enter Phase 1 clinical trials by an Israeli-American pharmaceutical company. Based on technology developed by Hadassah-University Medical Center, the joint venture between Premas Biotech and Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc will see the development of a novel oral Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine is based on ‘POD’ oral delivery technology developed by Oramed. This will allow the vaccine to orally administer a number of protein-based therapies, which would otherwise be delivered by injection.
COVID-19: Hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo may be associated with coronavirus, research suggests
Hearing loss and other auditory problems may be strongly linked to coronavirus, new research suggests. Scientists estimate 7.6% of people infected with COVID-19 experience hearing loss, while 14.8% suffer tinnitus. They also found the prevalence of vertigo was 7.2%. The researchers, from The University of Manchester and Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, compiled data from 24 studies that identified an association between coronavirus and auditory and vestibular problems. The vestibular system includes parts of the inner ear and brain that process the information involved with controlling balance and eye movements.
Vitamin D may prevent COVID, especially in Black patients
Higher levels of vitamin D than traditionally considered sufficient may help prevent COVID-19 infection—particularly in Black patients—or lead to less severe outcomes, two new US studies suggest.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 23rd Mar 2020

Isolation Tips
WHO Health Alert brings COVID-19 facts to billions via WhatsApp
WHO Health Alert on COVID-19
Coronavirus symptoms: how quickly do they show and what to look out for
This guide on coronavirus symptoms, underpinned with advice from leading health experts, is designed to protect you and your family
One doctor’s straight talk about the coronavirus strikes a chord with anxious Americans
A Chicago epidemiologist is drawing praise for her comments at a Friday news conference that outlined with clarity and urgency how seemingly small sacrifices today will prevent deaths of loved ones and strangers next week.
Stress, Anxiety and Depression Associated With the Coronavirus COVID-19 Disease
The current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a particular and rare situation. It can affect people physically, but also psychologically. In this type of context, many people will experience stress, anxiety and depression reactions. This page should be seen as a resource that can help you to minimize the repercussions of these kinds of reactions on your life.
How to deal with stress and anxiety induced by the coronavirus epidemic
CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta speak with psychologist Gretchen Schmelzer during a CNN town hall about how to cope with stress induced by the coronavirus outbreak. #CNN #News
Listen to these medical professionals - join them and save lives - its easy STAY AT HOME
Save lives stay at home
Self-isolating in style - Sally and Ken from Penzance are both in their 80s, both have dementia but she loves to play the piano - no sheet music! - and he loves to dance
This is self-isolating in style - Sally and Ken from Penzance are both in their 80s, both have dementia but she loves to play the piano - no sheet music! - and he loves to dance Smiling face with heart-shaped eyes #coronavirus #selfisolating
Recruiting adults in the UK to answer weekly 10-15min online surveys about their psychological & social experiences during Covid-19.
*** NEW COVID-19 STUDY *** Recruiting adults in the UK to answer weekly 10-15min online surveys about their psychological & social experiences during Covid-19. Results will help identify the effects of social isolation & how to support mental health. http://covid19study.org
Tired of all the bad news?: 10 good news about the coronavirus
Tired of negativity ?: 10 good news about the coronavirus; we know what the virus is, we know how to detect it, China just saw two days in a row without a new infection, 80% of the cases are mild, most are cured, children and young people 'seem to be' less affected, washing your hands regularly can deactivate any virus traces on them, there are hundreds of published scientific articles, a vaccine to prevent it is getting closer, there are already more than 80 clinical trials with antiviral medicines seeking to combat it
Traffic and Pollution Plummet as U.S. Cities Shut Down for Coronavirus
In cities across the United States, traffic on roads and highways has fallen dramatically over the past week as the coronavirus outbreak forces people to stay at home and everyday life grinds to a halt. Pollution has dropped too. A satellite that detects emissions in the atmosphere linked to cars and trucks shows huge declines in pollution over major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Chicago and Atlanta.
Hygiene Helpers
Song about how social distancing & handwashing can help us work together to beat the coronavirus (subtitles)
Song about how social distancing can help us work together to beat the coronavirus (subtitles)
Hygiene Helpers - website resource for parents on coronavirus issues - University of Florida
Meet the Helpers is a website working to keep families safe from the Coronavirus. Learn what is The best way to help is to develop and reinforce good hygiene routines.
How to wash your hands like a pro
Video explaining how to wash your hands like a pro
Get social distancing now, it is how you can help flatten the curve in the number of cases & make it manageable for our health services - be your community's champion
Doctors warn coronavirus could overwhelm NHS ‘within weeks’ - Intensive care audit shows sharp rise in admissions to critical care as London hospitals struggle to cope
You must social distance as soon as possible. It's the only way to stop our key healthcare workers getting infected too. They risk their lives helping you. Let's help them by social distancing now
Coronavirus: 'Healthy' NHS nurse, 36, in intensive care after contracting COVID-19
Animated match-burning video shows how social distancing can stop the spread of Covid-19
Spanish graphic designer Juan Delcan created an animated video to demonstrate how social distancing can stop the spread of Covid-19. He hopes the video will encourage the viewers to stay home amid the pandemic.
Stay home flatten the curve!
Stay home flatten the curve!
Police vow to enforce virus pub ban as some in UK continue to gather
Scotland says it will enforce law; Northern Ireland deals with end-of-school parties; Wales boosts NHS measures
Last night the NYPD visited 6,900 bars & restaurants. NO summonses or arrests, and NO enforcement action needed. 4,900 locations were already closed
New Yorkers: Always adapt. Always at our best in a crisis. Last night the NYPD visited 6,900 bars & restaurants. NO summonses or arrests, and NO enforcement action needed. 4,900 locations were already closed. Thank you, NYC
Brilliant #NHSCovidHeroes doing a much better job at messaging Covid
Brilliant #NHSCovidHeroes doing a much better job at messaging on Covid than the government, despite the latter’s access to millions and the ears of all the top lobby journos #StayHomeSaveLives
Community Activities
Bristolians are self-organising a phenomenal coronavirus fight back in ways that will outlast pandemic
Noah Goldman is a bar worker who describes himself as “the person who happened to set up a Facebook group” on 12th March. That group, Bristol Community Care – Covid-19 Mutual Aid, now has thousands of members and has helped spawn a Facebook group for almost all postcode areas in Bristol. “I was talking to a friend in Italy about how they were dealing with the outbreak, and thought we need to do something now to collectively defend ourselves,” he says. The response has been overwhelming. “People have organised in an organic way that I wouldn’t have considered a possibility last week,” he adds. “Where the government has failed, we are now looking across the street for answers.” He’s now buckling down to support the BS5 group, which has one thousand members.
Here are some of the heroes rising from the coronavirus pandemic
Here are some of the ways people are lending a hand through individual acts and large-scale efforts: Feeding children who depend on school to eat, Contributing to hourly workers' wages, Providing resources to those most affected, Some people are using music to bridge the distance the outbreak has imposed on their communities,
Voice of the People: Coronavirus will only be defeated by acts of humanity
As a nation, we have never been here before. And we cannot be sure, beyond hope, where or how we are going to end up.
Somerset Facebook group helping vulnerable during pandemic goes viral
More than 10,000 people have joined Coronavirus Community Help Taunton on Facebook to help elderly and vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak
'It's loneliness that kills, not the virus': volunteers step forward to help
From musicians to dog walkers, people from all walks of life are mobilising to support people coping with isolation
Big applause hour for NHS 26th March 8pm
This made me cry just reading it. It’s going to be quite a moment. Please share far and wide #CoronaCrisis
Acts of kindness amid coronavirus pandemic
From supermarkets establishing "elderly hours" to people singing from their balconies in a show of solidarity, here are some random acts of kindness that help keep spirits up during tough times
Spaniards applaud their healthworker heroes each day at 8pm from their balconies and their windows
Spaniards applaud their healthworker heroes each day at 8pm from their balconies and their windows. This lifts everyone's spirits and expresses the solidarity most feel towards the Spanish health service battling the coronavirus sweeping the country
Video - police in Mallorca on lock down rounds entertain the people
The Police in Mallorca, Spain making rounds around villages on lock down to do this To alleviate the anxiety of the people and to keep them entertained
Social distancing - Mumbai, India: Empty platforms at Nahur station on central line in Mumbai
Mumbai: Empty platforms at Nahur station on central line in Mumbai. #JantaCurfew #CautionYesPanicNo
Chino Hills High School Chamber Singers recorded “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from their homes while #PhysicalDistancing in #California.
Chino Hills High School Chamber Singers recorded “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from their homes while #PhysicalDistancing in #California. 19 students *individually* filmed their a cappella parts, then synched up their videos in a virtual performance.
Cornavirus: Britain's rural towns warn 'don't come here to escape COVID-19'
People have been told to stay home but many are trying to find isolation elsewhere, placing strain on small towns.
Coronavirus: what your insurance may (and may not) cover
Travel has been a big issue for many people – but your policy could also help with weddings, income and rent
A senior NHS boss has accused panic buyers of depriving healthcare staff of the food supplies they need, adding: “Frankly we should all be ashamed.”
A senior NHS boss has accused panic buyers of depriving healthcare staff of the food supplies they need, adding: “Frankly we should all be ashamed.” NHS England national medical director Stephen Powis’​ comments, at a Downing Street press conference, came after days in which supermarkets have seen their shelves stripped of food by shoppers fearful of running out during the coronavirus shutdown.
When you buy too much, you cause problems in the resupply chain. This hurts the vulnerable. Stop panic buying.
When you buy too much, you cause problems in the resupply chain. This hurts the vulnerable. Stop panic buying.
NHS staff dancing - these amazing people keep us all safe (click to see video)
The spirit of NHS staff is absolutely astonishing - Please RT if you’re proud. WE WILL BEAT THIS!
The best financial resources during the coronavirus crisis
The newspaper lists a series of useful tips for dealing with the financial crisis which has been caused in many households because of the coronoavirus pandemic
Seeking to register volunteers to help the elderly and single people in Russia during any coronavirus quarantine period
The government strongly encourage everyone over the age of 60 to self-isolate at home for at least 3 weeks in a bid to shield them from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. NGOs are calling for volunteers to make sure that elderly and vulnerable neighbors have everything they need. In each region of the country, regional coordinators of volunteer headquarters for the elderly in the coronavirus situation have been identified.
Working Remotely
Coronavirus: tidy up your books, we’re all watching remotely
We know that adventurer Ben Fogle colour-co-ordinates his bookshelves. Like remote-working Kevin McClouds, we will snoop during these isolated times. How much more will the boundaries between life and work break down? Next week, the children are home, so we will find out.
An online ambience that recreates the sound of your local cafe to help you work better
Coffitivity recreates the ambient sounds of a cafe to boost your creativity and help you work better. Proven and peer reviewed, see the research to learn more.
Virtual Classrooms
10 strategies for online learning during a coronavirus outbreak
Members of ISTE’s professional learning networks have been hard at work identifying key practices for successful online learning. Here are some of the best ideas from educators from around the world, many of whom have already been teaching during coronavirus closures.
Public Policies
Coronavirus: What could the West learn from Asia?
Take it seriously and act quickly - amke tests extensive and affordable - trace and isolate - early social distancing - keep public well-informed and onside - it is down to individuals and their attitudes and responses to this
Coronavirus: Sturgeon issues warning to pubs refusing to close
The First Minister said pubs and clubs who had not yet shut were 'putting lives at risk'.
Coronavirus: behind the scenes of the standoff between Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson
By Friday evening everything was ready to close the border between France and the UK. Emmanuel Macron called Boris Johnson, to warn him: if he persisted in taking no measures to stop the progression of the coronavirus pandemic on his territory, France would have no other choice to refuse entry to its territory to all travelers from the UK and all other EU countries would have done the same. The UK's 'policy of benign neglect' was endangering lives
Norway Parliament Grants Government Limited Emergency Powers
Norway’s parliament has agreed to give the government emergency powers to fight the coronavirus pandemic, but added restrictions to the administration’s initial proposal, party leaders told reporters in Oslo on Saturday.
The federal government is considering offering direct financial help to tenants,
The federal government is considering offering direct financial help to tenants, as well as to parents in expected payment difficulties because of the corona crisis. For example, a ban on evictions and a child supplement payment are under discussion
Germany tears up fiscal rule book to counter coronavirus pandemic (Paywall)
Berlin is planning to raise €150bn in new debt to bolster the ailing economy during this time of coronavirus crisis. Finance minister Olaf Scholz will also present the German cabinet with plans to create a new €500bn bailout fund to rescue companies hit by the outbreak, according to three people familiar with the plans.
The medical team that stopped the coronavirus in China recommends tightening the quarantine in Italy right now: "There are too many people on the street,
The medical team that stopped the coronavirus in China recommends tightening the quarantine in Italy right now: "There are too many people on the street, I don't understand what authorities are thinking by letting them do this" - "In Wuhan, just a month after the total closure we saw the first results, case levels dropped and our hospitals were able to treat patients with the necessary measures and we reduced infections," he added.
German states move closer to near-total lockdowns
Germany's state and federal leaders are yet to decide on whether to impose a nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Bavaria has introduced drastic measures of its own, but other states have also edged closer to curfews.
Government to Pay 80% of Staff Wages
The Chancellor has today announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), under which all employers can apply to HMRC for a grant to pay 80% of the wages of retained staff who are not working (known as "furlough”) up to a maximum of £2,500 per worker per month. The CJRS will be backdated to 1st March 2020 and will remain in place until at least the end of May 2020.
Coronavirus: Germany bans gatherings of more than two people
Germany will ban public meetings of more than two people as the nation works on slowing the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state has announced.
How Singapore waged war on coronavirus (paywall)
“We used the lead time that China gave us by its massive shutdown to really refine our readiness,” said Dale Fisher, professor of infectious diseases at the National University of Singapore. “By the time we had one of our cases, we were able to do tests and within a week, tests were available in all major hospitals.”
Harsh steps are needed to stop the cornonavirus experts say
No one is certain why the virus travels in this way, but experts see an opening nonetheless. “You can contain clusters,” Dr. Heymann said. “You need to identify and stop discrete outbreaks, and then do rigorous contact tracing.” But doing so takes intelligent, rapidly adaptive work by health officials, and near-total cooperation from the populace. Containment becomes realistic only when Americans realize that working together is the only way to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just announced a four level alert system for COVID-19 and has asked all people to stop non-essential travel.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just announced a four level alert system for COVID-19 and has asked all people to stop non-essential travel. These guidelines are set out below:
Merkel goes into quarantine after doctor tests positive for coronavirus
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will go into self-quarantine at home after a doctor who gave her a vaccination tested positive for the coronavirus. A government spokesperson said Sunday the doctor had given the chancellor a "prophylactic pneumococcus vaccine" on Friday afternoon. The chancellor was informed of the positive test after she announced strict new rules across the country on Sunday aimed at containing the virus, the spokesperson said.
Yuval Harari: This is the worst epidemic in 'at least 100 years'
The bestselling author of "Sapiens", Yuval Noah Harari tells Christiane Amanpour that the coronavirus is the worst global health threat we have faced in at least a century.
Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus (Paywall)
The decisions people and governments take in the next few weeks will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture. We must act quickly and decisively. We should also take into account the long-term consequences of our actions. When choosing between alternatives, we should ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm passes
Maintaining Services
Tens of thousands of Spaniards have to break their confinement to work each day. We collect testimonies from those employees who cannot stay at home: this is the story of the workers who are most exposed in the midst of a pandemic
Every day at eight in the evening, millions of Spaniards applaud from their windows and balconies across the country. This is Spain shut down by the coronavirus, which welcomes and thanks with applause the work of health professionals such as Carmen, health workers who fight in hand-to-hand combat against the coronavirus and its effects on the health of the population as a whole
My @WHO colleagues and I are so glad to see these aggressive moves by @Twitter to end misinformation and help keep the world safe from #coronavirus
People urgently need reliable and accurate information about #COVID19. This is why my @WHO colleagues and I are so glad to see these aggressive moves by @Twitter to end misinformation and help keep the world safe from #coronavirus
We’ve pivoted to solely produce surgical masks and medical garments
I have been fruitlessly trying to reach your office regarding helping with NY’s medical supply shortages. We’ve pivoted to solely produce surgical masks and medical garments. We have the capacity to make 2 million masks a day, and would love to help. E-mails have had no response.
Companies are scrambling to build more ventilators (partial paywall)
In one category of product, scarcity is all too real. Overwhelmed health services are desperately short of mechanical ventilators to help the roughly 10% of sufferers with severe symptoms to breathe. Political leaders are urging existing specialist producers to ramp up production. Germany’s government ordered 16,000 new machines from two domestic producers. Others, like Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, want manufacturers of all stripes to retool and help out. That is easier said than done
‘The government threw us under the bus’: How Bristol food businesses are working to survive coronavirus
Small businesses, especially in hospitality, face bankruptcy as Bristol goes into self isolation, but some are finding innovative ways to respond to the coronavirus crisis.
Governments and Companies Race to Make Masks Vital to Virus Fight
President Trump resists using emergency powers to compel production, saying companies will voluntarily provide much-needed protective gear. It is unclear whether enough new masks and other protective gear will be available before health care facilities start getting overwhelmed by an anticipated flood of infected patients.
UK government draws up plans to buy airline shares, that would eventually be sold back to private investors, to keep them afloat during Covid-19 !
UK government draws up plans to buy airline shares, that would eventually be sold back to private investors, to keep them afloat during Covid-19
Healthcare Innovations
South Korea has set up 'phone booths' that can test people for the #coronavirus in just 7 minutes.
The country has earned praise for its mass testing amid the #Covid19 pandemic.
Indonesia turns athletes village to emergency hospital as coronavirus cases rise
Indonesia has turned its “Athlete’s Village” built for the 2018 Asian Games into an emergency hospital with a capacity to hold more than 4,000 patients, authorities said on Sunday, as coronavirus cases and deaths in the country rose. Four out of 10 towers in the Athlete’s Village, located in the country’s capital city, have been converted into a medical facility that would house more than 7,000 people, including a coronavirus task force, medical staff and up to 4,208 patients.
Baden-Württemberg wants to take in Corona patients from France
According to “Schwäbische Zeitung”, Baden-Württemberg has agreed to admit seriously ill coronavirus patients from France to its clinics. The Ministry of Health asked the hospitals to report how many vacant ICU beds it had. Prime Minister Kretschmann is pledging Baden-Württemberg support
Spain is going to try robotic testing for COVID-19 to increase the volumes of testing so urgently needed
Raquel Yotti, director of Carlos III Public Health Institute, earlier said the first devices were being distributed on Saturday and added the government was working on acquiring four robots that could bring the number of daily tests to 80,000. That would be up from 15,000-20,000 a day at the moment. Robots are helpful as they can conduct automated testing, she said. Authorities also said they were acquiring more medical equipment, including 700 ventilators. Around 1.3 million protective masks were distributed on Saturday across Spain for healthcare staff and patients.
FDA authorizes first rapid, 'point of care' coronavirus test
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first coronavirus diagnostic test that can be conducted entirely at the point of care. The test from California-based Cepheid will deliver results in about 45 minutes — much faster than current tests that require a sample to be sent to a centralized lab, where results can take days. The test has been designed to operate on any of Cepheid's more than 23,000 automated GeneXpert Systems worldwide, of which 5,000 are in the U.S., the company said. The systems are already being used to test for conditions such as HIV and tuberculosis.
Doctors Turn to Malaria Drugs as Potential Coronavirus Treatment
Some studies of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have shown early signs of improving symptoms and manufacturers are donating drugs or looking at an increase in supplies
Coronavirus, the geopolitics of the vaccine race. And the first volunteers already try it
Oxford University will start testing next month. The hVivo labs in London offered £3,500 to citizens willing to collaborate. 20 thousand replied. In Seattle on Monday, the Kaiser Research Institute began testing a vaccine on volunteers. "It's a great opportunity to make myself useful," said Jennifer Haller, 43, after receiving the injection
The coronavirus vaccine being developed in Spain is the "most advanced" but it will take time before it becomes available
The vaccine against the new coronavirus that is being developed at the National Center for Microbiology (CNB) which is one of the "most advanced" labs in the world, according to the Minister of Science and Innovation, Pedro Duque, but the Minister warns that it will take time to arrive. "The virus is being synthesized in other laboratories with which the CNB collaborates, the network is testing to find ways to eliminate the most active and virulent portions of the virus and beginning steps to create a vaccine"
Coronavirus: China's vaccine is successfully tested on monkeys
The South China Morning Post claims that Chinese scientists have made great strides after a group of infected monkeys effectively developed immunity to the coronavirus from a newly tried vaccination
Coronavirus treatment research is being held up by Trump’s ban on the use of fetal tissue
A government-employed researcher has requested an exemption from the policy in order to begin testing coronavirus therapies.
Israeli rapid COVID-19 lab diagnostic kits in production
A hospital lab kit to diagnose COVID-19 in 50 minutes is nearing the market, while a home kit will be ready within four months, says BATM founder.
Lost Sense of Smell May Be Peculiar Clue to Coronavirus Infection
Doctor groups are recommending testing and isolation for people who lose their ability to smell and taste, even if they have no other symptoms.
A Silent Hero of the Coronavirus Crisis
Technology has been the true champion in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. Here, I don’t mean the ICUs and respirators without which severely ill patients would not stand a chance. I mean the new data-driven technologies that enabled responsible governments to track the infected, contact them, and quarantine them early. These technologies have been the target of much criticism in recent years. Now, when they are helping us save lives, they deserve our praise.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 24th Mar 2021

Isolation Tips
Lockdown's unlikely friendship between French pensioner and British student
For Jacqueline Tolu, a 98-year-old French woman, and Elliot Bellman, a 20-year-old student living in his parents’ house in England, the COVID-19 pandemic upended their lives but also led to an unlikely friendship. Tolu has endured isolation in her care home near Paris because visits are restricted during the pandemic, while Bellman’s plans to be in France this year studying French were torpedoed by the virus. For the past six months, the two have been having weekly chats over Skype, brought together by a scheme called Shareami that pairs elderly people with language students.
Covid: More walking and family chats post-lockdown - poll suggests
Working from home, walking and shopping locally are among the lockdown behaviours that look likely to remain popular after pandemic restrictions are lifted, according to a new survey. The study for BBC News and King's College London, conducted by Ipsos MORI, suggests virus regulations may have a lasting impact after Covid. Some 40% of 2,200 people surveyed said they expected to walk more than before. And staying at home appears to have connected people to their neighbours.
A lonely planet
The peer-reviewed literature on the topic of social isolation and loneliness during COVID-19 is prolific, with Google Scholar returning close to 20,000 results on the query. And while, for the most part, these research papers are centred on the impact of quarantining and isolating on the elderly and/or on people who live alone (irrespective of age), there is wide acknowledgement that we do not know the full impact of COVID-19 on social isolation and loneliness. And it may be years before we do.
One year on: Shielding Brits describe agony after 12 months of loneliness and fear
Two young disabled women recount their experience of being locked indoors for the past 12 months as activists warn the disabled face a "cliff edge" if support ends with shielding on April 1 in England
Hygiene Helpers
Government considering mandatory vaccines for care home workers, says Hancock
Care home workers in England could be required by law to have a coronavirus vaccine under plans being considered by the government, Matt Hancock has said. The health secretary said legislation would need to be put forward in order to protect vulnerable residents but that there was already a precedent for such a move. “There is a duty of care that people have if you work in an elderly care home, after all, residents of elderly care homes are the most vulnerable of all to Covid,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. “There are important moral questions on both sides, there would be a change in the law required, so this is something that we are considering but we haven’t made a final decision on and we do want to hear from care homes and indeed care home staff on this question.”
Rock 'n' Rollout: Is Gibraltar a glimpse into the future for vaccination-leading UK?
Gibraltar, the tiny British territory on Spain’s south coast, was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic this winter - but it has now become one of the most open places in Europe. With its population densely packed in, and frequent movement of people over the border from Spain, COVID-19 infected 4,000 of its 33,000 residents, killing 93. The small but packed population that made coronavirus so dangerous there, has also helped with the rollout of its vaccination campaign, with the government expecting to have vaccinated all residents over the age of 16 by the end of this month. Its successful vaccination campaign is largely down to the shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech jabs from the UK. This has meant a recent easing of restrictions - and could be a preview of what the UK will be hoping to see when a high enough percentage of its 66 million residents has been immunised.
Community Activities
Covid-19 vaccines and the danger of religious misinformation
As coronavirus vaccines slowly roll out across the world, leaders are working hard to build confidence in them. Religious leaders in particular can play a crucial role in convincing people to vaccinate. Many are working hard to spread the news that vaccines are safe and effective, but as the BBC’s population reporter Stephanie Hegarty has been finding out, there are figures in almost every faith who are undermining that message, with some spreading misinformation which could lead to vaccine hesitancy.
Community has got Britain through the pandemic. How can we create more of it?
The loss of social connection during the pandemic has shown us the dangers of taking social relationships for granted. We are social animals and a sense of community is essential to our wellbeing. This is crucial to remember in our ever more atomised society, where social relationships are commodified and patients and students are regarded as “clients” and “consumers”. As the UK recovers from the pandemic, finding ways to build healthy social relationships should be a key part of addressing public health. But even as it has distanced us from loved ones, the pandemic has also brought us closer together in other ways. At a street, neighbourhood and even national level, the shared experience of crisis has forged a greater sense of unity. As a groundbreaking body of new psychology has shown, a sense of belonging to communities can protect people against depression, improve cognition in older people, dramatically improve people’s health prospects on retirement and greatly improve recovery from heart attacks. Our membership of groups and communities is its own type of “social cure”.
Working Remotely
Hybrid working and four-day weeks: The future of work in Ireland
The future of work swept in faster than many of us could have ever imagined with the onset of Covid-19. The virus forced all but essential workers into their own homes to work and gave us the confidence that the remote model could work, because it had to. As we are facing into the light at the end of the tunnel one thing is glaringly obvious, the return to the office is never going to be the same. One of Ireland's leading telecommunications companies, Vodafone, have recently announced their return to the office will take on a hybrid model of 40:60.
New reasons to think the work-from-home revolution is overblown
One year after the Covid-19 pandemic forced millions of workers to start clocking in from home, many companies are thinking about how to bring their employees back into the office. A number of firms think the past 12 months have proven the merits of remote work, and have pledged more flexible schedules. But increasingly, there are signs the work-from-home revolution could have its limits. A survey of 1,450 corporate executives in North America published by Accenture (ACN) last month also showed that the shift to home working may not be as dramatic as first expected.
From AI to Zoom: How the Covid-19 pandemic permanently changed remote work
Someday, perhaps someday soon, when vaccination rates are high enough and the coronavirus relents, the world will return to normal. But in its wake, something as massive and meaningful as a global pandemic will leave many things different, including how we work. In particular, knowledge workers — high-skilled workers whose jobs are done on computers — will likely see the biggest changes, from our physical locations to the technology we use to the ways in which our productivity is measured. In turn, how we work impacts everything from our own personal satisfaction to new inventions to the broader economy and society as a whole. These changes represent a chance to remake work as we know it and to learn from the mistakes of our working past — if we’re thoughtful about how we enact them.
Mayor Ends Remote Work for 80,000 in Signal to Rest of New York City
For the last year, New York City has been running in the shadow of a deadly pandemic, with many city and private sector employees forced to work from home, stripping New York of its lifeblood and devastating its economy. But with virus cases seeming to stabilize and vaccinations becoming more widespread, city officials intend to send a message that New York is close to returning to normal: On May 3, the city will compel its municipal office employees to begin to report to work in person. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to bring the nation’s largest municipal work force back to the office represents a significant turnabout for a city that served as the national epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, coming to symbolize the perils of living in densely packed global capitals.
Virtual Classrooms
AP-NORC poll: Learning setbacks a top concern for parents
Parents across the U.S. are conflicted about reopening schools. Most are at least somewhat worried that a return to the classroom will lead to more coronavirus cases, but there’s an even deeper fear that their children are falling behind in school while at home. Sixty-nine percent of parents are at least somewhat concerned that their children will face setbacks in school because of the coronavirus pandemic, including 42% who say they’re very or extremely worried about it, according to a new poll from The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Public Policies
European Union set to curb Covid-19 vaccine exports for six weeks
The EU is finalizing emergency legislation that will give it powers to curb exports for the next six weeks of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in the bloc, a sharp escalation in response to supply shortages at home that have created a political maelstrom amid a rising third wave on the continent. The draft legislation, which is set to be made public Wednesday, was reviewed by The New York Times and confirmed by two EU officials involved in the drafting process. The new rules will make it harder for pharmaceutical companies producing Covid-19 vaccines in the European Union to export them and is likely to disrupt supply to the UK. The EU has been at loggerheads with AstraZeneca since it drastically cut its supply to the bloc, citing production problems in January, and the company is the main target for the new rules.
AstraZeneca’s shot at redemption sows further confusion
The dispute between AstraZeneca and the independent scientists — who sit on the trial’s data and safety monitoring board, or DSMB — centres on whether the company was wrong to publish data collected before a February cut-off point instead of including more recent figures as well. In a letter sent to AstraZeneca on Monday, which was copied to the NIH and another US government agency funding the trial, the DSMB said it thought a broader analysis including up-to-date results would show a lower efficacy rate of between 69 per cent and 74 per cent, according to a person who has seen it. Anthony Fauci, a senior official at the NIH, told the Financial Times the body was “not accusing anybody of anything”, adding: “[We are] just saying very, very frankly and simply, that we urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the data, and to ensure that it’s the most accurate, up-to-date data that was made public.” AstraZeneca responded to the NIH statement by promising to publish the final data set from the trial within 48 hours.
Dutch to shorten COVID-19 curfew despite rising cases - broadcasters
A nationwide curfew to fight the Dutch coronavirus outbreak will be shortened by an hour from next week, despite a rapid rise in new infections, local media reported on Tuesday citing government sources. The start of the curfew will be put back to 10:00 P.M. from March 31, national broadcasters NOS and RTL said, after local authorities had said daylight savings time would make it difficult for the police to enforce the original rule. The curfew, which sparked days of violent riots throughout the country when it was introduced on Jan. 23, will end as before at 4:30 A.M.
Yemen declares COVID-19 emergency as second wave accelerates
Yemen's internationally recognised government declared a health emergency in areas under its control, as infections in a second wave of a coronavirus epidemic surge. Yemen's six-year war has restricted testing and reporting of COVID-19,
Austria delays reopening restaurants as COVID-19 cases rise
Austria has postponed the reopening of cafe, restaurant and bar terraces planned for March 27 due to rising coronavirus cases and is preparing for regions to adapt restrictions locally, the government said on Monday. Infections have been increasing steadily since Austria loosened its third lockdown on Feb. 8 by letting non-essential shops reopen despite stubbornly high COVID-19 cases. A night-time curfew replaced all-day restrictions on movement. The number of new infections reported rose above 3,500 on Friday, the highest level since early December, when cases were falling during the second national lockdown.
English seeking sunshine abroad face hefty new fines
Travellers from England will face 5,000 pound ($6,900) fines in new legislation designed to deter non-essential trips and barricade the nation against imported COVID-19 infections. The news was a disappointment to millions of people hoping for a summer holiday and sent travel stocks - including easyJet, British Airway-owner, Jet2 and TUI - down 2-4% in early trade on Tuesday. As a gradual easing of lockdown is set to begin from this weekend, the government is warning that people may have to sacrifice long-desired holidays abroad
Unions attack 'authoritarian' plan to force care workers to have Covid-19 jab
Unions have hit back at a "heavy-handed" and "authoritarian" government proposal to compel care home workers to have a coronavirus vaccine amid fears that low levels of uptake may undermine the fight against Covid-19. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, confirmed on Tuesday that the government is considering a proposal that would legally require people caring for elderly and vulnerable patients to be vaccinated. However union bosses have said care workers should not be "strong-armed or bullied" into having the jab with threats of legal action. While more than 90 per cent of residents in care homes have had the vaccine, among staff the figure is closer to 75 per cent
Germany to extend COVID-19 curbs, impose Easter lockdown
Germany will extend its coronavirus restrictions until April 18 and enter a strict lockdown for five days over Easter in a bid to halt soaring infection rates, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday morning after marathon talks with regional leaders that ran deep into the night. As well as extending existing measures that have closed cultural, leisure and sporting facilities, Merkel and Germany’s 16 state premiers agreed a tougher lockdown for the Easter holidays between April 1 and 5. “We are now in a very serious situation,” Merkel told a news conference, adding that Germany was in a race against time to vaccinate its population against the coronavirus. Germany’s national disease control centre has warned new infections are growing exponentially as the more contagious COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom has also become dominant within its own borders.
Brazil's COVID-19 crisis affecting nearby countries
The worsening COVID-19 surge in Brazil—a dire situation that has filled much of the country's intensive care unit (ICU) capacity—is affecting its neighbors, officials from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said today. The group urged people and their leaders to take steps that slow the spread of the virus. At a briefing today, Sylvain Aldighieri, MD, PAHO's incident manager, said transmission in Brazil is very high and increasing in all regions, unlike the spike in 2020 that affected only a few regions. He said 26 of the country's 27 federal units have ICUs under stress, with 23 reporting more than 85% of ICU beds occupied. The country is battling the more transmissible P1 SARS-CoV-2 variant, which has now been reported in 15 Americas countries, Aldighieri said. Since the variant emerged in Amazonas state in late 2020, Brazil has experienced two spikes: one 2 weeks after Christmas and one 2 weeks after Carnival (Feb 12 to 17).
AstraZeneca to publish more detail on US trial after concerns raised
Drugmaker AstraZeneca said it will release further data "within 48 hours" on US trials of its Covid-19 vaccine, after health officials raised concerns about the initial information disclosed. The company pushed back against a statement from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) which said that "outdated information" may have been used to conclude that its vaccine was highly effective against Covid. "We have reviewed the preliminary assessment of the primary analysis and the results were consistent with the interim analysis," AstraZeneca said in a statement.
Maintaining Services
J&J plant authorization clears way for big boost in U.S. COVID-19 shots
A large plant being used to manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine was cleared by U.S. regulators on Tuesday, setting the stage for the weekly U.S. supply to surge more then 20 percent. About 27 million COVID-19 vaccine doses will be allocated to U.S. states and other localities this week, including 4 million from J&J, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. That is the largest allocation yet, up from 22 million last week. Earlier, the Indiana plant at which Catalent Inc is helping to manufacture the J&J vaccine received U.S. regulatory authorization, the companies said.
Demand for Healthcare Workers Rises During Covid-19 Pandemic
As the pandemic wore on, some New Yorkers reinvented themselves as entrepreneurs, artisans or online instructors teaching everything from yoga to Yiddish. Then there’s 27-year-old Chime Dolka. She, too, launched a new career—as a nurse’s aide in a Brooklyn nursing home. Resting in the park last week following a long shift tending patients while wearing enough PPE to defend a medieval warrior, Ms. Dolka said she’s fulfilling a dream. “There is one thing I really want to do, that I want to accomplish with my life,” she said. “Be a good nurse.” People like Ms. Dolka are hard to find these days. The 1199SEIU Training and Employment Funds—the education and job-placement arm of the city’s big healthcare workers’ union—says job orders for certified nursing assistants rose 25%, last year, to 1,000. And as some nursing homes became hot spots for Covid-19 outbreaks, the positions got harder to fill.
Covid-19: Birmingham GPs told to postpone vaccinating under 50s
GPs in Birmingham who had offered Covid-19 jabs to some under-50s have been told to cancel the appointments. Some patients aged in their 40s got text messages at the weekend telling them vaccinations had been postponed due to a "national shortfall". The UK will be affected by a delay in a delivery from India, but on Friday a record number of Covid jabs were given. The NHS said some Birmingham bookings had been cancelled because those people were not in a currently eligible group.
Healthcare Innovations
AstraZeneca to reissue Covid-19 vaccine trial data after monitors raise alarm
AstraZeneca said it would reissue key data on its American clinical trial “within 48 hours” after the independent monitoring board that oversaw the study warned US authorities that results released by the company on Monday were misleading.
COVID-19: Dexamethasone may have saved lives of 1 million COVID sufferers, says NHS
An easily available drug may have saved the lives of a million COVID sufferers around the world since its discovery in June, NHS England has said. Dexamethasone, an inexpensive and widely available steroid, was found to reduce deaths from COVID-19 following a clinical trial. It cut the risk of death by a third for COVID patients on ventilators, while fatalities for those on oxygen fell by almost a fifth, scientists from the University of Oxford found as part of a clinical trial known as Recovery.
Why Insomnia And Burnout May Increase Your Covid Risk
If there’s one thing that’s become clear as the pandemic has stretched on, it’s that there’s a lot to be explored in the relationship between Covid-19 and poor sleep. We already knew the two were linked. An analysis of sleep studies found sleep problems affected approximately 40% of people in the pandemic – and those who caught Covid-19 appeared to have a higher prevalence of sleep problems. Now, a study suggests if you had sleep problems prior to getting coronavirus, or suffered daily burnout, you have a heightened risk of not only becoming infected with the virus, but also having more severe disease. Every one-hour increase in the amount of time spent asleep at night was associated with 12% lower odds of becoming infected with Covid-19, according to the study published in the online journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.
COVID-19 'long haulers' need dedicated clinics, experts say
The United States should create multispecialty COVID-19 clinics dedicated to treating patients still experiencing serious multiorgan effects of infection well after recovery from acute illness, say the authors of a comprehensive review of literature on so-called coronavirus "long-haulers" published yesterday in Nature Medicine. The exact number of US long-haul COVID-19 cases is unknown, but the researchers said that many patients struggle in silence or become frustrated when their doctors don't consider that their symptoms could be related to their previous infection. The review, led by researchers at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, found that the cell damage, inflammatory immune response, abnormal blood clotting, and other complications of acute COVID-19 infection can leave in their wake long-term symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, "brain fog," fatigue, joint pain, and posttraumatic stress disorder, all of which can compromise quality of life. The researchers detailed literature from the United States, Europe, and China on high percentages of long-haulers, or those with chronic or post–COVID-19 syndrome, who often have debilitating symptoms for more than 3 months. COVID-19 has been associated with diabetes, strokes, heart rhythm abnormalities, blood clots in the lungs, and other complications.
Regeneron, Roche COVID-19 antibody cocktail slashes hospitalizations and tackles variants in phase 3
Even as COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the globe, promising to eventually spark herd immunity to the virus, Regeneron’s executives have been preaching the value of having a powerful antibody cocktail on hand to treat those who do get sick—and to protect those who aren’t vaccinated. Now Regeneron and its partner Roche have fresh phase 3 data to back up the theory. And if regulators agree with them, they could have a blockbuster on their hands, analysts have estimated. The treatment, a combination of casirivimab with imdevimab, lowered the risk of hospitalization or death in high-risk, non-hospitalized patients by 70% compared with placebo, the companies said. The drug combo also retained its potency against five major variants, including those originating in South Africa, the U.K. and New York City. It was effective at three different doses, as well.
What we know and don’t know about long Covid
Whether you call it long Covid or post-acute Covid-19 or just identify yourself as a long-hauler, the constellation of prolonged symptoms after Covid-19 infection has become all too familiar. About one-third of people who were sick enough to need hospitalization — including supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation to breathe — still struggle with problems affecting their bodies and their minds four weeks or more after the first onset of symptoms. About 1 in 10 people who had Covid but were never admitted to a hospital report they experience bewildering brain fog, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, or crushing fatigue in the months after the first signs of their initial illness. Some see no end in sight; others seem to recover. To help understand how to recognize and treat this mysterious condition, researchers from Harvard and Columbia culled the scientific literature to guide treatment for nine organ systems where the SARS-CoV-2 virus does its damage.
Hormone drugs may disarm COVID-19 spike protein and stop disease progression
Hormone drugs that reduce androgen levels may help disarm the coronavirus spike protein used to infect cells and stop the progression of severe COVID-19 disease, suggests a new preclinical study from researchers in the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania and published online in Cell Press's iScience. Researchers show how two receptors—known as ACE2 and TMPRSS2—are regulated by the androgen hormone and used by SARS-CoV-2 to gain entry into host cells. Blocking the receptors with the clinically proven inhibitor Camostat and other anti-androgen therapies prevented viral entry and replication

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 24th Mar 2020

Isolation Tips
Coronavirus: how to self-isolate
What to do if you have symptoms of Covid-19, have travelled to a badly affected area, or have been in contact with someone who has the disease
How to talk to your child about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) 8 tips to help comfort and protect children.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything you’re hearing about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) right now. It’s also understandable if your children are feeling anxious, too. Children might find it difficult to understand what they are seeing online or on TV – or hearing from other people – so they can be particularly vulnerable to feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness. But having an open, supportive discussion with your children can help them understand, cope and contribute
People self-isolating must ask for help says Norfolk’s public health chief
"If you are self-isolating, ask other people for help, for example to fetch groceries, collect deliveries, post mail and walk the dog.” People helping should maintain good hygiene, such as regularly washing their hands and should leave items outside people’s homes, rather than seeing them in person.
Taking care of your mental health during coronavirus
Feeling anxious and fearful with all this uncertainty, or angry, frustrated and confused is pretty common. "These are normal reactions to a not-normal time," says the mental health foundation, Headspace. With that in mind, we've collected a bunch of tips from the most reputable organisations, on how you can best protect your mental health while we all grapple with COVID-19.
Being Positive during a Pandemic: 5 tips for getting through the coronavirus as a better person
The arrival of COVID-19 to Milwaukee brought a great deal of uncertainty in its wake. Beyond the obvious health risks is an economic vulnerability that has not been experienced before. Many people feel that the routine of daily life has been sidelined, because COVID-19 has shut down educational institutions, entertainment venues, public events, places of business, and leisure activities. Dr. Malika Siker was a recent guest of the GoGedders Podcast on the subject of the coronavirus. She offered suggestions for people seeking ways to cope, and those eager to help others. These 5 tips expand on that advice.
Caring for mental health during the pandemic
During a time in which individuals are urged to stay inside whenever possible, it may become harder to care for one’s mental health. According to the CDC, natural responses to stress during a pandemic may include anxiety surrounding the health of themselves and loved ones, changes in sleep or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, worsening of chronic health problems, and an increased use of substances such as alcohol. The following advice on how to care for one’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic is compiled from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the WHO, the National Alliance on Mental Health, and the CDC.
Don’t neglect your mental health during this pandemic
Just as we are moving rapidly to safeguard our physical health, we must act with equal urgency to preserve our mental health and make psychiatric care accessible. We have the technology we need to allow doctors to stay in touch with patients they can’t see in person. Now, we must act quickly to remove the obstacles posed by regulations and insurance bureaucracies, so doctors can provide critical mental health care.
Full guidance on staying at home and away from others
When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the government is now (23 March 2020) introducing three new measures. 1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes 2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces 3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public
Hygiene Helpers
How to Protect Yourself and Prepare for the Coronavirus
The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus a pandemic, and the number of cases continues to rise worldwide. These basic steps can help you reduce your risk of getting sick or infecting others.
How to protect yourself from the coronavirus Good hygiene and social distancing remain the top two tactics.
"The no. 1 thing you can do to prevent any respiratory illness is to practice good personal hygiene." Washing your hands correctly -- using soap and water and washing for at least 20 seconds -- or using hand sanitizer when soap and water aren't available, still stands as the best way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, according to the CDC
Community Activities
Pill volunteers canvas village to provide coronavirus help
A group is distributing leaflets throughout Pill and Easton-in-Gordano in an effort to help those who have had to self isolate in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here to Help - back our campaign to support communities amid coronavirus
David Powles, editor of the EDP and Evening News, said: “We know that when we face upheaval, our communities pull together in their time of need. The outbreak of this virus is no exception, and already we’re seeing the kind gestures being made by businesses and people across Norfolk and Waveney. “But we want to encourage everyone, where possible, to be involved. We might not be able to nip round someone’s house or pop over for a chat, but there are plenty of safe ways we can help others, whether’s that’s picking up the phone for a chat to lift someone’s spirits or offering to collect a prescription.
The great Aussie spirit: Facebook group allows people to 'adopt' a healthcare worker
Chris Nicholas launched Facebook group 'Adopt a Healthcare Worker' last week. Its mission is to 'support those who support us', particularly during COVID-19. So far 17,693 have joined the group and offered their services up to others. People are walking their pets, buying their groceries and childminding
Auckland woman creates coronavirus care packages for elderly struggling during COVID-19 pandemic
On Thursday, Mellissa Richardson posted on Facebook about her plan to create care packages of essential items and drop them off to vulnerable people in her community. Richardson told Newshub she has received numerous large donations since her post. "I was thinking of just little care packs and it's slowly turning into my second job. We have had large donations of canned food, hand sanitiser, and groceries which is great."
How you can help during the coronavirus outbreak
Several nonprofit organizations could use your time and money to make sure vulnerable populations are cared for during the pandemic
“We are not the frontline in this battle. We as healthcare workers stand in the back. We’re the LAST line of defense. The frontline of this epidemic is YOU, the people in the community, tasked with the challenge of keeping each other safe.”
We’re the LAST line of defense. The frontline of this epidemic is YOU, the people in the community, tasked with the challenge of keeping each other safe.”
#Covidiots trends on Twitter as people urge others to stay inside amid coronavirus outbreak
Around the world people have taken to social media with a newly coined word #covidiots to describe those who behave badly during the global pandemic.
Scouse Army: Thousands sign up to help city's most vulnerable in coronavirus fight
Council inundated with offers as new foodbank production hub is planned
In #Turkey, people have started to leave food packets on the road for the poor and the needy who cannot earn due to #COVIDー19 lockdown.
In #Turkey, people have started to leave food packets on the road for the poor and the needy who cannot earn due to #COVIDー19 lockdown. Love you #Turks for representing us. #coronavirus #COVID19 #Italy #MulikaCorona #coronaviruskenya
Look For the Helpers: Stepping Up to Stomp Out COVID-19
Fighting the coronavirus requires people to socially distance themselves, but it also calls on community members to help one another—and that’s exactly what’s taking place all around the globe. To answer the call for help, a network of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers have stepped up to support and shield people in need. Teams are doing everything they can to aid their communities.
Chennai-based app Alserv provides doorstep services for the elderly
Alserv, a Chennai-based startup app, promises to provide essential services, like healthcare and maintenance, to senior citizens at their doorstep
Working Remotely
As coronavirus forces millions to work remotely, the US economy may have reached a 'tipping point' in favor of working from home
Companies are enabling remote work to keep business running while helping employees follow social distancing guidelines. A typical company saves about $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year, according to Global Workplace Analytics. As companies adapt to their remote work structures, the coronavirus pandemic is having a lasting impact on how work is conducted.
Could remote working be the future of work?
As all the normal rules for business and social interactions are shredded daily by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, working remotely has become a lifeline for UK businesses. Many organisations that have previously ignored remote working are making an overnight u-turn, or those that only allowed hybrid working when team workloads overflowed, now need a framework, some rules and fast ideas for keeping morale up.
Virtual Classrooms
Schools conduct lessons via virtual classrooms for pupil
Many platforms are providing their services free of cost to enable teachers and students to conduct live online classes, share learning material, address student queries, share assignments, conduct quizes and exams, record attendance and a whole lot more to conduct online classes seamlessly
'Let your kids get bored': emergency advice from teachers on schooling at home
School may have closed for the foreseeable future, and all exams cancelled, but children still need to be educated and entertained – as well as reassured. Many schools plan to send work home and there are lots of free resources available via online platforms such as BBC Teach.
Our first virtual assembly for our Degerloch Lower School students took place on Friday
Our first virtual assembly for our Degerloch Lower School students took place on Friday! #distancelearning #virtualassembly #ISStuttgart
Covid-19 in UAE: Virtual classrooms would be just like real ones
Though classes will go online from today, the general setup would resemble real classrooms, educators have told Khaleej Times. The classes would entail a proper routine and students will learn from a setup similar to the desk-and-chair one they are used to in schools. Classes would be conducted as per timetables shared with parents and students previously.
Online Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic
What do we gain and what do we lose when classrooms go virtual?
‘Normal school day’: Perth students trial virtual classrooms amid crisis
Instead of being herded into a classroom on Thursday morning as the school bell rang, some WA students stayed at home and logged in online to their new-look virtual lessons. Although WA schools still remain open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 30 per cent of WA students are staying home, and at least one private school has started trialling virtual classrooms.
Public Policies
China to Lift Lockdown Over Virus Epicenter Wuhan on April 8
China’s Hubei province said it will allow transportation to resume for the city of Wuhan on April 8, effectively lifting a mass quarantine over the city where the coronavirus first emerged last December. People in Wuhan will be allowed to leave the city and Hubei province, according to a statement on the provincial government’s website Tuesday.
Coronavirus: What are the new restrictions and why are they needed?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a series of new restrictions to fight the coronavirus outbreak in a televised address from 10 Downing Street.
In Italy Bergamo's streets are empty as it deals with a devastating number of coronavirus-related deaths – and the Mayor calls on people in the UK to learn and get social distancing now
In Italy Bergamo's streets are empty as it deals with a devastating number of coronavirus-related deaths – and the Mayor calls on people in the UK to learn and get social distancing now
Iceland, able to test its entire population, found half of those who tested positive had no symptoms #TestTestTest
Coronavirus’ silent spreaders — Iceland, able to test its entire population, found half of those who tested positive had no symptoms #TestTestTest
Policymakers Can’t Afford to Neglect Home Care Providers During COVID-19 Pandemic
“What we’ve seen, now more than ever, is that home care is a critical component in the prevention and spread of this virus,” Emma Dickison, CEO and president of Home Helpers, told HHCN. “By being in the home, we are the first to notice any changes in the health of the clients that are the most vulnerable to this virus. As a result, we are able to help them seek care earlier.”
Anthony Fauci’s Plan to Stay Honest
Fauci has advised six presidents since he became the head of NIAID in 1984. But he’s never seen a disease quite like COVID-19, nor has he ever worked for a president quite like Trump. Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Why Singapore reopened schools despite coronavirus: They used science
Schools in Singapore reopened on Monday, March 23, after the students’ regular March holidays, despite the rising number of novel coronavirus cases in the city-state.Singapore Education Minister Ong Ye Kung on Sunday, March 22, outlined Singapore’s reasons for deciding to reopen classes, providing a glimpse into how decisions are made to fight the coronavirus in Singapore. Their decision was based on science, as well as careful analysis of their society.
As Coronavirus Cases Add Up, California Frantically Counts Tests, Beds and Masks
Across a state with many large biotechnology companies, the promise of widespread access to testing for the coronavirus has not materialized.
Asylum seekers and refugees in Australia in detention anxious and scared of a Covid-19 outbreak write to PM asking for release
Asylum seekers and refugees said they were “anxious and scared” of a Covid-19 outbreak inside detention, saying they were being held “in a potential death trap in which we have no option or means to protect ourselves”.
Coronavirus: How to apply for government business support
The government has released details about the £350bn package of financial support which Chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised to UK business to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus: Govt hasn't run ads on pandemic from official social media accounts
The government has been offered as many free adverts on Facebook and Instagram accounts as it needs to promote its policies of lockdown and the protection of public health. To date, the government has failed to run a single advert.
Healthcare Innovations
UK is mass-producing a coronavirus antibody and antigen test in the UK and Senegal which can tell you if you've ever had the infection or if you're currently ill
The UK Government is working with the inventors of the home pregnancy test to develop a coronavirus testing kit in Britain and Senegal. Mologic was granted £1million to produce two different types of test which reveal if someone has ever had the deadly virus in the past. The kits – one will look for antigens in spit, the other will scour blood for antibodies – could also tell if a person currently has the infection. But the company, who laboratory in Bedfordshire was visited by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this month, estimates it will be up to six months before Brits can use them
Germany's low coronavirus mortality rate intrigues experts
While the pandemic has hit Germany with full force, with Johns Hopkins University noting 22,364 confirmed infections by Sunday morning, only 84 people are so far reported to have died. This means Germany currently has the lowest mortality rate of the 10 countries most severely hit by the pandemic: 0.3% compared with 9% in Italy and 4.6% in the UK.
Taiwan Case Study - COVID-19 can be defeated, we just need a radical change of strategy
Taiwan had its first case of COVID-19 at the end of January. Today it has just 168. This shows COVID-19 can be defeated, we just need a radical change of strategy from our government.
Valencia announces the first move of a Coronavirus patient from an intensive care unit to a normal ward at the Hospital General in Castellón. Via @GVAsanitat
Valencia announces the first move of a Coronavirus patient from an intensive care unit to a normal ward at the Hospital General in Castellón. Via @GVAsanitat
CDC says coronavirus survived in Princess Cruise ship cabins for up to 17 days after passengers left
The coronavirus survived for up to 17 days aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, living far longer on surfaces than previous research has shown, according to new data published Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Coronavirus, the Istituto Superiore di Sanità: from the initial data we have reviewed "Only 12 people died who did not have previous underlying pathologies"
The data in this statistical analysis can help experts better appreciate the aggressiveness of the virus, while at the same time, it reinforces the government's call to the people of Italy not to let down their guard.
COVID-19: 5 reasons to be cautiously hopeful
In the context of this global pandemic, feeling overwhelmed by all the negative information is a natural response. But researchers are also hard at work trying to understand, treat, and prevent the new coronavirus. We take a look at some of their results.
COVID-19: Recovered patients may have partially reduced lung function in some cases
A small study of 12 patients discharged from hospital showed that two or three had reduced lung function. However, it is too early to confirm any long-term effects. "In some patients, lung function could decline by about 20 to 30% after recovery," says Dr. Owen Tsang Tak-yin, medical director of the Infectious Diseases Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong. In confirms earlier findings from Wuhan in early February where researchers examined scans of 140 patients
1 in 5 hospitalized coronavirus patients is between 20 and 44 years old, CDC report finds
A new study shows young people are developing serious complications from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. On Wednesday, the CDC released a report to detail the complications in the US from the disease. The study took a look at 508 patients who had been hospitalized from the virus and found 20 percent were aged 20–44 years.
Human immune systems respond to coronavirus in the same way it fights flu: Researchers
As scientists scramble to develop a vaccine, researchers at Australia's Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity said they had taken an important step in understanding the virus by mapping the immune responses from one of country's first coronavirus patients. By examining the blood results from an unidentified woman in her 40s, they discovered that people's immune systems respond to coronavirus in the same way it typically fights flu.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 25th Mar 2021

Isolation Tips
COVID-19: How a year in lockdown has affected young people's mental health
In January, ten months into our year of lockdowns, a Yale university study found that frequent and longer face-to-face social interactions are associated with lower loneliness rates. But physical contact has reduced by 74% compared with pre-pandemic levels, a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found. Studies in Luxembourg and the US concluded similar drops. One way to see how our social interactions have decreased is to look at the journeys we made since that first lockdown a year ago.
Action needed to tackle post-Covid 'loneliness emergency', MPs say
Britain needs more benches, public toilets and street lighting to encourage lonely people to start mixing socially again once the lockdown ends, MPs and peers say. Action is needed to tackle a “loneliness emergency” that the Covid pandemic has exacerbated by denying people contact with family and friends, the parliamentarians say. The call comes as new polling by the British Red Cross shows that more than a third (35%) of Britons feel less connected to their community than they did before Covid-19 struck and 39% do not think their feelings of loneliness will go away once the restrictions on everyday life lift.
Hygiene Helpers
Britain to launch new health security agency to battle pandemics
Britain will launch a new health security agency next week to better prepare for and tackle pandemics by bringing together its testing, analytical and scientific capabilities, health minister Matt Hancock said on Wednesday. The new agency, called the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), will be headed up by Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer, who has been at the forefront of the government’s efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Britain has one of the highest death tolls from the novel coronavirus but is gradually easing the latest lockdown under a four-step plan underpinned by the success of its vaccination programme.
The hidden ideological obstacles to vaccination
So far, most world governments have managed to weather the storm of COVID-19. Countless administrations that have been unable or unwilling to implement the necessary measures to protect their citizens from the deadly virus are still in office over a year into the pandemic. This, however, could soon change as countries have now entered a race to vaccinate their citizens against COVID-19, reach herd immunity and, finally, leave this unprecedented public health emergency behind. Governments around the world are aware that the fastest and least-costly way out of this pandemic is through widespread vaccination. However, rapid mass vaccination has proved elusive for many countries for multiple reasons – many of them political or even ideological rather than practical.
Community Activities
New Zealand Olympians to get early access to Covid-19 vaccine
Athletes representing New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics later this year will be able to apply to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they depart. Chris Hipkins, the minister responsible for New Zealand's response to the global health crisis, said people would be eligible to jump the queue for the vaccine on compassionate grounds or to compete in events of "national significance". The latter category would include Olympians, Paralympians and the national cricket team, who will be travelling to Britain to play India in the final of the ICC World Test Championship in June.
Covid community heroes honoured in art project
An art project has named eleven people and organisations as "community heroes" from around Derbyshire. First Art, as part of its Shine a Light campaign, have recognised them for their commitment and for going the extra mile during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nods could be given for all manner of selfless acts, as long as they helped others during this difficult year of their lives. Among the winners is a motorcyclist, Simon Jones, who helped deliver PPE to those need around Clay Cross by setting up Volunteer Riders UK.
Facebook, Twitter must do more to stop COVID-19 anti-vaxxers, US states say
Attorneys general for 12 U.S. states on Wednesday accused Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc of doing too little to stop people from using their platforms to spread false information that coronavirus vaccines are unsafe. In a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the Democratic attorneys general said “anti-vaxxers” lacking medical expertise and often motivated by financial gain have used the platforms to downplay the danger of COVID-19 and exaggerate the risks of vaccination. They called on both companies to enforce their own community guidelines by removing or flagging vaccine misinformation.
Working Remotely
Majority of Australians want a combination of office and remote work
Just 10 per cent of Australians want to return to the office at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic according to a "startling" new study, says Sky News host Peta Credlin. Research from PwC shows three quarters of workers want a combination of office and remote work, while a further 16 per cent say they want to permanently work from home," Ms Credlin said.
Britain's Nationwide tells all 13,000 staff: 'work anywhere'
Britain’s Nationwide Building Society has told all its 13,000 office-based staff to work from anywhere in the country, in one of the clearest signs yet firms are making permanent the remote working arrangements put in place during the COVID-19 crisis. The lender said on Thursday it will not renew the leases on three of its offices in its hometown of Swindon in the southwest of England but will retain its headquarters there along with other regional hubs. Nationwide’s move goes even further than some British banks such as HSBC and Lloyds, which have said they will cut office space but are likely still to require staff to come in on some days.
Working from home and flexing hours will become the norm
Ministers are preparing to make flexible working a permanent feature of British life after coronavirus, with plans to strengthen employees’ rights to work from home or ask for different hours. The government will start a public consultation later this year on how to extend flexible working, potentially ensuring that people who have transitioned to a hybrid of home and office working during the pandemic will be able to maintain that pattern. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is likely to look at ways to strengthen the existing legal right to request flexible working. Under the present rules, employees can formally ask for changes to their working pattern. The employer must deal with the request in a “reasonable manner” and make a decision within three months. In addition to extending the existing scheme, the plans could go further, with consideration being given to introducing a right to request ad hoc flexible working
Virtual Classrooms
Students of color more likely to be learning virtually during pandemic: survey
Students of color are more likely to be engaged in virtual learning this year as more schools reopen for in-person classes, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Education. The survey, the first in the department's series of national studies on learning during the coronavirus pandemic, measured attendance and method of instruction among fourth and eighth graders nationwide as of January into early February. At the time, about 68 percent of Asian students were only learning remotely, as well as 58 percent of Black students and 56 percent of Hispanic students. Comparatively, just 27 percent of white students were receiving all-virtual instruction.
A year of online classes, exams: COVID-19 prompts shift to 'new normal' in teaching and learning
A year of learning in 'smartphone class rooms' and appearing for 'WhatsApp exams', virtual campus tours to Zoom placement drives and ultimately massive increase in 'screen time', the last academic session will go down in history as beginning of the "new normal" prompted by coronavirus-induced lockdown. While students miss going to schools or colleges, experts say the "new normal" has opened doors for blended learning which is going to stay in the future and is not just a "stop gap arrangement". The new normal also exposed the digital divide in the country where students, parents and teachers scrambled to find ways for those who did not have access to internet or digital devices.
Public Policies
Brazil Could Approve Russian Coronavirus Vaccine in Days, Says Pharmaceutical Firm
The Brazilian pharmaceutical company that plans to produce Russia's coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V said on Tuesday it expects to overcome regulatory obstacles in "two or three" days to obtain authorization to make and sell the shot in Brazil. After a 5-hour video conference with União Quimica executives and members of Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, Brazil's health regulator Anvisa said there was still information missing before it could approve the vaccine.
India: Delhi orders Covid tests at airports as cases surge
India's capital, Delhi, will begin randomised Covid tests at airports, bus stops and train stations amid what some experts say is a second wave. Mumbai, a financial hub and virus hotspot, ordered mandatory testing in busy areas earlier this week. Cases have surged in recent weeks - on Wednesday, India reported more than 47,000 new cases and 275 deaths, it's highest this year. It has reported more than 11.7 million cases and 160,000 deaths so far
After backlash, Merkel ditches stricter Easter lockdown
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday rejected demands for a vote of confidence in her government over a U-turn on a circuit-breaker lockdown over Easter that compounded discontent with her handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Merkel’s decision to ditch plans for an extended Easter holiday to try to break a third wave of COVID-19 agreed two days earlier during talks with governors of Germany’s 16 states raised concerns that she has lost her grip on the crisis. “No, I will not do that,” said Merkel, when asked about calls by all three opposition parties that she submit a vote of confidence. “I asked people today to forgive me for a mistake. This was the right thing to do, I believe. I also have the support of the whole federal government and parliament.”
Belgium imposes new lockdown to fight third COVID-19 wave
Belgium will close schools, non-food stores and hairdressers for four weeks from Saturday, in a sharp renewed lockdown designed to contain a rising third wave of COVID-19 infections. A year on from the first pandemic shutdown, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told a news conference that the variant of the virus first discovered in Britain had become dominant in the country and led to a doubling of COVID-19 patients in hospitals. More than 22,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Belgium, among the world’s highest per capita fatality rates. Infections, which were running at a daily average of about 2,000 for three months, are now more than double that level
Hong Kong, Macau suspend Pfizer vaccine amid ‘packaging issue’
Hong Kong and Macau have suspended the use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines because of a defect in the packaging of one batch of doses, officials said on Wednesday. Vials with lot number 210102 were found to have defective packaging, authorities said, and an investigation was under way. “For the sake of precaution, the current vaccination must be suspended during the period of investigation,” Hong Kong’s government said in a statement, noting there had been “deviations in the vial seal”. Vaccinations using a second batch – 210104 – were also suspended, it added. It did not elaborate on whether that batch was similarly affected.
Coronavirus: EU and UK try to end row with 'win-win' on vaccines
After weeks of tensions over Covid vaccine supplies, the UK government and European Commission have said they are working together to improve their relationship over the pandemic. They said they wanted to "create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens". The Commission earlier proposed tougher export controls on vaccines, amid tensions over AstraZeneca supplies. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that "blockades" were not "sensible". The joint EU-UK statement said that "openness and global co-operation" would be key to tackling the pandemic. However, there was little harmony earlier when the Commission announced plans for all shipments of vaccines to be assessed on the destination country's rate of vaccinations and vaccine exports. The proposals, to be put before EU leaders on Thursday, are seen as focused on the UK and US in particular.
Qatar reimposes coronavirus-related restrictions
Qatar has announced a series of coronavirus-related restrictions on education, leisure and business activities including closing gyms and restricting restaurant capacity. The measures, announced in a cabinet statement on Wednesday, will come into effect on Friday as the country battles a surge in new COVID-19 infections.
Maintaining Services
‘Brazil is suffocating’: COVID surge creates severe oxygen crisis
Earlier this year, the jungle city of Manaus sent shockwaves across the globe when hospitals ran out of oxygen with lethal consequences – turning the city into the world’s COVID-19 epicentre. Two months on, Brazil’s COVID catastrophe has never been worse. Now, with new coronavirus variants and a series of grim records of deaths and infections, there are fears that a lack of oxygen supplies seen in Manaus, the Amazonas state capital, could unfold elsewhere.
Half of adults in Scotland to have first dose of Covid-19 vaccine by end of day
More half of adults in Scotland will have received a first dose of coronavirus vaccinate by the end of Wednesday, Nicola Sturgeon has announced. The First Minister also confirmed the Scottish Government is on course to have offered a first dose to all adults by the end of July, supplies permitting. As she announced three deaths of coronavirus patients and 692 new cases have been recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours, she said the Scottish Government is also set to have offered a first vaccine jag to to all the JCVI priority groups by mid-April.
Coronavirus: NI 'a month ahead' of Ireland on vaccines
Northern Ireland is about a month ahead of the Republic of Ireland's Covid-19 vaccination programme, according to the taoiseach (Irish prime minister). Micheál Martin said it did not make much sense to talk about north-south vaccination alignment because NI was part of the UK programme while Ireland was part of the EU's. Alignment would be ideal, he said, but "we're not in that situation". An alignment on mandatory quarantines, however, would be "useful", he added.
Covid: Cornwall vaccine centres to close ahead of supply shortage
Two vaccination centres in Cornwall will temporarily close next month following delays importing the coronavirus vaccine into the UK. NHS Kernow confirmed there will be a pause to vaccine appointments at Stithians and Wadebridge. The two centres will be affected during the first half of April, although exact dates have not officially been given. The government said it is sending the available doses to areas which have "further to go" in the vaccine rollout. In a letter to local health organisations last week, the NHS warned of a "significant reduction in the weekly supply" of coronavirus vaccines in England in April.
China triples output of COVID-19 vaccines from early Feb - Xinhua
China's daily output of COVID-19 vaccines has reached about 5 million doses, more than tripling the 1.5 million-dose daily production rate on Feb. 1, official media said on Wednesday. China has supplied more than 100 million doses domestically, the Xinhua news agency said on its social media page, citing Xiao Yaqing, the minister of industry and information technology. A total of 82.85 million vaccine doses were given by Tuesday, China's National Health Commission said on Wednesday. That compares with 74.96 million administered as of the end of Saturday, indicating a significant acceleration of the vaccination drive.
Cuba will administer Covid-19 experimental vaccines to nearly all Havana residents
Cuba will administer experimental Covid-19 shots to nearly the entire population of the capital Havana by May as health authorities carry out massive interventional studies and late stage trials, officials said on Tuesday. Cuba, which has a long history of developing and exporting vaccines, this month began late phase trials of two of its five experimental shots, Soberana 2 and Abdala, which will be Latin America’s first homegrown COVID-19 vaccines if they prove successful. Authorities could seek approval for emergency use of Abdala and Soberana 2, which both target the spike protein of the novel coronavirus, in June
Covid-19: Community pharmacists on front line during pandemic
As the effects of the pandemic began to be felt, and lockdown became a reality, the 528-strong community pharmacy network in Northern Ireland found itself on its own frontline. "We were really the most accessible health professional in the community," said Anita Gribbin, a community pharmacist in Toome, County Antrim. "You nearly don't remember it now, it is like a blur. "And I hasten to add, this wasn't just me, this was every community pharmacy. "You just had to think on your feet - you made changes, we had to make changes in here with regard to social distance. "Obviously masks came in, and we actually all kitted out in scrubs at that stage."
Syria provides Lebanon oxygen supplies amid dire shortages
War-torn Syria promised oxygen supplies to neighbouring Lebanon as both countries struggle with unprecedented economic woes and a surge of coronavirus infections. “We will supply Lebanon with 75 tonnes of oxygen in instalments of 25 tonnes a day for a period of three days,” Health Minister Hasan al-Ghabbash told reporters after a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart on Wednesday.
Central Europe’s hospitals slammed, can’t treat all in need
Poland recorded its highest daily number of new coronavirus infections Wednesday as hospitals buckle under a new surge. Hungary has the highest per capita death rate in the world. And Romanian doctors are working around the clock and having to decide who does — and doesn’t — get a bed in an intensive care unit. The coronavirus pandemic is unleashing enormous suffering as infection rates rise across central Europe even as the Czech Republic and Slovakia — recently among the worst-hit areas in the world — are finally seeing some improvements following tight lockdowns.
Healthcare Innovations
BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Effectiveness among Health Care Workers
Since the introduction of Covid-19 vaccines, prioritizing vaccination of health care workers has been advocated, and data on vaccine effectiveness among health care workers in real-world settings is beginning to emerge. In our study that was conducted in an active hospital setting in a community with a high incidence of Covid-19, vaccination of health care workers with the BNT162b2 vaccine resulted in a major reduction of new cases of Covid-19 among those who received two doses of the vaccine, even when a surge of the B.1.1.7 variant was noted in up to 80% of cases.5 These findings suggest that widespread and effective vaccination among health care workers provides a safe environment, even in the presence of a high rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the community.
School return has been major factor in plateau of Covid-19 cases, data suggests
The reopening of schools has been a major factor in the recent plateau in Covid-19 cases, new data suggests. Daily case numbers fell rapidly throughout January and February but have remained stagnant at about 500-600 a day over the past month. The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) and the government have repeatedly said that the staged reopening of schools, which began on February 23, is not responsible for the plateau, instead blaming an increase in people meeting up and socialising. However, data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) shows that Covid-19 cases in children have increased by almost 20 per cent in the past month while cases among the adult population have decreased by more than 10 per cent.
Covid cases among healthcare workers declined 31% after staff get their first shot - and infection rate falls below 1% after they are fully vaccinated, two studies find
Coronavirus cases among healthcare workers declined dramatically after staff got their first vaccine dose, two new studies have found. In one study of employees at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 2.6 percent of all workers who were unvaccinated tested positive for COVID-19 compared to 1.82 percent of those given their first shot, a drop of 31 percent. That same study also found that just 0.05 percent of those who received both doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Modena vaccine were later infected.
Pfizer launches first clinical trial of a pill to treat COVID-19 that prevents the virus from making copies of itself inside human cells
Pfizer Inc has launched early-stage human trials of an experimental oral drug that could be prescribed to patients at the first sign of infection with COVID-19. The drugmaker, which developed the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. with Germany's BioNTech SE, said the antiviral candidate showed 'potent' activity against the virus in lab studies. Pfizer's candidate, which is called PF-07321332, belongs to a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 25th Mar 2020

Isolation Tips
Chris Hadfield and other astronauts share self-isolation tips during coronavirus
On Saturday, Hadfield posted a video called Astronaut's Guide to Self Isolation to help those struggling with working from home or just feeling stir-crazy during the pandemic.
How to self‑isolate: coronavirus advice and tips for over‑70s
The Times offers basic steps for people self-isolating to reduce risk, protect their immune system and stay healthy throughout the coronavirus crisis
Tips for handling work and kids during COVID-19 isolation
The combination of working and supervising children during a pandemic has the potential to create stress and family conflict. Experts say that the best route forward is to maintain some semblance of structure, while allowing that this is an unprecedented situation.
In coronavirus self-isolation? 8 top health tips to keep you sane and strong
As the covid-19 pandemic forces people out of their daily routines and into quarantine, stress and anxiety is rife here are some ideas to help you get through it
Coronavirus lockdown: An introvert's guide to self-isolation
Firstly, this is the biggest of big ones: You need a to-do list. You need a structure to your day, a plan and a goal. This is not only good for getting things done, but it’s also great for your mental health and feeling you’ve achieved something – feeling there is a point to your day. If you are actively working from home many of these things may be defined by your job. If you’re simply stuck at home with nothing to do, remember: There is never nothing to do!
Hygiene Helpers
Have I already had coronavirus? How would I know and what should I do?
Covid-19 symptoms vary widely, and undertesting in many countries means that many people may have already had the coronavirus without having received a positive diagnosis. Is it possible to find out, and how should you behave if you think you may have been infected?
Coronavirus Ireland: Foods and vitamins to boost your immune system amid crisis
Support your body through the stress of the situation with these ingredients We have entered a new world order and as the uncertainty of the coronavirus ... from our health to our business’. So what foods should we be fuelling our bodies with at this tough time? As we become accustomed to self isolation, here are the top foods to boost ...
Community Activities
Very inspiring. Rotterdam's Philharmonic Orchestra plays 'Ode to Joy' together, whilst in isolation.
Very inspiring. Rotterdam's Philharmonic Orchestra plays 'Ode to Joy' together, whilst in isolation. We do love our EU, don't we?
Lancaster Royal Grammar School and city hotels offer free beds for NHS and other key workers
Hotels and the grammar school in Lancaster are offering beds for hospital key workers to reduce the risk of them infecting their families with coronavirus.
Working Remotely
The internet’s resilience to mass homeworking
This week, as people who could work from home did, the Underground emptied out and the internet filled up. By March 15th, a day before the prime minister asked people to telecommute, British internet traffic was already up 12% compared with the beginning of February, according to data from Cloudflare, a big network-infrastructure provider. Ridership on the Tube, meanwhile, slumped.
Adjusting to Remote Work During the Coronavirus Crisis
The right technology tools and clear and constant communication are more important than ever. She recommends that managers do an official remote-work launch, carefully plan and facilitate virtual meetings, and pay extra attention to workers’ behavior. For individual contributors, it’s critical to maintain a routine but also embrace flexibility, especially if you’re in the house with family.
A Swiss hotel is offering a luxury quarantine package — including a $500 coronavirus test
Le Bijou, a high-end Swiss hospitality company that’s part luxury hotel, part serviced apartment, that has meant launching the Covid-19 Service — a customizable stay with add-ons such as in-room coronavirus testing, doctor visits and 24/7 nurse care.
Virtual Classrooms
Philly students will receive laptops during coronavirus shutdown
“We are looking into acquisition and distribution over the next couple of weeks,” Hite said. While the task may seem impossible, the New York City Department of Education distributed 175,000 laptops, Chromebooks, and iPads over the last few weeks and began online learning Monday.
Online classes and activities children can take part in during the coronavirus outbreak
From cries of ‘I’m bored’ to knowing ‘do you want to draw another picture?’ is just not going to cut it, the reality of having so many hours to fill is certainly hitting home. Thankfully though, celebrities and other digital influencers have been stepping in to fill the boredom void, offering a wealth of online classes and activities to keep kids busy in these trying times. From Joe Wicks keeping children fit to Professor Brian Cox making physics fun, here’s our run-down of all the online resources your kids can access today and onwards.
No Classroom, No Problem: Students Adjust to Virtual High School
A charter school in Kearny Mesa is showing its flexibility and innovation in dealing with the school closures due to the coronavirus by turning its regular school classrooms into virtual classrooms over the weekend. "I’m at home inside my bedroom,” said Ms. Erica Gibson who teaches 12th grade English at School for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SET) High School in Kearny Mesa. “We have class online. We’re learning about The Crucibles."
Coronavirus: Academic City Adopts Virtual Classroom For Students
Academic City University College, a premium STEAM and Entrepreneurial tertiary education has resumed active teaching and learning sessions online to enable students continue their education. This is as a result of the shut-down of the physical university due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Prof. Fred McBagonluri, President of Academic City explained that the university has adopted a virtual classrooms mechanism to create an environment where faculty and students can engage, interact and discuss presentations and assignments in the comfort of their homes.
STEMROBO Technologies Announces Launch Of Online Virtual Classrooms Amid Coronavirus
To bring the solutions for k-12 students, India’s Ed-tech startup STEMROBO Technologies working in the field of STEM education for K-12 students has announced that they have started providing online virtual cloud-based Learning Management Model through its Tinker learning platform for students without any cost. Through this initiative, students in class 4-12 can learn, program and experiment in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at home. The objective to start the online classes is to provide all the STEM learning facilities which students were getting in schools from Atal Tinkering Labs and also to maintain stability in their studies so that their flow won’t get a break by this amidst a crisis.
Public Policies
Coronavirus: Wuhan's recovery offers UK some reasons to be cheerful
As the UK goes into lockdown, the Chinese city where the pandemic started is to lift its restrictions.
Why Estonia Was Poised to Handle How a Pandemic Would Change Everything
Estonia declared a state of emergency on March 12th. The next night, two companies, in coöperation with the government, launched a forty-eight-hour idea-collection session, called Hack the Crisis. Five of the ideas would receive startup funds of up to five thousand euros, for immediate execution. “Do not stop at anything,” the organizers wrote.
Mass Testing is the Vaccine Until there is a Vaccine' and Could Prevent 70% of Deaths' say NHS Consultants
Stephen Colegrave reports on why two NHS doctors have written to Boris Johnson with their recommendation that only mass testing can now prevent a significant number of COVID-19 deaths in the UK.
'Kiwis – go home': New Zealand to go into month-long lockdown to fight coronavirus
New Zealand is preparing to enter a month-long nationwide lockdown from Wednesday night, with the entire country ordered to stay home apart from those in essential services. On Monday the nation was given two days to prepare for schools, businesses and community services to turn off the lights in a desperate bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The move came after the number of cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand rose past 100.
500 British Transport Police officers deployed to remind Tube and rail passengers of non-essential travel ban
Five hundred British Transport Police officers have been deployed to remind passengers that only those making essential journeys for work should be using the rail and Tube networks. In London, there has been growing concern about rush hour Tube carriages remaining packed, despite requests for only key workers to use public transport to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Moscow's mayor warns Putin that regional officials don't understand coronavirus risks and says low levels of testing could explain Russia's small number of confirmed cases
At a meeting with the president on Tuesday, Sobyanin warned that “not all regions understand” the necessity of tough measures because of the low number of detected infections. Moscow’s mayor pointed out that the small number of confirmed cases could actually be due to a low level of testing. “The testing volume is very low and nobody knows the real picture,” Sobyanin explained.
Maintaining Services
There are 20,000 Black cab drivers kicking their heels. @BorisJohnson why don't you use them to collect & drive #keyworkers to & from work rather than make them risk getting #COVID19 on public transport?
There are 20,000 Black cab drivers kicking their heels. @BorisJohnson why don't you use them to collect & drive #keyworkers to & from work rather than make them risk getting #COVID19 on public transport?Man shruggingThe drivers can be paid & key workers stay safe to help us. #SaveOurNHS
The new supermarket rules - here's what you need to know about the social distancing restrictions
Supermarkets are asking customers to stay 2m from each other and installing screens
Coronavirus: Supermarkets limit shoppers as rules tighten
Visit a supermarket today and you're likely to be greeted outside by a member of staff. They'll be ensuring you stick to the new strict social-distancing rules that have applied since Monday evening. At Waitrose you'll be met by a marshal, while at M&S they're called greeters. Asda will also station more staff at its shop doors to "greet" customers. Their jobs are exactly the same: to ensure only a limited number of shoppers enter stores at any one time. They also check people are queuing responsibly and that shoppers wait patiently and stand two metres away from each other.
Coronavirus: Waitrose and Lidl deploy 'two-metre marshals' and checkout screens as contactless limit to be raised
Waitrose and Lidl are among chains to enforce distancing measures as supermarkets remain open for spending on lockdown essentials.
Please keep donating': NHS urges people to keep giving blood and says it is an 'essential form of helping the vulnerable'
The NHS has urged people to keep donating blood during the UK-wide coronavirus lockdown as it is essential to patients and a form of helping the vulnerable. NHS figures reveal a 15 per cent drop in whole blood donations since the draconian measures limiting movement came into force across Britain. Following the tightening of restrictions announced last night there are fears the number of blood donations may continue to plummet.
Coronavirus: Pharmacies urge public to only buy medicines they need amid panic buying
Pharmacies have urged the public to only buy medicines they need to avoid "creating difficulties" for others following panic buying across the UK. There is no overall shortage of prescription medicines, but there has been an increase in demand for all types of products - particularly hand sanitisers, paracetamol and thermometers.
Ford joins GE, 3M in speeding up ventilator, respirator production
Ford and GE Healthcare will expand the production of GE’s ventilator design to support patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing caused by the pathogen. In addition, they are developing a simplified design that Ford could begin making at one of its plants. The plan is to get the new design approved quickly by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Tom Westrick, vice president and chief quality officer at GE Healthcare, said on a conference call. Ford also is evaluating a separate effort not involving GE with the British government to make additional ventilators.
Healthcare Innovations
Welsh doctor uses military experience to design ventilator that will help coronavirus patients
Ventilators that could save the lives of thousands of people suffering from coronavirus across the UK are being made in Carmarthenshire. The device has been designed by a senior consultant at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen and an engineering company in Ammanford. The implement, called a Covid Emergency Ventilator, has been given the go-ahead by the Welsh Government and it is hoped that a hundred of them can be manufactured in just one day, something that could potentially save a huge number of lives. The machine helps patients to breathe and also cleans a room of viral particles, ensuring that patients are only supplied with purified air.
OxVent: could this prototype ventilator save thousands of lives?
Meet the mega-brain engineers, clinicians, students and manufacturers from Oxford University and King’s College who have built a machine that could be key to the battle against COVID-19.
The coronavirus isn’t mutating quickly, suggesting a vaccine would offer lasting protection
The coronavirus is not mutating significantly as it circulates through the human population, according to scientists who are closely studying the novel pathogen’s genetic code. That relative stability suggests the virus is less likely to become more or less dangerous as it spreads, and represents encouraging news for researchers hoping to create a long-lasting vaccine.
Why Germany’s coronavirus death rate is so much lower than other countries’ rates
“At the beginning, when we had relatively few cases, when it came to finding them and isolating them, we did quite well in Germany,” said Reinhard Busse, head of the department of health care management at the Berlin University of Technology. “That’s the major reason.” Other factors, such as the age of those infected and the timing of Germany’s outbreak, also play a role in the differing death rates. But testing widely has been key.
Pharma firm Anges and Osaka University to begin testing coronavirus vaccine on animals
Japanese biopharmaceutical firm Anges Inc said on Tuesday that it and Osaka University had completed development of a DNA vaccine against the new coronavirus and that it would begin testing it in animals soon.
PhRMA, BIO campaign champions members' determination to beat COVID-19
BIO has launched a co-sponsored print and digital campaign titled “Our Commitment to Beat Coronavirus” that lays out the six key steps biopharma companies are taking to combat the novel coronavirus. Those are: screening existing medicines for usefulness, putting top scientists on the case, sharing information with each other and government agencies, expanding manufacturing capabilities, donating supplies and medicine, and working to ensure any new treatments or vaccines are accessible and affordable.
New symptom tracking app aims to slow spread of coronavirus
Kings is today launching a new app which tracks symptoms related to novel coronavirus (COVID-19), allowing anyone to self-report daily.
Google asks users about symptoms for Carnegie Mellon coronavirus forecasting effort
Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Monday that over the last three days it had surveyed some users about their health at the request of Carnegie Mellon University researchers aiming to forecast the spread of coronavirus infections. Google’s Opinion Rewards app, which exchanges responses to surveys from Google and its clients for app store credit, queried users about whether anyone in their household has “a fever of at least 100 degrees along with a sore throat or a cough,” according to a question seen by Reuters.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 26th Mar 2021

Isolation Tips
Focus - Covid-19 pandemic leaves lasting toll on mental health in France
Successive lockdowns, social distancing and travel bans have sparked a global mental health crisis, with global rates of anxiety and depression soaring in recent months. To mark one year since France entered its first Covid-19 lockdown, our reporters visited psychiatric wards in the centre of the country to get a better understanding of the impact of the pandemic on citizens' mental health.
‘Shielding isn’t the right word – the Government isolated us’: Covid shielders reflect on a year of quarantine
This week marks a year since health authorities began contacting 1.3 million people across England considered clinically extremely vulnerable and told them to shield from Covid-19. The guidelines, advising those affected to stay at home, were originally expected to last no longer than 12 weeks. Instead, increasing numbers of people were included under the guidelines, reaching around 2.2 million by the time shielding advice ended in August last year. But when England went back into lockdown in January millions of people were told to shield again. Some hadn’t ever stopped over fears of contracting the virus, and in February the sheilding criteria was changed causing a further 1.7 million people to be added to the list.
The High Cost Of Loneliness: The Other Price Older Adults Are Paying For Covid-19
For months, families and operators of long-term care facilities have been telling me about the indirect toll the covid-19 pandemic has taken on residents. Not on those who have sickened or died from the virus, but on those whose quality of life has been severely harmed by the social isolation it caused. Now, we are beginning to learn more about the devastating consequences for seniors who may have been spared by the virus but suffered nonetheless. An important new study by the research firm Mathematica for the Connecticut Dept of Public Health finds that during the early months of the pandemic, nursing home residents were significantly more likely to become depressed, lose substantial amounts of weight, suffer incontinence, and lose cognitive function. And most striking, these conditions occurred at high rates even among those residents who did not contract the virus.
Hygiene Helpers
Thousands of ambassadors help VDH get COVID-19 information to community members
Whether you’re wearing a mask or keeping your distancing from others, a lot of small actions have a big impact in the fight against coronavirus. That’s why the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is looking for people to take small steps to share important COVID-19 information in their community. They created the COVID Community Ambassador Program in January with the goal of having citizens share accurate information with the people they’re already talking to. “Whether it be their neighbors, their family, their book club, their religious facility; whatever their network is — whether it’s two people or 2,000, it’s the idea that they could share with each other,” explained Virginia Department of Health Public Information Officer Brookie Crawford.
Vaccination race enlists grassroots aides to fight mistrust
His last job was selling cars, but in his new gig, working to turn the tide against a pandemic, Herman Simmons knows not to be too pushy or overbearing. He’s one of more than 50 outreach workers a Chicago hospital has enlisted to promote vaccination against COVID-19 in hard-hit Black and brown neighborhoods. Their job is approaching strangers at laundromats, grocery stores and churches, handing out educational material and making vaccination appointments for those who are willing. “I see myself as my brother’s keeper. I don’t try to force them. I’m persistent,” he said.
Covid-19 vaccine: Trust 'key' to care home staff jab take-up
"Respectful conversations" and building trust will be key to convincing care home workers who have refused to have a Covid-19 jab, a health chief has said. About 10% of Middlesbrough care staff had turned down the offer, councillors at a health security panel were told. Mark Adams, director of public health for South Tees, said they were working to increase the coverage. Myth-busting sessions have been held between staff and GPs to debunk misconceptions and ease concerns. Mr Adams told the panel that refusals tended to be seen among younger people in the workforce who were concerned about their fertility on the back of disinformation, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.
Community Activities
Teens organize free virtual tutoring programs to aid kids with remote learning amid pandemic
Many children in the U.S. have spent more than a year attending school virtually, raising significant concerns about a growing inequality gap. For the "CBS This Morning" series A More Perfect Union, Jan Crawford introduces high school students around the country who are on a mission to bridge that divide by teaching what they've learned to younger students.
Dodford farm in fundraising drive to help children post-Covid
A children's farm which supports disadvantaged children with mental and physical health difficulties is trying to raise funds to enable it to continue its services post-Covid. Dodford Children's Farm, in Dodford, Worcestershire is seeking funding so that it can get children out into the countryside and be active, thus supporting their mental health and wellbeing, to kick-start their recovery after the pandemic. This will involve supporting children, many of them being from inner-cities, in a Covid-safe environment, outside in bubbles.The project will involve refocusing the Children's farm and re-engaging with the local community after the lockdown, and developing a team of local supporters and funders to build a community within Dodford and Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, to help in achieving its goals.
Covid-19: Bristol BS3 group offers 'amazing' lockdown support
In Bristol, a Covid-19 community support group has helped 700 people since it was set up during the first national lockdown. BS3 Covid Response offers support, shopping and prescription collections, and phone call chat services. The group based in Bedminster and Southville was set up in March 2020 using social media and messaging services to co-ordinate help. Since its creation, it has grown to include 5,500 members and 1,000 registered volunteers. Analytics manager Becky Lewis-Jones, 39, has coordinated a 20-strong core team from her home in Southville, despite shielding due to asthma. "The community really has come together in so many ways and many connections and friendships have been forged through this," she said.
Working Remotely
Over half of London firms to continue remote working when Covid pandemic ends
Half of London businesses will support some form of remote working when the coronavirus crisis ends, new research suggests. A survey of 500 business leaders in the capital showed that one in two plans to continue offering remote working to staff, while a third expect to cut down on office space. London Chamber of Commerce said its study revealed that almost two-thirds of employers have allowed staff to work from home at least two days a week as a result of the pandemic. Just over half of respondents said they will continue remote working in some form each week when the pandemic is over.
COVID-19 impact: Work from home more appealing than return to 'business as usual,' Harvard survey shows
Despite potentially longer hours, most Americans enjoy working remotely and want the option to keep doing so after the pandemic, according to a new Harvard Business School Online survey. As COVID-19 forced companies to let employees work remotely and presented new challenges such as readjusting their home life and fighting Zoom fatigue from numerous virtual meetings, most of the 1,500 people surveyed say they excelled and even grew in their professions. But the survey also showed that while most employees miss their colleagues and other aspects of office life, they don't want to go back to "business as usual" because they want more flexibility doing their jobs
Virtual Classrooms
Ontario government considers making virtual learning permanent
Two of Ontario’s teachers’ unions say the provincial government is considering making virtual learning a permanent fixture of the post-pandemic world. The minister of education didn’t rule out the option and says no decisions will be made without first consulting with all stakeholders.
Wrexham school's virtual reading sessions help students' progress and wellbeing
Students at Ysgol Bryn Alyn, in Gwersyllt have not let the pandemic stand in the way of their reading progress, by taking part in virtual one-to-one reading sessions with dedicated reading coaches during lockdown. Each day, participating students meet with their coaches for 20 minutes to read the sometimes gruesome and often funny, Kay's Anatomy - a non-fiction science book by Adam Kay. Deputy headteacher Alison Kipping is delighted with the impact of the sessions. She said: "Encouraging reading of all our students is a key to developing successful learners. Maintaining provision at home for our vulnerable learners is part of our innovative online learning provision at Ysgol Bryn Alyn, which is ensuring students are receiving high quality provision at home that matches our in-school provision
COVID-19 remote learning is an opportunity to adopt active learning in STEM
Research published in Cell suggests online teaching presents an opportunity to develop and integrate new active learning approaches in STEM. The research team, led by Dr Stefano Sandrone and Dr Gregory Scott from Imperial College with colleagues from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, advocate a global adoption of active learning in STEM education. Integrating active learning tools into teaching practice has the potential to transform long-term educational practice in-person and online as well as improving standards of educational delivery.
Public Policies
Denmark prolongs suspension of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
Danish officials decided Thursday to prolong their suspension of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine by three weeks while they continue evaluating a potential link with blood clots even though European Union regulators who looked into the issue have cleared the vaccine for use. Denmark's decision “was made on the basis of presumed side effects,” Tanja Erichsen of the Danish Medicines Agency said during a news conference. ”It can’t be ruled out that there is a connection between the vaccine and the very rare blood clot cases,” she said.
India blocks vaccine exports in blow to dozens of nations
India, one of the world’s biggest vaccine producers, has imposed a de facto ban on jab exports as it seeks to prioritise local vaccinations amid an accelerating second wave of coronavirus infections. The Serum Institute of India, the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world and the biggest supplier to the international Covax programme, has been told to halt exports and that the measures could last as long as two to three months, according to two people familiar with the situation. Gavi, the UN-backed international vaccine alliance, immediately warned that the controls would have a direct impact on the Covax scheme, set up with the World Health Organization to ensure the equitable global distribution of at least 2bn Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021.
WHO urges equitable COVID-19 vaccine access to widen reach in Africa
Africa urgently needs more COVID-19 vaccine supplies as deliveries begin to slow down and initial batches are nearly exhausted in some countries. The continent has so far administered 7.7 million vaccine doses mainly to high-risk population groups. Forty-four African countries have received vaccines through the COVAX Facility or through donations and bilateral agreements, and 32 of them have begun vaccinations. While the COVAX deliveries have enabled many African countries to roll out vaccinations, a critical proportion of the population targeted in the initial phase of the vaccination campaign may remain unvaccinated for months to come due to global supply chain constraints. In 10 African countries, vaccines have not yet arrived.
South Sudan receives first batch of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX Facility
Today 132,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the Juba International Airport. This is the first of several vaccine shipments scheduled to arrive over the coming months to South Sudan through the support of the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is a global partnership comprised of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and WHO established to ensure all countries can equitably access COVID-19 vaccines. The first COVAX supported shipment of vaccines will target health care workers as well as persons aged 65 years and older, given their increased risk of severe disease and death due to a potential COVID-19 infection.
India Locks Down Some Towns as Coronavirus Cases Hit Five-Month High
Authorities ordered people indoors in some towns in western India as the number of new coronavirus infections hit 53,476 infections overnight, the highest in five months, data showed on Thursday. Cases have surged across several states in since late February, following a near-full reopening of the economy and flouting of safety measures such as the wearing of face masks and social distancing, health officials say. More than half the new infections were reported from western Maharashtra state, home to financial capital Mumbai, where millions have returned to work in offices and factories. The local government imposed a full lockdown for ten days in the worst-affected towns Nanded and Beed following a cabinet meeting, an official said.
Advocates call on US to use vaccine patent to boost global access
A group of academics and activists are calling on the United States government to make sure an upcoming patent for technology at the heart of several coronavirus vaccines is used to increase access to the inoculants globally. A patent is expected to soon be issued for a particular form of molecular engineering developed by US government scientists that is currently used by five manufacturers of mRNA coronavirus vaccines. In a letter to US health officials, six health advocacy organisations and 15 public health academics said the upcoming patent is an “important policy tool that the US government could use to facilitate scale up of production” for mRNA vaccines that use the technology.
Biden should use emergency powers to license Covid-19 vaccine technologies to the WHO for global access
Following the WTO’s failure to act, Biden’s best option to lead the world toward equitable vaccine access is by using his executive powers to extricate the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine patents from the grip of stifling monopolies and license the Covid-19 vaccine technology to the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, which would enable a rapid scale-up of generic vaccine manufacturing worldwide. This would give Biden a chance for a rare triple win: Licensing Covid-19 vaccine technologies to the pool would be a major victory for global social justice, a win for the self-interested American public, and a foreign policy victory for world order and stability.
Pakistan extends school closures amid third wave of coronavirus
Pakistan’s government has ordered educational institutions in 18 high-risk districts to remain closed until April 11, the education minister said, as the country continues to battle a third wave of coronavirus infections. Speaking to the press in the capital Islamabad on Wednesday, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said the decision to extend closures first ordered on March 15 had been taken as virus infection numbers had stayed high.
EU turns up heat on Astrazeneca as new COVID-19 wave surges
EU leaders voiced frustration on Thursday over a massive shortfall in contracted deliveries of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, as a third wave of infections surged across Europe. With inoculation programmes running far behind those of Britain and the United States, the bloc’s executive warned that vaccine exports by the British-Swedish company would be blocked until it delivers the shots it promised to the EU. “We have to and want to explain to our European citizens that they get their fair share,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference after a video-conference summit of the European Union’s leaders. “The company has to catch up, has to honour the contract it has with the European member states, before it can engage again in exporting vaccines,” she said.
UK extends emergency coronavirus powers by 6 months
British lawmakers agreed Thursday to prolong coronavirus emergency measures for six months, allowing the Conservative government to keep its unprecedented powers to restrict U.K. citizens’ everyday lives. The House of Commons voted to extend the powers until September, and approved the government’s road map for gradually easing Britain’s strict coronavirus lockdown over the next three months. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s large Conservative majority in Parliament guaranteed the measures passed by a decisive 484-76 margin. But Johnson faced rebellion from some of his own party’s lawmakers, who argued that the economic, democratic and human costs of the restrictions outweigh the benefits
Maintaining Services
As some states open Covid-19 vaccines to all, many others are still weeks away. Here's a timeline.
John McGee, 21, told CNN on Tuesday that he was mindlessly scrolling through Twitter last Monday when he saw Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves' post: "Starting tomorrow, ALL new appointments will be open to ALL Mississippians. Get your shot friends - and let's get back to normal!" Mississippi is 1 of 5 states that have expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older, and a CNN analysis finds that at least 20 more plan to open up to people 16 and older by the end of April. Alaska was the first state in the US to stop prioritizing certain groups for Covid-19 vaccines and open vaccination appointments to everyone 16 and older who lives or works in the state.
More than 700,000 get first Covid-19 vaccine jab in Northern Ireland
More than 700,000 people in Northern Ireland have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccines, the North’s health department reported on Thursday. The department reported that so far 703,334 have got their first jab of vaccine with 104,907 having got their second dose. The department says it is on target to have vaccinated the entire Northern Ireland adult population of 1.4 million people by July.
Covid-19: Over-50s urged to book jabs before vaccine supplies dip
The Covid-19 vaccination programme has saved more than 6,000 lives, an analysis by Public Health England says. Most would have been among the over-80s and some among people in their 70s, estimates up to the end of February suggest. It comes as people in England aged over 50 and in at-risk categories are being urged to book their Covid jabs before Monday, when slots are set to dry up. The NHS said appointments should be arranged by 29 March.
New Jersey’s vaccine rollout is mostly working. In Pennsylvania, it’s more complicated.
Plenty of Pennsylvanians have gotten covid-19 shots — the state ranks above average in percentage of residents with first doses — and many New Jerseyans by turn have been frustrated by the process. But by most measures, New Jersey is ahead of its neighbor when it comes to delivering vaccinations. New Jersey has a phone hotline for people without internet access; Pennsylvania has a website with limited utility that offers only information and no appointments. New Jersey has had mass vaccination sites for months; Pennsylvania is only now planning them.
Why Supply Isn’t the Only Thing Stymying Europe’s Coronavirus Vaccine Rollout
The mayor of Cremona, one of the northern Italian towns first hammered by the coronavirus during the pandemic’s initial explosion in Europe, received a call over the weekend that the local vaccination center was empty. The region’s booking system had failed to set up appointments with older residents, leaving more than 500 doses of vaccine at risk of going to waste. “There was staff, there were also vaccines, but there were no people,” said the mayor, Gianluca Galimberti, adding that the situation had been bad for weeks. Similar scenarios are playing out throughout the country, as the authorities struggle to get vaccines to older and vulnerable Italians who most need them.
Half of Israelis fully vaccinated as Palestinians lag
More than half of Israel’s 9.2 million people have received both doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19, the health ministry has said. Yet vaccination is far slower in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has relied on donations and limited supplies from Israel. The 5.5 million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip have received only about 120,000 vaccines so far. With more than 4.6 million residents vaccinated, Israel continues its world-beating campaign that sent infection rates plummeting and allowed for some limited loosening of restrictions. But it has come under international criticism for not doing more to enable Palestinian vaccination
Novavax delays EU vaccine supply deal amid production problems - source
Novavax is delaying signing a contract to supply its COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union, an EU official involved in the talks told Reuters, as the U.S. biotech company warned it was struggling to source some raw materials. Prolonging the talks might further complicate the EU’s vaccination plans as the bloc had planned to sign a deal early this year for at least 100 million doses of Novavax’s vaccine, with an option for another 100 million. The EU official, who asked not to named as the talks are confidential, said the company had postponed signing a deal for weeks, citing legal issues in meetings with the bloc’s vaccine negotiators. “They are slowing down the process of finishing the contract,” the official, who attended the meetings, told Reuters.
Healthcare Innovations
Study says COVID-19 vaccines provide protection for pregnant and lactating women -- and their newborns
The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are effective in pregnant and lactating women, who can pass protective antibodies to newborns, according to research published Thursday in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard looked at 131 women who received either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Among the participants, 84 were pregnant, 31 were lactating and 16 were not pregnant. Samples were collected between December 17, 2020 and March 2, 2021.
Regeneron Antibody Cocktail May Reduce COVID-19 Hospitalization by 70%
Results from a phase 3 clinical trial show that Regeneron’s antibody cocktail has the ability to cut the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization and death by 70 percent. The treatment also shortened the duration of COVID-19 symptoms by 4 days. The two antibodies work similarly to the antibodies the immune system naturally produces to fight the coronavirus.
U.S. COVID response could have avoided hundreds of thousands of deaths - research
The United States squandered both money and lives in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, and it could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths with a more effective health strategy and trimmed federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars while still supporting those who needed it. That is the conclusion of a group of research papers released at a Brookings Institution conference this week, offering an early and broad start to what will likely be an intense effort in coming years to assess the response to the worst pandemic in a century. U.S. COVID-19 fatalities could have stayed under 300,000, versus a death toll of 540,000 and rising, if by last May the country had adopted widespread mask, social distancing, and testing protocols while awaiting a vaccine, estimated Andrew Atkeson, economics professor at University of California, Los Angeles.
AstraZeneca COVID vaccine 76% effective in new US trial analysis
AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine was 76 percent effective at preventing symptomatic illness in a new analysis of its key trial in the United States – slightly lower than the level announced earlier this week in a report that was criticised for using outdated information. US health officials had publicly rebuked the drugmaker for not using the most up-to-date information when it published an interim analysis on Monday that said the vaccine was 79 percent effective.
Study: Remdesivir speeds recovery in hospitalized COVID patients
The antiviral drug remdesivir (Veklury) was associated with faster clinical improvement in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in a multicenter comparative-effectiveness study published yesterday in JAMA Network Open. The retrospective study, conducted by Johns Hopkins University researchers, involved 2,299 COVID-19 patients receiving care in a 5-hospital health system in the Baltimore and Washington, DC, area from Mar 4 to Aug 29, 2020. About 15% percent received remdesivir (342) as part of their treatment, of which 285 were matched with controls for primary statistical analysis.
Pfizer and BioNTech to begin testing Covid-19 vaccine in children
Pfizer and BioNTech said Thursday they are beginning a study aimed at showing their Covid-19 vaccine can be used in children as young as 6 months. The study follows the launch of a separate and ongoing trial in children ages 12 to 15, which was fully enrolled in January. That study could lead to results by the end of the first half of the year, depending on the data, and then to an emergency use authorization. That will depend on the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccine already has an EUA for people 16 and older.
Africa experienced 30% rise in COVID cases during 2nd wave: Study
Africa experienced a 30 percent rise in infections in its second wave of coronavirus last year but implemented fewer public health measures than in the first, research showed on Thursday. Writing in The Lancet medical journal, researchers said the loosening of public health measures such as distancing and intermittent lockdowns probably contributed to higher death tolls during the second wave. The study looked at COVID-19 case, death, recovery and test data carried out across all 55 African Union member states between February 14 and December 31 2020. Using publicly available data, it also analysed health control measures such as school closures and travel restrictions.

"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 26th Mar 2020

Isolation Tips
Staying at home will reduce the spread of #COVID19 and will save lives. But what does that mean? What’s open? What’s closed?
Staying at home will reduce the spread of #COVID19 and will save lives. But what does that mean? What’s open? What’s closed?
Coronavirus: Prince Charles tests positive but 'remains in good health'
The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus, Clarence House has announced. Prince Charles, 71, is displaying mild symptoms "but otherwise remains in good health", a spokesman said, adding that the Duchess of Cornwall, 72, has been tested but does not have the virus. Charles and Camilla are now self-isolating at Balmoral.
Hygiene Helpers
Washing your hands: University hygiene expert on coronavirus and cultural shifts
Panic buying is underway, the hand washing posters are up, and we’re on the frontline of the coronavirus battle. But just what should we be doing to ensure victory? Here, Dr Derek Watson, Professor in Cultural Management at the University of Sunderland, reveals how this is more about winning a cultural mind-shift war.
Hands down, men worse at bathroom hygiene that prevents coronavirus: Study
The spread of the new coronavirus is shining the spotlight on a little-discussed gender split: Men wash their hands after using the bathroom less than women, years of research and on-the-ground observations show. Only 31% of men wash their hands after they've been to the bathroom surveys show
Community Activities
Coronavirus shortages see elderly look to online good Samaritans
Mr McKee said he stumbled upon a new community support group called Adopt a Nan or Pop connecting the elderly with healthy young people and families. "Sharon and Mel turned up with bags of groceries. Sharon contacts me every day to make sure I'm OK," he said. "My freezer is full, my fridge is full, my pantry is full, just from what they've done for me so far.
BBC announces Culture In Quarantine programming amid Covid-19 lockdown
The BBC has announced a “virtual festival of the arts” that aims to give people access to culture while they isolate themselves in their own homes during the coronavirus lockdown. Cultural content will be made available to the public on television, radio and online as part of the broadcaster’s Culture In Quarantine programming.
Book sales surge as self-isolating readers stock up on ‘bucket list’ novels
Paperback fiction sales rose by 35% last week, with a notable interest in challenging classics. Book sales have leapt across the country as readers find they have extra time on their hands, with bookshops reporting a significant increase in sales of longer novels and classic fiction.
Coronavirus: More than half a million sign up to be NHS volunteers
Boris Johnson hails the public's response and says the volunteers will be "absolutely crucial" in the fight against COVID-19.
'People are so thankful': how delivery drivers became the new emergency service
Just a month ago, they were deemed unskilled workers. Now they are essential in the fight to control coronavirus. But what is it like driving down increasingly deserted streets to make sure everyone – including elderly and vulnerable people – has what they need?
This is the moment a whole street in Southampton sang 'Happy Birthday' to 8-year-old Sophia as people remain at home during the #coronavirus pandemic.
This is the moment a whole street in Southampton sang 'Happy Birthday' to 8-year-old Sophia as people remain at home during the #coronavirus pandemic.
Clitheroe landlady cooks up storm for locals amidst coronavirus outbreak
Laura Smithies, who along with husband Phil, runs the Brown Cow in Clitheroe, is lending a helping hand to residents in and around the town who have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Mrs Smithies is providing a selection of main meals, daily, for free, for people self-isolating or those financially affected by the coronavirus,
Var police officers came to the Sainte-Musse hospital, flashing beacons of the lit vehicles, applaud the nursing staff and the hospital staff to thank them and pay them tribute
Just last night, Var police officers came to the Sainte-Musse hospital, flashing beacons of the lit vehicles, applaud the nursing staff and the hospital staff to thank them and pay them tribute (Video HervP ) #confinement #Toulon #COVID19 #herosduquotidien
Amir Khan offers his £5m wedding venue in Bolton to the NHS to treat those affected by coronavirus
Amir Khan has pledged to give his £5m wedding venue in Bolton to the NHS to help those affected by the coronavirus. The Bolton boxer made the announcement on Twitter earlier this afternoon. The 33-year-old said he is prepared to offer up the four-story building as he is “aware of how difficult it is for the public to get a hospital bed at this time”.
Working Remotely
How Covid-19 led to a nationwide work-from-home experiment
Millions of Chinese employees are working from home for the first time, as the nation tackles Covid-19. Will it change conservative corporate culture?
Covid-19 could cause permanent shift towards home working
Covid-19 could permanently shift working patterns as companies forced to embrace remote working by the pandemic find that their employees do not want to return to the office once the closures are lifted.
Tips for working remotely amid COVID-19 | Stanford News
Stanford employees are being asked to work remotely whenever possible amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are some tips to help you do so effectively.
5 Tips for Working From Home Amid COVID-19
We’ve heard all the advice from experts on social distancing and making sure we wash our hands. What we discuss less is the psychological disruption working from home has on millions around the world.
Covid-19: Tips for successful remote working | HRD America
Leaders will need to adopt flexible work options and self-care for themselves – not just their employees
Covid-19: NCSC issues secure remote working guidance
With hundreds of thousands likely to be working remotely for some time, the UK’s NCSC has issued best practice guidance to enable security teams to support them
Video lessons to indoor rugby - how Edinburgh is coping with working from home
People from all over Edinburgh have found themselves spending more time at home than ever before in the wake of government lockdown to avoid the spread of coronavirus. We asked Evening News readers about how they were keeping themselves entertained during this unprecedented period of isolation and working from home
Virtual Classrooms
How Aussie schools are preparing for a COVID-19 shutdown
Officially, public schools, at least in NSW are still open; yet the advice on offer realistically means children for the most part are being kept home. Household broadband is now the primary connector as the nation shuts down. So how well-placed are schools to deal with a surge in demand, particularly in light of the technical glitches with NAPLAN online platform last year?
1.37 billion students now home as COVID-19 school closures expand, ministers scale up multimedia approaches to ensure learning continuity - World
Over the past 10 days, the number of students affected by school and university closures in 138 countries has nearly quadrupled to 1.37 billion, representing more than 3 out of 4 children and youth worldwide. In addition, nearly 60.2 million teachers are no longer in the classroom. Opening the meeting, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay stressed that the “the responsibility to act is a collective one,” and announced the forthcoming establishment of a Global Covid-19 Education Coalition to further mobilize the expertise of multiple partners and strengthen support to national educational responses.
Chandigarh: School classrooms all set to go virtual amid Covid-19 lockdown
Amid the coronavirus outbreak some schools in the Tricity region are moving to the April academic year, albeit digitally. Teachers are recording online assignments and live or recorded classed for senior students. teachers are also sharing activities with their respective classes of other schools. Tools used include live classes, recorded lectures, online worksheets, voice messages, audible stories, daily quizzes and fun tips, vocabulary and maths
'Panic-gogy': Teaching Online Classes During The Coronavirus Pandemic
As colleges across the country pivot online on very short notice, there are a host of complications — from laptops and Internet access to mental health and financial needs. Digital learning experts have some surprising advice: do less.
COVID-19 pandemic | Are virtual classrooms a window into the future?
Besides technical issues, such as broadband and bandwidth, there are other factors that impact the setting up of virtual classrooms. Some of these factors are social and cultural, peculiar to India, over and above the economic factors.
Amid Covid-19 lockdown, Lucknow switches to virtual classrooms
City Montessori School (CMS) is using the Google Classroom platform, a free web service that aims to simplify creating, distributing and grading assignments in a paperless way.
Taking or teaching online classes because of COVID-19? Here are some tips and tricks.
However, these are unprecedented times, and we’re fortunate enough to have unprecedented technology to answer the challenge. As America’s students and educators begin to transition to a virtual classroom, here are a few early notes from my experience.
Local school moves to online learning in response to the coronavirus
It's the middle of March, which is a time for students to typically be in the classroom, but as the coronavirus pandemic has closed schools, it has forced faculty and staff to transition to virtual classrooms. Tandem Friends School officials announced the transition to online classes last Friday, just as Governor Ralph Northam ordered Virginia schools to close for two weeks.
As classes move online during COVID-19, what are disconnected students to do?
Closing schools and transitioning to online learning is critical to stymying the spread of the virus, but experts agree that the transition won’t be easy. Among the many challenges—from providing meals for low-income students to finding child care for essential workers—relying on remote learning and online classes also exposes the country’s deep digital divides. Simply put, too many American children live without essential internet services.
Australian schools and universities preparing for shutdowns over coronavirus
Following a meeting with state premiers on Friday, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced mass gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. But schools, universities, public transport and airports were exempt from the advice, Morrison said, because they were essential services.
As COVID-19 pushes classes online, some students are caught in the broadband gap
As COVID-19 spreads within the United States and across the globe, public health officials are calling for fewer public gatherings — which is pushing many activities online. The issue is particularly severe for schools, where the risk of spreading the disease is high. But as many US schools try to shift to online lesson plans, they’re running into the limitations of our threadbare broadband networks, which leave many students unable to connect to their new online classrooms.
Public Policies
Coronavirus: why France is not testing more
A major tool in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic, testing/screening the population for positive cases has so far been carried out on only a small scal, due to technical and logistical difficulties.
How Germany is helping Europe in the Covid19 crisis
The Federation and Länder are demonstrating European solidarity by treating intensive care patients from Italy and France, helping stranded EU tourists return home and supplying essential materials.
Coronavirus Shutdowns Causing Huge Drops in Traffic, Air Pollution
The novel coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic is also having an enormous impact on the environment, according to new satellite data. As governments around the world have restricted people from moving, industry, air travel and vehicular traffic have grinded to a halt, causing pollution levels to plummet, according to The New York Times.
State aid: Coronavirus: €1.3 billion Danish scheme
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The self-employed are hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. With this scheme, Denmark will compensate up to 75% of the expected loss of turnover for the self-employed with a maximum compensation of DKK 23,000 (€3000) per month and per person. The economic impact of the pandemic is severe. In this context, the Commission is working with all Member States to find workable solutions, in line with EU rules.”
Coronavirus: What are new antibody tests bought by government and when will they be available?
Professor Sharon Peacock, director of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, told MPs on Wednesday the tests were being checked for accuracy in laboratories this week and could be ready to use within a matter of days. She said they would be distributed to the public through Amazon and pharmacies. But the UK’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, later dismissed suggestions the kits could be available to buy online as soon as next week. He stressed frontline NHS workers would be prioritised for tests once they are available.
How coronavirus took just weeks to overwhelm Spain
Health workers, who account for about 14% of the country’s coronavirus victims, are complaining about a lack of basic protective equipment; a Madrid ice rink has been converted into a makeshift morgue; and the capital’s flagship conference centre has gone from hosting the Cop25 climate conference to sheltering the sick as it is repurposed into an enormous field hospital.
Telecom companies urge people to 'Stay Home' in messages sneaked onto their phones' home screens
Telecom companies are resorting to new methods to help encourage the world to stay home amid an ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Mobile operators including Vodafone and Orange S.A. have now started to include 'Stay Home' messages in the snippet of text that usually displays network information at the top left corner of one's device.
Covid-19: call for fast-track registration of refugee doctors in UK
Hundreds of refugee doctors have called on the government and the General Medical Council to fast-track their accreditation so they can help the NHS tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. The doctors, who gained their qualifications overseas, say some of them have been forced to work as taxi drivers or in takeaways because the reaccreditation process in the UK takes too long, and is both expensive and onerous.
UK Government launches a WhatsApp 'coronavirus chatbot' to give millions of Britons easy access to information on the ongoing pandemic
WhatsApp has partnered with the UK Government to provide a 'coronavirus chatbot' to offer official guidance to people for free. The service will easily connect millions of WhatsApp users in the UK with information directly sourced from the authorities. It is hoped that the new chatbot service will help reduce the burden on the NHS when it launches, which will be live as soon as the technology can get online. People can use the service by messaging 'hi' to the number 07860064422.
UK government fends off criticism with plan to pay self-employed
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is expected to announce that the taxpayer will pay self-employed workers up to 80% of their recent earnings to help contain the economic impact of coronavirus, as 470,000 extra benefits claims sparked warnings of an “unemployment crisis”.
Working hours, partial unemployment, paid holidays… Labor law shaken up by ordinances
Three texts to amend the law in the midst of the coronavirus crisis were presented to the French Council of Ministers on wednesday. The rules on working hours and paid holidays will be revised by these proposed changes.
How the Pandemic Will End
In 2018, I wrote a story for The Atlantic arguing that America was not ready for the pandemic that would eventually come. In October, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security war-gamed what might happen if a new coronavirus swept the globe. And then one did. Hypotheticals became reality. “What if?” became “Now what?”
Hospitals consider universal do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients
The conversations are driven by the realization that the risk to staff amid dwindling stores of protective equipment — such as masks, gowns and gloves — may be too great to justify the conventional response when a patient “codes,” and their heart or breathing stops.
The Coronavirus Crisis: Care Homes Look After Some of Our Most Vulnerable – They Must Be Prioritised
On Monday, the Spanish Defence Ministry said that elderly patients in retirement homes had been found abandoned and, in some cases, dead in their beds by the military while it was disinfecting care homes. Fortunately, the situation in the UK looks much better and the sector more resilient, but we must ensure that care home managers and staff are properly supported at this difficult time.
Maintaining Services
10 Covid-busting designs: spraying drones, fever helmets and anti-virus snoods
Companies the world over are directing their ingenuity at the fight against the coronavirus. Here are the front-runners, from sanitising robots to a 3D-printed hospital ward
Aldi paying staff 10% bonus to say thanks for work during coronavirus pandemic
Aldi is set to pay a 10% bonus to its workforce across the country, it has emerged. The German supermarket is a huge employer across Birmingham and throughout the Black Country, as well as the wider Midlands. The retailer is offering a 10 per cent bonus to its staff members across the UK. It comes in a bid to say thanks for working hard during the coronavirus pandemic which is currently sweeping the UK, forcing a huge lockdown. Aldi said the extra money will be backdated to March 9, 2020.
Coronavirus Ireland: Aer Lingus to fly Airbus A330 planes to China 60 times to collect medical supplies
Aer Lingus is to fly five of its largest aircrafts packed with health supplies from China in a daily coronavirus mercy mission for Ireland. Dozens of its pilots who volunteered to help with the humanitarian operation were sorting their visas in the Chinese Embassy in Dublin on Wednesday. The airline plans to send over its Airbus A330 passenger planes to Beijing up to 60 times to collect medical equipment ordered by the HSE. And the Aer Lingus' crew made up of pilots and engineers won't be able to get off the aircraft - as they'll be quarantined if they do.
‘Risk of danger to residents’ prompts some Toronto condos to ban Airbnbs amid COVID-19 crisis
After years of struggling or failing to stop their buildings from being used as de facto hotels for short-term rental operators, some Toronto condos are finally banning Airbnbs because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
Coronavirus: New antibody tests will be given to NHS staff and key workers first
Fifteen-minute tests to determine whether people have had a case of coronavirus – and therefore are thought to be immune – will be given to NHS staff and key workers as a priority, according to the chief medical officer. The government has purchased 3.5 million tests for coronavirus antibodies, which are currently being assessed for accuracy. If they work, the tests would allow doctors and nurses to determine whether they could return to work – and, in the long term, see social distancing restrictions relaxed sooner.
Ocado introduces strict delivery rules amid UK lockdown - can you still order Waitrose?
Ocado is an online supermarket that is widely known for delivery products from retailers including Waitrose. The coronavirus - also known as COVID-19 - pandemic has led to a UK-lockdown, which has caused a demand in delivery services, and the company has introduced new rules for customers.
London construction sites halt work to ease Tube pressure during coronavirus pandemic
Major construction sites across London halted work today to ease pressure on the transport network but Tube carriages remained dangerously overcrowded on some lines this morning. Sadiq Khan said the London Underground was 30 per cent less busy in the early rush hour compared with yesterday, but medical staff took to social media to complain of being hemmed into carriages packed with non-essential workers.
UK government orders 10,000 ventilators from Dyson